It was a chilly morning as people gathered at the Westerville Commmunity Center for the First on the First 5K. For most people, this was simply their way of ringing in the new year. For some, this was their first ever 5K. For me, it was a return to running after my 2012 race season had been sidelined by multiple injuries. This was also my return to JustTri, the triathlon team with whom I will be training this year in pursuit of goals I will tell you about in a moment.
The First on the First 5k benefits the Luke Billings Foundation, a charity that offers financial assistance for children in central Ohio with cerebral palsy to “receive ongoing and necessary therapy.” Since forming in 2008, they have raised over $45,000 in assistance. With a cap of 1,000 participants, this year marks the first year the First on the First 5k has sold out. Running in the race was especially meaningful as Wendy Billings, the mother of Luke Billings, is a member of the JustTri family.
My aim was to enjoy myself, to keep an easy, steady pace throughout the race, and to walk away with the memory of a shared moment with friends (whether we spoke that day or not). As is often the case with a 5K, portions of the course made it difficult to pass. This worked to my advantage, reminding me to hold my pace. There were moments when I took advantage of opportunities to push ahead. There were moments when others did the same. These are often the moments when you see friends you didn’t know were running that day. The course left the Community Center, traveled south on Cleveland Ave, then looped around into the park to follow the multi-use trail before returning to the Community Center. I could feel the movement of my feet and my legs moving under me as I reminded myself to hold my posture straight and not slouch. As the first mile passed, I picked up the pace just a little. After the second mile passed, I picked up the pace just a little bit more. While I enjoyed the cold air, I did not much care for the scattered gusts of wind. I kept my pace steady and pressed on. At this point, I could feel my heart and lungs working hard, and I reminded myself that the race would soon be over. I picked up my pace again and again with only a half mile and a quarter mile to go. With a tenth of a mile to go, I pushed myself as hard as I dare until I crossed the finish line. Friends who had already completed the race cheered for me as I crossed the finish line.
After the race, we went inside the Community Center where both Snowville Creamery and Yabo’s Tacos were catering the after party. If you have never had Yabo’s, you absolutely must stop depriving yourself and find an opportunity to go. You will appreciate both the flavors and the prices. This day, they were serving a fitting selection for a New Year’s celebration: pork tacos!
After enjoying a few tacos and the company of friends, I returned home and reflected on the coming year. In May and in October, I am setting out to complete my fourth half marathon and second marathon, respectively. My goal for the Capital City half marathon is 2:15. My goal for the Columbus marathon is 4:30. In addition, I am setting out to complete two new achievements for myself in the sport of triathlon. In June, I will race in the Tri Fit Challenge Olympic triathlon. In September, I will race in the Rev3 Cedar Point half iron-distance triathlon.
It’s going to be an awesome year!