BRADENTON -- When she turns 40 next Thursday, Rae Ann Darling Reed won’t be running away from Father Time.
Instead, she’ll just be running.
Because that's what Reed does.
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She coaches cross country and track at Manatee High and has been avid runner since her days as a Girl Scout.
So to celebrate her birthday on June 27, Reed plans to run 40 miles for two good causes.
Sounds a lot like your 40th birthday party, right?
“A couple of my friends have been doing birthday runs for a few years now,” said Reed, whose trek is slated to begin 7 a.m. at Robinson Preserve. “I thought, ‘That’s pretty clever.’”
Reed's unique brand of revelry involves running to raise money for The Monson Tornado Relief Fund and The One Fund.
The tornado fund goes toward helping rebuild Reed's hometown of Monson, Mass. The June 1, 2011, tornado did more than $200 million in damage, according to The Associated Press, and killed three people.
Reed raised $1,000 for the fund last season by participating in the Tornado Alley 57 Miler. Unable to run the 57-mile race this year, Reed decided on the birthday run.
The One Fund assists victims and families affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.
"Last year, I had a goal to raise $1,000, and I did it," Reed said. "This year, I know times are tough, so whatever people can donate is fine."
Reed was bit by the running bug when she was 11 and her Girl Scout troop, led by her mother, decided to earn a merit badge in running.
She started running cross country and track as a seventh-grader, and continued throughout high school and college. Reed still runs roughly five days a week.
"Running is her passion, her career and where she finds peace in the world," "I thought it was a clever way for her to celebrate her birthday," said Rae Ann's husband, Phil. "Sometimes, one feels they can't reach those highs when they get older ... but this is a good way for her to celebrate and show she's still a strong athlete. I thought it was great."
Reed has been doing near-marathon runs to prepare, include 21 miles per day Saturday and Sunday.
"It's just to teach my legs how to run when I'm tired," she said. "Down here, it's so humid and hot that I had to change my socks and my shirt every two hours."
Because of excess heat and moisture, Reed said she began developing small blisters on her feet. She plans to guard against those with the help of blistershield powder and plenty of extra socks, shoes and clothes for her birthday run.
All of this could have been avoided had she born in January or February.
"That would have been nice," Reed said with a laugh.
Reed won't be running alone - she invited members of her running club, Suncoast Striders, to join in, as well as past and present athletes coached at Manatee.
She plans on circling back to Robinson Preserve every 90 minutes so more friends can join the pack, and so Reed and other runners can refuel.
Will this become a regular way for Reed to celebrate birthday milestones? Will she go for 45 miles when she turns 45?
"We'll see how it goes," Reed said. "I could see it being something I do again. Running is such a big part of my life, celebrating my birthday this way just made sense."
Her husband agreed.
"Maybe when she turns 75, she'll measure it in kilometers instead of miles," Phil said. "But it goes beyond 'loves it.' (Running) is such an intricate part of her life."