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Archive for December, 2009

2009 Rookie Season in Review

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Well, it has been a great year for the Wongstar.  That’s probably an understatement.

making a wish on the orange tree at IM China

making a wish on the orange tree at IM China

January 1st, 2009: I woke up with a terrible headache and declared, “2009, the year all our dreams come true!”  Someone beside me grumbled, “maybe not ALL our dreams” and I silently amended my statement to “2009, the year all MY dreams come true…” After scrounging for breakfast and rehydrating, I left the house and swam 100×100′s to begin what would become the best year of my life. (THUS FAR.)

making a wish on my 28th birthday

making a wish on my 28th birthday

Not only did I get my pro card, I also successfully passed all my board exams earlier in the year to officially become Jocelyn Wong, MSPO, CPO:  Certified Prosthetist-Orthotist & Professional Triathlete.  I need to make business cards that say that!

8 Countries Visited (* = 5 new ones):

  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • China
  • Korea*
  • Turkey*
  • Switzerland*
  • France*
  • Mexico*
I learned how to travel with only a bike box, carry-on, and small backpack!

I traveled with only a bike box, carry-on, and small backpack! and only got charged $150 for the bike ALL YEAR!

Russia doesn’t count, even if I was in the Moscow airport for over 10 hours total.

Italy doesn’t really count either, we just spent a few minutes in that long tunnel en route to Embrun.

3 Prosthetics Missions in the Philippines:

  • Tigaon, Camarines Sur (Bicol region)
  • Dipolog, Zamboanga Del Norte (Mindinao region)
  • Binalonan, Pangasinan (Ilocos region)
going pro and making legs

going pro and making legs, the stuff dreams are made of

6 Ironmans Raced:

sometimes you win money, sometimes you win a sack of rice, sometimes you win nothing at all but get a big PR.

sometimes you win money, sometimes you win a sack of rice, sometimes you win nothing at all but a big PR and a huge smile.

134 Minutes Improved:

  • from previous ironman PR (that’s 2 hrs and 14 mins)
  • from 12:08 at IM Wisconsin 2005
  • to 9:54 at IM Florida 2009

Countless Breakthroughs:

  • first time under 4 hours in the marathon
  • first time under 6 hours on the bike
  • first time under 12 hours in the ironman
  • first time under 5.5 hours on the bike
  • first time under 3.5 hours on the run
  • first time under 10 hours in the ironman (and under 11 too?!)
  • first time winning a pro race
  • first time winning prize money
  • first time running and winning a stand-alone marathon

haha even an almost “first time under 5 hours on the bike” in Florida…  Ended the year with PR splits of 1:05, 5:00, and 3:27.  Now if I can only put those all together in a single race, not too shabby eh?

Somewhere along the way there were some other firsts in too:

  • first time attending the wedding of one of my college mates
the Scottie & Wongstar go to a wedding in Queens blog post never got written as everybody (me, Scottie, the bride and groom) all got sick from the swine flu outbreak in Queens that weekend.

the "Scottie & Wongstar go to a wedding in Queens" blog post never got written as everybody (me, Scottie, the bride and groom) all got sick from the swine flu outbreak in Queens that weekend.

  • first time seeing an “Oreo cow” or two
the story about Macs farm didnt make it either.  With an Oreo cow here and an Oreo cow there, E-I-E-I-O!

the story about Mac's farm didn't make it either. With an Oreo cow here and an Oreo cow there, E-I-E-I-O!

Highlight of my year is probably EmbrunMan: swimming a breakthrough 1:05 and shocking everyone with a 3:33 marathon off that ridiculous bike course (top 5, 2000 euros indeed!), best of all having a stunned Coach catch me at the finish line over an hour before he expected.  Breaking 10 hours twice in the span of 2 weeks was a close tie!

Lowest point?  There weren’t too many.  Maybe having Khan the Warrior Horse die his untimely death, although the altitude marathon and “fixed gear” bike training in the mountains that followed his demise made me much stronger.  Like a true optimist, I see the good in every bad.

So how does one top the best year ever?  It won’t be easy, but I’ve got a few pretty spectacular ideas.  Starting with the elimination of the hangover on January 1st.  You’ll have to wait til 2010 to hear the rest, but it’s just around the corner.  And if 2009 was not your best year ever, screw it, 2010 is bound to be better!

