the agoura great race runnerI ran my very first half marathon over the weekend.
And I almost didn’t do it.  I made a bunch of excuses. And I almost backed out.

Then sure enough, no sooner had I crossed the finish line, was I grabbing every brochure for upcoming half marathons in the southern California area.  I was slow. I was sloppy. I had blisters and a terrible hair day. I was passed by those twice my age. But once I finished the 13.1 miles, I knew I was addicted.

I’ve never felt more connected to a group of strangers than I did the moment the national anthem began and we crossed over the starting line together.

There’s something intoxicating about the collaborative spirit permeating throughout these events.  There’s something that compels you to want to give a complete stranger a giant bear hug, or at the very least, an enthusiastic hi-five with eye contact–because there’s lots of eye contact at these events. For those who have participated, or even waited for a loved one at the finish line, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The best way I know how to put it, God is there.
And if a Heavenly Father isn’t your thing, than just know that goodness is there.
It’s all around.

It’s in the husband and wife who cross the finish line hand in hand as a symbol of solidarity and oneness, as they work towards connecting more in their marriage.

It’s in the little boy who takes three steps to keep up with each single step of his father.

It’s in the new Mom, huffing and puffing with her newborn baby in the stroller, determined to prove to herself that she still has what it takes.

It’s in the lady with the bandana, who has been given a second chance at life, and runs today in honor of those who weren’t given the same chance.

It’s in the friend, waiting at the finish line with a cold water bottle and a big hug, tears of joy streaming down her face as she beams with pride at those she loves.

It’s in the children who stayed up late the night before making colorful posters of encouragement, ready to take their seat on the front lawn and cheer on fatigued runners as they pass by.

It’s in the 70 year old man, completing his 100th race, giving pats on the back to first-time runners all along the way.

It’s in the woman who has recently lost 75 pounds, and is running today to remind herself that she can do hard things.

It’s in that adrenaline you have at the starting line and the tears that come at the finish.
It’s when your 4 year old wraps his arms tightly around your neck and whispers: I’m so proud of you Mommy.
And you know he means it with every ounce of his heart.

Perhaps the best feeling I’ve had as a mom, maybe even better than Christmas morning, was that moment when I saw the pride reflected in Wesley’s eyes while he watched them hand me my medal.  He was so proud that I was his mom.  Pure happiness shot from that dimpled smile of his. I might as well have been a super hero.

Connecting with strangers makes me more compassionate.
Making my son proud gives me complete and perfect joy.
Pushing myself to do something new and hard gives me courage.
And running gives me strength.

So yeah, I’ll be doing this again. And again. And again.
Wanna join?

making medals for mommy

Ben woke up early with the boys to make homemade medals for Momma.

making mommy a medal

boys at finish line

wes and mom marathon

wes and mom running

grandma and sawyer

My momma, waiting with Sawyer at the finish line.

rachy poo

Running into my favorite people at the finish line, an added perk. Love you Rachy!

lacey hug

Bad angle, but good hug.

homemade medals

Wes, presenting the medals.

great race half marathon

Whitney, the girl who kept me going and crossed that finish line by my side. Also, let’s ignore my instinct to get on my tip toes in pictures to avoid being at that awkward boob level.

big blow up slidedaddy and wes

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  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 2:27 am

    This is gorgeous. I know exactly what you are talking about but have never been able to describe it in as such a beautiful way as you did. Thank you. Thank you for your blog and your openness. I deeply enjoy reading your blog and it has helped me through many hard times in my life. Thank you again!

    • Reply
      Ashley Stock
      March 26, 2014 at 2:35 am

      thank you so so much for your sweet words! needed them today 🙂 xoxo! ashley

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 2:27 am

    awesome job on the race!

  • Reply
    Jenna Garlock
    March 26, 2014 at 2:30 am

    you seriously rock! my husband has run many marathons and half marathons and i totally get what you mean by the feel there. it truly in incredible! i had a goal to run a half marathon this year and before even starting to train i was already making up excuses to not do it but this just gave me the motivation to get my butt off the couch and do it! what ones are you doing in southern california? i’d love to see you out there!! and again you rock!

    • Reply
      Ashley Stock
      March 26, 2014 at 2:39 am

      I’m thinking of doing the Ventura Half and the Santa Barbara Half–what are you thinking?

