Ryan’s day was complete. He had set a new time for his half marathon and he got to meet Meb. I don’t think anyone could have capped off a better way to enjoy their first OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
Since Jan. 4, Ryan and I had trained relentlessly for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
We had run in all the weather conditions possible – snow, rain, the wind and sunny days where it felt like our lungs were on fire after we finished from the cold air.
When I had deemed it too cold because of either the air temperature or the wind chill, we ran inside at the Community Life Center on the campus of Mount Pleasant Christian Church.
When the weather eventually warmed up, we still went to the CLC to run our speed workouts of either pyramid intervals or sprint laps. On most Tuesdays when we ran laps we began the five miles with a few warm up laps then proceeded to run the pyramid intervals for the first three miles and then sprints with a lap rest during the final two miles. Usually, we ran the final five laps of the fifth mile at what we considered race pace or faster.
We ran four races – three in the 500 Festival Mini Marathon Miler Series presented by OrthoIndy and Rock the Block at Center Grove. As previously mentioned, Ryan won his age group in the six and 10-mile races and finished second in the three-mile.
We broke the century mark for miles in February (103), March (137) and April (143). The farthest run was 14.5 miles on April 2. On April 16 we ran 13.3 miles with the last half working race pace or better to finish.
Heading into the 500 Mini we ran 482.32 miles including 662 laps at the CLC.
We were ready for the final 13.1 and to see what a solid training cycle would do for Ryan’s time and confidence through the streets of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The day tried its best to become chaotic. Unlike last year on the day before the Mill Race Half Marathon, I didn’t fret.
Ryan and I finished our final training run that Friday morning of 3.15 miles. We returned home, showered, ate breakfast and left for the 500 Mini Expo at the Indianapolis Convention Center. I wanted to get there as soon as the expo opened at 10 a.m.
My goal for the day was to get to the expo, pick up our packets, browse the exhibitors for a few minutes, take the necessary photo opportunities and return home for lunch.
My main objective after we got home was to stay off my feet as much as possible. I had several movies planned to watch in the theater room the rest of the day until 8:30 p.m. when I planned for Ryan and me to go to bed and be ready for the 4:30 a.m. alarm the next morning.
The 500 Festival Mini Marathon Marketing Director Kim Gale and Kati O’Brien from her staff left a couple of notes paperclipped to Ryan’s bib.
They congratulated him on running his first 500 Mini and how excited they were for him and couldn’t wait to hear how he finished.
We accomplished my intentions at the expo. As we began our walk back to the car Wendy texted me. She informed me she thought it would be in my best interest to take the boys to Brain Balance that afternoon. I agreed and figured I’d still be able to get off my feet while the boys were in their sessions.
Fast forward now to the debate on dinner.
Last year on the day before the Mill Race Half we were all over the place.
First, we had to get Andrew and Luke to two different places to spend the night to get up the next morning for Bible Bowl pizza making.
Micah also ran the kid race the night before in Columbus and we decided to stay in a hotel. We didn’t eat until 8:30 p.m. that night. Micah refused to go to sleep because of the excitement of being in the hotel room. To compound matters, I was too nervous to sleep and was in and out of bed all night.
I had planned to grill chicken and have potatoes for dinner that night – which is what I had for dinner prior to setting my PR in the Indianapolis Half Marathon in 2013.
The boys weren’t thrilled with the selection. They asked for something else. I hesitated. I didn’t want a repeat of mile 9-10 from Mill Race with Ryan.
The boys wanted pizza. It was something we had on several occasions prior to a long run the next morning during this training cycle.
I googled a couple of articles and read one in particular by Mark Remy from Runner’s World. Remy answered the question perfectly saying, “The night before a race, eat whatever you would normally eat the night before a long run.”
Pizza it was.
I scratched the idea of watching a movie prior to going to bed that evening. Instead, Ryan and I went down to the theater room and re-watched the Boston Marathon I still had saved on the DVR.
Ryan’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree when Tom Hammond and the two analysts, Craig Masback and Tim Hutchings, interviewed Meb Keflezighi during one of the segments.
