CG’s Rock the Block

Overall, Rock the Block is a great pre-cursor for anyone preparing to run the 500 Mini. More importantly, it’s going to be a great annual event to showcase the community of Center Grove.


Saturday, Ryan and I ran in the inaugural Rock the Block Run at Center Grove High School. This was our final prep race before the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon May 7. Participants had the option to either run the 5K or the 10K.

For Ryan and me running the 10K worked out perfectly as we begin the taper period of our training for the 500 Mini. The Rock the Block race would replace our long run for the week mainly because despite the shorter mileage than what I would have originally planned we would exert the same amount of energy since we would spend most of the run in how we plan to race for the 500 Mini.

As I said in my previous post, I am glad Erin Smith and other members of the community have put Rock the Block together. There used to be a similar race called “Race Chase” several years ago 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.


Event Director of Rock the Block, Erin Smith, making some announcements on the stage. Smith and her staff along with the many volunteers had a successful first Rock the Block run last Saturday at Center Grove (photo courtesy of Rock the Block and Simon Morse).


Unlike the three races of the 500 Festival Miler Series presented by OrthoIndy, Rock the Block would be a smaller race. The biggest goal of this race was to get another experience under Ryan while also fine tuning some parts in race conditions to be fully ready for the 500 Mini in two weeks.

When I first saw the map of the course and remembered driving down Smokey Row Road and Saddle Club Road while growing up in the Center Grove community, the one thing I thought about was – hills, hills, and more hills.


Making the turn from the Center Grove parking lot and up the first of many hills along the 10K course. This is the hill on Morgantown Road heading south to Smokey Row Road at the beginning of the race.(photo courtesy of Rock the Block, Soar Above Media and Dakoda Johnson).


Most of the first part of the 10K course for Rock the Block was all inclines. It reminded me a lot of mile 10-11 at the Indianapolis Half Marathon at Fort Benjamin Harrison – where it seems like the entire mile you do nothing but run up and down hills. Just when you think you’ve conquered the final hill and the course is going to remain flat there’s still another one to go up.

The hills on the course were reaffirmed as Ryan and I drove the route Friday afternoon prior to picking up our packets for the race. As I drove us up and down both Smokey Row and Saddle Club Road I emphasized to Ryan although we would be in race conditions our main goal through the hills was to maintain the same effort as we do when running in our neighborhoods and the various inclines.

This would be a great test for Ryan because he had never run on a course with such continuous hills either in regular training or racing conditions. With all the inclines it also would be a great training tool since the motto of inclines is “Hills are nothing more than speed work in disguise.”

Fortunately, on the Rock the Block 10K course the hills do end when you make the turn from Saddle Club Road to Whiteland Road heading to the Hickory Stick Golf Community.

I didn’t know about a lot of the other runners, but I knew Ryan and I would be ready for the first part of the course because on most of our runs I make sure we have inclines throughout our routes.

Well, just after grabbing a water cup from my high school classmate, Samantha Caudill Bush, and attacking the first big hill on Smokey Row Road, you could definitely tell the runners who weren’t used to the ascents and came out too fast at the beginning of the race.

We started midway through the pack. We probably should have started up a little closer to the front where there were more kids Ryan’s age, but I met up with my friend, J Sulek, who also works at “The World on Time.” We got talking about running and work and before we knew it the race had started and we headed south on Morgantown Road toward the first hill of the race which would then lead us to Smokey Row Road.

My goal for the race was to maintain a decent pace through the hills and then when we finally got out to Whiteland Road and into the Hickory Stick Golf Community to begin the race pace. Once we got to the final mile for us to put in a solid kick to finish off the race.

Since we were running at Center Grove and CGHS Cross Country Coach, Howard Harrell had given me the use of his team’s page on the Running2win app, I decided to use that one to time us for the race instead of my usual MapMyRun.

Like a lot of runners I have a love-hate relationship with my running apps. I like MapMyRun because it gives you the mile and the split times. The Running2Win app only gives you the mile. I am probably going back to MapMyRun to track us during the 500 Mini.

I got into a steady rhythm of somewhere between 7:50-8:00 a mile – exactly where I want to be at the beginning of the 500 Mini. Ryan and I moved ahead of Sulek and we were moving up and down the hills and then on to Whiteland Road heading toward the Hickory Stick Golf Course community.

When we drove the course Friday just past the third-mile marker there was a fire hydrant. I told Ryan that’s where we will begin our race pace for the final half of the race.

The thing about Ryan and autism is sometimes even when you talk and show him what you want to happen it sometimes doesn’t click.

Even though I had continued to encourage him from the fire hydrant, it was at about the four-and-half-mile mark before he realized we should have already been at race pace as we approached Streamside Drive and hearing another classmate, Rhonda Hestand Lane, cheering Ryan on from the deck of her house.


Ryan making his move toward the finish of the Rock the Block 10k at Center Grove (photo courtesy of Rock the Block and Forrest Mellott).


We made the turn to Hornaday Drive to head to the finish line. Ryan really picked up the pace as he could see the finish line and people gathered around it.

A short jog on Pennington Drive and then to the finish line I yelled at Ryan, “You did it! Raise your arms in victory!” Exactly how we plan to finish the 500 Mini in a few days.

Ryan crossed the finish line with his arms up in the air in a time of 48:33. I was right behind at 48:34. Despite the hills and not fully getting into race pace when I wanted, I thought we had a solid race.

Ryan was somewhat bummed he didn’t place in his age group, but he was, as usual, the top 13-year-old male. On the drive home, I reminded him placing was not the goal of this race. The objective was to fine tune and dial in what we want to do when we ran in the 500 Mini in two weeks.

Speaking of placing, our pal Ben Houston, now former manager at the Greenwood Runner’s Forum, won the 5k race with a time of 16:58. Since first meeting Ben back in October at the store he has become one of Ryan’s biggest supporters.


Ben Houston, one of Ryan’s biggest fans, and Ryan after the 10K and 5k races at Rock the Block. Ben was the overall winner in the 5k race.


It will always give me chills when other runners and spectators come up to me and tell me how impressed they are with Ryan. One runner even commented how he enjoyed seeing the look of determination and a huge smile on Ryan’s face as he ran the course.

I want to give a full review of Rock the Block, but I can’t give it justice. It was another Saturday where I had to get Ryan to meet the rest of our family as they made pizzas for the Bible Bowl fundraiser and I had to get to work.

I can tell you the food coming off the grill from one of the vendors gave me thoughts of calling my manager and telling him I wasn’t coming to work at all.

From the pictures I viewed on Rock the Block’s Facebook and Twitter, it appeared the musical entertainment also kept people engaged throughout the rest of the morning and early afternoon. There were several vendors and various organizations throughout “Main Street” promoting themselves to the people who participated as runners or walkers and their families.

Overall, Rock the Block is a great pre-cursor for anyone preparing to run the 500 Mini. More importantly, it’s going to be a great annual event to showcase the community of Center Grove.


2 thoughts on “CG’s Rock the Block

  1. That’s me in the picture with Ryan! Soooo impressed with Ryan’s times. It was great seeing you both down at the mini this morning pre-race as well. Congrats!


    • Thanks, Brian! It was a pleasure seeing you as well. Congrats on your Mini run. Look forward to seeing you at future races. Are you running Monumental or Mill Race?


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