The closing miles of a marathon are a pretty amazing experience.  It really doesn’t matter if it is your first race, your fourth or your fortieth.  There is something magical about those final miles – pushing yourself toward the finish line that stood 26.2 miles away more than three hours before.  You have good miles and bad ones, easy stretches and difficult ones.  You find yourself smiling at times, grimacing at others.

You question why you are doing this to yourself.  In your next race you question why you are doing this to yourself again.  Better still, why for the second time in 13 days? 

Three plus hours, that’s a long time to be alone with your thoughts.  Despite wanting to quit at times, you find a way to dig deeper than you have before and you keep on going.  In a strange way as your body grows more and more weary, your resolve grows stronger and stronger.

You have thousands of people around you – many in the same situation you find yourself in.  Yet, you feel very alone.  Fighting, scratching and clawing – using any means necessary to keep on going.

Now imagine doing that for 12 months.

I can’t begin to imagine what the last 12 months have been like for my friend Dom.  Some days when I would be out on a training run and I would think of Dom it would bring a great sense of pride and accomplishment.  I would remind myself that I was training for a great reason.  To honor a close friend and do all that I could to help make a difference in not only his life, but that of his wife, daughter and son.

Other days I would find myself choking back tears as I ran – wishing that the news I had heard the night before was better.  That my friend was getting stronger and that his cancer was being kicked to the curb.

Some mornings I would wonder what May 2nd would feel like when I came through the chute.  After fighting for more than three hours through all the soreness, fatigue and pain to get that finisher’s medal. 

Will I be able to find the right words as place it around my good friend’s neck and thank him for allowing me to do this for him?  What do you say to the bravest man you’ve ever known?

Tomorrow (Friday) morning, Dawn and I will be heading to Pittsburgh, off to tackle a second marathon in less than two weeks.  Packing my race bag last night I’ll be the first to say that the emotions of this trip are really starting to get to me. 

Frankly, it’s hard to write about.  I can only imagine what Sunday morning will feel like standing in the starting corral surrounded by more than 16,000 runners, but very much alone.  Finding myself more than three hours away from the faces of family and friends, hugs and tears.

The only thing I know for certain when I cross the starting line is that no matter what happens along the way, I have to keep going.  I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and never quit.  It’s simply not an option.  Not this time, not this race. 

Thank you Dom for teaching me that.  It’s a lesson that I promise to never, ever forget.  This one is for you on Sunday.

Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

To help please visit:  http://www.runfordom.com/donate.html

Dom, Val, Sierra, Nico

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Comments
  1. Connie says:

    Joe you got me again this morning. I sit here crying like a baby at your words. nobody says them better than you.I can’t be in Pgh I explained it to Val in an email but my heart will be with all of you.
    Remember Sunday Before the race even starts

    JOE YOU ARE THE WINNER

  2. joerunfordom says:

    Hi Connie! So sorry we won’t be able to hook up in Pittsburgh – we’ll definitely be thinking about you while we’re visiting with the D’Eramos pre & post race. Have a great weekend and thanks for all the well wishes. Looking forward to that race! Best, Joe

  3. Jodi Higgins says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes. What you are doing is amazing! I hope somehow I get the chance to see you on Sunday. Perhaps my cousin and I will stay to watch some of the marathoners finish!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jodi – thanks so much for the message and all the support – That would be so amazing to see you Sunday. I’ll be wearing royal blue/white Under Armour shorts and a light singlet – white ballcap if it’s raining and 4DOM written down my arms – I’d love to tell you when I anticipate finishing – but this is unchartered waters for me with two races in less than two weeks – hoping to run as hard as I can as long as I can. Best to you! J

  4. onelittlejill says:

    Joe,

    Through you, Dom is teaching us all.

    Sincerely,

    Jillian

  5. Jodi Higgins says:

    I will definitely look for you on Sunday if my cousin and I are able to stay to watch some of the marathoners finish. I will be wearing black Nike shorts and a maroon St. Jude’s hero singlet (obviously you won’t see me though as you will be focused on your running of course :)!!!)

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jodi – that is great – I really hope we get to see each other at some point – Just look for the really good looking guy with 845 on his chest ….. that would be me. (All right, the 845 part is true at least). Best to you on Sunday! Joe

  6. Fran says:

    Joe, As Brian would say, “You are a Rock Star!” We are so excited about this weekend for personal reasons as well as the AWESOME cause you are running for. Our very best thoughts and prayers will be with all of you over this emotionally charged and grueling weekend. Trust we will get to met you personally in Austin sometime soon. God Bless!
    Fran Cass

    • joerunfordom says:

      Fran – thank you so much for all the love and support coming from Ohio! We will absolutely get together when you guys are next in Austin. Looking forward to dinner with your boys on Saturday night and Brian beating me by an hour and a half or so on Sunday. (So what if his race is a little shorter!).

      Take good care and thanks again for everything! Looking forward to running mile 11 in your name. Best, Joe

  7. DP_Turtle says:

    Joe AND Dom, you guys are inspirational to me, and I’m sure to many others as well. “Find a way to dig deeper than you have before and you keep on going.”

    You are not alone.

    • joerunfordom says:

      David – can’t thank you enough for all of the kind words, support and motivation to keep on pushing. You are a warrior in this battle as well, your friendship really means a lot. Thank you Turtle! Have a great weekend. I’ll circle around with you post race. Best, Joe

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