Running: Davies discovers the form of her life

By Peter Thornton

Houston-based Kiwi can't wait for tilt at the marathon title in Moscow.

Houston-based Northlander Mary Davies has been away from New Zealand since 2004. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Houston-based Northlander Mary Davies has been away from New Zealand since 2004. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Northland's Mary Davies feels like she is in the form of her life and cannot wait for the world track and field championship in Russia in August.

The 30-year-old Houston-based Kiwi, who will be running the marathon in Moscow, won the Garry Bjorkland half marathon in Duluth, Minnesota last weekend in a personal best of 71 minutes 7 seconds in the women's field of 3900. She was fourth overall.

Davies's time improved on her previous best of 71 minutes 50 seconds set in Edmonton, Canada in August last year. The USA half marathon champs where held on the same day on the same course and Davies time would have won the American title if she had been eligible.

She went to the US to study at Oklahoma State University on an athletic scholarship in 2004. She met her husband Gabriel Sawakuchi, who is from Brazil, while studying and never came back. We caught up with the mother of 2-year-old boy Lucas, who she calls her "biggest inspiration", to talk about her preparation for the worlds, living overseas and preparing her ultimate goal the Olympics in three years' time.

How has your form been in 2013 as you build up to the worlds in Moscow?

My coach Ian Babe and I feel that I am in the best running shape I have ever been in. The build-up so far has gone pretty smoothly apart from getting bronchitis early on.

You must have been rapt with your PB at the Half Marathon at Minnesota?

Yeah it was a great experience. I tried to enter into the USA Half Marathon Champs which was on the same day and the same course just 20 minutes earlier. However, I could not as I am not a US citizen. I was able to get entered as an elite in the general race. I was not sure if there would be any competition but Ian and I decided that it was important for the build-up to the world championships to do a half and put in a really hard effort. For the first four miles I ran with the leading man. However, after this I ran by myself the whole way which always makes it harder to keep focused and hitting the right splits. My goal was to run sub 1:11. I fell short of this by seven seconds but was happy with the effort. I was pleased when I crossed the finish line to hear that I would have won the USA half champs if I had been entered.

That win follows your marathon victory last year in Toronto, how important was that result?

It was great to win a silver IAAF label race. Also to run close to a 10 minute PB was awesome. This win gave me the selection standard for the world champs. It was a great confidence builder.

Explain what a typical day is like for you in Houston?

I normally wake around 6am to our alarm clock which is our 2-year-old son Lucas. I will then get ready to run. After running I stretch and do strength exercises. Two days out of the week I go to the chiropractor to get active release therapy. I pick my son up from his school at 11am. We have lunch together and then the afternoon is playing with him, going to the park, or the pool. Then I do my second training which is normally water running in the pool. I do more stretching and exercises after dinner. It is pretty much routine from day to day. Not too much time for other activities but I love every minute. I run around 160km a week. Plus, I do another six-seven hours water running in the pool and weights once a week.

What have been some of the key lessons you have learned there?

I have to say that most of the key aspects about running I have learned from my New Zealand-based coach Ian Babe. He has taught me everything I know about running. He was my first running coach before going to the USA. Some of the key lessons I have learned from Ian are: 1) Targeting recovery in order to avoid injury and improve. This is done by using different methods but the most beneficial for me has been water running. 2) Consistency is key. It is the day in and day out training that makes you strong.

How long have you been there and do you miss home?

I have been overseas since 2004. We are pretty settled here in Houston but in the future a move back to New Zealand could be possible. I miss my family, friends, coach, beach, NZ nature and beauty and being able to watch the All Blacks play.

What conditions are you expecting for the marathon in Moscow?

The marathon is starting at 2pm so it could be quite warm. However, I am training in Houston where it gets extremely hot so I am used to running in these conditions. I am hoping to run a personal best in Moscow, a sub 2.28.

What is your ultimate goal in running and how are you tracking for this?

The Olympics in Rio 2016 is my focus. I feel I am on track to make the Olympic team to Rio. My PB for the marathon of 2.28.57 would have qualified me for the 2012 Olympic Games. I am not sure what the standard will be for Rio but I am confident of making it. The most important part is to stay injury-free and improve each year.

What advice do you offer to other young up and coming long distance runners in NZ?

1) Work hard. 2) Be committed. 3) Enjoy what you are doing and have fun with training. 4) Listen to your body and know when to give your body a break. 4) Find a good coach. 5) Set achievable and measurable goals. 6) Believe in yourself.


Mary Davies: Personal bests


10km 32.08 (Ottawa on May 25)

Half marathon 1:11.07 (Minnesota on June 22)

Marathon 2:28.57

To follow Mary and her results visit: runkiakaha.blogspot.com

- NZ Herald

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