"The MH repeats were slow but doable"
My last MH (no repeat!) was only half of that. I mean, it was doable pushing... Anyway, clearly your training is on point. And I had to giggle at 8 being a late start, though I know you make a big effort to get your training out of the way early to have time for family stuff.
Ha, yeah if you would have asked me 12 years ago what an early start time was, I prob would have said 9 or 10AM. Trying to adapt!
And I must say, the gearing on the Niner makes climbing that hill much easier. My cross bike -- not so much.