Anniversary Horseshoe

25 PAX came out to Rolling Stone for an anniversary horseshoe workout at the track:

 Mosey to the track for warmup:

  • SSH X 30
  • Windmills X 20
  • Squats X 20
  • Stormtroopers X 20

 The Lucky Horseshoe:

  • Lap 1
  • MericansX20
  • Lap 2
  • MericansX20, Storm SquatsX20
  • Lap 3
  • MericansX20, Storm SquatsX20, Scorpion Dry DocsX20
  • Lap 4
  • MericansX20, Storm SquatsX20, Scorpion Dry DocsX20, WW2 SitupsX20
  • Lap 5
  • MericansX20, Storm SquatsX20, Scorpion Dry DocsX20, WW2 SitupsX20, LungesX20
  • Lap 6
  • Storm SquatsX20, Scorpion Dry DocsX20, WW2 SitupsX20, LungesX20
  • Lap 7
  • Scorpion Dry DocsX20, WW2 SitupsX20, LungesX20
  • Lap 8
  • WW2 SitupsX20, LungesX20
  • Lap 9
  • LungesX20
  • Lap 10


Thanks to everyone who came out to Rolling Stone today! Strong work today by all of the PAX. I was hurt on my 1yr anniversary and it meant a lot that you guys came out to celebrate with me today on my 2nd.

Two years ago I was skinny fat: 35lbs overweight with a physique that resembled an early third trimester pregnancy. My blood pressure was a concern (165/95), I was suffering dizzy spells, and I was easily winded at any attempts to play with my four sons. I was headed for a mid-40’s heart attack.

I had no friends. A move from Greenville, SC several years ago to Concord led into a busy career and family life. While there were many work and church acquaintances in my life, with the exception of my wife and kids I felt utterly alone.

I now look back at 2 years in F3: The weight is gone and the blood pressure is in check. While I am forever grateful for the change in my fitness, F3 can’t be summed up with a before and after selfie. What I am most grateful for is the group of men I am surrounded with who know and support me. I’m thankful for:

A Free Ride: Pox EH’d me the first day I met him at the neighborhood pool. I overheard him talking about exercise and I approached him to ask where he worked out. He asked if I had heard of F3 and, without going into many details, he offered to drive me to a workout the next morning. That offer turned a “might go someday” into a “going tomorrow”. I took him up on it and Pox continued to drive me to the next several workouts.

I have learned from Pox that a leader actually leads. He didn’t tell me what to do with the hope that I take the first step. Instead, he took that first step with me. If you want to EH someone properly, don’t ramble on about F3, point them to the website, and hope they show up some day. Instead, offer to pick them up for tomorrow’s workout.

Acceptance: 10 minutes into the first workout, it was clear I was in over my head. I was spilling merlot well before Mary. That was the story for the next several workouts. It can be extremely uncomfortable to be the newcomer, who can’t hang with the group, and is throwing up mid-way through the workout. The other PAX (especially Haskell, Pox, Skipper, KGB, and Hammer) went out of their way to let me know it was normal and that, before long, I’d start to see changes in my fitness and stamina. They rarely commented about where I was at but instead commented on what I would become.

For the first six months, I found myself at the six at most workouts (especially running). However, I was never there alone. Guys like Chowder and Gump took it upon themselves to forgo their own workout ambitions and to invest in the guys (like me) struggling in the back.

I have learned from all of them that leaders don’t consider others who are struggling to be less than themselves. Instead, they reach down to their level to pull them up.

Getting Picked: I have heard F3 referred to as “adult recess” and I believe it to be so. On any playground, nobody wants to be the last guy picked for a team. In the beginning, partner exercises were an uncomfortable situation for me because I never wanted to hold someone else back. It meant a lot to me when guys like The Nanny, Chowder, Skipper, and Col. Mustard chose me to partner even though I clearly couldn’t keep up with them. They made me feel like their peer even though I wasn’t; at least from a fitness level.

I have learned from them that leaders consider all men to be their equals; even if their capabilities aren’t currently up to par.

Respects: As I approached my 40’s, I began to accept the excuse of getting older. That is, until I met respects like S.S. Minnow and Pharaoh. They’re technically old enough to be my father and yet they smoke the PAX at every workout I see them.

From watching them lead up front (from far behind), I see that age is never an excuse and that F3 can be a 30 year adventure for me.

Those in Front: I have spent much of my life attempting to excel and “look good” in whatever station I find myself. I now see that mindset is only an illusion. At every workout, there’s always a PAX member (Stoli, Chowder, The Nanny, Frodo, Loco, Mattress King….the list goes on) that I will be chasing. While I always make it my personal goal to catch them (and I will), I also hope I never do because I will then have to find other guys to chase.

In trying to chase the PAX in front, I have learned that winning is only a relative goal….the true goal is continually improving.

The new Guys: At every AO, there is a new guy who is in the same place I was a couple of years ago. For them, the workout is infinitely harder than for those in front. Watching the new guy give his all is some of the best inspiration.

