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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

NEVER!

“Love you too.”

I cried all the way to work.

 

 

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Summer got away – again

Summer.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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

Ryan Completes His Comeback

Before I get into everything that happened during this year’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, I am going to cut right to what a lot of people want to know.

The number.

There ended up being four.

Which one did Ryan make?

He made two.

He didn’t make the “everything went perfect number.” That was 1:45:00.

Ryan didn’t beat our running pal Colleen’s time from last year’s Mini, which was the goal time he set for himself. Colleen ran the Mini course in 1:47:36 last year. Despite only beginning training for the Mini in February and his mileage cap, Ryan thought he could get 1:47:30 or better.

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Prior to Saturday’s race, Ryan said his goal was to beat Colleen’s time from last year’s 500 Mini.

The third number was simply to beat last year’s time from his debut in the Mini.

Vision the longtime public-address announcer of the Indianapolis 500 Tom Carnegie saying – “HHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE got it!”

Ryan and I tied Saturday with a time of 1:48:12. It bested his effort from last year by 39 seconds.

The time was a new PR for any half marathon Ryan had run. More importantly, it completed Ryan’s successful return from the toe surgery to remove the subungual osteochondroma back in November.

Friday afternoon while we were at the expo, the PR Bell was set up in the exhibition hall of the Indiana Convention Center. I asked Ryan if he wanted his picture taken with it. Confidently, he replied, “No! That’s for tomorrow!”

There was still a fourth number he obtained.

Friday

For the first time on a day before the big race, we didn’t have to be at zillion places at once. Ryan and I usually run a light 5k regardless the day before a race. Thursday was a complete rest day for us. While at work and daydreaming about Saturday’s race, I contemplated not running at all on Friday. Maybe two complete off days would benefit us more than running some easy mileage. I talked to my advisors, and the consensus was it would be good for muscle consistency to get out for a run even if it was a mile and half.

As previously stated in the pre-Mini blog post, it had rained for most of the week here in the Indianapolis area. Since I had worked out in it with my job at “The World on Time,” I decided if we ran Friday we were going to the Mount Pleasant Church gym.

Thus, I could figure out how many laps it takes to make a mile. When we began the odometer on my Garmin said .24. By the time, we had run eight laps, the watch read 1.91. It takes just over four laps to equal mile from the outside two lanes of the track.

There was one little hiccup to the day after all. Although Wendy had canceled Ryan’s speech therapy session, she didn’t cancel Micah’s. Andrew and Luke had a TrailLife camp outing to go to at Red River Gorge. They were to meet their ride at 1 p.m.

Easy fix though – Wendy took Andrew and Luke to meet their TrailLife group and we took Micah to speech. We were to meet friends at the expo around 2 p.m. We asked Micah if he wanted to go back to the house and we’d wait for Wendy to come back or go with us to the expo. He chose the latter.

We got to the expo and first we found the booth to pick up a friend’s packet, who was not able to run the Mini. Then I had Ryan look for the booth that have our packets. The volunteers handed us our packets and we went across the aisle to a table to make sure everything was in them. We also double checked to make sure the bib numbers corresponded with the numbers on the chips because of the mix up at the 10-mile race finale of the Miler Series.

Kati O’Brien again left Ryan a note of encouragement. Ryan read the card and then put it back on the paper clip connected to his bib and rubbed his hands together showing his excitement.

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500 Festival staff member Kati O’Brien’s card of encouragement to Ryan.

As we continued to go into the main area of the expo, there were people passing out WTHR stickers that had the station’s logo with a .1 next to it. A clever way to incorporate the station’s number with the race. I told Micah to get a couple and put them in our bag. Little did I know that he thought a couple meant 50.

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Anyone need a Channel 13 Mini Marathon sticker? I got plenty.

While I continued to receive messages from the friends from Coach Jenny’s group we were supposed to meet, my main objective at the expo was to get Ryan a pair of black compression socks to match mine for our race-day uniform.

Fortunately, our good friends at Runner’s Forum had their mini store up and running. I got Ryan’s calf measured and we fitted him with a pair of socks. I tried the trick to get compression socks on from when the CEP rep was at one of the group runs at the store and the instructional video, but it wouldn’t work. After about five minutes I got the socks on. Ryan said they felt comfortable. I looked at him and said, “You can either wear them to bed tonight or we will need to get up a few minutes earlier than planned to put them on in the morning.”

We went around and took the necessary photo opportunities. Our friends were still en route. Meb Keflezighi was to begin taking pictures and signing autographs at 3 p.m. The line didn’t appear to be long. I took Ryan and Micah over and we got in line. That’s when we met Mikeal Gordon and his fiancé MiChelle Lochard, who we normally see at the Miler Series races.

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Just wouldn’t be race weekend without running into Mikeal Gordan and his finance, MiChelle Lochard.

We talked to them and others while we stood in line. A couple of times the staff from the 500 Festival came up to the line to remind us that it was Meb’s birthday’s and that we should sing “Happy Birthday” to him as he arrived at the table.

Around 3:20 or so it was our turn to meet Meb again. Ryan jumped up in the air and then rubbed his hands together as we walked up. We introduced ourselves and got our picture taken with Meb. Then we had him sign our copy of the book “Meb for Mortals.”

While we also stood in line for Meb, most of our group arrived and was in line as well. I told them we were going to walk around the expo and wait for them to go through to see Meb.

Once they had gone through, we met up and took a group picture in front of the banner that said, “Greatest Spectacle in Running.” I thought that was appropriate because everyone in that group is great. It’s a lot fun following them with their running adventures as they also follow us.

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Meeting Heather, Tammy and Catharine after we all had met Meb and then heading home for a good night’s rest before the OneAmerica 500 Mini Marathon the next day.

