Get To Know Providence's Kimberley May – Who Stunned Herself With A 4:27 Mile

The CITIUS MAG Podcast

February 13, 2024

"One thing I've learned this year is I want to take things as opportunities and not be so scared. I look at it as, ‘It's so cool that I got to be in that race,’ because going into that mile, it was my first time ever being in an ‘A’ race."

Providence junior Kimberley May shocked a lot of people – including herself with a 4:27.85 mile at Boston University just a few weeks ago. At the time, it was the No. 1 mark in the NCAA and No. 8 all-time. Since then, Harvard’s Maia Ramsden, Florida’s Flomena Asekol and Notre Dame’s Olivia Markezich have run faster. We have some good episodes on this feed with Maia and Olivia from last fall.

After the mile at BU, I realized there wasn’t a whole lot out there about Kimberley May so I reached out and wanted to learn more. She’s got personal bests of 2:04 for the 800m and 8:54 for 3000m. She’ll be one to watch at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships next month. Like Maia Ramsden, she’s also a New Zealand 1500m star on the rise.

Host: Chris Chavez | ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@chris_j_chavez on Instagram⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

Guest: Kimberley May | ⁠⁠@kiimberleymay on Instagram⁠

Kimberley MayKimberley May

Justin Britton / @JustinBritton

The following interview excerpt has been edited lightly for clarity. You can listen to the full interview with Kimberley May on the CITIUS MAG Podcast – available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your shows.

CITIUS MAG: Providence school record and #8 of all-time in NCAA history – was that the shock that came over you as you were approaching 20m to and got a glimpse of the clock? Your facial expression was epic. Was that just pure raw emotion coming over you?

Kimberley May: I wasn't even thinking. Afterwards, I was like, ‘Oh no, there's definitely going to be photos of that.’ But honestly, I had no idea. I didn't look at the clock at all in the race. So that straight was the first time I got an idea of what (the time) was. I knew our school record was 4:30, but I didn't know that it was top ten of all-time, so that's pretty cool.

CITIUS MAG: There are a lot of girls who look at Providence’s program like, ‘Oh, the history is there.’ How did your first couple conversations go with coach Ray Treacy? What were you looking to buy into when it came to choosing Providence?

Kimberley May: I think the first conversation I had with him, my parents were on the Zoom call, and I got off and they said, ‘You're going to Providence.’ I obviously wanted to, but my thing was just like, ‘I hope they want me to go.’ I think we called twice and then I signed. I didn't come visit, I fully just went in with no idea.

CITIUS MAG: When you got to Providence, was there a little bit of cultural shock? You do happen to have a couple New Zealand teammates as well, so that helps.

Kimberley May: My roommates are Kiwi, so that's handy. But yeah, it was definitely a culture shock, I definitely did struggle. It's obviously hard leaving, And I think I came here when I was like 18, so it was hard. But I think you just grow so much, like I'm a different person from when I arrived to now. Now I feel like I've slowly settled into living here, so I think that helps with running as well because I'm not dealing with other things.

CITIUS MAG: What has your training been like that ultimately led to this weekend’s performance?

Kimberley May: I'm definitely a strength based miler. I run everyday, I don't do any cross training. I would say I’m probably higher mileage. But I just really enjoy it. It was a really slow progression. Before I came to Providence, I hardly did anything. I ran, but not what I'm doing now, even when I was in freshman year. It's been a slow build up.

CITIUS MAG: Was there any workout before this race in particular that gave you confidence?

Kimberley May: Honestly, I don't know because I had been at home for so long and I did all the training by myself and all the workouts. I would text him right after every workout just to tell him what it was and he’d be like, ‘Good job, but I just had no idea. I was so scared because I was like, ‘I think these workouts are going well, but I don't know if they're actually going well.’ So honestly, I have no idea. I just trust in Ray. One thing I do love about Ray is I know he will be honest. So whatever he tells me, I trust that going into a race.

CITIUS MAG: Let's keep using this weekend at BU as an example. Your final conversation with Ray before you go out there – what instructions does he give you? And how do you feel?

Kimberley May: I felt good. There wasn't too much of a plan because you just never know what's going to happen in these races. He just told me an 800m time. And he also said we want to try to close fast. But the one funny thing he said was obviously don't get too nervous, but also you want to feel nerves because of the adrenaline. But honestly, there wasn't too much of a race plan. He just told me the times and I tried to execute.

CITIUS MAG: You've had a pretty solid progression over your three years at Providence. What were the biggest learnings and takeaways from last year?

Kimberley May: I think just having confidence with what was going on. My freshman year I was like, ‘All I ever want to do is make outdoor nationals.’ And then when I got there, I was like, ‘I'm here.’ It was the scariest moment of my life. One thing I've learned this year is I want to take things as opportunities and not be so scared. I look at things just as, ‘It's so cool that I got to be in that race,’ because when I was going into that mile, it was my first time ever being in an ‘A’ race. Instead of just freaking out, I was like, ‘This is such a cool opportunity. I get to run with these girls.’ So instead of freaking out, I’m just looking at it as I just get to try something new and see how it goes.

CITIUS MAG: What's the best piece of advice any coach has ever given you?

Kimberley May: I would say to not take the lows too low and the highs too high. Obviously embrace the highs and enjoy what just happened, but at one point you’ve got to put it aside when the next race is on the horizon. You've got to get back to training and life. And then with the lows, you can't just dwell on it and make it your whole life. You’ve just got to accept that it happened and move on. For me, I experienced that towards the end of cross country and then just putting it aside and moving on to the 3K was really helpful. My coach was just like, ‘No, we're doing this 3K because you know you're fit. Just do it.’

CITIUS MAG: What are you most excited about this year? 2024 is a big Olympic year.

Kimberley May: It's pretty crazy. Obviously my main goal is the Olympics, World Champs and even Commonwealth Games. I'm not sure about this year, but I know next year there’s World Champs. So it's definitely something I want to look into doing and start planning races and make a plan to try to achieve those goals.

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Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.

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