The metaphor from Dallas runner Patrice Shelby is profound given the state of life right now: "A marathon is one step at a time for 26.2 miles, but you know there is an end and we'll get through it."
"Running a marathon takes a lot of commitment. Stick-to-it-ness. It's hard,” she said.
As day breaks over White Rock Lake in Dallas, Shelby and her running pals traverse the trail along the water.
A place where long distance makes the heart grow fonder.
A time when "runners high" is especially cathartic.
"The big joke is that running is our therapy," noted Dallas runner Susan Hornstein.
Running is their escape during the coronavirus quarantine.
"You're in your head a lot and it's a mental game," Hornstein added.
"There is some isolation involved in a marathon because a lot of it you're running on your own," acknowledged David McManaman. "You have to have that mental strength to push through."
A group of marathoners chasing normalcy because on Monday (April 20), they would normally be in Boston.
The 2020 Boston Marathon is postponed until September 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"A lot of people dealing with a tougher time than us just missing our race, so we can deal with it," said McManaman.
The running crew will be there in the fall with their bibs pinned to their shirt.
"It's such a great race," Shelby smiled. "It's so much fun to go to."
Shelby has run Boston four times before including the infamous race in 2013.
"The crowd was great," she recalled. "The weather was perfect. I was with my family... I got to the finish. Crossed. And the first bomb went off."
Normalcy, shattered by a terrorist attack.
Two explosions left three dead, 264 injured and millions heartbroken.
The darkness of 2013 gave way to the light of 2014.
"Boston rose to the occasion," Shelby said.
Writer's Note: I, too, was there in 2014. Back in my hometown...a year after the bombs went off 10 minutes from where I grew up.
I was there sharing stories of determination and triumph... witnessing people from around the globe come together... stronger than they were before.
"It was just a feeling of excitement that we're going to get through this and make it a great Boston Marathon again just like it always had been," Shelby explained.
The toughest stretch of the Boston Marathon course is called "Heartbreak Hill."
It's a steep, arduous climb before the course flattens out.
By that point, the runners are drained physically, mentally and emotionally.
Yet, they push. And persevere.
Because they know with every stride, they're one step closer to the finish line.