Tales from Another Mother Runner Thursday: Dimity McDowell

Dimity board final

Welcome to our next round of Tales From Another Mother Runner Thursday, where we preview one of the authors in our forthcoming book. While our names are on the cover, the book is a truly celebration of this amazing, badass community: not only does it contain 22 essays from a range of talented writers and mother runners, it has miles of insight, advice, stories, and humor from hundreds of you. 

As the publishing date nears (less than two weeks!), we're casting the spotlight on tall old me (Dimity); next week is Sarah's turn. 

Important Schedule Note: We've flushed out much of the information for our events for the first half of 2015. Check it all out here--and hope to see you Denver locals at the Tattered Cover on March 2!

My running history: My mom tells me the fastest she ever saw me run as a child was when I realized I’d left my hat for marching band in the back of her minivan, and she was driving away. Having the right uniform for high school marching band, I guess, was enough to make me turn on my jets as I never had before. (Yep. Marching band. Pin an “L” on my forehead.)

Fast forward a bit, and I didn't really run on my own volition again (read: not required by a rowing coach or a band instructor) until I was in my early twenties. I was living blocks from Central Park in New York City and couldn't afford a gym on my editorial assistant salary. I think I lapped Central Park at least 750 times in the three years I lived near there. (And then when I moved to Brooklyn for three years, I lapped Prospect Park another 750 times.)

My writing history
: Growing up, I always loved magazines. Read Seventeen when I was 13, Glamour when I was 17. I thought they were all based in Boulder, CO, because that's where the subscription cards were processed. "I'll work at Glamour and live in Boulder," I thought to myself, "Total dream situation." Turns out, most magazines are in NYC, where I worked and lived before heading west and going freelance in 2001. Fast foward nine years, and I co-wrote Run Like a Mother in 2010 with Sarah Bowen Shea...and I've been running—and writing—like a mother ever since.

My essay "Defying Gravity": is about the balance I try to maintain between my strong body and my often overwhelmed mind. Around these parts, I'm pretty open about the fact that I've struggled with depression for over a decade now. Its severity ebbs and flows, but last winter was a doozy. I decided to write honestly about it—and the role running continues to play in getting me out of the hole.

Last best run: I did 18 miles in San Diego in early October as I was getting ready for the Philadelphia Marathon and Saucony26Sttrong program. I ran two more times after that, and then was sidelined with a severe plantar plate strain. That was over 5 months ago, and now, as I sit on the bike and wonder when—or if, when I want to be really dramatic—my foot will cooperate enough to let me run again, I think back to running along the Pacific Coast and then sitting on the beach later that day, thinking, "I just ran freakin' 18 miles." Love that feeling.

Last horrible run: I signed up for the 10K Nuun Year: No Limits Challenge, and ran 3 times the first week: 2.5 miles, 2.5 miles, 3 miles. In the middle of the 3 miler, I knew my foot was not ready for 8 miles in a week. The run wasn't horrible, but the acknowledgment that I had more healing to do was pretty frustrating. (I'm now setting my sights on the 5K Challenge, a run/walk plan, that will start on March 2. Fingers crossed.)

Next up on my running calendar: I've got my eye on the Loveland Lake to Lake Triathlon in late June. The run is 10K, so it could maybe, just maybe be a possibility; if not, there's an Aquabike version that'll do.

Next up on my personal calendar: Pick up the kids, get to the grocery store, figure out what's for dinner (tortellini, likely), lay out my swim stuff so I'll get to the pool tomorrow morning.

9 responses to “Tales from Another Mother Runner Thursday: Dimity McDowell

  1. Thanks Dimity! I have been struggling with motivation lately, and I have had a few people tell me to try things like start my warm up – and if I am not feeling it by the end of it, I can stop. Of course, typically once my warm up is done, I am out and moving and already feeling a bit better.

  2. Love the nickname! I call my youngest “Ditty” — don’t remember where it came from or how it started and it makes no sense because her name is Ragan Ellen, but when all else fails and she won’t answer either of her given names, she will answer to “Ditty.” I am sorry for the PF struggles. I had my own for years. Some of the worst years and worst pain. I pray you get well soon — you are badass, you will!

  3. Love the nickname Ditty! I am getting very excited to read all these great personal stories in the new book. You and the last snippet both talked about honest writing, and putting yourself out there. I love the trust and openness in sharing!

  4. HEY! Watch the “L” comment! I think I was marching in the row next to you, lugging my slide trombone! 🙂 Congrats on the new book. Can’t wait to read it.

  5. Dimity, I suffer from depression too and once I started running – I could tell it was going to play a difference. But my challenge is this – on bad days, I don’t want to lace up my shoes and head out (even though I know in the long run it will help) Wondering if you face the same thing?

    1. Definitely, Lisa. The irony about exercise is that when you want to do it least, you need it the most. I use a lot of the typical tricks: just the two-mile route and then I’ll see how I feel, or I’ll at least put my shoes and clothes on, and see how I feel. (Also, put on your tunes and crank ’em: that helps!)

      The one that works best for me is mentally putting myself into the final mile of the workout. I know how great I’ll feel, how important it is that I’ve done the work that needed to be done today, that I’ve taken care of myself. It’s a great feeling, and I know if I give myself the opportunity, I can have it. It just takes a little work to get there. 🙂 Take good care.

  6. The injury struggle and the sometimes very, very long road to recovery is just so tough. Your mind and heart and lungs say one thing; the foot says another. I am living this same reality and have appreciated your honesty about your own injury experience.

  7. Dimity, I so love your candor about depression. I’m sorry that you (and me, and anyone else) has to deal with it but bringing it into the light makes it more bearable. On my best days I love this tribe and its support and energy. On my worst I think that everyone is younger, skinnier, faster, and has better running gear than me and I’ll never measure up. I have to remind myself that running is what keeps me going. You and the rest of this community help my dark days happen less. I hope we offer that same support to you.

    1. I (luckily) don’t suffer from depression (though I have several loved ones who do and I sympathize greatly) but even I thing that everyone is younger, skinnier and faster than me. But nobody has better gear 😉

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