The 28-year-old received a standing ovation from the crowd.
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SACRAMENTO — Alysia Montano’s streak of U.S. 800m titles was snapped at four on Thursday afternoon, but the 28 year-old from Canyon Country, Calif., couldn’t be happier. In fact, she got a standing ovation from the small afternoon crowd gathered here at Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State University after she crossed the finish line of her preliminary dead last in 2:32.13.
“More than anything I wanted to be here, and feeling that fire, to be on the track and to race,” said the five-time national champion, who is 34 weeks pregnant. “What a better avenue than to do it at USA Nationals. I have a qualifying time as USA champion; I feel like I deserve to be here.”
Montano got the idea to compete here about a month ago, but decided not to reveal her plans because she was wary of what people might think or say. Indeed, this reporter thought there was a mistake when he saw her name on the start list.
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“I didn’t want to be judged, and have any ill things said about me,” she told reporters after her race, a yellow flower in her hair. “I just wanted to do what my heart and my desire wanted to do.”
The decision to enter the meet was made carefully, she said. She had run throughout her pregnancy and was feeling good, but she needed to consult her medical team just to be sure. She was surprised with how positive they were.
“My midwives and doctors were so encouraging,” she said. “You are a professional runner. Your threshold, you lactate levels are going to be completely different than anybody else’s. That took away any fear of what outside world might think of a pregnant woman running, or exercising in general.”
Wearing a pink Asics singlet stretched tight over bulging belly, Montano was impressed with how warmly she was received by the crowd.
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“You know, I just felt so supported and that was part of it, for me not saying anything about running,” she said. “To see that crowd behind me, and to see how big of a track community and supporters we have as individuals and recognizing that we are people. I mean, seriously, I feel kind of choked up about it because it’s so encouraging and has me really, really fired up to come back here.”
When asked if she thought she could run under two minutes and thirty seconds she replied: “I was definitely, like OK, I think I can run a pretty decent time. I didn’t put a time on it. I didn’t want to get lapped.”