Posts Tagged ‘tattoo’

Today was a day that a significant goal was proclaimed, started a year ago, was put to motion, and finished. All good, all done  as I type this! For my daughter Christina, today was her day. I’ll argue in my own perspective it was in fact partly mine. Yep, my prerogative  if you’ll stay with me on this.

My daughter started a journey of taking control of her health, weight and choosing the path to a better well being. This would be taken head on, on a few  fronts with a healthy diet, exercise and plenty of it. Over the years she has been a spectator to many of my events watching me finish. This would include a half ironman finish, a bunch marathons, including Boston, and the numerous weekend events I participated in. So it can be said I lead by example. Christina mentioned that she would like to walk the Dallas Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. Without hesitation I would fly down from New York and walk it with her. This is no small affair as she had been plagued with knee problems as a young woman, including several surgeries. In her preparation for this goal, in a years time she has literally shed  60+ pounds. A monumentally accomplishment. For those of my followers that had gone through such transformations they most certainly understand what a big deal this is, a testament to pure guts and determination. As her father I am most proud of her taking this on, and making it happen. As a mother of three children (otherwise known as my grandchildren) the positive and tangible benefits of a fit and healthy woman are of course obvious, and to the result of a much more positive and improved lifestyle. Not easy with three children at home.

I flew in a few days before race day to settle in, and do the usual race event prep that is customary and expected. Since this is a large event, the race expo is a happening all of its own. We would take the kids and make an afternoon of picking up our packets and checking out all the vendors. For myself covering 13.1 miles is no longer daunting, something I have done many times since the early 90’s. Although I walk some, especially during hunting seasons, my efforts at covering significant distance is by various paces of running. Not that I was concerned about finishing it, however I am sure my walking gait and efficiency is not optimal. At some point It would at least take on the feel of more work than a leisurely stroll in the woods. My goal here was to accompany Christina’s first attempt at this distance and  to help her in any way I can to make it happen. She would do all the work, and I needed to be available as the old wise one, and head cheerleader. One thing for sure, I would have plenty of years of experience to call upon for mistakes not to repeat (I know most of them, and of course by doing most of them personally myself), tips and tricks to help the time pass, and to mitigate the various problems that creep up while covering the miles of a distance event.

We got to the event start with ease, and the wait for the start in all reality didn’t seem all that long. It was a cool 53 degrees at the start, and would be a comfortable ride all the way. We had a good position in the staggered corral staging, and got into a comfortable 16:48 /mile pace which was ideal for walking. My first gems of well learned wisdom was to not surge out with the hordes of runners and just get dialed into a pace we wanted to do. We did. The miles clicked off easily,and we would jog the downhill sections and a few of the flats in order to bank free time against the four hour time limit. Each mile we would bank another 70-90 seconds against the clock. I found it funny as they had “selfie” stations to take pictures with props, cowboy  rope handlers, and such. Mentally all the distractions and eye candy, coupled with making good decisions would prove useful when the last two miles got harder.

The police and the event staff and especially the volunteers were above and beyond friendly and professional. No complaints as it was well orchestrated and ran well. There was water, Gatorade, and gels when we really needed those, and given the cool temps, all that was needed. We maintained pace up to mile 10, and it would be were the pace began to slow.  We were in territory that was beyond distance that she had ever conquered, and she earned ever bit of her finish the last two miles. I knew when she was gritting it out as the conversation became less, and I could see she was doing whatever she had to to keep it moving forward. I was a little sore at that point as I don’t normally walk that distance, but otherwise felt fine. It was at that point my words of encouragement would take a back seat to her determination to claim her first attempt as a finisher.

The down hill finished was a welcomed reprieve! Christina decided she would run that last 150 yards to the finish. We would run it in together and step on the timing mat in sync. The goal was accomplished, and with a little bit of style. Christina became a little overwhelmed at the moment of truth, something I truly understand, and suspect many of you do as well while achieving a big goal. Post race food goodies hit the spot, and concluded a great event.

