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My Flippin’ Fantastic Florida 70.3 Race Report « Jocelyn Wong's Blog

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My Flippin’ Fantastic Florida 70.3 Race Report

**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 !

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