10 PAX made their Monday matter by posting at Blakovery to run the Flat Branch Route. Bratwurst was early, prompting us to wonder if we were in the right place and at the appointed time we were off. One PAX, not making it for the initial launch, parked near Harris Teeter, jumped out of his car and caught up to the rest as I made up the six.
This was my first post to a running workout in almost 4 months. My first set back was at the end of January when I tweaked my calf. Then, while nursing that injury, I ended up in a wheelchair for a few weeks, apparently doing something really bad to the psoas/hip flexor muscle.
Sad Clown Syndrome set in and my pants were not fitting right. It is amazing how my need/desire for cookies exponentially increased when I stopped posting.
My goal this morning was to run/jog for about 45 minutes at an 11-12 minute pace. I quickly wondered if I could accomplish those goals. Physically and mentally it was tough. Things hurt when I started running. Not only where I was injured but all over.
Then to see guys run off in the distance (that happened before but usually I was not that far behind) messed with my mind. It is not fun running OYO. Maybe I made a mistake trying to get back into this running thing. Maybe I shouldn’t get up early. Maybe it is just easier to fart sack. Maybe I am too old, too slow, too fat…
It was like I was starting from scratch and that sucks.
I was thinking about giving up. Walking back to the AO. But then in the distance I spotted a headlamp coming towards me. With it, a familiar figure and voice checking in on me, and carrying some simple words of encouragement “you have to start somewhere.”
This has been my experience with F3. Everytime I need help, words of wisdom, encouragement, accountability, a PAX is there. But I can’t just sit home, in the comfort of my warm bed, and expect those things to show up. I have to show up. Whether it is F3MASH, a 3rd F, 2nd F, F3dads event, bootcamp or gear workout. Whether I am in front, the middle or my usual spot in the 6. I just need to show up.
That is the best place to start.
9 PAX ran the PopTart route only 1 go lost and 1 decided to break the streak of not writing a backblast.
It was a typical Devil’s Turn without Goonie there to keep me company.
The fast guys were way ahead and I was the 6.
Yet during the run, I was able to catch up to Enron and El Guapo. Not that I’m fast but because I took the short cut up Carmel Rd. We met somewhere on the Greenway.
In the gloom the 2 fast guys asked, what they thought, were innocuous questions: Hey PJ, looks like you’re running a little faster lately, have you noticed? Hey PJ, do you think you need to change the notarunner hashtag name?
Those questions made me think and I provided a response that they did not expect.
But for me, that is how it has been in my F3 running journey.
It started with simple questions I asked myself and that changed everything.
How am I ever going to keep up with the Qs that Alf, Lobsta Roll, Mermaid, Haggis, Mic Check and other guys keep doing if I don’t improve my cardio endurance?
How can I post at a running workout? I am too fat, too slow, too old, hate running, not qualified.
Then in December of 2016 a challenge from my Pastor during one of his sermons forced me to face those questions. It was in the context of forgiveness, but it applied to me in running. He said, sometimes we have to do something we don’t feel like doing (forgiving someone) and if we do it often enough and consistently enough, we will gain an appreciation for that thing we didn’t like before and it will become our natural response. (Note: I am paraphrasing his sermon)
Fast forward to January 2017. I make the decision to improve my cardio vascular strength. I show up to Centurion, get out of my car to pre-run by myself, still thinking I am unqualified. There is only 1 other car in the parking lot.
Van Pelt rolls down his window and asks: You running? Can I run with you? That question changed everything. I knew Van Pelt was a runner. I thought, maybe if this runner asked me to run, maybe I’m not unqualified. It provided the courage to start pre-running bootcamps.
So I would run with Madison before Matrix on Monday and Gumby on Wednesday. Run longer distances and time with my neighbor on Thursday. So at the end of the summer of 2017, I was ready to post at a running workout.
There was this thing called Blakovery. It was a recovery workout. The fast guys will run slower, it’s flat, no hills. Just my speed. So I reach out to Bratwurst. He said that it was designed just for BRR training and he was not sure if it would continue.
Then the question that changed everything. Bratwurst, do you mind if I see who would like to join me to run Blakovery? The answer was yes. So there I was, the slow guy, an unofficial site Q of an unofficial running AO.
So every Monday I would show up. Other guys did too. I started posting other running workouts. With it came many questions.
Bunker and Tuck who questioned my resolve and encouraged me one Monday morning to get out of my comfort zone.
Gumbo, who asked me to just try Swift for 6 weeks and see if I liked it.
