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Archive for September, 2008

feeding a hungry triathlete (me)

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #5: fuel your body properly, eat your fruits and veggies!

This weekend Mat took us on a group outing to the local market in Olongapo City, which is just outside the main gate leading into Subic. Subic is a former U.S. Naval base and most of the locals lives right outside the base in Olongapo. Everything is also way cheaper on the other side of the gates–you can get your laundry done (washed, dried AND folded) for 20 pesos/kg outside vs. 150 pesos/kg inside Subic! Mat lives in Olongapo while me and our new friend Keegan the Kiwi are staying at the hotel just a 5-minute walk from the main gate.

umbrella-sign

When crossing the gate, you have to remember to close your umbrella. I don’t have an umbrella, but maybe I should get one if I really want to pass as a local. See, many locals always carry an umbrella with them for two purposes…the obvious 1) it’s rainy season here, and the not so obvious 2) unlike Westerners who like to go tanning and get darker, here it is frowned upon to get too dark. I guess the grass is always greener? Actually it’s like that in many Asian countries. Years ago, I remember being dragged by my college friends to some Chinese spa/salon to get facials before our graduation (my first and last time, I assure you) and I was disapprovingly told I was “too dark” and that I should not go outside so much. HA!! But I digress, that is why you see so many locals (particularly women, but men too) with umbrellas out on perfectly clear and dry days. Taller folks like our little TBB brigade here need to watch out for these umbrellas, because as Mat noted, everyone here is shorter than us and the umbrellas can hit you in the eye if you’re not paying attention.

umbrellas

Once past the gate, you can hitch a ride on these little motor bike carriages for 15 pesos. The market is just about a mile down the road. Mat calls them tricycles but I think they are more like pedicabs with a motor.

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Here is a view from the inside. You can squeeze two passengers in one if you don’t mind getting cozy, even if you have wide hips like me. hehe. But note that you shouldn’t smoke inside, or you’ll get fined big time! So much for your big fantasty of smoking a cigarette while riding in a motorized pedicab with your hair blowing in the wind.

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There is a big smelly section of the market that has very fresh seafood.

squids

I thought about getting some squid just to say “so I went to the Philippines, bought my own squids at the market, cooked ‘em up and ate ‘em! and they were so good!” but as the only way I can currently cook in my bathroom/kitchen is by boiling things, boiled squid just doesn’t sound too appetizing. Fried calamari is the only way to go! Maybe next time!

mat-squids

The fish is so fresh that they are still flopping around the table. I told these guys to hold still and say cheese, but you can see the one fish closest to the seller’s hand wasn’t listening and blurred my photo. Oh well.

floppy-fish

Then we got to the main attraction, fruits and veggies. Here is a huge pile of those red spiky fruits with the lychee-like things inside. I keep forgetting what they are called, but I like them. You have to squeeze the heck out of them to make the fruit pop out. See, it’s both fun and yummy to eat.

red-spikies

I loaded up on a bunch of veggies. This particular stand had an ipod hooked up and was playing Soulja Boy – Crank That, which reminded me of my coworkers Gary and Marie at home and made me smile. I bought 170 pesos worth of veggies from them and complimented their music selection, even though we all hated that song. HEHE

veg-stand

We saw a couple guys playing some form of checkers with bottlecaps. In the foreground they are selling chains of what I think is the national flower here, and in the background is shaved coconut.

checkers

I got home after spending maybe $8 US in fruits and veggies. Here’s my loot:

loot

There’s 2 mangoes, 1 HUGE papaya (and this was a small one), 2 avocadoes, a bunch of bananas, broccoli, a whole kilo of eggplant, some green onion, 2 cucumbers, and 2 bunches of green beans. By the time I snapped this photo, I had already ate the red spiky fruits I bought. yum! this should last me for a whole week. maybe.

Pampanga Prosthetics Mission #1

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

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How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #4: have a cause and find out how you can help, wherever you may be in the world.

