THE PLAN was to be out of the house and on my bicycle by 7:30 a.m.. THE PLAN was to ride for around 90 minutes before the temperature in central Florida become too much for this descendant of vikings. THE PLAN was not to come to fruition.
I wake up ungodly early. I try to sleep until at least four in the morning and today at the strike of that very hour there was an extra boom accompanying the chiming of my living room clock. It was the boom of thunder. I left my bed and my way was illuminated by a flash of lightning. No problem; there’s 210 minutes between four and seven-thirty and the storm, no doubt, will pass.
I did a little writing, recorded a song (“Boxed.”) and around 6:30 started breakfast simmering on the stove while I did some strength and stretching exercises. All of this accompanied by the occasional distant thunder-clap. Boom, boom, boom, boom.
I hemmed, I hawed, I see-sawed, vacillating between going for a bike ride or not. Tampa, Florida is the death by lightning strike capital of the USA. I’m well versed in the thirty/thirty lightning strike safety rule. You know, “If it takes less than 30 seconds to hear thunder after seeing the flash, lightning is near enough to pose a threat; after the storm ends, wait 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activity.” I know it and I respect it. (Respect should not be read as adhere.) I also know that sharing the road with autos on Florida streets is iffy to begin with and I am loathe to ride in the rain with those crazy F-L-A crackers. Storms pass but my window was shrinking. It wasn’t raining at 7:30 but monsoon was in the air.
July, August and September comprise Florida’s wet season. July usually dumps around seven inches of rain on us and with another week left in the month we’ve already surpassed the seven-inch mark. I wasn’t going to go for an extended ride with the chance of rain being high but I had to do something. I had to make a choice.
The choice was a twice around the block “two-mile” run. (My block is only .97 miles. You down with OCD? Yeah, you know Naughty by Nature.)
Technically, it was raining and there was lightning but the lightning was separated from the thunder by half a minute. More or less. Okay, less, but not much less. I ran, completing the 1.94 miles in 19:20. Old man slow but old man on the go, go, go.
Twenty minutes beats the snot out of nothing but it isn’t very much. I wanted more and the more meant swimming.
Remember the 30/30 rule and the “death by lightning strike capital of the USA”? Me too. I swam anyway. I swam and the rain started falling rather than meandering down. Not a downpour but more than a heavy mist. It was pleasant. I liked it. All except the occasional boom, boom, boom. Occasional and distant; what can go wrong swimming in a pool with lightning flashing in the far distance? And then the distance. Followed by the near distance.
I’d planned to swim half a mile but at .4 miles the crack, boom, bang convinced me that it was time to get out of the pool. I stopped my stopwatch at 18:28 and rose dripping from the pool unscathed and alive.
I chose to take a little chance and a little chance I took.