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Cobblestones and Crashes- World Championships 2016

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“This is nuts!” I said as guide Susanne Davis and I looked at the bike course map.  “160 turns in 20K?  Is that even possible?”   “Apparently they managed.  Holy cow.  This is going to be insane.  Fun, but insane.” “Oh, don’t you worry Dixon.  I’ve got this,” Susanne smiled.  “We are going to ROCK this course.”  I gulped and went back to studying the Rotterdam World Championships map. Rotterdam was a lovely city.  Not as picturesque or grand as Amsterdam, but with many adorable outdoor cafes and a vibrant feel to the downtown area we were staying in.  For a…

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Rio- The best thing I’ve ever done?

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I’m sitting here alone in my apartment, confined and imprisoned with anxiety.  It’s less than 24 hours before my fate is decided.  Will I be a Paralympian?  Am I going to Rio?  The IOC and the ITU will determine tomorrow the final 17 slots to be distributed between 3 male and 3 female Paratriathlon categories.  This distribution is based on rankings, record and the number of slots allowed per country, which is 2.  In the blind female category, there are already two American women who have qualified.  While my ranking is #6 in the world, and I have won two…

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Japan for the WIN!

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I stood beside Guide Susanne on the magnificent blue carpet, surveying the vast Yokohama Harbor all around us.  Thousands of spectators, photographers, officials, coaches and athletes lined the barricades to my left.  I couldn’t believe we were actually here.  As they announced my name and resume over the loudspeaker, my squirrel brain started to unravel.  “What if I start coughing in the swim?  What if we get a flat tire?  Will it be hot on the run?”  All the doubts bubbled up through my nervous stomach, as the past two weeks of bronchitis left me feeling rather depleted and less…

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The Road to Rio has climbs and descents

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‘Season’s Greetings from your long lost blind triathlete!  I’m out here in the hills of San Diego California preparing for my final qualifier for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.  My race is being held in Sarasota Florida at the CAMTRI Continental Cup against the top blind athletes from North and South America.  It’s been a whirlwind ‘post season’ since World Championships in Chicago, where I finished in 7th place.  I was blessed to finish up the year with enough points to remain the #6 blind female triathlete in the world, with a solid win at a World Cup in Edmonton…

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Edmonton Equals Gold- or is that COLD?

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As any good coach or athlete will tell you, there is one rule of thumb to live by when preparing for a major race.  “Nothing new on race day” means not trying out the latest electrolyte beverage, energy gel, new bike, food, new shorts or ANYTHING that could derail months and months of training.  So, as a blind athlete who requires a guide (a sighted athlete who runs, bikes and swims in tandem with me), you can imagine my sheer panic when I had to change guides 10 days before my most anticipated race of 2016.  One thing that living…

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Rio Paralympic Test Race

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Rio was a blur of coconuts, bikinis, meetings and odd foods leading up to our race.  Sighted guide Lindsey Cook of Hanover Indiana and I were one of 11 athletes (9 athletes and two guides for blind athletes) to be selected for this very important ‘Test Event’ on the actual course that the Paralympics will be held on in 2016.  We were honored to be selected based on our world ITU (International Triathlon Union) ranking and the number of points we had earned this season of racing together. Most of the athletes met in Houston from all over the country,…

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My Bed is taking me to Rio

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So here I am on a beautiful Friday night indoors staring in longing at my bed.  My eyes are sore, painful and tired, my legs ache and my stomach growls with hunger.  My email pings.  It’s my coach.  It reads like this, “Hope you’re feeling better.  We’re focusing on bricks from now to Rio.”  My heart somersaults and my stomach turns.  I flip open the drawer that contains my new USA Triathlon ‘Elite’ member card and turn it over in my suntanned hands.  So this is what being an elite athlete is all about.   It’s been exactly two years…

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The Best Race of our Lives

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I don’t know where to begin.  The month of sleepless nights and pre-race anxiety?  The daily torturous workouts from Coach Ray Kelly??  Or the feeling of standing on the podium and crying while the National Anthem played?  Or how about the feeling of flying past some of the fastest triathletes in the world on a blazing fast bike course?   Guide Lindsey and I had prepared in every possible way for this race, saving penny after penny to get ourselves down to Clermont Florida two weeks prior to test out our abilities on the new bike and to acclimate ourselves…

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Leaping blindly into 2015

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2014 ended in the most perfect fashion, given the year I’ve had.  What began with 7 glaucoma procedures in 6 weeks to maintain the limited vision in my left eye, ended  running a race with my team in Central Park at midnight to celebrate all of my accomplishments this year. It feels sort of like an out-of-body experience.   Did I really just do all that?  Did I travel to Florida to speak on behalf of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Antigua to speak out against Glaucoma, Colorado to learn how to race tandem bikes, Dallas to compete and win…

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Anacondas and Crocodiles- Part 3 Racing the mighty Amazon

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Howie wheeled his chair up to the front desk after we had cleaned up from the morning’s race.  “Hey man, we want to do a jungle tour.  Something REALLY dangerous.  Do you think you can hook us up?”  The hotel concierge eyed us all warily.  “What do you mean, dangerous?”  “We want to see snakes, and jaguars, and sloths, and piranhas and stuff.  Like a total-immersion kind of thing.  You think you can help us out with that?”  “Let me see what I can do sir.”  “Oh yeah, do you think it’s wheelchair accessible?”  “I’ll see what I can do.”…

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