After gaining international fame as an Olympian and then as “the pregnant sprinter,” former Canyon High track star Alysia Montaño is running for a new reason — to support HandsOn Santa Clarita for a 5k/10k Holiday Run at Magic Mountain.
The Six Flags theme park in Valencia is hosting the second annual 5k/10k Holiday Run on Dec. 20 at 8 a.m. to support HandsOn Santa Clarita.
HandsOn Santa Clarita directly supports nonprofits throughout the Santa Clarita Valley by networking charitable organizations in the SCV with volunteers.
While on a break from working back to her Olympic-level form, Montaño, 28, of Canyon Country, found out about the event on the Internet and wanted to help out, she said.
“It’s about giving back to Santa Clarita,” said the Class of 2004 Canyon High graduate. “I have to run for work,” she said with a laugh, “and I wanted to do a charity event around the holidays.”
Registration for the event is $45 for the 5k and $55 for the 10k. The proceeds will benefit Hands On Santa Clarita.
[Click here] for the event’s website.
The event is also being supported by Advocare, which is a primary sponsor of the run.
“We’ll have some great drinks out on the course to help keep the runners hydrated,” said Real Andrews, independent distributor for Advocare. “We’ll have the hydration drinks and weight loss products to help people get set up right for the new year.”
The event is the group’s biggest fundraiser, said Seema Shah, executive director for HandsOn Santa Clarita.
“We help connect volunteers with Santa Clarita Valley nonprofits, to help them fill their needs,” she said, “which otherwise wouldn’t be met.”
Catching up with Alysia Montaño
Montaño gained international attention in June after running the 800m at the 2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, where, as she puts it, she was “pretttttttttty pregnant.”
She was more than eight months along during the run, competing on a national stage in a race she took part in at the London Olympics two years earlier.
She didn’t take the run or her training quite as hard as usual, she said, adding she wasn’t trying to break her own personal best times, but she did train consistently for the event.
She ran the race in Sacramento, she said, for several reasons.
“One is, we’re in 2014, people — I want women to recognize the strength that their own body holds,” she said. “And not only for women, but the whole human race — to realize pregnancy is not an illness, it’s not a disease. And it’s health for a mommy to continue to exercise during a pregnancy. It promotes blood flow and it’s great for the baby.”
Montaño’s goals now include returning to the form that earned her a spot in the 2012 Summer Olympics for the 800m for the U.S. National Team, the World Championships next year and a trip to Rio De Janeiro Olympics so she can represent the United States again in 2016.
Montaño is also a five-time U.S. national champion in the 800m event, and wants to defend her crown, as well as extend her reign as “defending pregnant champion,” she joked.
Getting back on track
Montaño and her husband, manager and fellow Canyon High classmate, Louis Montaño, have already figured out a routine that allows Montaño to train and, more importantly, spend plenty of time with their now-17-week-old daughter, Linnéa, she said.
“I had an amazing comeback from my pregnancy,” she said, while discussing how her training regimen helped her quickly shed the 30 pounds or so she gained while pregnant.
She wasn’t trying to lose the weight as quickly as possible, but she did want to get back to work as quickly as possible.
“I think a lot of that had to do with keeping up with my training during my pregnancy,” she said. “I got a lot of advice, I asked midwives, I asked doctors — their advice was to continue doing what I was doing before I got pregnant.”
It’s hard to imagine less six months ago, she was just getting back on her feet after her pregnancy.
“Within about two weeks,” she said, referring to how long she waited to return to the track. “I just walked for two weeks, and I started all of my transverse abdominal exercises.”
After having a distended belly for nine months, she had to retrain her entire core, she said.
Now, she’s back training alongside some of the best runners in the world, including someone who’s run a course she’d like to follow.
Olympic sprinter Lashinda Demus, who also coaches track and field at College of the Canyons, helped the United States win gold in the 4×400-meter hurdles at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin, about three years after she gave birth to twins.
Montaño said her daughter has also been supportive of her efforts, by starting to sleep through the night at the age of 6 weeks.
“She has allowed us a lot of freedom in just being an amazing sleeper,” Alysia Montaño said.
The track and field season is right around the corner, she said, with the first big meet being the Mount San Antonio College Relays in the spring.
She sees her return to work the same as any other women’s, she said.
“It’s like any other working woman, it just happens to be that I’m a professional runner,” she said. “I have to go back to work.”