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Jen Correa, Staten Island

Jen Correa of Staten Island wasn’t a natural-born runner. Growing up, she struggled with confidence and finding her own identity. She realized her passion for running in her 20s, when a friend urged her to join her in a race. “Running is the one consistent thing in my adult life,” Jen says. “It's how I stay strong in this crazy world.”

Jen is no stranger to challenges. Her husband, Peter, was a first responder on 9/11, and in 2002 he was deployed to Kuwait, and then Iraq, as a member of the Army Reserves. “I spent day after day staring at CNN praying for his safe return,” she recalls. “Running moved me away from the TV and back to a place of hope.”

Perhaps her biggest challenge came in 2012 when, like many other Staten Islanders, she lost her home during Hurricane Sandy—and almost lost her husband as well. “My kids and I evacuated to Brooklyn, and Peter stayed behind with his friend to keep an eye on the house,” she recounts. “He planned to leave if he thought it was getting too bad, but it came in too fast. My husband was forced to leave by floating on another neighbor’s roof. Before he left, he called to say goodbye to me. He [later] called to tell me he was alive but everything was gone.”

Six weeks later, Jen began running again. “Running was the thing that kept me going,” she says. Nothing was going to break me.” This will be Jen’s fifth marathon.