Wow, I actually did it and achieved my goal (finish in less than 2 hours). I arrived just in time to sit in traffic as the over 1000 participants waited to get into the parking lot at Lake Sammamish State Park at Issaquah, Washington, just east of Seattle. There was plenty of time for me to set up my bike and other things in the transition area and meander over to the starting area. While waiting in the line for the restroom I found a friend of mine from church who was participating in the Tri with his wife. It was nice to know someone else who did the race.
The swim start for my heat was at 7:18 am sharp. I stayed in the back of the pack and then did the breast stroke for just about the entire 400m swim. The water temp was perfect (for me anyway) at around 70F. This was my weakest of the three events by far. My time coming out of the water was about 18 minutes (more on that below). The first transition went well considering I didn't have a wet suit to fool with. I put on my shirt, cleaned my feet, donned my shoes, and off I went.
As I was just starting my bike run I saw the race leader coming back from his bike run. He won with a time of 58:35, almost 1 hour faster than me. To put that into perspective, I did the bike portion of the race in just over 55 minutes. The next closest competitor to him was almost 5 minutes behind. I did pretty well on the bike. I noticed that a lot of people around me didn't use their downhill gears: I passed a lot of folks on the downhills with minimal effort. The one hill we had to go over and back on was a slow rise up about 300 feet. Lots of people looked at my funny as I sang Christmas songs to pass the time (i.e. "Walking in a Winter Wonderland", "Frosty the Snowman", and "Have yourself a merry little Christmas"). I was feeling really good coming out of the second transition.
The run felt really good except for one thing: of the entire course, only 1/4 of it was paved. The remaining was over grassy fields, dirt roads, or sports fields. My ankles were really bothering me as I approached the finish. Most of the course was shaded which turned out to be a blessing as the sun came out near the end. As I broke out of the trees for the final time I saw Wendy and the boys there to cheer me on. I sped up and somehow found the energy to sprint across the finish line.
Here are my official results:
Swim 00:18:23.6 T1 00:06:27.9 Bike 00:55:05.8 T2 00:04:37.9 Run 00:27:49.1 Finish 01:52:24.3
Overall I am very happy with the entire experience and my performance in this, my rookie race. The 5K time is less than the 5K I ran last month (29:37). The only thing that went wrong for me on race day was that I forgot my shoes. I had to turn around and drive home about 3 miles from home. Good thing I remembered. I can race without a shirt; I can race without socks; but I certainly cannot race without shoes.