Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Crystal City Runs From Grim to Glossy

Did I tell you this? In late July, I ran in the Crystal City Twi-Lighter 5 K.
In a shuffling mob and a summer downpour, we set off, all 2078 of us loping along the wet city streets, past the newly bustling Crystal City Centre.

Full of restaurants and cafes overflowing with family and friends waving Buffalo wings and mugs of hand-crafted Pilsner, cheering us on through smeary puddles full of green and red traffic light reflections, and whistle-tooting cops looking like gleaming yellow mushrooms in their sou'westers and slickers, out to that boggy, forgotten end of Crystal City, where you dump the bodies and the oozing petrochemical drums - the last scrap of what the whole place used to be.

Five years ago, Crystal City was empty canyons of office buildings filled to the ledges with consulting, accounting, and logistics firms: the togglers and tenders of the fly-wheels and bezels that run the government machine across the river. Those buildings cast the empty streets, a disturbing Holiday Inn, and drippy, long-in-the-tooth bachelor pad apartment buildings in a perpetual, salt-mine gloom. The Crystal City Underground, a subterranean Mall-cum-Disco, built in that Golden Age of Design that brought us brown glass, donut-shaped transistor radios, and pebble-dash pre-cast by people wearing Bryl Cream and plank-wide ties made of sofa upholstery. Take all this glamour and rain down upon it the a heavy metal particulate emissions of Reagan National's northbound air traffic. Even on the cheeriest summer afternoons, if you glimpsed anybody at all, they were rumpled clots of Government Consultants with mustard on their Sears ties smoking, clawing at the sunlight, or scuttling like crabs around a distant corner toward the Olley's Trolley for a chili dog and a 9 am beer. Like one big office itself, Crystal City slammed shut with the last car door every afternoon at 5.

Now, what's old is new again! We love donut-shaped transistor radios and Crystal City is more polish than spit. Crystal City gleams! It's all light and life and air lined as it is with chic restaurants like butterfly-themed Oyamel for cultured tapas, or playful King Street Blues, and the horrible, drippy bachelor pads are now swank and retro, and the bachelors themselves have aged to a patina that flossing and good real estate investment will get you.

The Pacer's-sponsored run completed the street party feel they were playing Boston for some reason, Barry White's "My Everything" and Earth Wind and Fire's "Let's Groove" and Chaka Khan. People were safety pinning on each other's bib numbers, and lacing up their shoes, waving and meeting each other under the pretty trees, and everything was swathed in redolent gouts of barbecue char from the swaggering Ted's (as in Turner's) Montana Grill across the street. The idiotically beautiful Saucony Running Shoe models, one, clambering nimbly in nylon shorts onto the roof of the Saucony-Mobile to do something sexy and capable like link up the aerial feed, and it must be said, moving the way creamy coffee pours, caused a pile-up in the practice lane, and it was a lively happy Twilight vibe.

So, we ran out of the rain and into malarial steam somewhere around Mile 2 with the fastest runners coming back, passing the bolus I was in, fast and beautiful, and as if they had run right out of their clothes, all wet ribs and bony shoulders. They were like hounds, really leaping along through the puddles at truly stunning paces. We cheered them on with hardly a bitter thought.

Of the field of 2000-ish, 52% were women, whose average age was 32.7, and whose average time was 31:11 at a 10:02 minutes/mile pace. This was me:
# Bib First Last Age 1M 2M 3M Time ChipTime ChipPace
1204 2041 Liz Kirchner 46 09:37 19:03 28:46 31:14.2 29:41.0 9:33

Here are the data for everybody and The Best:
People Years Old AverageTime Minutes/Mile
33.5 years old 28:52 9:17
Male 34.4 26:20 8:29
Female 32.7 31:11 10:02

First Male 27 14:34! 4:41 AHaha!Yikes
First Female 23 16:20 5:15

1 comment:

  1. Do you recall the color of my donut-shaped transistor radio? Or did we BOTH have them? They came with stickers, too...