On Saturday, I crossed an item off my bucket list that has been sitting on there since I was 16 years old. My cousin, Mark, used to come to Texas to visit and tell tales of all his skydiving activities. He was in his 20s and single and skydiving was his “hobby”. I remember thinking how much I wanted to do it! I thought about it several times throughout the years and NEARLY went when my niece went after her high school graduation. Then I NEARLY went again when Taylor went after her high school graduation. I couldn’t muster the courage. But the most likely reason is that I had been living my entire life for other people and I just didn’t feel I was worth giving myself that opportunity. But things, they are-a-changing. I’ve blogged before about how running helped me find myself and finally move to a different stage of grieving over the loss of my friend. Running has also helped me arrive at a place where I value myself more than I ever have before. Maybe the 40s have helped on that front as well, because when I arrived in my 40s, I began having strong urges to be more true to myself. Maybe it is a mid-life crisis? I don’t think so. I think it is just me, finally becoming truly comfortable with who I am.
So back in the Fall (maybe it was Winter, but my ADHD brain can’t retain details), my friend Corky (@corkycronin), and I somehow got on the subject of skydiving. (Corky and I became friends years ago when our daughters met through volleyball.) We both discussed how we had always wanted to go and how exciting it would be. One thing led to another and we decided to go in the Spring when the weather got better. I KNEW that by committing to Corky, the jump WOULD happen. She oozes badassery. After all her kids were gone and off to college, she took up roller derby as her hobby and she dominates the rink!
We started discussing possible dates in February and it took us until May 2 to find an acceptable day for the jump between our schedules and the weather. Last Monday, I booked the jump and we were set! Luckily, Mother Nature smiled upon us and gave us a sunny, warm, not-very-windy day!
Our appointment was at 10, and we were instructed to arrive 30 min early for sign in. We completed that process then were called into a “training” where we learned things we would need to do during the dive. Mainly: how to jump from the plane, positioning for the free fall, and landing. OK….I was REALLY concerned about the landing, because I planned to run my first race (half marathon) of the year on Sunday and I couldn’t afford any mistakes on that front!
After the training class, we were told that we would be called to suit up after 20 minutes or so. We couldn’t take our phones or anything with us, so we were asked to go put our phones and wallets in our cars, then come back inside and wait for our names to be called. We headed to our cars, stopped to take a pic (for Twitter documentation, of course) and were called back inside before we even had time to tweet that pic or put our things in our cars!
And about 15 min later, when we had arrived at 13,500 feet, it was time to jump OUT of the plane (or in my case, fall out).
Can I say that it is difficult to maneuver when you are strapped to another person? And I mean STRAPPED. There was not one centimeter of space left between us. Try scooting out of a plane like that! LOL!!
The next 60 seconds were my favorite part of the entire experience. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I was falling, which is apparently attributed to falling at 120 mph and the wind resistance that comes with it. But, it was absolutely amazing!!! I don’t have the words to describe it properly.
Yes, it is as beautiful as it looks from up there!
After the free-fall, the parachute was opened and we floated back down to Earth, which took 4-5 min. It was so beautiful and peaceful from up there, so quiet, removed from the hustle and bustle on the ground below.
Far too soon, the time to land had arrived. It was too soon for a couple reasons. 1) The jump was so much fun and so enjoyable that I didn’t want it to end! But, more importantly, 2) I had to land the landing! I was supposed to cross my arms across my chest and lift my legs up. The legs were easy enough, but he had me strapped in SO tight I COULD NOT cross my arms! Thank goodness the landing was smooth and easy because I was able to keep my feet up! I was relieved to know that I would still be able to run my half marathon on Sunday!
After the jump concluded, we were given critiques from our instructors….I was complimented for my exit, my arch during the free fall and…..my landing!
I drove home, still rattled from the adrenaline and made myself eat 1/2 banana with peanut butter and honey for lunch. (I felt like I do after running, but x10. After runs I am never hungry and have to force myself to eat for recovery.) I didn’t get hungry until late Saturday afternoon, which equates to a pretty awesome adrenaline rush!!
I am glad I decided on the video and pictures. It was totally worth it!! My video is posted here. You can click on May 2, 2015 and then my name, Jennifer Kirkpatrick, if you are interested in watching the video!