There is Another

I began this blog to keep me motivated to write about sports. For some hare-brained reason, even though it’s been more than a few years of playing the Grantland-Rice Wannabe on an every day basis, I thought my friends would still be interested in my worthless ramblings on what took place in the sports world.

Of course, now I mainly write about my adventures running with Ryan.

It comes as a shock when I meet people who read this publication (can we call it that?) and they find out I actually have three other sons. Everyone who reads it knows of Ryan. I have mentioned the other three from time-to-time.

One of my “Four Horsemen” though constantly gets lost in the mix. Wendy refers to it as the dreaded “middle-child syndrome.”

Believe it or not, sometimes when we are out, people, who don’t know us well or we haven’t seen in a long time, will come up to us and say, “Who’s friend is that?” After we tell them he’s ours, the reply usually is, “Oh, I didn’t know you had four.”

That other one is Luke – the third oldest of the Fabulous Rueff Boys. Luke’s a lot like me in that he’s constantly trying to find his niche. I’m 45 – be 46 soon and still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

He’s tried Taekwondo. He played the drums. Luke participated in Bible Bowl. He’s played soccer. He also belongs to the local TrailLife group and enjoys camping out and also shooting his guns and archery.

For the better part of the last year though, Luke has struggled to find himself and what he likes to do – aside from school, video games, helping Wendy with her Sunday school class and TrailLife.

Since I spend a lot of one-on-one time with Ryan on our morning runs, I usually take each night of a weekend and spend it individually with the other three. Fridays with Andrew, Saturdays with Micah and Sundays with Luke.

The Sunday night after Ryan had run in the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem and we had our worst long run ever, I took Luke for my ultimate guilty pleasure of Dairy Queen. We were in the booth eating blizzards (his a cookie-dough and mine a M&M-Oreo).

During our conversation, Luke paused and asked a question.

“Do you mind if I go with you to practice tomorrow night?”

“Why?” I replied. “You’d be bored to death. I usually read a book or text back and forth with friends or with Uncle Bill. What would you do for two hours?”

“No,” Luke said. “To run. What would you think if I went to practice tomorrow night and ran. Ryan along with Donavon and Garrett looked like they were having a lot of fun with each other Saturday at the meet. And, I’ve missed being part of a team.”

For those who know our family well whenever they see Luke the first question usually asked is, “What sport does he play?” That’s because out of my four sons, Luke, is the one who looks the most athletic. A majority of my friend’s jaws drop to the floor when I tell them he doesn’t or hasn’t played any sport since trying soccer when he was 5-years old.

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Luke has always had that “athlete” look.

I basically had the same reaction when Luke replied to me that Sunday night. My spoon left my mouth and missed the cup holding my concoction as an M&M and a small piece of Oreo melted off the spoon on to the table.

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My guilty pleasure.

I also need to preface this because the week before, Luke had chased Ryan around the house and caught him. Luke came in the house and said, “See, I could run like he does. I bet I could beat Ryan on a regular basis.”

Wendy and I had challenged him to go to practice, but Luke declined the invitation. “We all know who the fastest is in this house. I don’t need to prove it every day.”

I looked into my third oldest son’s eyes to gauge the seriousness of his comment at the restaurant.

Yep, it was that intense look he gets when Luke wants to be competitive.

I instantly texted Coach Ben Houston. He said he would be glad if Luke joined the team for practice the next night.

We asked Ryan what he thought. In typical Ryan fashion, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “uh.”

Luke went to practice Monday. Most of the team ran their “Mileage Monday” workouts while Luke ran and walked around the circle with the team in the neighborhood next to the park where we meet.

On Tuesday, the day I ran to push Ryan during his tempo workout, Luke had his mile-time trial. He was pushing himself and as Ryan and I passed him one time he was wheezing hard to catch his breath.

As I drove home that night, Luke sat in the passenger side of the car and declared.

“I’m done! I can’t do it. I told you Mom and you, I’d give a shot, but after tonight, I don’t want to.”

We left it at that. I texted Houston and told him of Luke’s decision. I could tell by the response, Coach was a little disappointed.

“Is he sure?” Ben asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

I left it alone on Wednesday with Luke. Neither Wendy or I brought it up or asked if he had any second thoughts on going back for the next practice on Thursday night.

I got home from work Thursday evening and yelled at Ryan to go upstairs and get ready for practice. I went upstairs as well to change clothes.

When I returned to the first floor, not only was Ryan on the couch dressed and ready for practice with his water bottle in his hand, but Luke was as well.

“Uh, I thought you were done,” I said to Luke.

“I kept thinking about it all day yesterday and today,” Luke replied. “I’ve decided to stick it out.”

I knew before I texted Houston that Luke was returning for practice, after I had told him late Tuesday night Luke was done, Houston was going to tell me that by the end of practice he would expect Luke to give a definite yes or no for the rest of the season.

That’s exactly what I told Luke.

“You have tonight,” I said. “But understand at the end of practice, your answer to Coach Houston’s question of yes or no is final.”

“Yes, sir,” Luke said.

He went through practice and the exercises after practice that night. As everyone else on the team gathered their belongings, Houston took Luke aside and asked him what his decision was going to be for the rest of the season.

Luke answered that he was committed to the team.

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Luke and Ryan after a recent practice with the Genesis Cross Country team.

We went and got his gait analyzed and his feet properly fitted for shoes. We also got him some running gear for practices.

On the days that they don’t have practice with the team, but have miles scheduled by Coach Houston, I continue to run with Ryan in the mornings and now with Luke in the evenings.

When I run with Luke, I always talking about his form. I am trying to slowly get his mind and body acclimated to the newness of running. Although he gets frustrated because he sees everyone else being faster than him right now, the key will be to constantly be positive. Coach Houston is convinced if Luke stays with it, he can turn into a solid runner not only for himself, but the team as the season progresses.

Since Luke didn’t start right when the Genesis United Cross Country team was formed toward the end of July, he’ll probably spend most of this season trying to catch up with the rest of the team. The only thing any of us want to see from him is constant improvement. The good thing is we are seeing it.

Luke ran in his first ever race Tuesday night in the Lutheran High School Invitational at Southeastway Park. He got out too fast and already looked out of energy by the time I saw him at about the half-mile mark of the course.

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Luke during the Lutheran Invitational. His first cross-country race ever.

The 12-year old kept pushing though and just when you thought he would stop running and begin walking the course, Luke picked the pace back up. Once he got through the wooded area to head down the finishing straight, Luke put his kick in and finished strong.

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The Genesis United Cross Country team with some final strides prior to Tuesday’s Lutheran Invitational.

It was a proud moment because Luke had that same determined look at the end of Tuesday’s race as he did that night when he sat across the table from me and asked if he could go to practice.

If things continue with Ryan as they have after our bad run that same Sunday when Luke said he wanted to run, I am going to need my third-oldest son to get up speed quicker than expected.

Because at the rate Ryan’s going, he’s going to need a faster-running partner sooner rather than later.

I can’t think of a better one than Luke.

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I’ll Take Three Words Over 2nd Place

Ryan and I competed in the 5th Annual Indianapolis Colts “Finish on the 50” 5k Saturday.

Last year, Ryan had seen it on the morning TV news program we watch. He became overly excited when he found out the finish line was literally on the 50-yard line of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Between the 500 Mini in May, the Sparkler Sprint on July 4th, and before we even knew about the start-up of the Genesis United Cross Country team, Ryan frequently asked me, “You signed us up for the Colts 5k yet?” “Dad, don’t forget the Colts 5k.”

Around Father’s Day is when I finally got us signed up for it. When I told Ryan, he replied, “yeah,” and rubbed his hands together like he always does when he gets excited.

