Our first experience in running the 5k race in the Monumental Marathon races in downtown Indianapolis Saturday was a colossal success on many levels.
Following our final tempo run on Wednesday, Thursday was a rest day. Early on Friday morning, we made our first of two trips within a six-hour span to downtown Indianapolis.
The Monumental Marathon committee had announced a few weeks prior to the weekend that US Olympic Marathoner Jared Ward would be part of a final shake-out run on Friday morning prior to the races on Saturday.
When I originally saw the announcement, I asked Ryan if he would be interested in doing that run and meeting his second US Olympic Marathoner this year. Of course, we met Meb Keflezighi at the PR Bell at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon back in May.
Ward made the Olympic team by finishing third in the trials when the race was held in Los Angeles in February. In the marathon at Rio in August, Ward finished sixth and set a PR for himself in the marathon with a time of 2:11:30.
We parked in the Circle Centre parking garage and made the walk to the Indiana Convention Center. We walked around to the halls of the convention center where the expo was being held. There was a meet and greet with Ward, which was to begin at 6:45 a.m.
Ryan looked out the glass doors and saw some people congregated at the corner of West and Maryland Streets. He tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Dad. They’re all outside.”
We walked outside and there were about 20 people stretching and getting ready to run. While people were stretching, Ward was being interviewed by a reporter from WRTV, the ABC affiliate and media sponsor of the Monumental Marathon.
Once Ward was done with the interview, it was suggested everyone go back inside the convention center to talk and take pictures with Ward as we waited for possible other runners to appear for the 7:15 a.m. start of the run.
Around 7:15, about 30 people went back outside. We were told the route would basically be crossing the street and heading over to the White River State Park. We would basically run around the canal and back to the convention center for a total of three miles. The president of the Monumental Marathon Katherine Coble and Associate Director David Blough also joined the run.
We crossed the street and ran to the entrance of the JW Marriott Hotel and then over to the Eiteljorg Museum toward the canal. We ran over the bridge which leads to the NCAA Hall of Champions. Ryan tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Milers Races.”
He was referring to the start and finish line of the Ortho Indy Miler Series Races we ran leading up to the 500 Mini back in the spring. “Yeah, and it’s a lot warmer than it was for any of those three races,” I replied.
We made our way around the Indiana State Museum to begin the main part of the run along the canal. The only downside of the run Friday was the sun hadn’t risen. I thought to myself, too bad Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday morning instead of that morning. It would have been nice to see several aspects of the canal, especially the USS Indianapolis Memorial.
Ward along with last year’s winner of the Monumental Marathon, Jesse Davis, who qualified for the Olympic trials at last year’s race, and former Butler runner Madison Roeder led the way. We were in the back of that group of about 10 runners. We could hear Ward, Davis and Roeder talking about the marathon in Rio and also the trials race.
The lead pack ran around an 8:45 pace, which was right about where I wanted us if we hadn’t ventured downtown for that run.
As we ran along the east side of the canal, we could hear a fire alarm going at CrossFit Infiltrate. As we ran by the building and could see people working out and ignoring the announcement being made and the alarm. All of us laughed as we ran by the facility.
We made the turn around the canal to head back to the convention center. Ryan began to pick his speed up as we made around the fountain and where the paddle boats are docked.
We returned to street level and crossed Washington Street. As we approached the entrance again of the JW Marriott there was a huge cloud of steam from the manhole engulfed all of us. “Whoa! I can’t see!” Ryan yelled at me.
We crossed West Street and made it back to the entrance of the convention center. Ward talked with us as we stretched and cool down from the 3.25 miles.
Prior to signing up for the Monumental 5K, I asked Wendy what was on the schedule for Friday and Saturday. She informed me there was nothing planned. I knew though by the time race weekend arrived the schedules for all four boys would be packed to the hilt.
Sure enough, Andrew had a driving lesson in the afternoon and Luke had a birthday party to attend that evening. Plus, Wendy was called into sub at Brain Balance. She totally enjoys working at Brain Balance. I believe it’s because she believes in the cause since it has helped Luke, Micah, and Ryan so much. She also does it because it gives her a chance to escape us from time-to-time.
