On a chilly morning, Tracian Gordon is warming up and getting ready for a 5K run at The Crossings in Colonie. It is just her third race of the year, but this is her favorite one.

“Just being out in nature, the fresh air, it’s definitely filling,” Gordon said.

She didn’t start chasing that runner’s high until five years ago. Gordon actually wasn’t much of a runner at all until she joined Strong Through Every Mile, a local running group that supports victims of domestic abuse.

With the right music in her ears, Gordon takes off and is trying for a personal best.

When Gordon joined STEM, she says she was at a low point. She left a relationship, moved here from New York City, lived at the YWCA and transitioned careers. She credits the program and running for giving her confidence, perseverance and strength.

“Over the past five years, I’ve seen people become so empowered through their experience,” said Rebecca Wager, the president of the board of directors for STEM.

The non-profit helps participants go through a 10-week course that takes people from the couch to running a 5K.

Wager started as a coach, but wanted to continue to help after seeing its impact.

“Particularly just taking someone that’s never ran before and then bringing them all the way across the finish line is super rewarding,” Wager said.

Mae Thomas has been with STEM since 2014. She says running has more than just empowered her.

A knee injured sidelined Thomas, but she still comes and cheers on the runners because she knows what kind of an impact this can have on someone’s life.

“It shows that you don’t have to use to run,” said Thomas, who is now 11 years clean. “You can do what you need to do and be supportive for other people like I am.”

As Gordon crosses the finish line, a medal and her children await. She was hoping for more elevations on this run, but was still satisfied with the result.

“I like transitions because that’s where you peak and you plan how to overtake, but no worries, I know I did well,” Gordon said.