Lemon meringue tart from Roost

Lemon meringue tart from Roost

I’m reviving this experiment, maybe just this once, maybe for other things like this: a platonic pastry. Lemon meringue pie isn’t in my top ten generally, but Roost‘s version is so incredibly good that I’m always delighted by it and look forward to getting it again. This must be the third one I’ve had (once every six months or so is plenty) and they are consistently excellent.

The three components are in perfect balance: light, crispy shell that snaps under the fork; very tart, smooth custard; sweet marshmallow meringue that is both creamy and fluffy. Best of all, the meringue is always properly toasted on top – it may even look burned but it tastes perfect. It is very messy to eat as the meringue innards and custard are both almost liquid, but 100% worth it. And it’s big enough to be entirely satisfying and give a feeling of abundance, but not as ginormous as some of their other baked goods.

  • Compared to platonic version: 5/5!
  • Originality: 3/5
  • Value for money: 4/5 ($6.95 before tax and tip)
  • Effort factor (1 = could make in my sleep; 5 = no way would I ever make this for myself): 4.5/5
  • 13 1/2 minutes to eat, 22 to write (of which 7 was figuring out how to do images in Gutenberg)

In memoriam Peter Caws: philosophical aphorisms

In my father’s papers I found a letter from 1985 in which Zak van Straaten, director of the University of Cape Town Institute for Advanced Studies in Philosophy, was soliciting philosophical aphorisms for a proposed anthology. He defined what he was looking for as “a short, philosophical maxim that is able to stand on its own and expresses a truth of general importance” and said it should not be longer than 50 words. I find no evidence that the anthology ever actually came out, but my dad and/or assistants (there’s handwriting that’s not his) compiled 3 pages of submissions from his writings. Most of these sources haven’t been digitized yet, so I’ll prioritize those next.

  • A person who is at a loss for anything to do does not need moral instruction, he needs love or vitamins or psychoanalysis. – Science and the Theory of Value, 1967, p. 122
  • The function of science is the explanation of nature in its own terms; its method is that of imagination controlled by evidence. – ibid, p. 41
  • The first task of humanists in a technological age is surely to understand technology — not merely to use it, gratefully or ungratefully. – “The Humanities in a Technological Age,” in Societal Issues, Scientific Viewpoints, edited by Margaret Strom, 1987.
  • Having trivial desires made easy of attainment has encouraged an attitude toward the world in which the being of things is overlaid by their handiness, so that nothing is really an end, not even human beings themselves. – ibid
  • The humanities have a task that is independent of the age, namely to articulate the best. – ibid.
  • Although there could never be a sound defense for doing only metaphysics, there may sometimes be a defense for doing only analysis, namely at times when a great deal of unanalyzed and conflicting metaphysics has been inherited. – The Philosophy of Science: A Systematic Account, 1965, p. 6.
  • Science is about things in the world, but it is also one of the things that philosophy finds in the world. – ibid, p. 10.
  • It is easy for the privileged to overrate the idealism of the underprivileged. – “What Happened in Paris?Partisan Review 35:4, fall 1968.
  • Philosophical criticism, like charity, begins at home, and in an imperfect world there is always work to be done there. “The Case of the Athenian Stranger: Philosophy and World Citizenship”, Teaching Philosophy 8:2, April 1985.
  • The structure of subjectivity is wholly borrowed — from the structure of its body and brain, or from whatever other structures it can find its way into. The subject is a consumer of structure. This accounts for literature. – “The Ontology of Criticism”, Semiotexte, 1:3, Spring 1975.
  • The philosopher may think of himself as a thinker, but his thought will be barren if he is not also a talker or a writer. – Sartre, 1979, p. 19.
  • Philosophical systems are suspect nowadays because the most familiar notion of system stresses systematic completeness, in a effort to achieve which many philosophers have been led into extravagance if not absurdity. – “The Structure of Self-Reference,” in Philosophes critiques d’eux-memes, vol. 2, 1976.
  • The structural capacity of mind turns out to be very much greater than is ordinarily needed for survival in the natural world; this has permitted the construction over time of mythological, social, theoretical, political, literary, and other structures. – ibid.
  • If we are not to drown in our own publications [we] must break the pious association of instruction with inquiry except at the most advanced level. – “Instruction and Inquiry”, Daedalus, Fall 1974.
  • The committed revolutionary is the fundametalist of politics; his attitude towards the old regime has something in common with the preacher’s attitude toward sin: the revolution may come to seem more important as a struggle between good and evil, in which the wicked are to be punished, than as a means of liberating the oppressed. – “Reform and Revolution”, in Philosophy and Political Action, edited by V. Held, K. Nielsen, C. Parsons, 1971.
  • It is better than nothing to get a solution with the help of a machine, but the fact that we have got a solution may remove the necessity of simplifying the theory. Suppose someone had been able to offer the use of a computer to a pre-Copernican astronomer; the need for a Copernican revolution would have been removed at once. – “Science, Computers, and the Complexity of Nature”, Philosophy of Science, v. 30, 2 April 1963.
  • The possibility of literature is the most spectacular gift of language. – “Critical Innocence and Straight Reading,” in New Literary History V.XVII (Autumn 1985).
  • The measure of the philosophical authenticity of an idea is not the amount of excitement it can generate but the amount of criticism it can survive. – “What Good is Academic Philosophy,” unpublished paper.