Truly it was Christina’s day, and almost as much mine as her father. This is our “thing” we did together, and something I’ll cherish for years to come. I am one proud father today, and yes it most certainly my prerogative  🙂


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Wow, hard to believe that twenty years have passed since the inaugural running of this race. This is a very significant stake in the ground regarding history and my sense of  space, time, and other aspects of aging. Back in my early hay days I worked on a number of races with race director Dave Oja. I volunteered as a technical coordinator for the very first festival of races, and a few more after that. Dave had big ideas on putting on a fast 5K that attracted national and world class level talent. That he did. It was a lot of fun putting on very successful races, and very rewarding to be a part of all that. It was every bit awe inspiring to watch runners at that level go to work on the course that was laid out. Eventually my professional life and eventual move to Cortland took me away from the Syracuse area, at least on a daily/weekly basis. It would also lead me away from the sport of running & triathlons for an all too long of a time.  Coming back home to run the twentieth year of the race is very fitting as 2012 has been my renaissance if you will. The race also fits for a few other reasons which I’ll get to.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have been fortunate to have participated in one well ran race after another the entire 2012 season.  Aside from my emotional attachment to the event,  it is my humble opinion, that the Festival of Races is a well-planned, and well-executed event. Lots of great volunteers, great support from sponsors, great SWAG, and the Syracuse Police Department was above and beyond.  I heard some complaints about weather. Personally I loved it. Cool, a little misty for the 5k’s, and it did drizzle some during the 3K fun run. My attitude is that we always get “weather,” It is not to going to deter me in the slightest.  I drove up on Saturday to grab my packet, and that was super easy at Destiny Mall. A quick stop at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and I was all set. Love the nice long sleeve tech shirt.

Even though I am in training mode for the NYC marathon, today’s 5k was useful for testing to see what leg speed I have post Ironman Syracuse, and the fact I have not done all that much speed work since. My bad………

I would run this full throttle, and re-establish a baseline Vdot for training pre and post marathon.  I use races sometimes to do the testing, as I like the energy from the event, and I find it easier mentally to do it this way rather than tough it out solo. I would run a zone five (heart rate) effort, and whatever I could withstand the last 2K  of the course.  I arrived early to get parked before traffic control was set up. Again, super easy, directions were spot on. Nice to see friends and familiar faces. For a warm up, I headed out for a half mile easy jog with a few pickups to loosen up and then stretched a bit before lining up. Start was smooth, and I seeded myself behind a few rows further back from the fast runners. No problems, got running room quickly, and went to work. I goofed up double starting my GPS watch, no problem. All the kilometer and mile splits were called out on the course (kudos to the volunteers). I had pace and heart rate, and that would do just fine. 7:48-7:56 pace first two miles. Heart rate pegged at my estimated max of 179 bpm. I was working it, and I was going the leave it all on the course. Even though I was working hard, I kept my breathing smooth and kept thinking to myself “smooth is fast” Going to 4k, my heart rate was 182-183, and I got it back down to 181 bpm with about a third of a mile to go. I clocked in a 25:10 (8:06/mile pace) Second best time this year at an 5K event. Not fast by most standards, but a good performance for yours truly. Happy that I did not lose to much speed since my “A” race at Ironman Syracuse. I’ll be able to start my out season base training  later this fall with a much higher Vdot than I had last fall. Very helpful for Ironman Lake Placid next July.

For reference, winner of my age group (50-54) turned in a 15:24. Another observation, It took until the turn around, and working it hard to just pass a bunch of the 70-74 age groupers in the USAT Masters division. God bless them, but I can’t see how I can live long enough to beat these national class guys. Only way it will happen is attrition, simply outlive them. Me verses the zombies. Seriously, they were most impressive. Another observation: going out to the turn around, I got to see the front runners coming back. They make running sub 5 minute miles look so effortless and fluid. My DNA envies them. Takes me back to the days of driving the lead vehicle, and watching the front runners churn out the course. I always enjoyed that.