Knowing we were on a tight schedule, I asked Ward for one more picture. As we shook his hand, Ward looked at Ryan and said, “Have fun tomorrow, Ryan, and crush it for me.”
Ryan shook his head yes and gave Ward his standard thumbs up.
Once we returned home, Ryan quickly worked on his school lessons. I had made plans to meet a couple of people at the expo. Around 10:30 a.m. both Ron Byland and Elizabeth Clor texted me. They were letting me know they were already at the expo. Both wanted to know when I estimated us returning to the convention center.
We returned to the convention center around 11:45. When we got to the entrance of the expo hall, I looked to my left and there was Coach Byland sitting along the window looking at his phone. Clor and her husband, Greg, were sitting on the couches by the stairway.
The Clor’s stood up as they saw us make the turn. We shook hands and began talking about Indianapolis and their thoughts on the race. Greg ran the marathon on Saturday while Elizabeth, who is coming back from a mono-like illness, ran the half marathon.
Even though the thought of qualifying for Boston is a far off dream right now and as I have previously mentioned in this blog, Clor’s book helped me breakthrough my barrier of coping with Ryan’s injury midway through the previous training cycle leading up to the Mill Race Half Marathon back in September. The book also has helped me put running in its proper perspective for future training cycles and races.
The Clor’s still needed to get lunch and off their feet to rest for the next day’s races. Elizabeth signed our book and we quickly turned around and met with Coach Byland.
Through the week leading up to meeting Byland at the expo, I found out he used to live in Indianapolis. As a matter of fact, he informed me the course of Saturday’s marathon was close to the one he had helped design for the marathon when Indianapolis hosted the 1987 Pan-Am Games.
Originally, I contacted with Byland through one of his runners and a virtual running friend of mine, Beth Frauenshuh. Frauenshuh and I began following each other on a Sunday conversation on Twitter called “Run Chat.” Interestingly, three years ago while watching the New York City Marathon, Frauenshuh and I spent the morning watching the telecast and tweeting back and forth to each other about the race. We also were following Summer Sanders as she ran through the five boroughs. Sanders that morning ran the race in 3:23.
Byland had signed up for the 5k, but his main objective was to help one of the runners coached – Sarah Koelin. The Monumental Marathon was Koelin’s 16th race in her 12th state. She set a PR Saturday with a time of 3:48:35. That time crushed her previous PR by 28:35.
We talked about his experience of living in Indianapolis and running in general. Then he got down to business about our race tomorrow and our strategy. In October, Byland wrote an article about using GPS watches and phone apps for running.
Here’s the link to Byland’s article – https://inshapenewsflash.com/2016/10/04/learning-proper-running-pace-techniques-using-gps/
After reading Byland’s article and also the advice of Jenny Hadfield, I had decided I would still set the virtual pacer on my GPS watch to 7:45 for any more tempo runs during the training cycle and on race day. That pace would only be used as a base. If we felt like going faster we would and continue to go by feel. During Wednesday’s final tempo run we were well under the 7:45 pace with splits of 7:25 and 7:12.
I informed Byland we plan to go out conservatively if possible then pick up the pace the second mile. Our goal was to run around 23:00 for the race, which would give Ryan a new PR in the 5k.
“Once we get to a half mile left the goal will be to let it all out,” I said.
“Sounds like a solid plan,” Byland said.
We spoke for a few more minutes before I looked at my watch. We needed to get into the expo, pick up our packets and head back home. We needed to be home to have Andrew at his driving lesson by 2:30 p.m.
We got our packets, checked to validate the bibs and roamed around the expo merchants and returned home.
The rest of Friday was spent taking Andrew to his lesson, Luke to the birthday party and then Ryan to his youth group where I volunteered.
The 5:15 a.m. buzzer on my alarm clock sounded way too early on race day morning. I got dressed and then woke Ryan up. I had planned ahead the night before and had everything we needed to pack for after the race.
Once we had finished, the plan was to make the journey from the finish area back to our car as part of our cool down from the race. We would then change into our wind suits and head back to the 26-mile marker to cheer on our friends who were either running the half or the full.