Finally, it was time to go home. Ryan said he wanted his pre-race meal to be what it was last year. Thus, like we did last year, we had pizza the night before the Mini.

We ended up not watching McFarland, USA as planned. Instead Wendy, Micah and Ryan played a vicious game of MarioKart until bed time.

SATURDAY PRE-RACE

Since I began work toward my MBA in March, I woke up earlier than I used to in the mornings. I wake up around 5 a.m. and study until it’s time to get Ryan up for our morning run.

Thankfully, my new internal clock woke up at 5 a.m. because the alarm clock didn’t. I got ready and then went across the hall and woke Ryan up. After he was dressed, we worked on getting the compression socks on his gangly legs. It took about 10 minutes, but we finally had the wrinkles out of them and both pairs pulled up to his knees.

As we approached OmniSource on West Street, I could see the railroad track lights and the train. It was stopped. It didn’t look like it was moving. I quickly turn us around and went east on Raymond Street. Then we went up Meridian Street to McCarty Street where we were to park.

Once we parked, we got out and began stretching for an easy run to the starting line. As we stretched, three ladies in a car parked next to us got out and asked us if we were cold. We were, but I knew we were dressed appropriately for what Ryan had set out to do in the race.

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Done stretching it was time to head to our corral and the starting line for the 500 Mini Marathon.

Before we left, I messaged Lucie Mays-Sulewski to make sure we still planned to meet at the deer statue in front of the Eiteljorg Museum. She confirmed that we were. I told her my phone was too big to put in my shorts pocket and this would be my last messaged until we saw her. As a runner, I HATE the iPhone 7!

We ran to the starting corrals and arrived right at 6:45 a.m. to meet Mays-Sulewski and her training partner Kyle Wallace. We talked briefly about the race and both of our expectations for the morning. Earlier on Friday, I had texted her to see what she thought about the outfit I was putting together for Ryan and me to wear. She replied with a thumb and said, “sounds exactly like what I have planned.”

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I think we have started a tradition of seeing 2006 500 Mini Marathon winner Lucie Mays-Sulewski prior to the start of the race.

We talked for a little longer and then Kyle and she went on to warm up and prepare to start with the elites. Ryan and I ran up to the Eiteljorg Museum entrance and ended up going instead the staircase to parking garage. We stayed there until 7:20 a.m. when I decided it was time to again get acclimated to the conditions. It had also started sprinkling outside and a smile again appeared on Ryan’s face for the anticipation of running in the rain.

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Lucie sent this to me after the race. Look at the difference in Ryan from last year to this year. He’s oozing with confidence before the start. Plus, he’s happy it’s beginning to rain.

We made it to our corral. We were jogging in place when I spotted Naomi Pescovitz and a camera man from WTHR – the television station that aired the race – walked inside our corral. A moment later, Pescovitz asked our names and said she’d like to interview us prior to the start of the race. As we waited, Ryan and I continued to jog in place and Pescovitz also did her own swaying while trying to stay warm despite the chilly weather.

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The obligatory pre-race selfie with special guest Naomi Pescovitz from WTHR Channel 13.

She asked us why we like to run the Mini. This year I remember to tell a part of Ryan’s story and how running has helped him communicate with the world and his ability to use it to focus on his school work as well.

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“Is this outfit going to keep you warm enough?” Pescovitz asked before the start of the race.

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Pescovitz interviewing us prior to the start of the race Saturday.

THE GREEN FLAG WAVES

A few moments after the interview with Pescovitz, the announcer read some guidelines and then the US Army troops stationed in Kosovo, who also participated in a virtual Mini with us this year gave us the countdown and then the starting command to begin the race.

Unlike last year when I looked up to the bucket lift and waved at Meb and almost tripped three people, I looked straight ahead. We crossed the timing mats and I started my watch.

We were off and running.

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Ryan and I crossing the starting line of the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

Mile 1-5: I wanted us to start out slower than we did last year. I set the virtual pacer on my watch to 8:15. I knew if we were going to have an outside chance at the perfect number we had to stay around an 8:00-8:15 pace. For Ryan’s goal time, we could stay around 8:15-8:20 if we “raced” the final 5k. To only get the new PR for the course, could dip down to 8:30, but only for the beginning of the race. I got us out to an eight-minute pace. I fought to get slower, but legs and the people around me weren’t letting me. We stayed with the CLIF sponsored pacer for the first five miles. By the time, we got to Main Street in Speedway though, I could tell that we again got out too fast. The perfect time was probably going to be out of reach. Colleen’s time and a new PR well in reach as we turned on 16th Street and headed to the “world’s greatest race course” – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Mile 6: We turned off 16th Street and into the tunnel, which of course literally goes under the famed 2 1/2-mile oval and into the infield of IMS. Just like last year, I looked to my left and there was Ryan a grin on his face as he yelled “whoa!” as we went down the hill. The Indiana University cheerleaders were positioned in the median as well as at the top of the hill. Again, this year I yelled out to them – “I-N-D-I-A-N-A!”

I still think it would be cool if the 500 Festival and the Speedway could have Carnegie’s thunderous voice welcoming runners to the track with a variation of his famous “He’s on it!” call with “You’re on it!” over the public-address system on continuous repeat. Surely that can somehow be put together.

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Every time I go to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I will always hear Carnegie’s thunderous voice in my head.

Mile 7: We started to leave the infield and head to the back straightaway of the track, when we could see the banner that said, “Meb’s Motivational Mile.” Ryan went full sprint at Meb. I thought Ryan might end up tackling Meb. We each high-fived Meb and made our way to the track.