Post race refreshments were great, Gatorade, turkey sub, and I was good to go. 20th Anniversary finishers medal was very nice! While I was relaxing post 5K, another runner came up and asked if he could have his picture taken with me. I was taken back at first, as this is not something I normally get asked. After a little conversation I learned that he had focused on trying to catch me during the race, but just not able to catch me. Given my pace, again, not something I am use to hearing. Maybe he focused on my bright neon yellow Nike tank top, or the tattoos, not sure. I must be easy to spot- just saying. I believe he had a good race, and sought me out for the picture (posted at the bottom). As it also turns out, my new friend, Xinyu Wang is a student at Syracuse University working on his masters degree in engineering. Being an engineer myself, I do like the commonalities. It is a small world. Great to make a new friend, and it was a little twist on a great day of racing. It made my day.

Once I got myself settled down, I relaxed until the 3K fun run. I jumped in on that to run a couple of miles easy and enjoy the crowd. The kids were fun to watch, and I enjoyed my warm down.

Lots of great thoughts on today’s event.  It brought back many memories from those early years. Congrats to Dave, and the entire crew that puts it on every year, and I extend my best wishes for the years to come.

Here’s an updated pic after a few days of healing:


Syracuse Half Ironman 70.3 Tattoo

Tattoo is done! So stoked with how it turned out.

This one was done by Josh Payne @ Ascend Gallery in Cortland, NY. First time having one created from another artist as all the other work I have up to now has been done by Scot Clark @ Sacred Art also in Cortland.  We have some very talented artists in such a small town.

The main element is the skull. Skull tattoos in some representations symbolize death, but they also can, and do in my case, represent the fleetingness of life. “Memento mori” (latin for “remember your mortality,”) translates that it is important to know and understand  your own mortality so that you may live life to the fullest. “Carpe-Diem”  in modern translation “Seize the day” is a similar concept. M-dot (forehead) and 70.3 (under the left eye socket) are elements incorporated in the skull. Ironman is a mental as well as physical game/duel with one’s self, whether it be the 70.3 or even more epic 140.6 distance.

Wind and water  elements that merges and frames the lower skull are a part of the ironman experience, with fire representing the drive and desire to finish. The balloons (3) tie the piece back to Ironman Syracuse with is part of the race’s theme. The park the race is held at also host’s the balloon fest each year. He made that work with the overall design. The gold tooth is a signature item that Josh does in his skull designs.

I’ll update pics once the tattoo heals and settles down.  Big thank you to Josh  for putting this together.

Syracuse Half Ironman 70.3 Tattoo

30 days have past since crossing the finish line at Ironman Syracuse. Sometimes when you plan a big goal, and get there, or complete it, it becomes anti-climatic, or so-so-what’s next. Not the case with completing Ironman Syracuse. It was as epic, inspiring, and as humbling as I thought it would be. It was a day that culminated all the planning, training , and emotional highs and lows that I will treasure as a life event.

I had been thinking on commemorating the day with a calf tattoo. I held back running off in a hurry to get it done to see if my perspective would change, or shift after the endorphins finally wore off. Signing up for Ironman Lake Placid has not changed my view. I would say that completing Syracuse is a huge stepping stone to the big dance. Had I not complete it, or had a bad experience, I would not likely step up to the 140.6 mile distance. Most certainly I will commemorate that event if it is anything at all like what I experienced at Ironman Syracuse. Most likely yes, and all the more epic. At least twice, right? For all the reasons that I have captured in prior blog posts, it represents much more than a race or single event. It not only marks a return to something that I love, it also represents a pivotal point in my life that I choose to change the outcome, health, and well-being for the 3rd quarter of my life as I head towards retirement years.

Tonight will start the tattoo project, and I’ll post pics soon enough. I won’t reveal what it will be as of yet, but it will have many elements in it that I hope will come together to make for a great skin art piece. More yet to come.

