Christmas Weekend – Tacking One On For Dom

Posted: December 26, 2010 in Training
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Man what a weekend.

Lots of good stuff this Christmas being able to be home with Dawn, Landry and Kayla for Land’s first Christmas.  At only 4 months old Landry really doesn’t quite “get it” yet with respect to what Christmas is all about – but it was a weekend of firsts for Landry – and they were some pretty good ones.

Landry's Bath before going to see Santa!

First Christmas eve service, first Christmas Tree, first time on Santa’s lap, first time opening presents – even though she pretty much slept through all of that.  Super-Mom Dawn put a great gift under the tree this year for Landry and I to share over the years as we got a Pennsylvania Flyer Train Set! 

I can only imagine how much fun Landry and I are going to have building our tracks, towns, hills and tunnels over the years every Christmas.  As much as Dawn and I love this time of year, decorating the house, Christmas Tree(s) X2, and putting up lights – having Landry has made this year extra special.

Landry's First Train Set

Amid all of the happy times this year, I would be lying if I didn’t say that there was some sadness as well.

I found myself thinking about Landry’s Godfather Keith celebrating Christmas with his boys Garris and Fuller in Charleston, the first since their Mom died in August.  An accident that when I think about it months later, I still struggle to make any sense of it.

Of course in Pittsburgh, Sierra, Nico and Val were celebrating their first of many Christmas’ without Dom.  Just one year ago Dawn and I were at Dom’s Mother and Father’s house enjoying Christmas Eve dinner with the D’Eramo family.  Dom’s passing after his battle with cancer is still very raw for me.  Losing their Father as a 4 year-old little girl and a 1 ½ year old boy, is in a word – unfair.

I thought a lot about Dom this weekend as I was pressing on through some challenging training runs.

The Marathon waits for no one.  Racing well on February 20th required a big effort this weekend Christmas or no Christmas.

With a 10-mile run on the schedule Christmas morning and a 20-miler on Sunday, I wanted to be sure to get my workouts in, but not miss out on any of the “good stuff”.

I set the alarm for 4:45 a.m. on Saturday to get out the door and onto the Brushy Creek Trail to knock out my Marathon Pace run and return to the house long before Landry would wake up for her first Christmas.

With fresh legs and a spring in my step I was able to knock out Saturday’s 10-miler in 1:09:05 – 6:54 pace.

I pushed hard over the hilly course posting all but one mile under 7:00 min./mile pace.

Splits were:  6:55, 7:05, 6:58, 6:55, 6:58, 6:43, 6:52, 6:56, 6:48, 6:51

After a quick shower and a great breakfast of French Toast and Bacon it was time for presents with Dawn.  You know that you’re a runner when your favorite gifts are things like Runderwear, Under Armour Cold Gear Tights and Mock Turtle Neck and a pair of Brooks Green Silence Running shoes.

Of course the train set was my favorite surprise gift under the tree.

After a relaxing Christmas Day, although Landry tested Pappa Bear and Momma Bear as she decided that she would like to party like a rock star all day and not take a single nap throughout the day, it was time for a dinner of pasta, salad and bread to load up for Sunday’s long run.

Me? Nap? No thanks, it's Christmas!

The “back to back” 10/20 mile runs are the bread and butter of the marathon training plan in my opinion.  It is not only logging a 20-mile run that prepares the runner for the test of the marathon, but the cumulative effect of all of the training.

Being able to run a tough 10-miler on Saturday, followed by another 20 miles 24 hours later is what builds the stamina and endurance necessary to push hard over the final 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) on race day.

Better still, being able to run a second 20-miler just 7 days after last Sunday’s 20 mile run, further prepares this marathoner for race day.

As I left the house it was 27 degrees.  I was in my new Under Armour Cold Gear, My Asics Running Jacket, one pair of running gloves inside a pair of running mittens.  Cold weather hat, two water bottles and we were ready to rock.

The last piece of “gear” I put on before leaving the house was a new Nathan Lighted LED vest.  I picked up the vest for the overnight legs of the Ragnar Del Sol relay through the Arizona desert, but thought it’s high visibility yellow and Red Light would help any cars see me at 5:00 a.m. as we made our way up the hill out of the neighborhood.

After warming up a bit over the first two miles I locked in to my pace right around 7:18 min./mile.  The miles ticked by pretty quickly as my body adjusted to the outside temperatures.  As I passed the house at mile 12 I decided that it would be a good morning to “tack one on” as I thought about Dom and his family. 

When you’re running 20 miles before sunup, why not 21?

After making the turn back towards home through the bottom loop of Brush Creek Trail I had one more mile to go.  My legs were starting to feel the run a bit, but I was still able to hold a solid pace climbing up the final hill.

Total run time was 2:33:32 – 7:18 pace overall.

Mile splits on Sunday:

7:31, 7:26, 7:13, 7:16, 7:10, 7:19, 7:17, 7:16, 7:10, 7:07, 7:13, 7:16, 7:30, 7:22, 7:25, 7:15, 7:08, 7:17, 7:21, 7:22, 7:26

Projected over 26.2 miles we would be on track for a 3:11:24 marathon.

Pretty solid effort after Saturday’s 10-miler and back to back 50+ mile running weeks.

With two more 20 mile runs on the training schedule to further build our base, as well as a 3-week marathon taper to rest our legs, we very well might be on target to drop another :10/mile off of the pace we posted on Sunday.

That would bring us to the Austin finish line with a marathon time of 3:07 and change, more than a 10 minute PR over our previous best time posted at the 2009 Pittsburgh Marathon.

A lot of things will have to happen to make that time a reality as there is nothing that you can consider a “given” when it comes to the Marathon.  But as of December 26, 2010 – things are looking pretty good.

Dom, it was your kind of weather out there this morning.  Steeler playoff weather.  Thanks for providing the push to tack on that extra mile.  That was the way you lived, always going out of your way for your family and friends, always doing just a little bit more to make a difference.

That sums up pretty well what this whole Run for Dom is all about.  We’ve just started taking mile sponsors for the Austin Marathon – if you would like to help please visit:

  1. Jodi Higgins says:

    It has been a pleasure following your journey so far! Looking forward to what is yet to come. Can’t wait to finally meet you in February. You have truly been an inspiration to me! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your running, your family, your victories, your successes, and your losses. Many prayers to you and your family during this holiday season!

  2. joerunfordom says:

    Hi Jodi! Thanks so much for the message and all of the great support this year. I am looking forward to seeing you down here in Austin so very much for the race in February. We have a lot to catch up on for sure!

    Thanks for everything and for helping spread the word about RFD over on your blog – you are the greatest. Have a wonderful time at home with the family this week! Best, Joe

  3. Good job! You are rocking it. Keep it up. And Landry is SUPER cute too. 🙂

  4. Brian Cass says:

    I’ll look forward to a post on the Green Silence!?! I was [ ] that close to buying a pair over at as they are closing out the original ones and rolling out the newer ones. With the CP15 team discount they are only $59 dollars! Ended up blowing my mad money on some new shorts and the shoes I am going to likely run Austin with instead!

    It was fun to get out and run in some cold snowy weather this past week, but it sure is nice to back to a shorts and singlet/shirtless. It was good to get to train in though, as there is a chance we will be racing in it…but lets sure hope not! -B

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