Archive for March 11, 2010

Bucket List Run …. Dom Update!

Posted: March 11, 2010 in Training

Big week at Run for Dom as work travel took me out to Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Flights, early morning wake-up calls and meetings make training for a marathon on the road challenging – but it also allows for a change of scenery and new training locations.

Tuesday morning called for a 10-mile fast finish long run that took me from beautiful Marina Del Rey up through Venice Beach and past the famed Santa Monica Pier and back.  I’ve always enjoyed running along the coast whether East or West as the elevation  and amount of “air” in the air – always allows me to push pace and run some very fast times.

Tuesday was no different as I wrapped up my 10 miles in 1:11:40 (7:10/mile pace).  My final 5-miles were covered in times of 7:09, 7:03, 7:00, 6:58, 6:47 – it was a “rocket ship” run if there ever was one.

After a quick 5-mile recovery run Wednesday morning long before sunrise we hit the road literally and made our way up the coast from Marina Del Rey to San Francisco.  With three of us traveling together and a lot of work related items to discuss we opted to make the drive up from L.A. eschewing a day of airports, waiting in lines and rental car counters.  Turned out to be a tremendous decision, much better than the decision we made about dinner.  That might need to be a post all of its own ….

I mean there is something to be said for being able to pull off of Pacific Coast Highway and purchasing fresh picked strawberries for a mid-morning snack.  That experience is pretty tough to beat when you find yourself hungry every hour on the hour.  We covered mile after mile of beautiful California coastline picking our way from San Louis Obispo north to Cambia, through Big Sur, Monterey and on to San Francisco. 

We saw quite a bit of beautiful California landscape and even stopped to make a few new Sea Lion friends along the way.  (I don’t think they were as excited to see me as I was to see them …)

Joe makes some new friends in California

Thursday morning’s 10-mile training run would offer me the opportunity to do something I had always wanted to do which is run across the Golden Gate bridge.  This was my second “key workout” of the week preparing for Sunday’s 20-mile long run.  Even though I really need to focus on Sunday’s run this week – the temptation of running across the Golden Gate was just too strong to pass up.  This was something of a “bucket list run” that I will be able to remember forever.

I’m not sure I can really do it justice in this space just how majestic the bridge was this morning as I could see it from more than 4 miles away on my approach.  The bridge continued to get bigger and bigger as the miles ticked by.  Running at 4:30 a.m. without knowing exactly how to find a footpath in the dark can have its challenges – but something was definitely guiding my decision making this morning as I was able to keep a quick pace (7:23/mile) and still make all the correct turns to find my way up and over the bridge.

I thought last night that I would have preferred running the bridge in the daylight – but man, was I ever wrong on that one.  With clear skies this morning the bridge was absolutely majestic in the early morning darkness.  It is hard to describe just how “small” the experience made me feel.  I actually caught myself letting my fingertips run along the edge of the railing like a little kid as I started to crest the first upstroke of the bridge.  Looking out to the right over my shoulder to see the lights of San Francisco in the distance is something I will never forget.

Sometimes it takes the enormity of something to put it all in perspective.  For me I will always remember today’s training run in San Francisco.  After covering well over 6,500 miles since 2005, not too many runs compare to this morning’s trip over the San Francisco Bay and back.

2,264 miles away something very different was happening back in Pittsburgh, PA this morning.

Father - Dom Sr., Our Hero, Wife - Val

Our hero Dom – at literally the same time I would be crossing the Golden Gate – would be undergoing his final round of Chemotherapy.  It has been an incredibly long and difficult journey for Dom and his family over the past 7 months.  From the moment of Dom’s diagnosis this Fall through 6 rounds of chemotherapy and a very evasive surgical procedure that removed Dom’s stomach, spleen and portions of other organs Dom has stood tall throughout. 

Nutrition continues to be a significant challenge for Dom as he fights to keep down solid food and fluids as his body adjusts to a very different set of circumstances.  Dom will continue to have his PET Scans at three month intervals and of course careful monitoring to guard against any recurrence of cancer – but from this point forward all signs point forward toward recovery.

Are there going to be set-backs?  Most assuredly – if the past few months are any indication, Dom very well may find himself back in the Hospital for a few days in the next week if he cannot regain his strength and maintain his hydration and nutrition after this final round of chemotherapy.

So this morning when I was coming back over the bridge I took a moment to think about how far we’ve both traveled to date and all of the love and support Dom has received since August.  I let myself peek ahead to May 2nd when the second of our two marathons in 13 days are in the books and I can hug my good friend and tell him just how much he means to all of us.  It truly has been an honor to take on the Run for Dom challenge and to make a financial difference in the lives of Dom his wife Val and his two little ones Sierra and Nico.

At the end of the day that is really what it is all about.  Go Dom!  This one was for you this morning!

If you are interested in finding out more about helping Run for Dom please visit: