And to top it off with dressing, it was time to “hide”. After trying half a dozen masks Over the month, I opted for a Zensa: bright yellow (so no one had an excuse to crush me), breathable, sweat-wicking and fog-free so I could see through my glasses. I then took our only “technological” step: the Map my race application. Without a chip or watch or Bluetooth, it keeps a detailed map of your route, pace, time, and for good measure, lets you snap a photo of yourself to show how disheveled you look. the following. You can email this information to all of your companions, to keep everyone honest. I had no idea that the races would be a vehicle for honesty.
I ran the few blocks to Ray’s, who looked like Gumby in his green Celtics mask from the NBA Store, a green Celtics shirt from the NBA Store, and I think the same pair of edged Nike Pegasus shoes. green he had in college. I called him as he was sprinting a block, in conference with Dave, and we were off. The fastest conference call in the East was happening and we had to orient ourselves. “United Nations straight ahead,” I said to Dave in Washington as Ray and I crossed the East River. “State Department to my right,” Dave replied. Much of our first run was calm, just heavy breathing and rhythmic steps, with occasional sports banter. But it wasn’t weird.
And we got along cleanly. Maybe it was my Belkin wired headphones. (Don’t get me started on ordinary old headphones that fall every 50 feet.) I was grateful for this, as there was so much to hear.
It was one of the times I had spent the most with friends over the years. When you don’t have a family, it seems like the cord is unraveling. Add a pandemic and the cordon threatens to come undone completely. But while we were running, twice most weeks, our calls made me feel like the rope was on. Texts, memes, and email chains with other people seemed soulless in comparison.
“I’m starting a new business,” Ray said one morning, “and I’m feeling nervous. But energized.
“My kids don’t make new friends,” Dave said on another day. “And they’re so young.
“I realize,” I confessed one day, “that I may not have children. “
This one brought an unusual silence. We all knew this was not a topic we could solve, of course. But I thought they needed to hear it and understand that being single wasn’t just a thrill for them. I needed to blow this hypothesis off, brutally. I think it worked, and I think they figured it out.
When the fall came, we started talking about our college days, when we called home on a pay phone, recorded homework on floppy disks, and left notes on our doors indicating where we were. I also started wearing the best-made item I’ve ever owned, to stay warm: a 30-year-old bright red North Face cover from college, which looked as new as the day it was. I got it. I wore it all winter, rain or shine. They have to make humans with whatever they use on the north face.
One morning Dave started the call by telling an old story we had heard over 100 times. A story about when his father visited him at school and, still the teacher, horrified basketball coaches (and Dave) one day after practice by helpfully showing the team the right technique shooting. From the 1950s. Then Dave said, “He died last night.”