Mile 8: As we turned on to the main straightaway of the track, I saw the Sunoco sign and remembered last year. This was the point in the race when we had to find a restroom for Ryan. I looked at him. He assured me he was fine. We came up on the yard of bricks (start/finish line of the oval) there was WTHR’s Dave Calabro and 1972 Olympic-gold-medal winner Frank Shorter. Ryan and I both angled over and gave Shorter a high five. He later commented on the telecast he was getting so many “fives” that his hand began to hurt. I wonder if he realized we were wearing his company’s clothes or not.

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WTHR Sports Director Dave Calabro and Frank Shorter at the “yard of bricks” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Heading to the side to high-five 1972 Olympic Marathon Gold Medal Winner Frank Shorter.

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Having passed Dave Calabro and Shorter at the “yard of bricks,” time to focus back on the pace.

Mile 9: This stretch began in the south chute of the track and then headed out just after the Fuzzy’s Vodka VIP Suites in turn two. As we began to leave the grounds of the track the 500 Festival Princesses were at their usual “Pit Stop” location outside Fuzzy’s suites. We also saw O’Brien. I got her attention and she waved. As we passed, I could hear her yelling encouragement to Ryan to keep up the hard work and finish strong.

Mile 10-12 (Race time): All along our goal for this race was to run at a consistent pace for the first 10 miles and then “race” the final 5k. By the time we left the track, I knew the perfect number was out of reach unless we ran the final three miles like an elite runner. I knew neither one of us had the ability to run under six minutes for the rest of the race. While we ran on the curviest part of the course on Olin Avenue, I figured in my head if we got to the 10-mile mark around 1:22:00, we’d be in decent shape for Ryan’s time goal of 1:47:30. We were at 1:21:58! We were right where we needed to be for his goal. As we crossed the 10-mile mark I told Ryan it was time to race the rest of it out. We picked up the pace and had an 8:09 11th mile. We made the turn off 10th Street to White River Parkway Drive and I lost Ryan. I saw our friend J Sulek to my right and then I looked behind me to the left. That’s when I saw Ryan. Somehow when we made the turn, Ryan got boxed in by some other runners. He couldn’t find a way around them to catch up to me. I slowed down a few times to try and help him get through. Mile 12 along with mile seven were our slowest miles at 8:27.

Victory Mile: The slow down on Mile 12 cost us a shot at Ryan beating Colleen’s time from last year, but beating his time was still there for the taking. As we ran down New York Street passed the IUPUI softball fields and Carroll Stadium, I became a cheerleader. I kept pushing Ryan to catch me. That got other runners around us to start cheering Ryan to beat me. Chris Dale, who had passed us around the third mile of the race, was right when he said we would eventually catch him at the end. “Told you, I’d run out of steam and you’d see me again. Now come on Ryan! Beat your Dad!” We passed Dale and Ryan did eventually catch me at the finish line.

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Heading down Victory Mile for the finish line.

Another nice addition that would make a great 500 Mini experience even better is if the 500 Festival or WTHR could find a sponsor for a “Finish-Line Cam” that could be streamed on both indymini.com and wthr.com. I thought of this recently as both the New York City Half Marathon and Boston Marathon have such a camera at the finish line. It’s always fun to track our friends on the apps and then know when to go to the website to watch them finish at either one the previously named races.

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Ryan crossing the finish line with a new PR of 1:48:12 at the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

THE ROAR IS OVER

Immediately after we crossed the finish line, Jeff Yoder, the digital media coordinator for the 500 Festival, grabbed one of his photographers and asked us to stand next to each other for a picture. We thanked Yoder and he thanked us for running the race for the second straight year.

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All smiles after conquering 13.1 miles.

We then continued to walk toward the medal station and receive our medals followed by getting bags to collect our snacks. We got our finish picture taken and then went into the after party in Military Park. We went straight to the results tent.

It was official – Ryan had his new OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon PR with a time of 1:48:12.

We quickly turned around and got in line for the PR bell. The volunteer punched in Ryan’s time and he rang the bell.

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Ringing the PR bell after setting the new time standard for himself.

Like the winner of the Indianapolis 500 will later this month when they win the race, we went to the American Dairy Association tent and grabbed our two bottles of chocolate milk to celebrate the accomplishment of a new PR for Ryan.

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Celebrating the setting of a new PR with a bottle of chocolate milk.

 

After ringing the PR Bell and chugging the milk, we made our way to Craig and Catharine’s Yates’ hotel room. Instead of doing the gear check, we had given the Yates a bag with our clothes to wear after the race. It also allowed us to have a place to change instead of trying to find somewhere or going back to the car after the race.

Once we were changed we made our way back to Military Park. We saw several friends along the way. We also saw the Yates. Catharine, who had been battled through the last couple of weeks of training, crushed the two-hour barrier with a time of 1:54:14.

We went to the running club village at the after party. We had been invited by Lindsey Hein at the Athletic Annex tent. Hein and I have corresponded a few times through Twitter. She has a great podcast called “I’ll Have Another.” Much like Ali Nolan and Hannah McGoldrick’s YouTube “Super-Secret Mystery Meeting,” I highly recommend you give Hein’s podcast a listen.

We talked with Hein and her husband, Glenn, for a few moments. She congratulated Ryan on his PR and asked him what he thought about running. We also congratulated Hein on her time from the race.

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Meeting up with the host of “I’ll Have Another,” Lindsey Hein.

It was finally time to head home. We needed to help Wendy finish setting up for the after party at our house. Not to mention, with a new PR in hand, I owed Ryan a HUGE Dr. Pepper and we also hadn’t had anything else to eat besides the cookies, water and chocolate milk after the race. Ryan got his Dr. Pepper and I got my coffee. We also each got two doughnuts.

