When people talked to me about ITT, one theme remained constant: "it's really technical", they would say. They weren't kidding.
I had a few misgivings about running that race. My last big race is Haliburton (I'm running the 50 miler) and I don't want to get injured so close to it. I've been battling an Achilles injury for a few months. The doctor said to try and stay away from hills. Gulp. On top of that I turned my OTHER ankle last week while doing hills. I actually had to skip 2 days of training this week because I just couldn't run on it. On Friday I went for a spin in my La Sportiva Wildcats and it wasn't too bad so I decided to do the race. I actually tried to run in my Crosslites and couldn't, but the Wildcats were good.
So this morning I went through my usual pre-race, which includes two Excedrins, and drove to Kilbride (what a name). I followed the direction my Garmin GPS gave me and I got there just in time to see the 7am start, which is supposed to be for slower runners who need the extra hour to make it to the turn-around before the cut-off. Some of the people didn't look that slow to me.
I got my number and got ready. The usual suspects were all there. Again, people I talked to kept mentioning how slippery the rocks were. We moved toward the start, the race director gave some last minute directions and we got moving.
The course is comprised of a first 7.5k loop where we crossed a river twice. There was a perfectly good bridge right there but didn't get to use it. Need to get those feet nice and wet. The second part is out and back. It's really hard. The rocks are just nasty. They are uneven, wet, slippery. It kept getting worse. I kept turning my left ankle. You had to really be careful about you foot placements.
At around 17km, I was following a small group and I hear: "are we lost?". Of course, we all keep running. After a hundred meter, me and the guy in front of me stopped and looked around. No ribbons still. We decided to go back. We ran 300m back and met other runners coming up the trail. They reassured us and told us they had seen a ribbon. The bastards. We run back 400m, only to meet the people we were following in the first place, telling us there was no exit to that trail. Great, back we go, finding the trail about 500m later. (back home, I overlaid my Garmin data to Google map with SportTracks and calculated we ran an extra 2.1km). That was an extra 2.1km (and 16 minutes) I didn't need.
We got to the turnaround at about 2:30. Going back was more of the same, only harder because it get's harder to lift your feet. It's like roots and rocks appear where you could swear there was none a second ago. I somehow managed not to fall. A fall ANYWHERE on that course must hurt, since there are NO flat surfaces. My main goal was to NOT break an ankle.
I got to the finish in 3:59:19, a bit slower than I had expected, but if I take away that extra 15 minutes, it's pretty close to what I was going for.
This is a good race. I would have enjoyed it even more without the ankle/Achiles pain, but still I had a great time. As we all know, we do it for the pain, so maybe they just enhanced the experience.
P.S. After the race, the race director mentioned that next year would be the last time the ITT would be run. I didn't hear a reason. He did say that they would try to do something special, like offering an option to RUN IT AT NIGHT. What?