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Archive for July, 2009

French Fries in France

Monday, July 27th, 2009

This week’s international travels take me to my 4th new country in 2 weeks: France!

We are at the McDonald’s where there is free wifi, and Coach is a wreck as we follow Zach and Tereza’s Lake Placid race on ironmanlive.com.

Bek yelled at me that I have to eat more so I don’t bonk during le Tour de TBB (we biked from Switzerland to France, and are biking more tomorrow to get to Alpe d’Huez).

so I decided I had to try what this country is most known for…(to Americans anyway HAHAHAHA)….

FRENCH FRIES!!!

they have two varieties here. The regular “Frites” and the “Deluxe Potatoes” which are like potato wedges. They come with “Creamy Deluxe” sauce which is like enhanced mayonnaise.

real French fries!

real French fries!

two kinds of French fries in the French McDonalds!

two kinds of French fries in the French McDonald's!

I think the “deluxe potatoes” French fries taste much better.  I was disappointed that the regular fries tasted just the same as the ones at home.  What’s up with that?

LC and Bek both said something to the extent of “duh Wongstar they taste the same everywhere…!”

a pro triathlete fairy tale

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Once upon a time, during her international travels to lands near and far, an Asian Triathlon Superstar fell in love with a tall and charming amateur triathlete.  Even though they lived half a world apart, he always found a way to wish her “good morning” when she woke up, and “sweet dreams” before she went to sleep.  He professed to be her #1 fan.  She baked him brownies with M&M hearts on them and sent him care packages.  After she won her first ironman title in Korea, he flew her to visit him in a new far-off land: Turkey.

He took her to nice places.

They explored the local caverns.

She saw strange new animals.

He took her on really great dates every night.

She got to swim in the Mediterranean Sea, where there was an old castle in the sea.  (Fairy tales are not complete without a castle!)

Like a true triathlete, she thought the best part was the food–authentic baklava and kebabs!

She had absolutely the BEST time ever.

He made sure that she and her warrior horse arrived safely to her next destination: Switzerland, for summer training camp with her pro teammates.

Then he stomped her big happy heart into tiny little pieces smaller than the grains of sand on the Kizkalesi beach.

And they didn’t live happily ever after together…

However, the Asian Triathlon Superstar soon got over her heartbreak, and went on to win many more ironman titles, find true love, and live happily ever after.

Meanwhile, the tall and charming amateur triathlete lived a long lonely life full of misery and regret, knowing that he let the awesomest girl he will ever know slip through his fingers.

The end.

the Wongstar = ironman champion + certified Asian Triathlon Superstar!

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

The grandfathers in Jeju took VERY good care of me!

The grandfathers in Jeju took VERY good care of me!


How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #23:  Win a triathlon.

bonus points if it is in Asia.

double extra bonus if it is ironman distance.

triple bonus…win prize money!

the Wongstar is a Korean millionaire

$$$ the Wongstar is a Korean millionaire!!! $$$

in short, win an ironman triathlon in Asia and get paid for it.

This may just be the last and final step confirming that I am now a bona fide Asian Triathlon Superstar, that is what Coach tells me.  :)

I am an ironman champion!!!  Can you believe it??  I have never won a triathlon outright in my entire life.  The best I’ve done is 4th overall a few times in small, shorter races.  I even did a new Olympic distance race a few years ago, with only 12 age group women in it, and I thought “aha this is the day.”  Nope, got 4th in that one too!

Now I know what the cynics may be thinking, and here is what I have to say about that:

A) “oh Wongstar, you were the only pro woman in the race.  All you had to do was finish.”
Well, first, yes it is true.  I was the only one of three pro women on the start list to make it to the starting line.  But you can’t control who shows up to the race.  It’s every athlete’s responsibility to get to the starting line healthy.  “Just finishing” is easier said than done; I don’t believe in ever using “easy” and “ironman” in the same sentence.  If you are familiar with the Korea Jeju ironman course at all, there is nothing easy about it.  And I certainly wasn’t going to take my sweet time just because I had no competition in the pro category.