      • Reply
        Jenna Garlock
        March 26, 2014 at 7:16 am

        which santa barbara half? i found two.. a wine country one on may 5th.. no way id be ready in time for that! haha. and then there is the veterans day one on november 8th… is the ventura one on sept 7th? the fashion forms ventura marathon and half? that one looks fun. looks like they are having a huge beach party with tons of stuff for kids to do there! i’d be able to be ready for either of those. were those the ones you were talking about?

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 2:31 am

    wow, I didn’t realize you are in my neck of the woods! 🙂 Marcy

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Amazing!! Great job! Love the medals (and lol’ed at the tip toe/avoid boob level picture)!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 2:42 am

    You hit the nail on the head. I know exactly how you felt and it feels absolutely amazing!

  • Reply
    Kristen @ LoveK Blog
    March 26, 2014 at 2:47 am

    Congratulations!! What a wonderful accomplishment! The way you described the race was beautiful and so completely accurate. I’ve done four half marathons and the energy at those races is like nothing else. I once saw a lady in a scooter on the sidelines with a sign that said “I’m a stranger but I’m proud of you too”. I almost lost it, just thinking about it now makes me tear up. Goodness all around…and getting a blingy medal isn’t too shabby either!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 3:15 am

    Congratulations!!! An empowering and amazing accomplishment!!! Take it and run (hahaha) with it! I did the same thing 2 1/2 years ago at the age of 42.. It was one of the best things I had ever done for myself , and my husband and 2 kiddos. I am a changed and better person, mom, and wife for it. I hope it will do the same for you. Seeing the joy and tears on my hubby, son, and daughter made all of the training and pain worth it. Since I have continued to run, not always the most consistent , but that’s ok…I still do it. This year I downgraded to the 10k…injured my hip and that long of a distant isn’t working out as well. That’s ok too…I’m still going! Keep the Faith and keep taking care of you and your beautiful family!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 3:16 am

    Great job! I just started looking into 5k’s now that I am 4 months post-partum and ready to start running again. I think I’m going to do a Run or Dye event first!

  • Reply
    Amber Gillespie
    March 26, 2014 at 3:16 am

    Wow!!! You are such an inspiration to us all! I need to go run now! I also want to learn more about what you’re eating-recipes and what you’re making since you started clean eating. I’m trying to do the same! Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 3:49 am

    I really love reading your blog…your experiences, your accomplishments, your setbacks, your recipes, your style. I love it all! I keep coming back to certain posts of yours to be inspired in my life. Thanks for taking the time to keep it up!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Awesome job! I am slowly getting back to running. I have only accomplished a 5k before, but am hoping to try an 8k or 10k next. Keep up the great work, you are looking great with your new healthy lifestyle!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Congrats!!! That is awesome! I dream of running a half marathon someday. If only the weather stayed warmer here and I could actually get out and run. Great job!

  • Reply
    McKenzie @ Girl Loves Glam
    March 26, 2014 at 5:33 am

    I have never ran an official organized race of any kind, but have ALWAYS wanted to! I grew up with severe asthma and was always told not to run. Two weeks ago, I ran just over 6 miles and it felt awesome (and hurt all at the same time). Little by little, I want to work towards a half marathon! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Awesome job! Your reflection of your race made me tear up. I have triplet boys around the age of your son. My husband and I have crossed race finish lines together and he’s carried our boys across a 1/2 marathon finish line when they were 18months. We are leading a marathon training group at our church and have a kick-off meeting tomorrow. In an email, I directed people to read your blog post. We have a lot of new runners that need a little motivation!

  • Reply
    Little Yellow Brick Road
    March 26, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Oh my goodness Ashley, this made me cry! Way to go! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Great job. I’m running my first this weekend! I’m so excited and nervous. I plan to run more and more and more. I’m the person who just lost 30 lbs and running because I know I can do hard things…keep us posted…I’m going to blog more about my running journey.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I love your leggings and tennis shoes! Can you tell me where they are from?

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Oh my, I teared up just reading this. My brother rides long distance bike rides here in Texas, the Livestrong ride and the MS 150. I’ve only been to one ride and it was the MS 150 outside of Dallas, 150 miles in two days. Standing at the finish line is exactly how you described it. I don’t know how I have any excuses left in my body, I shouldn’t! It is so emotional, I’m sure even more for those, like yourself, participating. Good job, just good job! Good job pushing yourself, good job making the time as a momma to do something for yourself, good job being amazing to the boys, good job doing something to make yourself proud :))))

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Who hop!! Way to go. So proud of you and how sweet are your boys? You are a super hero indeed!
    I ran my first 1/2 in memory of my mom 2 years ago and man it was tough ( i used to fake having asthma in hs so I could get out of running) yep, I was that girl. But, it is so true God gives you that strength to reach the finish line as tears are coming down behind those sunglasses.

