“Happy New Year, Bitches!”
I looked at the Facebook message on my phone, placed it back on the nightstand and then rolled over, pulling a pillow over my head. It was Friday, January 2nd and I was starting the first weekend of the New Year celebrating with a nap with The Cat.
The phone pinged again and I wearily reached over to pick it up. I looked at the screen.
“When do we start running?!”
I groaned, and was about to set it aside again when:
Two seconds later:
I sighed in exasperation. I turned off the phone and went back to my nap. When I woke up later, there were two more Facebook messages and two threatening texts:
“TRACEY. ANSWER ME. NOW.”
“WE ARE GOING RUNNING.”
It was Lux.
With the exception of the situation I touched on two weeks ago, other than some posts here and there that maybe felt a bit too personal, I feel pretty okay with everything I’ve published in this blog. There are very few times I’ve regretted posting things.
But now, I had a regret. When Lux and McKenzie and I had discussed forming a running group after Lux’s goodbye drinks, I figured everyone was kind of drunk and no one would remember. But then I made the mistake of writing about it. And now, apparently, that had jogged Lux’s memory. And she was not going to rest until it happened.
There was no use in fighting it.
I knew this.
So that Monday, I was up at 5:45am to meet them at the Reservoir in Central Park at 6:30am, layered in two sweatshirts and thick knee-socks over my workout pants as it was 19 degrees and I couldn’t fathom how one was supposed to dress to run in such conditions. I’m not going to lie, I was not looking forward to this.
I spotted them waiting for me at the entrance to the Reservoir. “Hi guys!” I called, as I ran over. When I reached them, I pulled off my headphones and wrapped them around my iPod, ready to put it away.
“What the fuck is that?!” they asked in unison. Yes, they actually asked this together. In real life.
“What, this?” I asked as I pointed to the large, leather contraption around my waist. “It’s my fanny pack.” I looked at the two of them. “What?”
Lux had raised her eyes to the heavens and was breathing heavily. McKenzie had lowered her eyes to the ground and placed her palm against her forehead.
“I. Just. Can’t,” she muttered.
“What?” I asked again. I was busy rearranging the contents of the pack in order to fit my iPod in. “How else am I supposed to carry everything?”
“Maybe with something like this?” Lux said, as she displayed her slim runner’s belt which matched her bright headband and lightweight jacket.
“I can’t carry all the stuff I need in that. It’s too small!” I said.
“What do you need to carry?” asked McKenzie. She was also sporting a bright headband and matching lightweight jacket.
“All this,” I said and pointed to the contents of my pack.
“Tracey,” Lux breathed. “Why do you have your iPod AND your phone? Why don’t you just listen to music on your phone?”
“Um, I don’t know how to do that,” I admitted.
“Why do you have your whole keychain?!” McKenzie asked, her voice rising. “With your loyalty cards and everything?!”
“What else would I bring?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Lux said. “Maybe just your door keys?”
“Hmm. I didn’t think of that.”
I maneuvered my iPod into the pack. As a result, a wad of $1 bills fell out.
“Tracey! Why do you have cash?!” Lux cried.
“Who carries cash?!” McKenzie said.
“What if I get thirsty and need a water after we run?” I replied pragmatically.
“Then just bring your debit card,” McKenzie said.
“Or just pay with your phone,” Lux added.
“Guys, stop,” I said with a laugh, as I zipped up the pack and adjusted it to sit on my lower back. “You can’t pay for things with your phone. Don’t be ridiculous. Come on, let’s run.”
And we were off.
Both Lux and McKenzie are in good shape and I immediately found myself falling behind. I felt terrible about this as I really didn’t want to slow them down. But the 19 degree air was searing my lungs and that, along with not working out for (very) long time, made it incredibly hard for me to breathe. Or even speak.
“Tracey,” Lux said, her breath even. “How was the hometown holiday visit? I mean, I know you wrote about it but how was everything else, behind the scenes – Your Boyfriend staying with you and all that?”
“Are you guys going to get married??” McKenzie asked enthusiastically. “Can we come?? I can just see the post now: LUX AND MCKENZIE TAKE ON THE HOMETOWN!!”
“Can’t breathe…can’t talk…,” I puffed. “You…guys talk.”
And so they did. About their holiday breaks, their families, their work situations.
Occasionally one of them would say, “Let’s stop and take a picture. It’s so beautiful.” Or, “Let’s walk for awhile so we don’t burn out.” I knew this was really for my benefit so I could catch my breath, but they kindly never said so.
It was easy for us to talk about things. We’re not entrenched in each others’ ‘real’ lives so there was something comforting about being able to just say what we were feeling and thinking, without expecting any sort of in-depth, too thought-out response. Whatever we said was taken at face value. If one of us said something sucked, we all agreed. If it was great, we all agreed on that too.
Before I knew it, we were done with the loop and we ran down the steps to the path where we’d met earlier. We all high-fived each other in a circle and Lux said, “Tracey! You did so great!”
I just smiled and nodded as I still couldn’t really speak.
“You know Tracey, if you run home, you’ll have done almost four miles today! That is amazing!” McKenzie said.
“Thank you,” I managed, as I reached around to my fanny pack to pull out my iPod.
“Ugh,” said McKenzie. “You have a freakin’ suitcase on your ass. At least wear it in the front on the way home? You’re just asking to get mugged.”
“That’s a good idea,” I said.
“Okay,” Lux said, all business again. “So, same time tomorrow?”
I looked at her in horror. “We’re doing this every day?”
“Why not?” McKenzie asked.
I furrowed my brow.
Then we said our goodbyes and I ran home. When I arrived, my legs were shaking, my heart was racing and, glancing in the mirror, I saw my face was bright red. But I felt incredible. I Facebook messaged them:
“That was so great!!”
“It was a blast!” McKenzie replied.
“But listen guys,” I wrote.”I’m 15 years older than you. I can’t do this every day. Especially after just starting out. I”ll commit to twice a week. And not unless it’s above 25 degrees. #old”
“Lol,” Lux said. “Okay. We just always forget you’re 15 years older because you don’t look it.”
“#notold,” McKenzie wrote.
I sighed. Because 🙂
By 10am that morning they had both sent me a variety of options to replace the fanny pack. As well as some slim-fitting, cute, lightweight jackets to replace the multiple sweatshirts.
The next time we met, I was able to keep up the whole time, as well as speak. I was able to tell them about my hometown visit and the status of my relationship with My Boyfriend. They chimed in with their thoughts and then our conversations moved to what was going on with them. .
When we were done, I realized I had not felt so proud of myself in a long time. I attributed my better performance to the (slightly) warmer weather but they insisted I was already getting fitter.
We weren’t able to run for a bit after that, as NYC was hit with a number of storms back to back. Sometimes they would meet up but I was too nervous I’d fall on the ice and break my leg, so I didn’t join.
But still, even if we didn’t meet, we’d check in with each other every evening on Facebook to look over the weather together to see if we could run the next day. We’d end up chatting about our days, venting about work, telling funny things that had happened. If one of us had a bad day, the others would cheer her up. If one of us had a triumph, we’d cheer her on.
It was something I’d really never expected. Because I live alone, other than My Boyfriend and The Cat, there is no one in my life I am in contact with everyday. And it’s…fun.
I’ve thought about this a lot as I’ve been working on this post tonight. McKenzie just messaged us that while she’d been running at the gym, the guy on the one side of her had farted twice and the guy on the other side of her had fallen off his treadmill multiple times. Lux responded she’d gone running at the park but it had turned out to be really icy and it was good that we hadn’t gone that morning. I told them the only activity I’d done today was to get beer for The Bachelor viewing.
But I then said I really, really hoped we could run next week a few times, that the weather would cooperate. And I meant it.
Because, not only do I feel inspired by them and their commitment to working hard. They really do make me want to get out there and do better. But also because throughout these weeks, I’ve realized these girls are not going to be just Cameos in my life as I originally thought, when we parted after Lux’s Farewell Drinks.
No, not at all.
They now have upgraded themselves to Recurring Characters.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Featured image photo credit – Kelley McDermott. Reservoir, on our first run 🙂