Monday, September 9, 2013

Ironman Ink ~ Go Big or Go Home

My wish to sport an M-dot tattoo has been well documented. Months before running the final stretch of runway at Ironman Louisville 2011, I wrote about my desire to get a tattoo after completing my first Ironman.

I planned and deliberated on a design that would be representative of the journey.  I came up with a very simple idea adapted from images I had seen in the Internet, which at the time seemed to fit just right.  This, to me, represented the "blood, sweat and tears" that had fallen during the journey. Read about this here.

As the new race season came upon us and I participated in three IM 70.3 events, it became apparent that I had not done enough research on the design.  It was very clear, very quickly, that an m-dot tattoo half filled represented a 70.3 race.  Folks would ask me "when I was going to fill it in".  I also became very uncomfortable with this, because I strongly believe that you should not flaunt the m-dot until you have actually finished a 140.6 event.  I have nothing against a 70.3 tattoo, it's just not for me.  So I began to try to figure out what to do.

So I just thought that filling it in would be another simple solution.  I should have stopped at that.  But I also wanted to add the tribal piece I have been using as sort of my trademark to put a final stamp on the artwork.

As you can see by the photo, the job was sub-par.  From day one I was not happy with it.  The top half of the M was not filled properly and the "swim" figure was just awful. You really could not tell what the figures were unless you stopped and looked closer.  Not what I had intended-

Yes, I could have gone back to the artist that created this mess, but what would he do and what would it look like?  So I decided to wait and fix it right, once and for all.

Through some serious research and recommendations, I landed in the able hands of Ben Dixon, owner of Lone Wolf Tattoo in Nashville, TN.  I discussed with him my problem and what I was looking for.  He came up with some ideas, and together we tweaked it until I was happy.  But... one thing was the artwork on paper, another would be the final piece.  He showed me some examples of repair work he had done in the past and I felt comfortable that this was the route to take.  So we went ahead.

A tattoo, he told me, should tell a story.  It's one thing to do what everyone else is doing, its another thing to put your personal stamp on it.  We talked a lot about my journey; where I have been and what I have done. He seemed to know a lot about the Ironman.  I asked how.  He told me he has done several dozen m-dot tattoos over the year.  "Most people are just happy with a simple design."  He could sense that I am not "most people".

In our conversation(s) I revealed to him that my biggest fear upon entering the triathlon world was the swim. My second fear, or strong dislike, was the "big hills" on the bike.  I shared with him how I has able to overcome both of them. I shared with him about my swim experience in Louisville and my Mountain trek across the High Road in the Ozarks.  Granted, this was the IM 70.3 Branson experience, but as with the swim in Kentucky, I am now comfortable knowing that I can overcome any course that is put before me.

So this is what he came up with...

I could not be any happier with the result.  Yes, it is bigger than I would have ever thought I'd like and folks that know me are probably thinking that I've lost my mind. But I can assure you ... I have not!

And by the way... in case you're wondering, yes... getting this done, hurt like "you know what"!