This was my third year of the H8TR, and true to its name it brought the H8. I got up this morning, dug through the suitcase of kit from NC and managed to come up with one smelly pair of bibs with a new hole in them and a rank jersey. I stuffed the bibs in my race bag, keeping them at arms length, but couldn't bring myself to put the jersey in. It would be too close to my nose during the race. I packed one of Cale's XS jerseys instead. Off to a good start.
Then I padded off to the bathroom to put my contacts in, where my heel found a finishing nail sticking up from the trim. I was spinning around on the balls of my feet and the nail snagged by heel but good as it was going by. A bunch of rubbing alcohol, neosporin, medical tape and one bandaid later, and that was that. I tried not to think of how terribly dirty my mtb shoes are.
At the start of the race, I got kind of a bad position and was still debating whether I whould race or ride. But I remembered last year, when I decided to ride after a little while, and how dumb I felt after I got third by a slim margin. Thus, I laid down a pretty challenging pace and worked through a few pace lines on the way out. Just before the turnaround, I saw Claire (she had just turned around) and decided it was a race, after all.
The ride back was a long chase. I eventually got in a pace line that brought me up behind the pack with Claire. I was all about the sneakiness. I wanted to pull up behind them, take a little breather, then blow past before anyone could tack on. Unfortunately, we were found out and they picked up the pace. It was on.
Our pace line caught up to them, and we sat in for a little bit. Then at an intersection Claire crossed the road while everyone else in front of me stopped for a car that was slowing. Well, I didn't have time for that. I saw the car was slowing so I darted after her. That cut us off from any outside help, which made things more interesting. (Later, we slowed down but the group behind us settled in to watch it play out rather than join us.)
We caught two guys in front of us and sat in for a while, and then I decided to make my move. I wanted to pull away, get a gap and make Claire either stay with the guys for support (slower) or come forward alone and tire herself out. It was genius! Genius, I tell you! So there I was, with a small but satisfying gap, flying along the trail... And then, flying past my turn to get back to the city park with the finish line. Oh, I was mad. I was so mad. I looked back and watched as Claire and the rest made the turn and I knew my race was over. I gave a little shriek of rage as I turned around, which only served to give me tiny cramps in my abs.
When Cale caught up to me, the H8 was flowing. I screamed at him some when he asked what had happened, then followed another racer who looked like he knew the way back to the park. Not much more to say but that this was the closest H8TR yet, and it's my third third place for it. Djonnymac, my admiration for the amount of H8 your race has is matched only by my frustration at my lack of navigational skills. H8 H8 H8 H8...