Will do a numbers post later, since official results are not yet up and I didn't start my watch until shortly after the swim start! But my time was in the region of 3:07+, and last year was 3:24, so I took more than fifteen minutes off, even if I did not go sub-3:00 - NEXT YEAR!
It was super-enjoyable. Slightly chaotic at the start - it was raining and dark as I headed over there around 4:45 (taxi driver was initially convinced I was at the end of the previous night rather than the beginning of a new day!), I was trying to plug up a bar end with a non-correct item, everything seemed a bit complex - then I took a nervous triathlete under my wing and felt much better! I should go there earlier, though, if I really do this race again next year - it is a long walk to the swim start, long lines for porta-potties, etc. and I sorta barely made it to my wave start on time!
This led to a last-minute change of plan - I had finally gotten in to a porta-potty, jogged over to the trucks where one could check a plastic bag with shirt/shoes - I got about half-way into my wetsuit, which I planned to wear more for the practice getting in and out of it than because I really wanted it for the swim, and realized that I was (a) dripping with sweat and overheated (2) on the verge of being late for my wave start and (c) only halfway in, with no enthusiasm for getting in the whole rest of the way!
I thought about how nice it would be not to have to get back out of it when I was making the swim-bike transition (it's a 400+yard run from swim exit to transition, much nicer not to have a wetsuit on for this!), and I stripped it off and stuffed it back into the plastic bag.
I did not regret it, it was definitely the right move! Swimming is much more enjoyable with no wetsuit in any case - water a very pleasant 70 degrees, though rather muddy due to rain.
(And mysteriously my HR monitor was not working on bike or run! I wonder if it was due to mud/dirt in the water - it was fine before I started...)
The bike is a quite crowded course. I looked at it with new eyes this year - it is hillier than I remembered, but also very very crowded - you have to go a lot slower in the first and last couple miles than is entirely desirable. I PASSED A TON OF PEOPLE! Very bumpy roads, tons of bottles all over the place, a lot of people with flats - not me, mercifully...
The run is a slog, no doubt. I walked some uphills for the sake of running downhills quite fast! It was very humid, but not nearly as hot as last year - I will wait to see exact times before having analysis, but I did not have expectations for speed on the run as I have run very few miles in the last month.
And then it was over! The whole race kind of went by in a flash - I was thinking that last year, my subjective experience of the bike ride was much more like what people might experience in half-iron race, whereas this year I actually did a more or less appropriate amount of bike training (less, really - I could/should do a lot bike miles!) and it was over before I knew it...
The Accenture VIP tent post-race plan went extremely well. Almost the first thing after I finished, I ran into H., so that was lovely - we congratulated each other, and she went off home. Then I made my way to the tent, and it was a place of utter blissfulness!
(I still don't know why I got an invitation!)
The third best thing about the tent: lots of chairs, set randomly around little round tables, as one does often arrange furniture at the kind of party where there is a buffet! And not at all crowded, plenty of places to sit, which is really the best thing under the circumstances - and in the shade, of course...
The second best thing about the tent: they had COFFEE! Real and perfectly drinkable hot coffee, in an urn, with 2% milk and sweet and low and everything just how I like it! BLISS! (They also had fresh-squeezed OJ, granola bars, yogurt, fruit - it was v. good - I did not delve into the bagel/muffin end of things, but there were heaps of that sort of stuff also.)
The best thing of all about the tent: the first person I saw as I staggered in was my good friend and former running partner D., who works for Accenture and was volunteering as helper to a paratriathlete! The tent was full of the paratriathletes, many of whom are sponsored by the company - v. inspiring to contemplate, including a truly adorable little kid who had 2 of those carbon-blade "Cheetah" prosthesis (Pistorius-style) and was amazingly bounding around the place - very good occasion. Anyway, I had a lovely chat with D. and a friend of hers who had done the race also, and after about forty minutes got myself together to head back over to transition. D. and I will have a run and/or a swim in September - she was in Doug Stern's swimming class with me 2 years ago, she hated it and is not an enthusiastic swimmer at all, but she is thinking about doing a sprint triathlon next summer (she is a very fast runner and good all-round athlete, I think she'll really enjoy it).
It is a tiring race aftermath - I ended up walking back to the transition area rather than waiting in line for the free pedicabs, and then had the conundrum of how to fit my bike pump (one wants it in the morning, but then there are transportation issues!) into my small backpack - I felt very unbalanced as I rode home.
But it was a very good day out there!