Monday, September 22, 2008

Facing Fears


Nervous smiles before I embark on the Ropes Course at Rockbridge. One thing I am terrified of is heights. When I say terrified, I truly mean terrified. Like paralyzing fear. I don't like to sit in the view box seats at sporting events because I get horrible vertigo and feel like I am going to topple over the railing onto the seats below. I can't get near windows in tall buildings. When I say can't, I mean my feet will not move me toward the window.

Three years ago, I completed this Ropes course and it was such an achievement for me. I felt like I could take on the world. So getting the chance to do it again this year - - well, I couldn't pass it up. Even though I had been successful once before, I still got butterflies.


My friend D took these photos of me - - she did a Phenomenal job. It is funny. Once I secured myself into the fist element. I didn't pay anymore attention to her. When she did the course, she'd stop halfway across an element and yell down "Hey! Ranger's Girl" - - and strike some pose. D is clearly fearless. We all keep saying they need to bottle some of her up.


I had a little bit of a problem with the third element. For some reason, being parallel to the ground 30 feet above it is not a good place to be when you are afraid of high places.


They recommended I swing myself backward - - uh, yah right. Not happening. Or sit down on the wire. I opted for that route. I recovered.


That experience had pretty much caused an huge adrenaline dump. It took a lot out of me. Later that day, one of the girls in my cabin asked if I had been at the Ropes Course that she saw how I fell and saw how I recovered and was totally impressed.


I took on the rope grid by taking as big of steps as I could. I wanted to be done with it. For some reason, it seemed so much longer than three years ago. Recovering from that 'fall' had really taken a lot out of me.

Below, walking through cable loops.


Then on to a zip line to the next tree. Jumping off a 30-40 foot platform is scary. I really annoyed the guy working that part of the element. I had a hard time jumping. The zip line doesn't carry you the entire way - - well maybe it would if you really jumped and pushed yourself off the initial platform. My friend D looked like Peter Pan, air running and laughing on her zip line element. Yah, no Peter Pan legs for me. So, you had to pull yourself the rest of the way to the next platform. Looking at these photos, I wonder why I didn't use my legs to help me.


I made it to the platform and that was all I had.


I was shaking and light headed. I could barely stand. All I had was one wire bridge to cross to get to the zip line to exit the course. I had hooked up my lines to start but then got the ringing ears and the static vision - - I knew I'd get halfway across and pass out. On top of that, my stomach cramped up so bad I thought I was going to vomit. I sat down on the platform and yes, I had to be rescued from the Ropes Course.

Oh, the humiliation.

I was so upset with myself. I had done this exact same course three years ago. I knew I could do it. Physically, my body was rebelling. I couldn't even stand up and I was drenched in sweat. I guess that is a full fledged panic attack. The rescue was worse than if I had made it through the course because they had to harness me to another rope and I had to "slide off" the platform to be lowered to the ground.

My heart was beating faster than I had ever felt it beat. It felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. My friend D and another worker on the ground asked me if I could walk down the side of the hill. My legs were jello. I just slid on my butt the rest of the way down.

It was one of the biggest disappointments for me.

I know a big part of it is I am not in the shape I was three years ago. Three years ago, I was running several miles a day and lifting weights three times a week. Due to work and other life events, I've not been able to be consistent with working out. This was my wake-up call. I am bound and determined that I will get myself in better shape so that next year, I will be able to complete this course. I'm not going to let it beat me. It may have won this time, but not next time.

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