Ryan’s runs lately have been like riding that proverbial roller coaster.

At the beginning of the week, Ryan has been nowhere close to the times he should be showing. He’s almost a minute slower off the pace on some runs.

Conversely, by the end of the week, Ryan’s way below the times he should post for those runs. That is if you’re going by the various training-pace calculators you can find on-line.

Last Tuesday, I broke down (after I promised myself I wouldn’t when Ryan began running for Genesis United) and ran with him at practice to make sure he got pushed. Even with me running with him, Ryan struggled on his tempo run. He was 20 seconds slower than the pace Coach Ben wanted.

Don’t even ask me about our long run the day after Ryan ran in the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem. I am trying to forget it even happened. It was that bad.

After Tuesday’s practice, I looked up Ryan’s log. No wonder he was slower than normal on Monday and Tuesday, he’d run six straight days. I immediately messaged Ben Houston for the explanation of the previous two days of practice. We decided Ryan would run easy on Thursday, rest Friday and then run the Colts 5k on Saturday.

Thursday’s run was supposed to be around a 9:00 pace for the five and half miles. Ryan ran it at 8:13 pace.

Amazing what 48 hours of rest can do for the legs, huh?

Saturday morning came and we went through our usual routine. Although I am trying to be like Summer Sanders’ Dad, I want to get Ryan into the habits Houston would expect him to do on a day of a cross-country race. We did our dynamic stretching and a one-mile warm up.

Once we finished our one-mile-warm up we saw my friend, Hannah’s, daughter. Vanessa is in her first of being a Colts cheerleader. I told her who I was and my connection to her mother and Uncle Nathan. Then I also told Vanessa when she talked to Hannah to say how thankful she is her mother, Uncle Nathan and I survived a game of chicken on a one-lane bridge back in 1990.

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First-year-Colts Cheerleader Vanessa with Ryan and I before Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts “Finish on the 50” 5k.

I set the virtual pacers on our Garmins for 7:15 pace. I told Ryan our goal was to get out to that pace and then get faster every mile. Then when the watches said 2.6 we were going to put the kick in for the finish on the field.

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Sunglasses on. It’s time to race.

Once I was done with the explanation of our race strategy, Ryan put on his sunglasses. That’s the sign to tell me he’s ready to go.

A few minutes later we counted down with the rest of the 4,500 runners and the race started. We headed east right into the sun on South Street then turned north on Pennsylvania Street.

We passed Banker’s Life Fieldhouse and before I could comment, Ryan said, “Look, the start/finish line for the 500 Miler Series and where the Pacers play.” As we approached New York Street both of our watches dinged. Ryan’s said we ran the first mile in 7:10 while mine was at 7:13.

We turned west on Vermont Street then south to Meridian and around the west side of “The Circle” and the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument (we will go north on Meridian and the east side of “The Circle” on Nov. 4 for the CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Half Marathon).

We turned west on Washington Street. There was a water stop just before our watches dinged for mile two. Ryan’s said 6:56. Even though Ryan and I were right next to each other the entire time, my watch showed a split of 7:18.

We headed south on West Street. I told Ryan his watch was our “official” time because there was no way mine was telling the right pace.

“Make sure we are 6:55 or faster now on that top number,” I commanded.

On the face of the watch, the top number tells us the pace and the bottom our distance.

“OK,” he replied.

We got to the north end of Lucas Oil Stadium on Missouri Street, I looked at my watch and it said 2.57 for the mileage. I asked Ryan what his said.

“Two-point-five-five,” he responded.

“When it gets to 2-point-6, it’s kick time,” I said.

“Got it,” Ryan said.

As we got to the south end of the stadium, Ryan said “two-point six.”

“It’s kick time. Let’s go! Go time!”

We made a hair-pin turn from Missouri Street to the south end of the parking lot of Lucas Oil Stadium. We headed back north to the field entrance. We got to the parking-lot gate when we were passed by a boy, who looked to be about Ryan’s age.

Ryan noticed him.

Ryan picked up his pace even more.

We caught the boy right at the beginning of the entrance to the field level of the stadium.

It’s a downward slope to field level. For whatever reason the boy slowed down. Ryan kept his stride and continued into the stadium. Once we were on the field, it was a mad dash between us to the finish line.

The Colts public-address announcer even said Ryan’s name as he neared the line.

“Here’s Ryan Rueff, 14-years old, from Greenwood, Indiana!” The announcement boomed all through Lucas Oil Stadium.

After we finished, we walked around the field. We even did some sprints between the 20-yard lines.

There were kiosks set up where you could use a QR-code reader on your phone to check your results. I didn’t have my phone that has service with me. I carry my old one because it fits in my shorts pocket to take pictures. One of the volunteers explained that the machines were also set up to type your bib number and get your results if you didn’t have a QR reader.

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Come on. You didn’t think I could run a Colts sponsored event and not wear something in Broncos colors.

As usual on Saturdays of these short races, I had planned with my manager at “The World on Time” to come in at least an hour late. I figured we’d check our times and see how far off the Garmins were since both appeared to freeze when we entered the stadium. We could leave because I seriously doubted either one of us placed in our age groups. I’d have a chance to be on time for work.

Both Garmins were way off on the time. I was even more wrong assuming one of us didn’t place in our age group.

I typed my number in first. It showed I had finished with a time of 21:39 – 76th overall and 8th in my age group. My Garmin stopped at 2.99 and had a time of 21:55.

Then I typed Ryan’s number. He had the same time of 21:39 (a new 5k PR for him) – 77th overall and 2nd in his group. His Garmin froze then must have regained its signal because it did have him at a full 5k but with a time of 22:42.

Work would have to wait as the awards ceremony was to begin at 9:30.

Ryan had set a new 5K PR by one second. He ran the Monumental 5K in 21:40 prior to his surgery last November. It was also 2:05 faster than he was at the Sparkler Sprint 5K on July 4.

We waited for the awards ceremony. After the best stroller and best costume winners were announced, Channel 4/Fox 59 sports reporter Larra Overton began announcing the age-group winners.

Once mentioned, the child went up to get their medal and shake the hand of former Indianapolis Colt Marlin Jackson.

Yes, the boy who had originally passed us and then Ryan passed at the entrance of the stadium finished third in Ryan’s age group.

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Ryan receiving his second-place medal from former Indianapolis Colt Marlin Jackson

When Ryan’s name was announced, as usual, he waved his hand to the crowd as they clapped. He quickly shook Jackson’s hand.

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We ran our one-mile-cool-down run around the stadium. Then it was off to Speedway to celebrate with the “World’s Largest Dr. Pepper” and doughnuts.

As I drove south on West Street back to Stately Rueff Manor, Ryan looked at me after he swallowed a bite of his doughnut followed by a slurp of Dr. Pepper.

“Did you see that kid, who passed us in the parking lot, when we got to the slope at the entrance of the field at the stadium?” Ryan asked as he rubbed his hands showing his excitement.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“He didn’t know how to go downhill without breaking his stride,” Ryan explained as he again rubbed his hands. “I just kept running like you’ve taught me when we run down the hills on Skyline and Brer Rabbit Drives. That’s when I knew I had him.”

There was a pause as Ryan took another drink of Dr. Pepper.

“Yeah,” Ryan said giggling and rubbing his hands.

I just looked back at him and smiled.

A few minutes later, Ryan would have me crying.

We got home and Ryan went upstairs to put his medals away and shower. I quickly got changed into my work clothes.

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There are three words for whatever reason people with Autism find hard to say. You know that they do though through their actions. You know they do with their kindness. You even know that they do sometimes even when they have a meltdown.

