The Sunshine Skyway 10k, benefiting Military Families is on. The registration process was a little chaotic when 30,000 people tried to log on at the same time to snag one of the 8000 spots. There was a lot of confusion and double billing so if you still want to run it you might check back with them and see if any spots have opened up.
In an effort to be able to actually enjoy the half-mile run uphill to the top of the bridge I started training early. In fact I never stopped from last year. Training involves a one mile course over the Clearwater bridge, between downtown Clearwater and the beaches. 6 times up and over. Good times. This is an early morning run every Saturday. This past Saturday when I arrived at the parking lot there were lights, tents, music and people, lots of people. Turns out I went to train and a 10k broke out. One of the pleasures of running early in the morning is the lack of crowds, usually.
Whatever was going on was none of my business so I stretched and started my journey over the bridge. It didn’t take long to figure out that my training run was right in the middle of the course. Because I start my run so early I had already covered 4 miles before the race had even started and my personal training course encompassed the race’s last mile. So, as I’m running back and forth over the bridge I can see the start of the race on the other side. They had to run all the way out to the beach and back before getting to me. On my last mile I did stop and get a free glass of water from the race volunteers. They were just a little confused by my arrival so quickly after the race started. By this point I had actually run 5 miles up and over the bridge so I looked like had been racing. I did fess up to them what I was really doing.
On the other side of the bridge was a nice young lady there to direct runners down a spiral ramp to the finish line. Again because I was so early she wasn’t expecting me. As I got to her I threw my arms upward and loudly declared my victory. Then looked around confused because no one was there to celebrate my big win. I skipped the spiral and finished my run before heading back to the parking lot. Even with the extra distance I was still way ahead of the eventual race winner. When I got to the bottom of the spiral I decided to actually finish the race. So I followed the volunteers directions and ended up on the course to the finish line. As I raced down the final 500 feet to the big finish line the people lining the race course were really confused. How could this old guy possibly be winning this race? I probably looked closer to “How could he possibly finish this race?” “Why hasn’t he had a heart attack yet?”Even after actually running my personal 10k over the bridge 6 times, being in a race setting helped me kick it up a notch and I sprinted the final 200 yards.
I did the usual end of race pose of hands on hips wandering around breathing hard. I went to the scorer’s table and asked the head guy “How’d I do?” He just sat there with his mouth hanging open looking from me to the race forms on the table and back to me. I let the question hang there for a a minute before I could see that he found no humor in my stunt. So, I told him that I was just kidding and took off back down the finish line the wrong way. All of the people lining the course still couldn’t decide if they were supposed to clap for me (or maybe throw rocks). I told them that the race director told me I had to run it again. And off into the morning I went. By the way I won the PB&J 10k in 32 minutes. Amazing what you can do with a 30 minute head start.
If you are actually interested in training for the Sunshine Skyway 10k I do a Saturday morning run over the Clearwater Bridge. It’s a beautiful run and great practice. Even if you can’t get into the Skyway race I expect this training to really help me the Gasparilla race this year. Even if it is only the 5k with 18,000 of my closest friends. Watch for a Meet-Up page to appear soon. If you are coming in for the race or just a visit and you are driving a rental car in Florida you need a toll transponder for your rental car. Get on from rental car transponders, no daily fees and the lowest cost possible.
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