I was pretty surprised when I received an email from long time Runner’s World Magazine contributor Hal Higdon telling me he wanted to quote me in the Half Marathon Training book he was writing. I was even more surprised when I received a signed copy of the book last week (a little over a year later) and discovered my name and a whole page featuring one of my most popular blog posts. Here is the story of how it all happened.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with Hal Higdon, he’s kind of a big deal. Hal has contributed to Runner’s World for longer than any other writer, an article by him having appeared in that publication’s second issue in 1966. He is the author of 36 books, including a novel, Marathon, and the best-selling Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. He is also one of the founders of the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA). As a new runner, Hal’s training programs featured on his website were paramount in me going from a 2 to 3 mile runner to a marathon runner in just a few short years.
In January of 2015 when he was writing his new book about half marathons, Mr. Higdon asked his Facebook community (all 71,000+ of them) if they remembered their first run and the emotions they felt. He asked what advice we would give other new runners. I commented on the post with a somewhat lengthy story. Here’s what I wrote.
“After my third child was born in 2012, I was able to quickly take off most of the baby weight through various forms of exercise other than running. When we went away on vacation, and I didn’t have my elliptical machine, I decided to try going for a short jog down the beach: only a mile or two. I always had knee trouble, so running was usually out of the question, but I thought maybe the sand would be easier on the knees. I enjoyed that first run enough that when I got home from vacation, I began running more, and then more, and then some more after that. One year later I ran my first half marathon. I have since done four more halfs, plus the Big Sur Marathon Relay, where I ran 16 miles. My advice to new runners is: Just believe in yourself. You are capable of achieving so much more than you know. Let go of fear and seek ‘the impossible.’ You won’t know if you can do it unless you try. You may just discover a new love and talent you didn’t even know you had in you.”
On January 27, 2015 I received a personal email from Hal Higdon asking me if he could use what I wrote in my Facebook post in his book. After I got over laughing and shaking my head, of course I said yes! Then after I slept on it, the marketer in me decided I’d be stupid if I didn’t tell him about my blog and ask him what he thought of my recent post called, “10 Reasons Why I Run.”
Apparently he liked it because the next day he shared it on his Facebook page. My blog and my Facebook page lit up, making it the most popular post I had ever written generating more than 12,000 views and doubling my Facebook following. It was popular on Hal’s site too. Here’s what he says about it in Chapter 5 “Why We Run.”
“The post 10 Reasons Why I Run, was written by Ashley Weingart, who writes the blog Running with Skissors. Weingart’s post definitely resonated with readers after I posted a link to it on my Facebook page. Within 48 hours her 10 reasons achieved more than 100,000 reaches, a thousand shares and several hundred comments from those who visit my page regularly.”
He sent me an email in early February of 2015 to tell me that he felt my reasons were so relatable to other runners that he would feature a page with the highlights of my “10 Reasons” post. I was ecstatic!
After that exchange he also forwarded my post to Tish Hamilon, the Editor of Runner’s World. I never heard from her (not surprising I suppose). Mr. Higdon then became a sort of mentor of mine. I asked him for feedback on posts I was writing and he even gave me the stamp of approval on my Busy Mom Marathon Training Plan and my Half Marathon Training Plan. He shared blog posts I published about all three of the marathons I ran in 2015 (Big Sur Marathon, Cleveland Marathon and the Chicago Marathon) helping to build a community through my blog that reaches around the globe.
I was so excited to finally meet him at the Marathon Expo in Chicago last October. I got to shake his hand and thank him for all he had done to help me explore my love of running and to help boost my confidence as a writer. I do have a Journalism degree, but it had been years since I put it all into practice.
Finally this past week I received the new book, Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training! I had no idea whether I was actually mentioned in there or not. To be honest I had kind of forgotten all about it until I saw an ad online that the book was now on sale. When it arrived I sifted through it quickly and didn’t see my name anywhere. My husband sent me a note later that afternoon while I was at ice skating with my daughter to tell me that it was right there on page 51 in black and white. Pretty cool especially considering in 2012 I had never run more than a mile. Now I was featured in a book about half marathons???
So at this point I realize that it appears as though I am just tooting my own horn. Perhaps I am a little. But there is a message I’m getting to and it is this.
Don’t give up on your dreams and never stop searching for new ones.
I left my job as an advertising executive in 2007 to raise my family. Over the 8 years following I experienced a handful of moments when I wondered if it was the right choice. I missed having people stop and listen when I spoke. I longed for feeling like I had something important to say. At times I yearned for using my talents for something other than folding laundry, changing diapers and organizing closets. Don’t get me wrong, the tasks of a parent are so very important and I wouldn’t trade the days I was lucky enough to be home to raise my babies for anything. But it doesn’t change that I also wanted to feel like I was using my gifts in other ways too. I quietly looked forward to the day when I had time to let my creative light shine again through my writing and my photography. When I could share my passion for life and my inspirational outlook to help others also live their happiest, healthiest, most fulfilling life.
That journey began when I started writing this blog about two years ago and has since opened so many new doors, both professionally and personally. I’ve met hundreds of new friends and fulfilled some wonderful goals. This crazy sequence of events that turned into me being published in a book about half marathons is just one of them.
I wanted to capture these events here on my blog so that I always remember them. (I can’t seem to remember a whole lot after having our third child!) But I also wanted to remind you all to never let yourself think you’re too old (or too far past where you were when you left your career to become a mom) to start something new or revive something old.
That original comment I made about running to Hal Higdon also happens to apply to starting anything new in life…
“Just believe in yourself. You are capable of achieving so much more than you know. Let go of fear and seek ‘the impossible.’ You won’t know if you can do it unless you try. You may just discover a new love and talent you didn’t even know you had in you.”