It's one thing when people encourage you to write a book. It's another thing to do it. And have a full-time job. And serve as a Navy Reserve Officer. Booz Allen Associate Dana Ayers has checked all of these off her to do list—and she's not done.
Her book, "Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated," details her experiences—both humorous and inspirational—in recreational races.
As the book's title suggests, Dana, now in her 30s, didn't grow up running. Former President George W. Bush, an avid runner, inspired her to start. She began her professional career as a political appointee for the president, and while she was working at the White House, he created a staff-only 5k. shortly after, Dana was hooked on running. "It became a social thing to run races," she said.
Dana began squeezing in marathons, trail runs, and obstacle courses. Today, she continues to run, while juggling her day job leading communications efforts for cybersecurity education and awareness at the Department of Homeland Security as well as her duties as a Navy Reserve public affairs officer.
Despite her fervor for running, Dana clung to her identity as an unlikely athlete and competitor.
"I'm slow, I don't look like a 'real' runner and sometimes I may not train as much as I should, but I'm still out there enjoying the sport," she says. Dana finished her first marathon in five and a half hours, happy to finish among the "back of the pack."
Dana started a blog in 2011 to document the adventures in her life, including her endurance challenges. She toyed with turning the blog into a book, but it wasn't until Booz Allen colleague, and fellow author, Janeen Latini introduced her to a publisher that she started taking the dream seriously.
Dana realized her stories could serve as entertainment and provide a motivational message.
Dana soon found herself writing in the mornings before work and on the weekends. Her experience as a consultant also served her well in the endeavor. "I thought about strategy before putting the book together. Who would buy it? How could I reach them? I tried to keep those things in mind as I wrote," Dana explained.
The book became a running memoir full of adventures, both amusing and moving. There's a whole chapter on the time she staged a 1,000-mile relay with a group of friends from Tennessee to Massachusetts to fundraise for Boston marathon victims. The relay, which generated more than $65,000 for victims and Boston charities, garnered coverage by "Good Morning America," and served as a life-changing experience for each runner.