Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tequila shots that don't kill you will only make you stronger

What I failed to mention in my skydiving post was the violent ear-popping I experienced while hurtling through the air toward certain death. It didn't occur to me that this would happen, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense.

It didn't detract too much from the amazing overall experience, but I had a headache for the rest of the night. I was also completely exhausted — all the heart-racing anticipation, last-minute adrenaline pumping and insane flipping through the air while free-falling can do that to you. So I went to bed around 9:00 that night, content to sleep in and take it easy the following day.

Just kidding! I did go to bed early, but got up at 7 a.m. on Sunday to the sound of buckets of rain pounding the skylights above my bed. We had a 5K to run, people!

Don and I dressed for a theme we thought appropriate for the Fremont Oktoberfest Brew HA-HA 5K: partying! His subtle-yet-effective shirt is from the 70s; my "This Girl Can Party" shirt was purchased at the mall shortly before my 21st birthday specifically to make my mom cringe.

It totally worked.

It rained so violently the entire way to Fremont that we thought the 5K run/walk might morph into a swim/paddle. Luckily the storm subsided right as Don, my mom and I parked the car. God smiled on Fremont that day, and the sun even started shining later on as the beer garden festivities kicked off.

Don had been training for this 5K for months and left my mom and I behind right away, as expected (he finished in 28:15). I stuck with my mom until about two-thirds of the way through the race; then, at her vehement encouragement, I pulled ahead to finish on my own. She came in a mere two minutes (35:34) behind me.

There were several people dressed up in Oktoberfest outfits, plus a trio of true American patriots (crazy wigs, shorty American-flag shorts, cropped tops with beer bellies on full display). Then there was the very talented guy who dribbled two basketballs while running the entire 3.1 miles; the group of guys dressed like Ghostbusters; the guy who ran in a full polar-bear suit to raise awareness for... something; and the guy who ran only wearing a sheer, pink thong.

The front view of the latter was beyond horrifying. Watch this video and check him out 25 seconds in.

I was definitely not one of the top finishers, but I thought I had a decent time (33:32) for my first 5K and for sticking with my mom most of the way when I probably could have gone faster. I have not always liked to run, and in fact have hated it more often than I've enjoyed it, but this was a lot of fun. I'm already working on running faster for the next 5K (or two) that I'm planning to do near the end of October.

It ain't where you start, but where you end up! Which brings me to the tequila story.

Over the summer, I played on a softball team. I was also working out more than I ever had before and building up unprecedented strength and endurance (for me). I could do — get this! — an all-time personal best of four consecutive push-ups. I was pretty darn proud of that.

One evening, during a post-win celebration with the team at the Ravenna Alehouse, I was gifted with a few shots of tequila by a creepy nice man as a thank-you for getting out of his way as he played pool (I was sitting directly in the way of most of his shots). My enablers teammates encouraged me to accept these gifts, and I did.

I can get a bit competitive after a few drinks, and, in the great tradition of Festivus-style Feats of Strength, I have been known to challenge people to arm wrestling matches. Usually I challenge someone who is much, much stronger than me, with the full knowledge that I will lose. But everyone likes to pull for the underdog, right?

This evening in particular, I decided to challenge a much-stronger (i.e. male) teammate to a push-up competition. After all, I had four solid push-ups in my arsenal! How could I go wrong?

I shocked everyone, including myself, by knocking out 12 push-ups before I collapsed. My opponent not only kept going, but started doing one-handed push-ups just to rub it in.

Defeat aside, I've interpreted this event as irrefutable scientific evidence that tequila makes me 3X stronger. Obviously.

However, tequila is inherently evil, and I now refuse to drink it (or shots of any kind, actually). The stench alone is repulsive, and only bad things (or really fun things — but mostly bad) come of its consumption. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits even includes this fact on his list of 20 Things I Wish I Had Known When Starting Out in Life (item #18).

Instead, I've turned to a different method to improve my upper-body strength and my ability to do push-ups. Enter the One Hundred Push-ups training program. I found out about it — where else? — via the Art of Non-Conformity, where I read that Chris Guillebeau had managed to do 100 consecutive push-ups "by doing the final exercises in the Ulaan Bataar airport in Mongolia this summer, waiting to fly back to Korea."


My living room is a little less exotic than Ulaan Bataar, but it works just as well for doing push-ups. Before starting the program, I could only do three (with great, great effort). Now, at the end of week two, I can do eight solid push-ups. No tequila required!

I've got a long way to go until I reach 100 push-ups, but where you end up is much more important than where you start. And starting something is always much more effective than just thinking about it and doing nothing.

I don't want to be able to do 100 push-ups just for the bragging rights. I want to be able to 100 push-ups because it seems, to me, to be impossible.

I know from experience — from paying off my debt, for example — that once you accomplish something that you previously thought was impossible, the world becomes a much less scary, much more fun place to live.

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