I remember another collection of aphorisms and thoughts – not The Book of Hylas, but perhaps a precursor. I must have a version of it somewhere and I’ll put it up when I find it. I do remember teasing my father about how short some of them were – “a single word can’t be an aphorism!” A related document is the “Quotations from Ex-Chairman Caws,” a student’s transcription of things my dad said in class that he thought were funny or notable.

2022 in races

I found out I was anemic in the spring, when I got deferred for low iron while trying to give blood – and my iron levels dropped between two attempts. I had thought I was just getting slower with age, but taking iron and B12 turned that around! I started supplements at the very end of April and by October I was back to normal. So my times got better and I even set a half marathon PR.

Holyoke St. Patrick’s Road Race 10K – March 19

1:13:03, pace 11:45 (USATF-certified) – last run in 2015, 1:08:54. This race is always a mob scene; not one I’d do every year. But lots of spectators which is fun! Borderline rainy off and on. I caught part of the Mummers and the Grand Colleen’s Court. I ran with a balloon tied to my arm, now a tradition for me on this race, but I don’t think anyone called me “balloon girl” this time. I saw an adorable big dog in a huge cableknit sweater but couldn’t get a photo in time.

Read, Write, Run 5k – May 1

34:35, pace 11:08. A nice small community run at Maines Field, just a bike ride away, that I’ve run several times now (30:55 in 2019). I trailed everyone except an elderly couple who were walking, then passed a couple of young people who had given up. And I won my age category, because the field was so small! The prize was a really nice Literacy Project mug and a $25 gift certificate from Marathon Sports. I didn’t believe it when they called my name, and waited until the results were posted to absorb it.

Bridge of Flowers Classic 8K – August 13

58:28, pace 11:45 (used to be USATF certified, not sure if it is after the reboot?). Last run in 2019, 56:27. This is a very tough race because it’s usually hot and it has a crazy 13% hill. But this year they also timed the uphill mile, where my pace was 14:47 but I was 194 out of 258 instead of 215! This was a “full race reboot” where lots of things changed, including having the afterparty at the school where parking and registration happen. I loved that those of us over 21 got beer AND ice cream (it used to be ice cream only for the under-21s), but I still miss the (local) Lightlife veggie hot dogs. No bagpipes or vuvuzela, but the house near the finish line that plays “Chariots of Fire” on a loop was still going strong.

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield 5k – September 10

Here’s when I started getting faster! 29:50, pace 9:36 – but a new course this year which I don’t think is certified, so it might be short. (I may have run this race before on the old course, but I’m not sure – I did a bunch of Westfield races for their 350th anniversary and they all blend together.) I really pushed myself and came in first in my age group (!!!), but it was a very small field so no division awards. On the turn I passed a runner I had noticed at the start and trailed. After she finished, she told me I’d run “a blazing race” and asked me how old I was – she was 65 so she was still first in her group and we were both happy! Food included breakfast sandwiches, a nice treat.

Superhero Run 5K – October 2

29:40 – theoretical pace 9:33 but I think the course is short. In 2018 I finished in 30:42. This is one of my favorite small races, in walking distance from our apartment – a fundraiser for the Cutchins Center that encourages costumes. I have a cheap nylon Superman cape that was a freebie from Six Flags, and weirdly I get compliments on it. They even had cider donuts, and Kelsey Flynn was the MC – no wonder I love this race!

