Running/racing is alot like getting a tattoo. Finding the pleasure in the pain, focusing more on the end result than the temporary discomfort of the moment, and, of course, the personal pride and honor of bearing YOUR mark for the rest of your life. Love them or hate them, tattoos are prevalent and a large percentage of the adult population in this world has at least one. Personal and religious viewpoints aside, as I am not here to argue for or against the opinions or standards of anyone; a tattoo is not something to take lightly nor is it to be done frivolously or on a whim. It is designed to be permanent. Once done, you are stuck with it for your lifetime. (Expensive and extensive laser removal treatments aside.) Lucky for me, I love my tattoos. I got my first one at the age of 24. It was a pivotal moment in my life; a choice made at a crossroads in my life and the decisions I made at that point, and there on after, altered the direction and course of my life in a way that I could only faintly imagine at the time. Emotions were running high for me, as were the daily stresses and fears of the unknown future ahead. Prior to that point I had been a writer, a journal keeper in poetry form…but at this time in my life, words failed me. I could not put what I was thinking, feeling, or facing into written words. And, for the first time in my entire life, I was completely alone. The mark of the tattoo, however, symbolized the beautiful possibilities that lay ahead for me. The changing of myself from the “quiet/obedient/always do what I’m told and am expected to do” kind of person into the “this is who I am/this is what I think/this is how I feel/this is what I am doing” independent kind of person. The temporary pain of having this piece of artwork inked into my skin became a physical outlet; the end product: a beautiful “scar”. On a very personal level, it empowered me to leave the past behind, to move forward, and begin again; creating the life that I was meant to live and love every moment because it was what I had chosen. To anyone else, this particular tattoo means nothing. To me, it holds the feelings, the emotions, the decisions, and the changes that I have faced; all that I have done, the choices I have made, the consequences I have endured, the difficulties I have survived, and the ups and downs, as a result, that I have chosen to find a way to shine through and emerge from as a bigger, better, stronger, more brilliant version of ME.
In the many years since this first tattoo, RUNNING has now taken first place as my physical and emotional “outlet”. Out on the roads and in organized races, I am able to vent my emotions and energy, good or bad, into my physical performance and endurance. There is pleasure found in the pain of pushing my body to it’s limits and seeing if I can go just a little bit further each time. I am by no means an elite athlete, but I have goals that are difficult and steep and one, in particular…
…that is so far out of my reach that it is sometimes hard to believe that it is even possible. I refuse to give it up though. So, here I am; nearly 15 years after my very first tattoo, with many other life events and pivotal moments inked upon my skin as momentos and reminders to myself, with tattoo #18 being, as always, designed by me and placed upon the inside of my right forearm, as a constant reminder.
The word “Believe” itself, by definition, means: “To have a firm or wholehearted conviction; to regard something as fact.” For me, it is imperative that I keep believing that Boston is possible, otherwise, what is the point of continuing my running journey to BQ? So the capital “B” is for ✨BOSTON✨. The semicolon is “a punctuation mark (;) indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced.” This symbol is signifigant for where I am now and where I am going. My journey is not yet over; simply paused, briefly, as I regroup, readjust, and begin to execute my plan for closing the gap between myself and Boston. The Pittsburgh Marathon took it’s toll on me; physically and mentally. I have had to take some time to repair my body, as well as, be brutally honest with myself about where I currently stand in the grand scheme of things. I have a large gap in physical performance to bridge before a Boston qualifier is even the slightest glimmer of a reality for me. Therefore, I have altered my plans for fall races and altered my training to focus more on where I am rather than simply where I want to be. Baby steps. One step at a time, one level at a time, I will elevate my performance, little by little, until I am truely ready to go out there and secure my dream. This brings me to the arrow, another symbol. A reminder that taking a few steps back is not the end of the world nor is it the end of my story. The arrow is an object that can not ever move forward without first being drawn backwards. Once pulled so far back though, it is shot forward towards it’s target and, when executed with concentrated thought and precise planning, it reaches its goal, front and center. 🎯 So, despite the smallness of it’s size, this particular tattoo is packed full of meaning for me, and strategically placed where I can look upon it frequently, on a daily basis, and particularly during hard training runs and races. It’s significance will empower me to keep running, keep pushing, keep believing, and eventually when MY TIME is right, I will aim, execute, and reach my goal target;
My story is not over yet.