On about the first Saturday of each month, the technicians and staff from the prosthetics clinic in Manila (University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital) along with some physical therapy students go up to Pampanga to help provide prostheses to the locals who have lost legs through vascular disease/diabetes, accidents, or congenital deficiencies. Pampanga is a province north of Manila that is a 1- to 2-hour drive, depending on the traffic, what time you leave, and how many times you stop along the way. On my third day in Manila, slightly jet-lagged but full of enthusiasm, I met up with the techs at UP-PGH, which is only one of a few prosthetics & orthotics clinics in the country.

There is a joke somewhere about Filipinos not being able to go on a one-hour drive without stopping at least once. I think we stopped about 4 times on this 2-hour drive, to pick up a physical therapist, then to possibly pick up someone else but didn’t, then to a gas station so all 9 of us could go to the bathroom (less than an hour in), and then right before we got to Pampanga there was the requisite stop at Jollibee for lunch. I was just going with the flow but slightly horrified at the lack of urgency! We left almost an hour late as we were running on “Filipino time”…and I had shown up an hour early to make sure I didn’t get lost or left behind. Silly American.

I attended the mission after being put in contact with Dr. Penny Bundoc, who is an orthopaedic surgeon and director of the prosthetics & orthotics department in Manila. I want to maximize my time in the Philippines by learning about the prosthetic care here and how I may be of some help, as I’ll be spending some time at training camps here and don’t intend to let four extra years of very specific higher education go to waste. These monthly missions are funded by Physicians for Peace and the local chapter of Rotary International, which also helped fund the clinic in Manila. Expenses are covered so that the amputees who are residents of the province receive their prostheses at no cost to them.

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Over 30 of these patients showed up to either receive new legs or get cast for them. Those that were cast last month would get to take their new ones home, while those getting cast this month would have their new legs fabricated and fit by the next visit to Pampanga (next month). I was put to work immediately, assigned to cast a few below-knee amputees that were gathered outside. (When casting for an above-knee amputation, you wrap plaster of Paris all the way up your groin and over your butt, so these were done inside for a little more privacy.)

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Since I was doing the first castings out in public view and was also the token American prosthetist who had come from afar, everybody wanted to watch what special casting techniques I might have up my sleeve. And I mean everybody…all the patients, their family members, the Filipino technicians. We were outdoors and I was sweating like mad, from a mixture of the heat, humidity, and all those pairs of eyes watching me! There was even running commentary in Tanglish (Tagalog/English) on my casting technique, where I was from (American? Korean? oh, Chinese! Chinese but American!), and my god, how much I was sweating (should we wipe her sweat or something?)! Whew, was it hot out there or was it just me?? I did make sure to draw a smiley face over the knee cap to help break the ice, a la my residency director and mentor Gary Berke…before he sent me off to the Philippines, he reminded me just to think WWGD–What Would Gary Do?? He would draw a smiley face, that’s what he would do. (Bony landmarks like the patella or “kneecap” and tibia are marked with an indelible pencil that transfer to the inside of the plaster cast.)

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Meanwhile, some of the technicians helped fit the patients casted last month with their new legs. Some of the patients were previous prosthetic users whose current legs no longer fit, while some were brand new patients that had never used a prosthesis before.

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Dr. Bundoc (in yellow) helped educate a new patient and her family on the ins and outs of her new prosthesis:

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Later we were moved inside (which helped decrease my sweat rate significantly), where more castings were done in the room I was assigned to. In the other room, the PT students were helping to teach the patients how to walk. I was pretty intrigued that for the most part, my casting techniques were not all that different from the Filipino methods. Even the prosthetic legs themselves are not so different, other than the materials used for the socket (the custom-made portion which fits onto the patient, made from the cast). However, there was one patient who had been using a wooden leg he had carved himself–pretty impressive and extremely lightweight! I’m not sure how comfortable it was, but he got a new leg to take home that day.

