The course was a significant net-downhill, enough that it's not eligible for records per USATF (max 1m/km drop), which nonetheless certifies its distance. The drop of 36m was essentially all in the first mile, which I cruised through in 5:13; after that the course was a mostly flat out-and-back, with a couple overpass "rollers" in the early and late miles. The big first-mile drop was actually a nice feature, both to be able to throw out my first mile split, and to be assured that I'd be ahead of my goal pace early. On a "fair" course I'd probably have been 30 seconds slower. The day was cool and the ground was wet, but no real raindrops until late in the race; there was a very slight breeze with us on the way out and against on the way back. Overall, about the best conditions you can hope for in December in the northwest. I was a bit slower on the way back than out, probably due to the slight breeze, plus general fatigue and tightness. In the last three miles I couldn't stretch out my stride much but was able to pick up my turnover and keep a reasonable pace. I brought some food along but didn't use it. I hadn't really thought of this, but on an out-and-back course, if you're near the front, using water stations on the way back is really against the grain. So I didn't take any water, either, because by the time I really wanted it (mile 9 or so) I couldn't have got through effectively.
I rode down from Seattle with Rhea, Toffer, and Susan; Rhea and Susan finished first and second among women. So we were the fast van!