I’ve been thinking about Dom a lot lately.
I’m not sure if it is the fact that my long runs are stretching back to that 10-12 mile range and I have more time to myself, or if it is because we are approaching the time last year when we first learned of Dom’s cancer diagnosis.
Regardless, as I was contemplating my scheduled 12-mile training run Sunday morning, Dom was front and center in my mind.
I had competed in the Cougar Country 5K just nine hours earlier as the race was held at 8:00 p.m. Saturday evening. The distance was not the issue as I would have normally run twice as far the day before my12-miler Sunday morning. But the intensity of racing at 5:50/mile pace in posting that 18:12:61 PR was certainly going to come back and “bite me” just a bit on Sunday.
It was not a matter of if, simply a matter of when.
I thought of Dom as I was stretching in the early morning darkness of our family room. I reminded myself that marathoning isn’t “easy”. It’s not supposed to be.
So “Cowboy up” and get your ass in gear I thought.
The fact is that Dom has really been struggling since his last Hospital stay. Over the last year he has had plenty of “bad days”, but right now, things are as bad as they have ever been. He has faithfully undergone every procedure, followed his Doctors instructions, battled back from numerous chemotherapy treatments and rounds of radiation therapy most recently.
As Dom has done so many times before, his courage and bravery set a great example for me. So what if it’s hot and humid out there. So what if your legs are tired and 8 miles sounds more appealing. I could almost hear his voice in my head telling me to enjoy every minute of what I am doing every day. Every day is a gift – start acting like it.
Get off your ass and get going I thought as when it comes to my passion for running there are two things I know with absolute certainty.
1. There will come a day when I will not be able to run.
2. Today is not that day.
So I loaded up my hydrabelt with two bottles of water, one of gatorade and took off at Marathon pace with a goal of finishing those 12 miles in 1 hour and 30 minutes (7:30 pace).
As I started up the hill leaving our driveway I began thinking about all of the readers, friends and supporters who ask me about Dom each and every week. How I really need to do a better job in sharing stories about Dom and helping them really get to know him. To help them understand why those of us who have been fortunate enough to have Dom in our lives, know what a tremendous gift that has been.
So with that I thought I would share two stories about my boy Dom.
Dom is tight with a buck. By tight, I mean TIGHT. My wife tells a story that when Dom was just starting out after College he would actually “time” his bathroom “needs” to coincide with his being at work to save money on toilet paper. Truth.
The ridiculous irony in that story is that the same guy who can be so tight with a dollar is so generous with everything else in his life.
There is not a single person you can find that upon meeting Dom would not tell you he was one of the nicest guys they had ever met. His honesty, caring and loyalty are traits that are simply woven into Dom’s fabric.
Not only is it impossible to find someone to say anything bad about Dom. It is impossible to find anyone to say anything “neutral”. He remains to this day someone that I try to emulate when it comes to interacting with others. He is a tremendous role model for all of us.
There is another story that my wife tells about Dom that makes me smile whenever I think of it. When Dawn and Dom were kids it turns out that my wife had a little crush on Dom. I don’t want you guys to think I have a Man-Crush on him or anything, but I can see why Dom was popular with the ladies. It comes naturally to some of us Italian guys.
To my good fortune, Dom was not interested in Dawn at the time – and they simply remained great friends through the years.
Dom, I don’t think I’ve ever formally thanked you for that – so I want to do so now. There aren’t too many guys out there that I would shy away from fighting over a young lady for, but you my man are one of them.
Pretty hard to compete with the nicest guy anyone has ever met. I’m glad I never had to try.
So as the miles ticked by on Sunday and 2 became 4 which became 8 leading to 12, I found myself lost in thought about the journey Dom has been on since last summer. He has done anything and everything that his Doctors have asked from him to take the fight to his cancer every day.
It has been remarkable to watch as through it all Dom has remained true to himself, his family, all that he cares about and those that love him back.
Proud is the feeling I feel most these days as when it all started Dom set out to give this disease all the hell he could. I’m not sure that anyone would have been able to fight any harder than Dom has. He remains the bravest man I’ve ever known.
As I hit the driveway at our house I realized that I had hardly glanced at my watch throughout the run. I hit the stop button at the 12-mile mark with a time of 1:30:11. Just :11 seconds off of my goal time after Saturday’s race.
Not too shabby, but I thought again about Dom 1,500 miles away.
Next week I’ll do better.
Give ‘em hell Dom.