FLMSTri: Ronnie tells us where you’re from.
RS: I am from Zurich, Switzerland.
FLMSTri: What sports did you play growing up?
RS: Growing up I played soccer, tennis and ice hockey. It started doing triathlon when I was 20 years old. I guess you can say I started cycling when I was playing tennis as I used to ride my bike out and back. It was quit a ride. I ran a bit but it wasn’t until I was older that I started to swim. I think that is why I am not the best swimmer in triathlon.
FLMSTri: What was the very first triathlon you raced?
RS: It was an Olympic distance triathlon in 1997. The race was held in my hometown of Zurich. I remember that my transition wasn’t that fast as I remember putting on socks and gloves. The bike I rode was an aluminum yellow framed bike, it was very ugly.
RS: At that time I was still playing ice hockey so my physique was pretty big. I swore after the race I would never do another triathlon. I got second from last in the juniors group and that wasn’t any fun for me.
FLMSTri: How long did it take you to get back to triathlon?
RS: I came to San Diego in 2000 to study English. While I was there studying I decided to do another one. I did a duathon in Carlsbad, California before getting involved with triathlon. Before the race I went over to Nytro Multisport and I bought a new triathlon bike.
FLMSTri: When did you decide you had what it took t race professionally?
RS: In 2002 I raced Ironman Florida and I did it in 8:53. I was very shocked at how good I did. I came in 7th place. After talking to my family and friends I decided to give it a shot as a pro.
RS: Most people may not know that up until recently, I worked, went to school and raced triathlon. For work I did an internship at an insurance company for 2 years. I finished my communication degree in February 2011. It was important to me that I finished my education before racing full time. 2011 is the first year that I will race pro with no other obligations.
FLMSTri: What does your family think about you racing pro full time vs. using your degree?
RS: My parents really wanted me to finish my education. Which I always thought was a good idea because I need to be prepared for a life after triathlon. I don’t want to feel like I have nothing later on in life. My family is very supportive.
FLMSTri: In 2008 you were 4th place in Kona. Tell us what this means to you.
RS: It was amazing for me, especially because I got to do it in front of my dad. I remember running down Palani Dr and the motorcycle came by and I saw my splits. I have to laugh inside because I always remember seeing this on TV but at that moment is when I realized that I was actually in the mix of things. Before that I really had no idea where I was ranked. I remember that I started to get very excited; I had to control myself so I didn’t blow up. Coming in fourth place that day, I never expected it. It was one of my most successful memories so far.
FLMSTri: In 2009 you came in 18th place and 2010 you came in 15th place. What has changed for you these past few years?
RS: To be honest, the competition has gotten stronger these past few years. The ITU guys have been taking the race to a whole new level. Look at the times. The swim is getting faster; the bike is faster the marathon times are super fast. Personally, my race hasn’t been as good as is needs to be. I think that top 20 in Kona is still a good result but I want to podium.
FLMSTri: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011, now that your studies and internship isn’t getting in the way?
RS: I don’t know if it will be better. I have never had it like this, like only the sport. It may make me crazy just working on the sport fulltime, I don’t know. Have to wait and see how it goes. I will let you know at the end of the year
RS: It’s obvious that I will have more time to train but maybe its not that good because I could end up over training. I may need to just take up cooking to fill up some of my time . I think you can get too caught up in training and that isn’t good for anyone. I think it is good to get away from things once and while. I fell that I will be able to focus more on quality training and recovery. It is going to be different life for me know.
FLMSTri: Do you have a coach?
RS: Not really. I have some people that I consult with; I don’t really consider them coaches. They will help advise me when I need it. I like having the flexibility to change my raining and racing plan. The hardest part is being disciplined and responsible enough to recognize what needs to get done for good quality training session but it is how I have always done it and it has worked for me.
FLMSTri: Do you consult with any of the past champions?
RS: I have talked with many past champions about racing. I also like to watch and learn from them as well. You can take bits and pieces from everybody but I believe that you have to do things your own way, so I do not try to copy what others athletes are doing.
FLMSTri: How would you rank your strength to weakness?
RS: Right now my bike and run are very close. Some days my run is better than my bike and on other days it’s the complete opposite. I am still working on my swim. I have to attribute my bike and run to duathlon.
FLMSTri: What race has the most meaning to you?
RS: That has to be Ironman Switzerland. It’s my hometown race; my family and friends get to come out to watch and cheer. I get to sleep in my own bed . I have been fortunate enough to win this race four times. I feel the atmosphere helps with my preparation for the race. There are some many reasons why I like this race.
FLMSTri: Do you feel a lot of pressure to keep repeating?
RS: I do. But I go into this race with confidence in my preparation; I know the course like the back of my hand. Zurich is my hometown and I feel like everyone knows me and I want to do well.
FLMSTri: What is the ultimate goal for 2011?
RS: My goal is to podium in Kona. I also want to keep improving as an athlete. I also want to do well at Ironman Switzerland.
FLMSTri: What advice would you give to someone who wants to race triathlon?
RS: I think you have to listen to your body and less to training plans. Too many athletes get stuck and focus too hard on the plan. If you don’t listen to your body you may need more time to recover and you may end up with an injury.