"I was watching you run. How far did you go?"
The man on the subway platform during the morning rush hour, dripping with sweat, wearing only a t-shirt, shorts and a bulging running backpack, looked sharply at me, his face a picture of defiance. Everyone else in the crowded station was giving him a wide berth.
"Sometimes I run to the station too," I said encouragingly. "But I just run in jeans and my shirt. I only live three-quarters of a mile away. Where do you live?"
He could see from my general appearance that I might be a runner. He certainly was, lean and toned. He said guardedly, "In Falls Church. I do a loop coming to the station. Two and a half miles."
"How often do you run?"
"Five days a week. I don't run on Saturday or Sunday, unless I race. I run the loop every day, and then reverse it and run home each night. I run five miles a day."
I had seen him running to the station in his get-up, and I had run behind him at a distance all the way to the terminal. I wanted to see what his routine was. He was easy to spot on the platform.
"That's pretty good. You're always sure to get your exercise. What's your next race?"
He looked a little like Scooter Libby, who was in the news that morning because his license to practice law in the District was suspended due to the fact that he is a convicted liar. This runner had that same sort of aggressive projection of presence and hard-set face.
"Cherry Blossom 10-Miler."
"Hey, good luck in it. I'm Peter. Maybe I'll see you running around Falls Church sometime."
He shook my hand, visibly relaxed now that he was sure he was talking to another runner. "Rick. Maybe, but I only run to and from the station."
It was cold and windy on this mid-March morning. He was underdressed and wet. I nodded and moved on down the platform to where I customarily get on the train. I'm always interested in other people's running routines. This guy's got a good one, very efficient.