If you’ve raced in Austin at all over the last 10 or 20 years, then you’ve most likely competed alongside Mary Faria. She’s been dominating her age group for a long time now, and has made a mark not only locally, but nationally and internationally.
Case in point: She recently traveled to Malaga Spain to compete in the 2018 Master’s World Championships. There she raced the half marathon. Faria, 63, who set her life-time best for that distance at age 50 (1:34:58) encountered difficult conditions. Though she has medaled there in the past, this year was difficult.
“It was probably good there was no marathon this year as weather conditions were miserably hot and humid with a late start of 9:00 a.m.” said Faria, who was getting over a urinary tract infection just prior to the race. “I did not do well as an individual competitor this year. “I thought I was ready to race after antibiotic therapy, but I started to feel terrible after mile six.”
Though tempted to drop out, Faria hung on, and helped her USA age group to a Bronze medal.
“I’m so glad I did not drop out because if I had our USA age group team would not have medaled as the Bronze team. So it was great to bring back a team medal!
Longtime Austin runner and coach Carmen Troncoso was there and raced in the 400 and 1500 age-group track events, while Austin’s Bev Wills also raced in three events on the track, bringing home two Silver individual medals in the 75 age-group.
Compete to Stay Fit at Any Age
Faria, who is CEO & Acting President at the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine and has a PhD from UT Austin in Business Administration and Educational Administration, has a simple recipe for her success: competition. “I encourage anyone at the Masters level (35+ for track and 40+ for non-stadium events like Half and full Marathon) to compete. No matter how well you do or don’t do, the experience is always inspiring,” said Faria.
Find a Good Coach; Listen to your Coach; Listen to Your Body
Faria’s advice to those in their 50s and 60s is “find a good coach, listen to your coach, listen to your body.” She notes that rest is just as important as training, and that cross-training is very beneficial, especially weight work and the water (swim or water run).
Faria trains under national class competitor Carmen Ayala Troncoso and has for about 13 years. “Because of her strong kinesiology background and her own life-long competing, Carmen has a very scientific approach to training, blending periods of building to intensity followed by periods of back-off to build strength overall and not get injured. I love Carmen’s philosophy of getting as close to the edge of the cliff as possible without falling over, but most of us fall over now and then,” said Faria.
Faria, a 3:36 marathoner who is currently training for the California International Marathon in December does track or speedwork twice a week and fills in the other days with short to longer distances depending on what race she’s training for.
“All my training right now is focused on CIM—lots of work at marathon and half-marathon goal paces. I firmly believe in paying attention to total health, mind, body and spirit,” said Faria. “Enjoy your running and your running friends—some of the best you’ll ever have. I think running with people of varied ages is great. Just stick with it. We all slow down as we age, embrace that and be the best runner you can be no matter the age or speed.”
Upcoming Races: Saturday, October 20 at 8:00 a.m., Barnabas Connection 5K at 100 Blue Hole Ln. in Wimberley. Also Saturday, October 20 at 8:00 a.m., Team Brock Halloween 5K at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.