This year at PIR, my final placement did not matter. Period.
All that mattered was that I finished, that I did not DNF and let the course defeat me.
I decided to just ride inside myself and not worry one bit about anyone else around me. My goals were to finish, and to have as much fun as I could while doing so.
The weather was similar to last year's, except that this year it rained for everyone instead of just the women and A's.
The course was ridiculously muddy, so much so that organizers shortened it from the advertised 2.1 miles to not quite a mile and a half, taking out the big run-up where I got hurt last year and shortening the out-and back on the far end of the other run-up; I learned that they had done this mostly to avoid having to pay higher rental costs to PIR for damage to the terrain. The course was pretty degraded anyway -- and VERY muddy -- by the time the women started at 2:30.
I set a good pace for myself, nothing spectacular but again I wanted to finish strong and enjoy myself. I knew I'd be slow -- I walked over the barriers each lap, my feet sinking inches into thick wet mud -- but I greatly enjoyed the technical demands of the course. On several parts of the course I rode as far to one side as I could legally do (without going off the course), to take advantage of what little grass or drier mud remained. Other parts of the course forced everyone to push through four to six inches of standing, muddy water. Biggest shock of all was that, on some of the technical upslopes, I actually -- gasp! -- passed other racers who were getting hung up in their clipless pedals or having trouble with shifts. (God, I love my singlespeed bike.)
My final lap was the hardest for sure -- I almost fell twice in the deepest stretches of mud -- and my lower back, tight before the race, ached with every pedal stroke on the final lap. But oh! the joy and relief when I crossed the finish line and saw the checkered flag and the smiles of the officals waving everyone off the course. And just like that, it was over. I'd taken on PIR and won. I rode home still caked in mud, and very happy.
Results should be posted at OBRA's web site by some time tomorrow.
I don't care.
Honestly, I am just so damned glad I raced today.