Finding Brotherhood Through Struggle
The Reluctant Dawn
My Word, Sealed As Bond
Groggy yet determined, I roll out of bed, swiftly get dressed, and make my way to the car.
As I roll up to the meeting spot, I notice El Moreno, El Sicario, El Garvinski and El Travieso cocooned in their vehicles, perhaps grappling with the same internal struggle I’ve been wrestling with. A mix of dread and excitement hits me as my internal voice reminds me that I haven't run more than one mile in the last six years.
As I put my car in park, I ask myself, “am I really ready for this?”
The guys say it’s going to be an “easy” eight miles. “How the hell is eight miles going to be easy?” I wonder.
Swarm of Bloodsuckers
As I open my car door, I immediately realize why everyone is in their cars. With a most unpleasant welcome, swarms of mosquitoes, as if summoned from a malignant cesspool, descend upon me. Within seconds, every exposed part of my skin is under relentless assault, even penetrating through my shirt. With furious swatting and smacking, the concerns about the run temporarily fade.
The boys jump out of their cars laughing, having already defended similar attacks. The choice was unanimous: run, not just to begin, but for our very lives, or at least to escape the bloodthirsty menace.
Escaping the horde as our unintended warmup, we burst onto the trail at a pace that might be fueled by a six pack of Red Bull.
All I’m thinking is, “guys, isn’t this brotherhood run supposed to be easy!” Three minutes in and I’m already in a full-blown sweat, struggling to keep up.
Everyone is talking and laughing, one guy is casually taking a video. I can barely breathe.
At this point I don’t think anyone notices. I’m still hoping I’ll “loosen up,” and this will get easier…but it’s not looking or feeling good.
I tell myself to focus on something else, and immediately notice we all have our hair neatly secured with the world's strongest hair ties. I ponder to myself:
“Hair Ties For Guys…what’s my favorite pack? How did they think of that? Is mine going to hold up with all this sweat and jostling about?”
Snap Back to Reality
“Oh no, I’m falling behind.”
I look down at my Apple Watch, and gasp. 0.56 miles! We’re not even one mile in, and I’m struggling, HARD.
But then relief rushes over me as I realize, the mosquitoes are behind us. “At least we escaped those bloodsuckers,” I think. Even a small victory is cherished.
The absence of their relentless bites is a reprieve, a silver lining amidst my battle to keep pace. Being under siege by those winged demons while gasping for air? That would’ve been a special kind of suck.
Brotherhood Run in Motion
As we dash, there’s an energy, a current of brotherhood electrifying the air. The guys start to notice I’m hurting. Their pace slows and their conversations continue to float.
I can’t speak, but I appreciate listening and I’m grateful they’re hanging back.
As we continue at a more reasonable pace, I realize we’re now four miles in. I’ve already clocked a speed and distance I haven’t hit in over six years.
Personal Milestone Crushed!
Victory, though small, is sweet. Yet victory has a funny way of introducing you to your next challenge. As the miles continue to stack, the pains and cramps start to join the party. At this stage I tell the guys to push ahead.
The lonely stretch of trail and I become acquainted. It’s in this solitude the mental war, the true test of this brotherhood run ignites. As the guys continue to move over the horizon and vanish out of sight, I’m battling.
Struggling through the pain, I realize I have a new and concerning problem. I’m running past various trail intersections and turn-offs…but I have no idea where I’m going.
Battle With The Mind
Lost, not just en route but in a tempest of thoughts, the struggle takes a new form. It’s not just about the run anymore; it’s a journey through the recesses of my mind, a confrontation with every doubt and every demon with every step.
Yet in this desolate internal expanse, I feel a vibration: a call from a fellow longhair, a beacon in the storm. It’s El Garvinski and it’s not just a check-in. It’s a lifeline, a reminder that my guys are here for me. I may be out of sight, but not out of mind.
As they locate my position, they realize I’m more than two miles off course. I was so deep in my thoughts I had drifted off, running aimlessly but determinedly in the wrong direction.
With Garv corralling me back on course, I was inbound to reunite at the finish.
The Unbreakable Bond
As the final stretch is trod, with every ounce of energy spent, a roar of cheers from the guys heralds the triumph. While each of the boys ran the designated eight-mile route, I dutifully logged ten grueling miles. My finish is a testament not to the legs that carried me, but to my spirit, unbroken and untethered.
In the aftermath, amidst the euphoria and the exhaustion, a revelation crystallizes. In a symphony of strides, breaths and heartbeats, the real melody is in the collective—the shared strides of struggle. Because every mile, every bit of pain, and every triumph is a richer story, a journey more profound when shared with a brother.