Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/tbbh/public_html/blogs.teamtbb.com/wp-includes/ms-load.php on line 113
April « 2009 « Jocelyn Wong's Blog


Archive for April, 2009

Heat Camp #5

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


It’s April now! the beginning of my third consecutive month here in the Philippines…WOW. Time flies by when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? It gets hotter and hotter, but the body is a beautiful machine that adapts to whatever you throw at it. I’m definitely prepared for a nice hot day in China this year and if we end up getting cooler weather there, all of us here in Subic will still have that physiological benefit.

This is actually sort of my 5th heat “camp” in my life as an Ironman triathlete. Here’s a bit of my history, you can sort of see how the universe seemed to know which direction my life should be going…

Heat Camp #1: Las Vegas, Nevada. The summer of 2002 was when it all began…has it really been almost 7 years?? I was introduced to two key elements that would inevitably become permanent fixtures in my life and career: Ironman triathlon and the wonderful field of prosthetics. I trained for my first Ironman while working as a research assistant at the university there (UNLV). The project had to do with prosthetic socket design, and I was inspired by our research subject, a woman with an above-knee amputation who also swam, and used her prosthesis to ride her bike. I lived in an apartment next to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, with a top South African swimmer guy and a local punk rock girl who stole groceries. We lived right in between campus and the Strip, both about a 15-min walk in either direction. I would walk home from campus after work and just marvel at how I had two perfectly healthy legs, and never took them for granted again. I remember reading about how volunteers for the International Red Cross did prosthetics work in Southeast Asia and thought “hmm, that’s something maybe I’d like to do someday.”


I didn’t have a car yet, so my long runs took me up and down the Strip as the casinos provided the only shade within a running radius. I rode my bike 7 miles to Henderson, to swim with the masters squad after I got off work, and then after a 90min swim would ride the 7 miles home in the dark. With lights of course. The swim coach, Frank Lowery, is now the race director of the SilverMan Triathlon. Long rides would take me to Red Rock Canyon.

Yeah, Las Vegas was a really weird place to live and train for an Ironman. I wasn’t even 21 yet, so I couldn’t gamble or go partying. Not that I wanted to, I was pretty broke (as usual), and you can’t really party while training for an Ironman. Eventually I got used to seeing the Las Vegas skyline at night. Surreal!


The first week felt brutally hot and the air was dry since it’s the desert (I got a lot of nosebleeds), but by the end of my 10-week stint I could easily do my long runs along the Strip even if I slept in (around 10am to noon). Some of the big casinos even had digital thermometers that would tell me how many degrees over 100 it was. If I needed a pee break, I would just stop inside one of the air-conditioned casinos and use their fancy bathroom in the lobby. The one at the Luxor was really nice, decorated all Egyptian-style. The Belagio was cool too, sometimes if I timed my run right, I would pass by during the water fountain show!

When I did my first Ironman in Wisconsin a month later, I don’t remember it being very hot, but training in Vegas definitely made me mentally tougher.

Heat Camp #2: Atlanta, Georgia. Site of the ’96 Olympics and where I attended grad school at Georgia Tech from 2004 to 2006 for prosthetics and orthotics. The summer of 2005 I was training for Ironman Wisconsin while working as a waitress at Red Lobster and doing clinical rotations. Swim training was on my own in our gorgeous rec center pool on campus…the very pool that the Olympics took place in.


I had a great group of friends I did my long rides with, there was one we called the “Toto Creek Sufferfest,” after which I would head to Red Lobster and run around on my feet for another 8 hours serving cranky, hungry, and ungrateful customers. That was my brick training! I did a lot of my training in the heat (and humidity) of the day, since I had to work the dinner shifts and go to bed late.


It all paid off since IM Moo 2005 was a freakishly hot day, and even though my time ended up being slower than I felt capable (12:08 and still my PB), many others went even slower…and it was good enough to crown me Ironman Collegiate Champion. (yes, for weeks I would answer the phone that way when my tri friends called…”hello, this is the Ironman Collegiate Champion speaking!”)

Heat Camp #3: Dallas, Texas. I moved here during the summer after grad school to start my orthotics residency at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and trained in the fabulous Texas heat in July and August for Ironman Canada, 2006 edition. My runs were done from the Katy Trail right outside my apartment, to the American Airlines Center downtown and around White Rock Lake.


I met some older guys training for IMC, my good friend Bill and two others who would meet up outside the Texas Motor Speedway on the weekend for their long rides.


They would start early to “beat the heat,” but as it got hotter and hotter they wanted to start riding in the dark at 3am and do 5-mile laps around the TMS parking lot until dawn at which point I said “ummm no thank you, I think I’ll just HTFU and train when it’s hot. What if it’s hot on race day?” It wasn’t too hot on race day, but I had definitely been burnt out from the move and big life changes so I knew I would just do the race for fun. To keep myself motivated (to make up for inadequate race prep), I raced in a special outfit…I busted out the sewing machine and made most of it myself. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Wongstar likes to make things. Prosthetic legs, pull buoys, superhero capes:


I got more cheers than the pros. It was my first taste of being an international triathlon superstar. (see, because it was also my first time outside of the USA…does that even count??) This was actually before compression socks became all the rage in the tri world, but I had heard Paula Radcliffe used them and scoured the internet searching for a pair of red ones. Because they would’ve made a kick ass pair of red knee high “boots” to go with the outfit. Obviously I was unsuccessful. Future TBB teammate Belinda Granger won the women’s race!

Heat Camp #4 and #5: Subic Bay, Philippines.
September/October/November 2008 “rookie camp:”


and now of course February/March/April 2009.

Coach has said that the more heat camps you go to, the better your body adapts. Last April, I did Ironman China coming out of winter in San Francisco and my body was shell-shocked. But this time, I’m prepared. Bring it, China! I’m not scared.

(P.S. The first photo is from my massage in Singapore where I got the special glass suction cups on my back and doesn’t have much to do with the “heat camp” theme of this blog, but I like it. and you can sort of see my gnarly tan lines!)