Whenever Wendy or I have told Ryan these three words, his usual response to us is “uh huh.”

It also reminds me a lot of my Father.

We will never know how much my Father was on the “Autism Spectrum.” I know he was somewhere on it. Remembering how he was and how similar his grandson is to him with his certain mannerisms makes it hard to believe John Rueff wasn’t on it. As I have written before, it’s why I am convinced Autism is hereditary.

Before I tell you the three words Ryan said to me as I walked out the door for work Saturday, understand, I know my father did too. My Dad always seemed to have a tough time saying it as well. Rest assured though, my father showed it a lot and still reveals it even after his unexpected death almost seven years ago.

I told Ryan I was leaving for work.

Then Ryan said those three words from upstairs that he’s never said to me before.

NEVER!

“Love you too.”

I cried all the way to work.

 

 

Summer got away – again

Summer.

Much like when Mrs. Hudson deeply sighs and says to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, “Oh look. He killed the dog – again” as Holmes has done another experiment on Gladstone, it’s how the summer seems to play out as it gets away from us every year.

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Do we even have the “Dog Days of Summer” anymore.

So much has happened since I blogged about Ryan’s last visit to Dr. Tentler where he was given the all clear including no mileage limits with his new orthotics.

Here’s the bullet-points-Cliff-Notes version of the summer in chronological order.

  • Ryan got a signed autograph of Runner’s World from his favorite runner Jordan Hasay
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The issue of “Runner’s World” Jordan Hasay signed for Ryan

  • We took a road trip to Franklin, Ind. and ran 10 miles through Franklin College, the path throughout the city, which included Province Park and Greenlawn Cemetery.
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No trip to Franklin would be complete without a picture with Ben.

  • We returned a couple of days later and ran the Sparkler Sprint 5k in Franklin. I broke away from Ryan setting my sights on placing in my age group and setting a new PR. I got the latter and not the former. Ryan finished fourth in his age group.
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Ryan all smiles after finishing fourth in his age group at the 2017 Sparkler Sprint in Franklin.

  • Ryan joined a cross-country team.
  • We began CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Half Marathon training on July 30.
  • I nailed my assessment for marketing in my MBA program.
  • Ryan had his first cross-country meet last Saturday. It was a Hokum Karem (Native American word basically meaning relay). He was under goal pace for all three miles and set a new mile personal record with a 6:46.
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Ryan was excited when he got his autographed issue of Runner’s World from Jordan Hasay.

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I think we watched Jordan being interviewed by Carrie Tollefson before the start of this year’s Peachtree City 10k 20 times before the actual race.

 

There, I think you’re caught up.

The big news is – YES, Ryan joined a cross-country team through the home school sports organization called Genesis United in Greenwood.

Considering the two weeks prior to his first meet and a horrific practice run the Monday before, Ryan bounced back and had three solid runs and capped it off with three great miles at the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem last Saturday.

Here’s how it all happened.

I went to pick Ryan, Luke and Andrew up from youth group on July 14. I was talking to one of Wendy’s friends when my oldest son, Andrew, ran down the stairs and said, “Dad. Dad. You have to talk to Mr. Hogan.”

“In a minute.”

I continued to talk to Wendy’s friend. She was asking me what I had done for Wendy’s birthday the day before and how some other things we are working on at the moment were going

“Dad. You have to get up there and see Mr. Hogan. It’s important.”

“Andrew, I will when I’m finished.”

“Now, Dad! It’s about Ryan! It’s about running!”

Wendy’s friend could see I wasn’t going to get to finish and said she understood. She hoped everything we have going on right now worked out and that we have a good anniversary coming up in August.

Andrew then grabbed me by the arm and led me upstairs to where the ping-pong table and carpet-ball game is upstairs. He introduced me to Matt Hogan.

Hogan is the athletics director of Genesis United sports club. The organization has developed a successful soccer program through the years. He explained to me there had been interest throughout the home-school community on the southside of Indianapolis to begin a cross-country team. Hogan had heard of Ryan and wanted to know if I thought he would be interested.

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About a week later there was a call out meeting. There were several families who appeared. The ages ranged from junior in high school to sixth grade. Corresponding with the different ages, all the runners were at vastly different levels of experience.

After the meeting, I did my best Bob Whitewood and asked Crystal Neil and Hogan if they would be open to having someone be the coach. I told them I had someone in mind that would be perfect, but wanted their consent before going any further.

On several occasions with Ben Houston helping me with Ryan, he expressed his interest to be able to have the time to coach a team again.

With the number of days a week and the time practices would start, I thought Genesis United would be a perfect situation for Houston to return to his passion.

I texted Ben and told him what was going on with the team. We met the next night. He talked with his wife and then his department head and got their approval. On Monday evening, Ben was at practice ready to coach the first ever Genesis United Cross Country team.

Ben coaching also made the decision for Ryan to run for Genesis United easier. Since Ben knows Ryan and has run on several occasions with him, he would know how to push Ryan during practices and meets. Houston coaching the team also put Wendy and I both at ease knowing Ryan would have a familiar face and feel comfortable doing whatever Ben told him to do in practices and meets.

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It’s great having Ben coaching Ryan in the first season of the Genesis United Cross Country team.

On our Sunday-morning run prior to the first practice, I told Ryan there would be a set of expectations Houston would want from him. I also told him that Ben would probably yell at him during practices and meets.

“Understand, Ben’s not going to be yelling because he’s mad at you,” I said. “He’s doing it to push you. To make you better.”

“I know, Dad,” Ryan replied. “I know.”

It all was an answered prayer for us. Since Ryan began running with me on St. Patrick’s Day of 2015 and appeared he liked it and would stay with it, we searched for a running program.

It never seemed like there was one on our side of town. Most of the teams were on the northside of Indianapolis. That would be about an hour to 90-minute drive from us with traffic to get to the places where practices and meets are held for those teams.

Along with Ryan saying he wanted to run for Genesis United, Wendy and Andrew have also constantly reminded me, “DON’T BE THAT DAD!”

You know the overbearing-win-at-all-cost Dad. The one who thinks he knows more than the coach. The one that’s gonna be a fit of rage when his kid doesn’t perform well and could end up costing the team in an event. The one not only Wendy, but myself, saw me becoming after Ryan ran a 1:48:51 at last year’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

If anything though, I want to be like Bob Sanders (not the oft-injured former Indianapolis Colts linebacker), but the father of 1992 United States Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders. Summer wrote this about her father in her book “Champions are Raised, Not Born” – “My dad was on a constant campaign to keep my sport in the background. He loved to quote Mae West, whose motto was “Life’s a party, only most fools don’t know they’re invited.” He made sure I had fun–with him and my brother, with my friends, with school, with vacations, with prom dates and part-time jobs, with movies and pizza parties.”

That’s what I want for Ryan and his teammates. I want to make sure they achieve their goals, the team does well, everyone gets along and we (parents, coaches and runners) have fun doing it.

Looking for a good book to read if you have kids who play competitive sports, then there’s no better book to get than Sanders’ book. Although, it may be hard to find these days. It was published in 2000.

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Summer Sanders’ book “Champions Are Raised; Not Born” is a must read for all parents who have children in competitive sports.

I also want to be like the father of a friend who ran cross country. I contacted him a couple of days prior to last Saturday’s meet for any words of wisdom he used to say before my friend’s races. He did not disappoint in his response.

“My only advice for a CC father is to be positive and encouraging.  I never was one of those to constantly push, only to do their best.  The mental game is so important.  I would always spend just a few minutes prior to each race ‘taking all worries and concerns’ from them and telling them that they were now mine and they had no reason to worry.”

