The first week of August, immediately after the NYRR team championship 5 miler, my new friends and I set off on a journey to attempt a dream that I had 7 years in the making. I had written skydiving as the 1st on my list of 30 things that I wanted to do before I was 30 because I had planned that no matter what, even if I had to rent a car and drive alone to the site, I was going to do it this year.
Then I met Adrian and Zee, runners who shared the same zest for life that I did. I mentioned skydiving and it seemed that Adrian had already wanted to plan with his buddies and was on board. Zee was definitely game and immediately began to gather others who’d also make this a great experience.
We got Danny, who had actually done it before, and Danny invited Heidi, who had wanted to do it for her birthday but none of her friends had wanted to go. We had a solid group of people who would do it. Perfect.
We all had our reasons to do it and I made the reservation ahead of time so there was no turning back. The morning of the race seemed to be going on well without problems until I ate a terrible combinations of food that almost poisoned me. I threw up before getting into the car and on the way to the ranch. I tried to ignore the signs that this might not happen to me. There’s no way that I was going to allow vomiting to ruin my experience—even if I had to vomit all the way down. I wondered if my body was sending me a warning: I had to do a pit stop at my last race and now I was vomiting immediately after. Marathons might be taking a toll…
Luckily I felt almost 100% by the time we got to Skydive The Ranch. After we showed our signed waivers, paid the cost and got the 411 on safety and what would occur during the dive, we were climbing to 10,500 feet. I was strapped on to Jerry. We were now a bond.
While ascending, the crew opened the door and we saw a guy disappear when the door opened. I wasn’t sure what was going on at the moment but later on the ground someone mentioned that after a few tandem jumps you could jump solo.
I was wondering how long it was going to take when the Jerry looked at this wrist and told me that he’s going to tighten my harness more snugly and he wasn’t going to be fresh but that it was necessary. I chuckled. He had made jokes all day. He also handed me a cap to place on my head because allegedly my hair could tangle while diving (sure). I think maybe he just didn’t want my afro in the way—I should have braided it.
It was difficult to hear everyone around me but my friends were all cheering at each other. If they were nervous, we were good at hiding it. I was just accepting that I was there and curious about what was going to happen. I had insurance and if I died, it was going to be something I really wanted to do. Heidi had been visibly excited, anxious and nervous on the ground but she was all smiles when I turned around to look.
Some moments later the door opened. We started heading out. I felt bad that I didn’t get to go first because I had volunteered. I knew that Zee didn’t want to be first but she was ahead of me. Everyone disappeared super quickly and that looked so exciting! I crab walked with Jerry when it was my turn.
“Count to 2, tuck legs and bring your head back to the left”
Easy enough. I was prepared.
My photographer was hanging near the door waiting for me to come out when the plane suddenly started turning and he grabbed to get himself back in. I was puzzled for a bit of what was going on when I noticed he was in a panic. Someone from the back pulled him back inside.
What happened was, the guys get a signal for when they can jump. It was on green for us but quickly turned red when the pilot had to turn.
We got the green light again and we made a second attempt. Smoooooooooooooooooooth
The feeling/rush you get while stepping out of the plane can’t be recreated on the ground—that I know of. The feeling I had was euphoric, I was doing it. I was flying. I knew it was going to be brief and Jerry tapped me on my shoulders to let me know that I can bring my head down.
We coast along the way and the photographer was still with us taking some shots along the way before he disappeared into the clouds to see us at the bottom.
Falling into the cloud was another experience that I wish would have lingered longer. It was silent. Jerry tried to get out, I’m sure mostly because we needed to remain visible. I assume that it would be safer that way. He navigated out and asked me whether I’d like to drive for abit.
I turned us around a couple of times and had him take control again. I just wanted to focus on the ground that was getting closer and closer because it was incredible.
I stared out in the distance and saw others landing. I guessed that I had to start prepping myself. Jerry reminded me, just keep your legs straight out and up. Cool.
We came into landing and it was pretty gentle. The photographer was already there recording me and asking me how I felt when I hugged Jerry to thank him. I hadn’t died. Mission accomplished.
After 7 years, I’ve finally skydive! Crossed off the list!