While the sporting world focuses its eyes on Sochi, Russia, Stephanie Dinius has her eyes on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
That’s the site of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and Dinius will be vying for a spot of her own in at least one event when the U.S. Olympic trials kick off in early 2016.
Dinius locked up an automatic berth in the marathon when she raced to an eight-place finish at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston on Jan. 19. Her finish (one hour, 13 minutes, 28 seconds) topped a personal best by two minutes, 19 seconds.
“I am so excited … I’d never done that race before but I knew it was flat and fast,” Dinius said. “I really just wanted to squeak under it and get the trial qualifier (of 1:15 or faster). I wasn’t expecting to run that fast (but) I felt really good the whole time.”
Dinius, who was a prep star in Sequim and earned multiple All-American finishes as a collegiate star at Stanford, recently had come off a strong finish for Team USA at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country Race in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Less than a week after her race in Scotland, she was toeing the line in Houston. With an eye on five-minute, 43-second splits — a pace that would get the coveted Olympic trial-qualifying time — Dinius found herself hitting sub-5:40 miles, mile after mile, along the flat Houston course.
“Positive self-talk, prayer and cheering bystanders helped more than words can say,” Dinius wrote in her blog following the race.
“This is the first (half marathon) I’ve actually trained for,” Dinius said. “I probably could run faster and not feel so great. I don’t really know what I’m capable of.”
Dinius has many more miles to go before she races at the Olympic trials, a race she said could be either in Houston or in Los Angeles, Calif. — south of her home in the Bay Area community of Palo Alto, home to her alma mater.
“I’m so glad that it’s two years away,” Dinius said. “I need a lot of time, a lot more time and a lot higher mileage. It is a little daunting. I can’t imagine going for a 20-mile tempo run.”
As if training for a marathon with Olympic Games implications isn’t enough, Dinius said she’d also like to qualify for the national trials in the 10,000-meter race. She runs for the New Balance Silicon Valley Club team and has several races lined up in the next couple of months.
“I’m doing track this spring for the first time in a long time, over two years,” Dinius said. “I think it will be much more difficult.”
The U.S. Olympic Trials standard is 33 minutes; Dinius’ top 10k time is 33:18. She comes with experience, however. Dinius is a three-time collegiate All-American, twice in the 10,000 meters.
Dinius, a 2007 Sequim High School graduate, is married to SHS grad Shane Dinius — a prep star at Sequim High in his own right — and works at Stanford University’s Kingdom First Ministries.
In September, Dinius won the Disney Half-Marathon with a time that nearly qualified her for the U.S. Olympic trials. Four months later, she did exactly that in Houston.