We wanted to get back to the finish area in time to cheer on Riley Turk and Brian Wilson. Turk, who is in the picture with Ryan on the Runner’s Forum Wall of Fame at the Greenwood store, ran the half marathon. Wilson, whose grandmother Louise was a good friend of my grandma Dorothy, ran the full to attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2018.
There were other runners we intended to track and hoped to watch them finish.
Shameless-nonpaid promotion – for any big event in downtown Indianapolis like the Monumental Marathon or even the Colts or Pacers games, I highly recommend ParkWhiz. It guarantees your parking and you don’t have to worry about driving around aimlessly to find a spot.
I found a lot for $9 on West McCarty Street, which was less than a mile away from the start/finish line of the races. We did some stretches in the grassy area of the lot and tried to warm up against the chilly air. Around 6:40 a.m., we walked to the street and made our way to the convention center going north on Capitol Avenue. We barley crossed Louisiana Avenue when we reached our half-mile.
We then walked to the exhibit hall where the expo had been held the day before. Several of the runners were in the room stretching, running strides or sitting down. There were also others getting some last-minute fueling from the Runner’s Forum booth. There was music blaring in the room and Ryan was swaying to the beat.
As we had prior to the start of the 500 Mini, we ran into Jim Sellmer from Coach Jenny’s Challenge and almost immediately after wishing him good luck, we ran into Brian Shoulta, who Ryan had passed toward the end of the Rock the Block race at Center Grove in April. Sellmer ran the marathon and Shoulta the half.
It was time to head out to the corrals for the start of the race. Since we were running the 5k, we were supposed to stand behind the runners participating in the other two races. The half and full were supposed to begin at 8 a.m. while the 5k had a post time of 8:20 a.m.
Runners for the full and half races took up all of Capitol Avenue from Washington Street to the end of the Indiana State Capitol building. We decided to stand in the parking lot to the north of the capitol.
The funny thing was the public address announcer kept mispronouncing the word corrals for carols. It was like everyone who kept misspelling Chicago Cubs’ manager’s name Joe Maddon as Madden during the baseball playoffs.
While we stood in the parking lot, we again saw someone we had seen at the 500 Mini. This time it was my high-school friend Mike Gordon. Gordon along with his family would be participating in the 5k. We talked to him for a few moments. He was walking the 5k Saturday morning. He wished us luck and hoped Ryan did well in his race.
The runners for the full and half made their way across the start line heading south on Capitol Avenue. We were finally allowed to make our way to the start/finish line where they had pace markers lined up for our respective corrals. It was also at this time we took off our long-sleeve shirts we wore to stay warm. We added them to one of the many piles of clothes along Capitol Avenue.
When I signed us up for the race, I put us in the eight-minute corral. I thought that would be a good place for us to be at the start of the race in case we did get out fast or if an issue arose.
All the runners and walkers in the 5k patiently waited for the all clear to begin our race. The organizers needed to make sure those running the half and full marathons had made the turn from Capitol Avenue to McCarty Street in case the elite 5k runners wouldn’t catch up to them.
Finally, the countdown started and we began our race. I hit the button to start my watch as we crossed the start line. We crossed the starting grid seven seconds after the gun.
The one advantage of running the 5k compared to running the half or full, the crowd at the start thinned quickly. We had “clean air” by the time we reached the convention center.
A few seconds into the race I had switched my watch face from overall time and distance to pace and distance. Although, I planned to run by feel at the beginning I wanted to see where the pace was to see if I would need to adjust accordingly.
Going through the underpass, which has railroad tracks above it as we passed the convention center and Pan-Am Plaza, my watch had the pace going from as fast as :55 a mile to 27:30 a mile pace. I didn’t feel like we sped up or slowed down. Ryan was right next to me.
The field of runners for the 5k continued to spread out as we reached Lucas Oil Stadium. The gap between Ryan and I also began to lengthen as we went under I-70 to conclude the first mile.
We made the first mile marker and for the first time since going through the underpass on Capitol Avenue, I looked at my watch as it alerted me of our time for the end of the first mile at 7:19.
