This runner of the month is someone you can see around Frederick pushing his beloved orange stroller (and son, of course). Javier Montenegro has never shied away from a challenge. Conquering different distance triathlons to pushing an extra 55 lbs of baby + stroller up and down the “rolling hills” of Frederick. He is always ready to help fellow runners who have lovingly nicknamed him Coach Javier. Although Javier has had a rough couple of months with the cancer diagnosis of his father, he has found an appreciation and love for the trails and running family who continue to help him through the difficult times.
As Vice President of the Frederick Steeplechasers Running Club, a loving father, husband, friend and running buddy to many we introduce to you Javier Montenegro (aka Blackmountain) as your March Runner of the Month. **written by his wife Liza an ITSF staff member**
Where is your hometown? I was born in San Jose Costa Rica, but I grew up here in Frederick.
How did you first get into running? I think I signed up for my first 5k around 5th grade, back when there was a Jingle Bell run at the Eastalco Alcoa plant grounds. I also ran the mile at a few of the middle school track meets. I think I peaked a little early, because I can’t run a mile as fast as I could in 8th grade.
What is your favorite distance to run? and your favorite race you’ve run so far? I’m still discovering which distance is my favorite, I’m not so sure I’ve found it yet. I think I also have an internal battle going on where part of me wants to race hard and fast and the other part wants to race nice and easy and enjoy the company and the surroundings. I think the latter is winning at the moment, which is why I’m gravitating towards longer races. My favorite race to date is Ironman Lake Placid. It was my first marathon and I put in so much time and effort into the training. It was truly one of those times where the race is your victory lap because all the hard work is behind you. I have a feeling that by the end of the year, I’ll have a different answer to both these questions.
What’s been your favorite moment/ memory since being the Vice President of the Steeplechasers Running Club? When you’re on the “inside” (at board meetings, committee meetings, copied to emails, etc.) you get to see what’s going on behind the scenes. In our case, the constant theme is how many people volunteer so much of their time and effort to make our running community a great one. The energy that our volunteers bring is contagious and it shows in the growing number of people joining the club and signing up for their first races. I get to see a lot of people accomplish their first 5k or 10k, or long 20 miler, or PR at various distances. I also feel like I’m learning a great deal from the other officers – Lou, Harriet, and Sage do so much heavy lifting within the club and their work ethic is unparalleled. It’s as fantastic trio of mentors to have, and not just because they’re great runners either.
You recently finished your first ultra at Terrapin 50K in March. How did that go? Was that just fuel to the “ultra running fire”? I did the Terrapin ½ marathon last year and the atmosphere was amazing. I knew I wanted to come back to race again, but I was undecided about doing the half again or upping the ante and doing the 50k. Since I signed up for my first 100 miler later in the year (see below), I figured there’s no better way to earn my stripes than to finish the 50K. I came into it with the plan of hiking the climbs and running the flats (which I didn’t find) and the downhills (which were plentiful!). I went through a little bit of a rough patch about halfway through the race where I thought to myself “I’m only halfway through, this is crazy”. A few miles later, we got some beautiful snowfall and my race turned around and the miles clicked off pretty quickly after that. It was a really good experience to work through that rough patch because I know I’ll have a lot of those in my future races, and it’s nice to know that they don’t necessarily last forever. At the end of the way, I feel really proud that I finished my first 50k and that I got the first notch on my ultra belt. Now I just need a buckle for that belt.
I understand you have a pretty big goal on your calendar this year. What are your upcoming races for the ’16? The big goal this year is to complete Cascade Crest 100 mile Endurance Run in late August. It’ll be my first time in the Pacific Northwest and I can’t wait to run on those trails. In preparation for that, I’ll be doing The North Face 50 miler here in DC in April and I’m very excited about doing Catoctin 50K in July as part of my training. Other than that, I might be doing a few shorter races here and there, but no other big plans.
You and your wife are both runners with two little kids? How do you both manage training, being parents, working and well life!? All the credit goes to my wife Liza. She has been very flexible with taking care of both boys while I go on runs/races and now that she’s training for her first post-pregnancy half marathon I’m happy to return the favor. The boys are obviously our priority, and sometimes that means that I don’t run until after they’re asleep, or she runs before they wake up in the morning. I’m happy about the weather coming around because that means I can take Baby Javi on stroller runs, which are always fun for the both of us. We’re also not shy about asking friends and family to help us out when we both need to get those long weekend runs done. It definitely takes a village. Our hope is that our boys grow up in this running community so that they’re surrounded by the positive role models we proudly consider friends.
One last question, what is your favorite post race meal? The food varies, but my consistent post-race indulgence is a cold beer with friends.