The Cicada Crunch 5K is on Saturday. I don’t expect you’ve heard of this race. It is a small, local race in the town of Cheverly, MD. In 2008, the last time it was held, maybe 70 people ran. The race starts and finishes less than a quarter mile from my front door. I have to run it (yes, “have to”), though I’ve not run a 5K since the last Cicada Crunch. I’m a distance woman; I like my 10-milers and half-marathons.
But I can’t avoid this race, though I hold little affection for 5Ks. I used to run them all the time. My first race, the Run for the Rainforest in Central Park in 1998, was a 5K. You see, I can’t get comfortable and settle into a pace. I feel a self-imposed pressure to be as fast as I can be. The pressure is more significant this time because I won the Cicada Crunch in 2008. Know that I feel strange admitting this. I am not boasting. I am no elite runner. I am not even local-level fast. I ran it in 23 minutes and some change. While that is not slow, it is not a winning 5K time. (I will, however, take a moment to boast that I made that time even though at least a mile of the 5K course is uphill – really, it might be more – with at least 4 of the 8 uphill segments long and steep.)
Yet I want to hold on to my first place, even though that race is long over. Even though I feel as if I didn’t quite deserve it. This reminds me of listening to Julie Moss on RadioLab’s show on limits. When she unexpectedly took first place in the 1982 Ironman Triathlon, she felt compelled to hold on to it. (If you haven’t seen the video of her taking first-place and then collapsing before the finish, check it out here.)
She explains, “There I am in the lead, and all of a sudden things started to shift. I’m good at something, and somebody is trying to take it away from me…It felt like she was breathing down my neck and trying to take something that I was becoming very attached to.”
I feel like that. I know I am in little danger of collapsing in a short event like this. But someone else could win. Easily. And, I admit, I really want to win again.