My wave time was 7:40 so I was plenty early. But that gave me time to set up my transition area, talk with other competitors, use the bathroom numerous times, get my tires filled up and get a layout for enter and exit points for each stage of the race.
7:40 and the horn blasts for entry into the water. I was a bit worried about swimming in Lake Washington thinking it may be too cold or too choppy but it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. 1/2 mile in open waters looks a lot longer than you would expect, though. My biggest concern about the swim course was getting caught in the middle of the pack with arms and legs everywhere. So I choose to push my way to the front at the start line and go out in front. The strategy worked and I swam the first half in my own space before mixing in with prior waves but they were spread out enough it wasn't too bad. My swim time was my best individual ranking out of the 3 and I am pretty pleased with the time.
HORRIBLE transition between the swim and the bike. It takes a long time to run your bike to the rack (mine was about as far as you can get from the water so that didn't help), peel a wetsuit off, wrestle a tight singlet onto a wet body, dry feet, put socks and shoes on... and then push the bike to the start of the ride (again I was the farthest away from that point). So Transition 1 is definitely an area to work on for next time.
The ride overall felt great. It was fun to ride across Lake Washington on the I-90 bridge and go through the express tunnels. I felt really strong on the hills but I had a hard time sustaining good speed on the flats. I see speedwork on the bike in my future (Tom says I just need a new bike so maybe a shopping trip too!). Overall my ride time was fine but was my worst individual ranking out of the 3 legs, which seems a bit odd since it is the area I trained the most in.
Transition 2 was better, mostly because there was no clothing or shoe changes involved, though I did need a bathroom stop which slowed me down.Then onto the dreaded run. I am not a distance runner, have never been a distance runner and probably never will be. So I had NO expectations going into this segment. The first mile was definitely the hardest and I had to do a few 30 second walks to rest my legs. Mile 2 I started to hit my stride and by mile 3 I was feeling relatively good. Even the hill at the end of the course was enjoyable, in a painful sort of way. I had a good burst of speed left to finish strong and in hindsight realize that I had too much energy left at the end of the race and probably should have pushed myself a bit harder. It is tough to know when you haven't done it before.
Overall, I learned a ton and feel that if I had to do it again next weekend I could easily shave 10 minutes off my final time. Overall I am pleased with my time of 1 hour, 46 minutes and 40 seconds for a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and 3 mile run. I definitely know there is a lot of room for improvement and can't wait to get out there again!
Okay, that was really long and I still have so much more to say so stay tuned for part 2 the emotional side of things.