This morning started quite early. Up by 6:15AM, get dressed, get out to the site. I check in for my work assignment, grab some coffee with Nugget, and then go walk the course. I'm working corner 2, as I was the day before, so I walk the course once then walk the course back to my corner. The coffee was black, and ucky, but it was warm, and I had a sweet Clif bar in my pocket. So I ate my Clif bar breakfast and sipped my nice, warm coffee.
The heat started - first heat of the day. Like yesterday, we were short on workers. The course today involved many more downed cones, though, so this was more of a challenge. Fortunately, the delays were not due to cone issues, but rather a timing light issue and a car running into a fence. It took some time for them to verify the car's condition, but it drove off the course, so it wasn't too bad.
We were out there for what felt like forever, though. We finally got off the course, and I felt ill. I changed my tires anyway, then watched the end of second heat on the course I'd run today. I walked it once more at lunch, then went to the CSP cars, still held in grid. I had been watching some of the cars I knew, and spent some time talking to one of the guys who runs in the Southwest Division events. I was very concerned about this course, as it was both technical and fast, so I was glad for all the help I could get. Finally, CSP was released from grid and I went back to my car. I got the magnets on, and went to grind (the CSP cars gridded where the CSP Ladies cars would grid for fourth heat, so I couldn't put my car in grid until they were gone). I was so very nervous - my primary goal for the day was to not lose a position. But my hope was to move up - up to second, at least, and to try for first. I had watched the course, and it was a cone-fest.
So I had a strategy today. First run I would take it easy. Be careful. Be clean. I took it easy. I was careful. I thought I was clean... I didn't hear any cones. I didn't see any running course workers. I didn't hear the announcer mention any cones. Then I heard the announcer say something about one of the cars after me moving up, with a cone... I was convinced I must have knocked down a cone. I waited impatiently for the audit sheets to come back, so I could check. It seemed to take forever. Finally, someone asked me what I was waiting for, and I said I was concerned I hit a cone. "Oh, you didn't. I watched your entire run. It was clean."
Yay! Strategy working!
Time to get aggressive!
So I did. I got more aggressive... And I screwed up my shift to third. Just like I had the first day I ran, on my second run, I shifted to third too late, which caused me to brake too late, and got me behind for later parts of the run. Thankfully, this was on the one open part of the course, and I got myself un-behind before it got tight again. Still, I had lost a lot of time. Then again, I also improved by nearly a second.
This had me in second place. Still. Kathy, who had first from the first day, was being blazingly fast. Tami, who had second the first day, was slower. Linda, who had been fourth the first day was now third. My third run, I knew when to shift. I was still far from perfect, but I took another .8 seconds off. This was enough to keep me ahead of both Linda and Tami, who were also shedding time quickly. So I kept my second place.
I'm very pleased. I beat what should have been a faster car (the car Tami was driving is a 2007 MX-5, and is more significantly prepped for CSP than mine. It has more power, more tire, and less weight). I trophied on my rookie trip to nationals. I avoided coning on a tight, technical, fast course. I am happy. And tired. And I get two free tires and some money from Mazda, woot!