Today we are delighted to have a very special interview with club legend and Olympian Carey May, who holds the women’s club record for the marathon 35 years on.
<img src="http://goodcowebprojects.com/aspire/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/4_Adjustments.jpg" alt="Adjustments.jpeg" />
Carey was one of the true pioneers of women’s endurance and Marathon running. She was winner of the first Dublin Marathon in 1980. A year later, she would win the first women’s National Marathon title, running 2:42.39; and in 1982, she would run for Ireland in the first European Championship marathon for women, in Athens.
<img src="http://goodcowebprojects.com/aspire/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/IMG_4528.jpg" alt="Carey winning the first Dublin Marathon in 1980" />
Carey winning the first Dublin Marathon in 1980
Carey didn’t stop there: and in 1983, she ran the first World Championship marathon for women in Helsinki, finishing 13th in 2:36:28, and better again ran the first Olympic Marathon for women in Los Angeles in 1984. These were proper pioneering days for women’s marathon running and Carey played a part in almost all of them
Carey won the Osaka Ladies Marathon in 1983 and 1985 where she set the club and national record of 2.28.07, a national record that stood for 12 years.
1.`When and why did you join DSD AC?
I joined what was then Dundrum AC around 1977 when I finished at Wesley College, I lived in Ticknock and it was the closest club. I usually walked down to Ballinteer or rode my bike to meet for training. I had met Eddie and Liz McDonough who were a big part of encouraging me to come join the club.
2. What was your best event and what event did you like best?
In the schools competitions I mostly hurdled and did some 400s and 800s, I liked hurdling but wasn’t fast enough for the 100mH so moved up to the 400mH, I had a fair bit of success. I think my best time was 63secs, not so fast now! I found a pic of winning the Dublin Championships..
<img src="http://goodcowebprojects.com/aspire/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/5_Adjustments.jpg" alt="Carey as a 400m hurder" />
Carey as a 400m hurder
Later, after having some successful cross country seasons I moved up to the 3,000m which was a new event for women.
3. What is your favourite training workout?
Always long runs! Speed work was always hard for me even though I know it’s what helped the most. I would prefer a 20 mile run at 6 minute pace to a hard track workout!
4. And your least favourite?
Fast, track workouts but what we like the least is probably what we need to do the most. It gets us out of our comfort zone.
5. What is your most cherished or proudest moment in your athletics career?
Looking back, it was definitely competing in the first women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympics. At the time I was disappointed at my performance, it was difficult to prepare properly as it came after a hard college track season and instead of being able to take a break I had a month to get ready for an Olympic Marathon. But once I put the race in perspective I realize what an honour it was to represent Ireland and run with the best women in the world at such an amazing inaugural event.
<img src="http://goodcowebprojects.com/aspire/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/IMG_4525.jpg" alt="Start line of the inaugural Ladies marathon at the 1984 Olympics" />
Start line of the inaugural Ladies marathon at the 1984 Olympics
6, What is your most loved athletics sporting moment of all time ?
Being in the stands in Helsinki and watching Eamonn Coughlan win the world Championship 5,000m. The passion and confidence he showed coming round that last bend still gives me goose bumps. It was one of the most inspiring races I’ve witnessed.
<img src="http://goodcowebprojects.com/aspire/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/IMG_4526.jpg" alt="One of Ireland’s finest distance runners" />
One of Ireland’s finest distance runners
7. What was your favourite race / athletics meet to take part in?
On the track my favorite race was the 10,000m which I competed in at college, people tend to think you’re a little nuts to race 25 laps on the track but I loved the focus, rhythm and mental toughness it took to race it well. I ran it at the NCAA National Championships 3 years in a row, my best place was 2nd in 1983 and best time was 32 min 51 sec in 1984 which is still the college record at BYU.
8. What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it?
My worst injuries were stress fractures, I ran a lot of miles in training and by 1984 it was catching up with me. I probably had a total of 6 or 7 stress fractures over a couple of years. They take about 6 weeks to heal and it was spent on exercise bikes as there weren’t any alternative methods of cross training then.
9. What did you eat before a race and how long before did you eat?
If races were early I wouldn’t eat at all, just water or coffee, when races started later in the day I would have some plain bread and maybe half a banana 2 to 3 hours before racing.
10. If you could have dinner with 3 sporting personalities past or present who would you pick ?
There are so many I admire! I just saw a picture from the start line of the ‘84 marathon so I think I’d go back in time and meet some of my peers, Joyce Smith, Joan Benoit, and Grete Waitz (RIP) and catch up.
11. What is your next running / athletics goal?
About 10 years ago I was introduced to ultramarathons by some trail running friends in California. Since then I’ve run quite a few 50km mountain races and one 50 miler. I love running in the mountains and this is a way to be a little competitive, to challenge yourself and enjoy the outdoors. A couple that I wanted to run this year have been postponed but as soon as they are back on I’ll be on the start line!
<img src="http://goodcowebprojects.com/aspire/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/image0-1.jpg" alt="The top two Irish female marathon runners of all time meet - Carey and Catherina McKiernan at the Leinster Schools T&amp;F 2016 (Photo Lindie Naughton)" />
The top two Irish female marathon runners of all time meet – Carey and Catherina McKiernan at the Leinster Schools T&F 2016 (Photo Lindie Naughton)
12, How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times?
I think this is the time to embrace the loneliness of the long distance runner! Luckily where I live I can run as much as I want without getting close to anyone. I think it would be quite difficult to deal with for those young athletes who have had their seasons interrupted and for those who were preparing for this years Olympics. I can’t imagine the disappointment and frustration. It’s easy to say there’s always next year but the amount of work and training that goes into making a team or qualifying time is huge and I hope they all find the strength to keep working and refocus.
For me, I just love to run and have never needed motivation beyond that.
13. What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete?
1. You are always better than you think you are.
2. You can always do more than you think you can
3. Don’t ever be disappointed in yourself. If you think you have had a bad race/training session ask yourself afterwards if you could have tried any harder. If the answer is No, then you gave 100% at that point in time and you can’t do better than that. Your 100% effort is going to be different on any given day, sometimes we’ll fall short other times we’ll amaze ourselves. Always be proud of yourself.
14. Do you have any memorable or funny story from DSD that you could share?
Running around Marlay Park with Carol Meagan and breaking the posted speed limits..we always laughed at that.
15. Can you share an old picture from your running days
Here’s a few…one my brother took, one from the Avon San Francisco Marathon and one from Osaka Marathon
<img src="http://goodcowebprojects.com/aspire/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/IMG_4523.jpg" alt="Osaka Marathon" />
<img src="http://goodcowebprojects.com/aspire/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/IMG_4524.jpg" alt="Avon San Francisco Marathon" />
Avon San Francisco Marathon