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Kona Confidential

  • By Holly Bennett
  • Published Feb 22, 2012
Photo: Nils Nilsen


Julie Dibens & Chris Lieto
The über-bikers

The Trek/K-Swiss teammates, who face similar challenges and misconceptions, break down what it will take to run down Ali’i Drive as the champion.

Chris Lieto: So this will be your second Hawaii Ironman—your third total. Were there things you learned at [the 2011 Ironman] Coeur d’Alene that are going to help you in Kona?

Julie Dibens: I think if anything it just really highlighted how important my nutrition is and how I need to keep working on that. I definitely lost track of where I was supposed to be on the nutrition front, and it only being my second Ironman, it was good for me to be reminded of how important that is.

CL: Yeah, and you set a course record on the bike there as well, correct?

JD: Yes.

CL: And are you shooting to set a course record in Kona?

JD: I’m definitely not looking at getting a course record on the bike. I mean, if it happens, it happens, but that’s not what’s going to win me the race. I’m just looking at the whole race and how I think I can get faster. I know what time I did last year, I know what it’s taken to win the past couple of years and if I want to win that race I know I need to find 15 minutes, maybe more. And I’ve looked at where I think I can get that time, and if I was to have the perfect day, I could do it.

CL: I hear a lot of [people say], “Hey, if you’d only back off a little bit on the bike, you’d run a little bit faster.” My view is you have to get from point A to point B in the fastest time. Do you see yourself backing off on the bike at all, or will you just race your plan and bike to your ability?

JD: For me to win Kona, I know I have to bike at a high level because I’m not gonna run with Chrissie, because she’s a phenomenal runner, as is Rinny, as is Catriona [Morrison]. So I have to use my bike strength to my advantage—same as you—but leave enough energy in there to do a good run. A lot of people say we’re both bad runners. I don’t think either of us are. Maybe compared to some of the awesome runners we are bad, but we’re not bad. We’re just not as fast as some of the other people. And people build up this perception of who’s good at what, and who’s bad. Sometimes it’s a little harsh.

CL: Yeah, it’s annoying sometimes. I look at my past run times, and yes, I can be a much faster runner. My approach to the race is different than yours in that the men’s race is a little tighter, there’s more game-playing, more tactical aspects to it on the bike. And so there are guys that’ll conserve on the bike to have a good run, and I know that if I conserve my bike and sat in that group or just paced myself with that group, I would have a faster run.

JD: But would it be fast enough to win the race?

CL: Exactly! And that’s the point: You have to get from start to end in the fastest time possible that’s going to win you that race. So I’m going use my strengths to my abilities. If I go out and ride hard, which is in my ability, I’m gonna use that advantage to gap myself from the guys who can run really well.

JD: The women’s race is so different from the men’s in that there’s never—maybe this year will be different—but there are hardly ever big packs. So there’s so much less tactics that go on.

CL: But it all comes down to: Do you race your own race? You have to have your right nutrition and calorie intake—that’s probably the biggest challenge, to get that in. And get the training in. Training’s going well, the numbers are showing well, and running’s been improving.

JD: And the hunger’s still there.

CL: And the hunger’s still there. Absolutely.

Read the complete conversation between Chris Lieto and Julie Dibens.

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