Somewhere around mile 13, my friend Sharon asked, “Do you feel strong?”

I gave up on trying to talk with her around mile 10, and when I started using hand signals (thumbs up and down), it reminded me of being in labor with my first daughter and how silent I became. Obviously, the pain and effort of labor is far more difficult than a distance run, but my attitude running yesterday felt similar. To conserve my energy, I replied with one word answers and hand signals only, much like during labor. Running long distance requires shutting most everything out and concentrating only on continuing to move forward.

To her question, “Do you feel strong?” I responded with the tilt of my hand, back and forth.

Sort of. Not really.

I don’t have to feel strong, I only have to be strong.

I felt like stopping. I felt like walking. But I didn’t. I kept running, though at a slower pace, all the way to the finish line.

This is why I run: to show that I can, to show that I am stronger than I think I am (stronger than I feel!), to practice endurance and perseverance.

When I am strong physically, it overflows to other parts of my life. I can recall my physical acts of endurance to empower me to be strong in other areas.

Strength follows strength.

I do the hard things so I can do other hard things.

Training and running makes me strong physically. Physical fitness translates to mental fitness: I am strong enough to lead my company, strong enough to have the tough conversations I’d rather avoid, strong enough to push forward to grow my company and set big goals.

I can run the marathon in 5 weeks; I can write and publish a book in 2015; I can double and triple the capacity of my company to serve more clients and make a bigger difference.

I can. One step at a time, moving forward toward the finish line.

It’s why I run. Strength follows strength.