Head-Spinning Times

It’s been a whirlwind since my last post after Ryan and I finished the CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon here in Indianapolis.

A lot has happened since the first of last November. Most of it expected. Some of it completely unexpected.

For the most part, the little project Wendy and I had been working on for the better part of 18 months is nearly complete. Actually, what our builder Rex Basey and his contractors have been working on is about done.

On Dec. 21, we moved into our new house that we broke ground last Feb. 24. We moved about two miles south from where we had been living.When the state of Indiana announced it had decided to bring the new I-69 interstate (that will eventually connect Indianapolis to Evansville) up State Road 37, I decided we needed to move.

Not literally, but if we stayed where we lived when State Road 37 is finally converted into I-69, the road would essentially be in my side yard. That’s when I looked at Wendy about a week after the announcement and asked her, “If there was one thing you want what would it be?” She must have read my mind because without hesitation she looked right at me and said, “Let’s build our dream home the way we really want it this time!”

Her wish was my command.

We liked the design of our current abode. We made a few tweaks to it. We also wanted the entire basement finished time this. We interviewed several builders and showed them what we wanted. They in turn showed us their ideas and their cost. When the smoke settled from an intense conversation one night – not as bad as when smoke literally came out of Donnie Walsh’s office right before the NBA trade deadline in 1994 as Pacers coach Larry Brown opened the door and yelled back, “If you get me Mark Jackson now we win the championship this season!” – the decision to hire Rex Basey was made.

I was ecstatic when Basey informed me that my childhood friend’s, Chris Emerson, masonry company would be bricking and stoning our house.

Now we wait as Basey and his band of contractors come in on a daily basis to complete the basement. We are anxiously awaiting the finished product because we miss the theater room and I’m already tired of driving over to the old house to play snooker. Plus, we have a couple of new toys for even the adults to use in the “game room.”


Our new dream home


Never thought the shower could possibly be my favorite part of a house, but this one really could be.

I passed my accounting final. Now, once I get the three papers I need to write for my ethical leadership class, I will be halfway through my MBA program. This also means I’ll have at least one foot out the door from my current position. Little upset though with the programs new grading guidelines. They no longer give percentage points. I can no longer say what my grade-point average is – UGH!

Of course, Ryan and I continue to run. After we ran a “zero-week” plan for recovery from the great Hal Higdon to finish November, we started maintenance running and keeping our base mileage up. During this time, we ran the Turkey Burn 5k at Craig Park in Greenwood. We saw a lot of our friends. Ryan also finally got to tell Colleen he beat her time with his PR at Monumental. She was quite happy for her virtual running buddy.


Ryan finally got to tell Colleen he beat her half time when he ran a 1:46:42 at Monumental on Nov. 4.

A few days after running the Turkey Burn race, we had an unexpected change in our lives. Throw in my work schedule along with both of us coming down sick the best word to describe our running was sporadic.

We once again are running separately as we begin training for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon (500 Mini). Ryan began track practice (it begins today, but not actually sure when I will post this) this week. He’s running for Indy Genesis and again being coached by Ben Houston. I am running in the mornings by myself. Although I plan to join my friend, Brian Wilson, for some runs as he trains to race the Boston Marathon on April 16.


One of the rare times Ryan and I will run together leading up to the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon during the first part of the year.

Running lonely allows me to do the following:

I can clear my mind and brainstorm when I need. This will be extremely helpful as I write the final two papers for my class while I am on vacation this week.

I have already decided – at least I am – running the 500 Mini for fun. I still plan to run it with Ryan, but when we get to the famed 2 1/2-mile oval that is the world’s greatest race course – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – I plan to have some fun.

On the flip side of wanting to have fun, for me this training cycle will be meant to get my mind and body ready for November. Running by myself and seeing what I have done through various workouts, I want a shot at breaking my personal record of 1:35:00. I plan to discuss that in a future post.

Being out by myself has also allowed me to vent and run the frustration of what’s going with Luke.

On the night of Nov. 27, I was studying accounting and watching the Pacers game when Wendy called. She informed me there had been an incident with Luke. He had passed out while playing tag at the end of his TrailLife group meeting. They were in the emergency room at Community South. He was stable and they were running tests to see what had happened.

All the tests came back clear. Luke was sent to a cardiologist and a neurosurgeon. All of their tests returned clear as well.

A few days later not only was Luke fainting, but he began having seizures. We again made a trip to the ER. Another CT scan returned clear.

Then on Dec. 18 Luke’s episodes became more intense and when he would regain consciousness he wasn’t normal. It was like he transformed into another personality. We then ended up at Riley Children’s Hospital the night before we were supposed to move into our new house.


Luke during his birthday party back in October

They did another CT scan, MRI along with all the other blood work. All of that came back clear again. It was then decided to admit Luke and keep him overnight. They did a video EEG and he had several episodes throughout the night.

The seizures were what they were called “pseudo seizures.” Unfortunately, he did not transform into different personalities. He was released and an appointment was scheduled with a psychiatrist at Riley for Jan. 2.

Fast forward – the seizures and fainting continued along with the different personalities. Since about Dec. 26 the only personality to really come out is an autistic version of himself. Luke knows us and even does his school work in this altered state.

When Wendy and Luke went to see the psychiatrist Jan. 2, they were informed that doctor was not in our insurance network. We were then referred to another psychiatrist on our side of town. They only see new patients on Fridays. The next opening was Feb. 23. They called a few days later and said they had a cancellation and could Luke.

Wendy and Luke went to that appointment. Luke had a couple of episodes where he transformed into that altered state during the meeting. That psychiatrist said his symptoms were something she wasn’t familiar with. She then referred us to another psychiatrist.

They finally called toward the end of last week. That doctor’s next opening is – APRIL 10! Not next week. Not in two weeks. Not even in the month of February or March – but APRIL FREAKING TENTH!

We keep being told as long as Luke’s not harming himself it will be OK. We are to keep a daily log of what happens. How long he’s a different personality. We also have to mark down what was going on when he changes and does he faint and have seizures when it happens. There have a been a few times when he hasn’t fainted or had a seizure.

Luke was diagnosed with conversion disorder while at Riley, but the psychiatrist we saw two weeks ago doesn’t believe that’s the right diagnosis. They really aren’t sure what’s going on with Luke. There’s so many possibilities they say. With Luke turning 13 back in October this all could be a really interesting case of puberty gone awry. Or it could be the stress of the move along with trying to get all of his school work done prior to it. My third oldest son has always been quite the competitor. He’s also quite the perfectionist when it comes to his school work.

We wait until April 10 for possibly the right diagnosis and treatment plan.


Monumental Makes Five

A race will not define you as a runner or as a person. You control what you can control and go with whatever the good Lord gives you on that given day. Race day is nothing more than a victory lap of your training.

Let’s get this out-of-the-way right at the beginning. The competitor in me had an expectation Saturday that not only would Ryan get a new PR at the CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon, but he would shatter it.

