3 miles never felt so good ….

Posted: December 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

Today was a very big day at Run for Dom.  After experiencing only my second running injury in 5-years last month things are finally looking up on the training front.  I have come to gain a new appreciation for running pain-free and especially the plight of those that suffer from shin splints.  The past month has been especially frustrating as I went from comfortably running 32-38 miles every week to not being able to complete a single 5-mile training run.  My cardio level, leg strength, core strength and mentally everything said “Go, Go, Go” while my lower right leg was saying, “Not so fast there junior”.

Dr. Sierra D'Eramo

As morning runs became an impossibility a new training plan needed to be developed including the substitution of low/no impact cardio work and strength training to keep our fitness level where it needed to be when I was able to resume running.  Call me superstitious but on Saturday morning I had a very special consult with Dr. Sierra D’Eramo who cleared me to resume my running this week.  Dr. D’Eramo (Dom’s daughter pictured above) gave me a full exam and deemed me healthy and ready to go.

At 6:15 am as I laced up my Asics with only 16 weeks to the day away from the start of the Boston Marathon it was time to get on with it.  As I took those first few tentative strides out of our driveway and up Palmbrook Drive I immediately felt different.  Gone was the nagging irritation below my right calf and soreness on the inner part of my shin.  I started the run on the same route that had run over 1,600 previous miles this year fighting to slow my pace and “take it easy”.  The three miles I had scheduled this morning were covered in 21:27 (7:09 pace) – pretty solid with a more than three-week absence from running.

It became apparent that my work on the bike has paid off as I coasted through the run with strong legs and strong lung capacity – great stuff.

Joe & Dom - December 2009

When I got back to the house this morning and went through the new ritual of icing my leg and stretching diligently – two things that honestly I had not paid proper attention to in the past – I realized just how easy it is to take things for granted.  Things that we view as simple entitlements until they are taken away from us.

For me it was the joy of being able to hop out the front door and run 10,12 miles anytime I felt like it – for my good friend Dom coming back from surgery it is everyday things that all of us take for granted such as being able to drink a cup of coffee, eating a bowl of oatmeal or enjoying your Mother’s home-made cavatelli on Christmas Eve ….

Spending time with Dom and his family was a tremendous gift this Christmas as my wife Dawn and I got the opportunity to visit with Dom, his wife Val, his son Nico and daughter Dr. Sierra.  Being able to laugh a little with our good friend and talk about how far he has come in his battle to beat this terrible disease.  Dom’s biggest hurdle to cross right now is simply getting his body to adjust to the very aggressive surgery he had back in November to remove his stomach and spleen as well as a hot chemotherapy bath treatment to treat all of the other effected organs.  Dom is struggling taking solid foods right now and is getting virtually all of his nutrition via a feeding tube.  Despite knowing that he needs to eat and drink throughout the day the discomfort right now is so significant and the reaction from his body so severe that the pain can be unbearable.

RFD Official Motto

As Dom fights through this period of time where nutrition is his largest hurdle to gain strength for his next three rounds of chemotherapy we are just really beginning our race preparations for the Boston Marathon on April 19th and Pittsburgh Marathon May 2nd.  Our revised training calendar calls for 63 runs over the next 16 weeks totaling 430 miles, 47 biking sessions covering 570 miles and 48 strength training sessions.

1,000 training miles to cover 52.40 race miles.  Piece of cake.  I have been saying this since we started this effort to help Dom’s family that I had it easy – and I have never been more convinced of that than this weekend.  Dom is going to need to approach every day’s nutrition “schedule” as I do my training calendar.  A series of small steps forward that will ultimately lead to the finish line.

The key thing to remember is that it is not always going to be easy, sometimes it rains, sometimes it snows, sometimes the wind blows so hard in your face it feels like you are going backwards.  The key is to just keep those legs churning and before you know it you have pushed through and come out the other side.

Before today a 3-mile run was almost not worth the effort of lacing up the shoes – it seemed like it was over before it started.  Today however, those were 3 glorious miles.  I enjoyed every step along the way and felt a great deal of pride crossing them off of the schedule that hangs on the refrigerator door.  Only 997 miles to go – I plan on making the most out of every single one of them.


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