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Excerpt from My Book! (It's About Running and Pie)

On her way home that afternoon, Johanna stopped to get running shoes at an athletic store. She had never been a runner and still loathed the idea of it, but since she had made such a big deal of it in couples therapy, she had to do it. Plus, Johanna really needed to start doing something active and she figured a sixty-dollar pair of shoes was cheaper than a gym membership. The Yelp reviews of the race Dr. Sanders suggested didn’t mention any heinous hills or anything else intolerable, so she signed them up and mapped out a training schedule. There were three “short runs” during the week and one “long run” each weekend, all escalating up in mileage until it reached…death, probably.

The bell rang over the door as she entered the running store. A whippet of a man walked purposefully toward her, his tightly tanned face beaming. “Hello there! How can I help you today?”

“I’m, umm, running, well, walking, jogging, I guess… I’m just starting to train for the half marathon in April….”

“Great! And I bet you need a good running shoe. What do you usually like to run in?”

“Oh, I haven’t-”

“OK, no worries. We’ll find you something that can get you that few hundred miles over the finish line.”

She stared at him, mouth agape. “It’s 13.1 miles, right?”

He smiled tolerantly at her dumb, dumb, God-why-is-she-so-fat-and-dumb question and spoke more slowly now, as to a non-athletic dullard, “I meant, generally, a half marathon training will take you a total of about 250 miles of training runs.”

Johanna thanked him for his time and left the store.

At Target, she bought the first pair of sneaker-looking shoes she saw and a family-sized bag of peanut M & M’s, which she finished on the way home. She glared at the bag of shoes on the passenger seat, thinking, two hundred and fifty miles? That fucking Cal. He didn’t say anything about that. He’d have to pull her in a wagon during this race. Man, if she could run that far, she’d have left the country on foot by now.

When she got home, she still had thirty minutes before she had to pick up the kids, so she tried on her new shoes. In her haste, she had grabbed a bright pink pair, so at least when she tripped and fell, none of her neighbors would miss it. The shoes were pretty comfortable, and she jogged around her kitchen in a tight circle, holding her breasts as they bounced, remembering why she never left the ground. She’d need some industrial-strength sports bras, which she would order online.

Johanna wondered if running would make her tinkle, knowing that some of her women friends dealt with that. It turns out pushing human people out of your lady bits leaves some collateral damage. She stared out her kitchen window, kegeling. After about thirty seconds, she figured that was good enough and marched up to her bedroom to put on an old sports bra and a sweatshirt over her yoga pants. She’d try this running thing by herself before she ran with Cal, just to see if she could do it.

It was just over a mile to her kids’ school, so she put her earbuds in and jogged down the driveway. She had watched one YouTube video about running posture, so she was trying to run on the balls of her feet while also holding her shoulders gingerly, and her mouth comfortably, and her hands….shit. What was she supposed to do with her hands? She let them dangle off her wrists like Mr. Burns from ‘The Simpsons,’ but that felt weird, so she put them in a semi-thumbs up and felt like Bill Clinton. That got her thinking about what a lousy deal Monica Lewinsky got, and she had to stop to catch her breath. Ok, new thought. How about, think only about how good it will feel to be fit again and not get embarrassingly winded taking the stairs? Or how about how cute she would look in some new clothes that fit and made her look sexy. Eesh. What clothes are suitable for a forty-year-old woman with kids that don’t make her look like she’s either given up or is trying too hard? OK, new thought. The beach? Ugh, swimsuits, wedgies, and sunscreen. OK, geez. NEW THOUGHT.

She thought about pie.

If Johanna could run this half marathon, she would treat herself to an entire pie. By the time she reached the school, she’d decided it would be strawberry rhubarb. It took a while, but she made the whole mile at a slow jog, only stopping to walk a few times. She didn’t bother checking her speed on her phone, not wanting the pressure of that. If she had to go two hundred and fifty damned miles, she’d do it at whatever pace she could, thank you very much.

At school, a few of the other parents commented on her running clothes, so she sheepishly told them she and Cal had signed up for the half. Everyone was enthusiastic and congratulatory. Hmm. That felt pretty great. Grinning as the girls came sprinting out of school, she wasn’t even bothered by their complaints about having to walk allllll the way home in the temperate weather under a beautiful blue sky. Maybe there was something to this ‘runners’ high’ thing.

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