It’s funny how an emotion or thought can bring back a memory.
As I sat at the kitchen table eating breakfast after our run Wednesday morning, I had such thought of remembrance. Ryan and I had run our last tempo run of this training cycle leading up to Saturday’s Monumental 5k here in Indianapolis.
I had set the virtual pacer on my watch at 7:45, but I told Ryan that was a base. We would run the two miles by feel and if we were faster than the pace so be it.
We were faster. A lot faster. Our first mile was 7:25 and the second was at 7:01 for an overall time of 14:27.
From the time we left Columbia Circle and headed to the cul-de-sac part of Hayward Road to finish our cool down from our run, I oozed with confidence. I hadn’t felt this positive since our last run heading into the 500 Mini back in May. I couldn’t stop grinning. Ryan kept looking at me as we walked back to our house.
“What?” He asked.
“Nothing,” I said trying to hide my excitement about the run.
It was after taking a shower and I sat at the table drinking a cup of coffee that my continued confident thoughts reminded me of a comment 2002 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Dick Harmening made before we departed the bus after a game at Bloomington North on Dec. 12, 1987.
When I got home from work Wednesday evening, I immediately found the flash drive I have with my journal submissions from 1987. Yes, many a night was spent for several years converting handwritten notes or scanning printed out accounts and downloading them into flash drives. I have them all labeled and in a shoebox in my den.
So, if you don’t mind get in your TARDIS or do that dodalala dodalala thing Wayne and Garth would do to flashback and let me take you back in time.
It was a dark, cold December night as the bus circled around the parking lot and rolled to a stop outside the south entrance of Trojan Gym (West Gym) at Center Grove High school. The bus driver turned on the interior lights and Harmening stood up.
Although the varsity won that night and twin towers Greg Teepe and Todd Lammert had combined for 37 points and 20 rebounds, the team escaped North with a 59-58 win. The win was only sealed after Chris Proctor had stolen the in-bounds pass on the final play of the game (side note: ironically, Proctor would make a catastrophic mistake with an in-bounds play about a month later that would cost CG the game and ultimately his playing time for the rest of the season).
Another reason why the game was probably closer than it should have been was the fact in the back of most of the varsity player’s minds was the upcoming “revenge” game against Indian Creek. The Braves (of course this was “back in the day” before class basketball in Indiana. Indian Creek was the second smallest school in Johnson County, but had won five sectionals during the 1980s) had beat CG in one of the more remarkable sectional-championship games the previous season. The game was the following Tuesday at Indian Creek.
Harmening mainly addressed the varsity players, but the junior-varsity players sat listening to him talk about the recently played game.
I was on the JV team that year. According to my journal, I actually got in the game and scored four points.
It was also the night of my “off” scream. As I shot my first free throw (after getting an offensive rebound on a Tim Schafstall missed free throw) the ball rolled off my fingertips wrong and I screamed “off” because I was sure the ball was going to hit left of the square on the backboard. Instead, it swished and most of the gym broke out in laughter.
Harmening continued talking and told the varsity players to forget about the game against Bloomington North. That game was now in the past. He told the varsity players they could now fully concentrate on Tuesday night and Indian Creek.
Then he mentioned the attitude the varsity players should have going into the game against the Braves. Harmening paused briefly and then said, “you need to go to Indian Creek on Tuesday night with a confidently-cocky attitude.”
There were some puzzled looks amongst all of us on the bus that night after Harmening made the suggestion.
I am sure the coach noticed but a few of the stares were a lot like the one Otter made to Boon in the scene from the movie “Animal House.”
You know when Bluto made his speech about getting back at Dean Wormer and Omega Theta Pi when he said, “was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”
“Germans?” Otter asked as he looked at Boon.
“Forget it. He’s rolling,” Boon replied.
And Harmening was on a coach-speaking lecture at its best.
At this point, I think a lot of us just wanted to get off the bus and in our cars. We either wanted to go out or like me get home. I had planned to watch the IU game I had recorded followed by Saturday Night Live.
I mean think about it, Harmening made a contradiction of sorts. The Trojans needed to be self-assured they could win Tuesday night. Being arrogant though because at the time CG was unbeaten and the bigger school might not be the best approach against the Braves.
Sure, you can be both, but rest assured being the latter of “confidently-cocky” can be detrimental to the former.
Let’s return now to present day and the kitchen table at Stately Rueff Manor.
After the 500 Mini, I let the boastfulness of Ryan crushing his previous half marathon time by 18 minutes get the best of me. Not only was I confident he would get 1:45 at the Mill Race Half Marathon, I was brash enough to think he could finish in the top 200. I publicly made that our goals for the race. I made the training plan reflect the ambition to set another PR in Columbus in September.
It was another lesson I learned through his injury. It was reinforced while reading Elizabeth Clor’s book Boston Bound.
Toward the end of her book, Clor gives an eight-step guideline she used to get passed various barriers that helped get her mentally prepared to qualify for the Boston Marathon this year.
When I read them, I saw the aspects as ways to stay confident without becoming bigheaded. I’ll just list the ones that really hit hard for me.
Quickly move past setbacks, focus on forging ahead – That’s why I am so glad we are running the Monumental 5k this weekend. Ryan’s had his best runs since training for the 500 Mini. As I previously posted last week, the fast turnaround allowed us to put any disappoint from the training or the race behind us. Oct. 3 was the start of a new training cycle – a new season if you will. We were 0-0.
Don’t compare yourself (or in this case Ryan) to other people – Ryan’s not Mikey Brannigan. He’s not Alex Schneider. Yes, both Brannigan and Schneider have autism like Ryan. Yes, they run and they have a superior talent for the ability to lace up the shoes and go fast. But, Ryan is just who he is, a kid who happens to enjoy running. He likes to race because of the medals and doesn’t give much consideration to his times. My favorite moments running with him not only are those when he has a “moment of clarity,” but when I look at him and he’s smiling from ear-to-ear because he’s having a good time running. Although seeing him with his serious look and wanting to make me eat his dust at the end of a run is satisfying as well. This definitely is when Me the Dad has to win over Me the Competitor every time.
Which now leads us up to Saturday’s race. Regardless of the time or where we place, I am confident we are going to have a great experience. We are out doing what Ryan loves to do. At the end of the day, that’s the important thing.
Oh by the way – the confidently-cocky Center Grove team jumped out to a 17-point lead and held on to beat Indian Creek, 57-53, on Dec 15, 1987.