TD: I just think that if you want to do well in Kona, you’ve got to focus on Kona. That’s all there is to it. If you look at every past winner, they focused on Kona. You’re not getting somebody who’s coming in who’s like: I’ve raced a ton this year, and I’m just going to go into Kona and win it. [Luc] Van Lierde was the rarity where he raced building up to Kona. But I think to do well there, you have to focus solely on Kona.
TO: It’s going to be interesting. Take Andy Potts – he didn’t focus on it, and granted he was on the podium, he had two good races – top 10’s – but then last year he was 21st and he did put all his marbles in one basket.
TD: Yeah but what’s your goal – top 10, or winning it? I mean that’s the big difference; there’s a huge difference between a top 10 and winning. You can’t even pay for your trip unless you’re top three or four, seriously! And to have it have an impact. That was the thing for me; it was easy for me to just put everything aside. With my sponsors, I just had to sit down and talk with them and just say, “Look, if I win this race, or do well with a top three in Kona, it means everything.” Compared to a couple of 70.3 wins or placings elsewhere. Everybody forgets about everything except for Kona. It’s funny, I mean there are guys who are professional triathletes and they’re just racing for paychecks. For me it was always, I want a world title. I could care less about the money. And that was what I think made it easy for me, was setting that aside, and just wanting to be the best out there on that given day. I was still living paycheck to paycheck for a long time. You just forget about it. I would watch Pete Reid, and how he was just driven – driven to win, not just earn a living.
TO: What was your race schedule like when you were at the top of your game in Kona?
TD: I liked to do an early ironman. It was so different when I was winning, because the 70.3 series did not exist. There were a couple half ironman’s – there was Wildflower, there was St. Croix, but you know that was it. And they were not a series, so it wasn’t a complete breakdown of the body. I mean how many 70.3 guys are doing Kona at the end of the year? It’s shocking to me. I don’t think they realize how much it takes out of you. It’s exponential with how many you do. So I would do an early ironman and then recover for a month, month and a half, two months, and retrain and do short course stuff until I started my build for Kona. And that was it.
TO: So spring, or what?
TD: Yeah, New Zealand or Australia. Or when California was an ironman and it was in May. May would be the latest that I would do an ironman. That’s why I liked your choice of Texas. For me, I did the mid-summer one a couple times. I got second in Austria and then second in Kona, but I felt terrible in Kona. My training wasn’t good. Looking back it was a nutrition thing. I feel like I could have won that race but I missed a couple calories here and there. Leading up to it I wasn’t that confident, and I think it had a lot to do with doing a mid-summer ironman. And then the second year I won I didn’t do an ironman, I just raced some short stuff and some half’s and put everything into Kona. I knew what I needed to do for that and it worked out well.