JRR Tolkein who asked me if I wanted a fancy watch, when he realized I didn’t have it in the budget to buy one.
Frasier who asked me to do Crane Relay and Bunker who signed me up (without asking).
These are just some examples of the many questions posed to me over the years from other guys at F3.
Some questions were meant to challenge me, some were meant to check on and care for me, while some questions changed everything.
So now my question to you.
What questions will you ask your F3 Brothers?
Never know. It may change everything.
13 PAX came for the promise of 4 miles and other stupid stuff to justify the crap that they will eat the rest of the day. None left disappointed. After an air-tight disclaimer, we launched at 6:30 sharp while a few late comers were pulling in.
With everyone in toe, it was time to circle up in front of the movie theatre for the COP:
SSH x 10, 5 merkins OYO, LSS x 10, 5 hand release merkins OYO. IW x 10.
Here is an overview of the route we ran:
Run to the big fountain in front of StoneCrest. Grab a chair for arm work in cadence count: shoulder press x 10, tricep extension x 10, curls x 10.
Run to the smaller fountain next to Flying Biscuit. Grab a chair for more arm work in cadence count: shoulder press x 10, tricep extension x 10, curls x 10.
Then run to the fountain at Robinson Farms. On the way, stop at each street corner and perform 5 burpees. Circle up around the fountain and perform 1 incline merkins then hand walk to the right around the fountain until you return to your starting point.
Run to the fountain at St. Matthews. At the median that includes the fountain, perform 10 merkins at each of the four (4) points of the median.
From there, run to the fountain next to the Wells Fargo near the Post Office. 10 step ups each leg on the fountain wall.
Next stop, the fountain near the rock pile at the bottom of the Murderhorn. Run up Ballantyne Commons and run thru the neighborhood. Stop at some corners to wait for the six.
At the rock pile grab a lifting rock. Final round of arm work in cadence count: shoulder press x 15, tricep extension x 15, curl x 15 then triple lindy.
Mosey to the bottom of the Murderhorn. Run to the first light pole on the right and return to the bottom, then run to the second light pole on the right and return to the bottom, then run to the 3rd light pole and wait for the six.
Back to the AO for circle of Mary with each PAX calling an exercise of 10 reps (not 15) and we were done.
Turkey Jam was started 3 years ago when Alf opined about no AO being open on Thanksgiving morning. Since I was in town and needed some way to counterbalance all the food I would eat, I stepped up to lead. Last year, it was given its official name by Bunker and it was a 3 mile work out. This year, since I am a runner, I needed to add an extra mile. When Billy Goat offered Rebel Yell, I knew it was time to include the Murderhorn. (I quickly regretted that decision while I was running up to the 2nd light pole).
Along with a thorough workout, a tradition of Turkey Jam requires each of the PAX in attendance to say something they are thankful for during the COT. But it must be specific. It is amazing to hear the hearts and minds of our F3 Brothers. It makes coming out early on Thanksgiving morning worth it.
Thank you for taking us out Kirby and I always appreciate the opportunity to lead.
Now let’s eat!
Old man winter rolled into Charlotte as 5 PAX were ready to go 5 miles from the fountains of Blakeney. It was time for the PJ route and at 5:15am we were off:
I usually show the route via a picture from Strava, but I don’t have one. More on that later.
The PJ route: run up Rea Rd, toward Stone Crest Shopping Center, left on Williams Pond, left on Elm, past the Morrison Y, left on Community House and then left on Ardrey Kell and back to base.
I typically arrive at 5am to warm up. It was essential this morning since it was close to 40 degrees at the start. Today I had company, General pulled up about the same time I began my dynamic warmup. He was dragging stuff out of his car for the launch of Genesis. I was dragging myself thru my warmup. He was chatty and awake. I was barely coherent. At one point I saw him looking at his watch and it prompted me to tell him “I can’t believe I forgot my watch.” He responded: “looks like you are going to have a rough morning.” I did not know he could tell the future.
As we left the parking lot and went up Rea Rd, one PAX who apparently came for Genesis, was caught up in the running frenzy and joined us. While chatting with Gumbo, he realized that this was the running workout and back to Blakeney he went.
At that point, it was clear that Polly, Thin Mint and Bunker were trying to set a Blakovery PR. Polly and Thin Mint overshot Williams Pond and were reigned in by Bunker. Gumbo, who is battling a calf issues, was left behind and waited for me at the corner of Williams Pond and Elm.
