The start was utterly surreal. It was blowing and raining and I had the same conversation time and again: "what are you trying to do?" "I was going to try to do X, but now it's just run and get through it." The poor guys in the hand cycles were drenched through and facing 2+ hours of water spraying into their faces from the front wheels. The rest of us were in good moods as the pressure of doing something great, or great from our perspectives, washed away in the rain.
I didn't wear a watch and was oblivious to the time. The wind wasn't terrible early on, partly, I think, because we were a massive peloton. At mile 5 some guy told me we were 33:45 down, not a bad place from which to take a shot at the 3:00 goal. But then we hit the headwinds at mile 6 and it got tough. The first half of this course is rolling hills. It wasn't easy. I had no idea, but learned from the online results, that I was running just slower than 3:00:00 pace at the half.
I fell in with the 3:00 pace group for a while. I'm not religious about avoiding pace groups, but I don't seek them out, and this one snuck up on me. Nobody was carrying a big sign in that wind! It was a funny feeling, head down, seeing 30 pairs of legs moving in unison, everybody adopting everybody else's stride rate and length. I noted again just how fast this field is. After mile 20 I was running my fastest race ever and the crowds didn't let up. (There was a relay event, so this is a little misleading.) The second half is much much easier, a steady gradual downhill from Mile 17 to the end, and the wind let up a little.
I lost the group at Mile 22. I ducked in for a cup of water, looked up, and realized I would not likely close the gap. Somehow I kept moving without losing too much steam. The last four miles went around a 7:10 pace, turning my 6:52 average into a 6:56 for a finishing time of 3:01:11. The real joy came on the last 2 miles after turning onto L Street. Others and I fell into a supportive group exchanging "we're going" and "let's finish this thing" and "way to keep hammering" and "you look great girl" and goodness knows what else.
This makes a big PR but leaves my personal Chomalongma unconquered for one more year.