By destroying it, I mean coming close to my own personal record.

The Dad in me knew better.

Moral to the story – “Father knows best.”


Of course, we had to take a selfie prior to the start of the Monumental Half Marathon.

We had practiced how we were going to start the race during a run on Wednesday. We started out around a 7:45 pace for the first mile then bumped it up to 7:15 for the next four. Ryan was with me the entire time.

Saturday, we started out the way we wanted to for the first three miles. Then it was time to bump up to our intended race pace.

I picked up the speed. Ryan stayed steady eddy.

The competitor in me got frustrated. Wednesday’s race-start simulation went well. I oozed with confidence. I thought once we got through traffic of some runners we could settle into that 7:15-7:30 pace for a few miles. Then we could race the final 5k with a chance of breaking my PR.

Ryan had got his groove on like he usually does when he runs. He had settled into a pace to his liking for that particular day. He was smiling, giggling and thanking the police officers and volunteers along the course. He was quite content running at about an eight-minute pace.

The good thing was he wasn’t going to go any slower. On the other hand, he wasn’t going to go any faster.

Ryan’s pace Saturday during the race was precisely in the middle of his cross-country-race paces and his long runs with me during the training cycle.

Once we got to Fall Creek Parkway, where the full and half marathon’s split for the Monumental races, I knew the best thing for us was to shoot to beat Ryan’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini time of 1:48:12.


Ryan’s steady paces. The top one from the Monumental Half Marathon. The middle our run from Wednesday. The bottom – our last long distance run on Oct. 27.

The Dad in me told the competitor in my head, “It is what it is. Remember what Uncle Bill told you! Now just run and have fun.”

For some reason when we made the turn from 30th Street to Meridian Street, I lost my sense of direction. I swore we were going north instead of south. It wasn’t until we got to Fall Creek Parkway – about a half mile from 30th Street – when I looked up to see the SalesForce Tower through the fog in the overcast sky, I realized we were heading south toward the finish.

Once we got to the 11-mile marker, I tried to get Ryan to go with me and pick off other runners like we usually do in our races. We made the turn from Meridian to New York and finally to Capitol Avenue.

I looked to my right and saw Coach Ben. He yelled for Ryan to pick it up. Ryan got even with me. We finished together – 1:46:42.

A new half-marathon PR for Ryan.


This year’s CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon medal.

We went to the results tent and got our sheets. Ryan looked at the sheet and told me, “New PR. Beat Leenie’s time. One-forty five will have to wait for another day,” Ryan said.

“Two out of three, uh,” I responded.

Ryan just smiled.

Ryan had beat two of his three numbers he had set for the race. He got a new PR and he finally beat our friend Colleen’s time from when she ran the 500 Mini in 2016.

And the competitor in me got reminded again EXACTLY why we do this.

A race is nothing more than victory lap.


Ryan once again had another monumental run through the streets of Indianapolis.

The Rob Petrie Moment

No big-event weekend with me isn’t complete without a Rob-Petrie-like moment. If you know me well enough, you know the “Dick VanDyke Show” is my all-time favorite television show. It didn’t take long for it to happen on race morning.

Ryan and I had awoke. We got dressed and I helped him put on his compression socks before we went downstairs.

I took our bag with our after-race outfits and toiletries to put in the in trunk of my car. Ryan started to put on his arm warmers, shoes and watch. Then I saw I had a text from a friend. I sat on the couch and began to reply. Prior to taking the bag out to the car, I took the car key off the ring with my other keys. I finished my reply and then noticed I couldn’t find my car key.


I looked all over my office. I looked under both sofas. I looked on the island in the kitchen. I looked on the kitchen table. I went back to the car praying I hadn’t dropped it in the trunk with bag as I closed it. I even got the keys to my older car we have out on the street right now just in case I couldn’t find the key in the next five minutes.

I also hoped Ryan wasn’t playing another one of his slight-of-hand tricks like he did during our run with the little clip lights back in April.

Finally, I kicked a sock that was on the floor in front of where I was sitting while I texted my friend and found the key.

Crisis averted.

I wasn’t out of the proverbial woods.

The next moment happened when we got to the parking lot. I put my key in the pocket of my shorts. When I went to zip it up, the zipper broke. I didn’t think it was wise to have my vital information in a place where it could possibly fall out or worse if someone tried to pick-pocket me as we were waiting in the corral or even along the course.

After we ran our warm up and arrived at the convention center to stay warm and do some stretching, I went to the restroom. I tried to fix the zipper but to no avail. I ended up putting the key and my other important race-day necessities into Ryan’s pocket.

Oh the People You Will Meet

It always interest me when we run into people at various races. Saturday was no different.

We headed toward the finish of the second mile when we ran into my high-school friend Larry Roberts. He was running the full marathon Saturday. We spoke for a few moments and then continued on down Virginia Avenue.

As we headed north on Pennsylvania Street, we then ran into Jason Bletzinger. We had begun following each other on twitter over the summer through the #runchat group. His wife, Kara, ran the full – an interesting tidbit about her race a bit later. Jason and I talked about the beginning miles of the race. He asked me how Ryan liked going to Indiana University last Sunday for the Big 10 Cross Country Championships.

At the split and making a turn on 29th Street another twitter connection through #runchat was met when we saw Kristen Lund. Like Bletzinger, we were excited to finally meet each other in person. It was here that I realized Ryan was in his set pace for the remainder of the race. Lund’s husband and I have talked about running and autism on a couple of occasions through e-mail. We discussed that along with how amazing it is now that Ryan is in this pattern of getting into a particular pace and staying with it. As we made the turn on 34th Street, Lund picked up her pace and ventured on the course.

After the race, a gentleman named Phil approached us. “The last four races we have run with each other, I have tried to chase you two down at the end. It’s fun watching you get Ryan to catch you at the end. It inspires me to go even faster at the end. It won’t be too long until you’ll not have to do that anymore.”

We had received our medals, the goodies, the space blanket and the results. We were headed back to the car when we saw Thad Matta and his wife Barb.

I first met Thad my freshman year at Butler when he was a grad assistant for the Bulldogs. When I had my little radio show on a station down in Franklin, Indiana, Matta was my first guest when he was the head coach at Butler during the 2000-2001 season.

Ever since he left Butler for the Bulldogs arch-rival, Xavier, after that one season, when I see him, I still tease him about telling me during an interview that he said, “I’ll be a Bulldog forever.” Of course, the next week he left to take the job with the Musketeers.


Quickly catching up with former Butler player and coach Thad Matta. His daughters bookended Ryan. Emily finished ahead of him and Ali finished behind him.

The Monumental Wave Experiment

Like all things when you do something new there’s going to be room for improvement. This year the Monumental Marathon decided to go with wave starts to possibly help faster runners get out and avoid traffic.

