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Archive for May, 2009

Piggy Flu 1, Wongstar 0

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

So I got home from my “spring break” adventures on Monday morning and by Tuesday afternoon wasn’t feeling so great. I finally went to the doctor yesterday since I’m rarely sick for more than 3 days (and more unusual, sleeping it off didn’t seem to help at all). My immune system had been strong enough to fend off that rookie camp plague that almost everyone else got back in October, so this was probably serious! I’m not going to call this swine flu as it is unconfirmed–the test apparently takes over 3 weeks unless I go to the emergency room; no thanks, I’m not really dying. I could be a drama queen and think that I am but I’m not.

Speaking of queens, or Queens (New York), apparently there was/is a rather large outbreak of swine flu at the moment, 330 confirmed cases on my last Google search. Coincidentally or not, that was precisely where my friend Joanna’s wedding took place last weekend, which is probably why the doctor gave me a prescription for the exact same treatment as swine flu. Whatever kind of flu it is, it is no joke. Sure feels like a TKO!!

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I finally woke up this morning with my temperature under 100 for the first time in 5 days…(woohoo!) and felt good enough to put Khan the Warrior Horse back together, watch some television, and do a little blogging. Yep you know I am seriously ill when I don’t have the energy or motivation to write a blog! As I was assembling Khan, I flipped on the TV and we ended up watching VH1′s “I Love the New Millenium” marathon together…from 2000 to 2007. I haven’t laughed this much in days and it felt great to be in good spirits again. :D They do say that laughter is the best medicine! I could actually relate to everything, since it was my college years and beyond, not like when they do “I Love the 80′s” and I am thinking “uh I don’t really remember that…I was just a little kid…”

So where did I leave off last? After roaming around Times Square with Carolina, the next day I took the subway underwater to meet Scottie on the other side of the Hudson in Jersey City. I got to check out his brother’s running shop, Runner’s High at the Newport location, before we did a swim and then hit the road to the infamous beach house.

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Even before me and Scottie had become roommates in Subic, I had heard all kinds of great things about his beach house. Apparently it was remodeled less than a year ago and it is FANTASTIC headquarters for a pro triathlete! I am going to leave it up to Scottie to make one of those “hello this is Scottie, welcome to my crib” types of videos, because it is definitely worthy of one…

beach-house

I have a lot more photos and videos of our next adventures (Mac’s farm and the wedding), but those are going to wait until next time. Actually a lot of the videos were taken during our road trips sitting in traffic. Here is a photo we took for the Bean cuz we knew she would be jealous:

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No worries Coach, I did not have any donuts here, just coffee! ;)

My Flippin’ Fantastic Florida 70.3 Race Report

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

**Photos are from official race photographers Action Sports International and Disney World Poncho-mate Jason Rice.**

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I went to Florida with a mission: finish top 3 overall in the amateur standings and thus qualify for my USA Triathlon pro card. I knew I could do it. In Singapore I had beaten all the amateurs. In China there was one that eluded me. (She got to wear a wetsuit though.) The last 70.3 I had done in the States prior to any training camps was Vineman in July, and I had placed 15th amateur. I knew I was now faster, fitter, and most of all, mentally tougher. The course would suit me as the bike was flat and fast, and the forecast was supposed to be plenty warm–some would say hot, but no one who did Ironman China would dare describe it as such. The swim wouldn’t suit me quite so well as it was too warm for a wetsuit, but until I get much faster in the water, I’m not sure any swims really suit me. ;) The race was held inside the Disney World parks (which take up massive amount of land), in the Fort Wilderness area. I think it was a man-made lake that we swam in, which is why it was so warm in mid-May.

When the alarm went off at 4am on Sunday, I did NOT want to get up. By 4:30am, all I could think was “wah, it’s only 1:30am in California…” I tried not to think that but that’s all I could think about! Sarah and I were out the door of the fantastic travel sponsor-sponsored hotel suite by 5am, walked from the parking lot instead of the taking the shuttle to the race area, which was a nice warm-up/wake-up. Except that when we got to transition they were trying to kick us out already. Pro wave went off at 6:20am, then all the guys, then me at 7am, in what would hopefully be my last amateur wave start!!

I lined up front per usual (better to get swum over than swim over everyone else) and was able to get some draft action going on. I felt pretty strong throughout the whole swim and was really working the “PUSH” of my place-press-push. I felt like I was wooshing along…in fact I felt great! But the clock seems to always say otherwise. I was honestly surprised to see my watch read 38+ minutes as I stumbled onto shore, but Coach and I have developed a really effective “damage control” strategy. It’s called denial. After a slow swim, all I need to do is look at my watch, curse cheerfully, and then proclaim, “oh, well the swim must have been long.” And who knows, maybe it was. But until I become a better swimmer, this is a great strategy to not feel bad about the swim and then it won’t negatively affect the rest of my race.

