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Archive for October, 2008

The Vegemite tasting

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

One of the coolest parts about being a part of an international team is meeting and training with people from different parts of the world. You learn about how there are more sheep in New Zealand than people (and now I understand the sheep jokes associated with Kiwi Keegan) and tomorrow we might have a little Halloween outing as our friends from Japan and South Africa have never celebrated Halloween. In South Africa they also call stoplights “robots”–overheard yesterday, “I can’t believe we caught that big robot green!!”–and phlegm is referred to as “GUNGE.” Which I think is a GREAT word for phlegm! It’s like The Attack of the Killer GUNGE!! Before Beck came, she asked me if there was anything from Australia she should bring and after a small think (she certainly couldn’t bring me a koala bear or kangaroo), I declared “VEGEMITE!!”

I had never seen or tasted vegemite before, I just know it is an Aussie thing from one of those Village People songs. Something about how “she just looked at me and gave me a vegemite sandwich…” Beck said she would also bring “Chico’s” which she said are the best “lollies,” chocolate flavor.

vegemite

So she came over yesterday with this big tube of…vegemite! I didn’t expect it to come in a TUBE. She said it was the travel-size version and usually comes in a jar. I spread what I thought was a thin layer on a piece of bread and it really does look like a dark chocolate spread. I had a bite…and wowwww it is SALTY!! it tasted like soy sauce! I wouldn’t say it was awful, just extremely strange. I certainly wouldn’t ever have a soy sauce sandwich. She said it tastes good with cheese. ?!?! I don’t like cheese either, and can’t imagine a cheese and vegemite sandwich. It needed a lot of water…it was super salty! That was my reaction, I kept saying “It tastes like soy sauce!” She also said what I thought was a thin layer of spread was actually pretty thick. huh.

Then there were the Chico’s. I thought by “lollies” she meant lollipops, but apparently lollies are like fruit snacks. So Chico’s are like little fruit snacks shaped like kids (think Sour Patch Kids but with more definition and no sour powder) and with a chocolate taste. Those were yummy! (Later when we were at the Mini Stop convenience store, she spied Tootsie Rolls and said she had never heard of them before. We might have to have a Tootsie Roll tasting and I can teach her the Tootsie Roll dance that was popular in middle school. “To the left, to the left…to the right, to the right…”)

This tasting occurred within an hour before our big track session last night. The first 15 mins of the run I thought I might vomit. (“stupid vegemite,” I thought.) Then my stomach settled down and I had a really great session. Powered by Vegemite!!

Rest Days Part I

Monday, October 27th, 2008

cannon

How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #10: Take your rest days seriously!

Last weekend we rookies got 2 rest days in a row. Let me tell you, we were confused. Miss South Africa and I decided to be tourists on the first morning off, and took a short 3-block jog to the boardwalk with her camera to take some pictures of Subic Bay, the statues and memorials. Unfortunately this was a terrible idea as we passed by Coach on his morning jaunt and were given a very deadly look, and were later sternly reprimanded (made embarassingly infamous by the rookie thread in the team forum) for being naughty little rookies.

Well. Lesson learned: no running on rest days; it is important to rest my bones so I don’t get injured. So now we know, and well, we have some tourist photos for your viewing pleasure…
subic1 subic2 subic3 subic5 subic6 subic4

more fun and photos about the next rest day to follow soon.

as for a cast update on the freshman squad, we now have an American American, Blake. (Manny likes to emphasize he is CUBAN-American, like how I emphasize I am CHINESE-American, since we all know what Coach thinks of Americans. :) But Blake, he is our All American boy.) I remember Blake from when we both raced in the collegiate division at IM Wisconsin. The best part about having Blake here is that when he gets yelled at by Coach, that is less yelling at me.

