The Woodshed – Backblast: Surprise! (9/18/20) – Tater Tot
(If you don’t read anything else beyond this point, thank you to all that put in the effort to pull this off. And thank you to all the PAX for what you do for F3Omaha on a daily basis. This day was special!)
Just a typical brisk late summer 52° Friday morning at the ol’ Woodshed in Elmwood Park…with 101 PAX
What the hell just happened?!!! As I type out my thoughts, I am still humming with what I believe is good anxiety but pretty sure it could be confused with a minor heart attack as well. I was absolutely blindsided by dump truck loads full of love and support from the PAX of F3Omaha this morning (yesterday actually as it took me 24+ hours to write out all the names..) with what will be one of the most memorable days in my life. Yes, in my life. It is difficult to put on paper what emotions/thoughts were being experienced above and beyond the intense levels of total confusion and constant near blackout moments, but I will do my best to explain what happened, from Tater Tot’s perspective.
Group 1 – 24) Birdman, Convoy, Honey Stinger, Kielbasa (Hate), Hashtag (Hate), Brick, Rip Tide, Hipster (Respect), Ponzi, 8-Mile, Hoosegow, Tube Socks, TC (Respect), Pantyhose, Fire Walker, Roll Bar, High Life, Super Tasty, Thomas, Buns of Steel, Greek Freak, Selleck, LPC and Room Service.
Group 2 – 26) Roadhouse, Smashmouth, Baby Grand, Squidward, Short Sale, McConaughey, Sister Act, Radar, Stella, Gobbler, Big One, DaVinci (Respect), Huffy, Bubbles, Spacebar, Vandelay (Respect), Biggie Smalls, Waterboy, Thor, Scrapper, Hard Hat, Gumbo, Wentworth, Biff, Wolverine (had to leave early) and Tater Tot.
Group 3 – 27) Sparty, 2-Step, Grillz, Wide Right, Chiclets (Respect), Flanders, Brazilian, Armbar, Tenderfoot, Uncle Rico, Night Crawler, Loyalty, Trench, Jeeves (Respect), Bloodshot, Pony Express (Hate), Gunner, No Doze, Tonight Show, Toto, Khakis (Respect), Sampras (Hate), Kingpin, Splinter (Cell), Polaroid, Jean Claude and Slow Pitch.
Group 4 – 24) Patton, Othello, Safe Ride, Samples (Respect), Honey Badger, Beta Max, Magic, Frosty, Touché, Blue Chip, Lucky Charms, The Plague, Hawgs (Respect), Knobs, Cheap Seats, U-Haul, Zerorez, Saul, Nugent, The Curse, Spreadsheet (Hate), Mufasa, Folsom and Wait Time.
The morning was relatively normal from the standpoint of getting to Elmwood Park. I had a scheduled out warmarama and pre thang that involved many of the PAX to lead as well as a bowling ball pin that you would spin on board with a list of exercise. Where it lands, that’s what you do. I told myself that if we have 30+ PAX that show we might need to modify a little in the grotto but should be good, just snug. As I left the setup, Wentworth pulled into the south parking lot at 4:55am with a very nonchalant, no eye contact wave and I thought to myself, didn’t I see a tweet from him saying he would be pre rucking at the Spike?… Glad he made it! It reminded to send a quick text to Sparty and Saul to say sorry we wouldn’t be together this morning but to have a great Q and thanked them for their leadership. Of course they were about to pre run at their sites so hopefully they would get it in time. Now I can park near the flags and start our pre run… Holy crap there are quite a few guys here already. Plague and Slow Pitch must have sent a few text out last night. Cool. Perhaps the pre thang will have to adjust for sure. Plague was very quick to announce our departure for what we call “Flat Friday” and got us on our way. The pace seemed aggressive, but I was able to catch up with a few guys and then noticed Roadhouse at the back. Wasn’t he going to The Combine?… Weird. Big One and I were able to match up on the run right where it all started for me two years ago at Cornhusker Handicap and brought back the Selleck welcome “HEEEEEEEY” in my head. I was happy to be with Big One in this moment. (PS every time I say Big One around my wife she says “Just call him Matt please…”)
