It Is What It Is

By: Phil Sneller

“It is what it is” :
Used often in the business world, this incredibly versatile phrase can be literally translated as “F*%@ it.”

I’ve hesitated to write about my race at the Austin Marathon because I really didn’t have much to say about it. My thoughts on it are basically, “Meh”. It wasn’t great, and it wasn’t a disaster. I’ll attempt now to scrape some more thoughts together.

I’ll start with the good news: the good news is I ran two minutes faster than last year.

The bad news was I didn’t run anywhere close to what I thought I was capable of, I finished 8th, and STILL haven’t gone under 2:30. But other than my lackluster performance, it was a great experience, and I had a pretty good time. The Austin Marathon is fun, it’s just not fast.

Leading up to the race I had done a large portion of my training with fellow Team Rogue runner, and good friend, Luis who was to make his highly anticipated (my words) marathon debut in this race. Based on my training, I thought I was in around 2:24-2:25 shape, so knowing the difficulty of the course I figured 2:26 pace through half would be ideal. I was hoping to work with Luis to make that happen, but two weeks out from the race he went down with an injury. After that I spoke with Scott Rantall and he informed me that Mr. Warren Brown and Sir Scotty Mac would be providing pacing duties through 16 miles at around 2:24 pace. So it was either hop on that train and go for it, or risk getting stuck in no-man’s land watching the race get away from me. More than running a fast time, I wanted to have myself in contention for top 3. Big rewards take big risks, and I knew going out in 5:30/mile was a big risk, but I had to do it. I’ll admit it made me a little nervous. That course is a MF’er and if you don’t run smart it will eat you up.

I was also bringing a pretty bad hip injury into the race which was an even greater source of nervousness and wasn’t sure if I’d start, let alone finish because of it. I took a few days off the week before the race hoping it would get better, but that morning I still got out of bed limping on it. The weird thing was that it didn’t bother me at all during warm-up or at all during the marathon. Adrenaline?

The race took off and after I completely missed the 1st mile marker, I got a split of 10:54 at the 2nd mile. A little quick! We hit the 5k right around 17 min and things slowed a bit going down Congress Ave, which is basically 3 miles up hill. There was a pack of about 8 of us, with some half marathoners in there. The camaraderie was good.

4th mile: 5:54.
5th mile 5:39.
6th mile 5:32.

South 1st is the best part of the course. It’s rolling, but mostly downhill, and the temptation to run fast on it after slow miles on Congress is something that can kill you later. You really gotta be careful there.

We hit the 7th mile in 5:18 and made it to 10 miles in 55:30, which was pretty much right on the pace we wanted. Scotty and Warren were doing a great job. Warren dropped at the 10 mile, as planned, and it was around there the half marathoners also split off and our pack was thinned to five: Rantall, Joe McCellon, a Polish guy, Scotty and me.

As Scotty continued to guide us through some 5:45’s over some hills into north Austin, we reached the half way in 1:13-something. It was around mile 15 where I started to fall off the pace a bit and by 16 I was about 100 yards off of Rantall and the Polish guy. Some other guy wearing all purple passed me around then too. Scotty gave some final words of encouragement before leaving us to fend for ourselves. This is where I didn’t do such a good job. I hit a 6min mile and thought, “Hey, that feels pretty good. Why don’t I run some more of those?” And so I did. A bunch of them.

I caught the guy from South Africa, Sipho, around 20 miles, as he was fading, and we ran side by side until 25 miles or so where he left me to eat his dust. It did not taste good.

I never really felt “bad” during the race, but I was just zapped for energy. Any slight incline felt like I was running up a mountain. On flat land I felt ok. My slowest mile was a 6:11, so it wasn’t like I completely tanked. I even managed a sprint down the homestretch to finish in a unremarkable 2:32:23.

As soon as I stopped my hip began to scream though. Walking became a source of great pain for the next few days which required industrial strength painkillers to alleviate. Almost two weeks later it’s still bothering me and I’m still limping a bit. I haven’t run a step and I’m not sure when I will again. A MRI will likely be necessary to properly diagnose. That’s more bad news. The other GOOD news is that I’m really looking forward to digging back into training as soon as possible and remain very motivated to improve some PR’s in 2012. The training and ability were there, I just executed poorly. Oh well. We’ll get ’em next time.

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