Yes, I’m a tad late in getting a post up on here about the epic weekend Ryan had running with the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay and the Mill Race Half Marathon.
A couple of weeks ago we were on vacation. Primarily for me to recover from the Mill Race Half Marathon. Wendy and the boys had also finished their first nine weeks of the school year.
They will now work another eight weeks before another week off for Thanksgiving.
That’s good news.
Bad news: they’ll be working and studying hard the week between Christmas and New Years. Thankfully, Christmas is on a Sunday this year, which means they’ll go right back into normal routine on the following Monday.
Both the Bicentennial Torch Relay and the race went about as well as could be expected. Both were proud moments as a parent
Friday, Sept. 23
Ryan and I were up early this morning to get our final easy 5k in before running the Mill Race Half Marathon the next day. It was a nice shake out run along our regular 5k route to keep things loose.
As always it was another good way for Ryan to start off his day as he had a couple of English assignments that morning. Fortunately, he had worked ahead in some other subjects the night before to lessen his load for Friday.
After breakfast, I made my first of two trips to Columbus to pick up the packets for the Mill Race Half Marathon. As I made my way to pick up the bags, I ran into Kati from the 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
She asked me how Ryan was doing and if he was ready for the next day. I told her about his toe injury and that later that day he would be running with the Indiana Bicentennial Torch. She told me to tell him good luck.
I quickly made it to the packet pick up area. I told them my name and also told them I was there to pick up Ryan’s packet as well.
“Can I see your ID,” one lady asked. I handed her my driver’s license and she gave me one bag.
“I need Ryan’s as well,” I said.
“Do you have his ID?” she asked.
“Uh…no,” I replied. “He’s my son. He’s still in school and couldn’t come with me this morning.”
“Well, we have packet pick up available tomorrow morning before the race.”
“And I’d like to go ahead and get his packet today and have everything ready and not feel rushed tomorrow.”
“Ok,” the lady said. Then she went to another table and brought back a clipboard with a piece of paper on it. “Well here please sign on this piece of paper acknowledging you picked up his packet.”
I briefly looked around the expo and well not overly impressed with anything, I went back to my car and returned home.
When I returned home, the boys were finishing up school and lunch. Wendy was hurriedly packing Andrew, Luke, Micah and herself for an overnight camping experience with our Trail Life Group. I went upstairs and Ryan and I packed for our trip to Columbus.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a racing weekend without something going on the day before. Unlike last year though when we had to go all over the place dropping Andrew and Luke off at friends’ houses for them to get to an event the next morning.
Around 3:20 p.m. Wendy had the van packed to go to the camp and I had my car packed for Ryan and me to go to Columbus.
We arrived at Creekside Elementary school on State Road 44 in Franklin around 3:45 p.m. We drove into the parking lot.
Wendy said she would stay with the other three and I would take Ryan down to the location where he was supposed to have his torch exchange with Tim Coy.
I drove Ryan down to his location and Tim’s wife, Michelle, was already there. About five minutes later Tim showed up and said he was going to be driving down to where he received the torch.
As we were making introductions a gentleman, who lived in the house across the street from where we were parked, walked over. He didn’t ask why we were parked on the side of the road just off 44. He did though begin to tell us we had no business along State Road 44.
Even with our explanation of why we were there, he wasn’t pleased.
“These cars. They just drive by so fast. Why on earth would they have such an event on this stretch of road? You all should be in the city limits for something like this.”
We tried to assure him that once the torch got to this point near his house there would be a police escort who would be protecting Tim and then also Ryan as he made his run with the torch.
About this time my Father-in-law arrived. He was all set to take pictures of Ryan’s run. He was quite excited that it was Tim who would be the one exchanging the torch with Ryan for the relay.
A few minutes later Noelle Szydlyk from the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay arrived to make sure Ryan was at his location. She also gave Ryan some last minute instructions on what to expected Tim handed off the torch to Ryan and he was to begin his half-mile run with the torch.
At about 4:15 p.m. we could see the Indiana State Police motorcycles in front of Tim. My father in law had walked across the road to the one gentleman’s property to begin taking pictures of the exchange.
Tim arrived at the exchange point at 4:20 p.m. As he handed the torch to Ryan, he tried to shake Ryan’s hand. Ryan was so focused on handling the torch and get going he wasn’t paying attention to what Tim wanted.
Momentarily, Ryan focused on Coy. Coy put his armed around Ryan and people from the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Committee got the photo opportunity they wanted at each exchange.
Finally at 4:22 p.m. it was time for Ryan to begin his leg of the relay with Mark Gavorski running beside him.
Ryan grabbed the torch with both hands. There was a delay in getting started as they allowed several cars to pass by which had previously been behind Coy before his exchange with Ryan.
