When You Fall Down, Get Back Up, and 4 Other Ginormous Takeaways for Resilience

1: Commit to things that are too big for your britches. Life is an adventure. Stretch Yourself.

The alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m., and I am instantly awake. I've trained myself to become a morning person, and for this occasion, a marathon, everything about it allows me to awaken as I've done daily, but today with a bit more anxiousness. The anxiety of getting there on time, the pressure of mentally staying strong, being sure to eat right and fuel for the run, will I make a PR, or will something happen to throw off my time? A spew of thoughts flood my mind the moment I awaken.

Luckily, it is perfect San Francisco weather. My marathon partner, Val and I make our way down the ten or so blocks from our hotel to the Embarcadero, the start of the San Francisco Marathon. Runners of all ages and sizes funnel into the start line area. We quickly snake our way through the dense crowd and into our corral, the race is on. I turn and ask her with a snickery grin, "Hey, you want to run a marathon today?" Val smiles back and we begin our pace flowing along with the sea of people around us. It is her first marathon, and my seventh.

Along the barnacled wharf, the smell of sea air is strong in the early morning. By just mile four, the San Francisco Marathon has already proven it's character, with its nautical backdrop and vintage brownstones lining the water's edge. The pretty homes painted sunflower yellow and sky blue stand in pride looking over the bay. As we turn the corner, a light fog hovers above the tips of the massive Golden Gate Bridge. There she is, the big allure of this monumental marathon.

The city is known for it's steep hills. Our first one emerges as the gateway to the coveted venture across the bridge. With our courageous girl attitude, and elevation-trained lungs our feet swiftly ascend us to the south entry of the Golden Gate.

2: Pay attention. Create awareness around things that could trip you up

Magnificently beautiful, it's presence is incredibly strong and rugged. Burnt red metal reaching upwards into the clouds. The northbound lane has been closed for our running pleasure, while car travelers pass over the bridge on the other side. It feels surreal to be running among thousands, crossing an iconic staple of Americana. I remind myself to absorb the moment, look around, and appreciate the tiniest of details. I just kept thinking, "This is so cool."

After recording twenty or so seconds of footage, I carefully work on returning the camera back into my zippered pouch while I run. Well, apparently I am not careful enough. In the very next second, I slam into the cold surface of the blacktop pavement. Spread eagle or yard sale as they say, my body flails on to the ground as the camera let loose from my fingertips in the opposite direction. I hear Valerie scream,"Waaaaaaaa" as if it's all happening in slow motion. I can't make out what words are coming from her yell, but the emotion behind the scream left an impression that my ego should be more damaged than my body. 

Two ghostly figures, a male on each side, pick me up and one handed me my camera back. Without even saying thank you, or missing a stride, I spring back into forward motion. I am in shock. I hadn't even anticipated the fall as I was going down. I just hit the pavement with a stiff realization. There I was, that woman- the one you tell your friends about later saying, "Oh , there was this lady that ate shit on the bridge." Yep, that's me. Embarrassing. And it hurts too.

With nasty road burn on both palms, an instant blood blister, a scraped up elbow, a bruised, scraped hip, and a skinned and slightly bleeding right knee, I ask Val, "Am I bleeding? Does my knee look okay?" She gives me the quick once over from both sides as we continue running across the bridge. My knee is swollen and already a deep purple bruise is forming. She keeps asking, "Are you okay?" I'm thinking, "Well not completely, but it doesn't change anything. What am I going to do, quit the marathon over a fall?"

3: If you do eat shit, get up fast. No need to lay there wallowing. You can talk it out while in motion

Have you ever gotten tripped up in your life, or even slammed to the ground? What did you decide to do and how fast did you come to that conclusion? In my work as a mindset strategist, I've noticed, we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering. Yea, you're banged up a bit but it's time to keep moving forward. 

We cross over, loop around and continue the marathon journey back across the massive bridge. I'm laughing to myself. I can't believe I had just done what I had done. I feel ridiculous, but at the same time, I am still running, and for that I feel very thankful. I have made the decision while in motion that I will run this marathon with a swollen knee and some blood. I figure my body would be hurting by the end anyhow, so I might as well just include the pain as the overall experience and find ways to keep my mind focused on the positive

After exiting the bridge it is a continuous elevation climb into Golden Gate Park. Half marathoners seem to surround us as the first half finished and the second half started. It is an impressively organized dance that seems to be going down without a hitch. Val and I put our ear buds in and shot off through mile 13 with a renewed energy. With music blasting in my ears, I visually take in the sights. Rose gardens, serene lakes and manicured flower beds surround our sojourn through the city park.

