Posted by Filed Under: Running is Funny

As I lay face-down in the gravel, bleeding, my mind searched frantically for the answer to the one question that was of immediate and critical importance to me:

What is the penalty for animal cruelty in Sacramento County?

I was eight miles into my one and only opportunity for a 20-miler. I needed it to determine whether I could run, as planned, the California International Marathon (CIM) on December 2. My greatly accelerated training schedule had led me to this point, this day, to make a go/no-go decision.

Things were going remarkably well. I started slowly, and gradually reached my targeted pace. I worked my way up the hill to the levee, where the next two miles of my route lay over a flat trail covered in small gravel.

Suddenly, darting up the hill came a yappy little pooch—looked like a pug, but it was only a mini-blur as the devil dog thought it would be great fun to launch its 12-pound body directly between my ankles.

Timberrrrr! Down I went in a cloud of dirt, rocks and dust.

So, having quickly computed the various moral, ethical, legal and monetary ramifications of punting his little ass into the Sacramento River, I dragged myself up and performed a systems check.

No broken bones, no torn ligaments, no major bleeding. I jammed my left shoulder, and it was sore. Pretty nasty road rash, particularly on my knees and forearms, and my palms were badly flayed. Along came the dog’s owner, calling for Hershey or Percy or Jersey, and then asking if I’m all right.

I was pretty cool about it, but then she left without leashing the dog. As I began to continue running, Hershey/Percy/Jersey came after me again. I stopped, spit a mouthful of mud and pebbles at him, and he took off running in the opposite direction.

That wasn’t a technique I picked up in my reading anywhere, but it seemed appropriate at the time.


I brushed myself off and resumed my run. I’d love to finish this story with “bloody but unbowed” details of my successful 20-miler and my decision to run CIM. In fact, I only made it to 15 miles before the stinging and the strange yaw to the left induced me to pull the plug.

Anyway, after antiseptic, bandages and Advil, I’m fine, but I was skirting the edge of good sense before this fiasco, and now time’s run out for a quality 20-miler before the race. So no marathon this year.

But I am thinking about taking up hawking.

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.

  1. Jes on November 16th at 6:55 am

    Ouch! I’m glad you are alright! Darn dog…

    I love your picture with this post by the way. Did you see the body’s exhibit? I didn’t see that exact exhibit, but I saw a similar one… twice.

  2. yomomma on November 16th at 11:33 am

    I would have killed the dog-after I was done with the owner.

  3. Huw on November 20th at 10:50 am

    Maybe you could sue the owner of the dog for your marathon entry fee 🙂

  4. Bummed » Complete Running Network on December 7th at 6:01 am

    […] My running year culminates with the California International Marathon (CIM), run in my hometown of Sacramento the first Sunday of each December. This year my plans were thwarted by shin splints and an untimely encounter with Hershey the devil dog. […]

  5. Laura on December 7th at 12:48 pm

    I loved this story because I’ve been there – only with my own dog tripping me up. I’ve gotten so good at falling, that I consider myself an expert. I’ve got the tuck and roll down to a science!