“I think in my ‘first round,’ I felt so much pressure. I was really nervous to race, and I felt like I had so much to lose that it was almost crippling,” she says. “This time, coming in as a parent with no one expecting anything of me has been really freeing. That’s been kind of beautiful—to be free, in that sense.”
In her early 20s, D’Amato says that running was all-encompassing. Now after workouts, she shifts into mom mode or work mode. She jokes that her kids and clients don’t care whether she nailed it or bonked that day. It’s given her some necessary perspective to a sport that can understandably feel like it’s the be-all and end-all.
“Everyone has bad days,” D’Amato says. “I have a lot of bad days. I try to treat workouts like races and I take them really, really seriously. But sometimes you don’t feel it or the weather’s not good, and you just gotta learn and move on. And that’s been easier for me with kids and with the job because I have to shift into another mindset as soon as I leave the track.”
As D’Amato’s star has risen, it’s taken the full support of her family to make everything work. Her husband, she says, sacrifices his workout time so she could get hers in. And flexibility is key all around to keep everything running smoothly.
One thing that is rigid? What D’Amato calls the “golden hours” that she spends with her children: mornings before school and evenings before bedtime. She prioritizes that time above training and work.
“I really protect that time,” she says. “I look at that as ‘don’t mess with me during that time unless it’s a special circumstance.’ I don’t make a habit of eating into that time.”
After that top priority, real estate or running filters in next depending on the day, she says. “It takes a village, and I ask for a lot of help with my family and support system.”
A Push to the Future
Expectations are high going into the World Championships, both for D’Amato and Team USA in general. On the start line, D’Amato will join fellow Team USA runners Emma Bates and Sara Hall—who finished second and third, respectively, in the 2021 Chicago Marathon—and they’re hoping to keep Team USA’s marathon momentum going. At the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer, Molly Seidel captured the bronze medal, becoming only the third-ever American woman to medal in the Olympic marathon.
“Molly absolutely leveled up American distance running. I think it showed other people what’s possible,” D’Amato says. “Going into this World Championship, I think all three of us thought, ‘if Molly can do that, maybe I can do that.’”
The makeup of Team USA acknowledges another subtle, but growing trend across the sport: That women can run their best marathons well into their 30s and after becoming moms. At 39, Hall also balances her training with raising four young children, and Eugene will be her first time representing the US at Worlds, too.