Gumbo, who could tell I was dragging, questioned if I was going to make the entire route. I was determined to do so. There were some signals that indicated a pit stop was in order. I pressed on. A little further down Elm, things changed quickly. There was a Shell Station up ahead-hope in distance. The neon lights were shining, so good news for Paper Jam.
As we arrived, I could see that it was false hope. They were closed. At that point I was about a mile from my house, a mile or so from the Y. Neither were realistic choices. As Gumbo kept running, my mind was racing on my best alternative. Knowing the landscape, there was a secluded spot nearby. Dark, not on any private property, perfect for a Cobblering.
When everything was finished, even with a renewed spring in my step, I knew the window of opportunity to run with anyone had closed. So it was a quick left turn down Parks Farm, thru the little neighborhood, out to Rea Rd, and back to Blakeney to find the others.
A quick stretch, COT and we were done.
Another chapter of Blakovery in the books.
12 PAX fought off the Monday morning blues to run 5 miles at whatever recovery pace meant for them. Bratwurst extended his “show up early” streak for a second week and we were off to the Providence County Club.
This is the route:
Others on Strava will have a few more thick lines as they were circling back to get me.
When I was #notarunner and showed up at running workout and saw the fast guys there, it was a little intimidating, but someone was always kind enough to stay back and encourage me. Now that I am a runner, no more sympathy for PJ. Bratwurst pronounced that fact when he looked right at me and declared that he did not need to provide short cuts for any of the PAX who were in attendance this morning. This was right before he took off and quickly accelerated to his 6 minute pace with the rest of the fast guys.
Running up Ardrey Kell, using ninja like moves to avoid the trees along the way and seeing red blinky lights far in the distance, it was time to cut thru the shopping center between Ardrey Kell and Tom Short. The fast guys were found. They were shocked to see me. It made them run faster.
As we made a left into the fancy neighborhood, Bratwurst barked out a command. Something about going straight, no turns. But when your legs are already tired and you don’t want to go any further, in your delirium, you think he said “we are all going to walk from here.”
As their pace quickened and their blinky lights disappeared around blind corners, there I was. One headlight.
Each time I thought I was alone and ready to give up, I was able to see, in the distance, a blinky light or a pair of headlights coming to find me. So I kept moving my legs and eventually made it back to base.
Often I think I am alone. Whether it is in my circumstance, my situation or in my struggles. But when I have the faith to go around those blind corners and just keep moving forward, looking ahead, for the people that God has placed in my life to help and encourage me, I can finish the race.
Maybe they know that to encourage me in this season of my journey, instead of running beside me, they have to run ahead of me to teach me that I will never improve or grow without something to run towards.
Appreciate Wingman taking the lead on the broga and One-Niner taking us out.
Thank you for another great Monday morning.
5 PAX dripped in on a Hurricane Michael morning. Some had ideas of driving over to the parking deck across the street. YHC had something different in mind. After a sue proof disclaimer, we were off.
Mosey over to the area where they used to cook bacon in the morning.
There was no smell of pork in the air, but instead there was:
LSS x 15, 5 merkins OYO, SSH x 15, IW x 15 and 5 diamond merkins OYO.
Mosey to the front of Target to the covered area with all the pillars. Line up at the last pillar. Lunge walk to each pillar and perform the called merkin. Wide arm merkin, crucible merkin, diamond merkin and regular merkin.
On the way back, lunge walk and plank. Regular plank, right arm high, left arm high then seeing a little less rain, mosey to the seating area next to Flying Biscuit.
Grab a chair. Use the chair for dips, shoulder press and curls. 15 X each exercise in cadence count then triple lindy.
Mosey to the parking lot in front of The Joint.
Using the ends of 3 parking medians, it was time for the PJ beast. 6 reps, 6 sets of the called exercise at each parking median. At the last parking median you had to do 12 to make it work. Hand slap squats, diamond merkins and burpees.
Mosey to the seating area next to Starbucks. Grab a chair. Use the chair for dips, shoulder press and curls. 15X each in cadence count.
Return to the parking lot for 4 corners of escalator abs. Flutter and LBC. 10, 15, 20, 25 X.
Mosey across the street to the parking deck at Brown Bag. Start at the bottom (covered area), run up the stairs, and back to the bottom going around the deck. No Uncle Rico sighting. At each opening (to the stairs, on top of the stairs, the out ramp and the in ramp) perform 10X of the called exercise. Merkins, LBCs and toe-tap crunch.
