On a fall day last year, Victoria Steinhoff noticed something different about New York City. The vibe and the energy were even more palpable than usual. Marathon day had arrived and Steinhoff wondered aloud to her mother how she too could someday be in the race.
“We had a conversation about how awesome it would be to run it,” Steinhoff said of speaking with her mother, Jackie.
Steinhoff made good on that goal this time around. She ran in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5 after months of training. She crossed the finish line came at 3:59.20.
“Several weeks prior to the race I tore a muscle behind my knee so after that diagnosis I realigned my goals,” Steinhoff said. “I really just wanted to cross the finish line.”
Her ticket for entry was through fundraising for Team for Kids, a nonprofit which services youth communities around the country.
“I ran for Team for Kids which funds youth running programs nationwide,” Steinhoff said. “I chose to run for them because this sport means so much to myself and my family and I wanted to give back to a community that has impacted my life personally.”
Steinhoff, 23, grew up in Delaware but now lives in Manhattan. She graduated from Manhattan College in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in business analytics and now works full-time in the private sector.
Attending Manhattan felt like a full-circle moment, Steinhoff said. Her introduction to the LaSallian Catholic School came from her years racing in the Manhattan College Invitational, the largest annual single-day cross country meet in the country.
Steinhoff ran for Padua Academy in Wilmington, Delaware, and always enjoyed visiting Van Cortlandt Park for the annual meet.
“It definitely played a role in my decision to attend Manhattan,” Steinhoff said of the Manhattan Invitational. “I got a taste as to what campus life would look like.”
Steinhoff didn’t run competitively in college but comes from a family bred in running. Her father, George, ran cross country and track and field at both St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania. Her brother, George, also ran at St. Joe’s and still coaches cross country.
Leaning on a coach’s wisdom was helpful. Her and George held weekly meetings to discuss training methods and most importantly her progression.
A cycling class helped break things up for Steinhoff, too.
“We touched base weekly to set up a workout plan for that week and would reevaluate the schedule as needed,” Steinhoff said. “Fortunately, my brother is an awesome cross country and track coach.”
The scenes on race day were fitting reminders of why Steinhoff chose to run the marathon. Her family was in the crowd, as well as nearly a dozen friends, to support her throughout various points. Each one was responsible for giving Steinhoff “the best support system” on race day, she said.
“I had a general idea as to where they would be but there were several points along the way where I’d look up and see my whole support system,” Steinhoff said. “I was lucky to have been able to see and hear them cheering.”
The reunion with loved ones at the finish line meant everything. And so did the post-race dinner with her biggest fans.
“It made the whole day that much more special,” Steinhoff said.
Successful completion of the 26.2-mile journey also requires digging deep and finding out something new about yourself. Steinhoff made it a habit to monitor both her pace and mindset in the moments that were closed off to fans. Luckily for her, the solitude of those moments was accompanied by some special views while running over bridges. Her favorite bridge to run over was the Queensboro.
Steinhoff also has a soft spot for the parts of the race in Brooklyn and the Bronx. One brought her closer to family and friends on race day and the other was filled with “reminders” of her college years.
“Brooklyn had so much liveliness and it is where I saw the majority of my friends and family so that is probably tied with the Bronx,” Steinhoff said. “Attending college in the Bronx gave me a special appreciation for the borough.”
Running marathons is not for everybody. However, Steinhoff is a believer in finding a place to start out and then build up from there. Up next, she plans to run the Coastal Delaware Marathon in April with a spot in the Boston Marathon on the line.
“The race was definitely one of the coolest experiences of my life,” Steinhoff said. “It really is one of those things where the more you put in the more you get out and it is so gratifying to see your efforts pay off.”