Pittsburgh Marathon – Post Race!

Posted: May 2, 2010 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , , , ,

You know how you think you know what something is going to be like?  You visualize things in advance, try to picture how you will feel, the sounds you will hear, even the smell in the air.  Then the actual event comes along and it is nothing like you have it pictured in your mind.  Sometimes there is a let-down, and you wish that the experience was more like your vision than the reality.

5:30 a.m. Reminder

Well today, that could not be further than the truth.  The Pittsburgh Marathon was everything that I had hoped it would be and more.  A lot more.  I will be posting a full-race report later this week when I have a chance to really sit back and reflect on the race.  Right now I just have images, snapshots and emotions battling for attention inside of me.

My flight over to Minneapolis tomorrow morning for a work trip will hopefully give me some alone time to reflect fully on today’s events.  But tonight I just want to share.

I’ve been blessed so many times over with more love and support than any one person deserves.  Many of you have read every word that I shared about training runs, injuries, personal set-backs, Dom’s battle through surgery, rehabilitation, more surgery and even Dear John letters I’ve penned to my retired running shoes.

You have played along from start to finish.  Your comments have made me laugh at times, cry at others and keep me going always.  I really can’t thank you enough.

Joe on Course

So what was the race like?  In a word – incredible.  I have never had to fight so hard as my body betrayed me after a punishing Boston Marathon just 13 days ago.  We fought valiantly for 13 miles running a race very similar to last year’s all-time best.  But as I crested Forbes Hill just past the half-way point, my body started to fight me.  A charley horse that would return in the finisher’s chute about knocked me on my rear end at mile 21.  I stumbled a bit and thought of the words tucked on a note in my shoe.

“Run like you’ll never run again.”

We got it back together and kept moving and as I started focusing more on what today was about I started making friends.  I ran with Father Jonathan for two miles as he was fading and struggling to hold on to the finish.  I met Gates who was walking on the side of the course at mile 24 and asked him if he would like to run in together.  I got Gates going again and he made it all the way in.  I continued to talk to as many first time marathoners that I could and help them reach an amazing goal.

I felt like the pied piper at one point and actually spotted my friend Brian Cass who had run the half marathon (his first ever) on the side of the course at mile 25.5.

I shouted to Brian, asked him to come onto the course with me and we finished together.  Here is a picture of Brian and I in the final .10 miles as I started to egg the crowd on and get them cheering for the finishers.  It was the greatest tenth of a mile I have ever run – and that includes Boston’s final stretch two weeks ago.

The greatest 1/10 of a mile in marathoning

Then there was Dom.

I have to admit we cried a little at the finish – that’s what us Italian guys do – but it made every step of those 52.4 miles over the last 13 days worth it.  I thanked him for allowing me to honor him in this way, and he thanked me for all that I gave today on the course.  If we never speak of it again – that is also what us Italian guys do – we’ll never have to.

Joe & Dom - Look at that Medal on Dom!

Our time today – 3:42:32 – 601st overall.  Honestly, and this is big for me to admit as many of you know me well.  I couldn’t have cared less.  I actually forgot to shut off my GPS until I was out of the shower in the hotel – sacrilege if you are a runner right?  Doesn’t matter. 

We put ourselves out there, did our very best and made a huge difference in the process.  During the race we passed the $20,000 mark for Dom and his family pictured here:

Dom, Val, Sierra & Nico (future Steeler Linebacker)

Our goal when this all started was to raise $26,200 in honor of the 26.2 marathon distance.  Deep down I know we still have a shot.  The last 6 miles of any marathon are the toughest, everyone knows that.  You just have to put your head down, keep fighting and find a way.  I still have a little fight in me yet.  6 Miles to go?  Let’s strap those shoes back on.

Who’s with me?


  1. David H. says:

    Awesome job. Doing one marathon is something most people will never do. Two in two weeks puts you in an even rarer crowd. And to do it for your friend and a great cause makes it all the more worthwhile. Thanks for sharing this journey with the rest of the world.

    • joerunfordom says:

      David – thank you my man for all the visits, kind words and support. We’re officially a Marathon Maniac now …. so I guess I’ve taken “crazy” to a new level this week.

      Thanks again David – we’ll catch up soon! J

  2. onelittlejill says:

    I am so happy Dom got to see you at the race! You did something amazing Joe. Be proud. Take an ice bath, have a beer and be proud!!!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thank you so much Jill for all of the great support over these months – I thought about you today on the course. Thank you so very much. As for your instructions – done and done! Best to you – can’t wait to catch up soon! Best, Joe

  3. mikebuteau says:

    That is AWESOME Joe. Congrats to you. Dom must feel fortunate to have a true friend like you. Way to go man! That is a SERIOUS accomplishment. Be proud!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Mike – thank you so much for the visit and the kind words. I’ll tell you Mike – I’m the lucky one. Dom has taught me more about what life is all about than I could have learned in two lifetimes. He is my hero. Best to you! Joe

