My Running Tattoos

11:25 PM
A question that keeps coming up from time to time and a quick check reveals I haven't written about my beloved tattoos.
Kat doing final touches on my tattoo "Time and Chance"
Okay, I have several.  Only two tattoos are dedicated to running moments.  So none of your business about my other tattoos.  Okay?  Okay.

Here's a quick fun fact; both of my running tattoos were inked during the month of May on damned near the same day.  The first one was inked on May 5th, 2014 and the second one was inked on May 3rd, 2017.  

My first running tattoo was inked a few months after the completion of my first marathon.  My life had been turned upside down a year before and the hits just kept coming.  But I had completed my first marathon and I was well on my way of growing into my running shoes.  

I had been contemplating getting a tattoo for months leading up to the marathon.  I wanted something small, yet distinct.  However, after the marathon with some additional life stressors, the concept of the tattoo morphed from a small one to a 1/4 sleeve.  

Katrina had already done some other ink work for me, so the artist was not even a thought.  Reached out via email, some collaboration back and forth via email, an epiphany while on the road in Dallas lead to completing the missing link that and inspiration for the entire design which is now inked in on my arm.

It's a tribal design in the spirit of the Maori style which draws on the following scripture: 

Ecclesiastes Chapter 9 
11:  For I have seen under the sun
The race is not given to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor food to the wise,
Nor wealth to those of understanding,
Nor favor to those of skill,
But time and chance happen to them all.
12: For no one knows their time:

So you're probably asking yourself, how da hell does Ecc 9:11 have to do with the tattoo you see on my arm?  

Oh, the joy of my shoulder tattoo and the hidden items within that tells the story:  
  1. The circular crown motif is the tribal representation of the sun - for I have seen under the sun
  2. The turtle in the middle of that motif represents speed or swiftness, as I consider myself a slow runner - the race isn't given to the swift
  3. In the scroll from the inner arm are tribal animal representations with the first being the head of a lion, the king of the jungle, which represents strength, the battle to the strong
  4. An owl is hidden beneath the lion, which represents wisdom - food to the wise
  5. Dolphins are considered one of the most intelligent animals in the sea - wealth to those of understanding or intelligence 
  6. Looking closely you'll find a fox, who are "crafty" and skilled scavengers - nor favor to those of skill
  7. 26.2 is at the bottom in Roman characters to represent the distance of a marathon and summarize the ending.  Marathons are challenging endeavors and regardless of training, anything can happen and destroy a runner's ability to finish.  No one knows the day a DNF or a horrible run will strike, but the day comes - Time and chance happen to us all and no one knows their time.  No one.  
So there.  My first runner's tattoo aptly named "Time and Chance."  - Five hours in the chair to complete!

This is getting long, so here we go with running tattoo number TWO!  

Oh, trail running, specifically ultra-marathons (distances beyond the traditional marathon).  My 2nd running tattoo would be inked after the completion of my first 100K and in the month leading up to the training for my 1st 100 miler!  

Y'all heard me talk about the dark dog.  That place that ultra distances find every runner.  Can be considered the dreaded wall that makes a marathon wall looks like a child toy.  Could be considered as a form of depression.  A low mental and spiritual state you are sure to experience at ultra distances.  In short, you will spend time with your dark dog at ultra distances.  

So why Anubis?  

Anubis is considered in ancient Egyptian culture as the guardian and protector of the dead.  In western countries, we tend to fear death and place all things associated with death as darkness and evil.  Anubis is a dog or specifically a jackal.  Close enough!

Forboding looks, but to those Anubis protects and guards a welcome and lovable presence.  I guess a face only an owner could love.  

As an ultra runner, I learned you have to embrace the pain, the darkness, and the torture that comes with ultra distances.  It is ultra distances which taught me to face my own evils within.  To learn to balance the light and the dark within my mind and soul.  To embrace my dark dog.  

Many people will hear me proclaim trail running provides me an opportunity to spend time with my angels and demons, to see the darkness of my soul and face it through the endurance.  Spending time with my dark dog.  We all have one, we just tend to ignore the dog.  

Life on the trail has been my escape, my protector, my guardian of sanity.  So Anubis is fitting and represents the story of my love of running the trails.  

Plus there is a nod to my greek life affiliation in there as well, being Egyptian derivative.  '06!

A week after Anubis' inking, healing up nicely
As for why the Anubis headpiece?  I have to keep somethings private, don't I?  But I'll share two parts of the reasoning.  
  1. The traditional warbonnet is not what is represented.  An animal headpiece could be considered an animal mask used during spiritual ceremonies.  And there's a saying if you want to run, run a mile.  If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.  If you want to   If you want to talk to God, run an ultra.  LOL!  Or at least run with your dark dog.  I now get to run with my dark dog on every run!  So my dark dog isn't just around during those dark times.  :)
  2. My great-grandmother was a very important person in my young life, she was mixed Native American with long flowing hair.  A nod to a very important female in my life.   

My right leg was chosen because it is the shorter of my two legs and also the weakest.  The leg that gives me the most issues on the trails.  The one that I feared the most going into training for my 100 miler.  

I found the artist Tony via research for the style of tattoo I was looking for.  Something in the traditional style and because of my skin color, work in black only.  Tony ironically is listed as one of the top 10 tattoo artists in Phoenix and known across North America for his traditional style.  

I reached out to him via email, he was interested.  We had a brief meeting and he slotted me in!  SCORE!  Big shout out to Tony K (aka Tech 9ine) for this remarkable piece that means so much to me and marks my journey into the ultra world.  - little over three hours on the table to complete.  

Tony doing his thing inking Anubis, my Dark Dog
So there you go.  My two running tattoos and their stories.  And I'm getting that itch again.  

Maybe something to commemorate the Daytona 100?  Who knows?  Take me months upon months to research, figure out what I really want, and then find an artist.  I never rush into my tattoos.  No regrets.  

Wonder if the next one will be inked in the month of May?  

So who of among you have a running tattoo?  Either leave a comment here or in the comments of this post on my facebook or bookface (which will be best as it will spur more conversation and discussion) .  

Y'all be good.  Do you.  

1 comment:

  1. Wow these are some awesome works of art!
    Love running and am doing half marathons - have done 11 so far!
    Australian Tattoo Directory

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