AFTER PARTY

Our friends from the Coach Jenny group began arriving around 2:30 p.m. We watched some of the 500 Mini race along with the interview we did prior to the start with Pescovitz. Mostly though we sat around and talked about the race and how great it was to finally meet each other – some for the first time ever in person. We can’t wait to do it again after the Monumental races in November here in Indianapolis.

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Tammy, Catharine, Heather, Kathy, Aric, Nancy, Ryan and I celebrating our accomplishment of completing the 500 Mini.

Saturday night after everyone had left and we had watched the Kentucky Derby, I sat on the couch with Ryan. We had a chance to reflect on the day’s events and how the race transpired for us.

As we watched the race again, I realized something I had seen Ryan do throughout the race. It wasn’t just the few times we were on television along the course, but every time a spectator said his name, he saw someone performing, saw a police officer, fireman, military person, or a volunteer along the route, he waved at them. Even heading down New York Street, he waved at people as they called out his name toward the finish line.

Ryan did it with the biggest smile on his face for the entire distance.

The final number Ryan made was the hundreds of people he waved at along his run that morning.

In the end, Ryan had done what I told him to do back in February when we started training for Saturday – forget about a PR and just have fun.

Ryan had indeed made the race a victory lap of his comeback. There was no better place to do it than at the “greatest spectacle in running” – the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

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Ryan’s medals from the 500 Mini, the Indy Miler Series and certificate.

A Confidence-Boost Run

When I put together the training plan for Ryan’s return and the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, I mainly used a beginner’s program I found in the Runner’s World book “Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training.” I did put in some of my own wrinkles into it.

Like several plans you’ll find for beginner’s, this one had the longest run of the training cycle at 10 miles.

Even though Dr. Tentler has put a mileage limit on Ryan, I knew a 10-mile-long run would not be enough. I believed we needed to go at least the distance of the 500 Mini once before the actual race took place on May 6. Back in February I scheduled a 13.5-mile run in our plan with three weeks to go before the “greatest spectacle in running,”

 

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Taking the beginner’s training program in this book and making some tweaks has been beneficial as we approach the final runs leading up to the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

 

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Uh, news flash, Rueff. The Mini is only 13.1.”

Yes, but if you don’t hit the tangents properly and have to pass several people, a runner can run closer to 13.5 than 13.1. Thus, I decided for us to run the extra four tenths of a mile.

Since our latest visit to Dr. Tentler’s office when it was decided Ryan would need orthotics to help with his “forefoot varus,” I have paid closer attention to his strides. I can’t constantly look down at his feet when we run, but yesterday was the first time I actually heard his left shoe making contact with his right.

We set out for our longest run of this training cycle yesterday morning with the goal to stay around 9:00-9:15 miles. Because by the book your long-slow-distance runs should be somewhere between a minute to 90 seconds slower than what you want your pace to be on race day. I even set the virtual pacer on my Garmin to 9:15 for this run. When a friend asked me earlier last week how fast I planned for us to run this particular long run, she replied, “You’ll feel like you’re walking.”

We also mimicked everything we would do on 500 Mini Day from what we would eat before the race, wearing our “kits” and doing our warm up. We even started at 7:33 a.m. when our corral is supposed to start on race day. The only thing we didn’t do was drive downtown and run the course itself.

We were 5 1/3 miles into the run at an average pace of 8:50 per mile (so much for that 9:00-9:15 pace and my friend was right). It’s also at the point during the last training cycle for the Mill Race Half Marathon, Ryan would begin to have issues and we would cut our long run short and head back home.

Ryan glided down Lacy Way in Pebble Run. Not only was he moving smoothly with what looked like as perfect as a form could get, Ryan had the biggest smile on his face. It was the biggest smile I had seen he started running again back in February.

I got a crazy thought in my head. “Why stop at 13.5 mile?” I thought to myself. “Let’s round this up to an even 14 miles.” For the first time during this training I felt “Me the Competitor” returning to my mind palace.

We were coming to the part of Pebble Run where Heckman Drive becomes Scott Drive going into Brookstone. From previous runs, I knew Scott Drive, Red Stone Lane, Wild Rose Lane, and Brookstone Lane comprise a half-mile loop.

 

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Our route from Friday’s long run. Believe me when I say miles seven-11 are no walk in the park.

 

 

 

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Here’s the pace and elevation chart to prove it.

 

I started to lead us to the curve and continue on Heckman Drive. Then I hesitated for a moment and said out loud, “the heck with it. Here we go.”

“You fine with this?” I asked Ryan.

“Do I have a choice?” He replied still smiling.

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine.”

We headed straight to Scott Drive and ran around the loop and back into Pebble Run. We crossed Morgantown Road and ran to our usual water-break point of the house where I grew up. We were close to completing the seventh mile of the run at that point. We stopped at the mailbox to quickly top off our water bottles from the hydration belt for the next half our run.

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As we ran on Jackson Place and we stopped at the house where I grew up to refill our water bottles, I remembered my parents would have been married for 51 years on Monday.

 

 

“We are actually a tad faster than we should be,” I told Ryan as I poured water into the bottles. “You feel comfortable?”

“Yes,” he replied. It was a typical teenager response. I think it even include an eye roll.

The next four miles would be the toughest of the run. Even though for the most part the course for the 500 Mini is relatively flat (except for going down and up the tunnel under track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway), to me and others I have talked to it becomes a mental game around the famed 2 1/2-mile oval.

Once you leave the inside part of the track and begin running on the back straightaway heading into the north chute of turns three followed by the main straight, where a lot of people stop to kiss the bricks at the start and finish line of track, there isn’t anything to keep you distracted except for the “Why you Mini” signs. There is music on the PA system and you can also see the NBC affiliate’s coverage of the race on the big screens around the track – usually showing the elites crossing the finish line.