Ryan’s ultimate goal, besides besting his time from the Mill Race Half last September, was to meet Meb. The 500 Festival had announced Meb would be at the PR Bell after he had finished the course sometime around 11:30 a.m. or Noon.
I figured the line would be long for the photo opportunity with Meb, but I promised Ryan we would do our best to meet his running hero.
After we had again watched Astede Baysa make her remarkable comeback and win the women’s race and Lemi Berhanu breakaway to win the men’s race, it was time to go to bed.
Ryan went straight to bed. As usual, once his head hit the pillow he was gone for the night. I laid out our clothes and Wendy pinned the bibs on our shirts. I also got our gear bags ready which included sandals and another T-shirt for Ryan. Mine included sandals, shirt, Flexall, compression socks and my Therawheel.
Finally around 9:30 p.m. I had Phil Collins’ album “Face Value” playing in my ear buds. The last song I remember listening to was “If Leaving Me is Easy.”
The alarm clock radio buzzed at 4:10 a.m. My Timex IronMan watch began beeping at 4:11 a.m. I quickly showered and shaved and got dressed.
I then went across the hall and woke Ryan up. As he got dressed I went downstairs and ate a banana and drank a glass of water. Ryan came downstairs to the kitchen. I asked if he was hungry. He replied no.
Another race day mistake was made last year. Ryan and I never ate anything prior to a long run. He had Kix, an apple, and Vitamin Water prior to us leaving the hotel room that morning in Columbus for Mill Race.
We left Stately Rueff Manor and headed downtown. I had paid in advance to park in a lot near Lucas Oil Stadium, which would be about a half mile from the start and finish line of the race.
I figured we could do some stretching at the car and then head to the starting line as a nice little warm-up for the race.
After being in the car for half hour around 6 a.m. with our gear bags in hand we made a light jog to the UPS trucks along West Street to turn the bags in before the race.
As we walked I was reassured I made the right decision to park where we did because of the line of cars I saw trying to get into the various garages along Maryland Street just south of where the starting line was on Washington Street.
A day or two before the Boston Marathon I found out the sister of one of my former co-workers from when I sold office equipment would be running in that race. The sister happened to be the 2006 500 Mini Women’s Champion Lucie Mays-Sulewski.
Her sister, Kecia, got us to exchange cellphone numbers prior to the 500 Mini as her sister would be running in it as well. Mays-Sulewski messaged me Thursday night and we had planned to meet before the race.
Around 6:30 a.m., Mays-Sulewski messaged me and wanted to know if we had arrived near the starting line. I told her we were across the street from the JW Marriott. I wasn’t exactly precise about which street, though. As I waited for her to reply, a fellow Coach Jenny Hadfield challenger, Jim Sellmer, and his nephew George Johns spotted us.
We spoke with Sellmer and Johns and talked about belonging to Coach Jenny’s group. He asked Ryan if he was ready to run Saturday morning and how excited was he. Ryan said he was ready and was excited to get to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
As Sellmer and Johns left to find their respective corral, Mays-Sulewski texted to say she was at the waterfall with the deer statues in front of the Eiteljorg Museum. It was diagonally from where we were, but I told Ryan to follow me as we made our way through a barricade and several people to get over there to meet Mays-Sulewski
We met Lucie and introduce ourselves. She expressed how much she enjoyed hearing about Ryan and his running through her sister. I told Ryan Mays-Sulewski had run in the race we watched last night and that she had even won the 500 Mini. He shook his head in approval.
Similar Sellmer, Lucie asked Ryan if he was ready to run and how excited he was to be running in the 500 Mini. Ryan told her he was very excited and that he was ready to beat me. We both had a good laugh.
Like us usually on race Saturday’s, Lucie told us she had a busy day after she crossed the finish line as her son, Chase, would have his first communion later that afternoon.
We wished each other luck on the race. She left to get prepared for the race. Meanwhile, Ryan and I lightly ran up to the entrance of the Eiteljorg Museum and then over to the Indiana State Museum. The 5K race had started and it was getting close to the time for us to head to our corral for our start.
