Racing for a Cause – Team

Posted: July 22, 2011 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , ,

Like most runners I get asked a lot of questions about why I do what I do.

“Isn’t it hot out there?”

“Are you sore a lot?”

“Don’t you get bored?”

“That seems really far, why do you do it?”

And my personal favorite:

“Aren’t you worried about your knees when you get older?”

I’m not nearly as worried about my knees as I would be worried about my heart if I was out of shape, not eating right and not exercising – so I suppose there are trade-offs in everything.

I’ve heard ’em all over the past few years, especially after running those back to back marathons for Dom last spring.  But the question that I have yet to be asked by anyone other than myself is a simple one.

Am I running toward or away from something?

At the core of being a runner you would think that those are really the only two answers as to why a person would choose running as their sport or hobby.  You would venture a guess that every “reason” that someone cites would fit neatly into one of those two categories.

Why do people run? 

To outrun a medical condition, middle age, or find balance in their lives.  In search of a challenge or a test.  To experience the excitement of chasing down a dream or a goal.  Possibly in an attempt to regain the physical fitness from their youth. 

Some people run to find friendship and camaraderie, push themselves further than they have gone before or maybe they run just because it makes them feel good.

On some level I suppose I run for all of those reasons above.  Some more frequently than others, some mean more to me than others – but certainly of the more than 1,000 miles I have run so far this year, and the close to 10,000 I have run over the last half-decade – certainly some of them were run for the reasons above.

But every once in a while I find myself running neither to something nor from something.

Instead I feel like I am running FOR something.  When I think back to this time last year when Dom was slipping away from us, we had all arrived at the very sad, dark reality that cancer was going to win this one.

Dom was having a harder and harder time fighting off his illness and his body had grown weaker and weaker.  What seemed so encouraging in January and February had become so stark by June and July.  Ultimately Dom would leave us on August 15, 2010.  Just two weeks before our little girl Landry would be born.

I remember those first few runs after losing Dom.  Austin Marathon training had not yet begun.  I was once again searching for something, anything to hang on to and believe in.  I ran my fastest ever 5K Race just 13 days after Dom passed away.  I would run my fastest 10K, 10 Miler, Half Marathon and Marathon with Dom’s initials on my race shoes in the months to follow.

I was no longer running toward something or from something – I was truly running “FOR” someone and there was great power in that.  I expected to run my best races with D.V.D on my instep, and without fail I was able to go out and do it, time and time again.  There is no coincidence in that.

Well just last week I registered for another race, this one doesn’t fit nice and neatly into my marathon training calendar like some do, but after hearing about it, there was simply no way I could pass it up.

Here in Austin there is a 5-year old girl named Jaylie Nielson.  Blond hair, blue eyes, cute as could be.

In April she was complaining about having some vision problems.  She was taken quickly to the emergency room and after a series of tests were conducted, it was discovered that she had a brain tumor.

Jaylie underwent immediate brain surgery and had the tumor successfully removed. 

Much like my mother’s situation last month, upon testing it turns out that the tumor was cancerous.

Jaylie’s type of cancer however is an extremely aggressive and rare form of cancer:  Supratentoral Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor or (PNET).

On June 1st Jaylie begun her journey through the very difficult path of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  I have yet to meet Jaylie, but from everything I have been able to learn about her through her website and on Facebook, she sounds like an amazing young girl.

On August 13th, just two days before the anniversary of Dom’s passing there will be a 5K Race and Fun Run at the Southwest Williamson County Regional Park.

Haeley Vaughn, a finalist on AMerican Idol will be in attendance to perform the National Anthem.

Joe Run for Dom will be there honoring my good friend and helping to make a difference in a young girls life.  For more information about the run or how you can help by making a donation please visit:

Information for Race Day Below:

Saturday, August 13, 2011
Southwest Williamson County Regional Park
3005 County Road 175, Leander, TX


  • 6:30am Day-of-Race Registration and Packet Pickup
  • 7:30am for 5K (this is chip timed!)
  • 8:30am for 1-Mile Fun Run (not timed)
  • 7:30am-10:00am Many fun-filled activities for the entire family!
  • 10:00am Event ends


  • $30 for 5K (includes t-shirt for registrations up to August 1)
  • $15 for 1-Mile Fun Run pre-registration (includes t-shirt for registrations up to August 1)
  • Any donation for 1-mile Fun Run pre-registration and race-day registration (no t-shirt)

Awards will be given to the 5K top finishers in each age group!

Packet pickup will be available the night before the event at Rogue Running in Cedar Park (1431 and Parmer). More details will be available later.

Chip timing for the 5K and registration is courtesy of Event Data Solutions.

  • Raffle – tickets will be $1 each and available at the event
  • DJ
  • Performance by Haeley Vaughn – American Idol Finalist
  • Face painting
  • Mother’s tent
  • Carnival games
  • Coloring and letter-writing booth
  • Mammal booth
  • Reptile booth
  • Tutus and wristbands will be available for sale – all proceeds go to Team Jaylie!
  • More fun activities to be announced!

 100% of the proceeds will go toward Jaylie’s medical expenses.

I’m not too sure what kind of race I will be able to pull off on August 13th.  I will be in week number 8 of NYC Marathon training, lots of miles on my legs that week including a return to our hill repeat training that served us so well during the Austin Marathon back in February.

I know this much however, we are going to leave it all out there on the course on the 13th, whatever power, strength and speed we are capable of that day is exactly what we will expend.  Anything less would be a disservice to Jaylie and the fight she is in as well as to Dom who just one year earlier was battling every day for a chance just to wake up one more time to see Val, Nico and Sierra.

Almost a year has passed and I miss my friend.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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