This part of the run would be a good test for us both physical and mentally. Although the inclines in Pebble Hills, Villas and Silver Springs aren’t like the ones of Skyline and Brer Rabbit drives that we also run, they are no cupcakes. It’s a lot like the course of the Indianapolis Half Marathon at Fort Ben – the inclines never seem to end. Fortunately, we have run them enough now and I remember them from when I lived in Pebble Hills growing up that I can count down how many inclines are left.

We made it through the dip on San Ricardo Drive in the Villas then through Silver Springs and back into Pebble Hills. The hard part of our run finally over as we again crossed Morgantown Road and into Pebble Run.

Unlike the 10-mile race from the previous Saturday in the finale of the Indy Miler Series, Ryan never faded with me. He appeared to get stronger as we crossed Fairview into Innisbrooke and reached mile 13. That was great to see especially since we had ran the last few miles with the never-ending inclines. I wish I could say I felt the same way. As we crossed Fairview, I looked to my right and saw the CVS Pharmacy down the road. Maybe we should make another detour and get three bags of ice on the way home I thought to myself. My quads screamed – “ENOUGH!”

We pressed on from Innisbrooke into Wakefield. We got to the corner of Pennswood and Wakefield roads. My Garmin said 13.5 – a half mile left. I looked at Ryan and said, “It’s kick time. Go. Let’s go and finish this run off strong!”

We got to the yellow pole that used to be the indicator for Ryan to pick up the pace when he first started running with me two years ago and he picked it up another gear. That was also about the time we saw our neighbor Shari walking her dog Baylee.

“Looking good,” Shari said.

“Thanks.” Ryan replied.

As we made the turn on to Oakhaven Drive we reached the 14-mile mark. The pace peaked under 7:00 mark as we reached our mailbox and I said stop.

“Well,” Ryan said.

I replied with two words – “ICE BATH!”

 

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Ryan cooling down after our 14.1-mile run Friday. On the right, “Micah, hurry up and take the picture! I need to get my ice bath!”

 

Boston Marathon

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about what Ryan and I will be doing Monday. Once he gets done with his school work, we plan to spend most of the day in the man cave watching the Boston Marathon while also virtually cheering on friends, the American elites and some other noteworthy runners. If you have family, friends or want to follow the elites make sure you download the app to your phone or go on the website – http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/att-athlete-alerts.aspx and sign up for text alerts.

Here’s who Ryan and I will be following in this year’s Boston Marathon

Virtual running friends and other notables

JoAnne Lavin – running for the Dana Farber Cancer Research and coached by Jenny Hadfield.

Jeff Lavin – JoAnne’s husband and also running for Dana Farber and coached by Jenny Hadfield.

Clare Connell – running for the Semper Fi Foundation and coached by Jenny Hadfield.

Cheryl George – was selected for her outstanding efforts as a teacher through the New England Acura Dealers and coached by Jenny Hadfield.

Brent Shirley – person I follow through #runchat on Twitter.

Lisa Johnston – person I follow through #runchat on Twitter.

Jacqueline Hanson – member of the Mile to Marathon group coached by Ron Byland.

Nicole Seiler – a friend of a friend and a Hoosier resident.

Ian White – person I follow through #runchat on Twitter.

Madison Armbruster – another person I follow on Twitter.

Jody Berinato – she was hanging out with my favorite YouTuber’s Ali Nolan and Hannah McGoldrick from Runner’s World’s “Super Secret Mystery Meeting Crew” so she is a must follow.

Monica Olivas – blogger at RunEatRepeat

Sam Ryan – MLB Network reporter and also running for Dana Farber

Kathrine Switzer – the first woman to ever race in the Boston Marathon returns to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her historic run.

Alex Schneider – 26-year-old-non-verbal-autistic runner. Schneider has come close to breaking a sub 3:00 marathon.

Elites

Jared Ward – US Olympic marathoner. Ryan and I had the pleasure of running with Ward the day before the 5k of the Monumental races in November here in Indianapolis. Would enjoy seeing the “run nerd” be the top American. Plus, he had a cameo in the “Super Secret Mystery Meeting” episode about the Boston Marathon course – so he has that Karma going for him.

 

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Ryan with Jared Ward back in November. Ward is running the Boston Marathon Monday. He might be our favorite to win it or be the top American.

 

Jordan Harsay – on the cover of the recent issue of Runner’s World and making her marathon debut at Boston.

Meb Keflezighi – Meb’s final run in Boston. Can he make it as spectacular as the race in 2014?

 

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Ryan and I with Meb at the PR Bell at last year’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon. We’ll watch Meb on TV Monday and see him at mile 7 at IMS May 6.

 

Desiree Linden – Team Brooks and the odds-on favorite to be the top American woman and a chance to win the women’s race.

Galen Rupp – can he do what his coach Alberto Salazar did in 1982 and win the men’s race? Will there be controversy if he does?

Who are you following? Which American do you think will be in the hunt to still win the race by “Heartbreak Hill?”

An Unexpected Visit & Miler-Series Finale

With almost a month left before the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, I would have never thought we would end up back in Dr. Tentler’s office.

Well, Thursday morning before Saturday’s 10-mile-race finale of the 500 Festival’s Indy Miler Series presented by OrthoIndy that’s exactly where we were.

I wish I could say it was for a follow-up to see how Ryan’s toe had handled running since being given the all clear from his surgery to remove the subungual osteochondroma.

That wasn’t the case for our visit.

As we stretched after our pyramid-interval run on Monday morning, I noticed the inside of Ryan’s left shoe had been rubbed off. It looked like he had been dragging his left foot at times when he runs. His right shoe looked like it was still brand new even though he’s put about 170 miles on the shoes since coming back in February.

