This profile of Mimi and Jimmy Fallon first appeared in our Sept/Oct 2015 magazine issue.
One way to define humility is to describe yourself as a “dime a dozen” even though your story and accomplishments are more like one in a million. That’s what happened when I sat down and asked Jimmy and Mimi Fallon if I could profile them in these pages. It took some cajoling but they eventually agreed. Once we got passed the “we’re boring; it’s okay if you decide to nix us,” it turns out that both Fallons are pretty interesting people that embody what Level Renner stands for: self-improvement through hard work.
Jimmy’s story starts in Ireland where he first learned that perseverance opens doors. One such door that opened was that of Providence College. The first one in his family to attend college, Fallon graduated from PC and even earned an MBA. This was in 1983.
Post-college Fallon worked and trained with a who’s who of top-end running talent, including the famous Bobby Doyle among others. He raced competitively into his early thirties and then took a 15 year hiatus to put his MBA to good use in the financial sector. He credits his wife for his return to the roads: “I would likely not be running today if it were not for Mimi getting me back into the sport. For that I am grateful because running now is more enjoyable and less stressful.” His comeback as a master included joining the HFC Striders. He did some coaching for Hurtin for Certain but now mainly just races for the apple-logoed team. About his present day running he says, “I’m just happy be out and getting in a run.”
Despite living in the New England since the late 1970’s, Fallon still keeps his Irish family ties tight. He is currently coaching his nephew Jamie who hopes to follow in his uncle’s footsteps to a prosperous running and professional career here in the states. When he arrives, the Legion will readily welcome him.
“I’m the total opposite of Jimmy,” Mimi Fallon abashedly confesses to me over the phone, “I have no running background. No high school. No college.” “So how did you get started in running,” I ask. “Typical runner’s story,” she keeps saying, but as we keep talking, I keep thinking that her story is only typical in the way that every person has her own story. Sure, she started off because she recognized that “instead of going out for a few beers after work, I needed to go out for a few miles” but this led to an atypical action for a coach potato: she applied for the New York City Marathon lottery. Well, she got in and ran 3:10.
Upon running the 3:10 at NYC, she realized, “OMG I qualified for Boston.” Now, at this point in the interview, she was very sure to attribute her future successes to her mentors and coaches. Top on that list were Larry Olsen and Bob Sevene. These men, among others, helped her to three Olympic Marathon Trials (1996, 2000, 2004) and one World Marathon Team (1999). This is such a “typical” and “dime a dozen” interview, isn’t it?
I suppose now is an appropriate time to mention that both Mimi and Jimmy accomplished their feats while working full time. In fact, current day Mimi works two jobs and is the caretaker for her legally blind mother. Now, I’ll drop in that she is 3 for 3 in her new AG (50-59) and is running 60 miles a week in hopes of making it 4 for 4 at Beach 2 Beacon.
Before I get off the phone with the Fallons I have three more essential questions to pose.
Q: What do you do that keeps you running so fast?
A: Nothing. No yoga. No cross-training. No diet. No stretching. We barely drink enough water. We just run.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between open and masters running?
A: It’s so different! It’s tough to get in the work. The quality. As an open runner, 100 miles per week was not that big of a deal. Now, that’s not doable. As an open runner, running well meant you just had to work hard. Now, it’s more difficult to get in the hard work.
Q: How did you meet?
A: Two people like to take credit, so we’ll give it to both of them: Randy Thomas and Kathy Franey. We all trained together and met that way. Ω
To read more from our Sept/Oct 2015 issue, click here.
To read from our current issue, click here.