Running on Reflections

Three days. Three (total) miles. Three runs fueled by reflection. For most - even for my past self - the mileage is laughable. But when I think of how far I've come, I couldn't be happier.

celiac setbacks success college
Climbin' that mountain!
As my sneakers hit patches of grass and dirt last Saturday, I couldn't fight the feeling of deja vu. As a marine brat, I've called 8-9 places my home. In eighth grade that was San Diego - and, against all odds, my parents still live a few blocks from that middle school six years later (though we moved several times in between). 

So, on my first day on spring break, I found myself trudging around the same field I ran through as a middle schooler. The one torn up by PE sneakers as my friend Tamara and I (both bean poles with the combined running endurance of a legumestaggered through the first mile, only to discover we had another lap to run. The horror!

celiac college middle school running reflections
The field dominated by a mysterious obstacle course surrounded by a jail-worthy fence. A popular rumor was that a student died there and it had been shut down ever since.

Looking back, it's easy to see why we turned the forbidden into the fatal. What else did we know about pain or death? That isn't true of me anymore. When I saw that collection of metal and wood standing proudly, that's all I saw. Man-made materials. Not mystery. Not fright. I save those feelings for hospital flashbacks. Thanks to celiac disease, I know the horror of my body turning against me. I know the struggle to separate my identity and my disease-driven diet.

warning sign middle school celiac poway
Celiac doesn't come with the same warning...
When celiac's reign reached its peak, I remember watching my shadow slowly shrink as I ran around the neighborhood cul-de-sacs. First, athletic, with a couple handfuls of curves. Then, thin. Then, skinny. And, finally, my body stopped running at all.

Over the weekend, that same shadow was my only company besides the random rabbit family or crows. Despite the internal changes, my body hasn't transformed in appearance since middle school. Same  "chicken ankles" - a middle school taunt that still sticks in my mind. Same straight brown hair and "four eyes." Yet, all I see are differences when I look in the mirror.

changes celiac college middle school
Eighth grade vs. high school graduation!
The strength - physically and mentally - gained since I decided a blood test wouldn't also diagnose my choices in life. The confidence since I've chosen to embrace every aspect of my body - injuries, dietary restrictions, and all.

And the love that I feel with every bite of 100% gluten free, dairy free banana ice cream. With every kiss from a boyfriend who doesn't mind brushing his teeth after each meal. With every step of my sneakers hitting the ground without pain - or worries over weight loss - freezing me in place.

fitness soccer running celiac college
Back in the game!
Three days of running. Five years of reflection. When I lined up at my role-call number for PE every morning, I couldn't have imagined the issues I'd be running from. Stomach hurt? "Gluten" kicked out of the picture? Lose another 2 pounds? Time for a stress-relieving, pavement-pounding distraction.

Now, though, I'm running for me again. Running for freedom. For the wind in my face and the soreness in my legs. I'm running on reflection - on my past and future.

Are you a runner? How have you changed this middle/high school? Comment below!


  1. I love that I finally conquered my biggest goal and started running in November! It means so much more to me than just "running"! It is a milestone in my life and proves I can do anything!


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