The scarier part for me was the location on his shoe. It was in the exact same area where Dr. Tentler had made the incision back in November to remove the subungual osteochondroma.

Below are the pictures of Ryan’s shoes and X-ray of the subungual osteochondroma

“You been dragging your foot when you run?” I asked Ryan.

“No,” Ryan said. “And I am not hurting!”

If you have followed my blog through the time we found out about the subungual osteochondroma and that Ryan would need surgery to remove it, you know he doesn’t feel pain. He knew what my next question was going to be and beat me to it before I could ask it.

We walked into the house. Wendy had already begun the school day with Micah. When she came to a pause of reading to him, I looked at her and said, “I think we have a problem. We might need to go see Dr. Tentler again.”

“For what?” She asked.

“This,” I replied as I showed her the shoe. “And if I was a betting man, I’d say this is what’s caused him to have surgery in the first place.”

She had that look like I was making a big deal about something minor. I went into my “let’s compromise” voice and said, “Alright before I call Dr. Tentler. I’ll message those who have been helping with Ryan and my friend, who is a doctor and physical therapist to get their opinions.”

“Fine.”

All my running friends agreed something didn’t look right with Ryan’s left shoe. Then I got the reply from my doctor/physical therapist friend that sealed the deal of me calling Dr. Tentler. Upon looking at the pictures of the shoes, she replied, “I would need to see his gait, but damn…”

I didn’t get her reply until I got home from work that evening. It was too late to call Tentler’s office. I called the next morning. The receptionist said I could get Ryan in on Thursday.

Prior to the appointment, I did research on my own. Ryan still had two pairs of his older running shoes. I could see if they were rubbed off like his current pair. Both older pairs were chafed at the same place as his existing ones.

After I got home from work Wednesday night I took him over to the CLC and recorded him on the treadmill. I filmed him walking for two minutes and then I recorded him in regular time and in slow motion running at what I perceive as our race pace for the 500 Mini.

I also looked up information about autism and kids dragging their feet when they walked or ran. I wanted to go into the appointment with Dr. Tentler with as many facts as I could get about Ryan’s foot.

My biggest concern going into the meeting with Dr. Tentler was he would find something seriously wrong with the foot. He would want Ryan shutdown again. That would be a crushing blow especially with how excited Ryan is about running the final 10-mile race, Rock the Block and the Mini.

As he began his examination of Ryan’s feet, Dr. Tentler asked me if I had kept to my word about having Ryan only running 20-25 miles a week upon his return.

Since Ryan returned on Feb. 2, we have adhered to the standard 10 percent rule of running miles. We have only increased his weekly mileage by 10 percent from the previous week as we have progressed through training for the 500 Mini. His longest run has been 10 miles the last two weeks. Subsequently, doing the IronStrength workouts, I have us only running four days a week instead of five.

Dr. Tentler looked at Ryan’s feet. He looked at the shoes. He also watched the videos I had recorded on my phone from the treadmill. Then he watched Ryan walked up and down the hallway of the office.

Ryan didn’t show it while he walked in the hallway, but on the slow-motion video Dr. Tentler finally saw the evidence he needed to see with Ryan’s gait. It’s not every stride he makes but occasionally, he could see where Ryan’s left foot comes over and slightly brushes against his right.

Fortunately, it appears Ryan’s foot ailment will be somewhat of an easy fix. According to Dr. Tentler, Ryan has “forefoot varus.” Basically, in Ryan’s foot the bones in the front of the foot aren’t aligned in relation to the heel. Usually in this condition it causes the bones on the inside edge of the foot to sit higher off the ground that the outside of the foot during weight bearing.

Dr. Tentler asked Ryan if he had any pain with his shins as with this condition shin splints are common. Ryan shook his head in the negative. That’s when Dr. Tentler remembered, “I keep forgetting his pain threshold is off the charts. Of course, he probably didn’t feel anything.”

“Probably not,” I replied. “Trust me. When I’m not asking him multiplication questions, I am asking him how he’s feeling and if he has any pain.”

I returned a question to Dr. Tentler, “You think there might be a correlation between where Ryan’s rubbing on his left shoe and the osteochondroma?”

“More than likely,” Tentler replied.

Finally, Tentler got down to business and said it was time to get Ryan orthotic inserts for his feet. We return Tuesday for Ryan to be casted and have orthotics made for his shoes. Hopefully, we will have him adjusted to them in time to run in the Mini.

Miler Series Finale

Saturday morning came quick after being up a little later than I wanted studying for my MBA class. My alarm had been buzzing for at least 15 minutes before I finally realized it.

I hoped it would be a little warmer on Saturday morning than the forecasted 34 degrees. Our shorts I wanted to get to match the tank tops I planned for us to wear for the Mini had arrived Friday. I thought it would be an excellent idea for us to test the kit in the 10-mile run prior to running in them for the Mini.

Using the always helpful Runner’s World tool “What to Wear,” I plugged in the possible weather conditions for the race. It suggested a long-sleeve shirt, something to cover the ears, gloves and shorts. So, I decided we’d go with our Butler headbands, long-sleeve shirts with the tank tops over them, the shorts and gloves.

We arrived at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse ready for the finale. We did most of the pre-requisites before the race. We met up with good high school friend Mikeal Gordon and his friend

 As we were talking and before taking our pre-race picture, Ryan wasn’t wasting any time Saturday morning. He had slipped on his sunglasses. He suddenly had gotten his serious gameface on a few minutes earlier than normal.

“He’s ready to go, Rob,” Gordon said.

“Yep,” I replied. “He’s all business.”

 

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Always good to see Mikeal and his friend MiChelle at the races.

