Talk about divine inspiration in running. It seems that when the Chicago Marathon was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sister Stephanie Baliga decided to take matters into her own hands – er, feet – and go ahead and run 26.2 miles — in her convent’s basement.

It seems that Sister Stephanie had promised her running partners that if the marathon they were training for was cancelled, she’d run a treadmill marathon to continue to raise money for the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels food pantry in Chicago. She planned to do it alone, starting at 4 a.m., to music from a boom box.

“But then my friend convinced me that this is kind of a crazy thing that most people don’t do,” she told ABC News. “That most people don’t run marathons on their treadmill in their basement and that I should let other people know about it.”

Apparently taking her inspiration from above, on August 23 Sister Stephanie’s run was livestreamed on Zoom and posted on YouTube and the 32-year-old nun ran next to statues of St. Francis Assisi and the Virgin Mary. Her high school and college friends, clergy and family members who popped up on a screen cheered her on.

“It seems to have allowed people to have some encouragement and happiness and joy in this time of extreme difficulty for lots of people,” Baliga said. “I’m really humbled by the extraordinary support that so many people have shown me along this journey.”

Helping her along the grueling 26.2 were prayers on her rosary, prayers for her supporters and above all, prayers for for the people who have contracted the virus and for those isolated during the COVID-19 crisis.

“This is nothing compared to what so many people have been through during this pandemic,” she said.

The last 30 minutes, though, were grueling, she admitted. “I was praying that I could make it and not fall off and just survive.”

The final push came from a surprise on-screen appearance by Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist. “She’s like my childhood hero, so that was super cool,” Baliga said. “That distracted me from the pain.”

Baliga also submitted her time of three hours and 33 minutes to Guinness World Records for timed treadmill marathon.

“The only reason I was able to do it was because no one had ever done it before,” she said, smiling.

More importantly, so far her treadmill marathon has raised more than $130,000 for her mission’s community outreach.

Baliga, who began to run at the age of nine, previously competed on the Division I cross-country and track teams at the University of Illinois, where she studied economics and geography. She said her life changed after a powerful prayer experience and she felt the calling to become a nun.

But Baliga kept running. After she joined the order of the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago, she launched the Our Lady of Angels running team to raise funds for the poor.

“All of us play this really important role. All of our actions are connected,” she said. “It’s so important, especially right now, when a lot of people feel isolated and far away, that people continue to sacrifice for each other and to be kind.”