Reichert Napa
Half Moon Bay High School alumna Liza Hitchner Reichert crosses the finish line at the Napa Valley Marathon earlier this year. She is headed to her second U.S. Olympic Trials later this month.

Liza Reichert knows as well as any runner that the marathon, with all its variables, is never a sure thing. The former Moss Beach resident and Half Moon Bay High School alum will race in her second U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 and she is ready for anything. 

She chose the Napa Valley Marathon last March to be her qualifying race. Historically, it’s not a fast course, but she knew the route well. Though she said she wasn’t feeling her best, Reichert dipped under the trials’ qualifying time of 2 hours, 45 seconds and won in 2:44:06, an average of 6:16 per mile. 

“It was a huge relief to check that off,” Reichert, 32, said. “I ran Napa a year after having my daughter, so it was a little bit of a comeback to the marathon for me.”

Between her 2-year-old daughter and her full-time role as the clinical research manager in the pediatric hematology and oncology department at Stanford University School of Medicine, her schedule is well booked. Still, she knows how to get in her miles and averages about 70 per week.

Next week in Atlanta, six individuals, the top three men and women, will emerge to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. According to USA Track and Field, the field for the trials is larger than normal. With a total of 771 entrants, 511 women and 260 men — some of whom won’t attend — it should be a stacked field. By comparison, 457 runners, 211 men and 246 women, ran at the 2016 marathon trials in Los Angeles. 

Reichert was a talented runner at Half Moon Bay High School. After graduating in 2005, she ran for the University of California, Santa Barbara. In her career, she’s run everything from the 1,500 meters all the way to the marathon.

Reichert, who now lives in Los Altos, ran her first marathon in 2015 in Eugene, Ore. Though she ran under three hours, a sought-after time, she was not satisfied with her effort. 

“It’s a very different mindset and training system,” Reichert said on marathon training. “You’re really adapting your body in a different way, at least from what I had done before.”

Since 2011 Reichert has been a member of the Aggies Running Club, a semiprofessional team sponsored by Hoka One One. She qualified for her 2016 Olympic trials with a lifetime best 2:42:24 and 14th place finish at the 2015 California International Marathon in Sacramento. But her trials debut in the City of Angeles didn’t go well. The sweltering heat caused an abnormal number of runners to drop out, Reichert included. Now, with more experience under her belt, she’s fueled for a comeback and has the fitness to back it up. She’s eyeing another personal best in Atlanta. 

“Personally, I was frustrated about not being able to finish that race,” Reichert said. “So I’m really excited to redeem myself and have a more positive experience in Atlanta.”

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