For the most part, it seemed to work better than last year’s free-for-all. Although, they might want to get with their pals at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon about how to segregate the waves even more. The 500 Mini has waves, but also sorts those waves out by even more specific predicted finishing times. For instance, the 500 Mini has Wave 1, which has subcategories A through E for various times from the elites to 2:00:00. Then Wave 2 follows with the same parameters with slower times.

Another aspect would be to have better monitoring of the waves. Ryan and I were in wave 2 Saturday morning, but I noticed a lot of people with 3, 4 and even a couple of 5s on their bibs sneak into our corral prior to the start. The 500 Mini and even at the Mill Race Marathon in Columbus, Ind. have people at the entrance of the corrals checking bibs to make sure they go into the correct section. I didn’t see that Saturday morning.

The Y

What an absolute Godsend being parked close to the Irsay YMCA was for us. We were able to walk back to the car, get the bag with our after-race gear and walk over to the facility. It was nice getting to take a long-warm shower and get cleaned up. Even though we would have been in the car for the ride home, being able to shower and warm up there was perfect.

Tracking Is So Much Fun In Person

As I alluded to earlier in this post, I had an interesting tidbit about Kara Bletzinger as she ran the Monumental Marathon Saturday. After we cleaned up at the Y, we went back the 3/4 of a mile from our car to the finish line. I tracked several of our friends, who were running the marathon portion, and noticed they were about to finish the race.

Two in particular were Bletzinger and another one of my virtual-running friends, Catharine Yates.

This is the fun part of tracking people when they race – you know them and they know you. Sometimes though you can see them on the tracker running with people you know that they don’t know.

That’s the case with Bletzinger and Yates.

When I opened the app and saw the map tracking, Bletzinger and Yates were right next to each other. They stayed that way pretty much through the end.

They were on pace to finish at the same time. Ryan had just returned from the restroom as I looked down at the tracker. He tapped me.


“Yeah,” I said.

“That’s one of the numbers you told me to look for,” he said as he pointed.

It was Yates sprinting toward the finish line on Washington Street.

We cheered Yates on to the finish. Unfortunately, we did not see Bletzinger finish.

We met Yates at the end of the finishing chute. She finished with a time of 4:08:06. It was better than her Chicago Marathon time of 2016. She was quite happy about the time, but was somewhat bummed.  If the race had been later in December or even next year, she would have qualified for Boston.

Later in the evening the feeling returned to excitement as Yates read the rules to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Despite making the time prior to her next birthday, Yates did indeed make a BQ time with her run Saturday for the 2019 Boston Marathon.


Ryan and I with another friend who ran Monumental and earned a Boston Marathon qualifying time in Catharine Yates.


Once we crossed the finish line of the CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon, our “Zero Week” commenced. After 14 weeks of hard training plus Ryan running cross-country, a much-needed few days off was definitely in store for both of us.

Ever since I realized I was overtraining in September, I also dealt with a nagging back issue. During the week when I took a couple of unplanned rest days, I doubted if I would even be able to run the race. Matter of fact, I had Colleen on standby to run with Ryan in case I couldn’t.

I am also on vacation these next few days. I plan on sleeping in a couple of days while also working on my accounting class in my MBA program.

On Monday, Ryan and I took a visit to the new St. Vincent Sports Performance Center in downtown Indianapolis. Back in April, Ryan saw a picture on Instagram of his favorite runner Jordan Hasay using the Normatec Recovery Boots.

When I went to the open house for the new SVSP Center, which is conjunction with the Indiana Pacers, I thought Ryan would get a thrill being treated like an elite runner after a race.


Ryan getting a Normatec session like Jordan Hasay while at the new St. Vincent Sports Performance facility in Indianapolis.

After the 30-minute session in the boots, Ryan got his legs massaged while Jon Grant took a look at my back. Come to find out I have some alignment issues. He gave me exercises and stretches to do for the next few weeks to hopefully alleviate the problem.

Prayers for Eli

This is a big week for one of my good running friends, Brian Wilson and his family. His son, Eli, is having brain surgery Friday morning in Cleveland.

Eli will have a left frontal lobe resection. They will be going in on the same scar line from his first surgery that was six years ago. They will take a larger area of the damaged tissue of the brain in order to eliminate the spiking.

So, if you could, please say an extra prayer for the Wilsons this week. To keep them strong and constantly reassure that faith moves God. Also specifically pray the surgery puts an end to the spiking and seizure activity that Eli continues to experience.


Big prayers this week for our running buddy Brian Wilson and his son, Eli’s, surgery.

Keep the Expectations in Check

“It may not be this Saturday at the Monumental Half. It could be the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon next May. The fact is the day is closer now than it ever has been when I will no longer be able to run competitively with Ryan.”

It has come to the inevitable point of the training cycle when running friends, non-running friends, co-workers, and family members ask the dreaded question – “What’s the goal time?”

Of course, the ultimate goal always is to arrive at the starting line Saturday on Capitol Avenue injury free. Then for Ryan and I to finish strong after making the turn from Capitol Avenue to Washington Street to complete our debut in the CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon.

I would be lying to anyone who ask if that was my only reply to the question.

Everyone knows better.


We have numbers. Who really doesn’t when they go into a race?

Ryan has three – which he still hasn’t told anyone. I have two. A select few know my numbers. They have followed our training through GarminConnect and Strava. They believe mine are realistic for what we want to accomplish Saturday.


Numbers? This close to race day they are on everyone’s mind.

Even if we don’t achieve any of the numbers, it won’t take away from the accomplishment of running the Monumental Half Marathon. This will be Ryan’s fifth in two years and my sixth since my friend Colleen conned me off the dreadmill and on to the roads back in 2013.

I mentioned in the previous post this is the hardest I have ever trained for a “goal race.”

I have to be honest, I really want this race Saturday to go as perfect as possible. More so than I have ever wanted since Ryan began running with me.

The downside to training with that intensity, it caused me to overtrain during the month of September.

How do I know this you ask? Easy. One of the parents of Ryan’s Genesis United Cross Country teammates messaged me and asked what was up. They mentioned I hadn’t been acting like myself the last few days. After a pyramid interval workout, my quads felt like they dropped to my ankles.

That’s when it dawned on me – the training for the race, work, missing the last three of Ryan’s big meets, studying for my MBA class, and our special project all got to me.

I was a bear at home, at work, at the cross-country practices and even sometimes when Ryan ran with me on Fridays and Sundays. Like my days growing up when I would be stressed from studying for my classes or putting together projects in my Radio/TV classes at Butler, my baseball hat was on backward and I listened to classical music not only in my “mind palace,” but the car as well.

All of the above provided to be factors for the pressure I felt.

It was mainly the training though that was the biggest culprit.

I made the decision to take a couple of unplanned rest days.

That meant no running.

I didn’t even do Dr. Jordan Metzl’s IronStrength videos.

One day I slept in until it was time to go to work. The next day, I finished up one of my papers for my MBA class.

