RadStrong Coaching interviews our latest IRONMAN finisher, Sumie Fujimura who finished Ironman Santa Rosa on Saturday 12th May, with a time of 15 hrs 05 mins. She is our third athlete (2nd woman) to qualify for the 70.3 world championships.
1) Sumie, tell us about your triathlon journey, how did it all begin? My first triathlon race was actually 25 years ago. Just left competing in the US intercollegiate swimming, it was quite natural to be drawn into it. I did few short distance races, and then got too occupied with further studies and work, living across multiple continents. It was only about 7 years ago I re-started, this time together Yuki, my husband, back in Japan. We joined a triathlon club and attended swim and run workouts. When we moved to Singapore 5+ years ago, we again found a club to swim with. We did our first 70.3 in Malaysia in 2014. 2) So you move to India, how did you find RadStrong? I just looked up internet and found Radstrong. It was early 2015 and I remember going my first running with Kau at 5:45am in Deccan with a small group of people. That was the beginning of our journey with RadStrong in Pune. 3) What has been your experience training with Radstrong & Kaustubh in particular? At first, it was like "how to train for triathlon in Pune - 101" as Kau oriented us on where to cycle, swim, and how to run on Indian roads. We then started joining regular morning runs which helped us to efficiently train on running with intervals, hills and tempos. Once I decide to do full Ironman in October last year, Kau has been instrumental in designing tailored training programs. Following those training and guidance’s really helped me built confidence as I knew they were based on both science and extensive personal experiences. 4) When you moved you’re goal was to do a 70.3 how did Ironman come about? I've always wanted to do Full Ironman and it was just a matter of when. Realizing that training in Pune was surprisingly conducive with... Kau being around, good weather, easy access to run, swim and bike training..., I've decided to give it a go, before my India assignment ends. 5) You have a busy job with lots of travel, how did you manage schedules? I work in an agriculture industry so there are some seasonality’s to my traveling. Accordingly I'd selected a race which would finish before the main agricultural season starts. I've also tried to be flexible with weekday training when traveling and took full advantages of gyms, pools, ocean or whatever was available at hotels. Long workouts were normally on weekends so I made conscious efforts to be back home on weekends. 6) How important was it to have an experienced coach like Kaustubh during your ironman journey? Kau's presence in Pune was the biggest deciding factor for me to do my maiden Ironman this year as I knew from the last 2 years of experiences that I would be properly guided. I would not have attempted to do the Full without Kau's coaching. It was also very assuring to go long rides with Kau and other trainees given cycling being my weakest leg and I did not feel safe going long rides solo. As I headed to the race, Kau's positive outlook instilled confidence in me and I was sure to finish the race no matter what happens. 7) Now back to Ironman Santa Rosa, during the race what was the best part, what was the worst? The best part was definitely the swim. I was initially worried about low water temperature at Lake Sonoma but the water was in fact perfect for a wetsuit swim. I kept an easy pace throughout and I really enjoyed the entire hour and 13min of serene experience. The worst part was that I somehow had an upset stomach all day so I kept stopping for restroom more often than I had imagined especially during the run. What I am proud is that this situation did not negatively affect me mentally as I just took it as a matter of fact and did what I needed to do to manage the situation rather than getting frustrated by it.
8) At any time did you feel like this was difficult, how did you cope with it? The bike course was beautiful but also very daunting with many rolling hills and strong headwinds. Even before reaching to the half way, I already felt my legs were overused and got quite worried whether they would last for the entire race. Accordingly I decided to switch to Plan B which was to take it easy on bike so to reserve the legs for the run. This strategy did help as I felt surprisingly fresh and very confident going into the run. 9) Having support from family and friends makes a huge difference, you’re husband yuki was there how was that? Yes it indeed made a huge difference as the places Yuki was cheering became my milestones and "mental energy charging station" that I looked forward to reaching.
10) Feelings when you saw the finish line, what went into your mind? Ecstatic, to say the least. At the same time, I felt very humbled by the whole experience and felt immense appreciation for the support and opportunity given to me to achieve this goal. Triathlon is a sport but it has been teaching me practical and experience-based lessons that go well beyond the boundary of sport - on such topics as work, leadership and mindset. I sure have learned a lot from this Ironman journey and thanks for the opportunity!
11) A huge surprise, a good surprise was to learn you have qualified for the 70.3 World championships for 2018, how does it feel to achieve it?
I feel very fortunate to be given this unique opportunity, and am already looking forward to this race, a new challenge.
Thanks a lot Sumie for your time, we can’t wait for you to come back and celebrate both you’re Ironman and the 70.3 world championship slot.