Ryan and I finished our fifth week of 500 Mini Training with the Miler Series 6-mile race Saturday. We started the sixth week with an easy 3.25 run this morning.
I also have started my third week toward my MBA. I’m taking a study break tonight to write this post before bed. Can’t shoot by the moonlight in Hinkle Fieldhouse anymore, might as well write in the “Mind Palace.”
It’s been a long day of studying. I don’t think I can revise a SWOT analysis and research leadership theories anymore without pounding my head against the wall with my hat on backward.
I could write and give you all the boring mile-by-mile play-by-play of Saturday’s race.
That’s not what you want to read.
That’s not what you need to read.
I’m going to tell you what you want and need to read about Ryan.
Upon his return to running in February, I wrote about how we noticed toward Christmas and most of January, Ryan started losing his focus. He began rushing through his school work. There were plenty of mornings before I had to leave for work we spent going over his multiples.
It was frustrating because before his surgery and through the first two weeks of recovery, Ryan still rattled off his multiples without hesitation.
He got angry at himself. Wendy and I were discouraged. We all couldn’t wait for him to get back to running.
Finally, about two weeks after he was back to running full time without walking breaks, Ryan’s focused returned. He’s back to taking his time with his school work. He’s rattling off his multiples again like he was prior to his surgery.
When we run in the mornings and not looking for Mustangs or “Slug Bugs,” we work on his multiples mainly a certain number that he works on that week. Last week it was fours.
Me: “Four times nine?”
Me: “Four times three?”
I usually just do one through 10 with him. It’s something to keep his mind engage while we run.
Then there was Thursday night followed by Saturday morning after the race.
Yes, two moments of clarity that came out of nowhere. The one on Thursday surprised me because we didn’t run that morning.
We had finished dinner and I was cleaning the kitchen. As I wiped off the island, Ryan came up to me.
“So, the strategy for Saturday,” he started with a grin on his face. “We go easy the first three miles and then go up to our intended race pace for the Mini?”
It surprised me. My reaction startled him. If you’ve ever met Ryan, you know he usually only answers questions with one word. He rarely initiates the conversation. He wasn’t sounding like a kid who has autism.
Once I gathered myself from the fact Ryan had come up to me without prompting, I put my hand on the counter and replied.
“Yes. We’ll get a good warm up with the dynamic stretches and some sprints. Then we’ll start easy and pick it up from there.”
“Like we plan to do for the first half of the Mini?” he asked.
“Exactly,” I said. “Just like we plan to begin the Mini.”
“Nines?” Ryan asked. “Then what?”
“PR pace?” Ryan asked with a grin on his face. “Especially when we get to Lilly’s where Grandpa John worked?”
OK, first let the record show it was Ryan who mentioned PR and not me. Second and more importantly please God let this Ryan stay. Don’t let him walk away forgetting this conversation.
“We can try that pace and see what happens.”
“Alright,” Ryan said. Then he rubbed his hands together like he does when he gets excited. He turned around and walked away and so did that “Moment of Clarity.”
Saturday morning we made our second of three trips to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the 500 Festival Miler Series Presented by OrthoIndy. As previously stated we ran a 6-mile race on a new course throughout downtown Indianapolis.
Like the 3-miler had been back in February at the completion of Ryan’s first full week back, this race would be the longest run since his return.
Unlike the run in February when we wore long-sleeve shirts and shorts, we were back in our winter running gear for this race.
We took all of our usual pictures and ran into our regular group of friends prior to the beginning of the race. We went to the north side between the fieldhouse and a parking garage and did our warm up.
As we did prior to the beginning of the 3-mile race, we positioned ourselves at the end of the eight-minute and the beginning of the nine-minute corral.
As hard as I tried to keep us at a nine-minute pace it wasn’t happening. We tried to get clean space and settled in for the run. When we reached the first mile marker at the corner of Meridian and East St. Clair streets we were at 8:30.
The second mile was even faster at 8:05. A lot like the 500 Mini last May, the pace here at the beginning felt comfortable. I looked at Ryan and he said he was fine.
On the third mile, we broke the under eight mark at 7:54. It still felt we were running an easy run through our neighborhood. Ryan wasn’t grasping for air as he said “thank you” to every officer or volunteer at the various intersections.
The fourth mile seemed like it was never going to end. As we crossed the intersection of English and Hoyt avenue, it amazed me when my watch showed “7:57.”
When we got the Lilly campus is when Ryan began to fade. I could tell he was trying to keep up. I tried to slow down for him to stay with me.
We turned from East Street to South Street with a half mile left.
By now the crowd of runners had thinned out. The only person ahead of us was runner probably in his early 30s.
“Time to go, Ryan!” I yelled. “Kick time!”
All the way down South Street Ryan just couldn’t seem to get the kick in gear.
Finally, as we turned on Pennsylvania Street, Ryan saw the finish line in front of the fieldhouse and turned the kick on – about a quarter mile later than we wanted, but he had picked up his speed.
As we got closer to the finish line, I kept encouraging him.
“Come on, Ryan,” I said. “Beat me. All these people here want to see you crush me.”
As we neared the finish line, I told Ryan, “Get those arms up in the air! You got this!”
Finish and beat me by one second he did.
Once we crossed and gathered ourselves, I could tell we probably pushed a little too hard especially that last quarter mile. The gentleman who was in front of us came up and congratulated us.
“Thank you for there at the end,” he said. “I felt like was going to have to walk the final stretch, but hearing you encourage your son and seeing him picking it up kept me going.”
We received our snacks and water and made our way to the PR bell.
Wendy texted me to let me know she was at the pick-up point and I told her we would be there shortly. Even though I needed to get to work, I was in no hurry.
We waited for some of our friends to finish and congratulated them and got some more pictures.
Then it was finally time to leave.
We took the escalator up to the skywalk that goes over Delaware Street between the fieldhouse and parking garage.
I looked over at Ryan and he had a huge grin on his face.
“Yeah, that kick needs some work,” he said. “I feel like I’m stuck in neutral at the end.”
Again this wasn’t the Ryan we usually hear speak. This was the Ryan who came up to me in the kitchen Thursday night.
“Well, that’s expected,” I said. “We really haven’t done any speed work except for putting the kick in at the last half mile of our runs since you got back.”
“When do we start those?” Ryan asked. “How do you expect me to set that PR in May if we don’t?”
“The plan was to start those next week,” I replied.
“Good,” he said keeping that grin on his face and again rubbing his hands together.
This is the Ryan we all want to see more of on a regular basis. Not just these short spurts that come out of nowhere as they had twice in those last 36 hours.
Some day they will…some day!