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When all was said and done, there were some happy patients that could walk home, and some others that would get their new legs soon. Here is the awesome team from the UP-PGH clinic that helped make it happen:

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a ton more photos can be found on my web album at:
http://picasaweb.google.com/iwjocelyn/ProstheticsMissionPampanga#

Big thanks to Lhea for taking all these photos!

getting down with the local triathletes

Monday, September 15th, 2008

as mentioned, my last night in Manila was spent meeting and singing with a TON of the local triathletes. Because we all know that Step #3 of How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar is: get to know your local triathletes and learn how they throw it down, Pinoy style!

The karaoke party was thrown as the Kona send-off for Ani De Leon, one of the top Filipina triathletes and coaches here who is COMPLETELY loved by the tri community. Apparently the Magnet Cafe in Manila regularly has live band karaoke, which is so much more fun…aside for the lack of bouncing ball, which threw me off more than once. :P here are some really fun photos of the event:

the guest of honor herself:
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ani-oke3 ani-oke7 ani-oke5

and here is me and Ria, collectively we are the two tallest women in the whole country (she is 5’10″). we sang a couple duets together, namely “Like a Virgin” and “Bitch.”

ani-oke

oh, SO MUCH FUN! Filipinos are not shy about singing, and they all can sing pretty decently too! ….meanwhile, here in Subic I am learning my way around. Mat came by last night with a pineapple for a welcome gift (aw!) and today I biked to the pool for a swim at the Brent School. I got the whole pool to myself and the water temp wasn’t as warm as I thought it would be, good thing Mat had briefed me on which lane to swim in! I’m also trying to figure out how to cook meals in my hotel bathroom so I don’t have to keep eating out, it is tricky, but I’ll make it work!

it’s been raining a lot in the late afternoon so I’ve learned to do my bikes in the morning and early afternoon. Apparently it is rainy season now, I asked Ria “why didn’t you WARN me it would rain so much?” and she says “I did!! Remember, I told you to bring your rain jacket and wellies!” oh. but I had gotten so distracted wondering what the heck “wellies” were that I missed the whole warning…

ROAD TRIP!! Manila to Subic…

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

to-subic

Manila was a great experience, but the traffic was a bit horrendous to say the least and I’m eager to go on a bike ride that doesn’t involve doing 1-2 mile circuits repeatedly. The last few days I moved from San Juan to the financial district of Makati City to stay with my awesome friend Ria, who is apparently one of the big social coordinators for tri clubs here. :) There was more concrete and I didn’t get bit by any more mosquitoes. yaaaay… We also trained with her tri club, the Polo Triathlon Team which was awesome. I was very impressed with the number of sponsors they have, including a milk company and an air-conditioning company!

My last night in Manila I attended a fundraiser/party for Ani, one of the local triathletes and first Filipino to qualify for Kona! It was a karaoke party with live band (they called it Ani-oke) and they were raising money for her trip to Hawaii. It was incredible the amount of people that showed up to support her from the Filipino triathlon community–at least 5 or 6 triathlon clubs were represented…Fitness First, Polo Tri, Tri Dogs, Tri Hard, boys from Pampanga, more that I don’t remember as I didn’t even realize there were so many tri clubs here! I fulfilled my duties representing teamTBB and as maybe the only American, performing the requisite Britney Spears and later Madonna. HEHEHE :D

The next morning, Ria and I loaded up the car for a ROAD TRIP! to Subic. (oh, I almost forgot to say we stopped by Makati Cinema Square before leaving so I could stock up on some dirt cheap DVD’s…all the latest movies and TV show series I missed while too busy training and working at home…! hehehe) We left the traffic of the city and I was stunned at how beautiful and green the land became…with mountains and wide, open spaces stretching out so far!

