I’ll be at the Skyway 10K…as a volunteer!

One of my favorite races in Tampa is the Skyway 10K. It is 6.2 miles of bridge running that traverses the mouth of Tampa Bay from Manatee County, through Hillsborough County and ending in Pinellas County. The views from the peak height of are breathtaking and something that very few people get to experience due to restricted access to the bridge.

In 2018, a group came together to pitch a 10K run over one of the tallest cable-stay bridges in Florida; something that hadn’t been done since the collapse of the original bridge on May 9th, 1980. The new bridge, called the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, is an engineering marvel, spanning 180 feet into the air and 21,859 feet across the water to connect Manatee and Pinellas Counties. It is also part of a heavily traveled federal highway system, making it a logistical challenge for race organizers. However, they made it work.

The race was an instant success and the race spots were quickly sold out during the inaugural race during 2018. My wife and I got a spot. In 2019, the same outcome. However, the popularity continued to rise and anticipation grew. At 1:00 p.m. on September 13, 2018, registrations began. After errors with the registration system and duplicate entries, entries for the race were all taken in a little more than 20 minutes. We were again lucky to get a spot, as was my parents.

In 2020, the registration became a lottery based system. Once again, we submitted our names, this time as a team, and hoped for a spot in our 3rd Skyway 10K event. Waiting with anticipation, the moment never arrived. We were upset but realized that we had been lucky to have gotten a spot running in the first two races.

I’ve always heard that if you’re a ‘real runner’, you not only encourage other runners no matter their abilities but you also occasionally volunteer to help during a race. Well, this is my race. I will be at the Skyway 10K, as a bus captain. For that, I”m willing to get up at 2:30 a.m., drive 30 minutes to St. Petersburg, arrive at 3:45 a.m. and give safety information to lucky runners. This is my way of giving back to all of those volunteers in the many races in which I participated. They made my races memorable and wanting more. I plan to provide the same to the runners of the Skyway 10K.

See you at the finish line!

If I can do it, so can you…uh, not so fast.

Recently, I noticed a few stories on Facebook regarding the common questions a runner receives. They cover the gamut who, what, why, how, when-questions. Each article is on the mark; however, it took running a marathon for me to become the subject of the questions.

The first question with good reason is always “you ran a marathon?” with the follow-up, “how many miles is that, 5 miles?”, and finally the self-deprecating, “I could never run 26.2 miles.” If ever faced with such a comment, you could respond one of two ways: nodding lightly without evidence of confirmation, or making a statement to diminish their self-deprecation: “if I can do it, so can you.” Now, hold on just a minute. I don’t think so!

Before you stop reading and decide to chastise me in the comments, hear me out. I’m not saying that they CAN’T run 26.2 miles. I would never say that. Indeed, anyone could. However, it takes a particular type of person to go through the rigorous training regimen to complete a marathon. The statement, “if it were easy, everyone would do it,” is true. Less than 1% of the population of the planet has attempted to run a marathon. There is a reason. Running a marathon is hard. Training for a marathon is even harder. A marathon is just the celebration after the 16 weeks of grueling tempo runs, Fartleks (yes, a real word), long runs, and recovery runs. It is the realization that you’ve conquered sprains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and hairline fractures (I know something about that). The preparation to run a marathon is like putting together a puzzle in a calendar. You can’t take shortcuts, and you can’t rush. You have to change your nutrition intake, change your habits, adjust your schedule, and re-prioritize your life. It is NOT easy!

Anyone can technically run a marathon if they have the determination. Yes, even new runners can beat my PB of 4:53:03; however, they’d need to work hard, train, make sacrifices, and show up at the starting line to do it. The moment you cross the finish line, I will welcome you to the fold.