While nursing a sore calf, and in wind down mode of race week, I get to think about other things that interest me other than training. Obviously from the title, this would be about tattoos. More specifically: triathlon or ironman themed tattoos. After completing Ironaman Syracuse (it is the goal), I may commemorate it with one. Been thinking about it. All said and done it’s just a race, although a great one in my opinion. For me, it signifies a large body of work, commitment, a return to the sport, and on my home stomping grounds. The significance is an emotional one.

Generally speaking there seems to be two camps. Those that either have tattoos or admire them, and those that really dislike or look down at them. Very polarizing subject, not a lot of neutral or middle ground from what I see.

I most certainly fall into the first camp. I have a love of many forms of art, including skin art. In my younger days I sidelined as a freelance photographer. Although I liked tattoos, I waited until after I turned 50 to get my first one. That one is dedicated to my wife and our marriage. I got that on our 10 year wedding anniversary. We recently celebrated 15 years since we first met. Being the best 15 years of my time on the planet, I am very happy with what some would think is a risky subject to get inked.

By most standards I am heavily inked. I have an entire back piece dedicated to family and my grandchildren. Both upper arms, left rib cage, and a triathlon kokopelli 70.3 ankle band. I posted those pics in an earlier blog. The 70.3 piece commemorates having done the Firmman 70.3 in 1994. The kokopellis signify growth and joy. I certainly have gotten that from being a triathlete. Each of the tattoos I have were thought out over a significant period of time, and not spur of the moment or impulse decisions. No regretful choices made in a drunken stupor.

While researching ideas for artwork to possibly commemorate the milestone event, I came across quite a few discussions about triathlon tattoos and a derivative topic of M-Dot tattoos. There are very stark and divided opinions even among fellow triathletes. I find it a little odd, as the genre of triathlons has it ‘s roots from the big island, a cutting edge, techie sort of way of thinking. From the big island there is a long and rich history of Polynesian art & culture. Like the general public. Many hate them or like them. I do understand that. It is a personal choice and form of expression. There are some that cling to the old stereotypes. I do laugh at that, as when dressed in business casual attire you would not know I was inked. My decision to maintain that is based on being pragmatic. As an engineer, I work in a very conservative environment. Being that my skin art is very personal, I am ok with that. There are religious objections, most are related to interpretations of Leviticus 19:28. Scholarly insights focus more on the practice during that period of markings that worship the dead, and false gods.Very strong opinions on both sides of that.

Given my perspective, my discussion here is on the divide of the commemoration of a big “bucket list” item, whether it be a full or half ironman. On the side topic, there are very strong opinions that one should not get an M-Dot tattoo unless you have gone the 140.6 distance. Even if there is a 70.3 or some other way that distinguishes it as being 70.3. In my book, 4 to 8 hours of finishing something like an half ironman is not something to turn your nose up on. Have we gotten to the point that completing a 70.3 event is much the same as doing a 1 mile or 5K fun run? I think not. An observation of these forum discussions reveals in many cases that full ironman athletes exhibit a snobbery among some of them. This would be aside from whether or not they are cool with tattoos in general.

As much as I happen to like the skin art, I would separate the distinction between full and half distances. Not to diminish 70.3, but to somehow make the full ironman art work to be a more significant piece to represent the epic quality of it. Should I ever step up to a 140.6, that would be my perspective. As to go with the WTC M-Dot logo? Personal choice, as I think it is beyond just a corporate logo. It is so recognizable and synonymous with Kona, and the ironman triathlon race itself. Ironman Syracuse is a M-Dot branded event. Not sure if I would incorporate it or not.

Like I mentioned before, not everyone likes tattoos or wishes to commemorate in that way. I get that. Some folks are very private, others like myself want to have others enjoy it as we do, and are very social about it.

Last parting thought: Should you choose to commemorate your big day with a tattoo, go big, and get a great artist.

For those that like and or appreciate body art: This is a kokopelli rendition of a triathlon tattoo, commemorating the three disciplines, and the half ironman distance. This commemorated having completed the distance as well as the transformation years later while pursuing it again. The tattoo was done by Scot Clark @ Sacred Art in Cortland, NY.  After Syracuse, who knows, I do have a few ideas 🙂