HomeathleteFat to Fit: GRATIA – The Tattoo

Fat to Fit: GRATIA – The Tattoo

Ironman Tattoo Design Calf

I never thought I’d be the tattoo type. I don’t have anything against tattoos. In fact, I often like them on other people. I just never saw one on me.

The honest truth is there has never been anything that I’ve wanted to have on my body for the rest of my life.

That changed when I crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid eleven days ago. Really it changed while running mile 25 of the the Ironman run with tears streaming down my face.

I didn’t want to forget that moment.

Have Fun Be Lucky Tattoos Hampden

Two times in the last seven days a friend of mine said:

You deserve it.

One of those times it was about something I bought post Ironman. The other was about my tattoo.

I knew what he meant. He meant that I had earned things from all the efforts I had put in. And he was encouraging me. He’s good that way. It’s one of my favorite things about him.

But I know better. I didn’t earn anything. I’ve worked hard to become the athlete I have. I’ve trained literally thousands of hours the past few of years. I’ve put my time in.

But while I’ve put in a lot of effort, I know that what I’ve done is very specifically attributable to something outside of me:

GRATIA. Grace.

Ironman Tattoo Process

One of my heroes, Dallas Willard, says:

Grace is God working in my life to accomplish that which I cannot accomplish alone.

  • Grace enabled me to wakeup and realize I needed to make drastic changes in my life.
  • Grace has given me a wife and family that are my biggest fans.
  • Grace surrounded me with people that have supported, coached, and encouraged me along this journey.
  • Grace fuels my body every day.
  • Grace enables me to wakeup each morning.
  • Grace enables me to do that which I cannot do alone.
  • Grace gives strength when weary.
  • By Grace I take the next breath.

Running down Mirror Lake Drive in Lake Placid I was filled with gratitude. I was fueled not by my own power but by Grace. I thought of every Grace filled moment that had carried me from dying to the Ironman finish line.

I didn’t earn that. I don’t deserve that.

That was GRATIA.

Keep moving forward,


Ironman Lake Placid Tattoo Reward

Written by

I am the CEO of Blue Ocean Ideas, a creative agency in Baltimore, Maryland. My job is to clarify the strategy and take care of my team. I am married to the beautiful Elise Rittler and we have four great kids. When I’m not at Blue Ocean Ideas or with my family I am riding a bike, running, playing ultimate frisbee, eating, or sleeping. There is a little more about me here.

10 Responses to “Fat to Fit: GRATIA – The Tattoo”

By Sarah Short - 8 August 2013

Yes. Grace. Always grace.

This is fantastic. Was honored to watch you finish while sitting next to your parents. Their pride was incredibly moving.

Congratulations, again, Greg.

By Margaret Miller - 8 August 2013

Nicely done.

By ian - 8 August 2013

Nice choice Greg.

By Bill Percival - 8 August 2013

Nice! I think you now need something on the other calf to balance it out.

Maybe RAAM has a logo that would go well with it!

By Greg - 8 August 2013

Jerry Jackson and I watched RAAM riders on the way out to Hilly Billy in June. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a cold day in hell before I think I’ll attempt that.

Now Ride the Divide…that’s another story!

By Jeff B - 8 August 2013

NICE!!! +1 on the RAAM suggestion

By Jeff B - 8 August 2013

Is that Hunter doing your work?

By Greg - 8 August 2013

It was Hunter at Have Fun Be Lucky in Hampden. He did great work.

By Hunter Barrington - 8 August 2013

Ya, where did you get the tattoo done? It looks great! Very well done and incredibly cool. I love the symbolism and personal meaning.

By Matthew Snider - 9 August 2013


Great stuff Greg, hard work pays off!

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