A Perfect First Race

“There’s no such thing as impossible,” – Building 429

This is the new song from my favorite Christian-singing group, Building 429. I heard it several times leading up to Saturday’s Race Away Domestic Violence 5k at Victory Field in Indianapolis. Since we began running and Ryan had stopped wanting to walk my only fear was how he would handle the crowd. For most of his young life this kid has definitely shown there’s nothing that’s impossible. I expected his first race to be no different.

Then again my other fear was how nervous he would be leading up to his first ever race. All week long people who knew we were running the race either asked on Facebook, Twitter, text, e-mail or when I saw them in person if Ryan was excited about the race. Actually, he was more excited about the Bible Bowl Summer Tournament Send Off party we hosted the Thursday before the race.

From a selfish standpoint and knowing we had the race coming up two days later allowing Ryan to have one of his cheat days for the month of June for the party probably wasn’t the brightest ideas.

We ran a 5k on Friday morning and everything seemed fine. Ryan did his Brain Balance exercises and his Brain Balance session. We had dinner like we normally do and then Andrew, Luke, Ryan and I watched “Sherlock” downstairs in our theater room.

Unlike a couple of times when we have allowed Ryan to sway from the diet restrictions, he didn’t appear to have an upset stomach. After the show was over we came upstairs and the boys went to bed. I went into my den and was about to settle in to listen to the Dodgers-Cardinals game and the voice of baseball, Vin Scully when Luke ran downstairs and my ultimate nightmare had become a reality.

“Ryan’s puking! It’s all over his bed! It’s all over the bathroom! It stinks!”

Immediately Wendy ran upstairs and I ran into the pantry. I grabbed the roll of paper towels. Ryan had already started to clean himself up and was in the shower. We got lucky Ryan appeared to have not been in bed long. Since about the middle of April, he has this way of entwining the sheets and blankets through his clothes.

We got the mess picked up and the carpet cleaned in about a half hour. Ryan was quarantined to one of the couches downstairs for the night. Wendy said she would sleep on the other couch and for me to sleep in the bed.

There was no way I was going to be able to sleep wondering if Ryan was going to be able to run in the morning. Better believe I prayed it was nerves or the reaction to the food he had eaten Thursday night during the party.

I had friends tell me on several occasions they had gotten sick the night before or even the day of their sporting events. They said this was especially true when it was one of their bigger events which took the excitement and nervousness to another level they had never experienced.

I managed a few hours of sleep when my alarm barked at 5:30 am to wake up and get ready. I went downstairs and Wendy informed me Ryan said it was nerves and excitement for the race. He was eating a piece of toast and water.

“Do you think he’ll be fine?” I asked.

“He says he will be,” Wendy replied. “I’m sure he’s fine.”

With that, I went upstairs and showered and got my clothes on and went back downstairs to also have a piece of toast and a banana.

Wendy’s Mother arrived around 6:45 am and it was time to head to Victory Field for the race. Since I had to go straight from the race to work we drove separately. I had Ryan ride with me to the race because I want to talk to him about what we had practiced in our previous “practice races”

Wendy and I both stopped at the bank to get money in case we had to park at the White River State Park across the street from the stadium. Fortunately when we reached Victory Field there were plenty of parking spaces available.

Ryan and I walked around the parking lot for a little bit and stretched. We watched the other runners and walkers also prepare for the race. The rest of the family met us near the starting line and we talked and took pictures. I was quite surprised when one of the members of the Coach Jenny’s Challenge Group, Jeanie Olinger, and her daughter, Ronella Collins, were at the race. They had come to Indianapolis for Jeanie’s best friend’s wedding and since it was in the afternoon and they had time to kill they decided to run the race.

Ryan seemed to handle the crowd well. They finally called for us to make it to the start line to begin the race. I purposely put us back in the pack of runners. It would be the first part of our test to see how Ryan handled getting through other runners and walkers. I also wanted to see how he started the race. Would he run as we had practiced or would the excitement get him into bolting out from the starting gate?

It was probably a mistake to be as deep into the herd of other racers as we were for the start of the race. Once we started out of the parking lot of Victory Field it was about a quarter mile into the course when we finally got past the walkers and had cleared into where we could settle into a pace. To my amazement, the eagerness had not caught Ryan. We were at a controlled pace at the start.

We ran by Lucas Oil Stadium and approached the first-mile marker. Ryan appeared focused and smiled each time we passed runners along the course. We had been running somewhere between 9:00 to 10:00 miles lately. When “Jane” on the MapMyRun app said “Time 8:31. Distance 1 mile split pace 8:30.” I was startled. We entered the Eli Lilly campus and I momentarily flashback to when Dad would take me to his work. I am sure my parents were looking down from Heaven proud of what their grandson was doing on this day.

At the mile and half mark, there was a group passing out water cups as we ran by them. I wasn’t sure there would be water stations since it was a 5k race. When we drove up to the race I instructed Ryan to do things if there was a water station. “Point at the person who you are going to take the cup. More importantly make sure you tell them ‘thank you.’”

We moved toward the group holding the cups. I pointed at a woman and she handed me a cup and I told her thank you. Ryan pointed at a girl – close to his age it appeared – took the cup said thank you. He then preceded to splash the cup all over his shirt.

