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Keira D'Amato sets new American marathon record for women

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

About five years ago, a real estate agent and new mother of two pranked her husband. For Christmas, she signed him up for a marathon. Well, she did feel a little bad about that, so she decided she would run it, too. It went better than expected, so she trained for some more. And yesterday in Houston, she became the fastest U.S. woman to run a marathon, finishing in just over two hours, 19 minutes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Go, go, go, Keira, go, go, go, Keira.

KELLY: That's Keira D'Amato finishing the Chevron Houston Marathon. The footage is courtesy of FloTrack. Right after she crosses the line, her two kids come up to her.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You're the fastest in country ever.

KELLY: D'Amato is now 37 years old, an age when many pros have stopped running. She was a standout in college, but a foot injury hindered her after that. In 2009, she got a day job, got married, had two kids.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEIRA D'AMATO: And then I came in as just a hobby jogger, recreational runner. And then somehow, I got this second opportunity back at running.

KELLY: Here she is talking to ABC13 in Houston after the race.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

D'AMATO: This dream was gone a decade ago, and somehow I just believed that, you know, age is just a number. And it just doesn't even matter how old you are. You can chase your dreams. And I'm just so fortunate to have a family that supported that.

KELLY: After her prank five years ago, she came back to running in earnest. She has set personal bests at many distances, signed a deal with Nike, but she kept her job in real estate while helping raise two big fans.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

D'AMATO: When I crossed the line and they were there, oh, man. I just - it's just one of the happiest moments of my life, outside of, like, the day I had them. I guess I got to put my wedding day up there, too. But then this is following that. I just can't believe this is happening.

KELLY: Today, Keira D'Amato tweeted she hoped others would go after her record - quote, "I know they will and I'll be rooting for them." Well, those challengers may come soon. Yesterday in Houston, 38-year-old Sarah Hall, a mother of four, broke the U.S. women's record for the half-marathon. You go.

(SOUNDBITE OF KYGO'S "ID (ULTRA MUSIC FESTIVAL ANTHEM)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.