As we were making our return through Elmwood I was already gassed from the sprinters pace and didn’t want to do the full loop and was thrilled when Wait Time said he was cutting through the park and would meet us there. I was like, hell yah, I am definitely cutting it short and have a few minutes to catch my breath and say hi to a few guys prior. I noticed the south parking lot where I ran into Wentworth earlier was full and thought there must be another ROTC group working out… Wait Time started walking about 50 yards from the shovel flags so I slowed as well and at that moment I confirmed with myself that the warmarama and pre thang definitely needed an adjustment and are there 22 shovel flags here?…. Hey, where did Wait Time go? What happened next still gives me goosebumps and I cry when I type. I was still very much in the logistical mindset that my current workout plan has been lit on fire and tossed off a cliff. As I approached the expanding circle of men someone shouted “There he is” what I thought was an impromptu welcoming of claps and cheers perhaps just from the natural energy of the Friday. I began to make my way around the circle saying hello and fist bumps as I always do, but it felt different. A combination of holy crap, this awesome to see you here, who the f is supporting The Spike and The Combine this morning?… Why is Slow Pitch recording this? I got all the way around the circle and then it happened. “Hey Sparty! What are you doing here?..” and he just smiled. He hugged me and he smiled. This was a real moment. A real moment of “wait a second, you guys all came to support me? Why?” I didn’t get it. I mean I understood what happened but I didn’t see it coming, at all. I remember hugging Slow Pitch with little to no words. The bucket was overflowing. Period. I believe I said a couple of things that eluted to “we are going to need a bigger boat” or something like that and then it really hit me. What the f’ am I going to do? The mental fog started to creep in and I heard someone say, “hey Tater Tot, you have three minutes to figure this out”. I am not sure who all witnessed this but I said I would be right back and started sprinting toward our original warmarama location to grab the bowling pin and got about 40 yards into the darkness and just stopped. I ducked behind a tree and started taking deep breaths and heard “Hey Tater Tot, you doing ok man?….” It was Wait Time. It was just the voice I needed to hear in this very moment to give me the confidence that this was going to be ok. He said “Brother, we got you” and I 100% believed him and pulled up my big boy shorts that were at my ankles and walked back into the circle of HIM that Wait Time himself created.
I don’t remember much of the intro outside of me thanking guys on the front end, asking for the 5 core principals to be shouted out and then asked if there were any FNG’s. Total silence. A few groans and then I said we failed, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. Wait Time found me post beatdown and replayed that moment and said, “We failed?…. There are 100 f’ing guys here. Shut the hell up Tater Tot.” He was so right. Shut up Tater Tot as you have no idea the planning involved. I deserved that.
Off we went for the mosey to the largest area I knew existed. I went on a pre run the morning prior with Slow Pitch at Futurama and we went to Elmwood Park and was trying to plan some options and found out later that as Slow Pitch was listening to me chat about the workout all he could think about was “nope, that’s not going to work. Nope, you are screwed with that idea. Nope, you are going to fail if you attempt that with 100 guys…” He was right. I remember running by Squidward on the way to warmarama (which I was still trying to figure out what to do) and the look on his face as a herd of men approached him made ME want to crap my pants… We made it to a wide open field and a light was dropped at my feet and the men circled up. I thought, well, here we go, we will just start the warm up and figure it out from there. The opening side straddle hops cadence was powerful. It echoed. It was together. It was intentional. After some Big One stretches which were planned, Wait Time was originally just supposed to lead in some merkins but I thought if there is one man that can buy me some time it is Wait Time and the beloved Steinl. Without hesitation I asked him to lead this series of exercise and the groans heard throughout was music to my ears. He did a perfect job of incorporating the PAX and as each member was called out it was fascinating to conceptualize how truly far and spread out everyone was. Like a long distant muffled yell from the forest. This was a big group.