Maki and Hiro have also joined me on the quest to become Asian Triathlon Superstars, although it is arguable that they are already triathlon superstars in Japan. I met them previously at Ironman China and we now bring the Asian fraction of this current Subic squad to ONE-THIRD! Our biggest question of course, is if they can understand Sutto Speak… as we silly Americans have some trouble as it is. and we speak English…haha…

Beck has arrived too, although her bag with the vegemite (and her clothes and other more important things) got temporarily lost and is on its way to Subic from Manila. any day now! It is definitely more fun with more athletes here now…like I said…I think I am getting yelled at less now…or it just seems so because there are more people for Coach to yell at.

I love camp!

my new favorite shirt

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

I got the most hilarious shirt at one of the clothing stalls in Olongapo. It’s so funny I just HAD to buy it! and then blog about it!! It’s a cartoon of a ninja on a toilet and it makes NO SENSE. It would be funny if it just had a ninja on a toilet. but the inexplicable caption makes it two times as funny. Now if I am feeling too beat up by Coach’s workouts to smile, all I have to do is look at my ninja shirt and it NEVER fails to crack me up:

ninja-shirt

here it is, zoomed in:

ninja-zoom1

say what? The funniest part is that it says “EXPLANATION” at the top…and it’s true…this shirt needs an explanation! but what is it??? obviously something got lost in translation…all the best t-shirts here have that in common!

It is also one of a kind, but if I can find another one, I MUST get one for my good friend Lettie in Atlanta, who was always a big fan of toilet humor and poop jokes. have a fun day!

The Art of Cooking in Your Hotel Bathroom

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

AKA Feeding a Hungry Triathlete Part II, or How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #9: Save money by cooking in your bathroom.

This post is dedicated to my Mom, whose primary concern is that I’m not eating enough, whether I am at home or overseas. She actually sent a large boxful of food (and toiletries) ahead of me, and it was happily waiting for me when I arrived in Manila. Well Mom, I quickly went through the 4 boxes of cereal, and recently finished the big jar of almond butter, the cans of salmon, and tuna packets. I’m over halfway done with the Nutella, almonds and walnuts, and beef jerkey supply (which gets the thumbs up from Coach). As for the toiletries, I didn’t really need 3 tubes of toothpaste, 4 bottles of hand sanitizer, 5 tubes of sunblock, 2 bottles of contact solution, or a whole year’s supply of mouthwash. And I stopped washing my own clothes after the first week, so the jug of laundry detergent is hanging out under the sink as well. But I will be sure to find good homes for all of them!

box-o-food

oh, and check out the American-sized Nutella (from Costco of course), versus the Filipino-sized Nutella:

nutella

Each of our rooms comes equipped with a water kettle for boiling water to make tea, much like how most American hotels come with a coffee maker. I hear these are good for boiling eggs and making pasta, but lucky me, my Mom hid a better one from home (with a larger opening) in my bike box, pictured below. We can blame her for why my bike box was over the weight limit. ;) This is a fabulous little kettle for boiling water to make oatmeal (which is waaaay cheaper than buying boxed cereal), and will boil eggs and vegetables.

Here’s the bathroom kitchen set-up. All that counter space was practically begging to be made into a kitchen!

cooking-setup

I got tired of eating boiled vegetables with tuna after a couple weeks, so my Pinay sister from another mother, Ria, lent me her electric hot plate. This hot plate totally makes me the envy of all the other TBB freshmen, even Mat who has a gas stove and a huge refrigerator in his apartment. Now, to the 5 people reading this blog, please don’t snitch on me… We are going to be quiet about this hot plate in my bathroom, because while hotel management hasn’t ever actually told me I *can’t* cook in my bathroom with a hot plate, it does magically go into hiding when housekeeping comes in on Tuesdays. It’s probably one of those things where it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, like when getting a body piercing or bringing home a new dog. (right, Mom? right? hahahaha)

I made the executive decision to not deal with any raw meat, as our refrigerator is a tiny little mini bar that doesn’t stay as cold as a real fridge, and I didn’t want raw meat mingling too closely to my produce. There will be no food poisoning from the Hotel Bathroom Restaurant. Over the weeks I’ve learned which vegetables keep the best and cook the easiest. I stopped getting spinach, other leafy green veggies, and bean sprouts because they go bad fast, and potatoes take way too long to boil. Cucumbers and tomatoes make an easy salad, and I’ve been eating a ton of eggplant and green beans (or baguio beans which are like local green beans). Actually I wonder if I will turn purple from eating so much eggplant, like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?? My protein when dining in my room comes from: tuna in a packet, salmon in a can, eggs, beef jerkey, and sometimes chicken in a can (it is rare to find the version here that is lean white meat in water not oil, I bought out the 3-can supply in the Freeport Exchange grocery).

