Positive running story – Mimi McDonell

Our positive running story this time is on a Public Health Officer from The Dalles in Oregon, Mimi McDonell. Mimi recently attended our 2019 advanced women’s running camp, and we had an absolute blast sharing her love of running in some magical places. We had the opportunity to interview Mimi after the camp, and here is the result of our interview.

Can you share a little about your running history to date?
I didn’t think of myself as a runner until my last year in high school. Then I ran cross country, and it was terrible. Our xc coach was also the basketball coach; he was a super nice guy and it seemed like a good idea at the time. My first race everyone started off running so fast! I did finish the race, however I couldn’t walk afterwards! Looking back on it, it probably wasn’t the best way to get into running.
I signed up for my first 10k a year after high school, and have kept running  ever since since. (Mimi is now in her 50’s.) Since this time I have always enjoyed running, and it has been one of the most constant factors in my life ever since.
I also have a memory of my Dad in the late 1960’s running in a pair of Chino’s – I never saw him in shorts! I recall it inspired me – i think it’s important for kids to see people in their family being active.

Mimi is in the middle of the back row – Deer Mountain trail

What is it you enjoy most about running, and why?
I have found that running helps me with depression and anxiety – it has been a huge help, and helps to keep me happy and functioning. Being outside, whatever the weather (our first camp run was in a rainstorm, great fun!) Running has meant that I get to spend a part of most days outside, and that makes me very happy. I also enjoy having goals, and it doesn’t matter where you are, it is always satisfying!

You recently attended our advanced women’s running camps. What was it that attracted you to this camp?
The idea of getting together with like minded people was so attractive to me. I have never had any coaching since high school, and it is not easy to come by the knowledge that I knew I would receive at camp. I also didn’t know who was going to be there, and boy was I lucky!

What did you enjoy most about your camp experience?
The biggest thing was the opportunity to focus on something that I love – running! I also appreciated the chance to look at the bigger picture, and to also share what running meant to everyone else on the camp.
I really loved the sharing of gratitude!
It was also very important for me to take time for myself – this was the first investment in myself since my 21 year old was born; it was an incredible gift to give to myself.

Mimi is front left, on the summit of Twin Sisters

One one of the runs we ran down from a mountain summit at over 11,00 feet. (The mountain was Twin Sisters in RMNP.) When we reached the base of the descent, you felt so energized & said it took you back to being a younger runner – it seemed like you lost 20 years on that descent! What do you think it is that changes inside of us during an experience like that?
The combination of the freedom of being in the moment, a lack of self consciousness, and completely loving this and using my body in a completely joyful way – it was sooo much fun! When do we ever get to do things like this? Thinking of it again now has made me tear up again. I love that I can still do this, and can access this memory anytime that I want!

What wisdoms would you share with a younger version of yourself about being a woman runner?
Never stop and keep going! You don’t have to struggle to be better than you are – I spent time wishing I was a different runner, rather than enjoying the time that I had.
Keep trying to improve, and don’t be upset about where you are – keep going forwards in a positive direction.
It is ok to pass people in the last 20 yards of a race, you don’t need to hold back and be polite!

If we could share one message on your behalf to the World, what would you wish to say?
Share the love of running with children – to be active and to have fun and be comfortable in our bodies is key – there are lots of forces working against this!

Can you share one thing that is unique about Mimi that no one would know by looking at you?
Absolutely addicted to reading British murder mysteries – Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Ngio Marsh – love them!

What led you to start your role as a Public Health Officer?
I became an OBGYN doctor, and over time recognized that many people have health issues related to their lack of access to good nutrition & enjoyable physical activity opportunities. Within public health, we can make changes on a broad scale – for example in 2018 we introduced the Summer Swim Rx program- so that families with children on Medicaid gain access to the pool all summer long, removing the issue of cost as a barrier to participation. I am very proud of the work I do as a Public Health Officer that helps improve the environment for all of the children in my region in Oregon.

What are your goals for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
I have a half marathon in 2 weeks – will be treating that as a training run!
I will run CIM in December, with an aim to BQ.
I would like to stay healthy and get stronger, and also keep connected with the amazing group of women that I met at camp!