Growing up in the Midwest, Tattoos are something you don’t see everyday, unless you rode a motorcycle or were thought to be rough around the edges. I never thought I would have one myself, but now at the age of 33 I have two. Like some, my tattoos definitely have a meaning to them. They’ve become such a part of me, I sometimes forget that I even have them that is, until I pass by a mirror and get a glimpse of them. Every time I see them I’m reminded that, that shy girl that got horrendously bullied all through out middle and high school, is a bad ass.
My first tattoo, the one on my right leg, took 5 years for me to get. I was afraid and knew it had to mean something. After living in Hawaii I thought, “maybe a dolphin, or a mermaid..no, too common.” I kept pushing the idea of a tattoo away and kept a folder of ideas I liked, you know the kind that everyone has on pinterest ? I finally settled on a wing after running became a big part of my life. When my husband and I moved to the mountainous town of Boone, North Carolina I joined the local running club, mostly to make friends. While working as a travel nurse my husband was gone 12 hours a day for 3-4 days a week, leaving me mostly alone. I needed a social life still, joining the club was a daunting task. I wouldn’t classify myself as a “real runner” back then, whatever that means. I had finished a 5k, a Half, and my first full marathon and I was proud, but, I still had a hard time keeping up with people. The tattoo on my right ankle is a wing of turquoise and black. The wing represents why I even choose to run, because I love to fly. Whether that means going fast on the back of my father’s motorcycle, my brother's 4-wheeler, or the wind in my hair. Mostly, I wanted to grow wings by the means of my 2 feet, fast enough to fly.
By the time I found the design and the artist I wanted she was so booked up, the only opening in her schedule was 3 days before the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon, my first attempt at a BQ. I got some backlash from people saying it will hurt too much or it will bleed ruining the tattoo. I ignored them and still got the tattoo and honestly, it didn't hurt as bad as I thought. I took extremely good care of it while it healed. Come race day, I wore a bandanna over it while running and crossed that finish line qualifing for my first Boston Marathon. This tattoo became my good luck charm.
This tattoo represents struggle, persistence, determination, and most of all stubbornness. I always say God didn’t make me an athlete but he sure made me stubborn.
Stubbornness, the persistence of never stopping or giving up when things get hard is key to cultivating mental toughness and success of any endurance athlete. Many times during training or an event, our brains shutdown way before our bodies do. By not giving into every thought or twinge, we increase the stubbornness muscle in the pursuit of success.
I toyed around with a few shorter distances with triathlon and running, however, like most athletes I sought after the bigger races. My stubbornness and endurance ability seems to excel at those longer distances, verses speedy short races. Ever since my husband and I stumbled upon the Kona Ironman World Championships, while residents of the Big Island, the feat of even finishing an Ironman seemed unfathomable however, still sparked some interest in the back of our minds. One text message from him asking "do you think we could sign up for Santa Rosa Full Ironman?" was all we both needed to do the crazy motion of clicking the registration button and signing almost a year of our life away.
A full Ironman is no joke. It begins with a 2.4 mile swim, followed up immediately by a 112 mile bike ride, then and only then, do you finish with a marathon, 26.2 miles. For some people the marathon itself is a daunting task, for me it was my celebration at the end of that race. I am not a swimmer, I joke that I hold down the handicap lane in my triathlete swim class. Besides, no Ironman championship was ever won in the swim, right?! The best thing about being a runner at a triathlon is that your day gets better as the event goes on. However the first task of keeping your head underwater for the majority of the time of the 2.4 mile swim is horrific. I knew If I could finish the swim event, I was golden for the rest of the race minus no mechanical issues on the bike that is. The bike is a test of anxiety, prayer, and knowledge of how to change flat NASCAR style on the side of the road during a race. During my Ironman I had a stellar run. My goal was to keep my feet moving the entire time, no stops, no medical tent visits, no cramping. I called it the strawberry shuffle and it proved successful.
This tattoo with the tropical Palm trees, with a coloring of a California sunset, reminds me that if I can finish a whole Ironman, if I can be active for slightly over 13 hours, if I can withstand the mentality of wanting to quit, I can do anything, I am a bad ass.
Oddly enough, this wasn't always the case. I didn't grow up as an athlete and have no athletic background. I am horrible with anything that revolves around a ball which pretty much sums up every sport where I'm from in the Mid-West. As a child I got bored easily so after a few minutes of catch, I was done. That is why it had to be one of the most permanent markings I could put on myself. That is why I chose to replicate those events as a tattoo. As my memory or confidence fades, these permanent markings won't. I will always have this marking to remind myself of events and challenges I've overcame.
These tattoo's tell a story that my face doesn't. They are a reminder of the journey that I had set myself on to when I decided to become a runner and every adventure since.
When I feel like I'm not good enough, I look in the mirror at them.
When I have a bad training day, I look down and see the wings that have carried me through better times
When I'm down about how I look or my fitness level, I look down at the beautiful colors of the MDOT these colors are amazing and they run through my veins.
These are the scars that outline a beautiful transformation to demonstrate that things aren't always given to you, some have to be earned by grit and sweat. They are the outer markings that give me the wings I need to fly when everything else pulls me down.
I'm passionate about running, fitness, nutrition and all things that make me and everyone else a better version of ourselves.