Mosey back across the street to the fountains. Grab a chair. Use the chair for dips, shoulder press and curls. 10X each.
Mosey to the wall in front of Firebirds. Split leg squats. 10X on each leg in cadence count.
Back to launch where the rain started coming down a little harder.
When I woke up this morning my intention was to exclusively use the covered area of the parking deck as it was coming down in buckets. The name of the back blast would have been Uncle Rico’s Rescue.
But when I arrived, the rain had subsided and Mary Kay was waiting patiently in his car. While we were chatting waiting on others to join us, he mentioned that he had never posted in the rain. At that point, my plans changed. Come hell or high water, we were all getting wet.
As Happy Meal and Billy Goat appeared, I guessed that they had never posted in the rain before so I believed it was my responsibility, my duty, to provide them with the experience of laying down on the wet pavement (perhaps a puddle). For Heartbreaker, the vet, it figured it was just another day in the rain.
A funny story or two about posting in the rain.
I had planned my FNG post for the Matrix on a Monday. But it rained. I did not show. The next day it was not raining. I posted at Bagpipe. Thanks to the rain, I am an SOB.
A few months later, I happened to mention to Hops that I did not post and took a detour to the Y because it started to rain on my way to the AO. Hops, being the spiritual guy that he is, would certainly understand. I was wrong. Instead he shamed me. It was the last time I showed up at the Y. The last time I avoided posting due to the weather. It was one of those defining moments of my F3 journey. Today, I got to Q in the rain. Thanks Hops.
Disclaimer: The exceptions are ice, lightning and when the city of Charlotte declares a curfew because of the snow. Can’t get the Nantans mad at me.
I think we set an unofficial record for shortest announcements and take out.
It is an honor to lead the men of F3. Thank you for allowing me to do that this morning.
On the eve of YHC’s half century mark, 14 PAX joined the old dog and maybe learned some new tricks. After a thorough disclaimer that would make Mermaid proud, we were off in the direction of the parking lot close to Lockness for:
SSHx 15, 5 merkins OYO, IW x 15, 5 diamond merkins OYO, LSS x 15, 5 merkins OYO, 15 LBCs
Mosey around Lockness and meet up in the parking lot on opposite side. Split into 2 groups, one for each side of the fitness trail. On one side: inclide merkins, regular merkins and pull ups. 10 reps and 3 sets each station. On the other side: dips, supine pull ups and regular pull ups. 10 reps and 3 sets each station. When done meet in the parking lot for mary and then groups flapjack and meet back up in the parking lot.
Run back towards Lockness, make a right and stop at the benches for step ups. 20 each leg. Run to first small wall for 20 reps of butt-sit squats. Run to the next small wall for a few sets of split leg squats in cadence.
Run back toward the fitness trail and pick up a lifting rock and carry it to the parking lot. Sets of arm curls, should press, tricep extensions and finish with the triple lindy.
Bring the rock back to the pile and mosey to the Wells Fargo parking lot for stretching and back to launch.
I am not sure if it was my age or the fear of Loogie tackling me that threw off my Q game this morning. But fortunately, I had Mic Check to remind me of this fact. I was forgetting to cue the beginning of the exercise. Mic Check wasn’t sure when to start. At one time, neither did I.
For me, my F3 story has been driven by that question: When should I start? I was first introduced to F3 in the Spring of 2013 via a twitter invite to post in Chapel Hill, NC. I lived in that area at the time. I thought it was some scam. It wasn’t time to start. Fast forward to December of 2014, I am living in Charlotte, just aimlessly wandering through life, going to the Y and a buddy (who is not in F3) said “why don’t you start doing this thing called F3” I said no. It wasn’t time to start. Then in April of 2015, a different friend said “why don’t you start doing this thing called F3” I said no again. But a day or so latter, I realized, it was time to start. So one Tuesday morning in April, I showed up to the very parking lot where I started this morning. Not knowing anyone. Hearing all these strange things and a very loud bald guy (Market Timer) barking out commands. It was time to start. As I struggled in the back, there was Loogie. Talking to me, encouraging me, making sure I would finish what I came that morning to start.
Since that day, my F3 journey continued with that same question:
When should I start attending a 3rd F?
When should I start my first Q?
When should I start offering to Q instead of waiting to be asked?
When should I start a new AO or become a Site Q?
When should I start getting to know the other guys on a deeper level?
When should I start searching and rescuing guys in need?
When should I start offering to pray during the COT instead of shying away?
When should I start challenging other guys to grow?
When should I start running?
When, when, when….
