A race will not define you as a runner or as a person. You control what you can control and go with whatever the good Lord gives you on that given day. Race day is nothing more than a victory lap of your training.
Let’s get this out-of-the-way right at the beginning. The competitor in me had an expectation Saturday that not only would Ryan get a new PR at the CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon, but he would shatter it.
By destroying it, I mean coming close to my own personal record.
The Dad in me knew better.
Moral to the story – “Father knows best.”
We had practiced how we were going to start the race during a run on Wednesday. We started out around a 7:45 pace for the first mile then bumped it up to 7:15 for the next four. Ryan was with me the entire time.
Saturday, we started out the way we wanted to for the first three miles. Then it was time to bump up to our intended race pace.
I picked up the speed. Ryan stayed steady eddy.
The competitor in me got frustrated. Wednesday’s race-start simulation went well. I oozed with confidence. I thought once we got through traffic of some runners we could settle into that 7:15-7:30 pace for a few miles. Then we could race the final 5k with a chance of breaking my PR.
Ryan had got his groove on like he usually does when he runs. He had settled into a pace to his liking for that particular day. He was smiling, giggling and thanking the police officers and volunteers along the course. He was quite content running at about an eight-minute pace.
The good thing was he wasn’t going to go any slower. On the other hand, he wasn’t going to go any faster.
Ryan’s pace Saturday during the race was precisely in the middle of his cross-country-race paces and his long runs with me during the training cycle.
Once we got to Fall Creek Parkway, where the full and half marathon’s split for the Monumental races, I knew the best thing for us was to shoot to beat Ryan’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini time of 1:48:12.
The Dad in me told the competitor in my head, “It is what it is. Remember what Uncle Bill told you! Now just run and have fun.”
For some reason when we made the turn from 30th Street to Meridian Street, I lost my sense of direction. I swore we were going north instead of south. It wasn’t until we got to Fall Creek Parkway – about a half mile from 30th Street – when I looked up to see the SalesForce Tower through the fog in the overcast sky, I realized we were heading south toward the finish.
Once we got to the 11-mile marker, I tried to get Ryan to go with me and pick off other runners like we usually do in our races. We made the turn from Meridian to New York and finally to Capitol Avenue.
I looked to my right and saw Coach Ben. He yelled for Ryan to pick it up. Ryan got even with me. We finished together – 1:46:42.
A new half-marathon PR for Ryan.
We went to the results tent and got our sheets. Ryan looked at the sheet and told me, “New PR. Beat Leenie’s time. One-forty five will have to wait for another day,” Ryan said.
“Two out of three, uh,” I responded.
Ryan just smiled.
Ryan had beat two of his three numbers he had set for the race. He got a new PR and he finally beat our friend Colleen’s time from when she ran the 500 Mini in 2016.
And the competitor in me got reminded again EXACTLY why we do this.
A race is nothing more than victory lap.
The Rob Petrie Moment
No big-event weekend with me isn’t complete without a Rob-Petrie-like moment. If you know me well enough, you know the “Dick VanDyke Show” is my all-time favorite television show. It didn’t take long for it to happen on race morning.
Ryan and I had awoke. We got dressed and I helped him put on his compression socks before we went downstairs.
I took our bag with our after-race outfits and toiletries to put in the in trunk of my car. Ryan started to put on his arm warmers, shoes and watch. Then I saw I had a text from a friend. I sat on the couch and began to reply. Prior to taking the bag out to the car, I took the car key off the ring with my other keys. I finished my reply and then noticed I couldn’t find my car key.
I looked all over my office. I looked under both sofas. I looked on the island in the kitchen. I looked on the kitchen table. I went back to the car praying I hadn’t dropped it in the trunk with bag as I closed it. I even got the keys to my older car we have out on the street right now just in case I couldn’t find the key in the next five minutes.
I also hoped Ryan wasn’t playing another one of his slight-of-hand tricks like he did during our run with the little clip lights back in April.
Finally, I kicked a sock that was on the floor in front of where I was sitting while I texted my friend and found the key.
I wasn’t out of the proverbial woods.
The next moment happened when we got to the parking lot. I put my key in the pocket of my shorts. When I went to zip it up, the zipper broke. I didn’t think it was wise to have my vital information in a place where it could possibly fall out or worse if someone tried to pick-pocket me as we were waiting in the corral or even along the course.
After we ran our warm up and arrived at the convention center to stay warm and do some stretching, I went to the restroom. I tried to fix the zipper but to no avail. I ended up putting the key and my other important race-day necessities into Ryan’s pocket.
Oh the People You Will Meet
It always interest me when we run into people at various races. Saturday was no different.
We headed toward the finish of the second mile when we ran into my high-school friend Larry Roberts. He was running the full marathon Saturday. We spoke for a few moments and then continued on down Virginia Avenue.
As we headed north on Pennsylvania Street, we then ran into Jason Bletzinger. We had begun following each other on twitter over the summer through the #runchat group. His wife, Kara, ran the full – an interesting tidbit about her race a bit later. Jason and I talked about the beginning miles of the race. He asked me how Ryan liked going to Indiana University last Sunday for the Big 10 Cross Country Championships.
At the split and making a turn on 29th Street another twitter connection through #runchat was met when we saw Kristen Lund. Like Bletzinger, we were excited to finally meet each other in person. It was here that I realized Ryan was in his set pace for the remainder of the race. Lund’s husband and I have talked about running and autism on a couple of occasions through e-mail. We discussed that along with how amazing it is now that Ryan is in this pattern of getting into a particular pace and staying with it. As we made the turn on 34th Street, Lund picked up her pace and ventured on the course.