I remember once standing in a COT wondering where Dingo (at the time a new guy) was. It wasn’t long before we all realized that he had chosen to hang back to finish a WIB; no matter what time he finished (other PAX had called it quits when time was up). Dingo is now the backbone of an AO in our region. The same can be said of Waterboy; who pushes harder than anyone and is the heart and soul of my current AO.

In watching the new guys, I have learned that physical capabilities aren’t the measure of a PAX member. Strength, speed, and stamina will all improve over time. It’s what’s in their guts and hearts that matters.

Hard Workouts: There have been a number of Q’s (Fishwrap, Stoli, Col. Mustard, Gnarly Goat to name a few) that dish out workouts that always kick my ass. It’s those workouts that I look forward to the most. It’s because their workouts hold me in a higher esteem than I hold myself because they demand more of me than I believe I am capable of.

Inevitably, there’s a point in their workouts where I don’t think I will finish the rep, set, or the workout altogether. Their words of encouragement, combined with the push from the other PAX, results in me doing more. I come away from those workouts physically spent, but with a new found confidence because I have done something I never did before.

I have learned from these Qs that a great leader asks other men to do hard things because he knows they’re capable of it.

Transparency: I don’t know many men who are willing to be transparent. Put into a group situation, most will prop up an image they have made of themselves. In F3 I have encountered a number of men who are strong enough to be genuine. I have admired guys like Frodo who are willing to reveal the good and bad because it gives God glory. I have appreciated the weekly drive to El Dorado with Law Dawg, because the 2nd/3rd discussions in the car always eclipse the actual workout.

From these guys I have learned that true male friendship starts with transparency and it’s the strong ones who are willing to be genuine.

Commitment: A year into F3, I pulled my groin badly at a sprint workout; which resulted in months of specialist visits, x-rays and MRIs, rehab, and injections.  Barely able to walk, my fitness level dropped almost immediately. After many missed workouts, I also found myself in an emotional funk. Guys like Chowder, Bling, and Winnebago are the reason I am still in F3.  Throughout my time away, they (and other PAX members) reached out on back blasts, Twitter, email, etc. to let me know I was missed, that I was needed.

After several months away, Winnebago invited me to a workout that he led. He chose exercises I could still do in spite of my injury. That was my turning point. From that point forward, I attended workouts and did what I could despite the injury. It took another six months, but I am now back up to speed.

Guys fall out of F3 for a variety of reasons. I will admit that there are many in my PAX that have left and, months later, I have wondered where they are but have made no attempt to reach them. I have learned through guys like Winnebago that reaching out to a missing PAX member and showing you care can make a major difference in their life.

In closing….I have a lot to be thankful for and there’s no doubt I have neglected some PAX on this post. You run that risk anytime you start naming names. To everyone named and unnamed, I offer my deepest thanks. You have impacted me greatly and simply being around you makes me work to be a better man.



34 thoughts on “Anniversary Horseshoe

  1. The Nanny

    @Kato. I still find myself sharing parts of your story with people. Meeting and watching Caleb run around and play during our camping trip a few weekends back was awesome. Hearing my boy talk about your boy made it so real. You my friend have been part of our larger MECA backbone for some time now. Seeing your physical progress has been great- but just getting to see you on a regular basis is better.

    Great words below – glad you took the time to share them.

  2. Skipper

    @Kato – Looking forward to your 2 year anniversary tomorrow! Great #pb, I had forgotten about all your merlot spillage at #Sirius. I guess that’s what happens over time, the small inconsequential things get forgotten, but I’ll never forget the early #Shields you Qed in front of HCES #godisgood

    1. Kato Post author

      @Skipper- Glad you forgot that part….My M, on the other hand, has not. When I mentioned I was doing a 2YR F3 workout, the first words out of her mouth were “So…are you gonna throw up again?”

  3. Hammer

    @kato, as usual, well said, although now you look just barely out of your first trimester. Tclaps! I’ll see you tomorrow for the ass beatin. Thanks for the inspiration to get out of the fartsack.

  4. Kato Post author

    Great push by everyone on the Horseshoe…In particular @Google. I’m sure there were others, but man from what I saw you killed it this morning.

  5. The Nanny

    @Kato The Horseshpe is legit! That was tough. Thanks for the introduction. I’ve already passed it on to an F3 buddy in Richmond and he plans to punish his pax with it soon…. Glad I could be there for your 2 yr-versary.

    @Google @Kato You guys absolutely killed it. I had no chance of keeping up. I know that took a serious effort and it likely took you into some very painful places. T-claps. We all need rabbits to see how far we can push….

    @Mattress King @Sparknut You guys were right behind the above two speed demons, right? For a while there I thought I would be able to hang with you. Nope. That’ll teach me. I was talking smack to Mattress King before the workout started. That likely will never be a good idea….unless it is before a half marathon.