Spices and flavorings are from oyster sauce (a Chinese cooking STAPLE), teriyaki marinade, and spice packets like Kare-kare peanut sauce, and a curry blend with coconut milk powder. And green onions and garlic. I do a lot of stir-fries and experiment a little. The eggplant and green beans get boiled up a little in the kettle before getting thrown on the 88-peso frying pan. Here are some of my concoctions:

Eggplant and tuna scrambled with a couple eggs and green onions:
food1

Baguio beans and salmon in peanut sauce:
food2

Green beans and eggplant with teriyaki salmon and walnuts. Thumbs up!
food3

Eggplant and tuna and egg in coconut curry. Um, this was really my only weird dish (mixing the egg and curry sauce made it too…GOOPY) but I ate it anyway.
food4

Eggplant and tomato in peanut sauce with teriyaki chicken. Yummy.
food5

Sometimes I am too tired to cook, and we go out for dinner maybe every other night. That’s when I get excited about steak, and chicken, and fresh seafood! And the occasional pizza. MMM. Yellow Cab is my favorite pizza place here–unfortunately Sandy’s Pizza doesn’t have a branch out here in Subic yet (that’s Rick’s sister’s pizza place in San Juan). Mmmm…my fave is her Thai chicken pizza, but I will have to settle for the BBQ chicken pizza at Yellow Cab. Honestly though it can be faster to whip up something in the bathroom kitchen than walk to a restaurant, order and wait for meal to be served. If the reality TV show idea is a bomb, I can always host a cooking show for triathletes. ;) I actually rather enjoy cooking in my bathroom–see I have a little bit of “domestic goddess” in me, and it reminds me of my mom too! :) Also I don’t think she (or various ex-boyfriends) actually believe I can cook as she does all the cooking at home.

OK! Do you feel better now Mom? see, I’m eating! and see, I really can cook!

for fun, here is a picture of me and a monkey checking each other out. You can feed a hungry triathlete, but there shall be NO FEEDING THE MONKEYS!!

monkey-jo

Unit and Currency Conversion for Dummies (i.e. Americans)

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #8: Learn to convert to metric units, and convert your money too.

When traveling the world as a future triathlon superstar, and being from the only country in the world that doesn’t use the metric system, it is very useful to know how to convert miles to kilometers, kilograms to pounds and such. Not only are we Americans “soft” as Coach loves to say (ok, he actually says “softc*cks” which makes me giggle), we like to use archaic units that nobody else does. (Yes, I agree this is lame but I can’t help that it’s what I am used to, growing up in the world of pounds, miles, and degrees Fahrenheit.)

There is now another American in the cast of teamTBB: Freshman Year, Manny (who is actually Cuban-American), with rumor of a boy from Wisconsin coming soon. So here it is, a handy-dandy unit conversion guide for us silly Americans.

LENGTH (and VELOCITY). Useful for figuring out the distance you should be running, or how fast you should be biking.
1 kilometer = 0.62 mile and 1 mile = 1.6 km

I usually remember these conversions:
5km = 3.1mi and 10km = 6.2mi (running road races)
40km = 24.8mi (Olympic distance bike)
42km = 26.2mi (a marathon, of course)
90km = 56mi (half IM bike ride)

Example #1: Coach wants to know how fast I was averaging the last hour of my ride…did I hit 40, 42? Huh? 40 or 42 whats? Oh, he means if I was hitting 25-26mph. (Yes, my bike computer is still in mph.)