    I am gearing up to run a 10miler/ 20 bands race in a few weeks here in austin. This time I am doing this race for me.

    PS: Where are your cute gray workout pants from?!

  • Reply
    Sheena Youngblood
    March 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    This is an absolutely amazing way of telling that experience!! Tears flowed down my face as I read about your sweet boy, I will be running my second half marathon in December(post baby#2) and the first one was definitely everything that you wrote here. I am looking forward to experiencing all of that again and you are so right, it is very addicting:)

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Congrats! I didn’t even know you were training for that!!

    I have run two half marathons and yes, the feelings that you described are everything that you described!!!

    Good for you!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Awesome job! I am running my first 10K this summer and I am a mix of excited/nervous! I’ve ran a few 5ks. What kind of training did you do?

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 2:01 am

    I love this! It made me cry. A half marathon has been on my bucket list since the birth of my first son 4 1/2 years ago. This just instilled all the reasons why. I always tell my husband that I just want to run to our boys at the finish line. You wrote it so beautifully (as you always do) I posted it to my fb page and tagged my girlfriends in it. We keep saying we are going to do it and now we definitely are . Thank you for your blog, your words and your honesty. It is one of the first websites I go on as soon as I get to work in the morning. xo

  • Reply
    Keeping Up With The Duchess
    March 27, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Wow, sounds like you had a great day!!
    ♥ [author of

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 9:20 am

    well let’s chalk it up to baby hormones but that made me tear up! Awesome freekin job. I’ll do it with you next year. I love the convenience of this course. I’m DYING over Ben helping the boys make medals for you! So cute.
    xoxoxo You’re my mentor

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    My nephew is stationed in Germany and his wife is running in the Boston marathon. We are so proud of her. We miss them so much. She trains others to run.

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Every sentence was perfectly crafted. I cried. Congratulations on your first 1/2 marathon. Here’s to many more.

  • Reply
    Katie Albury
    March 28, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    What an amazing achievement! Well done you!
    I love that your husband got the kids to make you medals too…that was such a thoughtful idea.
    Katie x

  • Reply
    March 29, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Congratulations! I would love to do this one day.

  • Reply
    Ally & Woozle
    March 31, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Amazing I ran my first half marathon in Paris 3 weeks ago! Your sons are probably very proud of you! Congratulations!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Excellent! I am running my first one in October and so far I’m enjoying the training. Found your blog today and love it!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    I don’t know how you do it, but you make me cry in almost every post you write!! It’s even more awesome that you can make me cry and laugh in the same post. You are such a beautiful writer and this just makes me want to accomplish my goal of doing a marathon even more. Now if only I could run for more then two minutes :/

  • Reply
    April 1, 2014 at 7:04 am

    This is AWESOME! I loved that you got home-made medals at the end. I think if I would have gotten those at the end of any race I did, I would break down uncontrollably. There is already so much emotion involved and with that on top of it… You have an amazing support group and you look INCREDIBLE after 13.1 miles.

  • Reply
    Jenna Knight
    April 1, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    I ran my first 1/2 on the 23rd! It is SOOO addicting and exhilarating. I for sure felt like God was there!

  • Reply
    Sarah C
    April 2, 2014 at 1:58 am

    Congrats! It’s such a huge accomplishment to run your first race! So glad that you loved it 🙂 I did my first a couple of years ago and around mile 11, I was thought, what was I thinking?! But I loved it all said and done, but not sure if I would do it again. Maybe when my kids are a little older and it’s easier to train. I didn’t realize you live where I grew up and my whole family still lives in that area. Small world!

  • Reply
    April 4, 2014 at 6:26 am

    So awesome! congrats!!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Good job! Do you have any advice on training for a half?!

  • Reply
    April 9, 2014 at 1:09 am

    Way to go Ashley!! This post made me cry (happy tears of course) – what a nice way to write about such a huge accomplishment – especially the part about your son being so proud of you. It is such a challenge as parents to model the behavior you would like your children to have – and to live an honest, compassionate and graceful lifestyle. Looks like you are succeeding in all of these!

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