At 11:35 EST on September 26th, 2009 I completed one hundred consecutive push ups.
Despite the lingering nausea I feel (adrenaline? exhaustion?), and the suspicion that I may have slightly re-injured my shoulder, I feel pretty elated.
The whole set didn't take very long--maybe a few minutes... I'm not sure because I sort of lost track of time. I just kept counting off sets of ten in my head, jumping from one finger to the next on my splayed hands to note my progress. The first 50 push ups flew by, probably because I had already done that many without breaking in the past.
Once I reached 60 push ups my heart began racing a little because it was further than I had ever attempted before and I still felt good.
At 70 push ups, I was breathing hard and trying to pace myself--remove myself from the fatigue I could feel building in my arms, shoulder and chest. At this point I felt like my greatest obstacle was my own mind, and I was trying hard to just stare at my knuckles while counting off, ignoring the growing rebellion in my muscles.
At 80 push ups I started to panic a little. My breathing was very heavy; sweat was starting to bead on my face and the back of my neck. My right shoulder was noticeably crunching each time I pushed off and although that sensation is nothing entirely new, it was bothering me and starting to take me out of the zone I was desperately trying to stay in.
By the time I hit 90 push ups, each new one felt slow and immense. My core was now quivering with the effort, my back was aching, and my entire upper body--from wrist to wrist--felt like it was cramping up. I wasn't sure if I could complete ten more reps so I started counting down, instead of up, because for some reason psychologically it made the final stretch seem more manageable by reducing the number instead of letting it grow.
As I entered the final ten push ups pain was now shooting through my shoulder but I knew I had raised enough pledges that each additional push up was essentially worth another $20 in the pot. At some points I would pause between push ups, holding the upright position to catch my breath--my heart pounding in my chest. I don't know if this actually made things worse, requiring me to stay on my arms longer, but I felt like I had no choice. I honestly don't know how I got through the final five. My eyes were clenched tight and I was completely focused on the pain in my shoulder. Everything else melted entirely away at that point: Poets House, the money, my life, responsibilities, the room dissolved and I entered a completely meditative state. There was just movement, slow and deliberate; my body angry and weak and my mind on autopilot just ordering it to carry on. I almost lost count around 97 or 98 as I started to completely disappear. Then I realised I only had a few more left to complete. When I reached the 100th push up I collapsed on the floor, face down, heaving and sweating.
I felt utterly spent, but I also felt completely content. I didn't want to move, and I didn't move for a long time. I've worked so hard for this--trying to stay disciplined enough to remain on track with the training that's required to accomplish my goal, while watching my marriage fade away into the past. Working 45-50 hours a week in an office while juggling Black Ocean's operations; planning and promoting events and hoping to sneak in enough time somewhere to maybe write a little, read--even just watch a movie or remain social. The past few months have been an incredible experience for me--learning a lot about myself when I thought I didn't have much more to learn. It hasn't even come in the form of specific lessons, but more like getting to know myself in a new way--like when you meet someone new and that person gradually transforms in front of you, from a face and an archetype into a deeper, more multidimensional human being.
I'd like to thank everyone who supported me on an emotional level over this period. You cheered me on, spread the word of my endeavor and made me believe I could do something that was personally extraordinary. I remember a time not too long ago when 20 push ups seemed like an impossibility to me. I'd especially like to thank all those who pledged your support; you're heroes to me and helped me achieve something very meaningful. With your help I managed to raise almost $2,100 for Poets House. This is an amazing feeling.
Time to go give my shoulder the hot/cold treatment for a while and eat a fluffernutter sandwich. Thanks again everyone.