After the race, a gentleman named Phil approached us. “The last four races we have run with each other, I have tried to chase you two down at the end. It’s fun watching you get Ryan to catch you at the end. It inspires me to go even faster at the end. It won’t be too long until you’ll not have to do that anymore.”
We had received our medals, the goodies, the space blanket and the results. We were headed back to the car when we saw Thad Matta and his wife Barb.
I first met Thad my freshman year at Butler when he was a grad assistant for the Bulldogs. When I had my little radio show on a station down in Franklin, Indiana, Matta was my first guest when he was the head coach at Butler during the 2000-2001 season.
Ever since he left Butler for the Bulldogs arch-rival, Xavier, after that one season, when I see him, I still tease him about telling me during an interview that he said, “I’ll be a Bulldog forever.” Of course, the next week he left to take the job with the Musketeers.
The Monumental Wave Experiment
Like all things when you do something new there’s going to be room for improvement. This year the Monumental Marathon decided to go with wave starts to possibly help faster runners get out and avoid traffic.
For the most part, it seemed to work better than last year’s free-for-all. Although, they might want to get with their pals at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon about how to segregate the waves even more. The 500 Mini has waves, but also sorts those waves out by even more specific predicted finishing times. For instance, the 500 Mini has Wave 1, which has subcategories A through E for various times from the elites to 2:00:00. Then Wave 2 follows with the same parameters with slower times.
Another aspect would be to have better monitoring of the waves. Ryan and I were in wave 2 Saturday morning, but I noticed a lot of people with 3, 4 and even a couple of 5s on their bibs sneak into our corral prior to the start. The 500 Mini and even at the Mill Race Marathon in Columbus, Ind. have people at the entrance of the corrals checking bibs to make sure they go into the correct section. I didn’t see that Saturday morning.
What an absolute Godsend being parked close to the Irsay YMCA was for us. We were able to walk back to the car, get the bag with our after-race gear and walk over to the facility. It was nice getting to take a long-warm shower and get cleaned up. Even though we would have been in the car for the ride home, being able to shower and warm up there was perfect.
Tracking Is So Much Fun In Person
As I alluded to earlier in this post, I had an interesting tidbit about Kara Bletzinger as she ran the Monumental Marathon Saturday. After we cleaned up at the Y, we went back the 3/4 of a mile from our car to the finish line. I tracked several of our friends, who were running the marathon portion, and noticed they were about to finish the race.
Two in particular were Bletzinger and another one of my virtual-running friends, Catharine Yates.
This is the fun part of tracking people when they race – you know them and they know you. Sometimes though you can see them on the tracker running with people you know that they don’t know.
That’s the case with Bletzinger and Yates.
When I opened the app and saw the map tracking, Bletzinger and Yates were right next to each other. They stayed that way pretty much through the end.
They were on pace to finish at the same time. Ryan had just returned from the restroom as I looked down at the tracker. He tapped me.
“Yeah,” I said.
“That’s one of the numbers you told me to look for,” he said as he pointed.
It was Yates sprinting toward the finish line on Washington Street.
We cheered Yates on to the finish. Unfortunately, we did not see Bletzinger finish.
We met Yates at the end of the finishing chute. She finished with a time of 4:08:06. It was better than her Chicago Marathon time of 2016. She was quite happy about the time, but was somewhat bummed. If the race had been later in December or even next year, she would have qualified for Boston.
Later in the evening the feeling returned to excitement as Yates read the rules to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Despite making the time prior to her next birthday, Yates did indeed make a BQ time with her run Saturday for the 2019 Boston Marathon.
Once we crossed the finish line of the CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon, our “Zero Week” commenced. After 14 weeks of hard training plus Ryan running cross-country, a much-needed few days off was definitely in store for both of us.
Ever since I realized I was overtraining in September, I also dealt with a nagging back issue. During the week when I took a couple of unplanned rest days, I doubted if I would even be able to run the race. Matter of fact, I had Colleen on standby to run with Ryan in case I couldn’t.
I am also on vacation these next few days. I plan on sleeping in a couple of days while also working on my accounting class in my MBA program.
On Monday, Ryan and I took a visit to the new St. Vincent Sports Performance Center in downtown Indianapolis. Back in April, Ryan saw a picture on Instagram of his favorite runner Jordan Hasay using the Normatec Recovery Boots.
When I went to the open house for the new SVSP Center, which is conjunction with the Indiana Pacers, I thought Ryan would get a thrill being treated like an elite runner after a race.
After the 30-minute session in the boots, Ryan got his legs massaged while Jon Grant took a look at my back. Come to find out I have some alignment issues. He gave me exercises and stretches to do for the next few weeks to hopefully alleviate the problem.
Prayers for Eli
This is a big week for one of my good running friends, Brian Wilson and his family. His son, Eli, is having brain surgery Friday morning in Cleveland.
Eli will have a left frontal lobe resection. They will be going in on the same scar line from his first surgery that was six years ago. They will take a larger area of the damaged tissue of the brain in order to eliminate the spiking.
So, if you could, please say an extra prayer for the Wilsons this week. To keep them strong and constantly reassure that faith moves God. Also specifically pray the surgery puts an end to the spiking and seizure activity that Eli continues to experience.