Example #2: Coach says to run 8k. I scratch my head and figure I’ll do it on the track anyway. Each lap is 400m, so since 2 laps is 800m, I need to do 10 x 2 laps, 20 laps, which divided by about 4 laps per mile is 5 miles. ok!

To determine if you are breaking the speed limit while biking, just multiply the first number by 6.

Example #3: Speed limit sign says “60″. 6 x 6 = 36mph. I wish I had a clever story about how I got pulled over on my bike for speeding, but it hasn’t happened yet. The police guys here really like us. And by “us” I mean friendly girls in spandex with big smiles.

an offshoot of LENGTH is:
HEIGHT and DEPTH. Useful for determining if boys are tall enough to be of any interest. Also helpful in determining how deep the swimming pool goes for those of you with small children who aren’t good swimmers. Yes, I’m not a good swimmer either (YET) but I’d like to at least think I am capable of not drowning in a swimming pool.

Most people in the Philippines know their height in feet and inches because they are pretty Americanized, and actually the hotel pool tells the depth in feet and inches, because we’re in a former US naval base. However, Caroline from South Africa could only tell me her height in centimeters.

1 meter = 100 cm = 3 feet, 3 inches (3’3″)

Example #1: Boys who are 1.83m (6 feet tall) meet the minimum height requirement.

Example #2: Boys who are 1.93m+ (6’4″+) are even better.

What? Did someone just call me a height snob? Yes. Yes, I am. Oh. What was that sound? A hundred hearts breaking across the country? I’m sorry. I really am. ;) Unfortunately for my “social” life but fortunately for my training, there are no cute boys in the 1.83m or taller category within a 42km radius.

WEIGHT. Useful for buying groceries, estimating laundry, and determining if you are going to get dinged for excess baggage charges when flying (which you probably will anyway, bastards!).

1 kg = 2.2 lbs.

Close enough to x2 that you can just double the kilos for a good approximation. Or half the number of pounds you want when shopping for produce.

Example #1: The veggie stand lady asks “how much eggplant you want, one kilo?” Sure, why not. Then you go home with 9 eggplants and wonder if you can eat them all before they go bad.

Example #2: The laundry guy requires you to have a minimum 2kg of clothes to wash. that’s 4.4 lbs. Actually, this is a bad example because I don’t even have a scale here, but I never have trouble meeting the minimum 2kg.

Example #3: Caroline kept saying that her airline only let her take 20 kilos of baggage including her bike. dude, that’s only 44 lbs. This is why she only had 3 workout outfits (before we went shopping MWAHAHAHA). I’m kind of embarassed to say my bike case weighed 70 lbs and I also brought a 50lb suitcase full of clothes. also why I have no trouble meeting the minimum 2kg of laundry.

VOLUME. Really not that useful. Unless you care about the price of gas here, which is under 50 pesos/liter right now, and with the exchange rate about P48 to $1 (see CURRENCY below) it’s been hovering around P48/liter or just around $1/L.

3.8 liters = 1 gallon

…so it’s about $3.80/gallon, which sure sounds cheaper than when I left home. And everyone calls it “petrol” here. I wonder if it will be strange driving at home again after not driving a car for 2 months. It’s kind of nice. I will at least appreciate people following driving laws and staying within their dotted lines and not driving on the wrong side of the road to overtake and honking at everything they pass. BUT I DIGRESS.

I actually find liters to be much more useful than gallons or fluid ounces.

TEMPERATURE. Really not that useful. because it is either hot, humid, and rainy or hot and humid. And I once got reprimanded by Coach for focusing too much on the temperature forecast at a race I did, so I don’t really bother checking any more. Plus converting Celsuis to Fahrenheit is tricky. BUT ok, this is my handy-dandy guide to unit conversion for silly Americans, so I put some numbers in:

30*C = 86*F = uncomfortably warm water temperature
35*C = 95*F = ooh that’s hot.
40*C = 104*F = duuuuude.

