Heading toward the Mini

Ryan and I are winding down our training for our first ever run in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon in 16 days.

As I look through our training log at this point we have missed ONLY one training run.

ONE!

1!

That was back in January when both Ryan and I came down with a cold. Fortunately, we bounced back from that unexpected rest day and had a solid week of training leading up to the first OrthoIndy Miler Series run – the three miler on Super Bowl weekend.

We head into these final training runs leading up to the 500 Mini with one more prep race – Rock the Block at Center Grove High School this Saturday morning.

I’m excited about this race for several reasons. We get another chance to fine tune some aspects which still need to be worked on for the Mini in race conditions. The best part of Rock the Block is the race is basically in our backyard. We could easily run from our house to the high school for the start and finish of the race and then run home.

I would seriously consider that option if we needed a solid long run, but we completed a 14.5-mile run two weeks ago. Last Saturday we ran 13.3 miles. I figure those two long runs will suffice and we can begin the taper.

 

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Rock the Block is a new race in the Center Grove Community. The inaugural event will be Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Several years ago there used to be a similar race in Center Grove called “Race Chase” sponsored by the Maple Grove Elementary PTA. It also was held two weeks prior to the 500 Mini and several people used it as a tune-up for the half marathon.

We’ve accomplished almost everything I set out for us in training for the 500 Mini. We already were seeded in a corral. Our time from the six-mile race of the 500 Festival Miler Series Presented by OrthoIndy we moved up to L-3. We recently found out we are in the first wave and corral C for the Mini.

During several track sessions for our speed workouts at the Mount Pleasant Christian Church Community Life Center, I challenged Ryan to keep our sprints between 50 and 55 seconds per lap.

About midway through March, I began pushing him toward the end of these sessions to see if we could possibly break 50. We had come close on several occasions during the training but never broke through.

That changed on Tuesday of this week as we broke the 50-second barrier not once, but three times in the final three laps. Ryan turned one lap of 47 and two laps of 48 to finish our five-mile workout which consisted of pyramid intervals for the first three miles and then lap sprints of either two or three laps for the final two. It was a fantastic way to conclude our last track session of this training cycle.

 

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The time of our last lap during a speed workout session earlier this week.

 

In both the three-mile and six-mile races, I expressed to Ryan to look at those runs as if we were trying to qualify like the race cars do at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the real Indianapolis 500. Each time he rose to the occasion and achieved the result we had established.

In the finale of the Miler Series, I wanted us to finish under 1:20:00. We finished at 1:19:55. Our pace wasn’t what it was in either the three-mile or six-mile race, but again with the analogy of a 500 race car, I wanted us to dial in some aspects for race day.

 

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Ryan with one of the 500 Festival Camaro’s after finishing first in the 10-mile race of the 500 Festival Miler Series Presented by OrthoIndy.

 

 

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t really cooperate. It was 27 degrees air temperature with a windchill of 16 when the green flag waved and airhorn went off at 8 a.m. on that Saturday morning. Despite the sunny skies during a few parts of the race, there were some snow showers along the course. I don’t think it affected us from a mental standpoint, but we may have over dressed as we wore long-sleeve shirts, short-sleeve shirts, jackets and also wore double pairs of tights.

 

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A huge shoutout goes to 500 Festival Marketing Director for the Mini, Kim Gale, and her staff. Their support and encouragement to get me convinced Ryan would do well running the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon have been tremendous.

 

That’s why I am glad we have the Rock the Block race coming up Saturday. Hopefully, the weather that day will be more equivalent to what we expect it will be race-day conditions for the 500 Mini. Right now the weather looks to be partly cloudy and in the low 50s at the gun time for Saturday’s Rock the Block run, which will definitely allow us to use our Mini race set up for the 10k.

A Pilot Program

I need to switch gears and let you know of some exciting news about running and autism from Staten Island, New York. I should have mentioned it in my post from last month, but wanted to wait until the official announcement was made at a press conference by Borough President James Oddo, Autism Speaks of Staten Island and the New York Road Runners.

I was contacted by Chris DeCicco, who is counsel to President Oddo, that Oddo along with several others in Staten Island had read the article from Jenny Hadfield about Ryan and how his running had helped with his autism. Oddo got with Autism Speaks of Staten Island and the New York Road Runners to form a run every Sunday for people with autism and their families. The New York Road Runners are also providing coaches to show the people with autism how to properly run especially if they have family members who don’t run or aren’t able to run.

The press conference to announce the “pilot” program was held March 24.

The first run was held April 10 and they had few families show up. They original had 20 families register for the first run, but like the weather here in Indiana that weekend it was brutally cold in New York. There was a nice segment from New York News 1’s about a father, who brought his autistic son to the run and plans to do it every week as long as they continue to have it at Conference Park in Staten Island.

Here’s the link to New York New 1’s piece about the first run.

Major props to President Oddo, Michael Cusick, Michael Schnall, Autism Speaks of Staten Island and the New York Road Runners for having the vision to put such a program together for those affected by autism in their own community. I am sure the program will be a success even if it’s just the one father and son who show up every week for the run.

 

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The poster from the Staten Island, Autism Speaks and New York Road Runners promoting its weekly run for people with Autism and their families.

 

If you’re wondering – yes, I have begun putting some spokes into a wheel to look into getting something similar started here in the Indianapolis area. The response so far has been positive and all of those I have talked to are just as excited because if Ryan’s autism has been helped by running surely there are more who could also benefit.

Will Ryan’s or anyone’s autism be completely defeated? I’d like to think it will. We’ve been fortunate to find running as Ryan’s voice in the world and a way to combat the disorder.

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