 

A few minutes later we went out and began our warm up. We did some dynamic stretches in the ally between a parking garage and the fieldhouse. What amazed me as we stretched there was a man in his running gear smoking cigarettes and stretching in the same area. As we finished caricoa drill, I told Ryan it was time for us to go somewhere else because the smoke was getting to me.

 

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Finished the warm up and now ready to tackle the 10-mile finale of the Indy Miler Series.

 

We ended up going to the starting line and doing some sprints from the fieldhouse to south street and back.

There was an announcement for everyone to begin lining up with their corresponding corrals. We looked for the person who would be setting an eight-minute pace through Clif Bars. We talked to him for a few moments and then it was time to start.

Right at 8 a.m., Indy Car driver Pippa Mann waved the green flag and we were off. I told Ryan our goal was to stay as close as we could with the Pacer. That lasted about a mile and half.

Once I knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pacer, I decided we were going to focus on ourselves, which is what we should have done in the first place. I slowed the pace down to 8:15-8:30. As we ran some runners asked me what I was pacing Ryan at since his return and what I thought we could do at the Mini. I responded by saying I had hoped we could run as we were for most of the Mini and then be ready for a strong push the last couple of miles.

“He’s determined that he’s going to beat his time from last year,” I told one runner who we stayed with for most of the race Saturday.

“He really looks in control,” one lady replied.

From Massachusetts Avenue to Fountain Square Ryan began to fade again. I expected that since this was only the second time he would have run 10 miles.

Something must have clicked because as we ran on East Pleasant Run Parkway, I told Ryan we only had two-and-half miles left. He instantly picked up his pace.

We made it to the final water stop where the 500 Festival Princesses were passing out the water and Gatorade cups. Ryan pointed at one of the princesses and took the cup. One sip of water then he dumped the rest of it over his head.

We passed through the Lilly campus and the water fountain outside the main building that my Dad was always fascinated with (he was amazed that how high the water in the fountain went was based on the speed of the wind).

With a half mile left I said those words Ryan lives to run for “It’s kick time! Time to go!”

As we made our way down Pennsylvania Street to the finish line, I looked back at him and told him to catch me. He caught me as I was giving someone a high five at South Street. Then I pointed at a few runners in front of us and I said, “we need to pass them at the underpass.”

 

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Running through the underpass and passing the people I had told Ryan we needed to pass before the fieldhouse. (photo courtesy of Cindy Need).

 

Done.

Then we got to the south end of the fieldhouse. That’s when I became a runner and a cheerleader.

“Come on, Ryan! Crush me! All these people want to see you beat me! All you got right here!”

Nearing the finish line I reminded him to put his arms in the air.

Ten miles complete – victory achieved completing the Miler Series. The “kick” no longer seemed to be in neutral as Ryan said he felt it was in the six miler back in March.

 

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Nearing the finish line with arms up in the air for the victory of conquering 10 miles of the Indy Miler Series. (photo courtesy of Cindy Need).

 

I didn’t stop my watch until we were completely through the finish line. It read 1:22:19. That was about two and half minutes slower than last year’s 10-mile time when the race started and finished at the NCAA Hall of Champions.

When we went to obtain our results inside Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, we were told there had been a mix up regarding the bib numbers and the chip stickers on the back. The bibs with the first two numbers of 63 and those with 66 had the wrong chips stickered on the back. They asked us to come back a few minutes later for the results.

When we returned, they hadn’t got them all completely switched but could tell us our times. Ryan had beat me by a second – 1:22:13 to 1:22:14.

 

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“Got Dad by a second again.” I am already trying to decide what our PR-bell picture will look like at the Mini.

 

Considering Ryan went two months without running and only began speed work a couple of weeks ago, I am ecstatic where we are with a month left before the Mini.

 

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The splits from Saturday’s 10-mile race.

 

If the orthotics do their thing once he’s adjusted to them, the Mini could be a profound way for Ryan to truly say his return is complete.

 

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Of course you eat doughnuts after crushing 10 miles.

 

Ryan a F-F-F-Foolin’

What is the saying about how time goes by fast when you’re having fun?

That’s it, right?

Well, let me tell you, it must be true with our training for this year’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon because I can’t believe we just finished week eight of our training with a 10-mile run yesterday.

I’m having a blast.

Ryan is too.

Yesterday’s run was a prime example of how much enjoyment we’ve been having since he returned from getting the all clear from Dr. Tentler in February.

When I opened the garage door to begin our warm up before the run there was a light rain coming down. Ryan looked at me with a sheepish grin on his face. He was going to get to run in his favorite weather condition of rain.

I tried to change his mind from running in the elements.

Ryan has somewhat been battling a cold this week. I looked at him and said, “Why don’t we take this run to the CLC (Mount Pleasant Christian Church’s Community Life Center) and run laps.”

This would give me an opportunity to truly find out how many laps it takes to make a mile at the indoor track. We’ve always been told it’s seven laps for a mile. When we ran there on St. Patrick’s Day we ran 49 laps thinking it was seven miles.

My Garmin said otherwise.

There’s no way it’s seven laps for a mile.

When we got home and looked at my watch it said we had already walked/ran 9.5 miles. I know it’s impossible I walked 2.5 from my office where I put the watch on to my car then drove to the parking lot and walked up the stairs to the track, ran the seven miles, then walked back to my car to go home.

“Uh, no,” Ryan replied.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because, Dad, we never know what it’s going to do on Mini Day,” he retorted still smiling from ear-to-ear.

It was still dark out as we warmed up. Per usual, I made sure we had on our reflective vests, headlamps, wrist lights and red blinker lights clipped on to the vest. I also decided we would try the little clip lights we got as the favor from OrthoIndy at the 6-mile race of the Miler Series at the beginning of the month.

