I always look forward to racing in Yokohama. Japan is one of the few countries where I don’t see a large American influence. It is crowed, but not congested. Rice is served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the hotel breakfast buffet salads, rice, soups, and dim sums were plentiful. I opted for the rice porridge, which was delicious, but I’m looking forward to my normal bowl of oatmeal this week.
It was raining on race day. I wasn’t excited for the rain, but I was prepared. I knew the likelihood of a puncture or a crash was higher than normal so I wanted to ride near the front to try to avoid being behind any possible crashes. During the bike, my legs felt awful and I had to keep reminding myself that feelings don’t matter. I told myself that I can feel horrible and still produce. I made it through the bike course upright and in the front pack. Even though it was raining, I felt safe on the course, mainly because every ten meters there were volunteers guarding the course. Japanese fans lined the course in the pouring rain, cheering on the leaders; however, they roared with excitement when one of their own national athletes would go by. It was incredible! The fans in Japan are incredibly generous. I received a few gifts from fans who wanted an autograph or picture. I signed countless shirts, pictures, brochures, and hats post-race.
Yokohama was my last opportunity to run a fast 10k before the Rio test event in August later this year (which is USA’s first Olympic Qualifying race). Because of this I wanted to push my limits so I surged early on in the 10k and compatriot Renee Tomlin went with me. Renee is a USA College Recruitment Program athlete who has a killer run…and kick. I did not want to be in a sprint finish with her! Renee and Ashleigh Gentle kept the 10km honest with fast paces. I was in the lead, but nervous the girls behind were going to catch me. I ended up crossing the finish line in first, with two Australians behind me (Gentle and Emma Moffat) with Tomlin coming through in fourth.
You may have noticed I had a few new accessories at Yokohama, my favorite being a new helmet design. A few weeks ago, Red Bull mailed me a newly designed Specialized Evade helmet. It is one of the neatest things I own and means so much to me because it tells a story about where I come from. On one side of the helmet is Bucky Badger (Go UW Badgers!) catching monarch butterflies. The monarch butterfly is Minnesota’s state insect. On the other side is Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Paul Bunyan is American Folklore. He traveled around Minnesota, and each one of his footsteps is said to have created one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. He is also known for eating huge stacks of pancakes. I couldn’t be happier to carry pieces of my Minnesota home with me everywhere I go, thanks to Red Bull. I also raced in new running flats: ASICS Tartherzeal 3. They are lighter than my previous race shoes and have more grip (which proved to be VERY useful in the rain!)
Thank you to the ASICS team for their support. A huge team showed up in Yokohama, showering me with ASICS gear and collecting my input on products. Thank you as well to Sandy from Specialized who made sure my bike was clean and ready on race day. I have so many people to thank for my performance. What you see on race day is such a small part of what my team and I do. Jamie and Patrick play daily roles in getting me ready to compete on race day. But they aren’t the only ones. I have physios, psychologists, nutritionists, sponsors, massage therapists, the Wizards, fans, and then, of course, family and friends who are supportive even when I’m away for eight months of the year. My support is world class. It motivates me to perform on race day. I am now back in Vitoria (Basque region of Spain) where I will base until the end of the season. Up next for me is a sprint WTS in London on May 31st.
Thank you for your support! Photo thanks to Delly Carr
I love this helmet! Thank you Red Bull for the design! To learn more about Paul Bunyan google him :) Photo thanks to witsup.com
So many things I love about this helmet! Photo thanks to witsup.com
Bucky Badger!!!! Enough said. Photo thanks to witsup.com
The Wizards riding in Yokohama
Sushi was inexpensive and delicious!
This was my favorite sushi roll I had while in Japan.
Because it was raining I warmed up on my SportCrafters trainer in my hotel room to stay dry and warm.
This fan had me sign the pink folder last year, and found me again this year to sign the white board. She also brought me a gift! So humbled by her generosity.
Post race with the podium girls Gentle and Moffatt and children from a local children's hospital.
Patrick, me, and the ASICS team in Japan.
My pre race dinner: rice, chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, asparagus, lemon, and cheese.
Race photo thanks to Delly Carr
Race photo thanks to Delly Carr
I love this photo Delly Carr took.
Signing things and taking photos with fans post race.