I momentarily paused. I began to question myself. Had we started out too fast as we did in the 500 Mini? Ryan wasn’t too far behind me. How did he feel about the pace? Although I felt fine with the pace, should I look at my watch and slow down until it alerted me we were on the base pace of 7:45?
I decided to leave it up to Ryan. It would be his call.
“This pace alright?” I asked as I looked behind me at him.
“It’s good,” Ryan said. He also gave me his usual thumbs up to let me know everything was alright.
We pressed on heading north on Meridian Street. We reached the mile-and-a-half mark where there was a water station. For the first time ever, I didn’t bring my hydration belt for the race. I pointed at a gentleman wearing a Colts sweatshirt and said, “I’m getting water from the Colts fan.”
He handed me the cup and I took a couple of drinks before throwing the cup in the trash box about 20 feet from the tables.
We turned east on South Street for a tenth-mile stretch before heading south again on Madison Avenue. I took another peek at my watch. According to my watch, we were at 1.9 miles.
The problem at this point I should see a sign marking the completion of the second mile.
My watch notified me we had completed the second mile at a time of 14:34 and the pace was 7:14.
I was ecstatic. By my watch, we had negative split between the first two miles with the last mile and a tenth left.
Still for the second time in the race I panicked.
Where was the sign to mark the second mile?
The one reason I bought the Garmin back in July primarily was because of what had happened during the 500 Mini when the MapMyRun app had me as far off as a half mile ahead of where the actual mile marker was located on the course.
Once we made the short turn around to Pennsylvania Avenue and didn’t see a sign, I figured they didn’t have one on the course.
The final mile we ran north on Pennsylvania Avenue and toward Bankers Life Fieldhouse – home of the Indiana Pacers. The fieldhouse will be the new home for the start and finish lines of the Ortho Indy Miler Series, which were previously held at the NCAA Hall of Champions.
As we reached the west entrance of the fieldhouse, we turned west on Georgia Street and the two-and-half-mile mark. Three of the Pacemates stood on the side at the beginning of street cheering. Ryan and I both yelled “Go Pacers!” as we ran by them.
We neared the halfway point of Georgia Street when I looked at my watch to see where we were in the location of when I would tell Ryan to begin his kick for the finish. Once my watch read 2.60, I yelled at Ryan, “Kick time. Time to go, Ryan! Give everything from here to the finish!”
As we turned on Illinois Street, Ryan got even with me. I told him, “time to start picking off runners,” as I pointed at one about 20 feet in front of us. Once we were passed him I found another one to pass.
Then we moved to Washington Street. We ran by the Hyatt Regency Hotel. There was a little boy, probably about 8-or-9-years old, who we could see had been part of the “Team Monumental Kids” program. It’s a program where students in elementary schools in Indianapolis train for nine weeks and race the 5k at the end.
The little boy was losing steam. At this point in the race, Ryan and I had his previous 5k PR crushed. People on the southside of Washington Street loudly cheered. I was still pushing Ryan, but going off what we had watched in the Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country meet when Louisville’s Rachel Pease and Clemson’s Evie Tate helped Boston College’s Madeline Adams cross the finish line, I decided we were going to help the boy join us at the finish line.
Unlike Pease and Tate helping Adams get to her feet to cross the finish line, I kept encouraging the little boy to find his extra gear. We went through the finishing chute and Ryan held his arms up in victory.
It was a new 5k PR for Ryan Rueff with a time of 21:40!
It was 2:16 faster than his 5k in the New Beaver Moon Race last November in Noblesville.
He beat me by one second. His kick for the final half mile of the race had been the best he ran since the Ortho Indy Miler Series Six Miler. The little boy we had caught up with finished five seconds behind us.
After we received our medals there was another piece of bling from the race I thought was a nice touch – a knit hat. Might have to think about wearing those instead of Ryan wearing his Colts and me in Broncos for our winter runs.
I am beginning to think I need to either wear a cinch back on my shoulders or put a plastic bag in the pocket of my hydration belt. I didn’t have enough hands or places to carry the snacks.
We immediately went to the results tent. They informed us they were having WiFi issues. We contemplated going back to the car and returning to get the results. We walked around for a few minutes. We also Chris Jones from the Center Grove Cross Country Team. Along with Turk, Jones is in the picture with Ryan on the Wall of Fame at Runner’s Forum. He was excited to hear about Ryan’s time in the 5k and congratulated with a high five.
