Alysia Montano may call herself “that pregnant runner” in her Twitter bio, but that’s because she’s limited to 140 characters. Off the Internet, the multifaceted 31-year-old, who is making headlines for entering the USATF Outdoor Championships while pregnant for the second time, doesn’t label herself in conventional terms.
Instead, she told The Post on Friday after finishing seventh in her 800-meter heat, “I want for my life to be defined by happiness … not just being labeled as a runner, or being labeled as a theater major.”
Or maybe even just a mother. Although, that’s the label right now that might be contributing the most to her happiness, as she and husband/manager Louis Montano prepare to welcome a sibling for their nearly 3-year-old daughter, Linnea, in November.
The couple made plans to get pregnant again last year following the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but they were prepared to put it off due to the Zika outbreak in Brazil. However, when Montano missed making the Olympic team after a nightmare collision with another runner on the track ended her shot, the couple saw a silver lining for their family planning efforts.
Now five months pregnant, the two-time American record holder is back, letting neither her recent stumble nor her growing belly stop her from chasing her latest happiness on the track.
Of course, Montano has been here before, in 2014, when she entered the USATF Outdoor Championships at eight months pregnant. Sporting a nearly full-term baby bump at the time, Montano finished the race in 2:32.13. But she felt more confident then than she did this week.
“I thought I was going to run slower,” she said, noting more recently experienced first-trimester symptoms such as fatigue and nausea that affected her ability to train.
Being lighter, however, allowed Montano to run faster, clocking in at 2:21.40 to finish 30th overall. It wasn’t good enough to earn a spot in the semifinals, but that wasn’t the goal.
Montano said she hopes her effort empowers and inspires women who might feel pressured to follow a specific trajectory in life, whether pregnant or not.
“This isn’t to pressure women to run during pregnancy. That’s not the point at all,” she said. “We’re just different and that’s the point.”
Montano underlined this in a video she posted to her Twitter account before the race, encouraging her followers to “be your journey.”
— Alysia Montaño (@AlysiaMontano) June 22, 2017
While Montano has been trailblazing her own way, she is also influenced by others, including Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor and Lashinda Demus, runners who continued to run while pregnant and found considerable success afterward.
Montano, who fittingly channeled Wonder Woman in both spirit and uniform during Thursday’s race, has already experienced postpartum success, as well. Less than a year after giving birth to her first daughter in 2014, Montano won two medals at the 2015 Pan American Games. She captured the silver as part of Team USA’s women’s 4×800-meter relay and gold in the women’s 4×400-meter event.
Montano foresees more success on the track following her second pregnancy, but she refuses to limit her goals to just achieving more on the track.
“I think a career is so open,” she said, expressing her desire to keep finding new paths toward happiness. “Who wants to pick up a book and read the same chapter over and over again?”