I also have the comment Uncle Bill said last year to me after I messaged him about Ryan moving up a seed class for the 500 Mini – “Remember the main reason you’re doing this” posted next to my journalism medallion from high school on my desk.

Along the same lines, I am also remembering what I learned from Elizabeth Clor’s book, “Boston Bound” and know not to compare Ryan to other runners. It’s what I like to call the “Ty Webb Approach.”

If I’m ever asked how I compare Ryan to other runners, I’ll simply look at them like Ty Webb looked at Judge Smails in the Bushwood Country Club locker room in “Caddyshack” and reply, “by height,” with a small grin on my face.

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Ever the philosopher, Ty Webb

 

The biggest challenge right now seems to be complementing Ryan’s focus during the day when he has cross-country practices in the evenings. When the cross-country practices started, we tried to run him for a short distance in the morning and then the practice in the evening. It proved to be too much.

Now, when I return from my run in the mornings, I take him to the basement and we do a 20-minute version of the IronStrength workout along with a couple of sets of box jumps.

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With Ryan’s cross-country practices in the evenings, mornings include IronStrength along with a couple of sets of box jumps before starting his school day.

Another obstacle is coordinating the cross-country practices with training for the Monumental Half Marathon. It seems like I am constantly changing the training plan and getting agreement with another coaching friend before I propose it to Houston. It’s Ben though, who I have full trust, giving me the final say on whether he likes the revision or what he wants changed.

Ryan runs with me on Sundays and Fridays. He runs with the team on practice days. On those days, he runs the same distance of miles I ran earlier that morning to keep up with training plan we have in place for the Monumental Half.

When there are cross-country meets on Saturdays, we adjust our mileage for Sundays and Fridays – it’s basically reversed. Since Ryan returned in February, I moved our long runs from Saturdays to Fridays. This was easier to do because I have Fridays off and we can run the longer distance without me having to rush to eat breakfast and get to work on Saturday mornings.

With the Saturday meets, the long run moves to some Sundays. Using the philosophy of the great running author Hal Higdon, Ryan running fast on Saturday will allow him to want to run slow on Sundays for that long run. We had a trial run of how that schedule would work out this past weekend. On those weekends with Saturday meets, I think it will be best if Ryan doesn’t run with me on Fridays.

Even though I ran two months without Ryan as he recovered from his surgery, he’s adjusted to running without me easier than I thought. I think Ryan knowing he’s part of a team has a lot to do with it.

Last Saturday during each of his one-mile legs of the relay, I saw a look of determination I had never seen in his eyes. This was quite evident when we would point at a runner in front of Ryan and told him to surge to get passed them and set sights on another one.

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The first ever Genesis United Cross Country team.

During that first mile, Ryan picked off about five runners before tagging his teammate Garrett. During his last two legs, Ryan did the best he could to catch other runners and not be passed by faster runners while he tried to stay under the goal pace Ben had set for him.

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Ryan making a pass during his first mile of the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem.

After the race, Ryan couldn’t stop smiling. He gave high fives to all of his teammates. You could tell he was proud to be a member of the Genesis United Cross Country team.

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Ryan and his teammates Garrett and Donavon celebrating the first ever meet for the Genesis Cross Country team.

Thus, a new chapter in this journey has begun. Ryan the runner and me just the Dad. And not “THAT DAD!”

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Micah, Luke and Andrew cheering their brother, Ryan, on to the finish of his final leg of the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem.

“So, now what?”

It’s what Ryan usually asks me after every run. At races, he normally doesn’t say those three words until we are in the car ready to head back home.

Ryan also asked it after every visit we had with Dr. Tentler.

We had a follow up appointment on Ryan’s orthotics last Thursday with Dr. Tentler. We like Dr. Tentler, but I am glad to report he said that meeting should be our last until Ryan’s orthotics need refurbished. That shouldn’t be for another two years.

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Ryan all thumbs up because hopefully this is the last time we see Dr. Tentler in his office for a long time.

My standard answer typically is after a run, “Well, we’ll stretch, go in the house, clean up, have breakfast and continue on with the rest of our day.”

After a race – “We go get you that super huge Dr. Pepper and celebrate the accomplishment of finishing another race.

Once we are finished at Dr. Tentler’s office – “we get doughnuts.” Sometimes it’s, “We go back home. You do your school work and I get ready for work.”

Every so often though I’ll look at him with a grin on my face and try to do my best Rodney Dangerfield as Al Czervik in “Caddyshack” impersonation.

“So, what? So, let’s dance.”

That’s exactly what I’ll start doing along with singing the lyrics to the Journey hit “Anyway You Want It.” Of course, that’s the song which played in the scene when Dangerfield said it on the golf course while Judge Smails (played by Ted Knight) once again sliced his shot from the fairway.

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Al Czervik says “Let’s dance.”

Sometimes I do it when we’ve had a great run. More notably, I do it when the run was tough and we struggled through to get it done. On those runs as Meredith Grey says on “Grey’s Anatomy” we have to “dance it out.”

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Whether it’s been a good day or a bad day just “dance it out.”

 

Regardless of when I break out my dance moves – that would make members of New Edition jealous – I get that teenage roll of the eyes from Ryan.

With about 24 weeks before CNO Financial Monumental Half Marathon Training, it does beg to ask, “So, now what?”

In his heyday, Steve Spurrier had his “Fun-n-Gun” offense as he tormented Peyton Manning and the rest SEC on a regular basis. Well, the Runnin’ Rueffs will have our “Fun-n-Run” while building base mileage for the next 10 weeks. Then on July 30, we will begin training for our debut in the CNO Financial Monumental Half Marathon on Nov. 4 here in Indianapolis.

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Spurrier in his heyday with the Florida Gators. Did you know he’s the only coach to be undefeated against Peyton Manning?

Since the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, we’ve been in somewhat of a recovery phase. I think that’s mainly been me more than Ryan. We’ve run a couple of days back-to-back and then rested. Then ran a day then took a day off. Nothing intense. Just nice easy runs on our regular routes.

As we build base mileage leading up to July 30, we can mix up the runs. We’ve already made plans for some of our running friends to join us when they want to have a relaxing run.

We also will probably see the Center Grove Cross Country team on some Mondays as we go to run the hills of Skyline Drive and Brer Rabbit Drive. We will probably throw in some speed workouts especially my favorite – mailbox fartleks.

Although the training plan is put together for Monumental, I will probably still spend the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend making tweaks to the plan my group of advisors suggest while listening to the “greatest spectacle in radio broadcasting” – the Indianapolis 500 – on my deck.

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The annual tradition of putting a fall-race plan together while listening to the Indianapolis 500 on radio.

After our experience running the Monumental 5k last year, Ryan and I are excited to see what we can do in the half marathon race at Monumental.

Ryan’s probably thinking another PR, but for now numbers are the farthest thing from my mind. We will have a better grasp of that after we run our only race between now and the Monumental Half – the Indianapolis Colts 5k on Aug. 26 (Probably won’t be a good idea for me to wear my Broncos gear that day).

Like the Miler Series races, that run will give us a good indication of where we are after the first month of training for the Monumental Half. It will also give us a chance to see if Ryan has figured out how to avoid being “boxed in” like he was during various points of the 500 Mini.

Sure, things will become a little more serious once the calendar reads July 30, but it doesn’t mean the fun has to stop.

If you are a regular reader to this blog and live near us or by Skyline Drive and Brer Rabbit Drive don’t be shocked if you see us on a run and we do nothing more than “dance it out.”

 

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Ryan Completes His Comeback

Before I get into everything that happened during this year’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, I am going to cut right to what a lot of people want to know.

The number.

