An IRONMAN is not defined by the miles he or she runs, but the heart it takes to finish.
“So I've heard it said that the true success of an IRONMAN is the ability to suffer,” Thorne said.
Amy Thorne understands the agony well. She completed the race back in 2014
“Your body is capable of so much more than you think it is,” Thorne said.
The course is a fixed distance for all that compete, but sometimes the hardest part of the journey is the one to the starting line.
“After completing an IRONMAN you really feel like you can do anything and nothing is impossible anymore,” Thorne said.
Growing up in South Dakota, Amy's love for running started at a very young age. She earned a division one scholarship to North Dakota State and graduated in 2011.
Two years later, her stepbrother Kyle entered his first IRONMAN competition and that is when Amy fell in love.
“Once I saw the IRONMAN race I was so inspired by it...something in me had to be a part of it. I couldn't just watch another one,” Thorne said.
Amy signed up the very next day and would later move out to Coeur d'Alene. She began training 25 to 30 hours a week.
“I think there's a lot of time to self-reflect. A lot of time to think while doing IRONMAN training,” Thorne said.
It was during these rigorous sessions that she decided to not only race, but race for a cause.
“December 16, 2006 started like a normal December morning and then we quickly found ourselves in a tragedy,” Thorne said.
Amy's mother Darlene died from a mitral valve prolapse of the heart.
“That is and will always be the most difficult moment of my life,” Thorne said.
Amy decided to dedicate the IRONMAN to Darlene, and a one-year old girl from Omaha, Nebraska named Katelyn Larson who needed a heart transplant.
“It was so much fun to make that phone call that says hey my name is Amy, I live in Coeur d'Alene Idaho. I'm doing an IRONMAN and I'd love to give you money, you know, it was completely random,” Thorne said.
Amy started a campaign called IRONMAN CDA for D&K and raised $2,300 for Katelyn and her family.
Thorne's competitive spirit showed up for the big day in 2014 as she finished in the top 20 percent of all runners with a time of 12 hours and 19 minutes.
“It was the hardest thing I ever attempted mentally and physically. I just remember thinking that if a one year old can get through a heart transplant, I can surely get through this race,” Thorne said.
The IRONMAN certainly had a personal impact on her life, she did not know how personal it was about to get.
“Raising the money for cardiac issue was really important to me and it was also really ironic and I didn't know it at the time, but two months down the road I would actually be dealing with a medical condition myself,” Thorne said.
In August of 2014, Amy was rushed to the hospital after collapsing in her home
“I didn't know my name or where I was. I didn't know my dad's name or birthday,” Thorne said.
Amy later got an MRI, which showed a large white mass, something the neurologist said was a brain tumor.
"I don't know if there are words to describe the panic you feel,” Thorne said.
Amy was put on the emergency surgery list and was admitted that day. She vividly remembers that night in the hospital with her nurse.
“She held my hand and cried with me and said you don't deserve this,” Thorne said.
The doctor decided to hold off on surgery and monitor the mass for three weeks. During this time, she sent her MRI results to three other hospitals in the country looking for second opinions.
“I've been through an IRONMAN I've been through my mom's death, I can get through this and made up my mind I was going to beat it or really give it a fair fight,” Thorne said.
And that is exactly what she did. The white mass got smaller because it was not a brain tumor. Doctors noticed she had suffered four strokes and recommended tests for her heart.
“We did a cardiac workup that I had a nickel sized hole in my heart that was there since I was born. Once we found out it was a cardiac issue, we figured out how to fix it,” Thorne said.
The doctors patched up the hole and Amy has since had zero complications.
“This half IRONMAN is my first time getting back out there and celebrate that I can do this after going through that medical scare and being so close to death or losing my vision or being paralyzed,” Thorne said.
The 70.3 miles is nothing compared to the two year journey it took to get back to the starting line.
“It's a miracle that I'm even here today. I'm going to continue to chase dreams and set my goals high and realize life is way too short to not chase the impossible,” Thorne said.