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.  http://wp.me/pHGel-8D/

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:  http://www.runfordom.com/

  1. naomi says:

    I’ve lived in the Bay for over a decade but always find a renewed love for my City when I read/hear about it from others who experience it for the first time. Glad you were able to experience the GGB and hope it wasn’t too foggy for you.

    Also, hoping things go well for Dom with his treatment. He is in my prayers.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Naomi! Thanks so much for the visit and the wishes for Dom. He is have a rough day today for sure – it was great to get out there and cover some miles I know he wishes he could. Take good care, you have a beautiful city here for sure! Best, J

  2. Running across the Golden Gate Bridge sounds majestic! I think I would like to do that someday!

    I wish Dom the best of luck with the latest hurdles… The fight he (and all cancer patients) exhibits is inspiring!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jill – Wow, I’m still smiling about that run today – even going up the hills to the bridge I felt like Superman – couldn’t wait to get to the top of the next one …. was great stuff.

      Thank you so much for the kind words and support with Dom and this entire RFD effort – you are the greatest. It really is inspiring to see how much fight my good friend has in him. Simply heroic.

      Take good care, Joe

  3. John Shelvey says:


    Awesome and inspiring. Thoughts and prayers are with Dom and his family.

    Best of luck running up to Hopkinton. How long are you in Boston for? The Sox are in town beginning the Friday before the Marathon and the whole week of.

    Take care,

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi John! Thanks for the visit and message. I’m traveling into Boston with Dawn on Friday and we take off on Wednesday – I’m thinking mostly about recuperation and massage post-race – but man, seeing the Sox at Fenway would be awesome! Take good care, Joe

  4. Chris Duffy says:

    Joe-good for you on this run. I wasn’t a runner when I lived in San Francisco many years ago, but I went back and ran over the GGB and it IS pretty cool. All the best to you and Dom.

  5. Robert Ranzer says:

    Joe. Sad to hear (and see) those seals weren’t too excited to see you! So glad to hear your friend Dom is nearing the end of his treatments. I wish you, your wife, your soon to be son/daughter, and your friend Dom and his family all the best in the future!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Bob – thanks so much for the visit and the comment! Big day today for Dom for sure – thanks so much for all the support – I’m really looking forward to running that mile for you Bob! Take good care, Joe

  6. Brian Gregoire says:

    Joe, That sounded like a great run. I am quite jealous as my run consisted of 6 miles through the mud, snow and rain of North Dakota. Also wishes for Dom’s recovery. I know some of what they are going through as my 6 year old daughter has about 6 months left of chemo after being diagnosed in June of 2008. Best of luck to you both.


    • joerunfordom says:

      Brian thanks so much for the visit and message. My wife and I are expecting our first this September, the challenges your family has faced and continue to face are truly inspiring. I wish your daughter the best. Thank you again for your kind words and support. Best, Joe

  7. onelittlejill says:

    I was just telling my family about Dom last night. I think about him often and really enjoy the updates. Please let him know NJ is praying for him!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jill- thanks so much for the visit and message! I will absolutely let Dom know of his growing fan club in New Jersey! He loves to hear about all of the people who have heard his story and are rooting for him. Thanks again Jill- you are the greatest. Best, Joe

  8. Sarah says:

    Good thoughts to Dom on his recovery!

    And thank you for the wonderful post on your run over the bridge. I’m in the Bay Area and just signed up for the SF Half Marathon in July, which goes over the Golden Gate. After reading what you wrote, now I’m even more excited for it!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Sarah – thanks so much for the visit and the note on Dom! That is so exciting that you’ll berunning the SF Half – I honestly would make the trip out for that race from TX just to run the Golden Gate again – it will be even more amazing for you to run over the Middle of the bridge with all of those runners …. can’t wait for that race report! Take good care! J

  9. nyflygirl says:

    Sounds like a beautiful run!! San Francisco is just a great city in general. I went there about 3 years ago and ran a half-marathon (the “2nd half” of the full SFM…started in Golden Gate Park and ended at the Embarcadero. The first half went over the bridge but I couldnt handle the 5:30 AM race start 🙂 ) and just fell in love with the city. The half was a fun race and I definitely recommend it. Best wishes to Dom with his treatment/recovery.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks so much for the visit and congratulations again on your race confirmation – can’t wait to read that race report! Man, that was really something in San Francisco this week – talk about great hill work! Thanks for the kind words on Dom – this week will be pretty rough as that chemo hits him hard 3-5 days later – but hopefully from there it will be onward and upward! Hope things are warming up back East – take good care, J

  10. Lara says:

    I’m so glad you took the time to run the Golden Gate Bridge. It would be on my Bucket List too, if I ever took the time to write one up. And, it seems so serendipitous that you were running just when Dom was going through the last round of Chemo. The energy that you were generating was, I am positive, reaching to him over the thousands of miles that separated you. Keep running, Joe… it means so much, to so many people.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Lara for the visit and the kind words! This next month of training for me and recovery for Dom represents some real milestones for both of us. May 2nd is going to be pretty special in Pittsburgh. Take good care Lara! Joe

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