There ended up being four.

Which one did Ryan make?

He made two.

He didn’t make the “everything went perfect number.” That was 1:45:00.

Ryan didn’t beat our running pal Colleen’s time from last year’s Mini, which was the goal time he set for himself. Colleen ran the Mini course in 1:47:36 last year. Despite only beginning training for the Mini in February and his mileage cap, Ryan thought he could get 1:47:30 or better.

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Prior to Saturday’s race, Ryan said his goal was to beat Colleen’s time from last year’s 500 Mini.

The third number was simply to beat last year’s time from his debut in the Mini.

Vision the longtime public-address announcer of the Indianapolis 500 Tom Carnegie saying – “HHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE got it!”

Ryan and I tied Saturday with a time of 1:48:12. It bested his effort from last year by 39 seconds.

The time was a new PR for any half marathon Ryan had run. More importantly, it completed Ryan’s successful return from the toe surgery to remove the subungual osteochondroma back in November.

Friday afternoon while we were at the expo, the PR Bell was set up in the exhibition hall of the Indiana Convention Center. I asked Ryan if he wanted his picture taken with it. Confidently, he replied, “No! That’s for tomorrow!”

There was still a fourth number he obtained.

Friday

For the first time on a day before the big race, we didn’t have to be at zillion places at once. Ryan and I usually run a light 5k regardless the day before a race. Thursday was a complete rest day for us. While at work and daydreaming about Saturday’s race, I contemplated not running at all on Friday. Maybe two complete off days would benefit us more than running some easy mileage. I talked to my advisors, and the consensus was it would be good for muscle consistency to get out for a run even if it was a mile and half.

As previously stated in the pre-Mini blog post, it had rained for most of the week here in the Indianapolis area. Since I had worked out in it with my job at “The World on Time,” I decided if we ran Friday we were going to the Mount Pleasant Church gym.

Thus, I could figure out how many laps it takes to make a mile. When we began the odometer on my Garmin said .24. By the time, we had run eight laps, the watch read 1.91. It takes just over four laps to equal mile from the outside two lanes of the track.

There was one little hiccup to the day after all. Although Wendy had canceled Ryan’s speech therapy session, she didn’t cancel Micah’s. Andrew and Luke had a TrailLife camp outing to go to at Red River Gorge. They were to meet their ride at 1 p.m.

Easy fix though – Wendy took Andrew and Luke to meet their TrailLife group and we took Micah to speech. We were to meet friends at the expo around 2 p.m. We asked Micah if he wanted to go back to the house and we’d wait for Wendy to come back or go with us to the expo. He chose the latter.

We got to the expo and first we found the booth to pick up a friend’s packet, who was not able to run the Mini. Then I had Ryan look for the booth that have our packets. The volunteers handed us our packets and we went across the aisle to a table to make sure everything was in them. We also double checked to make sure the bib numbers corresponded with the numbers on the chips because of the mix up at the 10-mile race finale of the Miler Series.

Kati O’Brien again left Ryan a note of encouragement. Ryan read the card and then put it back on the paper clip connected to his bib and rubbed his hands together showing his excitement.

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500 Festival staff member Kati O’Brien’s card of encouragement to Ryan.

As we continued to go into the main area of the expo, there were people passing out WTHR stickers that had the station’s logo with a .1 next to it. A clever way to incorporate the station’s number with the race. I told Micah to get a couple and put them in our bag. Little did I know that he thought a couple meant 50.

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Anyone need a Channel 13 Mini Marathon sticker? I got plenty.

While I continued to receive messages from the friends from Coach Jenny’s group we were supposed to meet, my main objective at the expo was to get Ryan a pair of black compression socks to match mine for our race-day uniform.

Fortunately, our good friends at Runner’s Forum had their mini store up and running. I got Ryan’s calf measured and we fitted him with a pair of socks. I tried the trick to get compression socks on from when the CEP rep was at one of the group runs at the store and the instructional video, but it wouldn’t work. After about five minutes I got the socks on. Ryan said they felt comfortable. I looked at him and said, “You can either wear them to bed tonight or we will need to get up a few minutes earlier than planned to put them on in the morning.”

We went around and took the necessary photo opportunities. Our friends were still en route. Meb Keflezighi was to begin taking pictures and signing autographs at 3 p.m. The line didn’t appear to be long. I took Ryan and Micah over and we got in line. That’s when we met Mikeal Gordon and his fiancé MiChelle Lochard, who we normally see at the Miler Series races.

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Just wouldn’t be race weekend without running into Mikeal Gordan and his finance, MiChelle Lochard.

We talked to them and others while we stood in line. A couple of times the staff from the 500 Festival came up to the line to remind us that it was Meb’s birthday’s and that we should sing “Happy Birthday” to him as he arrived at the table.

Around 3:20 or so it was our turn to meet Meb again. Ryan jumped up in the air and then rubbed his hands together as we walked up. We introduced ourselves and got our picture taken with Meb. Then we had him sign our copy of the book “Meb for Mortals.”

While we also stood in line for Meb, most of our group arrived and was in line as well. I told them we were going to walk around the expo and wait for them to go through to see Meb.

Once they had gone through, we met up and took a group picture in front of the banner that said, “Greatest Spectacle in Running.” I thought that was appropriate because everyone in that group is great. It’s a lot fun following them with their running adventures as they also follow us.

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Meeting Heather, Tammy and Catharine after we all had met Meb and then heading home for a good night’s rest before the OneAmerica 500 Mini Marathon the next day.

Finally, it was time to go home. Ryan said he wanted his pre-race meal to be what it was last year. Thus, like we did last year, we had pizza the night before the Mini.

We ended up not watching McFarland, USA as planned. Instead Wendy, Micah and Ryan played a vicious game of MarioKart until bed time.

SATURDAY PRE-RACE

Since I began work toward my MBA in March, I woke up earlier than I used to in the mornings. I wake up around 5 a.m. and study until it’s time to get Ryan up for our morning run.

Thankfully, my new internal clock woke up at 5 a.m. because the alarm clock didn’t. I got ready and then went across the hall and woke Ryan up. After he was dressed, we worked on getting the compression socks on his gangly legs. It took about 10 minutes, but we finally had the wrinkles out of them and both pairs pulled up to his knees.

As we approached OmniSource on West Street, I could see the railroad track lights and the train. It was stopped. It didn’t look like it was moving. I quickly turn us around and went east on Raymond Street. Then we went up Meridian Street to McCarty Street where we were to park.

Once we parked, we got out and began stretching for an easy run to the starting line. As we stretched, three ladies in a car parked next to us got out and asked us if we were cold. We were, but I knew we were dressed appropriately for what Ryan had set out to do in the race.

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Done stretching it was time to head to our corral and the starting line for the 500 Mini Marathon.

Before we left, I messaged Lucie Mays-Sulewski to make sure we still planned to meet at the deer statue in front of the Eiteljorg Museum. She confirmed that we were. I told her my phone was too big to put in my shorts pocket and this would be my last messaged until we saw her. As a runner, I HATE the iPhone 7!

We ran to the starting corrals and arrived right at 6:45 a.m. to meet Mays-Sulewski and her training partner Kyle Wallace. We talked briefly about the race and both of our expectations for the morning. Earlier on Friday, I had texted her to see what she thought about the outfit I was putting together for Ryan and me to wear. She replied with a thumb and said, “sounds exactly like what I have planned.”

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I think we have started a tradition of seeing 2006 500 Mini Marathon winner Lucie Mays-Sulewski prior to the start of the race.

