One photo put things into perspective.
As Saturday’s Jingle Jam 10K approaches, I’ve admittedly been getting a little obsessive. After years of letting my health and fitness decline, I made a turnaround and earlier this year ran in my first 5K race. I’ve since run two more, and several months ago decided to up the ante by running in the Jingle Jam.
It’s tough, everyone told me. The 6.2 mile course starts and ends at Evans Towne Center Park, but to get back to the finish it follows mostly residential streets with lots of hills.
So, to prepare, I’ve been running on a very hilly course. A year ago I couldn’t have even pretended to finish a 5K, much less twice that distance. Now I train on hilly streets while trying to improve my time enough that I can fantasize about being competitive in my age bracket in my first 10K. (At least there are some benefits to getting older.) At the prodding of more-accomplished friends, I sometimes entertain thoughts about running in the Augusta half-marathon next spring.
I feel good, I’m confident, and I’ve even got spiffy new cold-weather running gear in case Saturday’s forecast of 45 degrees is accurate. Jingle Jam, here I come.
And just when I’ve puffed myself up with pre-race pride, someone sends me a smiling photo of Cole Wooten, who participated Saturday in the Salvation Army’s Turkey Trot in downtown Augusta, his first 10K race.
Cole, who is 13, navigated the course from his wheelchair. His feet were amputated in 2010 as a consequence of a rare disorder, epidermolysis bullosa, that causes his skin to slough off and blister. He was fitted with prosthetic feet that he wore to walk across the stage at Stevens Creek Elementary on his fifth-grade honors day, but since then he mostly uses a wheelchair to get around.
That includes competing this summer in the National Junior Disability Championships in Mesa, Ariz., and bringing home a neckload of medals, and then zipping through his first 10K race this past weekend.
As I get ready for my first 10K, I’m proud of having gotten myself in better condition, and highly encourage others to do likewise. You shouldn’t wait for a New Year’s resolution to do so, either.
But I’m even more proud of Cole Wooten, a kid who personifies perseverance. That’s just how he rolls.
Lighting the tree
This Saturday not only is the Jingle Jam, it’s also the day of Columbia County’s tree lighting festivities.
We’ve joined this year with WFXG-Fox 54 for the 3-7 p.m. event, called the Columbia County Fox Family Christmas, at Towne Center Park.
There are plenty of family friendly festivities added to the event, but the main thing is the tree lighting about 6:30 p.m. I hate that Jenny Montgomery, who served as emcee for the first 10 years, won’t be part of it this year. She helped make this event for us and can’t be thanked enough.
You can be there, though, and then come back for the parade on Sunday afternoon. Come out, warm up and welcome Christmas to Columbia County.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-868-1222, ext. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/barrypaschal.)