Davies runs a cracker at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon
- Credit: Archant
Helen Davies produced her most satisfying run, over the marathon distance, at the recent Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to burst into the top three of the quickest female marathon runners in the UK for this year.
Davies stormed to an impressive 2hrs 35mins 12secs over the 26.2-mile distance in Canada to celebrate her second fastest ever marathon time.
And her most recent exploits in Toronto felt even better than her personal best performance of 2:34:11 from the London Marathon of 2012, not least because she has since resumed her athletics career after a long break to start a young family.
Now the 39-year-old member of Ipswich JAFFA is looking ahead to possible future marathons, and potential personal best landmarks, including completing a hat-trick of victories at next year’s Brighton Marathon.
This was Davies’ third outing at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, representing England, although it was a gap of nine years since her previous visit, a 2:41:08 posting in 2009.
Major championship marathons followed, at the European Championships in Barcelona, and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, both in 2010, backed up by a PB run at London two years later.
It seemed that her best years were behind her, when Davies took a break from competitive running to start a family with husband Gavin (a JAFFA club-mate), but she is now arguably running better than ever before.
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“It went better than I expected, and you don’t often have the pleasure of saying that after a marathon!” enthused Davies.
“It wasn’t great weather. It was only one degree on the start-line, and two degrees at the finish, while there was also a wind chill factor of minus three.
“After training in our long hot summer, it was a bit of a shock, and I’m not a big fan of running in the cold, so that was preying on my mind a little.
“But I had a couple of pairs of gloves, and a hat, and it was only in the final few kilometres when a brutal head-wind had an effect.
“I rate this run as better than my PB run from London, because I was in sub-2:33 shape at London that year, only to lose a couple of minutes during the second half of the race, while at Toronto I was looking at a 2:36-2:37 time.
“My 5K splits were so similar, and there was no real difference between the first half and second half of the race.
“My coach Clive (Sparkes) and I had put our heads together, two days before the race, to write down separately what pace we thought I should be running, and we both wrote down 5:55 (per mile), which would equate to 3:42 per kilometre and an overall 2:36 marathon.
“The event organisers had arranged Pacers for 2:32, 2:35 and 2:38, so I was in a quandary about what to do, for fear of being caught in no man’s land.
“A 2:35 time would mean 3:40 (per km) pace, and Clive told me that he thought I was in the right to shape to run at that pace.
“And I felt good throughout. In fact, I felt so good early on that I wanted to burst clear of the group. I was on for sub-2:35 until the last 7K, when the wind-chill stopped me from picking up the pace further. But that suggests I have more to come, and gives me encouragement for the future.
“I never thought that I would hit the heights of what I achieved before starting a family, but Brighton last year was a turning point. This run has changed everything. I feel that there is a chance of setting a marathon PB, which was not something that I thought was possible.
“I am now third overall in the UK rankings for this year, and top for my age group (over-35s),” added Davies, who was eighth lady and first veteran at Toronto.
As for the future, Davies continued: “I felt more together in this marathon than ever before, and I had left no stone unturned in my preparations, with regards the training, nutrition, sports massages, visits to the physio and even ear acupuncture, which helps to suppress anxiety.
“London next year is a World Championship qualifier, and I qualify for the elite package, but my heart says that I will return to Brighton to try and get a hat-trick of wins,” added Davies, who has two sons, Kingsley (aged five) and Hector (aged four).