We talked for a little longer and then Kyle and she went on to warm up and prepare to start with the elites. Ryan and I ran up to the Eiteljorg Museum entrance and ended up going instead the staircase to parking garage. We stayed there until 7:20 a.m. when I decided it was time to again get acclimated to the conditions. It had also started sprinkling outside and a smile again appeared on Ryan’s face for the anticipation of running in the rain.

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Lucie sent this to me after the race. Look at the difference in Ryan from last year to this year. He’s oozing with confidence before the start. Plus, he’s happy it’s beginning to rain.

We made it to our corral. We were jogging in place when I spotted Naomi Pescovitz and a camera man from WTHR – the television station that aired the race – walked inside our corral. A moment later, Pescovitz asked our names and said she’d like to interview us prior to the start of the race. As we waited, Ryan and I continued to jog in place and Pescovitz also did her own swaying while trying to stay warm despite the chilly weather.

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The obligatory pre-race selfie with special guest Naomi Pescovitz from WTHR Channel 13.

She asked us why we like to run the Mini. This year I remember to tell a part of Ryan’s story and how running has helped him communicate with the world and his ability to use it to focus on his school work as well.

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“Is this outfit going to keep you warm enough?” Pescovitz asked before the start of the race.

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Pescovitz interviewing us prior to the start of the race Saturday.

THE GREEN FLAG WAVES

A few moments after the interview with Pescovitz, the announcer read some guidelines and then the US Army troops stationed in Kosovo, who also participated in a virtual Mini with us this year gave us the countdown and then the starting command to begin the race.

Unlike last year when I looked up to the bucket lift and waved at Meb and almost tripped three people, I looked straight ahead. We crossed the timing mats and I started my watch.

We were off and running.

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Ryan and I crossing the starting line of the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

Mile 1-5: I wanted us to start out slower than we did last year. I set the virtual pacer on my watch to 8:15. I knew if we were going to have an outside chance at the perfect number we had to stay around an 8:00-8:15 pace. For Ryan’s goal time, we could stay around 8:15-8:20 if we “raced” the final 5k. To only get the new PR for the course, could dip down to 8:30, but only for the beginning of the race. I got us out to an eight-minute pace. I fought to get slower, but legs and the people around me weren’t letting me. We stayed with the CLIF sponsored pacer for the first five miles. By the time, we got to Main Street in Speedway though, I could tell that we again got out too fast. The perfect time was probably going to be out of reach. Colleen’s time and a new PR well in reach as we turned on 16th Street and headed to the “world’s greatest race course” – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Mile 6: We turned off 16th Street and into the tunnel, which of course literally goes under the famed 2 1/2-mile oval and into the infield of IMS. Just like last year, I looked to my left and there was Ryan a grin on his face as he yelled “whoa!” as we went down the hill. The Indiana University cheerleaders were positioned in the median as well as at the top of the hill. Again, this year I yelled out to them – “I-N-D-I-A-N-A!”

I still think it would be cool if the 500 Festival and the Speedway could have Carnegie’s thunderous voice welcoming runners to the track with a variation of his famous “He’s on it!” call with “You’re on it!” over the public-address system on continuous repeat. Surely that can somehow be put together.

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Every time I go to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I will always hear Carnegie’s thunderous voice in my head.

Mile 7: We started to leave the infield and head to the back straightaway of the track, when we could see the banner that said, “Meb’s Motivational Mile.” Ryan went full sprint at Meb. I thought Ryan might end up tackling Meb. We each high-fived Meb and made our way to the track.

Mile 8: As we turned on to the main straightaway of the track, I saw the Sunoco sign and remembered last year. This was the point in the race when we had to find a restroom for Ryan. I looked at him. He assured me he was fine. We came up on the yard of bricks (start/finish line of the oval) there was WTHR’s Dave Calabro and 1972 Olympic-gold-medal winner Frank Shorter. Ryan and I both angled over and gave Shorter a high five. He later commented on the telecast he was getting so many “fives” that his hand began to hurt. I wonder if he realized we were wearing his company’s clothes or not.

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WTHR Sports Director Dave Calabro and Frank Shorter at the “yard of bricks” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Heading to the side to high-five 1972 Olympic Marathon Gold Medal Winner Frank Shorter.

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Having passed Dave Calabro and Shorter at the “yard of bricks,” time to focus back on the pace.

Mile 9: This stretch began in the south chute of the track and then headed out just after the Fuzzy’s Vodka VIP Suites in turn two. As we began to leave the grounds of the track the 500 Festival Princesses were at their usual “Pit Stop” location outside Fuzzy’s suites. We also saw O’Brien. I got her attention and she waved. As we passed, I could hear her yelling encouragement to Ryan to keep up the hard work and finish strong.

Mile 10-12 (Race time): All along our goal for this race was to run at a consistent pace for the first 10 miles and then “race” the final 5k. By the time we left the track, I knew the perfect number was out of reach unless we ran the final three miles like an elite runner. I knew neither one of us had the ability to run under six minutes for the rest of the race. While we ran on the curviest part of the course on Olin Avenue, I figured in my head if we got to the 10-mile mark around 1:22:00, we’d be in decent shape for Ryan’s time goal of 1:47:30. We were at 1:21:58! We were right where we needed to be for his goal. As we crossed the 10-mile mark I told Ryan it was time to race the rest of it out. We picked up the pace and had an 8:09 11th mile. We made the turn off 10th Street to White River Parkway Drive and I lost Ryan. I saw our friend J Sulek to my right and then I looked behind me to the left. That’s when I saw Ryan. Somehow when we made the turn, Ryan got boxed in by some other runners. He couldn’t find a way around them to catch up to me. I slowed down a few times to try and help him get through. Mile 12 along with mile seven were our slowest miles at 8:27.

Victory Mile: The slow down on Mile 12 cost us a shot at Ryan beating Colleen’s time from last year, but beating his time was still there for the taking. As we ran down New York Street passed the IUPUI softball fields and Carroll Stadium, I became a cheerleader. I kept pushing Ryan to catch me. That got other runners around us to start cheering Ryan to beat me. Chris Dale, who had passed us around the third mile of the race, was right when he said we would eventually catch him at the end. “Told you, I’d run out of steam and you’d see me again. Now come on Ryan! Beat your Dad!” We passed Dale and Ryan did eventually catch me at the finish line.

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Heading down Victory Mile for the finish line.

Another nice addition that would make a great 500 Mini experience even better is if the 500 Festival or WTHR could find a sponsor for a “Finish-Line Cam” that could be streamed on both indymini.com and wthr.com. I thought of this recently as both the New York City Half Marathon and Boston Marathon have such a camera at the finish line. It’s always fun to track our friends on the apps and then know when to go to the website to watch them finish at either one the previously named races.

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Ryan crossing the finish line with a new PR of 1:48:12 at the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

THE ROAR IS OVER

Immediately after we crossed the finish line, Jeff Yoder, the digital media coordinator for the 500 Festival, grabbed one of his photographers and asked us to stand next to each other for a picture. We thanked Yoder and he thanked us for running the race for the second straight year.

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All smiles after conquering 13.1 miles.

We then continued to walk toward the medal station and receive our medals followed by getting bags to collect our snacks. We got our finish picture taken and then went into the after party in Military Park. We went straight to the results tent.

It was official – Ryan had his new OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon PR with a time of 1:48:12.

We quickly turned around and got in line for the PR bell. The volunteer punched in Ryan’s time and he rang the bell.

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Ringing the PR bell after setting the new time standard for himself.

Like the winner of the Indianapolis 500 will later this month when they win the race, we went to the American Dairy Association tent and grabbed our two bottles of chocolate milk to celebrate the accomplishment of a new PR for Ryan.

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Celebrating the setting of a new PR with a bottle of chocolate milk.