The break helped.

I returned rested and focused. Even my family, friends and co-workers – even the teammates parent – noticed the difference.

I returned to having solid training runs. Ryan also had productive long runs on the days he ran with me. Looking to my left or right and seeing him smile or laugh even brought an extra pep in my step. A couple of times, I even finished a run with a little dance.


Smiling running faces are the best faces.

The biggest reason I am excited about Saturday is because of the progress I have seen Ryan make this fall through his training and running on the Genesis United Cross Country team.

I want to see it all payoff with his best half-marathon performance.

As previously mentioned, whatever happens Saturday, it’s just one day. It will not define us as runners or people. We will control what we can and go with whatever else the good Lord gives us. There will be other races.

Then again…

It may not be this Saturday at the Monumental Half. It could be the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon next May. The fact is the day is closer now than it ever has been when I will no longer be able to run competitively with Ryan.

Ryan’s running delights me because of the joy it brings him. As I have noted throughout this blog, Ryan has become a student of the sport. Sunday, we went to the Big 10 Cross Country Championships at Indiana University. It interested me more to watch Ryan take in all the ambiance of the event. Ryan observed all the details of various runners. He watched what they did during warm ups. Ryan also viewed how they started the race and how they surged up and down the hills of the IU course. As the women’s runners started out on the course, Ryan pointed out Katherine Receveur of the Hoosiers. He said he expected her to win. She did with a course record of 20:10.3!

Conversely, it pains me that like I did at the Sparkler Sprint back in July when we start a race together, he will soon leave me to set his own PR and place in his age division. When that race happens, it won’t be tears of sadness though. I’ll cry tears of happiness.

Through it all, I realize how blessed I have been to spend this time with Ryan on the roads running and training for races.

Now to survive the crazy Taper Tantrums.



First XC Season in the Books & Taper Time

Well, Ryan and Luke’s cross-country season came to an end last week.

Ryan got to run in the Ohio Valley Championships at Ceraland Park in Columbus, Ind. He finished 38th with a time of 22:36. Unfortunately, Luke got injured during warm ups of the Eastern Hancock Invitational on Sept. 19. He was in a walking boot for about two weeks and never made it back for a regular race the rest of the season.

Ryan was consistently Genesis United’s No. 2 runner. His best time was 22:02 at the University High School Invitational. As hard as Ryan tried, he could never break the 22:00 barrier. The weather also didn’t make it easy as I think there was only a couple of times when the temperature was below 75 degrees at the start of a race.

Ryan’s biggest accomplishment of the season came at the Indiana Christian Schools Athletic Association State Meet at Horizon Christian. Ryan gutted out a time of 22:53 on a hilly course to earn 20th place. That got him a spot on the All-State Team. As a freshmen, that’s a great accomplishment.


Ryan all smiles after finishing 20th at the Indiana Christian Schools Athletic Association State Meet.

Earlier in the season on the same course, Luke had his highlight. He battled it out with another runner and his placing allowed Genesis to beat the other team that evening for ninth place. He also had beat his previous time from the Lutheran Invitational by five minutes! Luke’s undecided at the moment if he will continue running. I really hope he does especially since his career goal right now is to get into law enforcement and work for a S.W.A.T. unit.


Luke coming out of the woods on the trail at the Scecina/Horizon Christian Invitational.



Unfortunaately, Luke suffered a severely sprained ankle during warm ups of a meet at Eastern Hancock and was sidelined for the rest of the season.

For a start-up program, it was successful season for the Genesis United team. It will be interesting to see how the program grows in these next few years. I, for one, am optimistic especially as the runners gain experience and grow together as a team.


The Genesis United Boys Cross Country team huddling for last-minute instructions from Coach Ben before a race.

Running cross country this fall brought out a different side of Ryan I had never seen in his running. He had a look of determination and competitiveness that I really hadn’t seen from him. It was like he took his running to another level.


Ryan in the lead pack of No. 2 runners.

I think a lot of it has to deal with his autism, but as much as he showed being competitive, once Ryan settled into a pace sometimes he was content to not go any faster or any slower. Though he kept that look of determination on his face.


Ryan trying to hold a runner from Eminence at the end of the University High School Invitational.

There were a few times at the end of races, Coach Ben or I would tell him to start his kick. Much like he did at the Indy Milers six-mile and 10-mile races prepping for the 500 Mini, it seemed like Ryan couldn’t move into the next gear. Thus, Ryan got “out kicked” a couple of times.

Most notably not picking up the pace at the end cost him at the Eastern Hancock Invitational. Ryan was passed right at the finish line from a runner he had gapped with about a mile left.

With so much going on outside of the cross-country realm, I wasn’t able to do write ups about it through this blog like I wanted during the season. Along with the practices and meets, Andrew and Micah had their own activities. Plus, we have our little project going on, which is almost finished. Throw in my work schedule and busting tail in my MBA program and like Ferris Bueller said, “life moves pretty fast.”

As I type this post, I am anxiously awaiting my grade in Joint Commission Standards Accreditation and Auditing. I’ll be one-third of the way through after that course is completed.

Now with cross-country season complete, Ryan returns running with me on a more-regular basis. Of course, just in time for us to begin the taper phase of training for the CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon.

Once cross-country practices started – about the time we were supposed to start training for the Monumental Half, Ryan only ran with me on Fridays and Sundays. Fridays were usually easy runs the day before a cross-country race. Sundays, we got up early to get a long run in before church.

Ryan still giggles as he runs with me, but one thing I have noticed is he stays right with me the entire run. Prior to him running cross country with Genesis United, if we see a “car up,” he would get behind me and stay that way for the rest of the run. Now, once the car has passed us, Ryan returns to my side until it’s time to pick up the pace at the end. It makes me proud that there have been a couple of finishes where I have done all I can to keep up with him more than normal.

Like I have told a lot of my running friends these last couple of weeks, I am trying to stay even keel about Monumental. Ryan and I have both trained hard these 12 weeks. Actually, I know it’s the hardest I have trained for a race since I PR’d at the Indianapolis Half Marathon at Fort Ben in 2013.

Ryan’s race times from cross country along with some of his practice and our long-run times has me believing he will crush all the numbers he wants to obtain on Nov. 4. With the race in Indianapolis, there’s no doubt in my mind as he always does, Ryan will raise his level of running up a notch.

We watched Ryan’s favorite runner, Jordan Hasay, battle to a third-place finish at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8. Hasay also set the American course record for a runner in the Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:20:57. Hasay beat her Boston debut time by 2:03. Ryan predicted she’d get 2:20:00.


Ryan’s favorite runner, Jordan Hasay, crossing the finishing line at the Chicago Marathon.

We’ve watched the Chicago Marathon about five times since it’s original airing. Ryan still gets excited as he sees Hasay finish. He also gets enthused when he sees Hasay’s  Oregon Project teammate, Galen Rupp, “put the hammer down” at mile 23 to take control of the men’s race and eventually win it.

