Jul 2, 2014, 5:14 PM EST
Alysia Montano is incredibly thankful for the support she’s received after competing while eight months pregnant, but she ceded the spotlight at her baby shower over the weekend.
“People went to my belly,” she said, “and told the baby, ‘Good job.'”
Montano, a five-time U.S. outdoor champion and Olympian, ran a preliminary 800m heat at the U.S. Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday, with her pink jersey stretching over her baby bump.
Her goals were to not get lapped and to raise awareness about the importance of exercising during pregnancy. She accomplished both, finishing 25 seconds behind the field and easily becoming the biggest story of the meet.
When her two laps were up, she remembered being the first competitor to receive a water bottle. Then, USA Track and Field medical staff quickly checked her heart rate, pulse and the baby’s well being.
“They cleared me, and everything was good,” Montano said. “I’m like, thank you, can I have some more water?”
Media gathered quickly, contacting her manager (who is also her husband), calling her parents and even showing up at her parents’ house.
“I have no idea how they got there,” Montano said. “I recognized that this is going to be a big thing.”
The reactions came first from track and field followers, then social media and in person, such as at her 10-year high school reunion over the weekend. They’ve been 90 percent positive, Montano said.
She was featured on “SportsCenter,” cable news shows, “Good Morning Sacramento” and “Good Day LA.”
“It’s been an amazing whirlwind, more than we expected or imagined,” Montano said. “I imagined that it would be among the running community and maybe a little bit the athletic community. I’m so happy that it went national and even touching a little bit globally.”
Media from the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan requested her time. She said she made the front page of a Swiss newspaper. She’s graciously granted requests, keeping in mind her Aug. 13 due date is approaching.
Fitness is key, too. She alternated walking, running and swimming before recently “coasting in” as she calls it with easier runs, walks and ElliptiGO work. Montano said Wednesday was her relaxing day — about an hour’s worth of circuit training.
She’s drawn inspiration from many, many sources, but track fans will recognize one name in particular — two-time Olympian Kara Goucher.
She asked questions of the distance runner before she competed in Sacramento. On Sept. 25, 2010, Goucher jogged five miles in the morning, lifted weights and gave birth to her first child in the evening.
“My doctor was a runner and she told me I could run through the pregnancy,” Goucher told Sports Illustrated in 2011.
“It was so nice to have a woman that has done it before me to help pave the way,” Montano said.
In the last week, Montano traveled up and down the California coast by plane, train and automobile, from her Bay Area residence to Sacramento to her hometown of Canyon Country in Los Angeles County and back to the Bay Area.
She made sure not to miss a specific appointment on Tuesday — watching the thrilling U.S.-Belgium World Cup match.
“I almost went into labor during the soccer game,” she joked.
She also laughed when asked what she’ll tell her first child about the last seven days.
“These are going to be the most amazing baby photos, pregnant bump photos for our child to have,” she said.
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