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and then, we were there!

welcome-to-subic

I then proceeded to move my belongings into the Grand Seasons Hotel. It is strange to be living in a hotel for nearly 2 months, this is by far better than the Motel 6 I’m accustomed to! In fact the toilet paper was folded to a much fancier point than any hotel I’ve ever been in:

folded-tp
(I know, you all probably think I have some weird bathroom fetish…)

it is pretty spacious here, I could almost do a cartwheel in my room!
hotel2 hotel1

anyway I have now completely unpacked and went to the grocery store right behind the hotel to stock up the mini fridge. There’s no kitchen or microwave, but there is a water boiler…prepping meals here will be a little tricky but to my delight there is also a Chow King within walking distance which is a really big Chinese fast food chain here. I’d never tried it before but was completely impressed with their congee, a rice porridge that my mom also makes at home (we call it “jook”) and tastes just like hers too! I had that today for lunch with a side of veggies and it came out to 58 pesos….(the exchange rate is ~46 pesos = $1 USD).

I want to give a very big thanks to both the Concepcion family and Ria for hosting me in Manila and welcoming me to my first trip to the Philippines. Now it is time for some serious training in Subic!

how & why I’m on the team.

Monday, September 8th, 2008

There has been a lot of curiosity as how I got to be on teamTBB, especially on a certain other forum, and I guess people think if they know how I got in, maybe that will help them get in too. of course it’s done on a case-by-case basis, so this is just my own situation. I crafted out a response that turned out to be quite long (I tried to make it short too!) so figured I might as well post it here too.

I’m not on the team because I am fast. I’m on the team to make a difference in the world and at the same time have the opportunity to pursue my potential in the sport. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true. The team motto is “We make life better, two wheels at a time,” and while a lot of the press we get is because my teammates are so darn fast (quadruple ironman win this weekend!!!) the underlying goal of the team is to help improve the life of others via the sport of triathlon.

I’ve never won my AG in an Ironman or even qualified for Kona…unless you count the time I went 5:44 at Half Vineman, taking 9th in my AG, and found out months later that the Kona slot had rolled down to 12th. My fastest Ironman time is a 12:08, which was good enough at the time to win the Collegiate Ironman Championships in Wisconsin but really nothing phenomenal. It’s my 9th season in triathlon and I’m a decent age grouper. I used to flirt with the possibility of going pro more in the younger years, before the reality of money, time, and genetic talent constraints hit me and I went the safe route.

I found a career path I was just as passionate about as triathlon, the field of prosthetics, where I get to help people who have lost their legs regain the abilities that many of us triathletes take for granted. In fact I first learned about prosthetics the summer I was training for my first Ironman. The juxtaposition of me training for Ironman while meeting people who used prosthetic legs to also bike and run made a deep and lasting impression on me. I still find that being involved in both triathlon and prosthetics strongly complement each other.

I got my foot in the door with teamTBB because I am Asian (Chinese by blood, American by birth). About 1.5yrs ago I saw a post in that other forum announcing this new pro team. I knew some of the pro names as women that had won the very Ironmans I’d done. I was intrigued that they were training in Asia (Thailand at the time), and were sponsored by The Bike Boutique, an Asian bike franchise headquartered in Singapore. They wanted to inspire greater triathlon participation in Asian countries via social development programs and even more impressive, it was part of the pros’ jobs to mentor underprivileged Asian youths. None of the pros were Asian though, and they were scouting Asian athletes.

Something told me to contact them. So I did. I said something like “Well, I am Asian-AMERICAN and living in Texas, I am a top age grouper and one of the fastest Asian-American girls on the triathlon circuit…” The running joke with my friends was that I was competing for the unofficial title of Fastest Asian-American Female Triathlete in the World, which really meant in the USA. Which was pretty easy when I was living in Georgia and Texas, I’d be the only Asian girl on the podium but also the only Asian person in most races. But hey, I’ve improved enough in this past year that I was still top Asian girl in all my races the past couple seasons even back in California and at Ironman China. Not that anyone keeps tabs on this. :)

They asked for a race resume and more information about myself, not just as an athlete but as a person. There was a very intense email exchange with Brett (our coach) to determine if I had what it took to be on the team. I didn’t realize that I was being interviewed to become a development member on the squad and train with them full-time. I had been on smaller sponsored teams like Amino Vital which just gave you free product and a uniform to race in and thought hey, maybe I can score a heavily discounted bike or something. Brett said it didn’t matter what my current ability was, which was good because I was sure I wasn’t fast enough.

