I’ve always wanted to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, but knew I wanted to make the first time I ran it a special memory.
Last March my 13-year-old son, Ryan, began running with me. You see, Ryan was diagnosed with autism when he was 18-months old. Team sports had been difficult for him, but we quickly found that running was a place where autism didn’t matter.
After a couple of months of running and completing his first 5k, we signed up for the Mill Race Half Marathon last September. We completed the race in 2:06:06, and that’s where our journey to the Mini-Marathon began!
Ryan has always enjoyed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and watching the Indianapolis 500. After we finished a run last year on the day of the Mini-Marathon, I had him watch the beginning of the race on television. I looked at him and asked, “Ryan, would you like to run that race some day? Would you like to run around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the cars race?”
Ryan cracked a smile at me and replied, “Dad, I think we’d lose each other,” as we watched the mass of more than 30,000 runners take off on the course.
My biggest fear with Ryan when I signed us up for his first 5k and then the Mill Race Half Marathon was how he would handle the crowd at the beginning. Would he be able to keep his concentration for the entire distance?
He passed both of those tests back in October during the Mill Race Half Marathon, so I signed us up for the Mini-Marathon. I also signed us up for the 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy, to give him a few more chances to race with a larger group prior to running with more than 35,000 of our closest friends on May 7.
When we trained for the Mill Race Half Marathon last year my main goal was to run the miles, get to the start line injury free, and finish strong. With the counseling of former Greenwood High School Track Coach Tad Frahm, Center Grove Cross Country Coach Howard Harrell, and Coach Jenny Hadfield, I devised a training plan which added speed workouts and hill repeats.
We don’t have a time goal for the Mini-Marathon this year. We plan to use this training cycle, the Miler Series, and the Indy Mini to develop a solid plan to break two hours or even faster when we race at the Mill Race Half Marathon again in September.
Ryan has gained valuable support and encouragement throughout the running community in Central Indiana. When we run races, go to fun runs at local running stores, or we’re forced indoors to run at the Mount Pleasant Church gym, people are constantly complimenting him on his form and determination.
As evidence of Ryan’s fortitude, he has cut five minutes off his 5k time since last May from 27:54 to 22:52 in a race on New Year’s Day.
Ryan’s remarkable running journey will add a chapter by kissing the bricks at IMS and finishing our first Indy Mini this May. Oh yeah, and getting passed at some point by Meb Keflezighi.
That’s definitely something to make anyone’s first Indy Mini special!