Some of the elite-half-marathon runners were beginning to cross the finish line. That meant Turk would arrive sooner rather later. We could watch him finish and still have time to get to the car change into our wind suits and make it back to Mile 26 to cheer on Wilson. Plus, my phone was in the car. Why did they have to make the iPhone 7 so big? It doesn’t fit in my hydration belt. Mainly I wanted the results to text Wendy and then post on social media.
Finally, the WiFi issue was fixed. We got our results and began to head back to our car.
As we made our way back to Capitol Avenue to begin our cool down I looked to my left and there was Turk running toward the finish line. Turk trudged toward the finish line and looked like he had nothing left.
“Come on, Riley! You got this! Finish strong!” I yelled as I reversed direction.
Ryan turn around with me and screamed, “Go, Riley! You can do it!”
We watched Riley finish. We wanted to congratulate him on completing the run. Security wouldn’t let us go back to the finishing chute. I decided to chance it and go back to the car and get my phone.
We ran our cool down back to the car. Actually, I titled it our “Victory Lap” on the GarminConnect site.
We got changed and headed back to the finishing area. Almost like we were reading each other’s minds, Turk sent me a message and asked where we were. I told him we were heading back to the finishing area and to meet us at the results tent.
We returned and all three of us took our results to the engraving tent to get our medals engraved. I hadn’t planned to get our medals engraved, but Ryan smashed his PR. I knew I wanted to cherish this moment for a long time. One that some day when I look at his medal I can look back and it will always put a smile on my face seeing:
We talked with Turk and his parents for a few more minutes. Turk said he needed to finish cooling down and wanted to get back to his hotel room to clean up.
My phone also began notifying me of where other friends were located along the course. I wasn’t even on the race course and had my third panic scare of the morning. I was receiving text messages a Brian Wilson was crushing his time through the marathon while another Brian Wilson I had set up to track on the Monumental Marathon app was nowhere close to a Boston qualifying time.
I checked what I had selected and was reassured the Brian Wilson on the text messages was the right one to follow. The one on the app was not. I breathed a sigh of relief as we made our way to Mile 26.
While we stood to wait for Wilson to run by, we watched several other runners. There were several we knew including Center Grove Cross Country Coach Howard Harrell. As they passed we shook our cowbells we had got at the expo and cheered them on to have a great finish.
The last text message I received before Wilson was to finish came at the 40K mark. It said his estimated time to finish was around 11:13 a.m.Leading up to race day, we had talked even though the standard for his age group was 3:15:00 and looking at where the cutoff was for the 2017 Boston Marathon Wilson would need at least 3:12 to solidify his place for 2018 Boston.
Leading up to race day, we had talked even though the standard for his age group was 3:15:00 and looking at where the cutoff was for the 2017 Boston Marathon Wilson would need at least 3:12 to solidify his place for 2018 Boston.
At about 11:10 a.m. Wilson charged down Capitol Avenue. He looked a lot like Turk had at the finish. He saw the sign we had made him. As I snapped pictures of him approaching, there was a smile on his face. Like Ryan had when Wilson and his son, Eli, had surprised us in Columbus for the end of the Mill Race Half Marathon in September, he gave Ryan a thumbs up.
Although we could tell the struggle was evident, we saw him literally pick up his pace as he passed and made the turn to Washington Street for the finish.
We cut across the Capitol building grounds toward the finish. Wilson continued his torrid pace to the finish. Moments after he went across the line, my phone alerted me that Wilson concluded the race with a time of 3:11:30.
Wilson had done it! He had qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon with a time which should comfortably have him into the field of the prestigious race on Patriot’s Day April 16, 2018.
We stood along the barriers at the finishing chute and congratulated him. He thanked us for staying to watch him finish. Wilson asked us how our race went. He was excited to hear of Ryan’s new PR.
We sat on the steps of the Indiana Government Center following other friends through text messages and the app. Finally around 12:30, Wendy texted me.
“COME HOME AND CELEBRATE!”