Once he was given the go-ahead to begin, Ryan and Gavorski took off on the shoulder of the road for a few feet. Gavorski told Ryan it would be better for him to get on the pavement of State Road 44. Ryan listened and moved over to the road carrying the torch with his right hand.
As Ryan ran with the torch his focused remained intense. Unlike times when we run together and you see him crack a smile, he had a very serious look on his face throughout the run.
Cars going in the opposite direction slowed down and some drivers even honked their horns, yelled out their windows or gave Ryan a thumbs up and waved as they passed.
About midway through his run, Ryan grabbed the torch by both hands. He ran up a slight incline as he approached Creekside Elementary School.
When Ryan approached Creekside it was time for him to exchange with Payton Dillon. Dillon was selected for her work in the Greenwood area for raising money for parks and trails.
Both Dillon and Ryan attend a weekly youth group meeting called Kaleo on Friday nights in Greenwood. Thus, it was nice for Ryan to know another familiar face he would hand off to continue the torch relay on that Friday afternoon.
Unlike when Coy handed the torch to Ryan, he would have to help Dillon ignite a new torch as his would be almost out of fuel. They made the switch and as Coy and Ryan did, they took a picture with Dillon.
After igniting the new torch and the taking the picture, Dillon began her walk along the rest of State Road 44 and headed into downtown Franklin.
Ryan was congratulated by several family and friends who came out to watch him carry the torch and celebrate the moment with him.
The one thing I wish is that we could have had time to have everyone who was there to stand around Ryan as he held the torch. That would have been a great picture to have.
Everyone then made their way to the courthouse in Franklin where Chase Smith from Trafalgar brought the torch to its destination for the night. The torch would head to Shelbyville the next morning to continue its journey throughout the rest of the state.
There were several things happening around the courthouse square that evening. A local automobile group conducted a car show. Several food vendors were also placed around the courthouse.
The Johnson County Museum along with the Bicentennial committee had two remote trucks with the history of both Johnson County and the state.
Not to mention, the Artcraft Theatre was showing the movie “Hoosiers” that night. On Saturday several members of the cast along with the real players from the Milan High School, which the movie is based on, were to be in attendance.
After Smith had lit the flame into the cauldron for the night a presentation was made with all the torch bearers and those nominated and not selected appeared on the stage as the Franklin Community Band played the state song and the national anthem.
The county also unveiled its Bison which was purchased by money given by various corporate sponsors from the county. The name of the bison is Benjamin and currently, is making a tour to various placed around Johnson County.
After talking with a few more friends who we met, it was time for Ryan and me to make it down to Columbus and be ready for the next part of the weekend in running the Mill Race Half Marathon.
Our first stop before getting to our hotel was getting something to eat. We decided on Montana Mike’s on the property of the Edinburgh Outlet Mall. We both had the chicken, baked potatoes, steamed vegetables and of course their rolls.
It was our first time to eat at Montana Mike’s and I can tell you we were both very impressed with the food.
More importantly, unlike last year, we ate at a decent hour and didn’t go right to bed as we did last year.
We left the restaurant and finally headed to our hotel. We checked in and as we made our way to our room we saw Jay and Jessica Robinson. They had arrived earlier in the evening and were playing ping-pong as we walked by.
We talked to the Robinsons for the few minutes and then continued on to our room, which was right in from the Jacuzzi.
I unpacked us. I laid out our racing “Kits” and took the obligatory “Flat Rob and Flat Ryan” photo to post on social media.
We went out and played on the little putting green outside the room. It would be cooler if it was real golf putters and balls, but probably for safety regulations, it’s the plastic golf clubs and balls you would buy for a kid at the dollar store.
We hit the golf balls around for a little bit and then played a couple of games of ping pong.
I knew it was important for us to get to bed early because of the race the next morning. Selfishly, I wanted to go back to the room and turn on my laptop and watch the pre-game ceremony of the Dodgers’ game for the Vin Scully presentation.
Once we were in the room, Ryan immediately got in his bed put the covers over him and went right to sleep. It was colder than normal in our room. I did my best to raise the temperature on the thermostat and even turn the fan off, but nothing worked.
I gave up and turned on my laptop and logged into my MLB.Tv app. Right on time as Kevin Costner was giving his speech to the Dodger crowd and Scully on the field of Dodger Stadium. As Costner ended his speech I broke down crying. Somehow, I didn’t wake Ryan up.
For the last time, I feel asleep to Scully calling a baseball game the night before a race. I couldn’t think of any better way to end the day.
We woke up, packed and put on our race outfits. Then we checked out of the hotel and headed to downtown Columbus for the race.
