“I love rice!” might be some of the strangest post-race interview words I’ve spoken. I always struggle with post-race interviews. I’m not good with interviews to start with, then add in my drained body (both physically and mentally) and you get an “I love rice” answer to a question about why I love Yokohama that was never asked.
I really do love Yokohama, but the reasons why are more plentiful than rice. Yokohama WTS won my heart in 2012. The ITU and Local Organizing Committee (LOC) set the standard in Yokohama: the event is well run, thoroughly thought out, organized, and the city is incredibly invested in the event. Fans line the roads in both rain (2013) and sunshine (2014), the quality of the roads are impeccable, the city is ready for the athletes and there are posters everywhere showcasing the ITU event. We are also welcomed and sent off by the Mayor and others with a delicious Japanese meal (with lots of rice). The LOC makes the race easy, so we as athletes can focus on racing. I was also fortunate to have Patrick, Jamie, USAT, and the ASICS and Specialized teams in Yokohama for additional support, making pre- and post-race a synch.
After two disappointing WTS races, I was eager to race again and put together a solid swim, bike, and run. I knew what to expect from the Yokohama course as this was my third time racing here. In 2012, I came into T2 in the front pack, but ended up eighth on the day with the eighth fastest run. The bike course in Yokohama looks fairly easy on paper, but if you don’t ride in a good position, it can hurt your legs on the run. I knew, from the previous two years, that I needed to be in a good position on the bike in order to execute on the run.
When the gun went off, I focused on my swim technique and getting to the first buoy as quickly as possible. There was fighting around the buoys, but I managed to exit the 1500m swim in 13th place. As I exited the water, I knew I had to be aware and alert. I saw key players in front of me and took advantage of the long run to T1 to gain some time. I ended up coming out of T1 in third and had a brief moment of shock, before I regained focus for the bike. In the early stages of the bike, there was a group of about 14 girls; however, we were not working well together and we ended up coming into T2 with about 45 girls. My position wasn’t great, but I managed to get to my shoes safely and start the run with the leaders in sight. The sun was out and it was hot. I wasn’t used to the heat, so I tried to keep my body temperature down by taking water at the aid stations. I ran with the leaders for a lap or two, before I was able to make a break and cross the finish line first.
I am happy to have come away with the win in Yokohama. It felt amazing to execute in the swim and bike after the hard work we have been putting in this year. The rest of the season will be a challenge. We are now in Vitoria (Basque region) where we will base training for the remainder of the season. I’m so looking forward to the riding, my Specialized Globe, Salburua runs, tortillas, inexpensive cafes and more.
Thank you for all the messages and support. I’m so grateful for the win and am ready to continue to work. You will find me racing next in London on May 31st.
Video recap with article can be found here: http://www.triathlon.org/news/article/2014_itu_world_triathlon_yokohama_elite_womens_review