Contributed by Erin Mara, a writer and runner living in San Francisco.

Illustrations by inoutlines

Jorge Leiva, 45, San Francisco

Loves the beauty of the city, as he realized while running.

Jorge grew up in San Francisco, but now fully appreciates the city’s scenery after running two San Francisco Half Marathons. This year, he is training for his first full marathon. “I grew up in San Francisco and our city has the most beautiful skyline,” he said. “After running two half marathons in consecutive years, the scenery of the course is simply amazing. Seeing the sunrise along the Embarcadero is breathtaking.”

In high school 28 years ago, Jorge ran cross country to stay in shape for the wrestling season. Three years ago in his 40s, he picked running back up again with a co-worker during lunchtime just to to stay in shape. He then ran a 5K, 10K, and in July of 2015, ran his longest-distance race — the second half of The San Francisco Marathon. In 2016, he challenged himself to run four half marathons, including the first half of The San Francisco Marathon.

“This year I signed up for my bucket list item #3 — The full San Francisco Marathon on July 23, 2017,” Jorge said. “I have a lot of training ahead of me, but I know I can do this!”

Lessons learned from running: “I may never win a race, but I do know that I will continue running for as long as I can. I only compete against myself. I challenge myself to run one more mile, one more half marathon, etc. Never underestimate your potential. Put on your running shoes and  sign up for a 5K – you never know where it’s going to take you.”

Dan Tonelli, 48, Oakland

Took up running later in life after 40 years as a cyclist.

“San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I live just across the bay,” Dan says. He took up running after 40 years as a cyclist. “I love the freedom of running,” he says. “It’s safer than cycling and I stay in better shape. Unlike cycling, you can run in the rain.”

Dan’s most memorable San Francisco Marathon was, “that long stretch down the Haight in 2014 when it was bright and sunny and 80 degrees — not typical July San Francisco weather.” But his favorite was, “the perfect weather in 2016: gray, cool, drizzly at times and no sun — just the way San Francisco is supposed to be in July.”

Lessons learned from running: “I am learning about all the parts of my body that cycling missed — it was and continues to be a painful transition at times. Also, there are no strangers among my fellow runners, only friends.”

Cecilia Rodriguez, 35, San Francisco 

Met her husband through the RUN365 training program.

Cecilia met her husband, Luis, on March 23, 2013 –– on her first day of training with RUN365, The San Francisco Marathon’s official training program. They began dating shortly after, got engaged in the summer of 2014 and were married July 2015. In January 2017, they welcomed twin daughters into the world. “Needless to say, The San Francisco Marathon is dear to our hearts since it is where our story began while enjoying one of our favorite activities together,” Cecilia said. “Plus, running The San Francisco Marathon is so fulfilling both physically and aesthetically because of the beautiful views of the city.”

The couple is hoping to run The San Francisco Half Marathon in 2017 — if their newborns permit them to do the training.

Lessons learned from running: “Running gives me a natural high and it puts my mind at ease.”