I parked the car and we went to the race headquarters. We stretched out and ran some strides. I also filled our water bottles and we both went to the bathroom for the final time before heading to our corral for the race.
The temperature was already at 64 degrees and the sun had not even started to rise. The temperature along with the humidity was supposed to rise throughout the race. So much so, organizers at the expo on Friday were trying to encourage those signed up for the marathon to drop down to the half. They had also sent out e-mail alerts to participants asking them to consider running the shorter distance.
After the pre-race ceremonies, it was finally time for the train horn to signal the start of the race. The train horn has become symbolic as the start of the Mill Race Marathon and Half Marathon since a train stopped in the middle of the tracks during the race two years ago.The elite group went off and two minutes later it was our turn.
The elite group went off and two minutes later it was our turn.
Going by the book I made sure we were in the back of the corral at the start of the race. We walked up to the start line and the horn sounded. As we crossed the start line I started my watch and we were racing.
Ever since Ryan had been given the complete clear from the podiatrist he had some of his best runs since our training for the 500 Mini had concluded. Dealing with his toe, his running hadn’t been anywhere close to where it was heading into the Mini.
Despite the setback of his toe for most of the summer, with how Ryan ran the last couple of weeks I thought we could still shoot for under two hours and if everything went right we could push to top the PR from the 500 Mini.
As we went down Washington Street and headed into Mill Race Park, we tried to weave through other runners and get some “clean air” on the course. As we left the park the congestion began to thin out.
We made it out of the park and the U-turn on State Road 46 which also took us across the Robert N. Stewart Bridge and back into downtown Columbus.
Turning on Central Avenue to finish the 5k mark of the race, we were right where I wanted us to be in regard to pace. We were running around 8:30 a mile. I asked Ryan if he was ready to pick up the speed and he said he was.
We ran through the Cummins’ campus and had upped the tempo. The run was going smoothly as we were about 8:00-8:15 pace. We approached the “T” in the road where 6th Street meets Chestnut Street, Ryan tapped me on the shoulder.
“We are going to fail again,” Ryan said as he shrugged his shoulders.
Flashback to a training moment
As great as our short runs had been the last few weeks leading up to the Mill Race Half Marathon, our last long runs had been cut short at various points.
Our last long run the Saturday prior to the race was supposed to be eight miles. We got to about the 5k of it when one of those occasions happened in the morning.
We came to a complete stop. While we walked back to our house, Ryan’s head was down. I could tell he was discouraged. He lifted his head up, looked at me and said, “We failed.”
Thus another teaching moment. I told him we never fail! NEVER! As long as we get out there and give the best we have that day is all that matters. WE…NEVER…FAIL!
To rebuild Ryan’s confidence and show him we could go a long distance we went back out that Saturday night after I got home from work.
We ran the complete eight miles – including the last three at what would be considered our 5k race pace.
Back to the Race
We made the turn on Chestnut Street. I could see a restroom. I also saw our friend, Carol Tucker, singing with her church group. We waved at her and got her attention. Tucker waved back. I think it’s a pretty good talent if you can continue singing, wave at runners and not miss a beat as Tucker appeared to do as she acknowledged us.
“I’m sorry,” Ryan said.
“For what?” I said as we continued to run the course.
“We are behind pace and everything now,” Ryan replied.
“Remember last Saturday? We never fail,” I reminded him. “Let’s get through it and do the one thing we can do – finish strong.”
The race was one day out of 365 days or in this case 366 this year on a calendar.
IT’S ONE FREAKING DAY!
There will always be other days when we will run our best. There will be other races and of course other days to set PR’s and accomplish goals.
That day in Columbus, Ind. was not to be one of those best-set-a-PR day. As I like to say at times – “So be it.”
That’s something I had learned while reading Elizabeth Clor’s book, Boston Bound, during the month of August. Her book came at such a great time for me while running solo as Ryan recovered from his toe injury. I also realized a lot of aspects about running and breaking through barriers I had never considered.
From that point until we reached the water station on Mile 10 just west of Columbus Regional Hospital on 17th Street, it seemed like we stopped at each portable restroom.
Between the time we saw Tucker and Ryan finally felt relief at the water station on Mile 10 I had my own issue to contend with for the remainder of the race.
I don’t know if it was the starting and stopping we were doing at the water stops. It also could have been the heat, although I didn’t think the heat bothered me as much as it did during the 500 Mini.
At each water stop, while Ryan was in the restroom, I took a cup of water and dumped it over my head and splashed some on wrists. I also made sure to do it to him after he came out.
Anyway, at the Mile 7 water station, I felt a sudden pain in my upper right quadriceps muscle. I hadn’t experienced that pain in that particular part of my leg since the time I pulled my quad trying out for the basketball team my junior year of high school.