I hustled through transition, having to dodge straggling males, tore off my BlueSeventy speedsuit and mounted my faithful steed. I will admit that it is harder to find Khan the Warrior Horse when he is not the only one left on the rack! Pros and cons of racing age group. ;) On the bike course I took Miss Coco’s advice about how to bike fast: endure the pain. Make it hurt!! So hurt I did. If I didn’t feel like crying, I would drop a gear or two and make my legs suffer and burn. “Make it hurt!!” I kept telling myself. I was able to make my way through the bike course, although it was pretty darn congested with some good draft packs here and there. I found myself amused on several occasions when I could blow by a group of 5-10 men working together. This is a masochistic smile:

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How lame are you, guys, when the Wongstar can beat you even when you are cheating? I was not amused, however, when I would see a woman hiding in a pack of men going by. I had to beat all the amateur women to get that pro card, except maybe two of them (but hopefully all), so that made me mad. And then I would go make myself hurt more.

Also took Donna’s advice: stay low if you have to get out of aero position:

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Earlier in the morning when I was grumbling about how early it was, I had subconciously started formulating a back-up plan in case I didn’t get top 3 amateur today. I needed to get this pro card before I left the country again in July, so there was still the Boise 70.3 on June 13th. But as I made myself hurt on the bike, I decided then and there I did NOT want to go to Boise. I did NOT want to race as an amateur again. And I really did NOT want to pay $250 to register and however much the plane ticket would cost. No! I was NOT going to Boise! I would get my pro card TODAY!!

As I came in off the bike, the self-flagellation was evidently effective as this was the fastest half iron bike split I’ve ever had… by over 10 minutes: just a couple ticks over 2:29.

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I busted through transition and saw there were about 4 bikes on my rack. There was more than one rack for my age group so this meant I definitely had some girls to run down. How many, who knows, just run fast. Since we had to do 3 loops of the run course, I was planning to do it “3M” style like in training, so basically try to descend each loop. A girl in my age group exited T2 right in front of me and I resisted the urge to blow by her. “Stay controlled, do NOT go out too hard!” I told myself. At the first mile marker my watch read 7:06, so I told myself I didn’t need to go any faster than that for this first loop. Most of the other girls would probably take their first loop out too hard and poop out, so patience and play it smart, Wongstar.

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Half of the loop was on concrete through the “wilderness” on a bike path, the other half was on uneven grass with no shade. It seemed to get a little toasty on the grass part–of course nothing is as toasty as IM China but I can still tell when it is a little more than just warm. So I made sure to do the ice-in-the-Scody-sports-bra trick, grab a cup of Gatorade at each aid station and splash water on my head. Really, it wasn’t too bad though.

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Loop #2, I picked up the pace. It was also now getting pretty congested on the run course as more people began their first loop, so then there was the game of Dodgepeople. Like Dodgeball but not as fun, and no bonus points for ramming into people. About midway through the run, I hear another runner behind me ask “Team TBB?” The following conversation ensues amidst a little huffing and puffing:
“…yeah?”
“Are you the Wongstar?”
“YEAH!”
“OMG I effing LOVE your blog!”

Then this random stranger proceeds to give me a sideways hug as we are both trying to run as fast as we can…before taking off in front of me. I am too dumbfounded to say anything but caught his name, Ron, on his bib number as he went by. Now whether this was appropriate or not for a blog fan to do, this is debatable. I was actually quite amused and since this Ron fellow was actually running faster than I was, I got a nice kick of motivation and tried to chase him down for a couple miles. He reminded me of all the people out there that have been rooting for me, family/friends/random strangers, and I knew I couldn’t let them down. I was going to get my damn pro card today!!

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When I got to the third loop, I was feeling pretty pooped and wasn’t sure I had enough gas to pick up the pace. So I made myself a bargain: “ok Wongstar, you don’t have to go any faster…as long as you don’t go any slower, just maintain this pace and you are gonna do great!! DO NOT SLOW DOWN!!!”

run-side

At this point I was pretty confused at where I was in the overall standings for women or even just my age group. Because I was on my third lap, and how do I know if someone is only on their first or second lap? I just didn’t know so I had to just keep catching them. I made a split-second decision to bypass the final aid station, allowing me to cut that corner pretty sharply and avoid the crowd and congestion. I really turned it up when I saw the mile 12 sign, and took off with a guy in some body-building singlet who had been leapfrogging me throughout that last loop.

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Almost there. Every second counts, just go for it!!

