A few weeks back YHC was debating what type of Q to bring to the gloom on Thanksgiving Day. During a fellowship run the idea was brought up to do a Turkey Trot. YHC and others agreed this would be a great idea and Dominion came up with the idea to host a run and breakfast at his home, Lt. Dan brought the idea of libations, and thus the Turkey Trot was born. Since YHC had the Q at Surge originally, it was decided to still include a back blast for today as well. Although this will be a little different.
A few months back it was brought to YHC attention that the F3 book “Freed to Lead” was coming out with a second edition and accepting essays submissions to be included. YHC was encouraged to enter an essay. Although it was not selected for the book, my story was shared with the founding fathers of F3, Dredd and OBT and being today being Thanksgiving I wanted to share with my brothers of Surge. Im thankful for each an every one of you….I hope you enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving Men!
From Bleu Cheese to Blue Bloods
It was 10:37 pm on March 4, 2021 and the last paragraph of “Freed to Lead” had been read. In a home with three children under the age of 5, it wasn’t easy to get free time to sit down with a book, so it took much longer than anticipated to finish it. Having been an English Major in college, it was rare for me to get into a book and to relate to about every page of the text like I had within the pages of “Freed to Lead”. On March 5, the very next day I had told my friend, F3 brother and running partner how excited I was that I had finally finished the book while we were on our way to the running AO Stride (the premier Lexington running AO). Some hours later in a grocery store with my daughter, he alerted me to an opportunity to submit and essay for possible inclusion in the Second Edition…..no coincidence.
My family moved to Lexington, SC in April of 2020. I retired early from the biggest police department in the world due to having a shoulder replacement (unable to perform the full duties of a police officer). I will choose to leave them nameless but based on my F3 name and reading on I think you will be able to figure out which one I am talking about. About the same time, the M was promoted in her respective field of law enforcement and it brought her to Columbia, SC.
Never in my life had I imagined that I would relocate to the south and be so far from my parents and sibling. I was born and raised in New York suburbs. In 2012, I almost lost a battle with alcoholism but God was looking out for me and through His Grace I was able to get sober in June of 2012. I was emotionally, financially, and, most importantly in my opinion spiritually bankrupt, but was able to remain sober and start to build myself up physically again. At the age of 33, I continued that 2nd 500 portion of my life playing semi-professional football and getting in the best shape of my life. And while I thought I was starting to grow spiritually, that’s all it was……..thoughts, no growth.
Life got good….real good. I reconnected with and old college-crush that ended up becoming my wife and we started having children. I looked better than ever on the outside but my pride and selfishness and spiritual disconnect had me acting in some very unsober and ugly ways. I saw for the second time in my life pain that I caused another because of my actions. That pain was enough to make me want to change for good, this time getting and staying spiritually connected.
I knew I was wrong on so many levels and all of my friends would have told me the same. They would have held me accountable but I didn’t want to hear that. My partner at work, my Work Buddies, my Legacy Buddies, all of them knew nothing and that’s exactly how I wanted it.
Determined to change, I opened myself spiritually to allow that to happen. A firm believer that God speaks through others, I was introduced to a men’s fellowship though my church in New York in 2019. We went on a three-day retreat and it changed my life. For the first time in my life I was able to have a group of men that I could not only talk to but depend on; that had my best interests in mind.
Fast forward to April 2020 and just getting into our new home in South Carolina, refreshly retired and now 40 years old. What was also fresh in my life was a titanium shoulder and about 45 extra pounds from sitting around recovering. Don’t get me wrong I was so excited to be in South Carolina and have a second chance at my marriage and at life and being a retired stay-at-home dad and husband to my now three children and the M. I took and still today take great joy in it.
On June 10, 2020 I had a vent worker in my home to try and figure out why our brand new dryer wasn’t drying. (in the south they have a tendency to take the washers and dryers with them when they move and sell the home; so we needed a new one). Once again God was speaking through people because there was this vent worker (T-Claps F3 Scotch) telling my wife about a group of guys that work out at a local elementary school at 5:15 am. I scoffed at the idea and had every possible excuse to not go, especially not at that insane hour!
But with his encouragement and from the continued encouragement and support from the M, I posted at the AO Surge (#themodel), the very next morning, June 11, 2020. I was greeted with open arms and was told not to worry if I can’t do the complete workout, “modify if necessary.” My sponsor also told me that at the end I would have to introduce myself and stand in a circle and tell about myself. My immediate narrow mind due to my previous employment, told me that I was about to get jumped into a gang.
After the workout I was SPENT. More burpees were done in that workout (T-Claps F3 Escobar) than I had done in my life. Trying to hold it together I told about myself and as if all the F3 Lingo and names of the exercises weren’t confusing enough, they started throwing potential F3 names in my direction. And it was decided that henceforth I would be known as Blue Bloods.
Complete transparency. I wasn’t hooked…in fact I didn’t think I was ever going back. But then something incredible started to happen, PAX from Surge started to reach out and see how I was doing, see how I was feeling, asking me what I thought; again another group of men that seemingly had my best interests in mind. So I came back again and again and again and I was hooked. I remember how excited I was when my F3 Beginners Bundle came in the mail with my sticker, my soda cuzie, my first ever F3 shirt and a copy or “Freed to Lead”. I wore that one shirt with such pride and still do today coupled with the many other F3 shirts. The logo is a badge of honor. For the entirety of my life up to that point I used to DREAD getting up early no matter what, but now I saw myself looking forward to it; asking the M to kick me in the back if she hears my alarm and I’m still in the fart sack.
Today I have accomplished things that I never though I would since that fateful Thursday morning in the gloom. Things have certainly changed from then to my VQ to now where I like to jump on the Q sheets as often as possible. Through the continued support from the M and my F3 brothers, not only have I been able to be Freed to Lead but I have been Freed of about 40 extra pounds that I had gained from shoulder replacement. Yes I still like to eat some chicken wings now and then but now they can keep the bleu cheese. Freed from the bondage of a problem I never new existed by now having a true circle of likeminded men that WILL hold each other accountable.
F3 has given me real friends that I know I will have for a lifetime. Its given me friends that know so much about my story and my life’s journey that they alerted me to the essay entry for this book on Twitter because he thought of my story immediately (T-Claps F3 Dominion…thank you that, for keeping me coming, and so much more my friend). It’s also provided a network of brothers across the country that I have already called upon while doing some traveling (thank you F3 Knoxville, F3 Cleveland). Through this fellowship I have been able to do these CSAUP events and train with these men. From barely being able to mosey at a Q to running half marathons, crazy relay races, or whatever these men and F3 as a hole has truly pushed me.
Freed to Lead is more than just a title of book, but a way I try to carry myself ITG and everywhere. Each day whether in the COT or during some quiet reflection I always make sure to keep that 3rd F in mind always asking God to help me go forth and be a better dad, and better husband, a better person. And that too is something that has allowed me to grow spiritually and truly be Freed to Lead.
Now in the 3rd 500, I am trying to what’s right and continue to do what I have to do to get better so that 4th 500 is a breeze albeit balls to the wall. I sure don’t know where God will direct me on the next journey but I do know this, I sure hope there is an F3 Q nearby. Thank you F3. See you all ITG!