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Coaches Blog

My Tattoo

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

Most of us are solidly in the grind of the season at this point. I figure it's time for a story article rather than anything useful or informative. So, here is the story of my tattoo (which I pronounce tuh-2. People who know me understand why, and people who do not are probably better off).

I have one tattoo, the IRONMAN “Mdot”. It took me several years of IRONMAN branded races to build up the courage to get the tattoo, and even at that point I did not know if I earned it. However, ultimately I thought it was time. Boulder 70.3 2019 was the last big race of my season, so I figured it would be the best time to get a tattoo. I would have enough time for healing going into the off season, and I have been thinking about it for a few years.

The day of the tattoo started like any other race day. I woke up half an hour before I wanted to, ate, and got to the race venue a few minutes before transition opened. Boulder 70.3 went as usual. A typical swim, hot bike, and hot dirty run. I finished, got back to the hotel room, showered, and looked up to nearest tattoo parlors. I do not think my wife knew how serious I was about getting a tattoo until that point, I am a joy to be married to. Through my research I found that tattoos are done by appointment, that is how little I knew about the entire process. Luckily I was able to find a parlor that was open and had some appointments available.

It was about 2:00pm when my wife and I made it over to the tattoo parlor. We go in and meet the tattoo artist, Chris. He was a friendly guy. His specialty was japanese style artwork, but was familiar with IRONMAN and the mdot symbol. We talked about where I wanted the tattoo and size, then he told me to come back at 4:00pm so we could get started.

Cut to 3:50pm. I am back at the tattoo parlor, because just like with getting to the race venue, I need to be early. Chris was finishing up a touch up when I got there, so I sat down and waited. After he cleaned up he called me over and showed me some mockups he found for my tattoo. I went with the super basic mdot. Chris told me he could easily add some flare to the inside, but I wanted basic. He applied the stencil to my leg, we agreed the placement was good, and the experience began.

Quick side note; I choose above my left knee for the tattoo for a reason. My left knee isd the one I blew out playing college football that got me started in endurance sports. I never particularly liked the scars from the knee surgerys, so I thought it would be appropriate to pay homage to what got me to triathlon and take the focus away from the scars.

I am not a needles guy. I thought a tattoo would be different, but I was wrong. Chris started with the outline, which seemed to be going well. It hurt, but I expected that, and even thought that it really was not that bad. About halfway through the outline Chris moved from tattooing on the muscle to tattooing on a tendon. *Expletive* that hurt. I am sitting there doing everything I can not to start squirming around from the pain. Then came the cold sweat. I knew I was in a bad spot and shifted my energy from no squirming to giving myself a pep talk. “You’re fine, you’re good, everyone else here is covered in tattoos, you’re fine”.

Next thing I know I am waking up with a cool rag on my head and another tattoo artist gently cradling my head. Chris told me that I had passed out and everything was fine. The tattoo artist that was cradling my head said my blood sugar was probably off from the race and gave me a cup of skittles from the charity gumball machine. I ate the skittles and soldered on.

The outline was done, I made it. Now for one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Chris asked me if I wanted to stop with the outline or continue and finish the tattoo. Just like in an Ultra, I knew that if I stopped now I would never finish. So we kept going. As with the outline the tattoo on the muscle was fine, but as soon as it got to the tendon things went bad. This time I was able to tell Chris I needed a moment to collect myself. I ate some more skittles, had some Coke, and we were able to finish the tattoo.

A 10-minute tattoo ended up taking 2 hours. That’s my story, I passed out during a tattoo.


Coach Adam is an IRONMAN University Certified Coach, USAT Level I Certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and VFS Master Bike Fitter based out of the Western Slope of Colorado. Adam has years of experience coaching beginners, juniors, elites, and clubs as well as a year focusing specifically on special needs athletes. Adam's expertise with bike fitting is extensive with over 15 years and 8,000 fits for athletes that include two world record holders, a national champion, several IRONMAN Pro/Age Groups winners and an ITU winner.



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