Then I saw my friend Michele Fields and I yelled out at her. She yelled back at us, “Run you Fabulous Rueff Boys!”
I tried to forget the pain. The course was not letting me.
The long stretch down Gladstone Avenue heading toward Columbus Regional Hospital did not help my situation. It was one of the most miserable parts of a run I have ever had.
The course is fairly flat, but that whole mile and a quarter section seemed like I was on Mile 10-11 at the Fort Ben Half Marathon course.
The Fort Ben course is grueling enough but especially on that segment when it seems like it’s one hill after another and it seems like it’s never going to end. That’s how I felt about running down Gladstone. It seemed like we were never going to get to 17th Street.
We did though and after the break at the water station on Mile 10, I told Ryan it was time to finish strong.
The best way I could think about forgetting the pain was knowing what I would be indulging myself in afterward – a monster butterscotch shake from Musillami’s Drive-In and when we got home a long 20-minute ice bath.
For the next three-point-one miles, I was going to endure the pain and finish.
With about a mile to go at the corner of 23rd and Chestnut streets, the Columbus Fire Department had taken one of the nozzles from a fire house and connected it to a fire hydrant. The water shot up in the air. It was a refreshing feeling as we made our way to the finish.
We made it to the point where the half and the full split. It was time for Ryan’s favorite part of the race and him to use his kick to finish.
There was a welcomed surprise as we headed down Washington Street to the finish line. One of Ryan’s biggest supporters, Brian Wilson and his son Eli, had come down from Greenwood to cheer Ryan on at the finish. Wilson wanted to be at the torch relay the day before, but couldn’t make it because of his schedule.
Eli had even made a sign that said: “Go, Ryan!”
They got my attention and a moment later Ryan saw them. Despite the fact he was trying to finish the race, Ryan smiled and gave them two thumbs up.
After we passed the Wilson’s I kept yelling at Ryan to keep going and stay with me. People along the side of the street as well were encouraging him with their yells. Just like at the 500 Mini, there were some yelling at him to “Catch your, Dad!” “Beat your Dad, Ryan! You got this!”
We ran passed the Reising Radio Partners building and Ryan yelled something he hadn’t said at the end of our runs in several months.
There he was right beside me as we crossed the finish line. Just like last year we tied at the Mill Race Half Marathon with a time of 2:03:27. We weren’t under two hours, but considering all the circumstances which transpired during the 13.1 miles finishing strong again was the most important part.
Later in the day, I uploaded the race into my GarminConnect. I liked that time a lot as it said 1:55:15. It took into consideration my non-moving time while Ryan was in the restroom.
Since she was only running the 5k that morning, earlier in the week I had messaged Jessica Robinson and asked her if she wouldn’t mind taking a picture of Ryan at the finish line.
As we began our walk to get our snacks and water, we also saw Tucker’s parents, Norm and Beth Smith, who gave us our medals.
We saw the Robinsons and Jessica gave me the thumbs up that she was able to get Ryan crossing the finish line.
As we continued to walk and cool down from the run, the Wilsons met us at Fifth Street. Brian congratulated Ryan for finishing the race. He asked Ryan how he felt. At the same time my former newspaper colleague, Ted Schultz, who writes now for the Columbus Republic found me and we talked for a few moments.
We received our results at the results tent and we again saw the Robinson. Jay had an outstanding race and finished in the top 200 with a time of 1:39:17 to also earn the special Indiana Bicentennial medal. We again thanked them for all their encouragement and for taking the picture at the finish.
Because of the good start and then things going awry as they did at the five-mile mark the competitor in me was upset. Then there was Jay putting a positive spin on it.
“Hey, a course PR!” Jay said.
Jay was right and instantly the competitor in me left my mind. It was also a reminder of something else I had learned in reading Clor’s “Boston Bound” book. I controlled the things I could control and the Runnin’ Rueffs had finished our third half marathon together.
In the book through the help of a sports psychologist, Clor learned there were aspects she could control and others she couldn’t.
I could control what Ryan and I ate the night before the race. I hoped it would help with the issues we had been experiencing the last few weeks during our long runs. I could control what time we went to bed the night before the race. I could control when we ran and when we didn’t run during our training.
I couldn’t control the weather. I couldn’t control the scheduling of the torch relay. I couldn’t control Ryan getting an in-grown toenail whether it happened because of the way it was clipped or in the case Dr. Tentler said genetics. On that race day, I also couldn’t control Ryan’s colon or my upper-right quad.
The most important thing though on that weekend was Ryan had a memorable experience and had fun doing it.
Side note: The Monster Butterscotch shake never tasted so good!