In the end, it wasn’t even my race results or ethnicity that got me on the team. It was my involvement with prosthetics. Since I became interested in the field at age 20, one part that drew me in was learning about humanitarian work being done in landmine inflicted countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia. There was a program with the International Red Cross, but you had to be 25 years old with 3 years of experience. Turning 25 seemed so far away, but I knew this was something I wanted to do, go to Asia and help people walk again. I was born and raised in the States and had never even been overseas until I did IM China in April, so I thought this would give me a chance to see the world and make a difference. I really wanted to go to Asia as that is where my family is from. 5 years would give me time to actually go to school for prosthetics (2 years at the master’s level) and do my 2 years of residency. I made a proposal to Brett and Alex (our team manager)–let me finish my prosthetic residency first, and then when I am at training camp in Asia, I want to do some prosthetic work there with the local clinics. Social responsibility is a big part of the team mission, so here I am.

I have a dual purpose for being on the team…one is selfish, to try to become the best triathlete I can be, but the other is to use the opportunities I receive from this selfish sport and to help others become active and able again. Right now I am only doing prosthetic work in the Philippines but have goals to also do missions in Vietnam and Cambodia. Even bigger long-term goals include starting up something like a version of the Challenged Athletes Foundation here, doing some how-to clinics for disabled athletes, and recruiting local amputees and training them for the Paralympics.

Funding of course is always a problem, for both the projects I want to do and just for getting myself out here, so my ears are open to anyone with ideas on this. This is why it is also important to became as fast of a triathlete as I can be. Brett and Alex say that the more successful I can get at this sport, the more people I can help.

this can also be considered as step #0 of my series on How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar: get yourself a spot on the best triathlon team in the world. :)

How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #2: Learn how to handle being a celebrity from a real celebrity.

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Yesterday night I got to be part of Gabby Concepcion’s small entourage. It was fun! As you may recall, this is the older brother of my cousin’s husband (Rick) who is a famous movie star here in the Philippines. To me, he’s just Rick’s brother. But for Filipinos every where, it was like Zac Efron in a room of screaming prepubescent girls. Yesterday I got my first taste of the Asian celebrity life!

I hadn’t seen Gabby and his wife Ginbee since they moved back to Manila from the US earlier this year. Rick is also here at the same time to visit the family. Yesterday was a Sunday, which is a huge “family day” in the Philippines, and tons of relatives and family friends came by the house to have lunch and smoke. (Almost everyone smokes here, it’s kind of yuck.) so Gabby and Ginbee come by and Rick pawns me off their way as I didn’t have plans for the evening. They asked if I wanted to go to the mall show with them, and Gabby told me to try not to get bored!

He was apparently a really big deal back in the 80′s, then moved to the USA for I think 13 years, and then back to Manila. Now he is on a hit TV show (a romantic drama) and recently released his first CD, full of what the Pinoys love best, slow sappy love songs! He is doing a series of promotional appearances at the local malls for the new CD, where he sings a few songs and then signs autographs. So we took off with his good friend Martin, who was acting as driver and psuedo-manager, the four of us in the car with dark tinted windows.

Off to the Santa Rosa Star Mall! It was delightful fun as the crowd was barricaded and they just went CRAZY, absolutely CRAZY when they watched him sing. There was so much cheering and screaming, it was deafening. I was very impressed with how he handled the fans, he was really sweet, nice, gracious, and funny. Ok, he was speaking in Tagalog but I got to sit with Ginbee by the front of the stage and had Martin translating for me. I helped frisbee the fliers/mini-posters of Gabby and his TV show into the crowd after the performance and I was immediately swarmed by a sea of arms grabbing at me from EVERYWHERE. Oh my god. these women are FANATICAL. I was way too slow at this and a bunch of girls broke through the side barricade, grabbing at me! OH GOD. Good thing I am bigger than all of them, some of them were jumping up to try to grab a poster, and a security guard had to come help fight them off. He was smaller than me, but it helped.

