The nomination for Julie Dunkle came as a result of her perseverance through injuries last year, her ability to maintain focus on her goals throughout this year and winning her age group in Couer d’ Alene which qualified her for Kona! She had the fastest swim time for her age group this year at the Ironman World Championship which was earlier this month. Her passion for triathlon is contagious and she embodies the core values of D3 in all that she does. She is a great teammate and contributor to D3; and it’s a pleasure to turn the spotlight on Julie Dunkle.
Enjoy her Q&A below.
1. What did you learn about managing injuries, training and keeping focused on your goals?
I learned that you can come out of an injury stronger if you re-focus, set a plan, adjust goals for what you can do and keep the focus. It’s easy to just give up and lose all fitness but Mike and I set goals for biking and strength sessions when I could not run. I also tried to understand what the cause of the injury was and address any imbalances or weakness to prevent in the future.
2. You raced 3 Ironman events this fall. Describe the decision to race them, the balance of your recovery vs. training throughout the races and how you set goals for each race.
My plan was to race Canada, Kona qualify, and work towards Kona. When Canada did not go as planned I had to think about calling it a season, doing shorter races or another late season IM. But I woke up the next day wanting to try and Kona qualify in 4 weeks. I knew I needed to want it that badly to toe the line so soon, but with Mike’s (reluctant) agreement it was more about a proper recovery, a bit of work and racing again. That was the easy part, finishing Coeur ‘d Alene and winning was bittersweet. Yes, I was headed back to Kona, but oh my, another Ironman in 7 weeks! This was tougher as I needed more recovery and was simultaneously worried I was losing fitness. I had to filter out what my competition was doing, or posting they were doing, and trust in my fitness from 2 IM’s and let Mike worry about the schedule. Going into Kona my goal was to race well and if I could race as in Coeur ‘d Alene, I would reach my goal and be on the podium. Well that did not happen and the fatigue of 3 IM’s settled in, so I quickly adjusted my attitude to hang on as long as I could, stay positive and be grateful for the opportunity to race again in the most magical place of triathlon. My goals for the season were to win my AG in an Ironman and Kona qualify with the stretch goal of a podium in Hawaii. I achieved 2 out of 3!
3. You have impressive race results. What do you think separates you from your competition as you are consistently in top positions?
Doing everything Mike says (LOL) and the extra 10% – every day. If the swim is 4400 yards, not stopping at 4000, executing or giving it your all to do the work (even when you hate the trainer like I do) . The extras are hitting the weight room, keeping up with mobility and being diligent about cool down and body work.
4. In Kona, you had an excellent swim achievement. Describe how you felt when you came out of the water? And describe any other part of your race in Kona. Also share a tip you use to helps you stay focused during a race in particular when you raced Kona?
The swim for me is the best part of every race and particularly in Kona. Kailua Bay is magical – the swim is long and grueling. With one loop it is easy to back off, but there are always feet to chase and people to keep up with. For me the swim sets the tone for the day. I swam more this season and yes my time was my fastest in Kona 58:37 but more importantly I came out with a low HR and very little fatigue. I don’t have a focus problem in the swim. I love it too much. The bike is where it’s easy to lose focus, when you are a million miles away on the Queen K where it is hot and lonely and a head wind, it’s easy to give up, dream of riding into the ocean, think about being any place but on the miserable bike in the searing heat. I break it up – aid station to aid station – focus on power, relaxing, cadence and work towards more cold water and human contact.
5. Which one is your favorite of the 3 Ds: desire, determination or discipline?
We all have desire- that’s the best one. Everyone is determined in some capacity. But discipline is what sets the top achievers apart, so I guess that is my favorite. Discipline is hard – skipping dessert, going home early, drinking water when you want to knock back a few beers, waking up at 4:30am, going to bed at 8:30 pm.
We hope you are inspired and motivated after reading Julie’s story. It’s an incredible reflection on what it takes to be an age group champion. But even more important, this what it takes to achieve your triathlon goals. An unrelenting ambition to learn, learn some more, put yourself out there and stay after it.