NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Running the TCS New York City Marathon can be a grueling and emotional experience for any runner.
But for one first-time marathoner, her race will take her on a journey to her past and one of the hardest days for her and for many New Yorkers.
"I was there that morning, early, so I was up there, and I had just logged in when I heard the noise, it was a very loud boom and we looked behind us and saw a lot of flying papers," said Alice Yu, marathon runner.
At just 24 years old, Yu was logging in for work when that boom shocked all of her coworkers so much, that they began to walk down 71 flights of stairs.
"So we saw flying papers and we did know it was a plane, but we didn't know what size and I think at the time everybody just decided to leave and we just thought we should leave, so we started taking the stairs," she said. "So I was about on the 30th floor when there was a shaking and it felt like an earthquake and that's when the second plane hit our building. And that's when we started to feel fear and really know something was wrong. And that's when after I came down to the concourse area and it was all dark and a bit of flooding and I did see pieces of the plane, like I saw the tail for American Airlines."
Twenty-two years ago, Yu survived the September 11th attack on the Twin Towers.
Working for Morgan Stanley at the time, she made it to the ground and started walking away before the towers fell.
An experience so emotional, that it took her more than a decade to return to Ground Zero.
"It took me a very long time to go back there down to the Ground Zero area," Yu said. "And it was still very, very emotional, just being there that day and having survived it, I think there's some sort of survivor's guilt."
Yu said, "I feel like I got a second chance, so I try to give back wherever I can. I donate blood regularly, I volunteer with my kids' schools, and I volunteer with Girls on the Run. I feel like I got a second chance and that's how I try to face my challenges."
The next big challenge on her plate? Tackling the TCS New York City Marathon for the very first time.
"I started running during the pandemic for exercise and to be outdoors and I just really started to enjoy it," she said. "I said I have to do something while my daughter is at gymnastics so I put my shoes on, found a little trail, and started running."
For Yu, running the marathon route will be emotional, especially as she passes Lower Manhattan, but she's ready to tackle the challenge.
"I'm looking forward to finishing strong and healthy and fine," she said.