(CBS Local)– New York City is filled with millions of fascinating people and Ana Johnson certainly has an interesting story to tell. Johnson is a nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering where she works with cancer patients every day and she also is an elite runner. During the pandemic, Johnson was working with patients who were most vulnerable to COVID-19 while also training with a small group of runners.

This weekend, Johnson returns to the big stage for the Mastercard New York Mini 10K on Saturday, June 12. The race is being put on by the New York Road Runners and it’s the first regularly scheduled race since the beginning of the pandemic. The annual woman-only race has been held in New York City every year since 1972, except last year because of COVID-19.

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CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith recently caught up with Johnson to discuss the race and life as a nurse during COVID-19.

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“I am so excited and nervous at the same time,” said Johnson. “It’s been a while since I have raced. I can’t wait for this Saturday. I think my last race was last November. I did a 10K at the track and it’s definitely not the same. I’m going to be lining up with the best female athletes in the Mastercard New York Mini 10K. This race will be significant for me in two ways. It’s the first regularly scheduled race and it’s just for women. It’s been over a year since the world shutdown due to the pandemic and thanks to the vaccine, the world seems to be slowly beginning to return to normal.”

Both Johnson’s mother and father were marathon runners and that’s where she gets her love of running from. Johnson says running is such a significant part of her life because she grew up in a male-dominated culture in Mexico where women don’t have the opportunity to be leaders. Johnson is now a leader in her community as a runner and a nurse to cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

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“Working as an oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering during the pandemic was one of the most challenging events of my career,” said Johnson. “When the pandemic began, it was a fluid situation as we began to deal with the virus. We had general guides for infectious diseases, but most were unknown. As a professional, I went to work and stayed focused. My goals were to keep both my patients and myself safe. Keeping the focus is not unlike the focus in running a marathon. Preparation, assessment and motivation. I never felt professionally alone during the pandemic.”

CBSNewYork Team