Triathlon and Running Coach
“The tattoo isn’t about the race; it’s about the lifestyle”
When I was in my late 30’s I was diagnosed with a heart condition and high blood pressure. The cardiologist told me I would be on heart meds the rest of my life and IF I wanted to be around in my 60’s, I would have to make some fundamental changes in my lifestyle. He said my condition was a direct result of years of poor diet, working 60+ hour weeks, minimal exercise, lack of sleep, and way too much smoking & drinking.
“What!?” The diagnosis came as a shock to me because I thought I was in fine health. I played golf on the weekends and worked outside in construction. Wasn’t I healthier than most people?
When I met Jeremy, the tattoo artist, he asked me for a brief story of what the tattoo represented. I told him about how I was diagnosed with a heart condition and with diet and exercise I was now off the meds and no longer showed signs of the condition. Now I had just completed my first IM distance race in just under 13 hours but hoped to one day qualify for IMWC in Hawaii. Jokingly, I said to him “and when I do, I will come back and have you add a lei around the neck of the tattoo.”
That didn’t go over very well with him...He proceeded to give me a lecture about goals that I will never forget. He said, “We’re putting the lei on now,” and then asked me, “Have you ever not accomplished a goal you’ve set?” I began to think back in life and the answer that pride refused to let me share was, “yes.” So many times I have come short in meeting my goals. Would this be different? This tattoo is a pretty permanent goals list. The whole time he was working on the tattoo I was thinking, “I have a long road to go and how am I going to get there? The road to Kona starts today.” This tattoo would be a permanent reminder of the commitment to the healthy lifestyle I would live for the second half of my life.
Of course, over the next many years I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to answer questions about the lei. People would ask, “Have you done Hawaii?” I would reply “No, not yet, but I will someday.”
If I had any idea then of all the bumps, turns, and breaks there would be in that long road while I was getting that tattoo I might’ve pulled out then, right in the middle of Jeremy’s work. I am so thankful that this journey has brought me through a broken trochanter, dislocated shoulders, a 3rd degree AC separation, broken ribs, and piriformis issues, just to name the major physical struggles. Emotionally, I have been through divorce, a remarriage, a second set of children, building new friendships, career changes, life style changes, and too may ups and downs to mention. The constant through it all has been this dream that God placed on my heart. Neither the tattoo nor the goal faded over time.
Nine years after Jeremy did my original tattoo I sent him an email from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii asking him if he remembered me. I reminded him of his little talk and I asked if he would make an addition to his original work. I was looking for something to represent the dedication, perseverance, and the commitment of finally achieving the goal.
Since then I have returned to Hawaii a second time and have plans on returning a 3rd. I cannot help but ask myself where I would be if I had never taken the chance and made that commitment.
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt
“It’s never too late to change your life’s course”