We entered the corral and it wasn’t long until someone recognized Ryan. It was a gentlemen named Brian Shoulta from Greenwood. He had run the Rock the Block Run two weeks ago. Actually, he’s the one Ryan’s passing in the picture from the post about that race.
“During Rock the Block, I came up to Ryan and I told him he was doing really good,” Shoulta said. “Guess I motivated him because he really sped up and left me in his dust.”
Moments later a trio from the armed forces sang the National Anthem. I prayed for Ryan and me to have a good race and most of all to have fun and finish strong.
THE GREEN FLAG WAVES
First-year Mayor Joe Hogsett was in one bucket lift up in the air waving a green flag while Meb was in the first bucket passed the starting line waving one as well. Ryan and I both looked up and yelled at Meb.
As I looked up I felt my right foot land awkwardly on a runner in front of me. I apologized for my miscue and the other runner said he understood. “I’m just shocked my foot went right back into my shoe properly,” he said.
We were off and running
Mile 1: We hadn’t even arrived at the Indianapolis Zoo when we encountered our first band of many scattered throughout the race course. My original plan was to get us into a comfortable pace. As Michael Kaltenmark had messaged me Friday the goal should be for the race to come to us and not to push things. Ryan was staying with me. The pace felt comfortable as we made the turn from Washington Street onto White River Parkway West Drive and the maintenance facility of the zoo. Completing the first mile MapMyRun app voice said we were running at a 7:45 pace. Fifteen seconds faster than I wanted, but it felt comfortable and we pressed on for the second mile.
Mile 2: White River Parkway West Drive was familiar to us as it was part of the course for both the three mile and six-mile races of the Miler Series. Instead of turning west on Michigan Street as we did in those two races we turned east and headed into Haughville. There were more bands playing along Michigan Street and also some DJ’s playing a variety of music – mostly rap and hip hop. Ryan was still with me and it still felt comfortable even though now MapMyRun said we were 10 seconds faster than the first mile at 7:35.
Mile 3: The fact we were now 25 seconds faster than where I really wanted to be at this point in the race should have been a red flag. I should have slowed us down. I knew from experience during our training there was no way we could keep that pace getting to mile 10 and be ready to tell Ryan to put in his kick and then at Mile 12 put in his super kick to finish the race. As I gave Ryan his water bottle from the hydration belt, he gave me the thumbs up and we continued on Michigan Street. Everything felt comfortable. MapMyRun then says we are seven seconds faster than even Mile 2 now at 7:28. It didn’t seem like we were going that fast.
Mile 4: We turned off Michigan Street and headed north on Holt Road. We felt good and the pack began to disperse itself along the course. I also saw a first for me during a race. A woman was sitting in the median of the road. She wiped off her legs got up as she got back into normal stride she ripped off her bib and threw into the grass along the side of the road with disgust. Obviously, whatever had happened to cause her to sit momentarily along the side of the road had cost her the goal time she wanted for the race that morning. I watched as she picked up her pace and went on to pass several runners down the road.
As we finished the fourth mile I gave Ryan the water bottle. I also noticed a huge difference between where MapMyRun said the fourth mile was completed and where it actually was along the course. The split time now at 7:30.
Mile 5: I had lost sight of the woman before making the turn onto 10th Street as we headed toward the Allison Transmission Plant and the town of Speedway. Not only were there bands along the route now but there also were several line dancing groups performing to various kinds of music. Not even halfway through the race and there was more entertainment along this course than any other half marathon I had previously raced combined. It was also the first mile where Ryan fell drastically behind me. As we approached Main Street in Speedway I saw the building for Sarah Fisher’s new indoor karting. I have my sights set on that place to go for my birthday in November. Wendy thinks I’m crazy for wanting to do that, but it would be something different. Again the MapMyRun and the actual mile marker according to the course were even further apart. The split time also went up again now at 7:46.
