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I was born with a full head of beautiful red hair, but when I was two years old it began to fall out and within 1 month I was completely bald. I was diagnosed with Alopecia, an auto immune condition that causes baldness.
It was extremely tough growing up without any hair, hiding behind wigs and never feeling comfortable in my own skin. I was told ‘girls were pretty with hair’ and I truly believed that. All I wanted was to be pretty and just like all of the other kids. I had no self confidence and when kids would bully and tease me I wouldn’t say anything back because they were right I was bald. I felt like such an outcast at a young age.
I began playing sports and started to stand out from my peers, but for the first time in a positive way. I started receiving recognition and praise for my athletic ability and work ethic. Sports were all I focused on. I would shoot hoops in my driveway for hours pretending to make the game winning shot, a true escape from my Alopecia. I went on to have a great basketball career in high school and college.
I have always been a competitive person so my senior year of college there was a marathon in Duluth, MN and I wanted to run it to cross it off my bucket list. But little did I know that marathon would be the biggest stepping stone not only in running but in changing my life.
I remember the feeling of crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles and all I could think was 4:17 I can do better! This new found love for running and empowerment I had never felt came over me. I started running everyday, picking marathons all over the country to run. Running truly became my escape from everything. The more I started running and the faster I got the less I focused on my Alopecia and bald head (even though I still wasn’t ok with it).
I had big dreams in the running world. I wanted to run 27 marathons by the time I turned 27. I would still wear my wigs on all my runs, it was my comfort. Even though it was be HOT on some of those long training runs I still wouldn’t take it off.
But then one hot summer day on my 20 mile training run before the San Diego Marathon I felt something come over me. I ripped it off in the middle of my run, tears rolling down my cheeks. This had been the biggest obstacle in my life and I had just reached the top! I ran home with the sweaty (and extremely smelly) wig in my hand and hung it up and never looked back. I went on to run San Diego two weeks later. My first ‘bald’ marathon and set a PR. I got so many good luck head rubs before and hugs after the race from random strangers, it was amazing! I had never felt more beautiful and empowered than I did on that race.
Running has truly changed my life. It’s taught me so many life lessons. I’ve learned to love, accept and embrace my Alopecia and bald head, my now favorite thing about me. I love the feeling of running down the open road. There is just something about just me and pavement that makes me feel strong, empowered and beautiful. Running in itself is tough, hard work and demanding.
I have went on to run 29 marathons since my senior year of college 5 years ago and it’s been an incredible journey this far. I love inspiring others to go after their dreams, defy beauty standards and sticking out from the crowd because of my bald head. Running has helped me love my bald head and I couldn’t be more proud to call myself a runner. I have never felt more beautiful than I do in running clothes with my race bib on.