Once upon a time, I was an avid endurance runner. You know the kind. I was one of those people who thought it was fun to spend a Saturday morning running 13.1 miles to get a medal, all the glory, and a sweet gram pic of me crossing the finish line with my hands in the air waving around like I just don’t care. I had a very standard race day look:
1. Nike running crops
2. Athletic running top (the long-sleeved purple target option for cold runs)
3. Brooks running cap
4. New balance running kicks
I’d throw my hair into a pony and off I’d go. It was through these races that I met a fellow running loon, Troy. I was running a Kooky Spooky Halloween ½ marathon and noticed a runner who seemed to be having the TIME OF HIS LIFE. He was singing along to his tunes, snapping selfies, posing for the race course photographers. Through the power of Instagram hashtags, I found his account. After that race, we would frequently bump into each other at future races. Troy knew the pre-alopecia Supriya and all of her pony tail glory.
Fast forward to the hot chocolate 15K in October of 2015. This was my first race post alopecia. I had decided that I would just maintain my normal race day look sans pony. At this point, I wasn’t comfortable working out in a wig. I only had my Follea, and there was no way I was wearing that piece for a run. I could barely ride in a hot car without it turning my entire head into a fountain of sweat. I decided to just plop a cap on my bald head and go. I figured, it would look just like I had my hair pulled back in a pony tail anyhow. The art of deception!
The race started, and my friend Michelle and I took off. The hot chocolate is a blast of a race. Snacks and treats throughout the entire course and a piping hot bowl of chocolate fondue at the finish line. The best part of running is the food! Am I right?! In typical Denver running addicts anonymous fashion, I saw Troy throughout the race. In typical Troy fashion, he snapped many fun “runfies” (runner selfies for you non-running folk).
When the race completed, I received notifications that I had been tagged in some of Troy’s photos. I excitedly scrolled to the pics and froze. I wanted to throw up. It did not look like I was wearing my hair pulled back in a pony tail. It looked like I was the baldest of bald chicks who slapped a hat on her head to hide it. I panicked. I hadn’t publicly told anyone other than my close circle that I was bald. I was so scared that someone would see me in these pics and my secret would be out. I untagged myself and cried like I often did at the beginning of my alopecia journey. I wanted the old days back. The days where I could feel my pony tail bouncing on my back, while I attempted to PR a run. The days where I felt like I looked like a bad ass in every race pic. This was the first time I felt embarrassed and ashamed of what I had allowed myself to look like on the race course.
I recently reconnected with Troy and he was kind enough to send me these pics. When I look at them now, I realize something…I do look like a bad ass in these. I look strong, I look healthy, I look happy! I look like I’m doing something that not a lot of people can do and loving the shit out of it. I look the way anyone should look when they are running a race with HOT CHOCOLATE in the title. I couldn’t see it then, but I can see it now. It is just another reminder that hindsight is 20/20 with alopecia. In the hardest moments its so hard to see anything other than BALD, BALD, BALD. It is so hard to look in a mirror or look at a photo and think positive thoughts. It is so easy to look at yourself and call yourself ugly. It is easy because you actually feel those things. It is not until you take a step back and let yourself heal that you start to see things for what they are. Beauty is not hair. Beauty is loving yourself the way you are. Beauty is the times you stayed strong when you didn’t think you could last for another second. Beauty is when you can find happiness and peace within yourself as you are. To all my baldie boos who aren’t there yet, please keep fighting to get there. I was you too!! I didn’t think happiness was ever going to be in the cards again. I didn’t think I’d every be okay with alopecia. I didn’t think that this day would ever come, but it did!! This means it will come for you too!! Keep the faith! xoxoxo