Both were examples of what Ben and I have been trying to teach Ryan on how to finish out a race these last three months. Hopefully, he’ll mimic a mix of Rupp and Hasay as he finishes the Monumental Half in two weeks.

I took a quote from Hasay in one of the articles about her race and put it next to the issue of Runner’s World she signed for Ryan. “You’re just going to be hurting tremendously. That’s something you’ve got to love as a runner: you’ve got to take pride in that. I was excited to be hurting, and just embracing the pain, embracing the challenge, and just staying calm.”

I also took part of the headline from the Runner’s World article about Hasay’s Chicago race and placed it on his bathroom mirror – “BE BRAVE AND RACE!” He’s moved it to his closet door since his final cross-country race.


The sign of “Be Brave and Race” – Ryan’s mantra for the upcoming CNO Financial Group Monumental Half Marathon.

Every once in awhile during a run or when we are just sitting around I will say to him, “Be brave.” He quickly and confidently replies, “And RACE!

A couple of days ago, he even added, “And embrace the pain!”

Regardless of what happens on Nov. 4, it’s just one day. We’ll do the best we can for that particular day with whatever gets thrown at us.

There is Another

I began this blog to keep me motivated to write about sports. For some hare-brained reason, even though it’s been more than a few years of playing the Grantland-Rice Wannabe on an every day basis, I thought my friends would still be interested in my worthless ramblings on what took place in the sports world.

Of course, now I mainly write about my adventures running with Ryan.

It comes as a shock when I meet people who read this publication (can we call it that?) and they find out I actually have three other sons. Everyone who reads it knows of Ryan. I have mentioned the other three from time-to-time.

One of my “Four Horsemen” though constantly gets lost in the mix. Wendy refers to it as the dreaded “middle-child syndrome.”

Believe it or not, sometimes when we are out, people, who don’t know us well or we haven’t seen in a long time, will come up to us and say, “Who’s friend is that?” After we tell them he’s ours, the reply usually is, “Oh, I didn’t know you had four.”

That other one is Luke – the third oldest of the Fabulous Rueff Boys. Luke’s a lot like me in that he’s constantly trying to find his niche. I’m 45 – be 46 soon and still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

He’s tried Taekwondo. He played the drums. Luke participated in Bible Bowl. He’s played soccer. He also belongs to the local TrailLife group and enjoys camping out and also shooting his guns and archery.

For the better part of the last year though, Luke has struggled to find himself and what he likes to do – aside from school, video games, helping Wendy with her Sunday school class and TrailLife.

Since I spend a lot of one-on-one time with Ryan on our morning runs, I usually take each night of a weekend and spend it individually with the other three. Fridays with Andrew, Saturdays with Micah and Sundays with Luke.

The Sunday night after Ryan had run in the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem and we had our worst long run ever, I took Luke for my ultimate guilty pleasure of Dairy Queen. We were in the booth eating blizzards (his a cookie-dough and mine a M&M-Oreo).

During our conversation, Luke paused and asked a question.

“Do you mind if I go with you to practice tomorrow night?”

“Why?” I replied. “You’d be bored to death. I usually read a book or text back and forth with friends or with Uncle Bill. What would you do for two hours?”

“No,” Luke said. “To run. What would you think if I went to practice tomorrow night and ran. Ryan along with Donavon and Garrett looked like they were having a lot of fun with each other Saturday at the meet. And, I’ve missed being part of a team.”

For those who know our family well whenever they see Luke the first question usually asked is, “What sport does he play?” That’s because out of my four sons, Luke, is the one who looks the most athletic. A majority of my friend’s jaws drop to the floor when I tell them he doesn’t or hasn’t played any sport since trying soccer when he was 5-years old.


Luke has always had that “athlete” look.

I basically had the same reaction when Luke replied to me that Sunday night. My spoon left my mouth and missed the cup holding my concoction as an M&M and a small piece of Oreo melted off the spoon on to the table.


My guilty pleasure.

I also need to preface this because the week before, Luke had chased Ryan around the house and caught him. Luke came in the house and said, “See, I could run like he does. I bet I could beat Ryan on a regular basis.”

Wendy and I had challenged him to go to practice, but Luke declined the invitation. “We all know who the fastest is in this house. I don’t need to prove it every day.”

I looked into my third oldest son’s eyes to gauge the seriousness of his comment at the restaurant.

Yep, it was that intense look he gets when Luke wants to be competitive.

I instantly texted Coach Ben Houston. He said he would be glad if Luke joined the team for practice the next night.

We asked Ryan what he thought. In typical Ryan fashion, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “uh.”

Luke went to practice Monday. Most of the team ran their “Mileage Monday” workouts while Luke ran and walked around the circle with the team in the neighborhood next to the park where we meet.

On Tuesday, the day I ran to push Ryan during his tempo workout, Luke had his mile-time trial. He was pushing himself and as Ryan and I passed him one time he was wheezing hard to catch his breath.

As I drove home that night, Luke sat in the passenger side of the car and declared.

“I’m done! I can’t do it. I told you Mom and you, I’d give a shot, but after tonight, I don’t want to.”

We left it at that. I texted Houston and told him of Luke’s decision. I could tell by the response, Coach was a little disappointed.

“Is he sure?” Ben asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

I left it alone on Wednesday with Luke. Neither Wendy or I brought it up or asked if he had any second thoughts on going back for the next practice on Thursday night.

I got home from work Thursday evening and yelled at Ryan to go upstairs and get ready for practice. I went upstairs as well to change clothes.

When I returned to the first floor, not only was Ryan on the couch dressed and ready for practice with his water bottle in his hand, but Luke was as well.

“Uh, I thought you were done,” I said to Luke.

“I kept thinking about it all day yesterday and today,” Luke replied. “I’ve decided to stick it out.”

I knew before I texted Houston that Luke was returning for practice, after I had told him late Tuesday night Luke was done, Houston was going to tell me that by the end of practice he would expect Luke to give a definite yes or no for the rest of the season.

That’s exactly what I told Luke.

“You have tonight,” I said. “But understand at the end of practice, your answer to Coach Houston’s question of yes or no is final.”

“Yes, sir,” Luke said.

He went through practice and the exercises after practice that night. As everyone else on the team gathered their belongings, Houston took Luke aside and asked him what his decision was going to be for the rest of the season.

Luke answered that he was committed to the team.


Luke and Ryan after a recent practice with the Genesis Cross Country team.

We went and got his gait analyzed and his feet properly fitted for shoes. We also got him some running gear for practices.

On the days that they don’t have practice with the team, but have miles scheduled by Coach Houston, I continue to run with Ryan in the mornings and now with Luke in the evenings.

