Birthdays are a big deal to me. I LOVE BIRTHDAYS! For example, a group of us all spent our 40th birthdays in Peru hiking to Machu Picchu. For another one of my friends, we all swam out to the middle of a lake and surprised her while she was on a swim. But this past weekend’s birthday “party” takes the CRAZY cake.

20121203-215208.jpgMy friend, Amy, decided she wanted to run a marathon for her 40th. And yes, I was in! In fact, a cool group of women all jumped on her bday bandwagon and we all headed to Sacramento for the California International Marathon. The only problem? A GINORMOUS STORM INVITED HERSELF TO THE CELEBRATION TOO!!

20121203-215215.jpgSo here’s how it went. The alarm went off at 4am. I felt pretty good for waking up 2 and a half hours earlier than normal. The three of us sharing a room headed downstairs to the continental breakfast the hotel provided all us marathoners. And then we went back to the room, got dressed and headed out. We caught our bus that was taking us to the race start 26.2 miles away. It was a school bus. Reminded me of my school days with Bus Driver Jean. By the time we got to the start line (5:15am) it was pouring rain. Now, I know you’ve all been in a rainstorm before… but I bet not like this one. We got off the bus, of course to go to the bathroom, and we were immediately drenched. I now know what “sheets of rain” looks like. And the wind was howling, making it hard to even talk to one another. So we headed to the sani huts and I honestly retreated into one of them! I was so glad to be out of the rain, I lingered in there longer than necessary. Trust me, it was the lesser of two evils! Plus, I was still plucking toilet paper from my fingers. Note to self… dripping wet fingers and toilet paper don’t mix!!


So we all finally made it to the start line, sang the National Anthem, and off we went! I LOVE the start of a race. Any race. When the horn goes off, it’s like millions of tiny fireworks explode inside my core and then shoot out to the tops of my arms and legs. I’m sure some exercise physiologist would say that’s adrenaline. I call it fireworks! So we all started trudging forward in the rain, trying to avoid puddles for the first 100 yards. But then we realized our shoes and socks were wringing wet so avoiding puddles was useless.

20121203-215236.jpgWe couldn’t get more wet. I was only doing the relay. I’ve been plagued with a shin splint (or stress fracture) for months.  I couldn’t do the entire thing so I wanted to make the most of my leg. I saw the peloton making a sharp right hand turn onto Oak Avenue so I cut to the inside. Just as I was rounding the corner, my foot about 4 inches from the ground,  someone yelled “racoooooooon!!!” I had just a split second to realize my foot was basically coming down ON TOP of the dead rodent. Somehow, I barely missed his stone cold nose and was able to get passed him. But let me tell you, I took off speeding up the hill because I was pretty sure that raccoon just might be playing possum and was going to jump up and grab onto my leg!!


I was quickly able to forget the raccoon however, when I suddenly realized I just might be getting swimmers ear running this damn race. The rain was coming down sideways, from the left, pounding into my ear. Drops of rain kept bouncing off my ear drum, at one point I actually tried to run with my finger in my ear! So after all that, when I passed mile marker 5, I got suddenly sad. I only had .9 miles to go and I was done… handing off this crazy adventure to Anna, the next leg of my relay. I didn’t want to do that. I felt like the high school freshman who had to leave the party early. My curfew was up and there were still hours of fun left to live. But as I rounded the next corner onto Fair Oaks Boulevard, I thought how grateful I was to even be out there. 2 months ago I couldn’t even run a mile without severe pain.

So sometimes I have to remind myself that simply getting to go to the party at all is good enough. I’ll be back out there, finding my own race, soon enough. This time, showing up for Amy, being a part of her birthday wish, was what this race was all about. Plus, I got to meet two really cool girls in the process. Anna and Katie were my teammates who I was introduced to the night before the race by our mutual friend Neda. So all in all, I have to say this was an amazing race. Not necessarily
the run itself, but the adventure that was created because of it. So happy birthday, Amy! But it was you who gave all of us the gift of one hell of a memory!!20121203-215308.jpg






About Wendy D

I was born in San Francisco and ended up marrying a rancher in Reno, Nevada. I have a big city job anchoring the 5 o’clock news but come home to the country where my husband’s family has ranched for 5 generations.


  1. Amy says:

    Loved the article! I am glad I took the crazy cake…. entirely fitting!

  2. Emma says:

    My Arse! Here are some European cavewoman words of wisdom. Drink champagne or prosecco – these alcohol drinks are very low carb and very popular with the French (and Irish) models. Don’t deny just try limiting the drinking to the weekends and sweat it out on the dance floor and/or bedroom.


  1. [...] I can no longer drink wine, or any alcohol for that matter. My friend Amy, the one who took the crazy cake, challenged me to a no drinking contest. WTF?? Remember in college when you would challenge your [...]

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