One last post about my 2009 ITI experience:
In almost every way it went poorly for me. I have never had anything (race or otherwise) that I have put so much effort into go so ridiculously bad. Through most of the lead up to the race and my one day out in the race things went so bad that I kind of just felt like I was stuck in a bad dream.
There was however, a lot of good out of this "disaster". First on this list would be all the great people that I got to meet and spend some time with as part of this event. You don't get a chance to get to know very many of the racers because things tend to separate pretty quickly almost as soon as the race starts, but in the two years that I've done this race I have very much liked everyone that I got to know on the trail. This year Jill and I were fortunate enough to fly out of Yentna with Riccardo Ghirardi and Isabel Lopez. I got to know them as well as one who speaks no Italian and very little Spanish might get to know people from Italy and Spain who speak very little English. Luckily our friend Amity who we all stayed that night after we dropped out speaks Spanish so she was able to act as translator. The thing about Riccardo and Isabel though is that you don't have to speak their language to understand that they are great people with amazing stories to tell... ahh, if only I could understand them.
Several other friends, new and old, are out on the trail still pushing toward McGrath (too many to list here) and it's been fun these past few days following their progress online. Jeff Oatley seems to be riding the strongest out there this year and he's pretty much one of the nicest guy you could ever meet. He's had amazing success at this race in the past, but I don't think he's ever won it. I'm certain I'm not the only one at home on their computer pulling for Jeff in this one.
Another great thing was that even though only on the trail for one night I feel like I learned a lot out there. It dropped to 20 below zero (colder by some accounts) that night and there was a stiff breeze the entire time. This was the coldest weather that I've ever been out in for any period of time. It was great to find out just what clothing combinations were working best for these conditions. Next time I do this race I will be just a little more prepared having spent this night out in windchills around 40 below zero.
And then there is the benefit that at least I'm not crawling into McGrath a few days from now facing weeks of recovery before I can even begin to think about moving on to my next race. I had hoped more than anything to finish this race, but I knew doing so would greatly compromise my ability to perform at a high level at the Miwok 100k on May 2nd. Now though the reality is that I should be able to go into the Miwok as fresh and ready as I have for any race in over a year. I've got a bone to pick with those Marin Headlands trails. I had decent races there in the Miwok and the North Face 50 last year, but neither one of them were great races, and I had very low periods in both of them. This time around I'm going to be looking to run strong from start to finish and dropping out of the ITI so early might just be a huge stepping stone toward that goal.