Ginbee and I went shopping in the mall during the autograph signing and it was like going to Serramonte. You see, I grew up in Pacifica, California, right on the Pacifica-Daly City border, and went to elementary school, middle school, and high school in Daly City. Daly City is a predominantly Filipino town and anyone from Manila knows where it is, because everyone here has family there!! Our high school was essentially half Filipino and half Chinese (slight exaggeration, but just slight) and Serramonte was our local mall. So quite honestly I am used to being in a sea of Filipinos, and going to the stores, the Starbucks, and the Wendy’s here is not too different, except for the pastries at Starbucks, the spaghetti on the menu at Wendy’s, the Tagalog language, and of course the ever-present soundtrack of sappy love songs.

We stayed in the car as we watched Gabby go into Max’s restaurant for some promotional photographs (they had sponsored the mall appearance). I was very amused watching everyone in the restaurant get up and turn his way as he made his way through Max’s, with an even bigger crowd gathering as he made his way back to the car. People were following us as we drove through the parking lot and yelling “Gabby Gabby Gabby!” He always had to be escorted by Martin and a few security guards just getting out of the car and into buildings. crazy!!

The whole thing was kind of nuts (and to me kind of hilarious) but it was still not as psychotic as Britney Spears being pursued by the paparazzi. Phew. So what did I learn from this experience and how can I apply it to becoming a triathlon superstar? Well I certainly thought it was awesome having so many fans cheering their little hearts out. I think the Ironman equivalent would be having spectators cheer for you as you are winning an Ironman. Ok, let’s add that to the “to do” list. It is also really important to be nice to your fans, treat your sponsors well and in general, don’t be a douchebag! Your public image is important and rest assured, I plan to be one of the triathlon pros who is always fun, approachable, willing to write you an autograph and take a photo with you. Ok, so I’m not famous yet but who says I’m not trying? :)

first days in Manila

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

well I think I am over my jet lag now! it was a brief struggle, but I was having coke and coffee (actually a Frapuccino at Starbucks) the previous afternoons so I would stop wanting to fall asleep when it was nighttime in California. I am not typically a coffee or soda drinker so caffeine is a big stimulant for me. :)

Here are my observations on my first few days in Manila:

1. Filipinos REALLY love their slow sappy love songs. that is what everyone listens to in the car, and that’s what they play even in fast food restaurants, like at Wendy’s.

2. I don’t want to drive here. I’m totally scared of riding my bike here (luckily I can borrow a turbo from my local friend Ria). Heck, I even get scared riding in the car… I am always blown away at how there aren’t a billion car wrecks or pedestrian accidents when I’m in the car for say, 30 minutes.

3. Massages are dirt cheap! I got a 2-hour one for the equivalent of $13 USD. Considering I haven’t been able to afford a massage at home for…oh, MONTHS…this was AWESOME!!

4. being on “Filipino time” is seriously late. my best friend in grad school was from Barbados and she was always on “Caribbean time.” it’s very laid back island style…

5. mosquitoes love me. GRRR. if I go for 10 mins without bug spray in the morning, that is already 10 new bug bites.

6. it is hot and humid here though not unbearable. It’s not too different from when I lived in Atlanta for 2 years. except the surprise thunder storms are a little crazy, 15 minutes of VERY hard rain, flooding of the streets and then suddenly it’s gone.

7. there’s really not much to complain about here though. there is a pretty big difference between social classes here and I know when I go back home to the USA, there will be nothing to complain about. NOTHING!

