This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

This is the true story of a pair of shoes and how they changed my life.

I know! Just like Cinderella!

It was the spring of 1981. I'd just had our first baby, and I was seriously out of shape.

How out of shape was I? People, I was so out of shape that I had to hail a cab just to borrow a cup of sugar from our neighbor, Joy, who lived in the apartment across the hallway. Not only that, but the mere act of hailing that cab left me panting with exhaustion. I'd collapse in a nearby chair and moan, "Hailing cabs is such hard work!"

Then one day, my dad showed up at our door with a pair of running shoes.

"Here," he said, handing them to me, "try these on."

They were Nikes. Air Pegasus, to be exact. And I'd never seen anything like them before, what with their thick-cushioned souls and sleek fabric uppers.

OK. I'd grown up wearing sneakers — Keds if I was feeling fancy and knockoffs from J.C. Penney for everything else, including Ms. Ercanbrack's seventh-grade gym class, where we did squat thrusts (true!) every morning to The Turtles singing "So Happy Together." But the instant I slipped on the Nikes, I knew I'd soon be thanking my sneakers for the memories and then asking them to move out. For good.

Honey, I felt like I was walking on clouds in those brand-new running shoes. I wanted to strap on a big old hoop skirt, stand in front of Tara like Scarlett O'Hara and shout, "As God is my witness, I'll never have shin splints again!"

I was so in love with my new running shoes that one day I decided on a whim to — you know — actually run in them. I went outside and jogged about 10 feet before dying of sweatiness. "Wow," I said afterward, "I'm never doing that again."

Except I did. The very next day. And I increased my distance by another foot. Morning after morning after morning I did this, until one day I discovered that I had signed up for a local road race, in which I ran and did not finish dead last.

That was 30 years ago, and I've been (kinda) running more or less regularly ever since. I don't run fast, and I don't run pretty. In fact, I suspect I look like that person you see struggling on the side of the road sometimes when you're driving around town — the person who makes you want to roll down your window and shout, "Dude! Give it up! You're just embarrassing yourself and also the rest of mankind!"

Still. I keep at it. On good days, running makes me feel like I'm 10 years old again, tearing barefoot around our backyard and playing night games with the neighbor kids on a warm July evening. That's not a bad feeling when you're 56 and there's a lot of January going on outside your window.

The reason I bring this all up is that by the time you read today's paper, I'll be in southern California, preparing to run Disneyland's Tinkerbell Half-Marathon. I assume I'll get passed up by a lot of wacky fun-loving gals wearing wings and tutus while I toil (not in wings and tutu) to post the slowest land speed records known to man.

It'll be fun, though. Possibly. Or not. But whatever, because it's too late now.

Meanwhile, as I run beneath a canopy of palms, I'll think about how one gift from an unlikely fairy godmother, aka "my dad," can sometimes take a person down miles (and miles!) of unexpected roads.

Ann Cannon can be reached at or