In Fitness and in Health
Fitness has been the foundation of Andrew Neil’s and Kacey Light’s relationship from the moment they met. Andrew, a Resource Planning Analyst in Planning and Real Estate at Ohio State and Kacey, a Compliance Officer in the Department of Athletics, met in the summer of 2014, while living in Rhode Island. The two strangers casually struck up a conversation in the parking lot of a time-trial bike race. The impression Andrew made in those few minutes stuck.
“We raced in difference waves, and I noticed he never passed me during the race, so I thought I beat him. Then the results came out, I remembered his name and saw he beat me by a little bit. I was mad about that,” Kacey said laughing.
Kacey left the race hoping she might see Andrew again. She searched his name on Facebook and sure enough, found the guy she had met.
“I sent him a message saying ‘oh, you beat me.’ But he said, ‘oh, great job we make great riding partners.’”
From there, the two set up a time to meet again after work. Instead of a fancy dinner, they decided on a 20-mile bike ride.
“It was a pretty hard ride, and that’s when I knew she could really hang. She’s alright” Andrew said with a smile.
From there, the friendship flourished into a serious relationship, and the two were later wed in the summer of 2016. If not for the push from a coworker, Kacey might have never of met her man.
“I almost didn’t even go [to the race in 2014],” Kacey said. “It was a Tuesday night. I was tired from work, so I was just going to go home. My friend pointed out that my bike already was on my car. She said, 'just go do it.’”
“I am thankful for that friend,” Andrew said.
Since they met, Andrew and Kacey have served as each other’s motivator and top supporter as they aim for their own fitness goals.
Each morning, Kacey, a former collegiate rower at Skidmore College, wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to work out at a CrossFit gym in Italian Village.
“I like morning workouts. I feel like I’ve accomplished something before I come to work. It’s social. It’s another outlet to meet friends. I just like to feel good and feel strong,” Kacey said.
Andrew prefers to run, opting for evenings to hit his running trail and is currently training for the Chicago Marathon in October. Andrew is consistently on his running course because of the example set by his wife.
“Every day she goes to CrossFit. I see that and I think, oh now I need to get a run in,” Andrew said.
Recently, Andrew had plans to fly out on a personal trip. His flight was scheduled for 10 a.m. the next morning. His optimistic-self declared that he would go for a run a few hours before his flight, but in the morning, his fatigue was winning the fight.
As Kacey remembers, “he was still lying in bed and I told him if you’re going to run, you have to get up. You have to go, now.”
Andrew promptly awoke and ran three miles.
“If he said he was going to do it, I try to hold him accountable,” Kacey said.
“I was happy for that,” Andrew said.
The credit seems to go both ways.
“I’m so lucky I have Andrew. He pushes me and supports me. It’s also fun to share our active experiences together,” Kacey said.
No matter what they do, the pair seems to incorporate a form of fitness. When they go out for a drink, they walk. When out of state for trips, they find a place to hike. Commuting to and from work, they bike.
Since the couple moved to Columbus, Kacey in May of 2017 and Andrew in July of 2017, the two have pedaled to their place of work along the Olentangy Trail from their home in Victorian Village.
For Kacey, her ride to the Fawcett Center takes about 15 minutes, and Andrew estimates it’s 10 minutes to the McCracken Power Plant. The two do own a car but choose to use it only for weekly visits to the grocery store along with occasional weekend excursions.
“Biking is a way for me to explore and meet new people. Moving here, I feel like I know where a lot more things are than people who have been here for five years or so. Biking always has been a way for me to connect to a new place,” Kacey said.
“It helps me avoid the stresses of traffic. Especially coming to work, it grounds me and helps me focus on the day and it helps relieve stress,” Andrew said.
Most of the year, the two bike to work no matter if there’s rain or snow.
“On cold days, I just bundle up,” Kacey said. “I wear three pairs of pants and warm socks. I ride harder to work up a sweat. I don’t mind getting wet either, especially if it’s on the way home.”
“There were a few days when it was just miserable, but I just always think that I can do it. The pain is temporary,” Andrew said.
While their rides might require occasional suffering, sometimes there are rewards.
“There are mornings where it’s so beautiful out, so peaceful. That’s why I ride through the hard days. I just ride until the next beautiful one,” Kacey said.
Andrew is working to spread his fervor for fitness to others. He volunteers at the Thompson Recreation Center near his home, coaching children between the ages of 5-and-14 in track. He also has become a Wellness Innovator, a leadership position in the Your Plan for Health program at Ohio State.
“It’s important to push people to be a little bit healthier. It excites me to get involved and help people,” Andrew said.
Working in the athletic department at Ohio State, Kacey hopes her healthy habits help to set a positive example with coworkers and even current athletes.
“I try to be a role model and show you still can be active athletically after your college career is done, and there are so many ways to do that,” Kacey said.
Andrew and Kacey are working to inspire others to find a path toward health, while encouraging each other every day.
“She definitely makes me healthier by her example, and I hope I do that for her as well,” Andrew said.
“There are definitely days when we need a push,” Kacey said.
Of course, without that push in 2014, Andrew and Kacey may never have met.
Are you looking to improve your health? Visit yp4h.osu.edu(link is external) to learn more about the university's Your Plan for Health program.