claire, hope the surgery stuff ends up okay...I was out of commission all last fall with surgeries, so I really sympathize.
sCraver, congratulations! It is great to have a tri to work toward.
For what it's worth...I had been swimming all my life too, and have improved immeasurably over the last four months with some help.
I started swimming on my own, but eventually joined a Masters swim group to get a little coaching and a more regular swim time. It was an EXCELLENT decision- see below.
Polar Bear Pink Cheeks Triathlon race report:
Swim: 900 YD, 16:50 (1:50/100 yards) -- This was nothing short of miraculous. I swam a single warmup lap, then did my thing. Didn't feel like I ever really got started and then I was done, and 1:30 faster than I've ever done it before. I didn't think I'd be below 2:00/100 for a while yet. I thought the timer had made a mistake.
Another woman in my swim group is an amazing runner/cyclist/athlete -- she beat me by many minutes in bike/run!!! Her overall time was 16 minutes better than mine and she was 13th overall -- and I beat her swim time by two full minutes.
Bike: 29:18 for 6 miles. Normally that would have been about 23-24 mins for 6 miles, so I thought it was slow. However, this was the most what I didn't expect. The course was about half gravel (serious Alaska-type gravel), lots of 90-degree turns, and very hilly. One of those hills went on forever, I swear. I was on my Cannondale F700 mountain bike (much slower than my road bike). Felt pretty good, no problems there. Need more hill work on bike and run, there's no doubt about that. I didn't die but eventually will want to do better.
Run: 31:51 5k (3.1 miles). Personal best for a 5K. Very, very hilly course. First mile was downhill, last mile was uphill. Mile times were 9:24; second was 10:09; third was 11:19 (that last, uphill mile). It was way hard, by far the hardest part of the race. Normally I run an 11 minute mile.
Race was swim, run, bike. T2 was transition from run to bike and was 43S.There was no T1 as my swim time was WAY before bike time. Like, 8:20 AM and the main race started at 11 AM. They worry about it being too cold in early may to go straight from the water to a cold outside, I understand.
That said, it was a gorgeous day, just beautiful and warm. Eagles riding thermals over the starting line for a good while.
I thought I finished somewhere in the middle of the back half of the pack, but it turns out I was 45/90 for the women and 22/37 in my age group. Goals #1 (finish) and #2 (don't finish last) were well met.
I'm ready to go for the next one!