 

After ringing the PR Bell and chugging the milk, we made our way to Craig and Catharine’s Yates’ hotel room. Instead of doing the gear check, we had given the Yates a bag with our clothes to wear after the race. It also allowed us to have a place to change instead of trying to find somewhere or going back to the car after the race.

Once we were changed we made our way back to Military Park. We saw several friends along the way. We also saw the Yates. Catharine, who had been battled through the last couple of weeks of training, crushed the two-hour barrier with a time of 1:54:14.

We went to the running club village at the after party. We had been invited by Lindsey Hein at the Athletic Annex tent. Hein and I have corresponded a few times through Twitter. She has a great podcast called “I’ll Have Another.” Much like Ali Nolan and Hannah McGoldrick’s YouTube “Super-Secret Mystery Meeting,” I highly recommend you give Hein’s podcast a listen.

We talked with Hein and her husband, Glenn, for a few moments. She congratulated Ryan on his PR and asked him what he thought about running. We also congratulated Hein on her time from the race.

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Meeting up with the host of “I’ll Have Another,” Lindsey Hein.

It was finally time to head home. We needed to help Wendy finish setting up for the after party at our house. Not to mention, with a new PR in hand, I owed Ryan a HUGE Dr. Pepper and we also hadn’t had anything else to eat besides the cookies, water and chocolate milk after the race. Ryan got his Dr. Pepper and I got my coffee. We also each got two doughnuts.

AFTER PARTY

Our friends from the Coach Jenny group began arriving around 2:30 p.m. We watched some of the 500 Mini race along with the interview we did prior to the start with Pescovitz. Mostly though we sat around and talked about the race and how great it was to finally meet each other – some for the first time ever in person. We can’t wait to do it again after the Monumental races in November here in Indianapolis.

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Tammy, Catharine, Heather, Kathy, Aric, Nancy, Ryan and I celebrating our accomplishment of completing the 500 Mini.

Saturday night after everyone had left and we had watched the Kentucky Derby, I sat on the couch with Ryan. We had a chance to reflect on the day’s events and how the race transpired for us.

As we watched the race again, I realized something I had seen Ryan do throughout the race. It wasn’t just the few times we were on television along the course, but every time a spectator said his name, he saw someone performing, saw a police officer, fireman, military person, or a volunteer along the route, he waved at them. Even heading down New York Street, he waved at people as they called out his name toward the finish line.

Ryan did it with the biggest smile on his face for the entire distance.

The final number Ryan made was the hundreds of people he waved at along his run that morning.

In the end, Ryan had done what I told him to do back in February when we started training for Saturday – forget about a PR and just have fun.

Ryan had indeed made the race a victory lap of his comeback. There was no better place to do it than at the “greatest spectacle in running” – the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

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Ryan’s medals from the 500 Mini, the Indy Miler Series and certificate.

It’s Almost Go Time

To the average person and even to some runners, Saturday’s weather forecast for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon looks miserable.

For Ryan – it looks fantastic.

For the first time he’ll get to run a race in his favorite weather condition of rain. He probably will be the only one who will have a smile on his face of every race picture that gets posted from MarathonFoto.

Unlike my first half marathon when the conditions were similar to what they will be Saturday, I’m mentally prepared this time for the weather. I only wished it would be a little warmer than expected.

I am excited about Saturday’s race for a number reasons. We get to meet other runners from the Coach Jenny Group. We are running a half injury free (unlike the Mill Race Half Marathon last September). We get to see how much the orthotics have improved Ryan’s running these last two weeks.

Although, I do believe it’s a combination of both the orthotics and beginning the IronStrength workout videos from Runner’s World and Dr. Jordan Metzl. When I look through the training log leading up to Saturday’s race you can see a difference in Ryan’s times not only when he began running with the orthotics, but the workouts as well. Overall, it’s about a 30-second difference in his easy runs. Easy meaning as we run I ask him if he feels comfortable and if he could still push it for the last half mile at the end.

 

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Wrapping up one of our final runs before this Saturday’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

 

Speaking of times.

The last week several people have asked me the time goal I have for Saturday’s race. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have one. That since Ryan’s return my only goal would be for us to get to the starting line injury free and finish the Mini strong.

As always, I have two numbers. I might even have three numbers. The two set in stone are what I realistically think we can do and if everything goes perfect. Even with the pending weather conditions, the latter remains in tact.

You’ll have to read my post on Sunday to find out what the numbers were I had for us.

Saturday completes Ryan’s comeback from his surgery. I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when he returned in February. I am thankful for the running community especially Coach Ben, Coach Tad, Coach Jenny, Coach Ron, and Coach Howard for guiding me on how to slowly bring Ryan back. Without their insight I would have had no idea how to properly train Ryan for Saturday.

I’m also excited because the day before the race we don’t have 20 zillion things to do. Wendy canceled Ryan’s speech therapy session. She can take Andrew and Luke to meet their TrailLife Group to go to Red River Gorge for their camping trip. This means all Ryan and I have to do Friday is get up and run a casual three miles in the morning. We can relax until it’s time to go downtown to the expo. We’ll meet our friends and take in all the ambiance at the convention center before heading home for dinner and watching McFarland, USA before heading to bed.

Regardless if we hit either one of the times I have, this weekend is mainly about one thing – fun.

IMPORTANT READ!

Late last week Runner’s World published an article by Alison Wade about people with autism and the effects running has had. Here’s the link to the report – http://www.runnersworld.com/general-interest/for-many-with-autism-running-is-a-sport-that-fits

By far, it is the best article I have ever read about autism and running. We have experienced everything with Ryan most of the runners profiled in the article have dealt with in the report.

Since Ryan began running with me in March of 2015, he has improved in school. Speaking of combinations. It’s not only the running but during his 18 months at Brain Balance where we have seen the change.

Before running and Brain Balance, Ryan was at the mental function of a 3-year old when it came to his school work. Now, he’s almost at the sixth-grade level. It’s a remarkable accomplishment.

It’s like Edie Brannigan says about her son, Mikey, when he began running and the change for the positive it made in his school work.

“I watched it happen,” Edie Brannigan said. “During those two years, something shifted, something opened up, and his thinking became useful in the way of academics.”

 

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Mikey Brannigan

 

Two weeks ago was Ryan’s final exam in math. We hadn’t run or woke up to do IronStrength the day of the test (should have planned better with Wendy and did some form of exercise). I was in my office and heard Ryan yell out of frustration. I quickly went into our school room and asked what was wrong.

“He’s having trouble focusing,” Wendy said.

Instantly, I got Ryan out of his chair. We did some jumping jacks and squats. After he caught his breath and sat back done, he went right to work on the test. He scored 100 percent.

Sometimes Ryan reminds me of Harold Sylvester’s character, D.C., in the 1979 movie “FastBreak.” Sylvester’s character needs to pass his English exam to stay eligible for the basketball team to play in the final game of the season. Gabe Kaplan, who played coach David Greene, and the rest of the team try to help D.C. cram for the exam. Unfortunately, in the classroom setting D.C. doesn’t pass the exam.

Kaplan then has an idea of having the professor ask the questions while D.C. shoots baskets in the gym. They go to the gym and the professor asks questions from the test. After each shot, D.C. answers the questions as the professor records it on a tape recorder.

In the end, D.C. passes and can play in the big game.

 

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Harold Sylvester as D.C. and Gabe Kaplan as Coach David Greene in the 1979 film “FastBreak.”

 

Ryan’s the same way sometimes. When he runs and I ask him questions about school, especially math, the answers roll right off his tongue without any hesitation. Now if we could find a way for him to write complete sentences when he runs Ryan would be an academic machine.