Mile 6: Down Main Street of Speedway and there were more people cheering and a couple of bands playing along the course. As we angled around the roundabout to 16th Street I gave knuckles to a little boy who was atop his father’s shoulders. Ryan was a further back and I slowed down. There was one thing I wanted to do more than anything regardless of time on the course. I wanted to enter the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the “World’s Greatest Race Course,” together. As we approached the entrance there was a Chik-Fil-A sponsored stand at the pit stop. I wanted to get the point-and-shoot camera out of the zipper bag in my hydration belt, but I didn’t want to take a chance of spilling my car keys, driver license, credit card and cash doing it with the hundreds of people behind us.
We turned off 16th Street and into the tunnel which literally goes underneath the famed two-and-half-mile oval and into the infield of IMS. I looked to my left and saw the grin on Ryan’s face as he also yelled out “Whoa!” as we went down the hill of the tunnel. I told him to think of it as the big dip we encounter when we run in one of the subdivisions during our long runs. As we made our way back up to the ground level we were met by the Indiana University cheerleaders. I yelled out their chant of “I-N-D-I-A-N-A!”
There is one thing missing when you enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon – hearing the legendary voice of long-time IMS public address announcer Tom Carnegie.
I couldn’t help but think how cool would it be to hear Carnegie’s thunderous voice over the PA system saying, “Welcome runners to the ‘World’s Greatest Race Course.’ You’re onnnn it!”
Although I have lived in Indianapolis most of my life – there was a six-month stretch where I lived in Northridge, Calif. – I didn’t make my first trip to the track until the end of my freshmen year at Butler in 1991. My friend Rob Evola came over the Thursday before the race and we went to “Carb Day” – the final practice for the cars before the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. I vividly remember getting out of my 1986 Ford LTD and immediately hearing Carnegie’s voice welcoming fans to the speedway that morning.
Unfortunately, Carnegie passed away in 2011 and it’s probably not possible to go through archives and splice something like it together for future 500 Minis.
Waiting on Ryan and getting down and back up the tunnel slowed us down a bit as we had our first over eight-minute mile at 8:06.
Mile 7: The majority of this mile is on the 5/8-of-a-mile backstretch of IMS. There were a few cheerleading groups and Phil Collins’ song “Let It Rain” played on the speakers. Ironically as I looked to the northwest of the track, I could see rain clouds beginning to roll as had been predicted by the weather forecasters.
You could also see the WTHR coverage of the race on the many big screens around the track. There are also signs along straightaway telling runners exactly what their entrance fees do for various organizations in Indiana. All them beginning with “Because you Mini…”
The turns around IMS are ¼ of a mile and banked at 9.2° and it seems pretty steep to me. I can’t even imagine what it would be like at Daytona and its banking of 31°.
During this part of the course, I tried to envision what it would sound like if the 500 Mini was on the radio and the regular IMS Radio Network announcers were in their respective turns calling the race.
Note – For those readers not from the Indianapolis area, the Indianapolis 500 is blacked out in the Indianapolis Metropolitan television market. We are forced to listen to the race on radio and then watch it on delay that night on our local ABC affiliate. I have been to two Indianapolis 500’s in person and have watched it live on TV twice when I lived in California and when we were on vacation in Florida. If you get the chance this year – despite the lag – turn the volume down on the TV and listen to the IMS Radio Network. It is an amazing production.
As we approached what is the third turn in the northeast corner of the speedway the MapMyRun app was even further off from the course marker. MapMyRun had the seventh mile ending at turn three heading into the north chute of the track. Actually the mile marker a quarter of a mile farther in the northwest section of the track in the fourth turn. We had fallen off another 23 seconds to 8:29.
Mile 8: We made it through the north chute and turn four heading down the 5/8-mile main straightaway and the yard of bricks. As I approached the Sunoco sign at the beginning of the pit lane I looked back and saw Ryan. I could tell something wasn’t right. Instantly I flashed back to Mile 9 at the Mill Race Half. I thought there were portable toilets along the first turn after we crossed the yard of bricks at the start/finish line of the track. I asked a volunteer, who was standing next to Frank Shorter and WTHR Sports Director Dave Calabro if that was the case. The volunteer assured me there were right after the pitstop area. I had wanted to stop and kiss the bricks, but not really knowing what Ryan’s issue was I thought better of it. I can kiss the bricks some other day.