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My run split was a 1:38, almost a 2-minute improvement over my fastest half marathon in a triathlon. My total time of 4:51 was at least a 7-minute PR! But I had no idea how I did place-wise when I crossed the finish line. I proceeded to grab my cell phone in transition and call up someone who I knew would be tracking me online: Dad Wongstar. He immediately and already knew I had won my age group and was currently 2nd amateur. But the 30-year-olds had started behind me. So I could only cross my fingers and hope that only one other amateur, at most, would beat me. I called back in another 15mins and by the unofficial results, I had gotten 3rd amateur and only beat 4th by a mere 2 seconds! Whoa, I was so stoked that I had skipped that last aid station…

When the dust settled and the official results came out a few days later, I learned that I in fact was 2nd place amateur, and can now get my paperwork done and send in my $100 to get my USAT pro license! Wow I am still in a bit of disbelief…in just a couple weeks, early June marks 9 years since I did my first triathlon. I actually felt a little choked up talking to my dad on the phone as he told me I was in top 3 because I have always wanted to become a professional triathlete! Of course all triathlon newbies fantasize about “going pro” but after doing it for several years and not getting much closer to pro status, it is usually pretty obvious whether you have what it takes or not. There was a time I resigned myself to thinking that I didn’t, and maybe I would be happy just being a top age-grouper. But there was always that little voice inside of me that quietly said, “I believe in you. Never give up. Follow your dreams.” And I have been lucky enough to find my way with the help and guidance of Brett, Alex, and teamTBB–including all my wonderful teammates who have given me great snippets of advice and tons of moral support and encouragement.

Thank you to all my sponsors who have helped me on this journey: The Bike Boutique, Cervelo, Avia running shoes, Jeju Island, Oval Concepts, Scody, and ISM saddles. Special thanks on this trip to my travel sponsor Mark Cathcart for the SWEET hotel suite, and OC for lending me his race wheels. And a really big thank you to my two biggest supporters, Mom and Dad Wongstar! Who continue to surprise me with how supportive they are of this whole thing.

Obviously getting my pro card is only the beginning, so I end this race report with a little poem from Brett who apparently broke into song when I told him how the race went. With his permission to post this:

Supa good day
In every way
The bike saved the day
Miss Coco showed you the way .
Your new fitness on the run let you play
And the guy well he might have been gay
(**sorry Ron! ;) )
Very pleased i could help the Wongstar lose her dismay
As she become a certified pro on this momentus day in may ,
Go the Wongstar , we are now officially on our way !

Wongstar and the City

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

times-sq

From Orlando I flew through Miami and landed in New York, as my college friend Joanna is getting married here next Sunday. To cut down on cross country flying, I took the week off work and will be training with Scottie in New Jersey during the week. Then we’re going to tear it up at the wedding!

So Tuesday night I stayed with Carolina, one of my best friends (as you know, an Asian Triathlon Superstar has friends all over the world). She is another California girl who I met while we were both living in Dallas back in 2006-2007… We were both a little miserable in Dallas. Until we found each other! Now she lives and works in Manhattan. I’d never been in New York City before, so she gave me a whirlwind tour of the Big Apple.

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First she picked me up at Grand Central Station. My impression? It was just like the train station in the Harry Potter movies!

In New York you take the subway everywhere. I was very happy to have a local guide to show me around, I didn’t want to get lost in the big city.

subway-map

Hanging out in the train station reminded me of the Matrix movies. And other movies that take place on subways. Like Sliding Doors.

subway-outside

subway-inside

I was impressed to see so many people running at night. There was a 5k run down Wall Street, at night! NYC is a really active place. There were even random signs encouraging people to exercise in order to save electricity.

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We went over to Ground Zero, where there was a ton of construction going on. 9/11 happened during my sophomore year in college; I remember my engineering class was canceled (Systems Engineering or “Baby Stems” for short) which meant something REALLY BIG happened, as classes at a nerdy school pretty much never get canceled.

groundzero

We went to see the memorial for all the firefighters that lost their lives during 9/11. It was impressively sobering… I guess living in California I was much more removed from the incident than those that live around here. I can understand a little better why we went to war now.

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“Dedicated to those who fell and those who carry on…”

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“…may we never forget.”

Next we traipsed over to Wall Street and the financial district. Here’s the Stock Exchange:

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There was this fellow hanging out on a bench so we had to see what was so fascinating in his briefcase.

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We both had to take a peek over his shoulder.

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Then the most exciting part…Times Square!! The first thing I thought about was one of the opening scenes in Zoolander, when he walks through Times Square after the VH1 Fashion Awards debacle…yep all my preconceptions of New York are apparently based around movies.

