Heart O Dixie


From Susan Davidson. Pictures


The Heart of Dixie Triathlon beckoned some crazy Pacers to dare to compete in the longest continuous running triathlon in the United States. Originally, we had a mixed team together, but our lone guy had to bail. It was a legitimate bailout, so no hard feelings. I had talked to Laura Malone at a 5K earlier this spring, and we actually talked about this race. She said she'd love to do it, but it was too long. I told her she should hook up with some others and do a relay. So, when Raul said it would be better if we could find someone to swim for him, I thought of Laura. Lucky for us, she wanted to join us. It was a win-win. Not only did we have an excellent swimmer, I had someone to split the cost of the room with. Our team was ready: Laura would swim, I would bike, and Becky “Boss” Ryder would run. Oh! I can't forget our chauffer, Hollie. He's the greatest!

We drove up on Friday afternoon and got there in plenty of time to pick up our packets, get marked, and eat the buffet dinner at the Lodge. Becky and I even got our t-shirts from last year that we never received in the mail. That's another story. After we got our bellies full, we looked around at the staging area and then went back to Philadelphia to our hotel. We were right across the street from the bike/run transition area. Sweet! I made sure my Garmin was plugged in and turned off so it would be set for the race.

After a fairly good night's sleep, we arose early, ate what we brought for breakfast, did a last-minute gear check, and headed for Lake Tiak O'Khata. Our starting number was 124. We were very happy about our starting position since last year we were at the tale end, in the 450's. Laura was first up to do her portion of the relay. I knew she'd do well, but she blew the competition out of the water! After we saw her off in the water, I went to the bike transition area and donned my helmet, shoes, gloves, and tried to turn my Garmin on. It was dead. Dang it! I had my iPhone in with me so I set the stopwatch.

Laura's swim time for ½ mile was a smokin' 13:28. She had the 4 th fastest time for ALL females. Amazing! We had a smooth transition until I went to mount my bike. I clipped in my right foot and pushed off with my left. It was a slight uphill and I didn't push off hard enough. My left foot slipped off the pedal and down I went. I landed on my elbow first, then my hip and knee. I figured I was skinned up but I had a race to ride. I got up; and, in Iron Girl fashion, I was off. My heart was pounding for the first mile, and then I settled down and rode. I had extra gels with me this year since I bonked last year around mile 22. I expected to have a slower time this year because my training has been all but nil. I was right. My time was 1:47:43 as opposed to 1:44:12 last year. To be honest, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, especially since I fell. Even so, I still felt bad.

Laura helped get the timing chip off of me and onto Becky, and she was off. Her plan was to go out slower this year and keep a steady pace. She did it! Hollie, Laura and I passed by her in the truck as we drove to the finish line and she looked strong. She finished with a time of 1:05:14, taking almost 2 minutes off of last year's time of 1:07:07. Wow!

Our finishing time, 3:08:39, was faster than last year's 3:13:24. Other than my spill, I think we had a good race. Our goal was to finish and have fun. We did both. Thanks again to Hollie!