The MapMyRun app had this mile ending at the huge scoring pylon on the main straightaway. The actual mile marker was in the first turn heading into the south chute of the track. We had lost another 18 seconds and the pace now was at 8:46.
Mile 9: We passed the pitstop and the Greenwood High School cheerleaders – there were no portables. Ryan let out a loud groan and unlike the Mill Race Half, I was doing my best to stay calm as we continued in the what normally is the warm-up lanes for the cars heading out of the pits and through the first turn which leads into the south chute of the track. Right in the middle of the south chute a medical person appeared wearing a stethoscope around her neck. I asked her if she knew about any portables and she said no. As she began to ask me if we needed any other medical attention I looked over her shoulder and noticed three portable toilets lined up. I quickly said no, grabbed Ryan’s arm and pushed him toward the toilets.
He ran to the portables. I ran behind and got to the portables as he closed the door. I asked how he was doing. He replied he was fine as he opened the door and came out. I gave him his bottle for a quick drink and we quickly got back on the track where we were greeted by the Cathedral Irish cheerleaders. Hearing them saying his name and cheering Ryan along the south chute I think helped both of us refocus for the remainder of the race.
We ran through the rest of the south chute and into turn two where the Fuzzy’s Vodka VIP Suites are located on the southeast side of the track and a part of the back straightaway where we finally exited the track just passed the outside of turn two.
As we left the track the 500 Festival Princesses were there cheering on the runners as we make our way back to 16th Street. MapMyRun now was four-tenths of a mile off from the actual mile marker. The pitstop inside the south chute had dropped us to 9:06 – understandably this would be our slowest mile of the race.
Mile 10: This is the curviest part of the course. We made a little jog from 16th Street to Olin Avenue and then winded around for about a third of a mile to 10th Street. As probably would have been expected from our fast start I had somewhat hit a wall. I felt chills and knew this might be a sign I was on the verge of overheating. I kept telling myself and reinforcing it to Ryan – “this is the last easy mile. We begin the kick here soon.” Ryan, as he had earlier in the race, gave me the thumbs to let me know he was good to go for the finish. When we got to a pitstop I took two cups of water and poured them over my head. Ryan did the same.
MapMyRun had the mile end just as we made the turn off Olin onto 10th Street. The mile marker was positioned at about a third mile farther on the street. We had regained some momentum and were back under 8:00 with a mile of 7:57.
Mile 11: We crossed the electronic scoring strip for people who were following us to know where we were on the course. This is where I wanted us to be in “race pace.” This is where the pyramid intervals and sprints at the CLC during most of the training and the fartleks we had done the last two weeks of training were to pay off. During training to get Ryan to go faster I had ran behind him. I told him his goal was for me not to catch him. All of mile 11 was straight and flat. We stayed together for the most part. MapMyRun app was off a half mile this time as it said Mile 11 was at North Warman Avenue. The actual mile marker was closer to Belmont Ave. We had dropped again back into the 8:00s at 8:10.
Mile 12: The MapMyRun app had us on the high end of 1:31 after the completion of Mile 11. There was good news and bad news about that. The latter was the ultimate time goal of 1:40:00 I had set was out of reach and more than likely caused because of our fast start. The former was the goal of 1:50:00. It was still there for taking. We made the turn onto White River Parkway Drive West and I could tell we both were giving everything we had left. I looked at Ryan and I told him, “Super-kick time is about to commence. Be ready.” “I will be,” he replied.
I finally tuned the MapMyRun app out after “Jane” said mile 12 was two-tenths of a mile on White River Parkway Drive West and the actual mile marker from the course was nowhere in sight. Staying steady though according to the app at 8:11.
“Dad! I’m losing it!”
Mile 13-13.1: Like Victory Lane at IMS the final mile of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon is titled “Victory Mile.” As we made the turn onto New York Street for the final mile I yelled at Ryan and told him it was time to give everything we had and finish strong. As we neared the Michael Carroll Stadium on the IUPUI campus – where the Indy Eleven soccer team plays its home games and was once home to United States Olympic Track and Field Trials, Ryan looked at me yelled, “Dad! I’m losing it!”