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There are a lot of musicals you can watch on Broadway.

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All the stores are huge and flashy with flashy bright signs. Here’s the maker of magic running sticks:

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Tons of taxis everywhere, but we took the subway instead. Much cheaper! and possibly faster!

taxi-cabs

We popped into Insieme Restaurant, so I could meet Carolina’s boyfriend Bryan, who is the Chef de Cuisine (that’s like top chef or iron chef!). It’s a really nice and fancy Italian place, definitely somewhere I would want to go on a romantic date. ;)

bryan-piggy

We headed back out to the bright lights and sat on these bright red stairs that are smack in the middle of Times Square.

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I was wearing my AVIA Avi-Rhythms which are not just great for running marathons, but great for all the walking we did around the city. I’m mastering the art of packing light, so it’s good to have an all-around pair of shoes!

shoes

There were so many billboards plastered all over the city, here is one of my favorites:

dalai-lama

now I’m hanging out at Scottie’s beach house that I heard so much about during training camp. It’s off the Jersey shore in Normandy Beach, New Jersey. I think it is worthy of another Cribs-style video blog! We just saw the American Idol season finale (no spoiler alerts here but…never mind) and tomorrow are heading out to Mac’s camp in the Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania. I just realize I’ve never been to Pennsylvania. Apparently the states here are so small you can just take a short subway or car ride into other states. This week is all kinds of fun and new experiences!

Team El Poncho Takes On the “Happiest Place on Earth”

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

The post-race day forecast called for rain, and in the morning I got a text from my friend Jason (a former Disney employee and the same Jason who took those great IM China photos) if I still wanted to go to Disney World. Of course!! No weather was too severe to deter the Wongstar from meeting Mickey Mouse at Disney World for the first time. I replied back, “YEAH! we’ll just have to wear Mickey Mouse ponchos!”

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Jason scoured some local souvenir shops for Mickey Mouse ponchos, but they didn’t make them in sizes for big kids like us. And we weren’t about to buy the overpriced official Mickey ponchos inside the parks…so we went one better. We had nice bright yellow ones custom designed! Off we went to Epcot Center, which is the park with sci-fi futuristic stuff that nerdy kids like me would like.

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The first order of business of course was to meet Mickey Mouse. These days there are no surprise “Mickey moments” as I remembered as a kid, now you have to line up to see him, kind of like seeing Santa Claus at the mall, or an Asian Triathlon Superstar at an autograph signing.

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A bunch of kids in line were actually clutching autograph books and got genuinely excited about getting Mickey’s autograph. I decided that Mickey should sign my custom poncho! However, when I asked him to sign my poncho, he made me take it off. Apparently they are not allowed to autograph ON people (like some kind of “no touching” policy?) but I think Mickey just wanted me to take my poncho off.

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I think I’ll implement a selective “no touching” policy for my autograph sessions too. That’s a great idea. So I won’t sign body parts. Unless I want to. ;) You can also see that my custom poncho has Mickey in an “I Heart Wongstar” shirt. I will have to screenprint some real ones. :D

Hilariously enough the Disney employees were watching in near horror as I derobed the poncho as it appeared I was not wearing any pants under the poncho. HAHAHAHAHAHA

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Jason got Minnie’s autograph.

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Minnie actually told me my shorts were too short. Either that or she liked my legs. They don’t really talk, but she was pointing at my legs and lifting up her skirt.

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Donald was sort of grumpy, I don’t know what his problem was. I think he didn’t like feeling so short or something. or maybe he knew I was a height snob.

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Goofy was fun, and goofy. And tall. I like ‘em tall.

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So after meeting the Disney celebrities, we went for some rides and games. The first ride was Mission: SPACE, which is a flight simulator where you go on a mission to Mars as part of your astronaut training. We had to opt for the “less intense training” (which they kept rubbing in) because I get nauseous if I’m spun around, and it’s no fun to be nauseous after a triathlon. Especially if there was no alcohol involved.

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We then went into Innoventions and took part in a team “competition” where we learned about recycling and garbage. It was fun, we got to push around these mini garbage trucks that would beep when you went in reverse.

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This is where we came up with the name “Team El Poncho.” We were supposed to pick a team name, and the computer wouldn’t let us be “Team Wongstar”!!! WTF? Is it a bad word or something? Or so awesome that the computer would blow up? Maybe they are afraid I would sue for copyright infringement.

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The other half of Epcot (other than the nerdy science stuff) is what they call the “World Showcase.” You basically get to walk through mini-countries, like Mexico, Norway, Japan, China, Morocco… They supposedly recruit people from the actual countries to work here! I had to take a picture with this guy from Norway because I loved his outfit. And he was kinda cute.

