I competed in the Sprint race that went off at 7:06 in one wave for women after the 7:00 am and 7:03 waves for the men (438 finishers total). Decided to try new things in this early season by going as hard as I could for each leg and starting nears the front for the swim wave (instead of my usual back and side).
Started at the front and side of the swim wave (beach start). Didn't realize there were over 200 of us! A lot of argy bargy but no one were too aggressive. Couldn't really get into a steady swim stroke until after I'd rounded the first of two buoys, then another cluster at second buoy, then a bit of space and able to stretch out and swim hard for shore.
The bike course was an out and back on the road we had driven in on, so I knew that it was rolling downhill going out and uphill coming back. Almost froze in just my tri suit (my first early season race with temps in the 50's) but I think that made me go faster. Powered it from the start pretending I was chasing my Liv Chix teammates!
Tried to push the run but was mostly holding on with sub 8 minute pace. The run was another out and back, but in the other direction from the bike course. I was counting the females on the road and thought I might be in the top 10. Luckily, I had heard that the finish line was hidden in the woods, so when I thought we were close I kicked into a higher gear and passed a couple more women just before we were sent up a single-track trail to the hidden finish 10 meters ahead.
Final time was 1:25:55 - 9th female and 9 minutes behind the first female. Super proud of my bike leg and my not panicking in the "choppy" swim. Once my feet thawed out I found stones in my running shoe and a cut on my left foot - mementos from the day!
Not sure if I would do this tri again as I had to leave Marin at 3:45am to drive the windy roads to get there by set up at 5:30am. Well organized race though, but not much food after. There were two longer races the day before and an Olympic and Open (short) race after mine.
Next race is a local one in May. Bring it on!