“What are you losing?”
“My energy. I got nothing left!”
“We are almost there, Ry! Come on! Dig deep! You got this!”
We went up a slight incline near the IUPUI Natatorium and could see the finish line. There were people on both sides of the street cheering the runners on. One gentleman even had a box of dozen doughnuts and was asking people if they needed a quick boost of energy for the finish. With our names in big red letters on the bibs, people on the sides could easily read them. I heard several people shouting Ryan’s name as we got closer to the finish.
I fell behind Ryan as we weaved through traffic including two men doing the best they could to help another man stand up and attempt to cross the finish line.
I yelled at Ryan to raise his arms up in victory for the finish. He did momentarily and then dropped them back down.
I was ecstatic to see he had brought them back up as he crossed the finish line when I viewed the photos from MarathonFoto late Monday night. He went through one slot and I had gone through another next to it. This caused me not to see his complete finish.
Remembering how Meb had finished the US Olympic Marathon Trials back in February, the night before we had discussed him crossing the finish line with his arms raised and then stopping and giving a full body thrust.
We didn’t know our official time but once I stopped the MapMyRun app, which had been several moments after we crossed the finish line and almost where we could get water bottles, the time was 1:49:30.
It was also at this time a notification appeared on my phone to inform me I had 20 percent battery life left. It was probably a combination of things – the MapMyRun app along with several texts, tweets and Facebook mention notifications I had received throughout the race and didn’t know about them.
Right before we obtained the water bottles I noticed Nicole Misencik, who is an avid runner and one of the commentators of the local NBC affiliate’s coverage of the race, was off the air so I turned Ryan around after getting the water and we went back to say hello to her. Misencik was the official starter of last year’s Mill Race Marathon and Half Marathon.
She asked me how the race went and I said I thought it went well and that I knew Ryan had crushed his time from Mill Race. We spoke for a couple of more moments before I could tell she was needed by her cameraman. Ryan and I had walked about 25 yards before Misencik came running for us and wanted to know if we would like to be interviewed.
They were still in a commercial break and Nicole told us she wanted us to look at her and not into the camera as we talked. Ryan acknowledged he could do that. We talked about Columbus and the Mill Race and told her we planned to run that race again in September.
Finally, it was time to go on the air. Nicole introduced us and said we had a great story to tell about Ryan and his running. I explained Wendy had brought up the idea because of him constantly running in the mornings in the kitchen and dining room. I talked about how I was hesitant at first because running was my escape from reality and figuring out the world’s problems. I failed to hit the home run and mention Ryan had autism.
Several friends made mentioned that it would have been hard to remember everything after just running our guts out for 13.1 miles. One even said, “Maybe it was nice to just enjoy the race and not have to focus on autism for a minute.”
When Nicole asked Ryan what he thought about running around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I thought I heard him say he was thinking he had to pee. Fortunately after watching the interview with the family on Saturday night, Ryan had said it was “epic.” He also told her he was thinking about speed as he went around the track and the thought of the speed the cars go as they are on it.
The Roar is Over
After being interviewed by Misencik, we made our way to get our medals, cookies, bananas, Gatorade, pretzels and fruit cups. We then got our finisher pictures taken before moving on to the after-race party in Military Park.
This would be a first for us. We have never had the opportunity to stay for the after parties. At Mill Race, we had to get back home so Wendy and I could get to the airport to go to New York. Two weeks ago, I had to take Ryan home and change my clothes to get to work after running the Rock the Block race.
My vacation from “The World on Time” started on Thursday. Wendy, Andrew, Luke, and Micah were at Bible Bowl. Ryan and I could take our time enjoying our accomplishment.
We went to the results tent and got our results. Ryan not only beat his previous time from his first half marathon, he decimated it by 18 minutes with an official time of 1:48:51. Then we went and celebrated with bottles of chocolate Milk.
Even after eating the cookies, the chocolate milk, and the water, Ryan was hungry. I have to admit my appetite was strong too. We went to the Edwards Drive-in food truck. I got Ryan a hot dog and a Pepsi and I enjoyed Edward’s famous Hoosier tenderloin and a Pepsi.