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We went on the viking ride. All rides end in a gift shop. But why buy the props when the pictures will last longer?

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There was a crash test dummy ride, called “Test Track.” I love a good photo op.

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These were the cars, we got to be the crash test dummies.

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The ponchos went back on because it was raining again. We weren’t the only ones wearing ponchos.

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In fact, this guy had on TWO ponchos for some reason. We think that he, like many others, had a bad case of what we call “Poncho Envy” after see how cool the Team El Poncho ponchos were.

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Well that’s all for now…I’m in the Miami airport and ready to head to the Big Apple! as Tigger says TTFN!

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MTV Cribs Presents: How to Live Like a Superstar

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

A glimpse inside the Wongstar’s superstar accommodations for Florida 70.3:

Photobucket Image Hosting

I know, I am the envy of many pros now. Well, we can’t all be Asian Triathlon Superstars.

Thanks again to Mark Cathcart, my travel sponsor and good friend. Obviously staying in a hotel room this nice allowed me to relax, get some good nights’ sleep, and de-stress before the race, thereby helping me go fast enough yesterday to earn my pro card! So please take as much credit as you would like for my performance and thank you for everything!!

This is my first video blog so I hope you enjoyed it. If you like it and think I should get my own Wongstar reality show, go write to MTV. ;) Although I will be unapologetic about saying “awesome” every other sentence.

Okay I better finish packing now so I can sit and relax in the hot tub. Because I’m too broke to get a massage this is the next best thing. ;) But at least now I am an official broke pro triathlete! Next blog will be Disney World!! Awesome!

YEAH!!! I got it!!

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #21: Qualify for your pro card!

I had my best half ironman race of my life today at the Florida/Disney 70.3! I went 4:51, which is an overall PR by 7 minutes, took 10mins off my bike split and broke 2:30 for the first time, and took another couple minutes off my run. I won my age group for the first time ever at an M-dot event and best of all, was the 3rd female amateur overall and so now I can officially be a pro triathlete according to the USA Triathlon standards!

I finally got called up on stage for the first time this season (wasn’t fast enough to go up for the pro races in Asia and the Wildflower one never happened). So I went up decked in some team gear, my new favorite shorts, the red/pink hair and a BIG SMILE. :D

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see Minnie Mouse in the corner? she was making sure I wasn’t flirting with Mickey too much. ;)

awards

The race announcer asked if I wanted my Clearwater spot, and I told everyone “No, I’m getting my pro card!!” :) He then said he loved my hair. :) see Mom, everyone likes it!

I got these awesome shorts at one of the outlets here. yeah, outlet shopping was part of the pre-race prep:

butt-shot

China may not want me as a pro triathlete, but that’s ok, now the USA has to take me. I think I am now the first and only Chinese-American pro triathlete! So everyone should want to sponsor me. I am so easily recognizable and I can help attract minorities to this white man’s sport. ;)

Here are my great friends who also competed today. Sarah was one of my favorite training partners when I was at grad school in Atlanta, and Mark is the best travel sponsor in the world who lives in Austin by way of the UK. I am going to have to do a Cribs-style video blog of the hotel room he got for me…it rocks!!

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trophy

bike box sneak preview…

Friday, May 15th, 2009

pretty-bike-box

Okay here it is. If you are awake for the next 3 hours help me think up a good lie on what it is to get me out of the airline’s excess baggage fees. ;) cuz for sure there is no way there’s a bicycle in there!

post your response here:

http://www.teamtbb.com/forum/index.php?topic=1421.0

rather belated Ironman China photos

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

my blog is in a bit of chronological disarray, but I figure I should post my Ironman China photos before I fly out to Florida for my next block of adventures starting Friday…including but not limited to:

1. Wongstar crushes the field at Florida 70.3
2. embracing my inner nerd at Epcot Center, DisneyWorld
3. experiencing what the big deal is with NYC…Central Park, Times Square, Wall Street and the Statue of Liberty?
4. training on the Jersey shore with Scottie
5. Scottie and Wongstar go to a wedding in Queens

and a possible *bonus* blog “Wongstar makes a better bike box.”

Currently I am pretending to be my childhood hero MacGyver and constructing this better bike box. It’s going to be lightweight and durable and pretty.

ok, hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed this race…and it’s proof that I was actually smiling during the marathon. Scroll over the pics if you are interested in any of my sometimes witty, sometimes inane commentary (it’s like the director’s commentary on DVD bonus features).