Example: It has been about 32*C every day here, which is 90*F.

I also found this website that gives you a handy mental math formula, but you know what? You can’t control the weather so just deal with it.

CURRENCY. Useful to tell if you are getting a good deal or ripped off.

The current exchange rate is a little over P48 = $1.00 US.

What I like to do is add two decimal places and then double the number of pesos. And then add a little bit more, like round up.

Example #1. I have been told to eat more steak, so I’ve been investigating. A steak dinner at the Meat Plus Cafe is anywhere from P240 to P270. That’s about $5-$6. Other places like Aristocrat or Pancake House have steaks that are more in the P450-P750 range. That is over $9-$15.

Example #2. I went shopping for some headphones that won’t pop out of my ear when I sweat buckets running around the track. They quoted me at P300. “Can you give me a cash discount?” I ask. “Yes, 280, ma’am.” Ok, let me see what I have. “Oh. I only have 250…Will you take 250?” yes? great! (lucky trick huh?) I go home with new headphones that stay in my sweaty ears for a little over $5. It’s some knock-off brand called “Saiyo” but they perform fine. Plus we all know headphones for sweaty runners have a shelf life anyway.

Example #3. DVDs (they can’t possibly be bootlegged, pirated, or otherwise illegal if everyone sells them so openly here, right?) are P50 for a movie and P70 for a TV series. That’s a little over $1 each for Prince Caspian, Get Smart, and Napoleon Dynamite and $1.50 each for Season 1 of Gossip Girl and Season 4 of Grey’s Anatomy. None of which I have watched yet because who has time for DVD watching with all the training we are doing? I’m actually serious…those are the ones I didn’t get to before Coach arrived. :)

….

Speaking of movies, I watched one in the theater with Ria and Ani when I was in Manila. (Yes, it was Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and I LOVED IT! teehee!) I think it was only (pop quiz!!) P100-150 each. I know, the price of 2 or 3 DVD’s but we got to see it on the big screen! The most entertaining part for me was that it was like going to a baseball game at home. There were people walking the aisles selling concessions like candy and popcorn, and before the movie they played a video of the national anthem–everyone actually stood up and put their hands over their hearts!

In other news I made it through another week of training. We were harshly informed the other day that this isn’t even real boot camp, it’s only “Sutto Lite.” Oh. (What was that sound? A bubble bursting…?) well, it is still the most I’ve ever done in 2 weeks and the teamTBB freshmen have to start somewhere! After my P300 one-hour massage today, I am soon ready to pound out another 2 weeks. heyyy I think I am even dropping a kilo or two, sweet, now if only I can get my luggage to do the same or actually, MORE!

Also, the new TBB kiosk was open for business today! And damn, it looks good (like all of our Bike Boutiques do), hot pink and flashy and fabulous, and right here connected to our teamTBB dorm building, er, hotel. Many pictures will be posted for sure. This is only the “soft opening,” the grand opening is not until mid-November. But I do have to giggle whenever someone says “soft opening,” because I have never heard that term and it makes me think of what Coach says about us Americans.

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boot camp update

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #7: Train your @$$ off. (simple, really. and yet oh so difficult!)

Here goes, the post you’ve all been waiting for…how is boot camp, you ask?

Well, let me tell you, boot camp is really effing hard. We just began the second week and I can’t believe it’s already the middle of October. WTF. My days have become a blur of brutal training sessions, counting the minutes until the next session to refuel and sometimes recharge with a nap, trips to the grocery (almost every other day with the amount we need to eat), and over to the laundry to drop off another load of sweaty spandex. Remember how I thought surely I had overpacked? No, I didn’t actually. I definitely need and use all the training clothes I brought! before camp began, going to the laundry was necessitated when I ran out of underwear. Now the lowest common denominator is when I run out of bike shorts. And this includes two pairs of pretty sweet tri shorts I acquired during my trip, made by Transition One, a local brand owned and operated by Pinoy triathlete Miguel Lopez. The soreness and fatigue is never ending. My arms are so sore from the swim sessions that I have trouble carrying the grocery basket when shopping for my next meal.

