Reminder from Dom …. Love the Run

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Motivation
Tags: , , ,

I was stretching on the floor of our bedroom Saturday morning as Dawn was feeding little miss Landry.  Now 6 days old, Landry continues to amaze us every day and is developing her own little “personality”.  She is a very good eater and is already back above her birth weight.  It makes for a lot of messy diapers, but no complaints here.  Bring ‘em on I say!

Landry - Day 5 with Dad

Dawn asked how far I was going on my run and still not fully recovered from my three nights sleeping on perhaps the most uncomfortable contraption ever created by man in the hospital, I told her I didn’t really know.  I had a 6.25 mile Marathon Pace Run on the training schedule stuck to the door of the “Magic Fridge” – but my head told me I should stretch the run out a bit after missing on Tuesday.

My head said 8, my back and heart just weren’t as convinced.

So, I chose a playlist from my iPod that would get me ready to rock a bit.   Some Green Day, Social Distortion, a little Hootie, some Third Eye Blind and went outside to stretch my calves against the garage. 

I looked up at the American Flag on the house to gauge the wind and felt cool.  Not Arthur Fonzarelli cool, but “temperature cool”.  The temperature was just 70 degrees, humidity 53%.  As I took my first strides out of our driveway I decided that I was going to just see where the morning took me.  One thing was certain, it was too perfect a morning to just mail in a little 6-miler.

I shook loose quickly and felt my stride lengthening only about ½ mile into my run.  This summer it has taken close to a full mile to feel that “good” early in my runs.  The sun was just starting to peak through a “layered” cloudy sky.  It was not going to be a clear sunrise, but with the different layers of cloud cover serving as a filter – it was truly a beautiful one.

Heading into mile 4 I scattered 3 small rabbits off of the trail and decided that I would head right to the lower loop near our home instead of a left up onto the main trail.  As I made my way along the loop I was rewarded by seeing 5 deer, all doe, meandering along the green belt.  Seemed like everyone was out enjoying the day.

When I hit the main trail I climbed up and over the hill that we had run up 10 times on Thursday during our hill repeats.  At the top of the dam I passed a couple of cyclists and then spotted my friend Middalia coming across the dam in the opposite direction.  As always, Middalia greeted me with her 1000 Watt smile and we high-fived on the way past.

Funny that I could tell just by looking at Middalia’s stride that she too knew we had been given a great gift this morning.  A perfect day to run, I was determined to take advantage of it.

I started computing the rest of my route in my head, with a 12-miler on the schedule for Sunday morning waiting, I couldn’t get too crazy with my distance.  I was also running without water, which meant I would have to keep it under 10 miles.

I hit the path around the lake where I often reflect on Dom.  It was at this very spot about 11 months ago that the Run for Dom Marathon double idea took form, and I decided to run the Boston and Pittsburgh Marathons two weeks apart in honor of his cancer battle.

Sunday will mark three weeks since Dom’s passing and 1 week since the birth of our daughter Landry.  I started to feel a mixture of sadness and maybe a little guilt as I thought of him.  Here I was with a beautiful baby girl snuggling up with her mother at home and me enjoying my morning run.  With luck, I was going to be able to watch Landry grow up, see her first step, be there for her first day of school, her first boyfriend, her first heartbreak, driving lessons, High School Graduation – God willing, even walk her down the aisle.

All things that Dom would not be able to do for his daughter Sierra.  He would not have the chance to throw the ball with Nico or teach him how to tie a tie.  How you should always hold the door for a lady and why the Pittsburgh Steelers are the greatest football team in the land.  I will be teaching Landry that it is in fact the Philadelphia Eagles, who are the team to root for.  But on this point, Dom and I simply agreed to disagree.

Why was I so lucky?  What did I do to deserve this gift of the day?

I shook the cobwebs loose around mile 7 and told myself to snap out of it.  The greatest gift I have when it comes to Dom is that I can always find a story from his life that can make me smile and laugh.  He “had a million of them” as they say – and I can always seem to draw strength from those memories, even though I wish we had much more time together.

I decided that over mile 8 and 9 I would push the pace a bit and try to post a couple of sub 7:00 minute miles.  That is the equivalent of running about 8.4 miles per hour.

As I started to push I thought of a story that our good friend Jason shared at the luncheon after Dom’s memorial service.

I haven’t talked a lot about Dom the athlete in the past – I will make a conscious effort to do so much more often in the coming months.  But back in High School Dom was not the biggest guy – he stood just about 5’ 7” (in his socks and shoes) – but Dom was fast.  Wicked fast.  Arguably the fastest boy at Hopewell, HS.

