Monday, March 16, 2009

War wounds and the (not so) best laid plans

When I was 20, I saw a movie called Terminal Velocity. It's really not a very good movie, but it impressed me enough that I felt the need to go experience skydiving. A lot of things impress you when you're 20.

I found a skydiving school and signed up to go do a class and jump that following Saturday. I spent four hours learning the basics like how to cutaway your chute and pull the secondary if needed. I learned how to steer the canopy so that I could be like a bird in flight while on my descent downward. I learned how to pull the cords to slow your descent just as you are landing so you don't hit at warp speed.

I got in the plane and we went to 5000 feet. I wasn't the least bit nervous. I climbed out on the wing as instructed and hung there from the wing waiting on their signal for me to let go. When I was in the class and they told me I'd have to do this, I pictured my legs waving behind me and me flying completely horizontally from the speed and wind caused by the plane. I figured I'd look like Superman and would struggle to hold on. I was surprised when I climbed out on the wing and my legs hung underneath me and gravity wanted to take over. But I held on. I wasn't nervous.

Then they yelled, "go, go, go!" and I let go and arched my back as instructed. At that moment of free fall I went right past nervous and on to sheer panic. I screamed as I fell and thought, "what did I just do?" Then, within just a few seconds the chute was fully deployed and I began a graceful decent downwards.

I had a radio and they gave me commands to go right or left so I could practice the skills I learned on the ground. I aced them all and was having the time of my life. In a matter of minutes, I was nearing the ground. My euphoria of the first jump was coming to an end much more quickly than I would have liked.

When I was about 10-15 feet from the ground they yelled, "brake, brake, brake." I pulled the cords just as I had practiced over and over on the ground. But I didn't slow like I had anticipated. It turns out I had to pull the cords down much harder than I had practiced. I kept going that last 10-15 feet at the same speed the rest of my descent had been. Instead of the soft little hop they told me I would come in at, I slammed into the earth and doubled over. I imagined there would be a whole in the ground where I came in, like I was Wyle E Coyote on another failed landing.

But the earth didn't give way. It held it's ground. It was me that gave way. I got the wind back into me and started to stand up. My thighs hurt like the bones had been snapped in half. I didn't want to show I had been hurt that badly, so I sucked it up and walked off with the help of a friend that had come to watch. Several hours later, my thighs were feeling better but I had this terrible pain running down the inside of my knee. It got to where I couldn't walk so I took myself to the ER and explained my skydiving debacle and got an x-ray or two.

I left the ER with a pair of crutches, a brace going to my thigh, and the phone number for an orthopedic surgeon that would repair what turned out to be a torn ligament. Only I was 20, and stupid, and didn't think about the consequences of going skydiving a week before you were leaving your job and moving across the country where you had no job waiting. So I spent a while hobbling around with the crutches and brace and eventually I could walk again. By the time I had moved, gotten a new job, and insurance kicked in, I felt I didn't need the stupid surgery. I felt almost as good as new.

Fast forward 15+ years. I am 100 lbs overweight and decided that in order to lose the weight I would begin running. Even though I am completely out of shape and haven't run in years and have most assuredly exceeded the maximum shock capacity of my poor legs, by George I'm going to run.

And run I did. For about five weeks. And then this all too familiar little pain on the inside of my knee started to nag at me. Slowly at first, but then building to a screaming pain that put a limp into my walk and caused me to curse stairs.

So I've taken some time off from the C25K. I've given it a week rest and I am getting quite a bit of relief. I'm thinking about just walking on it to see how it goes. If that doesn't go well, I'll be off to the doctor to see about this ligament. Even if it does go well with the walking, it is still disappointing to me. I'm not sure how long I'll need to walk before I can resume running again. I may have just lost any hope I had for running in the marathon in September.

It's frustrating because that one single goal was what kept me exercising, eating healthy, and working towards an end. This past week I've seen just how strong that goal has been for me. As it started to waiver and I wasn't able to run, I didn't want to eat healthy and I didn't want to look for other forms of exercise. I just wanted to throw a pity party and talk to my old standby counselors, "Ben and Jerry."

So, I'm not sure where this is going right now. Stay tuned while I get it figured out.


  1. Ah Bridget, I know what you mean. The thing is, I know you can lose the 100 lbs. I know you can do it. I just hope you find the right thing that motivates you.

  2. And he can't say "I told you so" if you still do something. It doesn't have to be a marathon! (I've always thought that might be a tad crazy, but I usually think marathoners are a tad crazy.)

    What about swimming?

  3. i had to stop running too, because of my knees. it just got to be too painful during the run and the day or so afterward, but i CAN do the elliptical with absolutely no pain or stress on my knees. plus it works your arms, too. i burn DOUBLE the calories on the elliptical compared to the same amount of time jogging/walking on the treadmill. try it!!! don't give up just becaue plan A may not work out. go to plan B!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I can totally relate. I REALLY wanted to do a tri but my upper back was so screwed up from my 6 years of whitewater kayaking (rolling was not good for me) that too much time on my road bike led me to 3x a week chiro appts. That's when I finally went, "Hmmm..." I hate having to change plans that make me so excited!


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