DATE: 2023-01-05 AO: -Devils-Turn Q: flipper PAX: Polly, hairball, Joker_Shawn Heath, Alf, Saigon Sam, Chopper, Dosey Doe, voodoo, Astro (Kyle Kirchhoff), turkey_leg, soft_pretzel, frasier FNGs: None COUNT: 12
THE THANG: Slackblast for a running workout? yeah I guess they could be a thing but don’t hold your breath. Today’s writing has more to do with the writer than it does with the activity as the run itself was “we ran 7 miles around the Rea Rd. & Hwy51 vicinity of Area51.” Hard to work much banter or wit with that simple of a weinke. Well, thats what some of us did anyways, others were off running on the track or some ungodly tempo pace, but thats what Strava is for…
No, YHC’s ramblings today has more to do with my experience heading into this morning’s romp in the gloom. For the last 90 days or so, I’ve been dealing with an Achilles injury which has significantly limited by mobility to the point of completely prohibiting my ability to run without pain. While us PAX are no strangers to the concept of IR, this one was different for me. Since I was in my late 20s, I had been chasing a BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying time) and this year was SUPPOSED TO BE MY YEAR… or so I thought. After a strong PR in 2020, and taking 2021 to rebuild my stride for efficiency and to reduce injury risk, I was locked in on Chicago, or potentially Kiawah, to be MY DAY. Boy did I have that twisted. After a lackluster training block and a near disasterous run in Chicago (almost walked off the course at mile 16 and finished 21 minutes off my PR), I found myself injured and wholly disenfranchised.
Before Chicago I was hellbent on a single focus, and I had buried much more of my hopes and dreams on an outcome I couldn’t really control than was truly reasonable. 2022 was a hellacious year for me and my family if I am being honest, and the abject disappointment in the face of what had been anointed in my mind as my “big day” really put me over the edge. In truth, it was just the straw that broke the camels back.
I spent much of the past year in a dark place, discontent, irritable, withdrawn, and somewhat aimless in my professional and personal spheres. It was only my running which seemed to have any meaning, and I allowed that focus to distract me from the very real issues I’d allowed to crop up in my life. Rather deal with what I’ll freely label as depression, I buried myself in my obsession, but failed to even do that true justice. Coming out of October and heading into the holidays, I imploded. I won’t bore the PAX with a full recap, but the holidays were not entirely happy for me, but therein I found the best gift of all… the need for shield lock, for support, for love, and I found it.
This isn’t the point where I tout the value of F3 (tho that is part of my story), but the point where I talk about the importance of vulnerability and honesty with yourself and those who love you. You see, the implosion I experienced over the holidays helped me realize how “not ok” I actually am right now. Through the well intended “checking on you” messages from family and friends (many of who were PAX), I saw the reflection of the husk of myself I had slowly become, and that image was jarring to say the least.
If you’ve followed this depressing ramble this far, this is where YHC reaches a semblance of a point. There is redemption and hope even when you feel you’re at the bottom. I have been gifted with the bravery to say out loud to those within my circle, within my shield lock, “hey, I’m not ok, but I’m working on it.” In saying so, I’ve been humbled, even moved to tears, by the overwhelmingly positive response. I’ve never been more grateful for my support system then I am right now, and this readership is no small part of that system. As my body heals, and I return to my formerly speedy(ish) self, so does my spirit begin its own healing process.
As Alf so sagely put it, while we watched Voodoo and Soft-Pretzel dissappear into the waiting gloom ahead of us this morning, we’ve been gifted with something special here boys. Men who show up with us every morning, not only to work on strengthening themselves, but to stand in the gap beside us as we do the same, both physically and emotionally. Never before has the gift of F3, the community of brothers, seemed so valuable to me, and its a gift I pray I never take for granted.
TL/DR – We need each other men, keep reaching out, keep giving each other the gift of honesty, consideration, humility, and faith. We need this crazy thing more than we know at times, so lets continue to make the gloom the best part of each others’ days.
PS. Part of my realization came from an instagram post i stumbled upon during an evening of aimless scrolling, probably the most meaningful 30 seconds of media I’ve ever come across. Search for #imalrighttoo, never a better endorsement for why ALL men need F3.