Sunday, March 29, 2009

Safe Baby Haven 5k

Race Report: Safe Baby Haven 5k @ Westgate Center. by Chad Sayban.

I woke up this morning to nice temperatures and cloudy skies for the Safe Baby 5k @ Westgate. It's only about a 10 minute drive from my house to Westgate, which is the shopping center than surrounds the hockey arena and sits next to University of Phoenix Stadium - home of the Arizona Cardinals.

I did the race two years before and the course had only changed a little bit. It is flat as a pancake, but it winds around the area through some pretty places and goes right past the football stadium during the first mile.

So I did a one mile warmup run and felt good. But I didn't really intend on pushing the pace of this race real hard. This was also the first time I was going to be racing with my Garmin 305. I was hoping it wouldn't be too distracting.

About 100 runners and walkers lined up for the race. There was actually a flyover of two WWI-era biplanes, which was pretty cool. The starting horn went off and we were away. My one complaint about the race comes really early. Within 200 yards of the start, they funnel us on to a sidewalk. This is a really tight squeeze so early in the race and if the runners around you are not feeling particularly cordial, things can get pretty rough. I escaped any issues and settled into my race. We ran towards and then past the stadium before turning away to head back into the Westgate area, past some of the condos. I was cruising along, enjoying the beautiful morning when my Garmin chirped to let me know that the first mile had passed already.

Mile 1: 8:22

The pace just felt right to me and given the paces my training runs have been at, this felt good. Actually, it felt like I could do this for a couple of hours, but I just didn't want to go any faster. One thing I did notice was that there was no mile marker to be seen. I wasn't sure if they just had it in the wrong location, but after several more minutes of running, it was obvious that there were not going to be any. Now I was really glad I had the Garmin or else I would have had no idea what my pace was or if the course was even the right distance.

The one aid station was right at the midway point of the race and given the nice morning weather and the short distance, that seemed like plenty. They had Gatorade and water. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade on the way by and thanked the young girls working the table. At this point we crossed a street and got into the least interesting part of the course. There is a section of out and backs through a parking lot, presumably to get the distance right. It certainly isn't the most beautiful of runs in this part, but my Garmin spoke again to let me know that I was through two miles.

Mile 2: 8:20

Good. I was maintaining a nice, consistent pace and felt really good. My form was staying nice and compact and I wasn't really expending very much energy. We made another turn and made the long run up to the west end of Westgate to the main entry road and turned along it back towards the start/finish line. I was feeling great, although I was pretty alone. There were two people about 300 yards ahead of me and one guy about that far behind me. I was in my own little running bubble and I was really enjoying it. The only problem was that I was feeling too good for it to end so soon. But since I could see the finish line in front of me, I knew it was really going to end.

Mile 3: 8:15
Mile 3.1: .21

Race finish: 25:19 / 8:18 pace

My Garmin listed the course at 3.05 miles, but that's well within the margin of error so the course is pretty accurate as far as distance. It is a well organized race for the most part. They only have awards for top-3 overall male and female, but they do have one more interesting perk. If you go back up and look at the photo of me above, you will see the t-shirt they provide. It's actually customized with your race number and first name on the front. I've never seen a race do this before. They were actually there screening the shirts at the finish line, including ones for the people who signed up on the day of the race. Pretty cool, huh? And the race supports a great cause. If you are looking for a flat, fast little 5k that's fun, you can't do much better than this one. I managed another mile cooldown while I was waiting for the awards. I finished 3rd in my age group, but didn't get anything. Oh well.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend!

Until next time...


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