  4. Robert Ranzer says:

    Joe. Facebook can be a silly and fun distraction but following you and Dom through this gives facebook real meaning. You did this all for your buddy so I’m sure Dom is a great and special friend to you. (no doubt) I wan’t you to know that Dom and his family will be in my thoughts with best wishes for a full recovery with no more set-backs. And you also for being so self-less and giving others the opportunity to be selfless as well and to be a part of something very special. Joe. Thank you for your advice to me on running. I appreciate it. Whether it’s through your blog or one on one. Take care and make sure to totally pig out at the salt lick—> you deserve it!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Bob – as someone who has known me for literally 3/4 of my life – your words truly resonate. It has been so great reconnecting with you over the past few months – and your support has been tremendous. I’m so glad you are finding that fire for running Bob – there is no telling how far it can take you – trust me on that as believe me I know! Salt Lick is definitely on the list for my return to TX Bob …. they better make sure they have A LOT of brisket. Best to you my friend, Joe

  5. Awesome race and what an amazing journey. Thank you for the inspiration and wish you the very best.

  6. Brian Cass says:

    It’s not everyday a guy gets to cross the finish line twice! I better have some other good finish line pictures, considering the photographers had two chances to get it right! Today was a moment in time that will last forever, thank you for allowing me to be a part of the experience Joe!

  7. Brian Cass says:

    It’s not everyday a guy gets to cross the finish line twice! I better have some good finish line pictures, considering the photographers had two chances to get it right! Today was a moment in time that will last forever, thank you for allowing me to be a part of the experience Joe!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Brian – there were a lot of amazing things that happened today – but seeing you and your brother there in the final stretch and calling you back out onto the course was amazing. Thank you for the final push and of course the help with that charley horse in the chute. I might still be there right now if not for you!

      You did a great job in your first half today Brian – like I said, when you are ready to run your first full – unless I’m in the hospital becoming a new Dad – I’ll be there. Count on it.

      Congratulations again and yes – we should have some great race photos!

  8. Lara says:

    Joe I’m so incredibly happy for you, I’m crying right now. What an intensely emotional experience all around. So many emotions, too many to name. Highest blessings to you all, sleep well tonight, warrior.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Lara- thank you so much for the visit, your message and all of the motivation and support. Yesterday seemed to happen so quickly, but I have so many great memories.

      I seem to be recalling more and more about the race with each passing hour.

      It really was a great day. Thanks again! Looking forward to catching up soon!

  9. Jodi Higgins says:

    Great report and pictures. Thank you again for being an inspiration. What you are doing/have done for Dom is amazing. I know I will be thinking of you and Dom when I run the Cleveland Marathon in honor of my dear friend who will be 10 years tumor free that weekend.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jodi- thanks so much and congratulations to you again. That course chewed up a lot of strong runners between the rain, heat and humidity. Great job.

      Best for you in your next race and I am so happy to hear your friend is going strong. I think a race a year for Dom sounds like a great goal to chase.

      Thanks so much and God bless.

  10. Tim Brady says:

    Great work Joe, what a herculean task to do 2 marathons in two weeks. Dom is a great inspiration and you and the family look great in the pix. Tough conditions from what I hear…rain, warmth, and a bomb scare? Congratulations

    • joerunfordom says:

      Brades- thanks so much for the visit, support and the kind words. What’s a little rain, heat, humidity and potential disaster …. All in a day’s work!

      Was a rough day out there for a lot of runners. I was really happy to help get a few to the finish.

      Lots of victories out there yesterday. Best to you and the family Tim!

  11. Connie says:

    Joe How proud I am of you this day and everyday.You are the greatest friend a person could have. You set out to do it and you did. Loved the pictures. I always told you YOU ARE THE WINNER AND SO IS DOM

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Connie! You have been right all along. We had a great day yesterday and not one bit of it had to do with a race time.

      I’m so proud of our boy Dom. What a warrior. Thanks again for everything. You are the best!

  12. thomasneuberger says:

    Great job, your link is now up on believeintherun!

  13. Wow, great job! I love that you put inspiration in your shoes. I might need to try that one. I’m glad the rain didn’t bring you down. Hopefully you’ll run again next year. I’ve enjoyed the Pittsburgh Marathon so much I’d like to try an make it an annual race for myself. Good job!

  14. Sarah G says:

    Wow, transplant here from Chic Runner. LOVING this blog!!! Awesome job!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Sarah – Welcome to Run for Dom! Danica is a great friend of mine – I am so happy you found the blog and enjoy reading along. Thank you so much for your kind words and support. Take good care, Joe

  15. David says:

    “Run like you’ll never run again.” I swear I fought back the tears both times you’ve mentioned this in the last few posts. This is what I try to live my life by, basically. Go all out…go 110%…do the most with what you have, while you have it! Because you never know when something might hinder you from ever being able to do it again in the future. Share time with family now…make great memories now…don’t put it off. Because they may be gone one day and you’ll just be left with regrets. ‘No regrets for this life’ is my goal. You don’t want to look back on your life and say: I could’ve done more. Instead, I want to look back and say: I kicked butt with this life, did a lot of great things, and helped a lot of people out.

    I enjoy reading your blog, Joe, because you keep me on the right track, the right mindset, for doing what I’ve set out to do–run like I’ll never run again. You’re definitely an inspiration! Okay I’ll ease up on the sappiness now! haha But great job on the back-to-back marathons!

  16. joerunfordom.wordpress.com’s done it again! Superb article.

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