So since you can only race who shows up, what’s a pro girl to do?  Well, you make sure you finish well ahead of the next female (90 minutes is good), and spank as many pro guys, amateur men, and relay teams as you can.  Knowing I was the only pro woman racing Sunday, my secret goal was to go top 10, not knowing how realistic it was.  When all was said and done, I was only beaten by 3 pro men, 5 age group men, and 2 relay teams.  9th individual overall, now that is definitely my best result ever!

B) “but Wongstar, you can’t say you are an Ironman champion when this race lost its M-dot and is not an Ironman-branded event any more.”
Yes, I know, that is why I use the term “ironman champion” in lower-case letters.  ;)   As far as I’m concerned, I swam 3.8km (2.4mi), biked 180km (112mi), and ran 42k (26.2mi) on Sunday, i.e. I raced an ironman triathlon on Sunday, and I won.  I got my first paycheck ever for a race and gave my first victory speech!  So I am an ironman champion.  Are you going to tell the pros that win Challenge Roth or Embrunman that they are not ironman champions?

Yeah!  I am an ironman champion and this is only the beginning.  :)

Wongstar and Jan Rehula: ironman champions of the Korea Triathlon Jeju

Wongstar and Jan Rehula: ironman champions of Korea Triathlon Jeju

Race report to follow soon, there are oodles of great race photos that I must hunt down first, with that very big Wongstar smile… from eye to eye.  :D

In the meantime I’ll go ahead and thank all my sponsors and supporters for helping me get to #1!

  • Our country sponsor and race venue, the beautiful Jeju island and Ariel who was our team coordinator and contact from Jeju tourism.  She took the best care of me and Cam, greeting us with flowers and presents at the airport and taking us out for food and coffee!
  • Cervelo for Khan the Warrior Horse, who helped me ride up to 15th overall after a nasty swim!
  • Avia running shoes for helping me run down the boys on Sunday!
  • Alex and Brett with teamTBB, for believing in me and helping to make dreams come true.  What’s that Alex always says, dreams come a few sizes too big so we can grow into them!  Thanks for helping me grow into this one, I know I’ve still got some growing to do.
  • Our official suppliers, BlueSeventy for the great wetsuit, Oval Concepts aerobars, ISM saddles and Scody for the race kit.
  • SLS3 for the compression sleeves, which not only helped during the race but during all my airplane time and post-race recovery.
  • Mark Cathcart, my travel sponsor who helped me get to both this race and to the upcoming Swiss training camp.
  • My boss Gary at Gary Berke Prosthetics, who is the coolest boss in the world.  Thanks for letting me take such insane amounts of time off work to go to races and training camp and still having a job for me whenever I am home.  Your support is unbelievable and you too are helping me pursue my craziest dreams!  ;)
  • My infamous #1 fan for the moral & emotional support.  I’m here in Turkey with him for the weekend, so more on this guy later.  ;)
  • and saving the best for last, Mom & Dad Wongstar!  Thank you for everything!  Bet you never thought your daughter would become an ironman champion…then again, maybe you knew all along.  :D

pre-race in Jeju, fat-loading on ice cream

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

The Wongstar loves race week because she hears Coach’s voice back in Subic (before Ironman China) saying “Now is not the time to start starving yourself.  Make sure you eat!!”  And my travel companion Donna in China…”this is the week to eat!”  “this is the day to eat!”  “this is the dinner to eat!”  “this is the lunch to eat!”  MMM, race week.  I even met a cute guy in the dessert line at the carbo-loading dinner when I was getting seconds for chocolate cake.  ;)

That was in China.  Now I’m in Korea.  This is probably the most foreign country I’ve ever been to thus far, which is kind of fun if a little confusing at times.  In China at least the writing looked familiar (from those torturous memories of Chinese school on many a childhood weekend), and I could understand and speak some.  Here hardly anyone speaks any English and they’ll speak Korean to me.  I’m using the desktop computer that each of our rooms at the Bluehill House comes equipped in, and I was really weirded out that I couldn’t figure out how to get the keyboard to type in English.  Cam showed me the special “slash” button that I had to press.

