IRMO, SC (WIS) - An Irmo woman got a big surprise last month when she crossed the finish line first during a marathon in Cincinnati. But the big win is not what makes Amy McDonaugh special.
Amy admits she doesn't know where her speed comes from. She assumes its just good genes. But once you learn about Amy, you can quickly see her success in life and on the road comes from the heart.
If you walk into Amy McDonaugh's house, you won't miss it. A wall of medals, trophies, and certificates, proof that running is more than a hobby -- it's something Amy is very good at.
"It's neat to see now that I have them spread out," said McDonaugh. "I didn't use to, so it's fun, but it's not the main part of my life."
Amy puts her heart and soul into her full-time job as a mother. She has her hands full with three kids and occasionally a hamster, which is what led her to the road. "After I had my third kid, I started running to get out of the house," she said.
She ran her first marathon in Myrtle Beach two years ago, and qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon. Last month, she won the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. "It was amazing," said McDonaugh. "Surreal. It feels like a dream."
Pretty amazing, especially when you learn that Amy is legally blind. Her eyes were damaged due to complications with surgery more than 22 years ago. "My right eye is totally blind and my left eye, I can see from here to here," she said.
Amy has a condition that causes her to bleed uncontrollably. This caused a rough childhood full of trips to the hospital. "I wasn't expected to live past 12," she said. "They just kept trying things and nothing was working. I had 18 surgeries in 18 months."
So it's easy to see why the stay-at-home mom has the mental toughness to run 26.2 miles. "I think that really does play a big part," said McDonaugh. "I have a high tolerance for pain."
And enough vision to see the finish line, and beat others to it. "It's just feeling free," she said. "To be able to move and be alive and feel alive."
For Amy, that is the biggest prize of all.