Archive for December 25, 2011

A Run to Dom

Posted: December 25, 2011 in Motivation
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4:45 a.m. Christmas morning as I slipped out of bed with Landry and Dawn still sleeping. I had a 10 mile run on the schedule, following my 20-miler the previous day. Not being home this year for Christmas I did not have the luxury of just heading out on our 10-mile loop, switching on the auto-pilot and knocking out the run before it was time to get back and open presents.

I needed to come up with a route from Dawn’s parents house that would give me an early morning safe out and back route. I was kicking around the idea of running from the house out to the cemetery where Dom was laid to rest two summers ago after he passed away on August 15, 2010.

The route wasn’t the greatest as it ran along two busy roads with very little shoulder, but that early on Christmas morning I thought it just might work. The other issue was the incredibly steep climbs that I would have to make out of Dawn’s childhood street, followed by a solid two more miles of climbing to reach the High School Dawn and Dom attended.

More than 1,000 feet of climbing in just over four miles to reach the cemetery. Pretty tough after a 20-mile run the previous day.

I was playing over the options in my head on Christmas Eve when Dawn, Landry and I went over to the D’Eramo’s house to visit with Dom’s Mom and Dad, Brothers, Aunt, nieces, nephews, his wife Val, his daughter Sierra who is now 5 years old and his son Nico who is almost two.

As I sat there with my plate of stuffed shells, smelts, stuffed mushrooms and a few other delicious side dishes listening about the trip to Italy the family is taking this summer, all I could think about was how much Dom would have loved this dinner.

Kids running around everywhere, stories being told, lots of joy and happiness – it was the kind of night I always think about when I think of Dom. He was always the center of attention at gatherings like this one, holding court, entertaining everyone with is story-telling.

Nobody mentioned it, but you knew we are all thinking the same thing.

It’s just not the same without Dom.

As I laid out my running gear on Saturday night, I knew exactly where I was going on Sunday morning.

I put on my tights, Under Armour cold weather gear, two pairs of gloves and fired up my headlamp in the 29 degree temperature. Without so much as a single flat stride I started to climb for one mile straight out of Dawn’s neighborhood.

My legs felt strong despite a high mileage week, but I was barely keeping my pace under 9:00 minutes per mile on the steep ascent. I wasn’t even on the “hill” yet.

I decided to forget about the watch and just think about the trip to see Dom.

I reached Broadhead Road, made a right turn and started ticking off the miles. There was a rolling section through town, past Dom’s street where he grew up and then a long climb past the hunting club and the Middle School Dom and Dawn attended where my Mother-in-Law still teaches.

Then it was past the turn for the High School and finally another 3/4 of a mile of climbing and I turned left into the cemetery. As my headlamp shone into the grounds I scattered three large Pennsylvania white tail deer. I ran past the groundskeepers house and down the hill to Dom’s row.

Just off of the path on the right I slowed to a walk and my headlamp shone onto Dom’s grave site. It had been awhile since I had Dom’s undivided attention, so I decided to catch him up on a few things.

I told him how wonderful his family is, how beautiful his daughter has become, and how big and strong is son Nico is. How I could hardly keep up with him as I chased him around his house the night before.

I thanked him for all that he has afforded me, especially over the past few years and that without him pushing me to keep training, keep racing and continue on in his memory, races like New York City never would have happened.

“Boston” would just be this race I ran once, not something I am training for with all my heart, body and soul this year.

As I started to feel the cool morning air stiffening my legs as I kneeled in the grass, I knew I had to get moving again. I shared one last thing with Dom that I’m keeping just between the two of us until after Boston, which I know he will hold sacred.

He is a MUCH better secret-keeper now than he ever was before …. and I started to make my way back home.

The hills which were my enemy on the way to visit Dom were now carrying me along at paces under 6:00 minutes per mile.

I reached the house in 1:16:12 over 10 miles. 7:37 pace.

My Boston Qualifying requirement for my age is 3:20:00.

7:37 pace. Pretty fitting.

Thanks for the time this morning Dom. I miss you more than ever.