London Marathon becomes a run down memory lane
Dominic Siwik expected running the London Marathon to be the highlight of a trip to England with his wife, Angie, in April.
Three years ago, Dominic set a goal of completing the five major races of marathoning – and the London race was to be the culmination of that dream.
But just like 21 years earlier in London, Angie proved to be a distraction.
Dominic finished the marathon all right (in just over three hours).
The more memorable part of the week, though, was the walk down memory lane that he and Angie took – highlighted by the renewal of their wedding vows at a church near The Shakespeare Tavern, where they first met.
Dominic had participated in a study-abroad program at the University of London through his alma mater, the University of Dayton. When his classes ended, he spent a couple of months traveling through Europe and came back to London broke.
He landed a job at The Shakespeare Tavern a week or two before Angie joined the staff. She was in the midst of a two-year work-abroad program, and was invited by friends to come to work at The Shakespeare after she had gained experience at another London pub.
“I was the new guy on the staff, cleaning the kitchen and scrubbing floors. She was the seasoned, well-liked veteran,” Dominic recalls.
Angie wasn’t very interested in an American rookie at first, he says. But they were the only ones on the staff who didn’t have to work one evening, and went out to a club for a pint.
“Well, that turned into a fabulous ordeal … we had a great time. The rest is history,” Dominic says.
They worked together at The Shakespeare for about six months. Then Angie returned to Winona State University to complete her undergraduate work, and Dominic went to Israel to work in a moshav agricultural settlement.
He then traveled through Egypt, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand for six months, before returning to his hometown of Detroit, where he took a job with Xerox Corp.
Dominic and Angie stayed in contact. He had no sooner gotten a transfer to Burnsville, Minn., to be near her, when she decided to move to Brookings, S.D., to get a Master’s Degree in communications from South Dakota State University.
But the relationship survived another separation, and the couple married 17 years ago. Two years later, they settled in a big house on Ross Road in the town of Hudson.
They have five children – Skyeler, 13, Liberty, 12, Ava, 10, Estelle, 9, and Gracelyn, 6 – all students at St. Patrick School in Hudson.
A former track and cross-country athlete at Detroit Catholic Central High School, Dominic took up running again a few years out of college.
He ran several marathons over the course of the years, and then decided it would be fun to run the five World Major Marathons – Chicago, Boston, New York, Berlin and London.
Since then, Tokyo has been added to the Grand Prix of marathon running, which awards a prize of $500,000 to the male and female who earn the most points throughout the series.
“I’m sticking with the five, because I already had my goal set before they added the sixth one,” Dominic explains.
He trained in the morning so it wouldn’t interfere with family-time in the evening.
He would run eight, 10 or 12 miles on the country roads around their house before leaving for work. Because of the extreme cold this past winter, he also spent time on treadmills at the St. Croix Valley Y in Hudson.
The family accompanied Dominic to Chicago, where his time of under three hours and 15 minutes qualified him for the Boston Marathon.
At Boston, he ran a 3:03, qualifying him for the New York Marathon.
“I’ve always had the goal to finish in the top 3 percent or better,” Dominic says. “It’s competitive for me. I have to push myself.”
“There’s a lot of people behind me, but there’s a lot of people ahead of me,” he adds. “And generally, the people who are ahead of you are way ahead of you.”
Dominic traveled to Berlin with Marathon Tours of Boston for the marathon there in September of 2013.
“You go with a lot of like-minded people,” he says, reporting that it was an enjoyable experience that included a tour of the city.
“When you’re running, you don’t have much time for sightseeing,” he explains.
In London, the Siwiks visited the pub where they met and were given a tour of it establishment by the governor (manager).
“When you work there, you live there. There’s the upstairs, the downstairs, the keg room, all the places that most people don’t see,” Dominic explains.
Angie adds: “Everybody loved the story (of how they met) … It was just really, really cool.”
Dominic found Holy Apostles Catholic Church in the neighborhood and contacted the priest about renewing the Siwiks’ marriage vows.
Father Pat Browne asked them to come to the church before a Wednesday morning Mass and spent 20 minutes visiting with them in the rectory. At the end of the conversation, Father Browne asked for their wedding rings.
During Mass, he weaved the Siwiks’ love story into his Holy Week homily. He then called them forward for the blessing of their rings and the renewal of their vows.
Angie says there were a dozen die-hard parishioners in the church “and all the ladies were crying.”
She was wearing a small hat and veil. Dominic sported a Union Jack bowtie.
“We just had a hoot,” he says.
Angie is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department at UW-River Falls. Dominic is still with Xerox Corp. and also has his own resale business.
His days of marathon training are over, he says. He’s trying to gain weight.