When I run with Luke, I always talking about his form. I am trying to slowly get his mind and body acclimated to the newness of running. Although he gets frustrated because he sees everyone else being faster than him right now, the key will be to constantly be positive. Coach Houston is convinced if Luke stays with it, he can turn into a solid runner not only for himself, but the team as the season progresses.

Since Luke didn’t start right when the Genesis United Cross Country team was formed toward the end of July, he’ll probably spend most of this season trying to catch up with the rest of the team. The only thing any of us want to see from him is constant improvement. The good thing is we are seeing it.

Luke ran in his first ever race Tuesday night in the Lutheran High School Invitational at Southeastway Park. He got out too fast and already looked out of energy by the time I saw him at about the half-mile mark of the course.


Luke during the Lutheran Invitational. His first cross-country race ever.

The 12-year old kept pushing though and just when you thought he would stop running and begin walking the course, Luke picked the pace back up. Once he got through the wooded area to head down the finishing straight, Luke put his kick in and finished strong.


The Genesis United Cross Country team with some final strides prior to Tuesday’s Lutheran Invitational.

It was a proud moment because Luke had that same determined look at the end of Tuesday’s race as he did that night when he sat across the table from me and asked if he could go to practice.

If things continue with Ryan as they have after our bad run that same Sunday when Luke said he wanted to run, I am going to need my third-oldest son to get up speed quicker than expected.

Because at the rate Ryan’s going, he’s going to need a faster-running partner sooner rather than later.

I can’t think of a better one than Luke.

I’ll Take Three Words Over 2nd Place

Ryan and I competed in the 5th Annual Indianapolis Colts “Finish on the 50” 5k Saturday.

Last year, Ryan had seen it on the morning TV news program we watch. He became overly excited when he found out the finish line was literally on the 50-yard line of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Between the 500 Mini in May, the Sparkler Sprint on July 4th, and before we even knew about the start-up of the Genesis United Cross Country team, Ryan frequently asked me, “You signed us up for the Colts 5k yet?” “Dad, don’t forget the Colts 5k.”

Around Father’s Day is when I finally got us signed up for it. When I told Ryan, he replied, “yeah,” and rubbed his hands together like he always does when he gets excited.

Ryan’s runs lately have been like riding that proverbial roller coaster.

At the beginning of the week, Ryan has been nowhere close to the times he should be showing. He’s almost a minute slower off the pace on some runs.

Conversely, by the end of the week, Ryan’s way below the times he should post for those runs. That is if you’re going by the various training-pace calculators you can find on-line.

Last Tuesday, I broke down (after I promised myself I wouldn’t when Ryan began running for Genesis United) and ran with him at practice to make sure he got pushed. Even with me running with him, Ryan struggled on his tempo run. He was 20 seconds slower than the pace Coach Ben wanted.

Don’t even ask me about our long run the day after Ryan ran in the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem. I am trying to forget it even happened. It was that bad.

After Tuesday’s practice, I looked up Ryan’s log. No wonder he was slower than normal on Monday and Tuesday, he’d run six straight days. I immediately messaged Ben Houston for the explanation of the previous two days of practice. We decided Ryan would run easy on Thursday, rest Friday and then run the Colts 5k on Saturday.

Thursday’s run was supposed to be around a 9:00 pace for the five and half miles. Ryan ran it at 8:13 pace.

Amazing what 48 hours of rest can do for the legs, huh?

Saturday morning came and we went through our usual routine. Although I am trying to be like Summer Sanders’ Dad, I want to get Ryan into the habits Houston would expect him to do on a day of a cross-country race. We did our dynamic stretching and a one-mile warm up.

Once we finished our one-mile-warm up we saw my friend, Hannah’s, daughter. Vanessa is in her first of being a Colts cheerleader. I told her who I was and my connection to her mother and Uncle Nathan. Then I also told Vanessa when she talked to Hannah to say how thankful she is her mother, Uncle Nathan and I survived a game of chicken on a one-lane bridge back in 1990.


First-year-Colts Cheerleader Vanessa with Ryan and I before Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts “Finish on the 50” 5k.

I set the virtual pacers on our Garmins for 7:15 pace. I told Ryan our goal was to get out to that pace and then get faster every mile. Then when the watches said 2.6 we were going to put the kick in for the finish on the field.


Sunglasses on. It’s time to race.

Once I was done with the explanation of our race strategy, Ryan put on his sunglasses. That’s the sign to tell me he’s ready to go.

A few minutes later we counted down with the rest of the 4,500 runners and the race started. We headed east right into the sun on South Street then turned north on Pennsylvania Street.

We passed Banker’s Life Fieldhouse and before I could comment, Ryan said, “Look, the start/finish line for the 500 Miler Series and where the Pacers play.” As we approached New York Street both of our watches dinged. Ryan’s said we ran the first mile in 7:10 while mine was at 7:13.

We turned west on Vermont Street then south to Meridian and around the west side of “The Circle” and the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument (we will go north on Meridian and the east side of “The Circle” on Nov. 4 for the CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Half Marathon).

We turned west on Washington Street. There was a water stop just before our watches dinged for mile two. Ryan’s said 6:56. Even though Ryan and I were right next to each other the entire time, my watch showed a split of 7:18.

We headed south on West Street. I told Ryan his watch was our “official” time because there was no way mine was telling the right pace.

“Make sure we are 6:55 or faster now on that top number,” I commanded.

On the face of the watch, the top number tells us the pace and the bottom our distance.

“OK,” he replied.

We got to the north end of Lucas Oil Stadium on Missouri Street, I looked at my watch and it said 2.57 for the mileage. I asked Ryan what his said.

“Two-point-five-five,” he responded.

“When it gets to 2-point-6, it’s kick time,” I said.

“Got it,” Ryan said.

As we got to the south end of the stadium, Ryan said “two-point six.”

“It’s kick time. Let’s go! Go time!”

We made a hair-pin turn from Missouri Street to the south end of the parking lot of Lucas Oil Stadium. We headed back north to the field entrance. We got to the parking-lot gate when we were passed by a boy, who looked to be about Ryan’s age.

Ryan noticed him.

Ryan picked up his pace even more.

We caught the boy right at the beginning of the entrance to the field level of the stadium.

It’s a downward slope to field level. For whatever reason the boy slowed down. Ryan kept his stride and continued into the stadium. Once we were on the field, it was a mad dash between us to the finish line.

The Colts public-address announcer even said Ryan’s name as he neared the line.

“Here’s Ryan Rueff, 14-years old, from Greenwood, Indiana!” The announcement boomed all through Lucas Oil Stadium.

After we finished, we walked around the field. We even did some sprints between the 20-yard lines.

There were kiosks set up where you could use a QR-code reader on your phone to check your results. I didn’t have my phone that has service with me. I carry my old one because it fits in my shorts pocket to take pictures. One of the volunteers explained that the machines were also set up to type your bib number and get your results if you didn’t have a QR reader.


Come on. You didn’t think I could run a Colts sponsored event and not wear something in Broncos colors.