Val began to pick up her pace. She must have a really kick'in song playing. Although part of me wants to keep up with her twenty year-old-body, I also feel quite content maintaining my chosen speed. Slowly I watch her disappear into the distance as she blends into the crowd. I wouldn't see her again until after the finish line. 

4: When you've chosen a lofty goal, the mundane tasks to get you there will often bore you into slow motion. Make it a point to keep your mind inspired and engaged

It's mile 19 and I've started to get bored. My legs keep moving, but my mind is out of momentum. I feel like stopping and having a cold drink at the neighborhood store. But just then, I hear a by-stander shout, "Think good thoughts." That was all I needed, a reminder of my own foundational principles. 

I have been struggling up until this point. It seemed as though a negative thought like, "Oh my knees are aching", or, "Ugh, I just want to be done" keep creeping back in, so I literally force myself to choose positive thoughts and create the experience that I want to have. I decide to just smile, and doing so shifts the negativeness from my mind. It's like my heart sprouted wings for my feet.

With shoulders square, and core engaged I continue the journey with my favorite clients on my mind. I thought about how I often read their struggles, and how they are so willing to share and learn, and actively drum up courage. I thought about my moment of struggle, and how I would not walk, and would not stop. I knew I must run in their honor.

The people along the marathon route are as eclectic as the city itself. At mile 22 I am offered a beer from a group of costume-clad by-standers, and at mile 24 the dare to shoot a swig of bourbon came from a group of cheering on-lookers. The kind only San Francisco could birth. Up the cement hills, over the bridge, through the park, and skipping east and south through the course neighborhoods; the entry money I had paid was well worth the sightseeing tour of the city on foot. It was awesome.

Mile 25 was as usual, the longest mile. But it was also the glory mile. I know the finish line is just around the bend, so I focus on relishing in my accomplishment, keeping my smile erect, and giving thanks for an opportunity to experience life, and a job well done.

5: The meaning you choose to attach to your experiences will determine your happiness in life and grow your ability to be resilient

As I come down the stretch to the finish line, crowds line the barricades with signs, smiles and pumping fists. I spot my family; husband, three kids and two nieces with smiles as wide as Treasure Island. A kiss for each is worth the forty extra seconds on the clock. I feel its important for my kids to know that I don't just take care of them, I also take care of myself, and running is one way I do that.

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Running marathons has been my mentor, my friend, my handbook to personal development. On this day, I thank the San Francisco Marathon for not just handing it over easy, but for offering up a challenge. marathon number seven will forever symbolize to me: When you fall down, you get back up and continue. I pointed at my blood blistered hand as I crossed the finish to commemorate this powerful lesson. With self esteem at an all-time high, and a true feeling of accomplishment in my spirit, I floated across the finish line with this in mind, "My journey is my own. It is up to me what thoughts I choose, what steps I desire to take, and whether or not I choose to use my courage when I need it."

Your Takeaways: 

1: Commit to things that are too big for your britches. Life is an adventure. Stretch Yourself.

2: Pay attention. Create awareness around things that could trip you up. 

3: If you do eat shit, get up fast. No need to lay there wallowing. You can talk it out while in motion. 

4: When you've chosen a lofty goal, the mundane tasks to get you there will often bore you into slow motion. Make it a point to keep your mind inspired and engaged.

5: The meaning you choose to attach to your experiences will determine your happiness in life and will grow your ability to be resilient. 


What does leadership have to do with running marathons?

Everything. The Vitalmind training solution is for those who want to lead their life experiencing their true potential in all facets. We facilitate a process that fine-tunes leaders by deepening emotional intelligence and strengthening their mindset for life and business performance. We have even found ways to make it fun!

Available in a Keynote Presentation and half day trainings.

Learn more about Vitalmind offerrings and working with De'Anna Nunez at DeAnnaNunez.com