Ryan’s also a lot like Alex Schneider, the non-verbal-autistic man who runs marathons, when it comes to not feeling pain. If it hadn’t been for Coach Ben noticing the hitch in Ryan’s stride or him asking how much farther we had left on a run back in the fall, we would have not known the extent of his injury with the subungual osteochondroma.

Just like Ryan, Schneider doesn’t communicate he’s in pain.

“[Alex] almost seems impervious to pain,” McDermott said. “He almost has this muted sense of pain where unless you see the blood, you don’t realize he’s hurt. So we try to exercise caution [in his training].”

 

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Twin autistic brothers Alex and Jamie Schneider.

 

Even after the surgery, Ryan didn’t take a single dose of pain medication to relieve any pain. When he returned I asked every quarter mile. Now I ask about every mile. I am waiting for the run when he looks at me and says, “Stop asking! I’ll tell you when I am in pain. Until I do, just run!”

Ryan also doesn’t have the tantrums like he used to before Brain Balance and running. He is definitely more confident in himself and his abilities. Since that morning when Wendy and I both ran into the living room, he has stopped spinning completely. To replace the spinning to an extent, Ryan waddles like a penguin and shakes his head, but he doesn’t even do that as much as he did spinning. Matter of fact, since the weather turned warmer back in March, Ryan hasn’t even been swinging. Not once!

Like all the others runners profiled in the article by Wade, Ryan has found acceptance through the running community. It has also led to him being more outgoing in other social areas especially his youth group activities on the weekends.

“When he comes here, he’s like one of the guys,” his Thursday night Bible study leader, who also is a runner, said recently. “He answers the questions when it’s his turn and has great interaction. Some times he gets off point, but that’s OK. He’s talking and understands the lessons.”

All of it showing we both have come along way since that Sunday morning in the pick-up line for Ryan’s Sunday school class at Mount Pleasant Church when he had a melt down and the gentleman behind me asked, “why can’t you control your son?”

CG’s Rock the Block 2017

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Once again this year the Center Grove community got together to “Rock the Block” at Center Grove High School.

Last year, Ryan and I ran the 10k of this event. We ran that distance last year because it replaced our long run for the week. Despite the shorter mileage than originally planned, we would exert the same amount of energy if not more by racing the 10k than doing a 10-mile run.

Before I go any further – again as I will probably say every year – major kudos to Erin Smith and other members of the community for organizing “Rock the Block.” There used to be a similar race called “Race Chase” several years ago put together by the Maple Grove Elementary PTO, but was discontinued. Not only is having a race like this needed on the southside of Indianapolis, it’s another great way for the community of Center Grove to come together.

 

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The hostesses with the mostes Susan Allen McCarty and Erin Smith the directors of Center Grove’s “Rock the Block.”

 

As you have already read things are a little different with our training plan for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon this year. Following the 10-percent rule along with Dr. Tentler’s mileage limit on Ryan has caused some interesting scheduling of our runs. Last week, for example, we ran Sunday and Monday and took the next two days off. Then we ran Thursday with our long run on Friday followed by Rock the Block on Saturday. Sorry Dr. Tentler, but we ended up with 28 miles last week (three over the 20-25 cap).

Anyway, having run 10 miles on Friday, we ran the 5k of “Rock the Block” this year to end the week and begin our taper for the 500 Mini. All week I explained to Ryan that we weren’t “racing” Saturday’s “Rock the Block.” We were going to use it to work on getting off to an easy start and settling in on what we plan to be our race pace for the 500 Mini until the last half mile when it would be “Kick time. It’s go time!”

It was a little colder than we anticipated for the race Saturday. Although we had wore long-sleeve shirts along with shorts we probably could have used our headbands and gloves as we did for the 10-mile finale of the Indy Milers Series earlier in the month.

When we got into the old Maple Grove Elementary School gym, we ran into my high school friend Bill Todd and his family. As we talked with them members of the Center Grove boys cross-country team, who for the most part have adopted Ryan as a virtual team member, came up to us. They asked Ryan how he was feeling and how his toe was doing since the surgery. Riley Turk also arrived and talked with us as he prepared to run the 10K on Saturday. We also saw Coach Howard Harrell and he gave us advice on how to start out the race especially with the first part of the 5k course going downhill on Morgantown Road then back up the hill after making the turn around at Stones Crossing Road.

As I have tried in my previous posts about our races lately, I am not going to bore you with all the play-by-play. Mainly just some highlights and observations.

We started about the midway part of the crowd for the 5k race. The Center Grove boys team was at the front. As we descended down Morgantown Road past the old high school gym, the boys team was packed together along with Keith Gemeinhart. They had already made the turn around at Stones Crossing Road and headed back south. As they passed us, it was like watching the pack of elites in the Boston Marathon earlier in the week.

Since we didn’t get to see them the rest of the race, I wondered if Gemeinhart had tried to make a move because several of the CG runners were adamant during pre-race-warm ups that if any “outsiders” tried to push the pace, they were going reel them back into the pack because essentially they planned to protect their home course. By the looks of the results, if Gemeinhart (who did win his age group and finished eighth overall) did make a move, the CG boys reeled him back into the pack and passed him as they took nine of the top 10 spots.

As for us, I tried to fight the urge to stay over 8:00 a mile because I want our half-marathon pace for the 500 Mini to be around 8:15.

As my friend, Catharine, pointed out earlier in the week when I told her my strategy – “You both are too competitive to take it easy.”

Once again she was right.

Right before the 10K and 5K courses come together for the final mile and quarter, there’s a water stop. We were between 7:45-7:30 pace at this point as I grabbed a cup from a gentleman in an Indianapolis Colts sweatshirt and hat.

“How are you feeling?” I asked Ryan.

“Fine,” he replied.

“You just want to go and race it out from here?” I asked. “If we do, we’ll have negative splits.”

“I guess so,” Ryan responded with his typical shrug of the shoulders like regardless of what he said we were going to do it as I wanted anyway.

We got to Water’s Edge Way and close to the last half mile when the driver of a black Corvette must not have read ALL the signs that had been posted about the road closures from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Saturday for the race. He reversed his car as he saw the other runners along with us run right at him. He got into the opposite lane and drove slowly along with us until he got to Lakeview Drive and could head back out to Morgantown Road.

 

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Not the exact Corvette that made that wrong turn in Alberquerque and made it on to the “Rock the Block” course, but close.

 

I had told Ryan to put the kick in at about the time we had seen the Corvette. I did become a little apprehensive though because I wasn’t sure what the driver was going to do. He looked shocked to see all of us running on the road that morning. Ryan and myself both purposely slowed our pace down until we knew exactly where that car was going.

The pace and elevation, map of the “Rock the Block” 5k course and our splits.

Fortunately, we were able to pick the speed back up once we got to Hornaday Drive and and finished with a time of 23:33. We had negative splits of 8:02, 7:44, 7:13 and :32.6. It’s not how we want to run the first 5k of the upcoming 500 Mini, but it would be great way to finish it.

 

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Another successful “Rock the Block” completed for the Runnin’ Rueffs.

I messaged Erin on Monday and thanked her again for bringing this event back to the Center Grove area. Like last year, I want to give “Rock the Block” a full review, but just can’t because I again had to get to work. I told Smith that some day I will either just call in sick or finally have a job that doesn’t require me to work on a Saturday.

Despite the cold weather, it does appear from the pictures I viewed that “Rock the Block” was again a huge success for Smith, her committee and the volunteers. There were several food vendors and other businesses along “Main Street” promoting and marketing their services.

It’s just another reason why I have always been glad to call Center Grove – “home.”