Why I think I've been happy with almost all of my triathlon results over the last few years: I've become more self-aware. Basically, that means I race to my fitness level.
It's easier to do that in long course events because it's such a long day. If I tried to "race" the 11-hour guys, I'd blow up by the halfway point (or sooner, since I'd be drilling it on the bike -- my weakest event). In short course stuff (for me, that's my youth swimming, all my rowing and various short triathlons) it's harder to moderate effort, since you have to go from the start if you want to win (or get a PR).
My last four long distance tris (Devilman '06 and '07, Musselman '06 and IMLP) were all successes (to me), despite not always resulting in PRs. Mainly that's because I was looking to raise my fitness over two years and have a breakthrough at Lake Placid -- I wasn't overly concerned with my times, so long as I executed effectively.
I'm spending some time thinking about a new long-term athletic goal. Likely it will be another IM in two or more years. I think it will take that long to address my various limiters and raise my fitness to a level that can allow me to reach another breakthrough, without compromising on everything else I need to focus on.
I'm also working on incorporating that self-awareness into the rest of my life. I think I'm doing okay with it, but there's always more room to improve.
Okaaayyyy... enough personal introspection in a public forum. Back to self-deprecating race summaries in the next post!