As usual on Saturdays of these short races, I had planned with my manager at “The World on Time” to come in at least an hour late. I figured we’d check our times and see how far off the Garmins were since both appeared to freeze when we entered the stadium. We could leave because I seriously doubted either one of us placed in our age groups. I’d have a chance to be on time for work.

Both Garmins were way off on the time. I was even more wrong assuming one of us didn’t place in our age group.

I typed my number in first. It showed I had finished with a time of 21:39 – 76th overall and 8th in my age group. My Garmin stopped at 2.99 and had a time of 21:55.

Then I typed Ryan’s number. He had the same time of 21:39 (a new 5k PR for him) – 77th overall and 2nd in his group. His Garmin froze then must have regained its signal because it did have him at a full 5k but with a time of 22:42.

Work would have to wait as the awards ceremony was to begin at 9:30.

Ryan had set a new 5K PR by one second. He ran the Monumental 5K in 21:40 prior to his surgery last November. It was also 2:05 faster than he was at the Sparkler Sprint 5K on July 4.

We waited for the awards ceremony. After the best stroller and best costume winners were announced, Channel 4/Fox 59 sports reporter Larra Overton began announcing the age-group winners.

Once mentioned, the child went up to get their medal and shake the hand of former Indianapolis Colt Marlin Jackson.

Yes, the boy who had originally passed us and then Ryan passed at the entrance of the stadium finished third in Ryan’s age group.


Ryan receiving his second-place medal from former Indianapolis Colt Marlin Jackson

When Ryan’s name was announced, as usual, he waved his hand to the crowd as they clapped. He quickly shook Jackson’s hand.


We ran our one-mile-cool-down run around the stadium. Then it was off to Speedway to celebrate with the “World’s Largest Dr. Pepper” and doughnuts.

As I drove south on West Street back to Stately Rueff Manor, Ryan looked at me after he swallowed a bite of his doughnut followed by a slurp of Dr. Pepper.

“Did you see that kid, who passed us in the parking lot, when we got to the slope at the entrance of the field at the stadium?” Ryan asked as he rubbed his hands showing his excitement.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“He didn’t know how to go downhill without breaking his stride,” Ryan explained as he again rubbed his hands. “I just kept running like you’ve taught me when we run down the hills on Skyline and Brer Rabbit Drives. That’s when I knew I had him.”

There was a pause as Ryan took another drink of Dr. Pepper.

“Yeah,” Ryan said giggling and rubbing his hands.

I just looked back at him and smiled.

A few minutes later, Ryan would have me crying.

We got home and Ryan went upstairs to put his medals away and shower. I quickly got changed into my work clothes.


There are three words for whatever reason people with Autism find hard to say. You know that they do though through their actions. You know they do with their kindness. You even know that they do sometimes even when they have a meltdown.

Whenever Wendy or I have told Ryan these three words, his usual response to us is “uh huh.”

It also reminds me a lot of my Father.

We will never know how much my Father was on the “Autism Spectrum.” I know he was somewhere on it. Remembering how he was and how similar his grandson is to him with his certain mannerisms makes it hard to believe John Rueff wasn’t on it. As I have written before, it’s why I am convinced Autism is hereditary.

Before I tell you the three words Ryan said to me as I walked out the door for work Saturday, understand, I know my father did too. My Dad always seemed to have a tough time saying it as well. Rest assured though, my father showed it a lot and still reveals it even after his unexpected death almost seven years ago.

I told Ryan I was leaving for work.

Then Ryan said those three words from upstairs that he’s never said to me before.


“Love you too.”

I cried all the way to work.



Summer got away – again


Much like when Mrs. Hudson deeply sighs and says to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, “Oh look. He killed the dog – again” as Holmes has done another experiment on Gladstone, it’s how the summer seems to play out as it gets away from us every year.


Do we even have the “Dog Days of Summer” anymore.

So much has happened since I blogged about Ryan’s last visit to Dr. Tentler where he was given the all clear including no mileage limits with his new orthotics.

Here’s the bullet-points-Cliff-Notes version of the summer in chronological order.

  • Ryan got a signed autograph of Runner’s World from his favorite runner Jordan Hasay

The issue of “Runner’s World” Jordan Hasay signed for Ryan

  • We took a road trip to Franklin, Ind. and ran 10 miles through Franklin College, the path throughout the city, which included Province Park and Greenlawn Cemetery.

No trip to Franklin would be complete without a picture with Ben.

  • We returned a couple of days later and ran the Sparkler Sprint 5k in Franklin. I broke away from Ryan setting my sights on placing in my age group and setting a new PR. I got the latter and not the former. Ryan finished fourth in his age group.

Ryan all smiles after finishing fourth in his age group at the 2017 Sparkler Sprint in Franklin.

  • Ryan joined a cross-country team.
  • We began CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Half Marathon training on July 30.
  • I nailed my assessment for marketing in my MBA program.
  • Ryan had his first cross-country meet last Saturday. It was a Hokum Karem (Native American word basically meaning relay). He was under goal pace for all three miles and set a new mile personal record with a 6:46.

Ryan was excited when he got his autographed issue of Runner’s World from Jordan Hasay.


I think we watched Jordan being interviewed by Carrie Tollefson before the start of this year’s Peachtree City 10k 20 times before the actual race.


There, I think you’re caught up.

The big news is – YES, Ryan joined a cross-country team through the home school sports organization called Genesis United in Greenwood.

Considering the two weeks prior to his first meet and a horrific practice run the Monday before, Ryan bounced back and had three solid runs and capped it off with three great miles at the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem last Saturday.

Here’s how it all happened.

I went to pick Ryan, Luke and Andrew up from youth group on July 14. I was talking to one of Wendy’s friends when my oldest son, Andrew, ran down the stairs and said, “Dad. Dad. You have to talk to Mr. Hogan.”

“In a minute.”

I continued to talk to Wendy’s friend. She was asking me what I had done for Wendy’s birthday the day before and how some other things we are working on at the moment were going

“Dad. You have to get up there and see Mr. Hogan. It’s important.”

“Andrew, I will when I’m finished.”

“Now, Dad! It’s about Ryan! It’s about running!”

Wendy’s friend could see I wasn’t going to get to finish and said she understood. She hoped everything we have going on right now worked out and that we have a good anniversary coming up in August.

Andrew then grabbed me by the arm and led me upstairs to where the ping-pong table and carpet-ball game is upstairs. He introduced me to Matt Hogan.

Hogan is the athletics director of Genesis United sports club. The organization has developed a successful soccer program through the years. He explained to me there had been interest throughout the home-school community on the southside of Indianapolis to begin a cross-country team. Hogan had heard of Ryan and wanted to know if I thought he would be interested.


About a week later there was a call out meeting. There were several families who appeared. The ages ranged from junior in high school to sixth grade. Corresponding with the different ages, all the runners were at vastly different levels of experience.