But you know what? I am absolutely loving it. I <3 boot camp! None of us would want to do it if it was EASY. I am learning a lot about myself as an athlete and person and we are getting a lot of individual attention from Coach here. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and of course varying levels of talent. I’d say I’m pretty low on the talent scale but I’m working hard to make up for it. What’s that quote… “Hard work closes the gap to the more talented.” Coach’s strategy with me is to rebuild me from scratch as an athlete because I’ve just been doing a lot of things WRONG. hahaha. The one thing he says I have going for me is that I’m naturally very strong…I just have never been taught to utilize it properly.

I don’t come from a swimming background at all…I learned the very minimal basics of how not to drown in high school P.E. and didn’t attempt to learn proper swimming until I decided to become a triathlete at 18. Needless to say swimming is my worst leg of triathlon but we are making some leaps and bounds in this area already! I am learning to hurt in the water. Apparently the key to going faster is learning to hurt…A LOT. My run form is also getting completely reworked, which is funny as this is the discipline I’ve done the longest. Yes, Coach, I was a “competitive” runner from junior high to my 2nd year in college, but all those years of coaches telling me to try running more on my toes hasn’t helped. I’m now on strict orders to strike the ground heel first, or I get my butt kicked by Coach’s toe first. :)

I’ve learned to take boot camp just one session at a time and try not to think about all that we’ve done earlier in the day already, what we did the day before, and definitely not what’s coming up next. Otherwise my brain my explode. HAHA! I am definitely becoming a stronger athlete every day and am constantly being pushed to both my physical and mental limits. What I’m learning in just one month from Coach is going to be so much more than in that whole year we spent doing the online thing. You won’t even recognize me when I go home in November! ;)

The most disturbing and foul part of training camp is that we get so sweaty running on the track that we end up with soggy shoes and socks when it is not even raining. I guess this is good practice for when you are racing a hot Ironman and throw water over yourself to keep cool and end up running with soggy socks. To keep from stinking up my room (I am adamant about not having my room stink like a boy’s) and make sure shoes are dry for the next run, there is the “stuff with newspapers trick”:

smelly-shoes

Here the bike shoes are also getting dried because it was a little rainy. Still, it is essential to have 2 pairs of run shoes as it can be hard to dry them out quick enough for the next run. I was happy to hunt down this pair of yellow New Balance 903′s at one of the many mega malls in Manila, in a department store of all places. What did I learn? That I do not fit any women’s shoes here in the Philippines. I’m a 10.5 women’s and they only stock up to size 9.5! (At home 11 is the biggest size for chicks.) Instead I have to go with men’s size 9.0, which is fine since I usually need a wider size anyway. They actually only sold the 2E width. So I’m stomping ’round the track in 9.0EE men’s shoes, and they fit great. Big wide feet should help me in the swim, right??

We watched the live video of the Ironman World Championships-Kona broadcast in the lobby with Coach and his family on Sunday. pretty intense! I’m super proud of all my teammates–1st, 4th, and 7th in the women’s race is just AMAZING and a total inspiration. Really, I’m a part of this program? It just reiterates that all I need to do is shut up, listen to what Coach says, work hard, and the improvements will come.

f@ck, I’m tired.

To close off, here is a picture of…MONKEYS!!! It’s a mommy and her baby. A bit blurry from my camera phone. I didn’t want to get too close and scare them away or make the daddy monkey angry and bite me… Where I’m from, we only have monkeys in the zoo, so I still get tickled seeing monkeys on the side of the road when we are biking. My first week here went without any monkey sightings, only many signs on the side of the road saying “Feeding of Monkeys is Prohibited” and “SLOW DOWN…Monkey Crossing” and the sound of monkeys screeching in the forest. I tried to take a photo during my second monkey sighting but he got really mad and lunged at me and I thought “never mind, buh-bye!” So here we are, Caroline took some as well with her real camera so maybe I can get those posted up later.

monkeys

The Mommy monkey of course also reminds me of my own Mommy. I would like to say how proud I am of you, Mom, for learning to use the internet to check emails, read my blog and do your math homework! Love you and miss you! Dad too. :)

idea for new reality TV show

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Back by popular demand, here are more photos from another crazy Filipino triathlon party–the post-race party for the White Rock Triathlon last weekend. AKA “one last hurrah before we start boot camp on Monday.” I’ve interspersed them with Step #6 of How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar: Pitch an awesome concept for a reality TV show. Featuring…yourself.