Ever since Ironman Korea lost its M-Dot, the international field has gotten smaller and smaller.  There will still be 600 athletes starting tomorrow morning, most of them Korean, and that’s twice the size of Ironman China this year!  I am actually the one and only American racing, and there are no Chinese people either, so I will do double duty and represent both very well.  :)   I took a picture of the Warrior Horse all clean and shiny with his new USA, China, and California flag stickers, and lots of other cool photos but can’t upload them to this computer now.  Give me a few days, I’ll have plenty of time in the airports during some long layovers.  I’ve been hanging out with bodyguard Cam, Jan Rehula (hilarious Czech fellow who used to train with Sutto and now helps coach the Korean national team), and Dan Brown who is another Aussie.  I think the 4 of us make up half of the English-speaking participants of the whole race.  And I know this because there were about 8 of us at the race briefing held in English.

Cam and I had a lunchtime adventure today which culminated in the whole “ordering from the picture menu” backfiring on us.  We ordered some hot soup dish that was supposed to be pork and rice.  Except the pork bits in the soup were all fat chunks.  We ended up having two bowls of rice each and mixing it with the kim-chee.  Then we went to a bakery straight after because we were still hungry, and it’s race week, can’t starve yourself during race week!  Going to the grocery store was more successful because you can at least see what you are buying.  I figured out which milk was soy milk because of the pictures of the soybeans all over it.  Cam got ice cream which had pictures of pistachios and I had the ice cream with the pictures of Oreo cookies and chocolate bars on it.

I decided to go with some Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino drinks in my Camelbak during the last lap of the marathon instead of Coke this time, as I don’t really like Coke and if you don’t completely defizz it, your Camelbak turns into a balloon.  I’m gonna freeze it tonight, cuz our awesome accommodations (where our team stayed last year at the Jeju training camp) has a fridge and freezer.  Then hopefully by the time I get it at special needs tomorrow, it’ll still be nice cold coffee.  If not, at least warm or hot coffee is ok too…hahaha…better than warm or hot Coke right!!  and yes, I have practiced with it in training, gosh, go read my Monster Run blog if you don’t remember.

Jeju is in fact, really gorgeous and I can see how it would be a great place to train.  I’ll be back for the whole month of September for the pre-Kona training camp.  No, not going to Kona, but I am going to learn to swim during this next block of training camps after tomorrow’s ironman.  Tomorrow, the swim is wetsuit legal (hip hip hooray!) and we are going the direction with the buoys on the side I breathe on (double yay).  It’s a mass start so I think I’ll have some good age groupers to swim with.  Or maybe some bad pro guys, who knows ;)   I have been swimming with Duncan the Donut practically every swim session, so swimming 4k’s without him should seem easy, right?

The weather here is a bit sketch, it’s been pouring down rain, then clearing up, but it’s foggy and overcast like at home in Pacifica yet crazy humid.  I got drenched running 20mins this morning and that was without the rain.  :D   So I’m mentally prepared for a wet day, or maybe it’ll “pull a China,” dry up, and get crazy hot.  In all cases, I’m going to see how many men I can “chick” as the pro field is a little bit sparse.  The race organizers must have read my last blog because they put me in the transition area right next to the men’s 18-24 age group.  ;)

I can definitely feel my Asian Triathlon Superstar status rising here in Korea, as some of the racers recognized me from Ironman China, and I got an introduction with a spotlight on me at the carbo dinner.  :)   After dinner some fans even wanted to get their picture taken with me!  Racing in Asia is the best :)

the pro card, a single triathlete girl’s best friend

Monday, July 6th, 2009

This blog could also be called “the single pro triathlete girl, a sponsor’s secret weapon.” or maybe “the Wongstar’s guide to dating a pro.”

So Coach had always told me that speed is the best guy magnet.  I wasn’t sure how true this was until I did indeed start to get faster, and the closer I got to getting that pro card, the more popular I found myself becoming.  Ok, it doesn’t hurt that I help perpetuate the rumor that you might just get on teamTBB by dating someone on the team…  Well my real actual pro card came in the mail last week and now I don’t go anywhere without it!  You never know when you need to whip out that pro card.