Out of the Lilly campus and onto Virginia Avenue we completed the second mile. As the longtime voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tom Carnegie, would say “even faster” Jane informed me we ran the second mile in 8:15 and the split pace was 8:14.

I was ecstatic at this point – two miles in and we were nailing negative splits in Ryan’s first race!

Virginia Avenue runs under a parking garage. It was dark and the only light was the flashing lights of a police car. A policeman was stationed there to give us direction along the route.

At this time, my confidence began to waver. Had we ran too hard the first two miles? Would Ryan have anything left for one last kick? Would Ryan freak out because of how dark it was in the parking garage area?

We made it out of the “underground” successfully and got back at the task at hand – finishing strong.

My other two questions were answered when we reached the corner of Maryland and Illinois Streets. There’s a marquee for the theater inside Circle Centre Mall. At that point, Ryan picked it up and I wasn’t sure I would catch him.

When we got to the Indiana Convention Center Ryan became frustrated. He could see Victory Field, but he couldn’t see the finish line.

“Where is it?” Ryan screamed at me. “I don’t see it! My feet are burning!”

“It’s there. Trust me,” I replied. “It’s around the bend where we started.”

“I still don’t’ see it!”

“Think of it as when we run the one route at home where we have to go around the bend to head to our finish line.”

While we were parallel with the convention center Jane announced on my phone our three-mile time – 6:15! We were two minutes faster than the previous mile. This is when I also realized the course was more than 3.1 miles. I encouraged Ryan to continue to run hard and we would eventually see the finish line and the rest of our family.

We made it past the main gate entrance of Victory Field and around the corner and up the hill to the finish line where Wendy was filming the finish with her camera. The announcer for the race even mentioned it was Ryan’s first race and that he was doing great.

Jane on MapMyRun said the course was actually 3.4 miles. We ran it in 26:45 for a 7:50 pace. We had exceeded any expectation I had for the race.

We impatiently waited to see the official results posted. I grabbed a banana, granola bar and water as we waited. Wendy, her mother and I continued to take pictures of the boys.

Finally around 9:00 am the results were posted inside the third-base concourse of Victory Field. I walked up with the rest of the crowd which gathered to see. I scrolled down the list and finally found us. We had officially finished with Ryan at 26:40.6 and me at 26:40.8.

Then I let out a loud “No Way!”

Ryan had finished 53rd overall, but he placed SECOND in his age group. I immediately ran out to the others and informed them. Ryan instantly hugged Wendy. I think Theresa, my mother in law, began to shed a tear or two. Andrew and Luke didn’t believe me. They instantly rushed to the bulletin board inside the stadium to verify. Micah jumped up and down in excitement for his older brother.

Earlier in the week, I had found out regardless of where they finished anyone 12 and under in the race would receive a medal, but they had to stay for the award ceremony to receive it. I asked one of the race volunteers if like the adults if the runners in the younger age groups received anything else for placing. She said the top three in the 12-and-under, and up to 19 years old would receive trophies.

I had to be at work by 10:20 am, but there was no way I would miss the award ceremony and watch Ryan get his trophy and medal. At 9:30 am they announced the award presentation would commence. The boy who finished first in Ryan’s age group ran the race in 22:21.9. When he went up to receive his award you could tell he was an experienced runner even for a 12-year old.

Ryan was called next and as people cheered he raised his arm and waved to the crowd. The announcer even said “A crowd favorite” as Ryan was handed his trophy. He then went to the mascot of Hoosier Park to have his picture taken holding his trophy in one hand and giving his thumbs up with the other.

We took a few more pictures. I handed Wendy my armband, phone and hydration belt. Ryan went along with the rest of the family to go home as I headed to the airport for work.

When I got home from work later that evening, Ryan looked at me and asked, “Now what?”

“On to Columbus.”

  • On Monday as we began our first run since the race I told Ryan the celebration was over. It was now time to ramp up the training for the Mill Race Half Marathon in September.
  • Not to be outdone, but watching Ryan run in the race, Micah has decided he wants to run. As I signed Ryan and I up for the Mill Race Half Marathon Sunday afternoon I also signed Micah up for the Kids Fun Run 1k at Mill Race Park the night before the half marathon. Since it is about a 45-minute drive Wendy and I already had decided we were going to get a hotel room the night before the race to avoid any chances of traffic issues the morning of the race.
  • Ryan and I ran 24.09 miles this week – the farthest distance we have run for a week since we began in March. Micah ran a 1k every day. I am usually in my den memorizing Ryan’s route for the day when Micah comes in ready to go. He came in Thursday – our usual off day – ready to go. I figured running/walking a 1k wouldn’t hurt me.
  • I am still doing research and plan to blog a little more on how Micah and Ryan are progressing at Brain Balance
  • The nutritionist is going to allow us to add some of the low-to-mild intolerance foods throughout the next month. We’ll see how the boys react to those changes. Unfortunately, that does not include coffee in Stately Rueff Manor. Although, I have been having my weekly cup of Hawaiian Hazelnut from my church’s cafe on Sunday mornings.

Ryan getting his picture taken with the Hoosier Park mascot after receiving his trophy


To the victor goes the spoils


The results page


The splits Jane said we had on MapMyRun


Ryan gets a hug from Wendy after I tell him he finished second in his age group.


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