8. I am taller than everyone. EVERYONE. I get stared at, and I’m not even white.

so I am staying with my cousin’s family, the Concepcions, which happens to be, well, ridiculously famous here in the Philippines. My cousin is what I call a half generation older than I am (her two munchkin kids are the niece and nephew I’ve mentioned previously), and when I was 9 years old she got married to the brother of this apparently huge Filipino movie star. Not being Filipina or following their pop culture, this doesn’t mean much to me other than I have super nice extended family to take care of me and show me around while I’m here. I mean, we would see him every Christmas and Thanksgiving before he moved back to Manila. I just remember thinking when I was younger, my cousin was the first one in our family to marry someone who didn’t have a one-syllable, 3- to 5-letter Chinese last name. Apparently the brother is like the Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt of the Philippines, even when I am out with the rest of the family, we get stares when we go out to eat. (Or maybe it’s because I’m super tall here.) It is a total trip though seeing him all over billboards when driving through town and weird when people figure out that we are related (as remotely related as we are) and go totally crazy.

The other strange thing is having maids and servants in the house waiting on you. Like, no really, I can get the soy milk out of the refrigerator myself. But it’s been nice eating all the local dishes and trying new fruits. like this spiky little red one that is similar to a lychee inside. there is a coconut tree in the yard and the mangoes are REALLY fresh.

On Saturday I got to do my first prosthetic mission out here in Pampanga, it was very awesome and I will dedicate a full blog post on this with some pictures. We saw over 30 patients yesterday, half of them got new legs and the other half got casted and measured for new legs. I was pretty stoked as this is something I have wanted to do since first learning about the field of prosthetics in 2002 (at the same time I was training for my first Ironman). I’ll be heading to the local clinic later this week to help them fabricate.

one more week in Manila and then I go off to Subic next weekend!

LAX to Tokyo flight report

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

hello from the Tokyo airport! things of note:
a) they have American plug outlets.
b) the white bread on their sandwiches don’t have crusts. (my sister would like that)
c) there’s no sushi in this airport.
d) I’M SOOOO HUNGRY!!

The 11-hour flight was pretty uneventful. I remember getting really thirsty and dehydrated the last time I flew so long, so this time I was prepared…I bought 4 water bottles in LAX (20 oz/600mL)…drank them all, plus more water from the flight attendants, a can of tomato juice, 2 apple juices, and an orange juice. Good thing the flight was semi-empty because no one sat next to me and I had to get up and pee FIVE TIMES. and I still felt thirsty and somewhat dehydrated.

I got to catch up on some movies…Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (I LOVE Amy Adams!!), Speed Racer (teehee), and the latest Indiana Jones. *spoiler warning* OMG, I can’t believe Racer X was really Rex (super hot btw), and the boy from Even Stevens was Indy’s son! no way! (FYI that was sarcasm, I could see those plot developments a mile away.)

so here I am, starving, because my snacks and the two in-flight meals (chicken with mashed potatoes and then cheese pizza) didn’t cut it. Wow I am totally going to lose weight on this trip at this rate! I even ate the cookies and brownie that came with the meals. So it is 1am home time, and of course I’m starving, “you barely ate anything all day, genius.”

I set out to find some sushi…you know, go to Japan for 2.5 hours, eat some sushi…makes perfect sense to me. no such luck, they had hot dogs, chili dogs, spaghetti, Chinese fried rice…seriously??? I finally asked and they said they don’t have sushi here. Instead I had to settle for some udon noodles. I was going to order the eel with rice, but it was 2000 yen. that’s almost $20. NO WAY. I got some udon for $10, which satisfied me for maybe 2 minutes. then I bought two sandwiches. Actually it’s more like 2 packs of sandwiches. 1 pack had 2 fried fish sandwiches, and the other pack has 1 egg, 1 ham, and 1 potato sandwich. I ate the first pack and am still hungry. Let’s start on the other one. I feel like a beast! maybe I should get a hot dog!

so this was going to be the “bathroom post” because my American friends were incredulous when I described the fabulous Japanese toilets the last time I flew through here. SO I TOOK PICTURES. unfortunately my data cable for the camera phone is NOT cooperating, so the bathroom post will be saved for another day when I have figured the picture thing out. boo, I know.

next stop, Manila!

