I told myself if I could get halfway through the bike, I would be ok. I haven’t always been the type of person that exercises. I’d never paid to participate in a race. I’ve run two marathons, but the course was either designed by my sister or just made up as we ran. One year I ran a 10K on Thanksgiving. Some of my family was doing the race and I tagged along, it was at the lakefront in MIlwaukee where I ran all the time, so I figured it was silly to pay for something I do every day for free.
At a little after 12 noon on Sunday I rode my bike through some town outside of Madison. I hadn’t drowned a few hours earlier when completing the 1.2 mile swim during the first part of the half Iron Man – that was the other thing I was worried about. After getting kicked around at the start of the swim, I was more than worried that I wasn’t going to make it. Slow methodical progress works except when you’re under the restraints of a clock. After stopping at all of the at least 15 buoys to catch my breath, I gingerly and awkwardly stepped out of the lake and started the jog toward my bike.
It wasn’t until the week before the race, that I thought I would actually be able to finish it. I hope some of you are like me. I spent a lot of time training and practicing, but almost no time thinking critically about whether I could accomplish the task centered around all of this work. It was emotional the first time my wife and my sister insinuated I was going to be able to finish the race. I was ok with failing. In fact, I thought way more about what I would do if I failed than what I would do if I succeeded. That’s probably why I fixated on certain milestones. Milestone 1, leave the lake without drowning in under 1 hour and 10 minutes. Milestone 2, get to the halfway point of the 56 mile bike ride.
There’s a list of things I’ll do differently if I ever try one of these races again. I should have brought a wetsuit for the swim. I should have purchased a bike that wasn’t older than me, but the easiest thing I’ll change for the next time is to bring a watch. You get like four hours to complete the bike portion of the race, but without knowing the time, you have no concept for how fast you’re going. At 12:24 I was thankful to be riding by a bank. A few minutes earlier I had passed what I was confident was the halfway mark of the bike ride. Seeing the time on that bank was one of the better moments of my week. A bit of mental math told me, I should be able to finish the bike. I had no issue knowing I could run the half marathon afterwards as long as I finished the bike.
I can’t say I believe in the evening out of things, like whenever something good happens something bad is there to even it out. Randomness is inherently random and much of life is randomness. While I might not believe it to be an underlying rule of the universe, I do gravitate toward expecting it though. (I have no idea if those expectations were formed by reality or imagination).
I’ve expected our house to be broken into for the last 15 years. Living in 53206, you expect loss. Loss is a dominant narrative here. At 12:22, 2 minutes before riding past that bank, our family lost a couple of things. They walked out the door on the back of and under the arm of someone that used one of our lawn chairs to break a window and climb up into our kitchen. On his or her back was my son’s Xbox, my daughter’s Chromebook, and her pink and yellow backpack. Under their arm was our tv, recently ripped off the wall.
We get alerts from our security system for certain things. We left in a hurry the morning before and never actually set the alarm (that’s a whole different story I’ll get to at some point). The alerts say the wifi was turned off at 12:18 and the front door was unlocked at 12:22. Walking into the house after the drive home from Madison deflated all of the excitement which had pent up during between that moment and seeing 12:24 flash on the bank clock. I had planned in my head that I was going to watch the Bears lose on Sunday night football and drink a beer on the couch. The lack of tv made that problematic.
Knowing someone wandered through your house looking for anything valuable is disorienting. Safety is always illusive and security, while an admirable goal, is in no way guaranteed. The disruption of your sense of safety and security is challenging to wrap your head around. I always assumed this would happen. I’m thankful it took 15 years for it to happen. It wouldn’t surprise me if it happened again some day, but that some day is the tricky part for me. Is some day later tonight or is some day in 2036.
There’s one other thing that keeps rattling around in the back of my head. I chose to live here. I choose to continue to live here. Most of my neighbors, through various circumstances, find living here to be their best option, many times because of lack of choice. I’m not at that point yet, where I believe this is my best option, but I’m not that far off, but for reasons very different than many of my neighbors. We’ll talk more about this on the podcast in the coming weeks. Until then, our little family will lean on one another and heal and rest. We’ll be grateful for what we still have and we will attempt to have empathy on our thief. We’ll try to remember the 5,500 days of living in the Ghetto without incident, and learn and grow from the days where we find ourselves in the role of the victim. I attempt to do this because I live in a place where being victimized is normal; it’s an expectation, and we – the collective we – will become a more empathic society when we acknowledge that reality and work to change the narrative. The burdens here are heavy and the more we share in those burdens, the lighter it is for all of us here.