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The Big Jump!

I jumped out of a plane and lived to tell the tale!  That statement’s definitely a little more creepy and a lot less funny after the recent death and injury of a tandem skydiving pair in MS earlier this month. But here’s my story…

My super supportive/super worried parents drove me out to 516-SKYDIVE in East Moriches, NY where we met up with my dearest and bravest friend, KeriAnn, and her fear-monger husband, Pat.

Being brave

Being brave

We watched a video in which a weird and long-bearded man explained that one of the risks of skydiving is death. He said the word death at least five times. Undeterred, KeriAnn and I signed our lives away agreeing not to sue in the event of….death.

After that, things moved quickly. We received detailed instructions, “don’t be a hero, land on your butt” and donned our harnesses. We took a few selfies, I met my instructor (“Short-straw Mike”), and we were whisked onto the plane.

Pre-jump selfie

Pre-jump selfie

The plane was tiny. The fact that I even got in this thing means I get to cross-off overcoming the fear of flying.

What is this? A plane for ants?

What is this? A plane for ants?

In the plane, our instructors tried to distract and entertain us. Between me and KA, I was definitely the less nervous one right up until she disappeared out the side of the plane. Then I got nervous. Like super nervous.

Strapped together real tight, my instructor and I had to crawl to the door of the plane. I had to reach up and grab onto a bar by the open door and place my feet one at a time onto a step outside of the plane. These were the instructions Mike gave me as we were nearing out jump spot 8,000 ft above the earth. When the door was closed and KeriAnn was still next to me, these instructions seemed simple. I could do that. After she slid out of the plane, these directions became very difficult to remember and act on, especially the “let go of the bar” part. The scariest part of the whole experience was getting into position at the door of the plane.

The free-fall was fantastic. Once we tumbled (yep, we flipped!) out of the plane and began falling everything was just so fast. The wind whipping my face was so fast and so loud, I have no idea if I even screamed. I’m betting I didn’t since I’m so tough.

When my instructor tugged the parachute, my whole body jerked up as the wind violently caught the billowing chute and instead of “Thank, God!”, I thought, “Ouch”.  The rest of the parachuted-fall felt tediously long and drawn out. I just wanted to my feet back on the ground.

A graceful landing? Not quite.

A graceful landing? Not quite.

When we came in for our landing, I made sure not to be a hero and slid five hard feet on my ass.

With the adrenalin rush over, I was pale-faced and drained. Finally, my super supportive/super relieved parents returned me to NYC, and that’s the end of my story.

Final note: I would definitely do it again if someone needs a bucket list jump buddy, but next time I want to the be the first one out of the plane!

Nike Women Half Marathon: Check!

It’s official! I can cross off one of the bucket list doozies!

Last weekend my Baltimore girls and my entire family gathered in Washington D.C. for the Nike Women Half Marathon.

Post-Race Glamour Shot!

Post-Race Glamour Shot!

I arrived in D.C. on Friday and enjoyed a low-key dinner with my oldest brother and his fiancé. We chose a BBQ restaurant as I felt I needed a good dose of Mac & Cheese and Green Bean Casserole to effectively “carb-up”. The meal, which included banana pudding for dessert, was quite tasty. However, mere moments after finishing his meal, my brother announced that he was feeling “nauseous”, which thus began an 8 hour anxiety-filled waiting period where I contemplated whether food poisoning would be a valid enough excuse to skip the race.

Fortunately, my meat chops (or ribs… whatever) stayed down, and by Saturday morning my only remaining get-out-of-jail-free-card excuse would be the “mother’s note” my mom indicated she would write for me. I can only assume her note would have been fashioned after a doctor’s note or the classic “sorry my child is late for school” note my younger brothers* and I often convinced Cindy to write for us. But even though she offered to officially excuse me from the race, and personally blog the excuse on my behalf, I knew I couldn’t disappoint myself or my fans (that’s you guys!) by backing out of this one.

Race packet pick-up in Georgetown on Saturday afternoon went smoothly, although I did ask the girls several times whether this was real life and whether we were actually going to go through with it. In the spirit of true carb-loading, I had a pre-dinner snack with the girls and then met my entire family for real dinner, or in this case, fourth meal.

Starting Line

Starting Line

I was up at 5:00AM on Race Day to nervously eat a small bowl of Wheaties, literally the breakfast of champions. I had just enough time for a last minute costume change due to weather conditions and to curl my hair into the cutest runner’s ponytail. My parents and my brother walked me down to the starting line, and I met up with KeriAnn and Kristyn in the corrals right as the race was starting.

I definitely started off faster than I expected, and texted my family impressive updates on my progress through mile 7. At mile 8 my NIKE RUNNING app restarted itself. Le bummer. By mile 9 I had strained my knee and was limping/running. My family was cheering at mile 10, and I sped up as I ran by them giving high fives and thumbs up, but as I rounded the bend at mile 11, I knew I’d be walking/limping the rest of the race. And finally about 20 feet before the finish line, I started an ugly painful-looking (and feeling) limp-run that took me across the finish line.

Runners be running

Runners be running

Basically I was an emotional wreck throughout the entire race. KeriAnn is notoriously known as a race puker (sorry, KeriAnn), and I think I unfortunately might be a race crier. I definitely got weirdly emotional reading some of the crowd’s signs. I almost gave myself an emotional asthma attack when I realized I had to start walking. And after I crossed the finish line, I was literally two deep breaths away from a becoming a crying mess. If a half marathon takes to me to the emotional edge, I’m pretty sure a full marathon would send me off the deep end.

Overall, the whole experience was both terrible and exhilarating. I’m definitely not a runner, but I finished a half marathon. It’s an accomplishment that opens your eyes to what you’re really physically and mentally capable of doing. I certainly didn’t come in first place, but I still felt like a winner crossing the finish-line.

I know it sounds crazy, but I think I could be persuaded to do it all over again. And next time I’ll know to bring tissues.

Cross it off the bucket list!

Cross it off the bucket list!

*I believe it’s necessary to reiterate that only my younger brothers and I would stoop so low as to have our mom sign Sickness and Lateness Rep Letters on our behalf, and a shout out to Bobby for being a studious young man who would never have considered faking sick or playing hooky.