Round the Bridges 12km / Skydiving

An update from down under!

Jesse and I have been camped out in the North Island since we arrived but are definitely finding some time to adventure!

Before getting to that, I have to share a photo of this weta Jesse found on the deck:

IMG_5396That thing was missing a leg and was very angry! It very much reminded me of Antie on Honey I Shrunk the Kids with his long antennae and how he’d open his pincers. Anyone else know what I’m talking about? Anyone?

I also have just two “funny New Zealand foods” photos to share. The first, a beautiful latte from McDonald’s. Why does American Micky D’s not feature these!? (The NZ silver fern probably wouldn’t make sense in the States, but it’s pretty nonetheless. Oh, and delicious. And expensive).

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And secondly, the cereal names. Adorable. At $6/box, I can’t afford the Frosties, but I should try to make some Rice Bubble treats. I wonder if there’s a recipe on Pinterest…

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On November 16th (a Sunday), Jesse and I ran the Round the Bridges 12km around Hamilton. It was a fairly large road event along the waterfront; I think they had over 6,000 runners this year. Jesse and I both met our time goals and I set a few personal records, all of which happened by accident, but am always pleased to find. It was probably the incredible kiwi dinner we had the night before with some family friends from Jesse’s childhood. It was such a great evening and the food was incredible – just what we needed!

IMG_5410You can see more dorky race photos of me here! I like the one where I’m high-fiving people on the bridge. Which reminds me of a letter I’ve been meaning to write:

Dear Everyone Who Runs,

If you’re running a distance event and a small child reaches out their hand to high-five you, you high-five them back. It makes everyone involved feel happier.

Sincerely, Yours Truly

After our run, we headed home for a quick shower and a bite to eat, then drove down to Lake Taupo for a quick skydiving mission. We were scheduled to jump the day before, but due to wind conditions, we had to postpone for a day.

Jesse’s siblings joined us and by 5:30 PM we were in some jumpsuits, tucked away like sardines in a tiny plane, climbing to 12,000 feet.

IMG_5418 IMG_5412Now because Jesse and I can be such running geeks, we had our GPS watches and heart rate monitors on. We were told not to have any accessories on, but as this might be a once in a lifetime event, we had to risk it.

I didn’t feel nervous; my tandem master (*said in a very deep, game show announcer type way) was Albert and I knew he wouldn’t let me die. He’d gone up 3 times that day already! But then we were the last in the plane, which meant one thing: I had to jump first. This was my only request to everyone, was that I wouldn’t have to go first. My eyes went wide and I scanned the plane for any signs of backing out. Pretty soon Albert was handing me gloves, a hat, and some goggles, strapping me in so I couldn’t breathe properly anymore. He started saying a bunch of stuff to me, none of which I heard properly and hoped it wasn’t crucial information for what was about to go down. He opened up the rattling sliding door, and then he told me to smile for the camera! No more time for second guessing!

He pulled my head backwards and hurled us out of the plane. I remember it being windy and loud, and I vaguely remember thinking “Oh yeah, body like a banana” and adjusting my legs. After a few seconds it occurred to me that I was biting my lip pretty hard so I returned my face to normal. (Jesse claims he was thinking about his wedding ring falling off and worried that I would lose mine. Apparently I was the only person issued gloves!) I felt a tap on my shoulder, the signal to open my arms to “experience the freefall” and eventually Albert pulled the parachute cord and my body shot upright, we slowed significantly, and it wasn’t windy anymore. I could see the beauty that was Lake Taupo, I could see some other sky divers (my family, maybe?) and was quietly reminiscing of paragliding in Europe.

Airport and Town

Albert loosened all the straps and I could breathe again. I asked Albert how long he’d been skydiving for and he said “Just started last week!” I asked if he said that everyone and he laughed and said he started in 1981. Then I asked if he still got a rush from it and he said “No. But you never lose respect”. Which I thought was a brilliant answer. A few minutes later, we were landing. I enjoyed the fact that I was the last of my crew to land, despite being the first out of the plane!

I joined everyone and we waited for the other guys who jumped with us (from 15,000 feet) to land so we go view our photos together.

These were our “exit photos” – taken 2 seconds before our jump.

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IMG_2295-jesseWe watched our ground video (we didn’t pay for any actual skydiving photos or video) with the other guys in the plane (they were from the UK, apparently) and ended up buying it. It features their free fall videos, which is basically the same, right?

Upon review of our GPS watch data, here were my findings:

  1. It took us 20 minutes from plane take off to landing.
  2. We traveled 26.5 miles with a max speed of 184.8 mph (which aligns with the minimum of 200 km/h we were promised!)
  3. Our highest elevation was 11,893 feet (close enough to the 12,000 feet we paid for)
  4. I believe my heart rate strap fell upon jumping, but I had a peak heart rate of 176 bpm, which, for just sitting in an airplane, is pretty damn high!

Reflecting on the experience, I didn’t feel as nervous to sky dive as I did to bungee jump. Maybe because the ground was not as close, maybe because I trust a parachute more than a bungee cord, or maybe because I’m older and wiser and was confident that I wouldn’t die (arguably, older and wiser might equate to not jumping out of planes or off bridges, but I digress). In any case, here are some quick throw back photos to bungee jumping with Jesse at Whistler last year!

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After skydiving, we were all filled with adrenaline but also quite hungry so we took our complimentary coupons to a buffet place in town to recap and have a small feast (funny enough, the UK guys showed up well).

We stopped briefly to admire the lake and drove back home.

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Such an epic day, I must say.

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