Eversource Hartford Half Marathon – October 14

2:26:45, a PR! Pace 11:12 (USATF-certified). I did the marathon last year in 5:53:28 (finished with a minor injury, not a good race) so this was so so much better. The race is a huge event with 8K participants, and it’s very well-organized, but the scale means it’s very much a zoo for food/beer/portapotties afterwards. I earned my PR by participating in a twelve-week Bird program (perk of the race) and following Coach Shane’s workouts to the letter. Satisfactory!

Happier Valley Half Marathon – October 16

2:29:11, pace 11:23 (USATF-certified). I’ve done the 5K a couple times but last ran the half in 2018 when I was training for New York, 2:26:56. No cider donuts – I actually complained (“that’s what first drew me to this race,” not “this sucks!”) – but great food trucks after. I got my favorite, Holyoke Hummus, and the wait wasn’t even as long as it sometimes is for HH. All the best beer had run out but whatever I had was fine. I rode my bike to and from Look Park, which probably reduces my time a hair but it’s worth it.

Western Mass 10 miler – November 6

2:01:29, pace 12:08. A brand-new point to point race from UMass to the train station in Northampton – just across the street from our apartment. I ValleyBiked to Amherst so I didn’t have to take the shuttle. I probably tired my legs more than was advisable. The course felt very long. Beautiful medal and long-sleeve technical shirt, and Jonathan filmed me finishing, which was fun. Good chili after with the usual beer.

Gorge après Gorge – November 27

34:15, pace 11:01. (36:19 last year!) Not as cold as it’s been some years, and only a bit of ice. I love this race because it’s scenic, it has a wonderful community feel, and there are fire pits, a potluck, and best of all: cookie medals! (I don’t love the sugar cookie itself but I love the idea, and it doesn’t take up room on my doorknob). It’s in and out so you can see all the participants, which I’ve grown to really enjoy. The other delightful aspect is that the prizes are hand-knitted hats – all different, you pick the one you want from the table of what’s left. If I ever placed (very unlikely, lots of good runners) I’d cherish that hat!

Hot Chocolate Run 5K – December 4

31:53, pace 10:15. (33:30 last year!) This is a Northampton tradition I run every year that a) we’re in town and b) it hasn’t sold out before I remember to register. I ran with a dear friend and co-worker – we had never run together before and we were actually perfectly matched, so that was delightful. And they had fresh hot chocolate again, instead of just the packets they handed out last year. A great conclusion to the race year!

In Memoriam Peter Caws: poetry

Another life-long joy my father introduced me to is a love of poetry. He had a number of poems memorized for his own pleasure, and he’d recite them for us. It may have started as a way to soothe us before we could understand the language, and I think early on I was primarily impressed by the very feat of memory rather than the poems themselves. Eventually I enjoyed hearing them for their own sake, and grew to love some of his favorites as I went on to discover others. I’ve attempted to memorize some as well, but it doesn’t stick without regular repetition.

The poems I remember best from his repertoire were “Sea Fever” by John Masefield; “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by W. B. Yeats; and “On This Island” by W. H. Auden. I’m sure there were others. When he was ill, one way I could connect with him was to read poetry to him, both his favorites and my own. Eventually I switched to amusing poems when the beautiful ones made him too sad; a lot of Odgen Nash delighted him, and no matter how miserable he was, “Spring Comes to Murray Hill” would inevitably make him laugh.

He wrote poems as well – some serious, but mostly delightful doggerel. My most cherished present, from age 8 to age 52, was the annual birthday poem he would write for me. The first one was lost, alas, but I remember that it featured powers of 2 (I was 8 years old that year, on the 8th of the month, and I was born in ’64). Math, wordplay, and parodies are recurring themes, and some feature footnotes. They’re funny and touching, and I cherish them still and always. I wish I had kept better track of them when I was younger – I have twenty-six of them transcribed and copied from all the sources over the years, and I continue to hope others may turn up.