How about now.
8 PAX showed up at the fountains of Blakeney on a Monday morning for a planned trip thru the fancy neighborhood. It was a typical Monday morning, Bunker parked in his spot, Bratwurst was pulling up at 5:15 and Cobbler was trying to figure out where he could do his thing on this route.
With no disclaimer but a few headlamps we were off.
This was the route we took this morning according to my fancy watch:
A new PR for Cobbler this morning. He made it thru a running workout without having a stop or detour. Congrats!
One of the reasons I love running with Bunker is he is so funny. Before the launch he lamented how his legs felt tired due to his marathon training and running 16 miles yesterday so he would “run slow.” Then once we entered the fancy neighborhood he told the other fast PAX he would yell directions ahead to them as he would be behind since he would “run slow.” At one point, I was trying to keep up with him at a sub 8:30 pace and after he left me behind, he easily caught up to the other fast guys.
Two things I could not figure out this morning: (1) where did Tuck go and why did he not want to stretch with us? and (2) does Polly not like us or was he looking to get extra miles by parking his truck about a block or so from the rest of us?
Thank you Johnny Utah for taking us out.
As always, a fun start to Monday.
7 PAX flowed into Blakeney Shopping Center for the latest edition of #F3Blakovery. A mandatory curfew kept a few of the regulars from leaving their county of residence but YHC was ready to run. So without a disclaimer or shirts, we were off to run the Flat Branch Route.
This is the route I ran:
It was an interesting post hurricane morning. (1) Bratwurst, Bunker and our Union County peeps were stuck running on their own or fartsacking; (2) what are the odds of both Cobbler and YHC posting a running workout (or any workout) and not having an emergency poop; (3) there were only 2 of us who kept our shirt on while running; (4) we had 2 site FNGs; (5) the fast guys ran 1 route (Tool Bag and Happy Meal), the recovery runners ran another (One-Niner and Cobbler), the faster guys (Fraiser and Gumbo) ran their own and YHC was somewhere in-between. (6) we all agreed that female runner smell better than we do and they sometimes are offended and ignore guys running in the early morning without shirts.
Thank you One-Niner for taking us out.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: monitor Slack channel for how you can help with the hurricane clean up effort.
If it isn’t washed away, F3 Dads camping event, October 19-21 at Cane Creek, Waxhaw, NC. HC on the F3dads slack channel. Stay 1 or 2 nights.
24 PAX enjoyed the freedom of posting on this 9.11 morning.
We have the freedom to choose when and where to go.
We have the freedom to assemble and run around Ballantyne Corporate Park.
We have many freedoms that I take for granted every day because sometimes I forget what someone did to insure that freedom. This is one of those days I must remember so I don’t forget.
So for this backblast, instead of recounting the COP, THE THANG and MOLESKIN, I will take Q privilege to focus on the discussion that happened after-at Timekeeper.
Two men who have had a direct impact on my F3 journey-Alf and Frehleys Comet- were gracious enough to share their 9.11 experience.
Each had a different perspective. One from an office outside of the Pentagon the other from an office inside New York City. But it was clear that both were deeply impacted by those events and sharing their story provided me insight that I did not have before-to help me remember, so I don’t forget.
The lesson Alf taught me this morning is there is a big difference between radicals and religion. That sometimes evil people (radicals) use religion to manipulate people to carry out their own evil agenda. That we should pause before we lump a people group into the same category as a radical when all they want to do is practice their religion.
I can say I was guilty of this. As a guy who grew up across the river in NJ, when the Towers fell and our country was under attack, I was angry. And to some degree I still am. Back then, I wanted retribution. But now looking back, I am glad cooler heads prevailed.
Frehleys was working in New York City and was at work when the planes crashed and the Towers came down. Not knowing what was going on, no way to contact anyone, he and tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate. He could see the smoke and smell the wreckage of the Twin Towers. It was an eerie feeling to walk thru the streets of NYC with only the noise of the sirens in the backdrop. The sea of people around him were calm, whispering, collectively working their way to the Ferry system-the only way off the island. He finally made it to the other side (NJ) and back home-safely with his family.
A powerful picture of the human resolve and unity under the pressure of extreme circumstances.
We are 17 years past that frightful day.
It was good to remember, so I never forget.
As far as the workout is concerned, we ran, did merkins, some squats and even Burpees.
But like many other days I have sweated in the gloom-it is hard to remember what we did a few hours later.
What I heard from Alf and Frehleys afterwards, I won’t forget.