The Steinl buried me. I was completely spent already and knew I needed about 4 more minutes of exercises to keep on pace with originally scheduled Thang. I am pretty sure this was my second black out moment as I had intended to just do a few burpees and then mosey to The Thang. My mind said one thing but my mouth said “15 merkins followed by 15 burpees followed by 15 merkins”. What?!! Stop!! Just stop already. The PAX are realizing and mummblechatting now that you have no control and no idea what you are doing. Let’s mosey!
At this point I was finally back in a little bit of control as knew The Thang could be adjusted and spread out so that guys could actually complete the exercises and get a decent beatdown in. I remember Bubbles saying, “I think you are going to need a few more cones, or space….” We circled up again and simply had the PAX match up with 2 or 3 other guys. The PAX were split in half roughly and one group started with the broad jump/burpee combo and then other went to the cone near the street for a little creeper corner action. You would complete the broad jumps and burpees and then 1/8 mosey to the cone and back. After two rounds I realized I made a play list that was not playing and fired the JBL up to pump up the morning. It seemed to calm my nerves a little. Chatter was scattered throughout, mobs of men were moving in a giant circle and the OCD logistics person in me was happy. Who knows how many rounds were completed as all I knew was that namearama was going to take awhile so you better give yourself a few extra minutes. OMAHA!!!!!! The PAX headed back to the broad jump location and we circled up for a little Mary. Tater tossed it out to the PAX for three exercise suggestion of course was an adjustment as well to the original Q but seemed to work. Leaders stepped up and led. Thank you. Tater asked Big One, Wait Time, Bubbles and Slow Pitch to bring us home with some American Hammer and felt fitting considering the man who EH’d me, the man who started F3 and my two brothers. A gigantic percentage of my Shield Lock to say the least.
Namarama – This was a monster and Tater Tot definitely over complicated the situation. We numbered off in 4’s with the idea that each group would break off into subgroups to speed things up. Not sure it accomplished that… Sampras followed Tater and the numbering in order to get a total number which again failed as Selleck called for one more total number off to get the full impact of the circle. So we did it again. 101!… Jailbreak to the subgroups for videos and the names echoing from group to group was pretty special. I asked our group to listen to the others after we finished and just take it in. Not sure if they were feeling what I was feeling. As the last one finished up, we organically came together in one ball of kneeling. The jokes were being tossed out that although Tater Tot was in fact standing, he was still the same height as those kneeling. Cool guys…
Prayers: – In a group this large it can be difficult to be vulnerable or share and appreciate those that did.
Othello – Pray and support of the new leadership and VQ’s
Thor – Continued prayers and silent T-claps were given for his courage to ask the group for support
I think there were others and I apologize if I missed it.
COT: Let me start by saying I was glad that the sun was still lurking behind the horizon as I am pretty sure seeing 100 of my peers looking at me would have been much more difficult to address the crowd. Having the darkness filled with a few lights and shadows was pretty darn cool to witness from my vantage point. The other thought I couldn’t get out of my head was that I had ordered burritos and coffee to cover about 30 some guys and clearly wasn’t going to be enough. After the PAX shared thoughts I jumped into my COT which I was very thankful that I printed my cheat sheet hardcopy as I couldn’t find the email version I sent to myself. And again, a light was provided which was clutch! Here is what I believe was said.
I was overwhelmed in this moment. The clock was ticking, and it was quiet. Really, really quiet. I started off by thanking the Big One for asking me to be a part of F3 and how grateful I am for him. I believe I started to choke up a bit in addition to being parched and told everyone how special this was and that I can’t thank you all enough. What I had prepared was intended to keep it simple and relatable to all the PAX. What have I learned in the two years in F3?
1) Be truthful and honest with yourself. When you look in the mirror at least be able to tell yourself the truth. It starts with you. If you can’t tell yourself the truth how can you expect to be truthful and honest with your family, your work or even the men we call our shield lock. I suggested that you make an effort to tell those that you feel are your shield lock that is how you view them.
