On the 5th May 2017 I pushed the limits of both my physical and mental boundaries. I did something that only a small percentage of the population can stick their hands up and say “yes, I’ve done that”. I ran a distance that a lot of people consider to be a long drive. I ran a 50 mile race. Now let me tell you something, 50 miles is quite a long way, especially on foot! It’s very nearly two marathons back to back, and most people think just one of them is a long way. It took me and my friend Jenny just over 12 hours to complete the challenge laid on by White Star Running. The amazing Ox 50.
The Ox races have a Mexican theme behind them even though they are held in deepest darkest Tollard Royal in Wiltshire. The whole event has quite the party atmosphere, lots of costumes, the love station, buffet food, alcohol and completely bonkers people. You do have to be a bit special to think that running 50 miles is a good idea. White Star Running do cater for this sort of lunacy with gusto. They also create some fantastic looking medals and race merchandise. I ran not just one race, but three races that weekend totally 100km in distance and picked up a fair haul. I really love the medals and the finishers shirt is probably my most worn technical top outside of my Apricot parkrun top, check it out.
Now, I’ve been wanting to get a new tattoo for years but could never think of what to have done. I was never ever happy with the tattoo I had on my left arm and wanted it covered up but could never think what to have. For in the region of 13 years I wanted to do have a cover up done but could never go that step further. I wanted a bespoke tattoo that had memories and meaning behind it. Something special to me. I had thought to do something to commemorate my first marathon but was never inspired enough, likewise for my first 50k ultramarathon. This however was my first big ultramarathon, a 50 miler and the theme was perfect. As I’d been looking at getting a tattoo for ages I had already picked out a tattoo artist and studio where I was going to have it done. The Monday after the Ox weekend I hobbled in on weary legs to meet Stuart Walker of Tattoo Incorporated for the first time, discussed my ideas, showed him all the race paraphernalia and booked my appointment. Stuart’s studio is popular and the earliest appointment I could have was two months later in July. A deposit was paid and the date was set in stone.
Two months on from the first meeting an initial design had been formulated from the ideas we’d discussed. Some slight tweaks were done to the drawing above and we were ready to go. Size wise Stuart had got it right on the money, it took a couple of attempts to get it positioned where we thought best and to still cover up as much of the original tattoo as possible. Colour wise I was going ‘greyscale’ leaving it open for colouring at a later date should I so desire. I had been a bit nervous about pain management, which is silly really considering I run marathons for fun, but I have been told that I have a tendency to overthink things! Off to google it was to do a bit of research around this…
These were the 5 tattoo top tips I found for pain management
- Have a big breakfast – your body needs fuel as you will burn through calories whilst sitting there being tattooed.
- Get a good nights sleep – sleep is so important for everything, being well rested makes everything better.
- Stay hydrated – just like running, it is important to stay hydrated, helps keep the skin supple.
- Stay calm and relaxed – just relax and let it happen, tense up and it’s going to hurt more, don’t fidget!
- Stay chatty and friendly – time passes way quicker when you’re having a laugh and a joke about life in general.
Enjoy the experience – sounds silly I know, but enjoy it, think about why you’re having it done.
Stuart worked pretty much solidly for two and a half hours on the piece. We had very few breaks and just cracked on with it. This also helped with pain management in my opinion. Once I’d got through the first ten minutes it just became something that was going on whilst we were chatting. It was all very bearable, the odd tender spot here and there but nothing to complain about. We had a little break once the outline had been done so Stuart and I could stand up and stretch our legs for a couple of minutes.
The couple of minutes break was great to stand up and have a look at progress in the mirror, though starting back in again after with the shading was initially a bit sore and tender but soon got back into the groove.
I have to say I’m impressed with the speed in which Stuart worked. Start to finish was around two and a half hours. We talked about everything in that time from what on earth possessed me to run 50 miles to where I’m going next with it to boxing and the impending McGregor v Mayweather fight. There was also a lot of talk about food with Keely who looks after the beauty salon side of the place. The studio itself is shared with a beauty salon and is a really lovely open space, it’s not a dark damp tattoo parlour of old. It’s light and open and not in the slightest forbearing, I was comfortable from the moment I walked in. Such a pleasant and friendly experience.
So, the end result, as you can see there are some slight tweaks from the original design. We got rid of the text from the top and I decided to go for 50 in the eyes instead of my race number, 49. The medal and the skull merging nicely with some lovely detailing on the Ox.
I’m looking forward to seeing it when it’s completely healed up and settled down a bit. There’s a couple of tweaks required to finish it, there’s a rose to go in top right to finish the cover up and I want to add a question mark after the Did You Die tag line. At this point I don’t think I’m going to add any colour but will hold judgement on that until it’s healed up properly.
Would I recommend Stuart and Tattoo Incorporated to anyone looking for a tattoo?
Most certainly yes. He worked out the design and got it spot on. He made me feel comfortable throughout the experience. So much so that I’m booked in for more work with him in September!