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9/11 survivor Alice Yu training to run in New York City Marathon: "Anytime you feel unhappy or guilty ... you sweat it out"

9/11 survivor Alice Yu preparing for her first NYC Marathon
9/11 survivor Alice Yu preparing for her first NYC Marathon 02:48

NEW YORK -- An estimated 50,000 people from around the world are preparing to run in the New York City Marathon this weekend, including one woman who considers herself a survivor.

Alice Yu is training for her very first marathon this weekend.

"I'm excited and nervous at the same time," she said.

She picked up running through her Nassau County neighborhood in the doldrums of the pandemic.

"Rain or shine, we go," Yu said.

Yu will be part of New York Road Runners' "Team Inspire" for marathoners who have seen exceptional hardship.

On Sept. 11, 2001, at 24 years old, Yu was working as an accountant on the 71st floor of the South Tower.

"I just logged into my computer and I remember hearing that loud boom. We didn't know what was happening and I saw the papers flying," she said.

She began walking down the stairs to evacuate with hundreds of others.

"By the time I got down to the 30th floor, that's when the second plane hit my building and I felt the shaking. It felt like an earthquake. That's when we started to feel fear," Yu said.

She didn't stop.

"We just kept going. I didn't know what to expect when I got down to the concourse area because I was afraid there was nothing down there ... You automatically look up and see the buildings were on fire. And that's when you knew something was definitely really wrong," Yu said.

And still, she kept going.

"I just kept walking through Chinatown. I didn't really look back," Yu said.

Yu has kept going through life in the 22 years since but says her survivors guilt never left.

"How do you deal with that?" CBS New York's Ali Bauman asked.

"I think running has helped," Yu said. "Running is a very good release of bad energy. Anytime you feel unhappy or guilty ... you sweat it out."

Even before this year's marathon, Yu has already signed herself up to run it again next year.

"It's definitely made me, I think, more determined," she said.

Two decades after descending 71 flights of stairs, Yu is not giving up.

"When you're running, is there like a motto or song you think of to keep you going?" Bauman asked.

"The other day, I heard the song 'I'm a Survivor,' the one by Destiny's Child, and I totally thought of that song with me," Yu said.

Other marathoners on NYRR's "Team Inspire" with Yu include survivors of cancer, mass shootings and a Ukrainian soldier.

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