2) Slow Pitch gave a COT a while back and it was one of those that sticks with you. (Although every Slow Pitch Q sticks with you good and bad…) You are a part of something much bigger than yourself and someone willing to take a risk such as an FNG or even seasoned veteran in F3 might be trying to learn from you. Represent yourself and F3 with idea that others are watching and you never know who you might be impacting and how.
3) How to pull out of a Sad Clown funk. We talk about the Sad Clown a lot and how that plays a part of our everyday life. There are times you just don’t know how to get out of that crummy feeling. I told a story about Tater Tot on a drive to meet up with a couple of coworkers and on the way was feeling anxious and somewhat frustrated about a number of things floating in the head. I noticed a vehicle in front of me driving a little close to the vehicle in front of them and felt like they were being a little pushy so I started putting harmful thoughts in my head adding to my negative emotions at the time. I tried to remove myself from that mental situation and while at a stop light the car began honking and I was pissed. How rude. How impatient. They rolled down their window and started hand motioning for someone to come to them. A man holding a sign walked to the side of their car and he was handed a sack lunch and a water… Regardless of the person’s motive for doing this, it immediately brought me from a very anxious place to a deep sense of peace. Perhaps the conclusion could be made in this instance that if you are going through a sad clown moment, day, week or time in your life doing something nice for someone else might just be the ticket to breaking down those walls. We are in fact trying to live third, for others. And for the record, I said “you dick” at the end of the story and was referring to myself upon reflection.
After my message and a few stumbling sentences that were being repeated I asked the group the following “If anyone has the nuts to take this group out in prayer please feel free to do so otherwise I would be happy to do it.” If anyone has the nuts? WTF? What does that even mean? I get what it means but come on Tater. Per Slow Pitch, no one even dared to look up for any accidental eye contact. By the way, I had already asked Big One the day before to take us out and I totally forgot. Big One told me after I asked the “nuts” question he too kept his face locked on the grass in front of him… After 4-5 seconds that felt like a minute, I shut off the light and took us home. Phew. It was over… Now on to the coffee, donuts and burritos which was a totally different story and just so thankful for those that contributed!
There are times in your life you are genuinely surprised. This was a first. I have never experienced anything like this before. I struggled with it all day to be honest. I actually took a long drive to just try and bring down the emotions and relive some of the parts I could remember. I, like many of you do not do well with attention and compliments for that matter. We are reminded in these moments that sometimes it is more about the other person or persons doing something nice for you and you accepting their gesture. Again, I wish I could have thanked all of you in person that day and certainly appreciated all that reached out. Each and every one of you and your journey is important to me and hopefully I can give back the same appreciation to you that you have given me. I love this group of men.
As always, I thank you for letting me lead and until next time.
Tater Tot – 20 SSH
Big Ones – 10 Big One’s
Pre Thang (Made up on the fly):
Wait Time – The Steinl
- 30 Second Plank
- 30 Second Chillcut
- Amazing Spider Man Right Side – 10 IC
- Tempo Merkins – 10 IC
- Merkins – 10
- 30 Second Plank
- 30 Second Chillcut
- Amazing Spider Man Left Side – 10 IC
- Tempo Merkins – 10 IC
- Merkins – 10
Tater Tot – Merkins 15
Tater Tot – Burpees 15
Tater Tot – Merkins 15
The Thang: Two groups were split up and you could team up with whoever you would like. One group started at the broad jump cones and the other group started at the cone near creepy corner. After completing the exercises you would run to the next station. A full lap was ¼ mile.
Station 1) Broad Jump/Burpee
- 10 yard broad jump to first cone
- 5 Burpees
- 10 yard broad jump to second cone
- 10 Burpees
Station 2) Stacking Exercises (Each time you get to the cone you start with Monkey Humpers and then add another exercise on top from the previous round.
- 15 Monkey Humpers
- 15 Tempo Merkins
- 15 Alt. Shoulder Taps
- 15 Mountain Climbers
- 15 Burpees
Mary: Mary was tossed out to the PAX for whoever wanted to lead