After Dom’s surgery in November which involved the removal of his stomach, spleen as well as a hot chemotherapy bath, Dom needed to get up and moving a couple of days later.  Jason was with him at the hospital and Dom simply did not feel like walking just yet.

Another man who had the same surgery as Dom was up and walking down the hall outside of Dom’s room.  Jason, who literally grew up with Dom, knew exactly how to push his competitive button – and said to Dom, “If that guy can do it, you can do it too.”

With that, Dom, Jason and a nurse took his first post-surgery steps.  It was painful.  Brutally so as I’m sure you can imagine.  It took Dom and Jason close to 20 minutes to walk about 20 yards.  At which point Dom looked at the nurse and said:

“You might not believe this, but I used to be the fastest kid at Hopewell, High School.”

That was our Dom.

Saturday 9.2 Miles

So, with a new smile on my lips and a spring in my stride I put the pedal down.  I ticked those final two miles off for my boy Dom in 6:56 and 6:50.  A total of 9.2 miles this morning, an exact distance I can honestly say I have never run before.

Not too shabby for a 43-year-old new Dad still learning how to change diapers and get some sleep.

After 5 years of running I am still learning.  All the time I am discovering something new, trying a different strategy or tweaking my plan to keep improving.

This morning however I didn’t learn something as much as I remembered something.  I remembered that sometimes you should just get out there and “love the run”.

Afterall, that’s what the fastest kid at Hopewell, High School would do if he had the chance.  Thanks for the reminder this morning Dom. 

I miss you brother.

Dom #13 Bottom Left

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Comments
  1. Jodi Higgins says:

    I type this response through streams of tears. Once again your words just flow so eloquently. What an amazing person Dom was and what a great friend you are. I”m glad you “loved the run” today and did so in honor and memory of Dom. Great job on the 9.2 miles this morning!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jodi- thanks so much for the visit and the message. It really is great to have Dom out there looking after us. I feel like my internal compass is never to far off track with him glancing over my shoulder.

      Great job with your training this week. So proud of all the hard work you are putting in. Your next race (or I guess the race after your next race technically) is going to show you all the gains you’ve made.

      Best from Austin, J

  2. tbrush3 says:

    Thanks for sharing Joe. What a run brother! I doubt there will be many runs the rest of your life where you don’t have a thought about Dom. I love to hear the stories about him. Keep them coming as I love to learn more about a man who could help inspire you.

    By the way a little Social D can get me moving also.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Trey – thanks for the visit and the message. Will do on relaying more stories about Dom, that is material that may be impossible to run out of.

      Really loving Social D right now to run to – I’m going to play my Boston Marathon deck tomorrow during my long run. I haven’t listened to it since that race …

      Best from Austin, good luck with that upcoming Relay Trey, sounds like you guys are really going to crush it.

  3. onelittlejill says:

    If I ever come to Texas, I might come back with a Landry…just saying. Seriously, outside of my own future kids, she is the CUTEST ever! I wanna kiss her face!

    About this guilt thing; I think it is natural. Sometimes I feel guilty for all the things I have done, that Jimmy hasn’t. Sometimes I feel bad when I talk to his mom about all the things I do because she doesn’t get that with her son. But I have to remember that I am here for a reason. And I try to be a good person who deserves the reason to be here. Joe, you are doing to so much for Dom. It’ll never make up for those kids missing a dad, but what you are doing is worth so much!

    Keep on running 🙂

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jill! Hope Wildwood is awesome as ever. She really is a cute little native Texan I think …. if she would just stop squirming when Dad is trying to change those diapers!

      I’m really looking forward to when folks around here as if she is named after Tom Landry and she replies, “Dallas Sucks” – going to be my proudest moment as a Dad.

      Thanks for the note on Dom, It does get hard sometimes wondering why bad things happen to good people, and others of us are so fortunate. I just want those little ones to not only have great, great lives, but for them to know how wonderful a person their Dada was and why so many people love and miss him.

      Take good care and have some salt water taffy for me, haven’t had any in years and years. Best, J

  4. Hi Joe, well written and thoughtful post as ever. We are all left with guilt when bad things happen to the good people we know and not us…it’s what we do with it that matters. You have done so much for Dom and will continue to share his legacy with not only his children but with thousands others.

    I can’t wait to see more pictures of Landry and hear how she is growing and developing!!! Cheers from SoCal!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi AJ – thanks so much for the visit and the message! You are the greatest. I just put up about 20 pictures of little miss Landry on my facebook page – head on over! She gets cuter and cuter it seems every day. Best to you and R! Enjoy the holiday weekend! J

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