In Memoriam Peter Caws: long multiplication

I love math, and it’s brought me a lot of joy over the years. I vividly remember the mind-blowing moment in high school when the math teacher introduced the unit circle and Pythagorean identities. After we’d slogged through a semester of trig, geometry (my least favorite math discipline), suddenly connected back to algebra (my favorite)! And one of my most satisfying adult experiences was discovering that I enjoyed calculus despite failing it in college the first time around. It was very hard but I earned straight As in Calculus I, II, and III in my 50s (undergrad at UMass, part of a computer science 2nd bachelor’s program).

None of that could have happened without my dad’s intervention in 4th grade, when I just could not comprehend long multiplication. I was on the road to classic math phobia – shared by my mother and brother, so a real possibility. The times table had already thoroughly spooked me, and it didn’t help that I skipped third grade (to this day I say of any gap in my education that it must have been covered in that year and I missed it). I remember being shocked that earlier generations were required to learn up to 12×12, because a hundred combinations already seemed impossible. (I never memorized the 6-7-8 section – I had to argue to get partial credit on my first calculus midterm for having correctly worked a difficult problem until I wrote 7*9 = 64…)

So 9-year-old me is required to know all the integer combos, and now I also have to know when to carry, how to move across the decimal places, and then add it up at the end? I could not handle it. I felt like my brain wasn’t up to it, that it was too complicated to ever understand, and that the people who could do it must have some special ability that I lacked.

I don’t remember asking my father for help. From a very young age I believed, due to a combination of nature (independence, stubbornness) and nurture (sink-or-swim parenting, a semi-feral childhood), that I was supposed to solve my own problems, and if I couldn’t, that was my failure. The notion of being “just a small child” didn’t cross my mind. But either I did ask, or he saw that I was struggling.

Peter worked with me patiently and gently for hours, typically in the mornings before school. The specifics have faded, but I vividly remember his tidy handwriting as he demonstrated the techniques, and most of all his faith and confidence in my ability to master it. He conveyed over and over again that he knew it was hard for me, that finding it difficult to grasp wasn’t a flaw, but that if I gave him my attention and didn’t give up, I would understand it eventually. Many times I broke down in sobs, insisting that I just didn’t and couldn’t get it, but he never lost his cool or threw in the towel.

There’s no memory of when the light dawned, and maybe it was a gradual change, but it can’t have taken very long. From then on I actively enjoyed long multiplication. I was still prone to errors, but I knew and understood how to do it, and it was one of the first techniques I added to my ever growing jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none toolset. Relishing good-enough skills – the ability to do something with a modicum of success if not at a high level – I also learned from him (see the previous post!) I am eternally grateful.

In Memoriam Peter Caws: The Cat Sat On the Mat

One of my most treasured possessions is a thin square-ruled notebook, bound in buckram. It’s a “Glatigny,” a French brand I can’t find anything about, and was originally used by my father for “Notes for New School course 1966-7” (which I don’t think came to fruition?). He removed those pages, flipped it over, and turned it into a reading manual for me. I have only a few memories before I learned how to read, and once I did know how (age 5, probably?) I had my nose in a book pretty much every waking hour, so this manual was a significant turning point in my life. The title page calls it “Hilary Caws’s Reading Book,” but we always referred to it as The Cat Sat on the Mat.

I don’t remember the craving to learn to read (I do remember the satisfaction of making rows of squiggles and calling it “writing”), so I’m not sure if my father created this book in response to my request, or if he thought it was time I learned. I vividly remember the process. Each evening he would draw another page while I watched. He would show me the sounds (the syllable in parenthesis), examples in words (the second line), and then the bit of the story that included the words. The spinning out of the story night after night was part of the fun, but as I recall he wasn’t very happy with the drawing in #8 and felt like he was starting to run out of ideas. Besides, by then I had pretty much caught on – it even looks like I tried to help write the last word of #6.

This memento represents so many of my dad’s qualities. He was a born teacher. He overflowed with patience and creativity and willingness to devote time to help people (of all ages!) learn. He was willing to tackle things like drawing in which he knew he wouldn’t excel (other examples: playing piano, carpentry) but could do a workman-like job – he believed strongly that any human skill could be attempted. He was a loving and nurturing father. He had a wonderful sense of humor and play. I miss him very much and I’m so lucky to have this book!

CityStrides – 100% of Northampton!

(back-dating this post, completed 2/2/2021)

On November 7th, 2020, I completed my years-long project of running every street in Northampton, thanks to CityStrides.