After the meeting, I did my best Bob Whitewood and asked Crystal Neil and Hogan if they would be open to having someone be the coach. I told them I had someone in mind that would be perfect, but wanted their consent before going any further.

On several occasions with Ben Houston helping me with Ryan, he expressed his interest to be able to have the time to coach a team again.

With the number of days a week and the time practices would start, I thought Genesis United would be a perfect situation for Houston to return to his passion.

I texted Ben and told him what was going on with the team. We met the next night. He talked with his wife and then his department head and got their approval. On Monday evening, Ben was at practice ready to coach the first ever Genesis United Cross Country team.

Ben coaching also made the decision for Ryan to run for Genesis United easier. Since Ben knows Ryan and has run on several occasions with him, he would know how to push Ryan during practices and meets. Houston coaching the team also put Wendy and I both at ease knowing Ryan would have a familiar face and feel comfortable doing whatever Ben told him to do in practices and meets.


It’s great having Ben coaching Ryan in the first season of the Genesis United Cross Country team.

On our Sunday-morning run prior to the first practice, I told Ryan there would be a set of expectations Houston would want from him. I also told him that Ben would probably yell at him during practices and meets.

“Understand, Ben’s not going to be yelling because he’s mad at you,” I said. “He’s doing it to push you. To make you better.”

“I know, Dad,” Ryan replied. “I know.”

It all was an answered prayer for us. Since Ryan began running with me on St. Patrick’s Day of 2015 and appeared he liked it and would stay with it, we searched for a running program.

It never seemed like there was one on our side of town. Most of the teams were on the northside of Indianapolis. That would be about an hour to 90-minute drive from us with traffic to get to the places where practices and meets are held for those teams.

Along with Ryan saying he wanted to run for Genesis United, Wendy and Andrew have also constantly reminded me, “DON’T BE THAT DAD!”

You know the overbearing-win-at-all-cost Dad. The one who thinks he knows more than the coach. The one that’s gonna be a fit of rage when his kid doesn’t perform well and could end up costing the team in an event. The one not only Wendy, but myself, saw me becoming after Ryan ran a 1:48:51 at last year’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

If anything though, I want to be like Bob Sanders (not the oft-injured former Indianapolis Colts linebacker), but the father of 1992 United States Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders. Summer wrote this about her father in her book “Champions are Raised, Not Born” – “My dad was on a constant campaign to keep my sport in the background. He loved to quote Mae West, whose motto was “Life’s a party, only most fools don’t know they’re invited.” He made sure I had fun–with him and my brother, with my friends, with school, with vacations, with prom dates and part-time jobs, with movies and pizza parties.”

That’s what I want for Ryan and his teammates. I want to make sure they achieve their goals, the team does well, everyone gets along and we (parents, coaches and runners) have fun doing it.

Looking for a good book to read if you have kids who play competitive sports, then there’s no better book to get than Sanders’ book. Although, it may be hard to find these days. It was published in 2000.


Summer Sanders’ book “Champions Are Raised; Not Born” is a must read for all parents who have children in competitive sports.

I also want to be like the father of a friend who ran cross country. I contacted him a couple of days prior to last Saturday’s meet for any words of wisdom he used to say before my friend’s races. He did not disappoint in his response.

“My only advice for a CC father is to be positive and encouraging.  I never was one of those to constantly push, only to do their best.  The mental game is so important.  I would always spend just a few minutes prior to each race ‘taking all worries and concerns’ from them and telling them that they were now mine and they had no reason to worry.”

I also have the comment Uncle Bill said last year to me after I messaged him about Ryan moving up a seed class for the 500 Mini – “Remember the main reason you’re doing this” posted next to my journalism medallion from high school on my desk.

Along the same lines, I am also remembering what I learned from Elizabeth Clor’s book, “Boston Bound” and know not to compare Ryan to other runners. It’s what I like to call the “Ty Webb Approach.”

If I’m ever asked how I compare Ryan to other runners, I’ll simply look at them like Ty Webb looked at Judge Smails in the Bushwood Country Club locker room in “Caddyshack” and reply, “by height,” with a small grin on my face.


Ever the philosopher, Ty Webb


The biggest challenge right now seems to be complementing Ryan’s focus during the day when he has cross-country practices in the evenings. When the cross-country practices started, we tried to run him for a short distance in the morning and then the practice in the evening. It proved to be too much.

Now, when I return from my run in the mornings, I take him to the basement and we do a 20-minute version of the IronStrength workout along with a couple of sets of box jumps.


With Ryan’s cross-country practices in the evenings, mornings include IronStrength along with a couple of sets of box jumps before starting his school day.

Another obstacle is coordinating the cross-country practices with training for the Monumental Half Marathon. It seems like I am constantly changing the training plan and getting agreement with another coaching friend before I propose it to Houston. It’s Ben though, who I have full trust, giving me the final say on whether he likes the revision or what he wants changed.

Ryan runs with me on Sundays and Fridays. He runs with the team on practice days. On those days, he runs the same distance of miles I ran earlier that morning to keep up with training plan we have in place for the Monumental Half.

When there are cross-country meets on Saturdays, we adjust our mileage for Sundays and Fridays – it’s basically reversed. Since Ryan returned in February, I moved our long runs from Saturdays to Fridays. This was easier to do because I have Fridays off and we can run the longer distance without me having to rush to eat breakfast and get to work on Saturday mornings.

With the Saturday meets, the long run moves to some Sundays. Using the philosophy of the great running author Hal Higdon, Ryan running fast on Saturday will allow him to want to run slow on Sundays for that long run. We had a trial run of how that schedule would work out this past weekend. On those weekends with Saturday meets, I think it will be best if Ryan doesn’t run with me on Fridays.

Even though I ran two months without Ryan as he recovered from his surgery, he’s adjusted to running without me easier than I thought. I think Ryan knowing he’s part of a team has a lot to do with it.

Last Saturday during each of his one-mile legs of the relay, I saw a look of determination I had never seen in his eyes. This was quite evident when we would point at a runner in front of Ryan and told him to surge to get passed them and set sights on another one.


The first ever Genesis United Cross Country team.

During that first mile, Ryan picked off about five runners before tagging his teammate Garrett. During his last two legs, Ryan did the best he could to catch other runners and not be passed by faster runners while he tried to stay under the goal pace Ben had set for him.


Ryan making a pass during his first mile of the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem.

After the race, Ryan couldn’t stop smiling. He gave high fives to all of his teammates. You could tell he was proud to be a member of the Genesis United Cross Country team.


Ryan and his teammates Garrett and Donavon celebrating the first ever meet for the Genesis Cross Country team.

Thus, a new chapter in this journey has begun. Ryan the runner and me just the Dad. And not “THAT DAD!”


Micah, Luke and Andrew cheering their brother, Ryan, on to the finish of his final leg of the Greenwood Christian Academy Hokum Karem.