As I have mentioned before, an Asian Triathlon Superstar has many friends throughout the world and a good number of them have fancy cameras. Jason from Dallas is one of them–he spent 2 months traveling abroad, starting with running the Tokyo Marathon and finishing up as part of the official camera crew for IM China. He was assigned to photograph the transition area and then got to sneak off and catch some finishers later in the day. I was lucky to have him there taking many snaps of me, there are too many to post but here are my favorites:

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and this one is my absolute favorite, the last kilometer of the marathon:

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Here are some random pre- and post-race shots:

hanna-candles

I met this little Asian triathlon superstar, Hanna, who wanted to get red/pink streaks in her hair just like me. Luckily I had some temporary color spray on hand. This is at the carbo loading dinner, when we got to do a candle-lighting ceremony for good luck.

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Pros get their own table!

meet-the-pros

I went to the “Meet the Pros” Q&A session to represent TeamTBB. Well, really I went to “meet the amateurs.” Tereza and Donna’s sage advice on the airplane was not to date male pros, they are too into themselves. ;) Instead amateur guys are the better option! Seems to have worked out well for both of them, so off I went.

paks-at-finish

Hanna’s parents Minsok and Bliss (who live in Singapore and Austin) both also raced the full Ironman. Minsok gave me a beacon to chase down when he saw me at the turn-around (around 30k or so) and took off! He did NOT want to get chicked! I caught up eventually but he still did well enough to nab a Kona slot! Here we are almost immediately after we both finished, with Hanna and her grandma. We kind of look like we could do another Ironman, don’t we?

awards-lunch
The awards luncheon: my girls Donna and Tereza got called up on stage for getting top 5. I made sure we all dressed up real pretty, because that’s what teamTBB girls are known for secondly. (Firstly for being dead fast!!) Brad here decided to be my new biggest fan, after I rather loudly announced at the Meet the Pros session, “I’M SINGLE.”

hey, it was an completely legitimate answer to an actual question. Someone asked what we do about our significant others and/or children when we are off training and racing around the world. Honestly, what would you have said? ;)

Wongstar goes short course at Wildflower

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

so I raced short course at Wildflower, which I know confuses people because I am a long course triathlete and the pro race at WF is long course. Since Wildflower was only 2 weeks post-Ironman China, I wasn’t even planning to race there, and had chosen Florida 70.3 (another 2 weeks post-WF) as my next event, and also my primary pro card qualifier. Which also confuses people, because they think “oh, I thought you were already a pro.” Well, technically the USA Triathlon federation likes us Americans to prove ourselves on U.S. soil, so despite having a couple good races overseas in the pro division (where, depending on the race and region, you can race pro/elite without having your pro card), I cannot race as a pro here in the States until I prove myself to be a top amateur here. Which means top 3 overall amateur in one of the major races. Turns out Wildflower is on that list (both long and short course), and with AVIA as the title sponsor, I had a free (VIP!) entry and could help represent and promote AVIA and the race. So I figured I’d hop into the short course event, which would be my first hard training workout post-Ironman without hindering my build-up to Florida.

Coach’s instructions were “just have fun.” But he has told me in the past to race a half ironman like an Olympic, so I deduced that I should race an Olympic like a sprint triathlon. OUCH! A lot of pain in a very short period of time. I pulled up my race photos from ASI Orders and you can see the hurt in my face momentarily…

The race began at 9:00am. If you were a college boy. 9:05am, if you were a college girl. Or, if you were a 27-year-old Wongstar, you got to start at 10:15am… after all the men, youngest to oldest, then all the Team in Training folks, and then all the women 24 & under. I ended up hanging out in the AVIA VIP tent in the morning to stay off my feet and out of the sun. Plus this meant no waiting in the long lines for the porta-potties!

When 10:15am finally rolled around (I don’t recall ever starting a race this late), I lined up in the front and went for it. Finally I got a triathlon swim that was wetsuit-legal, no jellyfish, and no crazy currents! Just nice still water, well marked and even the turn buoys were on my breathing side. My BlueSeventy Helix was awesome (I wish I could race every race in it) and for once I was in front of the majority of swimmers in my wave. I navigated well and swam hard, though there wasn’t actually anyone to draft off of, because the faster girls in my wave were either 6 minutes ahead of me or sparsely scattered. In fact, I didn’t see many other green caps around me, which gave me the mistaken feeling that I was second out of the water as I approached the shore! HA! I think I was actually 8th or so, clocking in 26-something minutes which is pretty darn good for me…especially after my last two swim fiascos, 42mins for a half iron and nearly 90mins in the Ironman, this was reassuring.

I tore off my Helix wetsuit while making the most awesome face, caught on camera:

wf-race-swim

Since the race was sponsored by AVIA, obviously I decided to grimace during the whole race just like the Avia skull logo…

aviaskull

Arrr! because I’m such a great sponsored athlete like that.