I joined in 2018 while training for the New York Marathon, but since it syncs with RunKeeper, my favorite run-recording app, it counted runs I had in 2015 while training for the Rochester Marathon and so I was already at 18%. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled on it, but it was connected to working with CommonMedia because that’s where James Chevalier, the creator of the app, was working; I had signed up already when I saw him at a tech happy hour and we talked about it. Having it be something local was completely cool and unexpected.

CityStrides has made running so much more fun! It helped a ton during marathon training when the miles started adding up; the extra motivation to complete streets made the long runs more rewarding. That got me to 76% of the city, pulling ahead of the nearest competitors (#2 is at 65% as of today and #3 is at 49%; I didn’t record where they were then, but I don’t think either of them has been focusing on Northampton). It felt awesome to be in the lead, and I kept plugging away at nearby routes post-marathon, but my normal routine is only about 6 miles for a long run and I soon plateaued at a little over 80%.

My philosophy (even pre-CityStrides) is that I want exercise to be self-propelled, so I strenuously avoid driving to a route. I make exceptions for races, of course, and some of my favorite hikes (especially with friends) require getting in the car, but I didn’t want a single stretch of CityStrides to involve driving, so I didn’t make much progress in 2019. This year I decided to prioritize finishing by biking to the outlying areas, starting with sections near ValleyBike stations and then mixing in my regular bike.

I got a bottle of champagne at the end of October in order to celebrate, with the unspoken hope that we’d actually be celebrating a Biden-Harris victory. On November 7th, after the spontaneous celebrations all over downtown, I rode to North King Street to finish the last segment, Trinity Circle in Laurel Park. As I had suspected from a previous attempt, it turns out to be a phantom section that I had to mark manually complete. But one of the really great things about CityStrides is it’s based on the open-source Open Street Map, so I’m trying to figure out how to report this as a phantom or paper street and make it better for everyone. It’s very interesting that the official Laurel Park map, GMaps, and OSM of this area are all totally different.

I became a supporting member so I could get the instant gratification of uploading and syncing my new runs when I got home, but I’m really happy to do so anyway. It’s a great project and it’s free to use! One of the extra-nice features is that it brings in weather data, which RunKeeper doesn’t. I can look back on a particularly slow run and be reminded that it was 85 degrees with 100% humidity!

Some thoughts on why this was so much fun:

  • Obviously, it got me to explore every single street. I saw all kinds of things I would have otherwise missed.
  • Less obviously, I have memories and associations all over town – the neighborhoods I went to over and over, the little streets that eluded me at first, the places I want to revisit.
  • Seeing the variety of architecture, gardens, wild areas, industrial parks – all delightful. Some of the newer/developer-driven neighborhoods remind me of McMansion Hell, but that’s interesting too!
  • I found new conservation areas to explore, and now I have a secondary goal of tracking all the public trails in Northampton.
  • It helped me enjoy what I don’t have – both in the positive sense, that other people’s gardens and design choices bring me pleasure, but also in the negative sense, that every lawn is one I don’t have to mow, and every soffit is one I don’t have to paint.
  • When traveling or visiting family, picking a running route is (rather, was, and will be again…) an additional small joy. I won’t do much of DC or Rochester etc., but I can at least add a few streets on each trip.

On top of getting all the Northampton hiking trails on my lifemap, I can also set new goals – covering neighboring towns like Hatfield (fewer, longer streets) and Easthampton (tons of streets, accessible via ValleyBike). Years ago I had the vague project of walking every Manhattan street, which I was going to manually map. Once the pandemic is over, I’ll be able to work on that when we visit family.

Carrot cake from Iconica

The time between eating and writing is stretching. I’ve also had two muffins (peach-ginger by Tart from Northampton Coffee, raspberry almond from Sylvester’s) and a scone (maple nutmeg oat from Hungry Ghost) which I didn’t blog. So this experiment is probably drawing to an end, as expected. An important aspect of evolution/maturity for me is to recognize that I have way too many ideas to fully carry out in a human lifetime, and it’s not a failure to start many and only finish a few. But what I might try first is just focusing on cake. When I first had the notion to do something like this, pre-pandemic, I wanted to focus on one type of baked good at a time, starting with almond croissants – like Nosh and Nibble’s ranking of them in the Vancouver area, which I just found – so I could start with cake. We’ll see.