    @Pox Always good to have the forms police out with us. Believe it or not, during most rounds of air squats I think of you…hmmm…that sounded better in my head. I need to be smart next time and make sure I am no where close to you so that you don’t see my poor form and call me out.

    @Rolling Stone Pax Cool to see some faces of guys I read in backblasts. You guys have built a solid AO and a solid group of guys. You are clearly doing it right.

    1. Kato Post author

      @Nanny: Thanks for the props but I believe I was at the six of Frodo and Skipper (likely others) for much of the workout. That’s what I like about this workout. Everyone stays together and everyone has an opportunity to push as hard as they can. After a lap or two it’s hard to keep track of who’s in front.

    2. Pox

      Nanny, I was glad Chowder was there to back me up on form; looks like he’s the new form police at Highlands

  6. Winnebago

    @Kato happy 2 year. I am really happy that just a simple outreach could pull you back in the fold, it wasn’t thinking I was doing anything special getting you back to a workout but it goes to show it only takes one action to make a difference for someone.

    I think you personally took the Highlands Pax to new level of openness with what you have shared at the Shield and HDHH. Rolling Stone is lucky to have you leading them.

  7. Hops

    We’ve never met Kato, but thankful for our brotherhood. Congrats on 2 years among the pax.
    #ISI Proverbs 27:17

  8. Buckwheat

    Great story @Kato. Glad I was able to “celebrate” your anniversary. When I said the workout sucked last month and again today, it was meant as a compliment. This clydesdale was #feelingit!

    1. Kato Post author

      🙂 I have a feeling you’re going to have an opportunity to offer the compliment again in the future.

  9. Google

    @Kato… Great Beatdown and Congrats on your 2 years!! I really liked the Horseshoe as it builds endurance and strengh.

    @frodo.. Thanks for the push this AM and letting me hang around, at least until that last lap when you decided to turn it up.

    @nanny #emabracethepain!

    It was great to meet the PAX @ Rolling Stone!!

  10. Pox

    Kato, awesome post. Its been great to see you take the lead in all 3Fs. You’re posts from the Shield are timeless and the horseshoe really sucks in a good way #painisgood.

    I’m really glad you asked me about working out at the pool that day; its a lesson to us all not to discount seemingly small events in life, often they turn out to have the biggest impact. Often we never actually see the impact we can have (positively or negatively) in peoples lives. But, posts like this encourage adn remind me to NEVER discount any encounter you have with a co-worker, friend, family or stranger.

    Keep leading!

    1. Kato Post author

      I adopted (stole) the horseshoe from another back blast but have grown to love it as if it were my own.

      I’ve been praying that God would open my eyes to “chance” encounters in the day. The problem is that I’m often so self focused, wrapped into my little shell of what I need to do, that I overlook the opportunities around me.

  11. Loco

    Kato – congrats on two years and solid workout to Q. I definitely think it’s a great measuring stick to see progress and was impressed by all the support out there in the gloom. I’m still new to F3 but I can tell this is a solid group of men I intend to be with for years to come.

  12. Skipper

    @Kato – The Horseshoe WIB was solid! It didn’t take long for @Frodo and @Google to take off, then I was stuck jockeying on the backstretch with the likes of @MattressKing, @SparkNut, and @Loco. Great group today and “fun” celebration of your 2 years of F3 and impact on all of us. Ahoy!

  13. Fishwrap

    Aye. Nothing like the #MECA PAX, #F3LoveCapital Thanks for sharing Kato, it takes guts to do that and makes a hell of an impact.

  14. Dingo

    Congrats Kato! I had every intention of coming to your workout today. But after reading your post, I was inspired. Yesterday morning, instead of driving off to work, I walk down the street and Re-EH’d a guy I had been working on for a while. He always said he would be there, but never showed up. So I did exactly what you mentioned. I told him that I would pick him up at 5:20 in the morning and drive him to the workout! Well…..He was there waiting this morning and experienced his first F3 beatdown today! Yesterday I was so inspired that I saw another guy I had been working on. So, I tried again. He had the excuse of an injured finger. I told him if I led a workout that would involve no had on ground pressure, would he come? He said yes. And he was there this morning also!

    So thank you Kato. For inspiring to give this gift of F3 away!

    T-Claps brother!

    1. Kato Post author

      Dingo that’s awesome!….See what you started there Pox? Before long, Pox will be a verb used to describe an EH where you pick up the FNG for the first workout(e.g. “I didn’t think he was going to show up so I Poxed him.”)

  15. Schnitzel

    @Kato, sorry to miss the festive occasion, am traveling to Northern KY. I remember my first workout #sirius in fall of 2013 – @Kato was Q. There weren’t many of us there, so the workout was a circuit of 1 min exercises in which you counted the reps (and Kato wrote down each one) and on the subsequent iterations the goal was to beat the prior. Shows that you may not catch Mattress King in merkin speed, but you can catch your own prior Merkins-per-minute. Pox doesn’t say “Come on out sometime” but “See you on Tuesday.” Makes a difference

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