Beth Deloria: About the Message, Not the Miles

On Sunday, April 8th, 51-year-old Greensboro, NC resident and Get Back UP Today athlete Beth Deloria ran her 100th Rock ‘n’ Roll race in Raleigh. While finishing 100 races seems like an incredible achievement in itself, the community outreach manager for Allard USA, Deloria has done so while battling spinal fusions and foot drop paralysis.

The lifelong athlete, who continually battles back pain, had her world come crashing down in 2004 when doctors told her that her spine could no longer support her. A long list of birth defects, conjoined nerve roots, and ruptured discs converged over time making complicated surgery necessary. The foot paralysis came as an unfortunate effect of one of the surgeries.

“I never set out to run 100 races, but it was so special to realize how many we’ve done,” Deloria reflects. She adds that her group, Get Back UP Today, also got a lot of attention: “We’ve had so many emails asking about how to get the brace that our team runs in, which means we will be able to help more people,” she says. “That’s what it’s always been for me, not about the miles or the medals but instead about the message—no matter how many times you fall, there is a way to get back up.”

Up next for the almost 52-year-old “GoGo”, the nickname her grandchildren call her because she is always on the run, is the Boston Marathon on April 16th and St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville to make 101 races by the end of April.

Take a page out of this grandma-on-the-go’s book about how to keep at it, over and over again.

Shouting a Motto

For Deloria, two mottos became essential to her while adjusting to her new life.

“The first one came from a sign I read in my doctor’s office during a particularly tough time for me. It was a Japanese proverb that read ‘Fall 7 times, get up 8.’ I fell quite often due to my newly acquired leg paralysis, and it was during one of the darkest times in my journey that I actually noticed this proverb,” Deloria says. She adds that this saying has stayed with her ever since, and provided the inspiration for the organization Get Back UP Today. The second is a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step in faith.” Deloria says that this quote has helped her to focus on the things she can control, rather than what she can’t, and reminds her that just one step can be an amazing achievement.

Finding a Village

The Raleigh Half Marathon was also Deloria’s husband Jim’s 100th RnR race. “He was never a runner before he met me (we met playing soccer), but he realized that if he wanted to spend more time with me he would have to add running to his agenda,” she said. Jim has been by Deloria’s side, helping her get back up and running again after all four of her spinal fusion surgeries. “He really doesn’t even like running, but he loves spreading the Get Back UP message with me and he loves the ‘celebratory aura’ of all the Rock ‘n’ Roll events. But sometimes I think he’d rather I’d have taken up knitting instead!”

Remembering Joy and Passion Are Always Within Reach

“Every time I reach a starting line I feel that I have already won the race,” Deloria says. “From the onset of my spinal cord injuries all the way through my latest fusion surgery just 12 weeks ago, each time I’m healthy enough to stand in the starting corrals I feel like a winner.”

Deloria says that her message to others is always “Get Back UP Today!” “It reminds me that no matter how many times we fall there will always be a way back up. We may have to change what we do or how we do it, but joy and passion are always within our reach. We may not reach the finish line as soon as we had hoped, but I hope to convey to others that they should continue to strive to reach their goals, no matter how many times they get knocked down.”

Believing That You Are More Than a Title

This runner is a firm believer that we are more than just our “titles” say we are. “By this I mean that we are more than whatever we call ourselves, or are called by others, such as “mother, wife, job title, athlete, artist, etc,” she says. “Yes, these roles and interests do help describe who we are but they do not go as far as to define us.”

Deloria has experienced first-hand what it’s like to lose the things that defined her. “I eventually learned that you must face the loss but without losing sight of the qualities within yourself that you brought to your life’s titles. For me, that meant remembering the strength, determination and discipline that I used to apply to my athletics, and using those to help find meaning and balance in my life again. I had previously defined myself by my activities, abilities, and achievements, rather than by my own unique qualities and beliefs—these are the things that can never be taken away; it took me losing my identity to actually find out who I really am.”

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