Carrot cake from IconicaI had already had Iconica‘s carrot cake, which they describe specifically as “Carrot Cake w/ Ginger + Walnut: 3 layer; yogurt + honey cake, lemon + turmeric cream cheese frosting,” so I knew it was good. The frosting’s bright yellow color is a little shouty because of the turmeric, but it’s a lovely contrast with the dark brown cake, and as usual it’s not tooth-achingly sweet and there’s just the right amount (nor does it taste of tumeric in a detectable way). Note my slice got a little banged up in transit, plus I’m not a food photographer! Texture great, flavor amazing – I think maybe it’s the honey that lingers as a sort of unplaceable yummy aftertaste? It makes me want more, and I did eat it a little faster than I meant to. But one of the things I particularly appreciate about Iconica’s style of cake is that while they taste super-delicious, they don’t have that extra level of butter/sugar/grease that some “indulgent” baked goods have, and as a result my body has never regretted the eating of them. It helps that the slice is the right size to be a satisfying serving and not a temptation to eat too much. Anyway – high marks!

  • Compared to platonic version – 4/5 (my ideal classic carrot cake has coconut, more raisins, and pecans, but this a 5/5 of this specific style!)
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4.5/5 ($4 before tip)
  • Effort factor (1 = could make in my sleep; 5 = no way would I ever make this for myself): 4/5
  • 6 minutes to eat, 26 to write but there was a whole meta-paragraph!

Red velvet beet cake from Iconica

Red velvet beet cake from IconicaAs I told the Iconica folks, red velvet is not a favorite flavor of mine; I hoped the beet would make it more interesting. I wouldn’t have been able to pick it out, but the texture was not only moist but particularly sturdy – not chewy, yet resistant to the tooth in a pleasurable way. I wished the frosting had been a little more assertive on the lemon front. The cake itself had the classic “I don’t know what this tastes like but vaguely cocoa?” of red velvet cake, which is why I don’t much like it. Not a winner, but at least the beet meant it wasn’t soaked in red food coloring.

  • Compared to a platonic version – 4/5? (hard to say)
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Value for money: 3.5/5 ($4.50 before tip)
  • Effort factor (1 = could make in my sleep; 5 = no way would I ever make this for myself): 4.5/5, grating beets being an especially big nope
  • 9 minutes to eat, 12 to write

Frozen Yogurt Virtual 5K race report – 8/16/2020

I miss races. I miss the camaraderie. I miss the excitement and crowds of the start, the spreading out of the first mile until you start to identify your race “peers,” the spectators whether a scattered few or walls of support, the alternation of exhaustion and adrenaline at the finish. I miss gasping in relief when I come to a stop, cooling down and cheering on the people who finish after, chatting with new acquaintances, milling around where the results are posted. I really really miss the food, which is one of my main criteria for choosing races.

I “ran” the Girls on the Run virtual 5K in June, but it was a race I’d never done in person and the terms were pretty loosey-goosey so I didn’t really treat it like a race, just part of my Sunday long run (love the medal, though!) This one I took seriously – I ran it on the course as I remembered it (took a slightly alternate route, it turns out), and tried to pace myself exactly as I would for a real race, with 50-60% effort for the first few miles ramping up to all-out at the finish. 32:08, about right – I am definitely slowing a bit as I age. Last year I finished in 31:19. Very little to report since I was solo… the weather was overcast and not too hot, so that was nice, and the streets were empty because it was early. A distanced yoga class was taking place on the lawn in Childs Park, which looked like fun, and I saw a few other runners. I was proud of myself for staying mostly as focused as I would during a real race, so it was a decent experience – and of course it supports a good cause – but like many other pandemic-year substitutes, it’s a pale imitation of the real thing. Alas, I forgot they had suggested taking a selfie at the finish which they’d include in a livestream on 8/23 – oh well. I will very much enjoy the frozen yogurt when the coupon comes – I hope it will be GoBerry as usual!

edited to add: A big difference I forgot to mention with running now, of course, is the mask… although I often pull it down if there’s nobody around, I ran this whole race fully masked up to see how it went. It would have been fine except for how damp it gets (this is a two-layer handmade cotton mask – I tried running in a neoprene one and it was unbearable, but haven’t tried a standard medical mask). By the end the mask was actually wet and sticking to my face as I panted during the sprint. If I ever had to be masked for a long race, like a marathon or half-marathon, I’d bring several to swap out.