So here in our hotel rooms we get cable with all these awesome TV channels which is a complete luxury. Back home, I barely have time to watch any TV, never mind all these cooking shows, sitcoms, newscasts, SPORTS (there are at least 5 sports channels!), movies, documentaries, game shows, music videos and of course the dominance of reality TV shows. One of my favorite channels is MTV-Philippines, because they actually *gasp* play a ton of music videos, which are always mindlessly fun, and less than a quarter of them are the sappy love songs the locals adore. I do get rather irritated watching the stupid reality shows featuring rich kids like “My Super Sweet 16″ and “The Hills” and can’t help but think training camp here would be a much better concept for a TV show.

We could call it “teamTBB: Freshman Year.” See, training camp right now is a little different in that most of the veterans, i.e. the Ironman champions and Olympians–or the “varsity squad” as I like to think of them, aren’t here in Subic but either in Kona or training and racing somewhere else. So as exciting as it would be to have a TV show about them, don’t you think it would be more interesting to watch how the scrappy newbies on the team develop from trainwrecks of athletes into future champions? It would be a mixture of the following hits:

–Big Brother (Coach is always watching…)
–Real World (throw a bunch of strangers together in a training squad and watch personalities clash!)
–Dancing with the Stars (vigorous hours of daily training)
–American Idol (auditions for a coveted spot on the team)
–Survivor and the Amazing Race (training in foreign locales with exotic and questionable cuisine…like those duck embryos)
–The Apprentice (Coach is essentially our boss, and no one wants to get “fired” or rather, deemed “uncoachable”)
–Hell’s Kitchen (they are opening up that new bike shop kiosk right in our hotel)
–Newport Harbor, the Real Orange County (this is an MTV one that follows valley girls during their first year of college. Coach has already tagged me as a valley girl, even though I am from northern California, not southern! big difference Coach!!)

Most of us even all live in the same block of rooms at our hotel. As Jason said, he feels like he is in university again, staying in the dorm rooms. The only twist is that Coach is in the room right next door to mine, right between me and Caroline. ha! I do totally feel like a freshman though, there is a lot to learn and training camp here is seriously like going to Ironman School. Except we won’t call it that of course, because they will sue us for using the M-Dot. Racing is like taking the midterm and final exams, but for now there is a lot of homework–all the training we do.

Challenges include:
–making it through all the training sessions: the main challenge!
–eating enough on a limited budget, including cooking in your bathroom
–fending off local vendors who try to rip you off (especially my fair-skinned teammates; I am having fun yelling “stop trying to rip them off because they are white!!”
–fending off unsolicited suitors in the form of security guards, policemen, tricycle drivers, and gardeners, who seem to fancy foreign girls in spandex
–deciphering Aussie slang…and inappropriate jokes that go over your head
–taking the most showers in a single day
–keeping your room from smelling like a boy’s locker room
–carrying a grocery basket when your arms feel like they are going to fall off

The current cast includes:
–our infamous coach, who is not so intimidating when wearing his daughter’s pink Dora the Explorer hat.
–Caroline, our token African girl who is actually South African with French & German parents and really fun to go shopping with. Our favorite thing is going to the clothing stalls at the public market and asking if they have jeans that actually fit us. “what’s your biggest size? we can’t fit those! they’re too small!!”
–Keegan the Kiwi (below right), who does all his runs shirtless but was a bit too shy to dance around shirtless like all the Filipino boys do at triathlon parties (“is this normal?!” I yelled. “yes, girls are supposed to take their shirts off too!” was the reply. NICE TRY boys.)

