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As the only triathlete in the invite-only field, Dibens is ready to ‘let her rip’ and see what happens tomorrow.
Joining a select field of 14 female pro cyclists at tomorrow’s Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial is triathlon’s very own Julie Dibens. The Brit known for her bike splits hasn’t raced since the 2011 Ironman World Championship after back-to-back foot and knee surgeries kept her off the starting line last year, so she’s been fired up about her new goal the last two months.
“To be able to have a focus and something to train toward was the biggest thing for me, and I’m excited to see how I can do against the best time trialists in the world,” Dibens says. “It’s been very different than training for 70.3 or Ironman, but it’s fun to just go out and bike as hard as you can.”
Early on, Dibens visited the Los Angeles Velodrome for some aerodynamic testing with her go-to bike fit specialist Mat Steinmetz (watch a recap of their process here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhBKWkG74t8). Based on testing various helmets and body positions—along with adhering to specific UCI requirements—they shifted her position pretty drastically on her custom Trek Speed Concept to accommodate for the time trial.
Her training for tomorrow’s 19.6-mile race in San José, Calif., was also significantly different than her normal long-course triathlon training. With some input from Adam Zucco of Training Bible Coaching and Ironman legend Dave Scott, she upped the intensity and integrated workouts that would simulate the course, which climbs more than 2,000 feet in under 20 miles.
“This course is definitely challenging—there’s a hill straight up the back and some long descents, with the last 3K averaging over 10 percent, so we tried to replicate that on roads in Boulder,” Dibens says. “I’d finish with 5–10 minutes on a climb, and do a lot of threshold and above and VO2 max work. For the most part, triathletes doing half-Ironman and Ironman do a lot of steady stuff and below threshold, so that was the biggest difference.”
For the first month of training, Dibens said things were going really well, with some solid results at a few time trials in the Denver area. But in the last few weeks she admits the intensity may have caught up with her. “I think I ended up putting myself in a bit of a box,” she says. “My body’s not used to doing that much hard work, so I’ve been struggling a little bit health-wise, so there’s been a lot of rest. Because I hadn’t raced in so long and I was so fired up, I knew it was always easy for me to get carried away. It’s always the athlete’s responsibility to keep everything in check. We have to listen to our bodies—sometimes the hardest part is to back off and rest. If anything, I was neglecting that. The training had been going great but I may have overcooked it at bit.”
But with much less pressure than normal high-stakes triathlons—and the fact that starting after 12 p.m. is out of her normal crack-of-dawn routine—Dibens says she’s not nervous…yet. She admits that she has no clue how she’ll stack up against her competitors (she hasn’t met any of them, with the exception of a brief introduction to Alison Powers last night), but she says that’s what makes it exciting. “I’m coming into an arena where I don’t know any of the other girls, and I’m sure they don’t know who the heck I am,” she says. “Hopefully I can be competitive and show them that triathletes can actually ride a bike halfway decently.”
Even though the last couple of weeks have required more rest than she would’ve liked, Dibens is still excited for what she sees as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “You have to keep it all in perspective—I just have to soak it up and enjoy it,” she says. “When you go to Kona and all the big races, you can get caught up and you forget that you’re doing this because you love it. The last couple days I have just been reminded of that, and that’s helped keep my mindset to just be to go out there and let her rip. It’s just an awesome experience and I’m going to soak it up as much as I can.”
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As for her plans post-TT, Dibens is not setting hard goals or deadlines yet, but she definitely wants to get back to racing. Her knee recovery has taken longer than expected, so because of that and her time trial focus, she’s only been running three times a week for 30 minutes at a time. Her hope for 2013 is to validate her spot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas at the Boulder 70.3 later this year.
Check out Amgentourofcalifornia.com for details on tomorrow’s time trial, which starts at 12:45 p.m. PDT.
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