Backblast: The Berm – The P.S.K. (Porcupine Survival Kit) – Tater Tot (02/04/21)

Here is the deal.  When we look back at February 4, 2021 in F3 Omaha’s Backblast history there will be five special editions written (The Berm, The Maize, Futurama, The Battlefield and The Sandlot) totaling roughly crazy 50 PAX posting across the metro all experiencing this wild gloom together. This morning’s Arctic blitz put an absolute stranglehold on anything and everything that dared to venture out prior to 6am and kicked started what will be historic negative frigid temps for the foreseeable future.  We better buckle up boys and enjoy the ride as this might be the new “2018” talk for 2023 PAX.

At 5:00am sharp, five pre-runners (Slow Pitch, Pantyhose, Convoy, Cheap Seats and Tater Tot) thought it would be good to check the Stone Creek neighborhood streets and pain level of sleet snow to the facial area.  The chatter started quick.  “Yup, this is stupid” and we were off…  Eventually a sixth HIM joined us during the mosey to add to the chatter. We never did ask why Birdman was 15 minutes late, considering he was up at 4:00am and lives 16 seconds from his AO.  

Prior to the pre-run Tater Tot had arrived at 4:40am with the mindset that regardless of any pre planning that was done it could be completely thrown out the window potentially.  The plan was to take a half mile jog down to Lake Flanagan and have a ladder grind with partners.  After setting down a lit cone in the middle of a parking lot beachside, Tater watched it tumble end over end from 40mph+ ripping snow blown winds.  The reality set in…Nope, now what?  Leave the area knowing the length of run and find a cozy place next to the big apartments up top?….  Nah, there, next to the lake, was a tiny wooden shack that could produce just enough break potentially from the elements (for some of us…).  Tater Tot adjusted the running portion, set down the workout details and made his way back up to kick off the pre run.  Staying committed to taking Mother Nature head on was what we were going to do…The reality was, there was no hiding from this beast. 

Tater Tot gave the introduction to the 12 PAX at The Berm which included a new version of the three F’s.  Fitness, Fellowship and “F this”… There were a few laughs, a disclaimer and we were off to our destination in the form of two burpee chain runs.  No better way to start this memorable morning.

PAX: Sgt. Slaughter, Convoy, Cheap Seats, Butterfly (respect), Hawg (respect), TheraBand, Pantyhose, Slow Pitch(aaahhhhhhhhh), Sparty, Big One, Birdman and Tater Tot.

Warm a RamaHalf mile burpee chain run to Flanagan Lake

The PAX split into two groups of 6 and the last member completed three burpees and would run to the front of the line.  This was the first sobering taste of the blinding, driving snow for six of the non pre runners.  The hoops and hollering and encouragement was steady out of the gates.  That sort of “I need to pump myself up for this crap” type of yelps.  As we crossed 168th and headed down Kansas Ave we turned to the south and the wind politely pushed the groups down hill making the experience quite enjoyable if that is possible.  The roads were in decent shape with maybe an inch of snow.  There wasn’t one guy there that wasn’t thinking about the run back I can promise you that…  At one point Tater Tot promised the group he was taking us to a protected area and pointed out an upcoming stop sign that we could hide behind.  No laughs were had.  Once we arrived at the lakeside shed the PAX noticed there in fact was an area predetermined.  Depending on where you decided to post up would decide your enjoyment level for the next 30 minutes. 

Pre Thang – 21’s

Before we started the pre thang Tater offered to the PAX if someone could answer the following joke he would pay for that persons coffee but if the group answered incorrectly more than three times they would all owe 10 burpees.  “What’s a porcupine’s favorite game to play?….”  Two unsuccessful guesses and Slow Pitch quickly chimed in saying we don’t need anymore guesses…and that was it.  The answer was “Poker”. 

(21) Merkins – Complete 3, adjust arms, complete the next 3 until 21 are completed

3- Diamond, 3- Military, 3- Merkin, 3- Werkin, 3- Merkin, 3- Military, 3- Diamond

(21) 2- Handed Bobby Hurley’s on Down

We completed three rounds of each, did two laps (266 yards) around the lopsided boat launch circle drive and got ready for the thang. 50% of the run was enjoyable, 50% was running with your eyes closed uphill.    

The ThangThe Circle Grinder (during the first lap Pantyhose was asked if he wanted to break up into teams or keep it all one group.  He answered keep it in a group.  Done!)

