I trained for my first marathon in a month and was surprised to finish. Each year, as soon as the spring breeze has a hint of warmth, I find myself looking through my closet and hoping my clothes will fasten over my once-hibernating body. This was how I returned to my running routine; I wanted to feel healthy and make sure my shorts fit.I joined a local running group. Each morning, a crew of women gather at the break of dawn, tie shoelaces, strap on water bottles, and light up safety gear to hit the trails. I joined them on the unfamiliar course in my old Target attire and tread-less shoes. As we sweated through each step, I quickly learned that every single woman was training for an upcoming race. Running with “Sole Sisters”After a few weeks of running with and learning from this band of “sole sisters,” I increased my mileage. I began thinking about signing up for a race too. As I researched various races, on a whim, I also entered my name into a Facebook contest I came across for an upcoming marathon. I entered it because I thought I could win an entry for a friend who had told me she wanted to sign up but couldn’t do so for financial reasons. When I won, my friend told me she had already registered, so the opportunity was all mine. The next morning, I woke up at 4 am, joined some friends who had been training all summer, and with trepidation, ran 18 miles to see if a marathon was even realistic. We were up so early that within the first five minutes, we startled a sleeping deer! For the next five hours, my friends to me about the essentials of marathon running: pacing, fueling, and gear.I returned home with a wobble and exhilarated I completed the run. I was also salty, sore, hungry, and fearful I would need to buy so many new things to manage the long race. I shared with my husband the list. Since our budget was tight, we prayed.Later that day, the running company who had said I won an entry in the marathon contacted me to tell me that they were mistaken; they did not have a free registration to giveaway. The race would actually cost $175. To be honest, I was a bit relieved, even as my aching muscles seemed to groan aloud. As the news settled in, I messaged my friends who spent the morning traipsing all around the county with me. They were dismayed. They had been so instrumental in getting me through each step of those 18 miles. Within a few hours, I was notified that they paid my entry fee. I was so touched by their kindness and enthusiasm!