I bolted into T1 and threw on…yes…my aero helmet. I heard it would be cold (at least 40deg F colder than China, brrr!) so I wanted to make sure I was warm enough. Plus you can’t deny that there is much more room to put on big sponsor stickers. like the Avia skull. Arrr! because I’m such a great sponsored athlete like that.

wf-race-bike1

I managed to slip my feet in before Lynch hill steepened up, and from there on out passed masses of cyclists. I lay on the hurt and did not get passed by a single athlete. There was one guy who refused to let me pass and played the “no you can’t pass me!” game, but after 5k was no match for my devastating quads.

My rear shifter came loose off the end of the Oval bars at around 10k and I almost panicked, thinking about the mechanicals our girls had the previous day. But I realized the shifter was still completely functional, so as long as it didn’t fall off, it would be ok. It just reinforced me to keep the hands in the bars at all times.

wf-race-bike3

My arms look really skinny here. As I got fitter at training camp, everyone kept saying how skinny my arms were getting. Some girls were even envious, but I thought, why would you want puny arms that can’t swim? I would rather have bigger arms that can actually pull through the water! And half of my bloody arm warmers won’t stay on my puny arms any more. WTF.

Back to the bike, I was tearing it up, and damn, it hurt. Ironically I had ridden the course pretty easy a couple days prior with Amy, and had thought “wow, this doesn’t feel nearly as hilly or hard as it did when I was in college!” However, come race day, going at vomit-level, this was not the case. It was just as hard, if not harder! The only difference was I was going much faster! It is like what Mat always says, it never gets easier, you just go faster. So true!

The course was a bit congested at times, so I had to be very vocal. ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ONYOURLEFTONYOURLEFTONYOURLEFT!! I refused to let up my effort over the last 10k when the pain really kicked in, so over the last few hills I was also very vocal. ;) Grunting, grimacing, and groaning out loud. I’m sure I sounded nothing short of an adult movie to the unsuspecting men that I was passing. And they would cheer me on. :P

Finally I got to whiz back down Lynch Hill on my Cervelo, Khan the Warrior Horse, and off to the run! I came to realize that long course or short course, my legs have now been ingrained to do the Wongstar shuffle. So I had to shuffle as fast as I could, shuffle-shuffle-shuffle. My first 2k went by in 8:10, which would have been sub-41 pace. Stellar! But the hard bike and maybe gunning out on the run too fast took its toll. It doesn’t seem that I have much of a speed differential from 10k to the 42k marathon so while great for Ironman, not so much for short course racing…! I’m predicting that my run pace in Florida will not be much slower than my 10k pace, so that’s good.

I tried my best to gut out the 10k as fast as I could. If I wanted a shot at top 3 amateur, I would have to race the clock, as we all started in different waves and I was pretty sure there were some fast collegiate women who had finished an hour ago. Easier said than done–by the time I had passed all the women I could see, I found it hard to motivate myself to go any faster. I started selecting various men to pick off, “get the red guy. ok, now get the blue guy. ok, now get the yellow guy.”

I usually have a policy not to post unflattering pictures of myself on this blog, but this one is so ugly it’s hilarious:

wf-race-run2

Arrrr! just like the pirate logo!

aviaskull

Finally I hit the top of Lynch Hill and tried to hammer down to the finish line but the legs were not listening. They finally woke up when we hit flat pavement and entered the chute. No time for a finish line celebration, I had to take off as many seconds as I could to my invisible competitors!

wf-race-run1

It was a bit clogged in there anyway, I had some last-minute dodging to do, especially when one guy pretty much collapsed right in front of me.

run-to-finish

At last I was done. Done making awful grimacing faces. And I managed to crush my age group!

wf-race-finish

With the race over, I could smile again. Amy surprised herself with a 3rd in her AG.

wf-race-wamy

Soda had a bit of asthma trouble during the race, but I was proud of her for sticking it out. Once we rescued her from the med tent, she was smiling again too:

wf-race-wsoda

I was happy with my age group win (and by far the fastest bike split) but it wasn’t good enough to put me in the top 3 overall. Those college girls really spanked me on the swim and it is hard to make up 7mins in an Olympic tri even if you bike and run faster! So as usual, I know I have a lot of work to do in the swim, but it will come.