While we ate Wendy began texting me wanting to know Ryan’s place. I didn’t know it and with so many people around using their phones it was too hard to get a connection to the Internet through my phone. I told her placing didn’t matter. The important thing was he had fun running around the track and he crushed his previous time by 18 minutes.
I knew well beforehand it would be a stretch for Ryan to place in his age group especially when I saw kids his age who ran the 500 Mini last year had times for 13.1 equal to what he did for only 10 miles during the final Miler Series race.
We ran into several people I have met socially through twitter and the Coach Jenny Challenge. We got to talk with Lauren Slagter and her husband, Marty. The 500 Mini was Marty’s first half marathon. Both were excited and impressed to hear Ryan’s time. We also ran into Jennifer Creasey and Mark Skaggs, who I interacted with through RunChat on twitter.
We went through the PR bell line once and got our picture taken with Ryan’s time. We asked if they knew the protocol for when Meb showed up. All anyone knew was he would arrive sometime around noon.
We walked around and took some more photos as it began to rain in spurts. One time there was a good downpour for about 10 minutes. We kept an eye on the PR Bell line and got in it a few times only to leave and go back to the end of the line. Once we got to the ropes and stood there for a few minutes.
As scheduled at noon Meb along with his entourage arrived in a golf cart. Ryan again got excited as he did when he saw Meb on TV the night before. He rubbed his hands together and giggled like he does when he gets overly enthusiastic.
The line had dwindled somewhat and we decided to go to the back of the line.
We winded through the roped off area again. At last, it was our turn. Ryan giggled and rubbed his hands together and literally skipped to see Meb. I shook Meb’s hand and told him it was a pleasure to meet him and about Ryan being autistic and running this morning.
He shook Ryan’s hand. Meb followed Ryan’s lead and put his thumb up as MarathonFoto and several others took our picture. We thanked Meb again and Ryan rang the PR Bell for the second time since finishing the 500 Mini. The encounter with Meb only lasted a few moments, but you could tell what it meant for Ryan to meet his running hero.
Ryan’s day was complete. He had set a new time for his half marathon and he got to meet Meb. I don’t think anyone could have capped off a better way to enjoy their first OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
We were walking away when we ran into Coach Jenny challenger’s Chris and Mollie Heinz. They were still in line to meet Meb. We went over to the first-aid tent and got our shoes off. Ryan put on his sandals and I put on my compression socks and sandals.
After they were done getting their picture at the PR Bell, we talked to the Heinz’s for a few more minutes. Then we decided it was time to head back to the car.
On our way to our car we saw my high school friend Mikeal Gordon. Gordon was leaning over the bridge on West Street near the Eiteljorg Museum eating his pretzels.
He was one of the first athletes I helped with his rehabilitation when I was a student athletic trainer at Center Grove. He tore his ACL during warm-ups prior to the Greenwood-CG football game at the Hoosier Dome in 1987.
We walked with him as we walked back to our cars just south of Lucas Oil Stadium. We said goodbye to Mike and turned to our car.
When we got into the car I paused for a moment, put my arm around Ryan and just didn’t know what to say or do.
From a running perspective, we didn’t run a great race, but to me at that moment, it didn’t matter. Ryan had seen the benefit of what can happen when you have a solid training cycle. Even though we had reversed negative splits, he had set an impressive PR in his first 500 Mini Marathon. The experience just gives us something to work on as we prepare to return to Columbus for the Mill Race Half Marathon on Sept. 24.
We stopped at a gas station and got him a Dr. Pepper because that’s what I told him I would get him for finishing the 500 Mini. As for myself, I got two 22 pound bags of ice.
Once we pulled into the garage, Ryan went into the house ran upstairs and hopped in the shower. I carried the 44 pounds of ice into the only bathroom with a tub. I filled the tub with water and then dumped both bags into it.
It was time for me to begin my recovery from the 495 miles of training and the race.
After screeching at the top of my lungs as I put my aching legs into the frigid water, I could hear Ryan singing about setting his PR by 18 minutes and meeting Meb.
Music to my ears.