The PAX would complete three exercises together and then mosey twice around the boat ramp, rinse and repeat until Omaha was called. 

Exercises (The exercises were led in a rotating fashion and at some point Tater called an audible offering the PAX that had the merkins or plank jacks to substitute for a different merkin or leg (thanks for the bonnie blairs and diamond merkins…not) but the burpees would always start us off.

10 Burpees

15 Merkins

20 Plank Jacks IC (This changed to on “open” in the moment and might have been the best audible Butterfly could have offered)

Two laps around the boat ramp

At 6:03am the PAX had completed 5 rounds and Tater Tot’s phone alarm yelped to halt the fun and start the shuttle ride back up to the shovel flags.  Later at coffee Big One mentioned it might have been about one round too many and what I say to that is it might have been one round not enough.  We formed our two lines again and started the burpee chain run climb, and I mean it was a climb to get back up to the flags.  This would be the last test of the morning as the snow had drifted in the streets and we were headed up a steep incline directly into the north wall.  At one point the gap between the burpee guy and the group got to a point where Tater halted everyone and performed high knees until they returned.   Tater actually had the thought in that moment that this is how easily people can get separated from a group climbing Mt. Everest.  Pretty much the same thing…  Finally, back to camp with 6(ish) minutes to spare.  You know what that means…  Yup, Tater was going to go over 6:15am, again.

 Mary – All three exercises were performed by the PAX.

20 Frozen LBC’s – Big One (He needed a tutorial post beatdown on how to execute)

20 Frozen Freddy’s – Birdman (Nailed it)

20 Frozen American Hammers (Started with Sgt. Slaughter and Tater Tot ended one PAX too early.  Now in my defense from the ground during the blizzard of the century……, if you look at the name a rama video you will notice that Birdman’s clothing and wet marks looked very similar to Sgt. Slaughter (minus the enlarged pecks and overall astounding size of Sgt. Slaughter).  Sorry Birdman!


I have to be honest, there were quite a few and many of them personal.  Without deciding which ones to share and not I will just say that I really appreciated the men in that circle this morning taking the time to say what was on their mind and heart.  It was cold and windy and in that moment no one cared.  They listened and they truly cared for their brothers.  This is what makes F3 so special and real. 

Tater Tot asked Birdman to take us out in prayer and that he did like the HIM and solid sight Q that he is.


Tater Tot asked the group if anyone had ever heard of the “Fable of the Porcupine” and it was a resounding no which I was happy about.  In the pre blast tweet it was mentioned that we would work on receiving our made up P.S.K. (Porcupine Survival Kit ) and this was the time to wrap it all together.  A few weeks prior Tater’s boss, Bruce Rasmussen, read this fable to a group of leaders and I identified with it strongly within the setting of F3.  Specifically it relates to the time year and weather grind we are in facing that can have a direct impact on our mentality and whether or not we want to be continue to get up in the mornings and push through the gloom, together.  F3 is so much more than a workout group. It is life. 

The moral of the fable (below) is NOT to learn to live with the little pricks in your life… The moral of the story to me was that we everyday new men join F3 and each and everyone of those men has a history they bring to the table that is a collection of heartache and good fortune, sadness and happiness, poor decisions and reconciliations, divorce and marriages…  The list goes on and on but at the end of the day, when you step foot into the gloom with these men you are immediately accepted regardless of your past.  We know that you are there to work on a better version of you or you wouldn’t be there.   The month of February in Omaha, Ne can be brutal and many will fall victim to the fartsack because of the gripping cold temps and seasonal depression which can lead to a PAX member then not posting for the week, which leads to a month, which leads to never returning and then we all lose.  All of which has shown to be avoidable if you are willing to reach out to your brothers during this time and just keep tabs on them and encourage them through the battle.  It will only make the strength of our PAX stronger. 

Fable of the Porcupine:

“It was the coldest winter ever.  Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm.  This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.  After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. 

So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions, or disappear from the Earth.  Wisely, they decided to go back to being together.  They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth that came from the others.  This way they were able to survive.

The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but, when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others AND can admire the other person’s good qualities.”


It is mornings like today that you can feel a different kind of alive.  Wait Time always says, the crazier the weather, the closer we get, and I truly believe that.  I felt like the lucky one being on the Q schedule this morning and so appreciative of the men that showed up today not only at the Berm but at all of the F3 Omaha sites as I know they surely will have stories to share.

Thank you as always for allowing me to lead you. 


Tater Tot

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