How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #1.

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

hey blog fans. sorry for the lack of updates, I was put on racing probation until I get faster (teehee) and completely busy writing my final term paper and finishing up my residency hours. BUT!! expect a lot more blogging from me in the next two months as I embark on my next overseas adventure…my first team training camp in the Philippines!!

I’m writing this as I sit in the Los Angeles airport. it was a short flight from San Francisco, in another hour I will get on the plane to sit for 11 hours to Tokyo (where I will visit the funny bidet toilets, my favorite part), and then 3 hours to Manila. yes, a couple of layovers to get there but no complaints from me as my good friend Mark Cathcart (former president of British Triathlon Association and whole-hearted supporter of aspiring young pros) donated his frequent flier miles my way to make this trip possible. Thanks Mark!!

hooray, I finished my prosthetic residency last month and it feels very liberating to be done with all those years of education!! I still have my last set of board exams to take in mid-November (a couple weeks after I come home), so I packed my study materials. But for the most part I am DONE with school and will be training my ass off to climb up the ladder in the triathlon world. Right now it is like I’m on junior varsity…ok, maybe just the freshman squad!

So I think I’ll start a series called “How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar.” Obviously I am not yet (YET!!) an Asian triathlon superstar, nor do I know how long it takes to become one, but of course the goal in going to training camp and training with the team is to become pretty damn good at this triathlon thing.

Here I am at Step #1: get your butt to Asia.

what does one pack for 2 months of training camp? training clothes. lots of training clothes. I probably overpacked, but here is a glimpse at what’s in my suitcase:

4 x 1pc swimsuits
3 x 2pc swimsuits
1 x beach bikini
4 x run visors
1 pr armwarmers (just in case…)
3 pr compression socks
1 pr compression sleeves
7 pr tri shorts
6 tri tops/sleeveless bike jerseys
2 short sleeve bike jerseys
5 short sleeve technical running shirts
2 long sleeve technical running shirts
8 shimmels (i.e. fitted tanks with the shelf bras)
1 technical tank
8 sports bras
8 running shorts
8 pr run socks
1 rain jacket
1 light jacket for going out
2 pr jeans
3 skirts
2 pr jean shorts
2 pr casual shorts
1 pr capris
1 changing skirt
5 halter tops
4 tank tops/wife beaters
1 pr scrubs
4 long sleeve shirts
6 cotton tees
7 pairs of underoos
7 bras
2 Sticks (1 travel size, 1 regular)
1 TP massage ball
1 superhero cape
1 captain’s hat

The captain’s hat is from the bon voyage party that my friends threw for me. They made me promise to bring it so I can remember the fun times I had before I become a totally serious hard-core bad ass triathlete slaving away at training camp. yes… I was guilty of declaring corny things like “I am CAPTAIN OF MY DESTINY!!”

arrrrr-mateys

so those are my clothes. I also have the ginormous bike box which I had to pay $200 to fly with me (argh argh argh), a small carry-on with my textbooks and helmet, and my laptop backpack so I can keep in touch with everybody. My bike got slapped with both the bike fee AND the oversize fee. the counter lady at American Airlines had the nerve to ask, “is there anything you can take out of the box to make it lighter?”
me: “how much lighter?”
AA: “20 pounds.”
me: “yeah, I could take the whole bike out.”

I actually got stopped in security because the mini Stick was “questionable.” don’t confiscate my Stick! how am I supposed to massage myself on an 11-hour flight? at least I removed all the CO2 cartridges out of my luggage! oh the joys of airline travel. other than the craploads of training clothes, it’s kind of like traveling to do a triathlon.

next stop, Tokyo!!