Even though Center Grove Schools were still on the two-week spring break, I wanted to make sure we could still be seen. There were still people having to go to work. If that means we are lit up like human Christmas trees then as Happy Harry would say in “Pump Up the Volume” – “So Be It!”

We had barely run a quarter mile when Ryan’s little clip light came off his vest. He caught it in mid stride. We stopped and he put it back on.

It wouldn’t be the last time we’d have trouble with the little light.

We ran through the rest of Wakefield and into Innisbrooke. We had eclipsed the hill of the cul-de-sac on Innisbrooke Avenue when Ryan said, “Oh no.”

He again had caught his light and we stopped again.

“Give it here,” I said.

He handed it to me and I put in the zipper pocket of the hydration belt.

We had run about 3.5 miles of our planned 10 when this happened. I didn’t want to have to stop again for some stupid clip-on light.

We started to take off again to run around the circle and back up the hill to eventually leave Innisbrooke to go to the New Hope Church path. Then I noticed mine was gone.

“Stop again,” I said to Ryan. “Now, I’ve lost mine.”

I walked back around the circle. I went back up to the top of the hill of Innisbrooke Avenue.

Nothing.

Not being able to find the light made me not like the cold rain coming down even more. I was tempted to make an executive decision and say we were running to the CLC and would finish the final six miles running laps.

As much as Ryan loves the rain, I have a love/hate relationship with the condition when it comes to running. I love it in the summer. I loathe it for the most part in the fall and spring.

It’s one thing when it’s a hot summer day and the rain comes to cool you off. It’s down-right miserable though when it’s already cold and raining in the spring or fall. You just want to get the run over with and go on with your day.

Anyway, I went back to where Ryan was standing waiting for me.

He was laughing. He was pointing at me.

Ryan had my light. At some point as I put his in the hydration belt, he had taken mine.

 

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This little light was the cause of of frustration and laughter after Friday’s run.

 

I’d been had.

“I got you!” Ryan said still laughing and pointing at me. “Watching you try to find yours. Seeing the confusion on your face was great!”

“Just give me the light,” I said as I took that one and also put in the hydration belt. I too began laughing with him.

“You never expected that, did you?” Ryan said still laughing as we started up again.

We ran to the New Hope Path and crossed Fairview Road into Pebble Run. We ran across Morgantown Road into Pebble Hills. As always made a quick water stop at the house where I grew up on Jackson Place. We are thankful for Dawn Stout (who know lives in my parents’ house) allowing us to leave the water and Gatorade bottles in the newspaper chutes.

After running through Pebble Hills we again crossed Morgantown Road into Pebble Run then back through Innisbrooke and Wakefield.

Ryan had a smile on his face throughout the run. I am not sure if it was because he was still proud of pulling off his sleight-of-hand trick or we were running in his favorite weather and terrain of all the hills in the subdivision where I grew up.

Actually, I think it was all of it.

Once we made the turn on Wakefield Road and I told Ryan it was “kick time,” I was happy when my Garmin said 10 miles and I could say “Stop.”

I had never looked forward to popping the contacts out, showering, getting my comfy clothes on, eating breakfast and hitting the books as much as I did yesterday after that rainy run.

 

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Drying the kicks after a rainy, 10-mile run.

 

Another way we had fun during the month of March with our runs was on a few occasions to the irritation of our neighbors, we sang – ok we screamed – the “Butler War Song” the mornings of a Bulldog game or after a win in the tournament.

 

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The morning of our run when we ran through the neighborhood singing the “Butler War Song.” Unfortunately, the Dawgs lost 92-80 to North Carolina that night.

 

Even before Ryan started running with me two years ago (by the way Ryan’s “Runversary” was St. Patrick’s Day, wow how he’s developed), I was told a great way to know you’re running an easy pace is if you can talk normally or even sing during the run.

Then again with Center Grove and some of the private schools on spring break, I am not sure if people did hear us. I know some dogs did because they howled along with us on a couple of occasions.

Unfortunately, there would be no singing or screaming of the “Butler War Song” after last Friday’s run as the Bulldogs lost to North Carolina.

We had fun in March with Ryan’s practical jokes and singing the “Butler War Song.” We also got a lot of training done. We ran 104 miles for the month. Friday’s run also finished off the most we had run in a week at 27.35.

I wanted to get that 10-mile run in yesterday before the finale – a 10-mile race – of the Indy Miler Series next Saturday. The previous two races (three-and-six-mile races were the farthest Ryan had run at that point in his return). I didn’t want that last race to be his farthest run in training. I felt he needed this one as a boost to his confidence.

As we get into the tough part of this training cycle – some runs with pyramid intervals and double-digit long runs – we’ve also started using the Runner’s World IronStrength Workout by Dr. Jordan D. Metzl. Ryan does his brain balance exercises, which incorporate some push-ups, sit-ups, and planks. As for me, all I had been doing was running and that can’t be good. I thought this would be a nice change and help us push through especially when we hit that wall at mile 10 of the Mini May 6. I have already felt a difference in me and can see an improvement in Ryan. The kick at the end of our runs is gradually coming out of neutral.

 

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I look dead and there’s Ryan’s looking like he’s ready to go after a session of IronStrength.

 

We are trying to get the rest of the family to join in.

So, if the saying is true then Ryan will continue to have a lot of fun with hills and April Showers as we continue his comeback in training for the Mini.

Those Special Moments

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.

Anyway.

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?”

Ryan: “Thirty-six.”

Me: “Four times three?”

Ryan: “Twelve.”

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?”

“Well -”

“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.

 

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Ryan ready to conquer the 500 Festival OrthoIndy Miler Series 6 miler.

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.

 

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“Hehehehe. Dad thought he could catch me at the end.”

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.

 

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Ryan grinning with the thumbs up for a job well done in the longest run since his return.

“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!