Two weeks ago I ran 21 miles. It’s a goal that I’ve been working toward for months (years, actually), but was never really sure I could accomplish. I have friends who tell me I’m crazy for training for a marathon or say “I could never do that”. It’s pretty crazy thinking about it, because these are statements that I’ve said to myself numerous times. People tend to think that just because I work for the marathon, that I must automatically be a marathon runner. But let me tell you, I’ve looked at friends who run insane amounts of mileage each week and thought, “how does someone do that?” If I’ve learned anything in the past few months, it’s that accomplishing a marathon goal is only partly about the physical training  and knowledge – it’s also about the strength I’ve gained from those who support me. And it’s about learning to reach out and asking for that support.

For a very long time, I’ve been held a mentality in which I feel like I must do things on my own in order for me to be worthy of my accomplishments.  Five years ago, when I began running, it was very much a solitary activity to help me get through a difficult transitional phase in my life. At that time, I ran by myself, trained by myself and embraced the solitude.

In the beginning of my marathon training I’d had several weeks of difficulty. I’d been plagued by recurring plantar fasciitis, back spasms and hip and knee pain. Making it through a 10 mile run, something I’ve done on enough occasions for it to be a tolerable distance, was bringing me to tears for the last couple miles. In a state of frustration and sadness, I complained to my boyfriend that I didn’t know if I could do this. If I was having all of these issues now, what was going to happen once I had to get into my higher mileage? Was this something I’d just have to give up on?

Shortly after that, I ran into a friend I’d hadn’t seen in months and she asked me if I was still training for the marathon, the only answer I could give was yes, of course. Even though I was ready to give up on myself, a simple question from someone else was able to make me realize, that yes, I am still in this and I’m not counting myself out.  It was an unexpected reminder that even when I doubt myself, there are plenty of others who have faith in me.

Since then, I’ve had countless instances of friends offering their support and in turn, I’ve challenged myself more with my running than I ever have before. I’ve run trails with co-workers and by myself, taking on elevations that have been difficult but also beautiful and fulfilling. I’ve forced myself to run in downright pouring rain and found myself saying out loud to the rain “bring it on.” I’ve also posted a million different times on Facebook and Strava about my running and each word of support that I’ve received has absolutely pushed me to keep going further.

I’m fortunate to have co-workers and friends who have been steadfast in their support during the past few months. On February 17th, I will run the Austin Marathon and it will be a milestone not only in terms of mileage, but also one in terms of the relationships I’ve developed with friends, co-workers and the running community.