First off, thanks so much to everyone for your comments and kudos. Seriously, while i was in the pool, trying to find my breath and fighting for some kind of rhythm, all that kept going on in my head was not "I'm going to drown," or "I can't do this," but instead, "when I get through this, I will be one of Them, a real tri-blogger." Y'all all kept me going. I never doubted that I would finish, because all y'all have been cheering me on the whole way through. And you made it OK to come in at the end, because Dead Last is so much better than Did Not Start, and you have been applauding me since I made my goals be known. The Internets is a wonderful thing!
Now, the fun part! I get a new bike. Exactly when depends on my quarterly bonus, but as soon as that comes in, I want to be ready to roll into the bike shop and put my pennies on the counter. So, below are links to my four choices -- all entry-level women-specific road bikes between $500 and $750. I've ridden last year's Giant model, and will test-ride a Trek this weekend after the race. I tried including photos,but Blogger was being uncooperative, so you'll have to click the links.
Jamis Ventura Sport
** Note -- since pretty much anything is an upgrade from the PPE, I have only two requirements: 1) budget is pretty much under $800, but under $650 would be better, and 2) the bike has to be blue or yellow. Now, reason #2 is silly, superficial, and borderline unreasonable, but I want a yellow or blue bicycle. You'll find out why later. :)