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–Mat, our exhibititionist French-Canadian who has been known to dance around pantsless at said parties. Luckily the following photo was taken earlier on in the party:

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–Jason our Malaysian bike mechanic who is “on loan” from the Singapore store, and will be here for a few months to help open up the new store:

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–and then there’s me, your future Asian triathlon superstar, who is probably the scrappiest of the new recruits and therefore the most interesting, right? ;)
(and yes…in that first pic, that would be Bruce Lee on my halter top, none other than the original Asian superstar.)

There would also be special guest appearances from various local triathletes, members of the varsity squad, and even local celebrities, like Gabby Concepcion, to boost ratings with the Filipinos. :)

When I was a freshman in college, “Jungle Juice” was what they called the questionable alcoholic concoctions that were stirred up in huge vats that were actually…big plastic garbage cans. I was amused to no end seeing this on the shelf at the grocery store. marketed to kids!

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anyway, camp has officially begun and the experience so far is actually like an episode of MTV’s MADE. Make me into a triathlon superstar!

Condolences

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

I went back into Manila last weekend to attend the wake of my cousin’s father-in-law, Tito Rollie–or as the munchkins called him, Daddy-lo (“Grandpa”). His health had been declining and he passed away last week. While sad, I was glad I had the opportunity to stay with and get to know him at the Concepcion house my first week in Manila. Even though it was my first time meeting him, I was welcomed and treated just like family and shared many meals together. Mommy-la (his widow) actually stays at my cousin Vicki’s house in South San Francisco when she is visiting her grandchildren in the US, so I see her quite often as I am over there at least once a week when I’m at home (they live just 2 miles away). I enjoy playing with the kids and Vicki likes to feed me lots of “fat-free” food like cake and pie and ice cream. MMMMM ;)

I miss the little hobbits. Cayle is 6 and a total girly-girl who does ballet and wears a lot of pink. She hates practicing piano even though she is the one who begged her mom for piano lessons, but she will happily play me some songs when I am over there.

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Brandon is 4 and already bigger than his sister, he used to be a chubby little cherub and carrying him was like hoisting a “sack of rice” as my mom used to say. But now he is stretching out, started taking swimming lessons right before the Olympics and caught on quickly. The two kids were enamored with Michael Phelps and asked me one time “Jo-jo, is Michael Phelps faster than…YOU??” Oh how can I not be flattered? “Hahaha…Yes!…but just a little faster.” Now he tells everyone he is going to swim faster than Michael Phelps! yeah! Vicki and the kids couldn’t make it over here since school is in session, so I helped represent the Chinese side of the Concepcion family.

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As matriarch of the family, Mommy-la had her hair up in a pretty Audrey Hepburn hairstyle and it was good to see a lot of the Concepcion siblings and relatives, many had flown in from the US. There were a lot of familiar faces, but I wasn’t always sure where I had met them–here in the Philippines or back home? And then a lot of them told me they read my blog! lol. The weirdest part was that the media was there, taking a ton of photos and doing interviews, but the family seemed to be used to it. The last time I had been to a funeral was in 1989, when my own grandfather died, and actually, I just realized I wasn’t much older than Cayle. So I just wanted to give the Concepcions my condolences and say that I enjoyed the brief time I was able to spend with Daddy-lo; he was a brilliant man and I know that he will be missed.

In the meantime, I know everyone has been asking how training and Subic is. Our head coach comes in this weekend, so things are about to get cranked up for sure! There is a local half ironman this Saturday, the White Rock Triathlon, but I will not be racing as I’m heading back to Pampanga for another prosthetic mission. Then I’ll be back in time for the triathlon after party ;) There is a potential plan for a prosthetics & wheelchair mission here in Olongapo too…so that is exciting!

thanks for reading everybody. I will try to update more, and with fun pictures of course, but that will depend on my free time and energy level now that the real boot camp is about to begin!