I’ve been following Donna and Tereza’s advice to not bother with pro triathlete men.  I was told that these guys are way too into themselves and don’t ever have any money to spend on you.  Plus, what happens when you chick them on a good day?  Their ego may get smashed to pieces and that’s just trouble.

Amateur guys seem to be the way to go.  I’ve come to learn that swooping on the men’s 18-24 age group yields the best results.  They are so young and impressionable and completely enamored that you are a pro chick.  Plus as this is my 9th season as a triathlete, I’ve probably been a triathlete much longer than these young bucks.  Then I don’t have to deal with some know-it-all triathlete guy who thinks he knows more than I do about the sport.  I hate that.

I once dated a guy three (or was it four?) age groups up from me and he was always trying to tell me how to do stuff.  Like change a flat tire.  Even though I had raced 4 years on my college road cycling team.  Damn right I already knew how to change a flat tire.  He also told me I was too fat to be a pro triathlete.  WHO’S LAUGHING NOW!?!?

So I’ve decided that younger is better.  If you catch one of these amateur boys young enough, you will even rescue him before he buys into all the “triathlon bullsh*t” as Coach says.  You can save him from being one of those full-on trigeeks who reads too many magazines and books full of misinformation.  I see this as a public service to the triathlon world.

If you find one that is about the same speed as you, then you can train together.  So what if you chick him sometimes?  He’ll think it’s kinda hot, and besides, you’re a pro triathlete girl, you’re supposed to be pretty darn fast.

And sponsors will love me for shaping the minds of the future of our sport.  I am a great resource for the best products to train and race with, or at least the best for getting a date with a pro triathlete girl.  Get ‘em while they’re young and these sponsors will have a customer for life!  For example:

  • “Sorry, I only date boys that ride Cervelo.”  Gerard and Phil would be so proud!
  • “I’ll let you ask me out if you run in Avia shoes.  Those Bolts are pretty sexy.”
  • “Maybe we can hold hands if you get that Blue Seventy speedsuit.  I bet you’d look sooo hot in it!”

…and don’t even think you’ll be getting any action if you’re not riding on an ISM Adamo saddle.  Crotch numbness is what we at the Wongstar Boyfriend Testing Center deem an “epic failure.”

Herman the Pull Buoy

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

So I was feeding my pull buoy the other day, and my coworker Natalie said something to the extent of “aww, you love your pull buoy don’t you?  You should name it something.  Like Herman.”

I agreed…yes, I do love my pull buoy, and besides, something you put in between your legs almost every day should have a name.  And thus Herman the Pull Buoy was born.  I thought about naming him something else, maybe a good pool boy name like Rico or Miguel.  But then I kept thinking “P.B. Herman” and it has a familiar ring to it.  My siblings and I were big fans of Pee-wee’s Playhouse growing up.  :)

Anyway, Herman is a growing buoy.  He is now a very big buoy.  Because you see, the relationship with a pro triathlete girl and her pull buoy is sort of an inverse relationship, body composition-wise.  The leaner I get, the less I float in the water, so then I must fatten up Herman so that he compensates for my new skinniness.

So when the Wongstar traded Nutella and peanut butter for celery, surely she couldn’t waste the Nutella.  Herman is a very hungry buoy.  I have been feeding Herman all my Nutella and peanut butter, so now he is nice and fat.  Heck, I used to go through a jar of peanut butter every week, so Herman has been eating very well.  He kind of looks like a pull buoy on steroids, but we on teamTBB don’t believe in doping.  Herman is just a big fatty.  In his line of work, similar to sumo wrestlers and opera singers, it is better to be fat than to be muscular.

Herman is so fat that I have been having a little trouble getting him in between my legs when we are in the water.  He just floats so well!  Here is a picture of him with my other gear, Doc’s favorite paddles and the evil donut tube (who I think I will name Duncan.  Duncan Donut, hahahaha).  I found an anorexic pull buoy to pose next to Herman so you can see how much more massive he is.  Obviously this other pull buoy doesn’t understand the job description.

P.B. Herman and friends

P.B. Herman and friends