I have to thank OC for being my “race wheel sponsor” at this race. Since he did long course, he wanted to help me tear up the short course. Plus, he is fanatical about pirates (ask him about why they wear eye patches…for night vision!) and his rear wheel matched my Avia pirate logos. Arrr! Don’t worry Coach, they are clinchers and I made sure to know how to change a flat on them!

race-wheels

It was a great weekend for Team Wongstar: Brad took 4th in his age group, Amy took 3rd, OC conquered long course, Soda stuck out a tough short course, and yours truly was an AG champion. We definitely had a lot of fun whilst not racing too! Although there were some grumblings about how maybe next year, we should all do long course so that we can party with everyone else on Saturday night…

team-wongstar

A quick thank you as always to my sponsors:
-AVIA AVIA AVIA! for being the event host, all the great running shoes and schwag, and treating your athletes like the rock stars we are. It was great to meet all the head honchos! and the pirate logo is the coolest! Arrr! it be pleasin’ to me eye!
-BlueSeventy for the Helix wetsuit I finally got to use. It made me go the fastest I have all season thus far!
-Cervelo for Khan the Warrior Horse, who tore up the bike course, giving me a chance to catch the fast swimmers.
-Jeju for the financial support…rumor is I’ll be doing my next big race there very soon!
-a shout-out to Sebastian from SLS3. Thanks for letting me try out a pair of the compression leg sleeves! They felt great and I could hide them under my wetsuit and not waste time pulling them on in transition. Now I just need to grace them with the Wongstar logo…
-teamTBB: Alex, Brett, and my awesome teammates. It was great to see everyone again and have a big team presence at this race. You are all superstars to me!

I love (AVIA) Wildflower!

I <3 AVIA Wildflower Part 2

Friday, May 8th, 2009

This was the first time I got to do a big race sponsored by one of our own sponsors…our running shoe company, AVIA!!! Even though I was only racing short course on Sunday, I got my own VIP badge and bracelet, and holy crap, tons of AVIA schwag–shirts, shorts, shoes, cycling kits, visors, hats, more shoes…and the COOLEST AVIA jacket. It was better than flying first class on an airplane. (Well, what I would imagine first class to be. Heck, I’ve never even flown business class.)

TeamTBB had our own autograph signing on Friday and we got mobbed of course. We graced AVIA visors with our John Hancocks. Some triathlon newbies would come up to the table and declare “I’m new in triathlon so I don’t know any of you yet, but you must be famous because you are signing autographs!” The other girls would wholeheartedly agree, point to me and say “Yeah, her! The Wongstar is the most famous!”

autograph-girls

I came prepared as I was the only one who printed out my own autograph cards to sign, as I am working on becoming the most recognizable pro triathlete on the circuit. Of course it is not very hard when you are the only Asian-American with hot pink hair streaks. :) I managed to give out half of my stack, so I do have extra…! I have already had requests from a few blog fans (which tickles me to no end), so if you really want one, just shoot me a message using this contact form, with your mailing address and who to make it out to! ;)

autograph-materials

I got to skip the mandatory elite athlete briefing (woohoo!) but Julie Moss who works for Tri-California (and who I didn’t realize was THE Julie Moss until the weekend was practically over) absolutely insisted I go up on stage with the rest of them for the elite athlete introductions. I tried to get out of it (“but I’m only racing short course!”) but alas the AVIA jacket and VIP badge did me in.

So I got to go up on stage, and talk smack with the unsuspecting pros who would think I was racing against them the next day. We had to say our name, where we’re from, and a career highlight.
“Hello! I’m Jocelyn Wongstar Wong and I was born and raised in California!”
*lots of cheers for the local girl*
“I had the 3rd fastest run split in Ironman China 2 weeks ago!”
*more cheers*

I’m such an attention whore… :)

Sunday bright and early I went down the hill to watch all my teammates race long course. My VIP badge gave me permission to hop all the fences I wanted, so I could take great pictures.

I got to catch all our swim finishes…easy to spot the Blue Seventy wetsuits and Scody race kits:

jonnyo-swim

tez-swim

donna-swim

erika-swim

After Coco and Donna ran out of the water, I quickly made it over to catch them as they took off on their Cervelos:

donna-bike

erika-bike

During the nice hilly bike, I hopped on my own Cervelo in the AVIA VIP area, where there were turbo trainers strategically located so I could get in my pre-race spin.

khan-on-the-turbo

I then did my pre-race run and swam the course with Amy and Brad. My first time swimming in the BlueSeventy Helix and it felt great! We hung out and then it was time to catch my teammates in the finish chute. Rei went by so fast the whole day that the only picture I have of him is after the finish:

rei-interview

Donna was happy to be done, top 10 and in the money! I think I should start charging a % of the prize money she wins every time she races in my hot pink top. Malaysia…China…and now Wildflower!

donna-finish

Here are some hot TBB chicks. Coach says we have the best looking team!

finish-dje

Post-race we got to chill out in the VIP area by the Avia RV.

chilling-at-camp-avia

I could get used to this VIP thing…

Race report will be part 3, coming up next!