Say it with me:  2010 will be the year all our dreams come true!

All I want for Christmas is a sub-60 swim split!

Saturday, December 26th, 2009
save $ on stamps, save paper too! this is my holiday e-card ;)

save $ on stamps and paper too! my holiday e-card ;)

Momma Wongstar with the deep-fried Xmas turkey

Momma Wongstar with the deep-fried Xmas turkey

Brother Wongstar carving the turkey

Brother Wongstar carving the turkey

getting into the holiday spirit by getting in the holiday spirits

getting into the holiday spirit by getting in the holiday spirits

Guinness in his lovely Christmas sweater

Guinness, so happy in his lovely Christmas sweater

Grandparents and 10 of their 15 grand-spawn

Grandparents and 10 of their 15 grand-spawn

Recently Grandpa watched the DVD of the Ironman China ESPN broadcast featuring yours truly (thanks again Damien!).  Today he asked why I went so slow, and how come I didn’t win.  A year ago he told me I was really stupid for getting into this pro triathlon thing.

Next year, I’ll win Grandpa!

Mom and her Jesus Christ Christmas earrings

Mom and her Jesus Christ Christmas earrings

the Wongstar sisters.  She is my official fashion consultant and dressed me today.

the Wongstar sisters. She is my official fashion consultant and dressed me today. In her clothes.

The two of us are throwing a “Fugly Sweater” post-Christmas party tomorrow so earlier this week we went perused the local thrift shops to see what we could find…

gorgeous absolutely gorgeous!

gorgeous absolutely gorgeous!

matchy-matchy-matchy

matchy-matchy-matchy

gotta love the snowflakes! team colors too!!

love the snowflakes! team colors too!!

When all else fails, we can always raid Mom’s closet.  She has quite the collection of aesthetically pleasing Christmas sweaters and sweatshirts, so we did this today and took G-dog in his merry little outfit around the neighborhood.

She said if Guinness isnt wearing pants, why do I have to?

She said "if Guinness isn't wearing pants, why do I have to?"

Santa Stop!

Santa Stop here!

Im melting...Im melting!!!

I'm melting...I'm melting!!!

Last race report of 2009! Wongstar’s IM Cozumel.

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Yikes, yes I realize it’s been nearly a month since the race and considered just bagging the race report for my 6th ironman of 2009.  Maybe nobody would notice… But somehow my blog posts get over 2,000 hits, I don’t know how, but I guess this means someone might notice.  I wouldn’t want to disappoint anybody.  Even my mom and dad and brother have all said something.  So I figure I might as well finish the half-written report I started on the airplane ride home and throw in the bazillion race photos I have.

I contemplated just putting the pictures in with random witty captions, as Coco has sometimes accused my blog of being a simple child’s picturebook.  ;)  But knowing me it will end up being a long story anyway…

This one is dedicated for you, the fans! Merry Christmas, I don’t have much money to buy you anything so you get one more race report for 2009, enjoy.

Im hiding in the back.  Maybe I should just start in the front so I wont get dropped so quick.

I'm hiding in the back. The one in the BlueSeventy speedsuit. And my white long sleeve Scody race kit. Maybe I should just start in the front so I can stay with the pack for a few more seconds.

So we were corralled onto the dock and weren’t allowed to get into the water until the race announcer declared each of our names…yes, one at a time…for over 60 pros! They called the men first which took forever and finally the women. Once we were in the water it was pretty amazing–the water was so clear! It was my first swim in the sea since I had come into Mexico so late (Friday night). I was actually able to stay with the pack for an entire 15 to 20 seconds…woohoo! A slight improvement on getting my butt dropped straightaway, but I know I still have a loooong way to go.

I just assumed the worst case scenario: that I would be swimming pretty much alone for the 2.4 miles, 1-loop swim.  Worst case scenario it was, but no surprises as I was expecting it, therefore I did NOT freak out or panic or anything stupid like that.  Damage control!

swimming

there are so many swim exit photos I am just going to intersperse them here during the swim story.

The First Mate had made me a big sign that said “SWIM LIKE A SHARK” and it really was like swimming in a big fish tank!  Just like being in the movie Finding Nemo.  I know I keep saying this, but it was really amazing!  You could see the sea floor, and even the scuba guys at the bottom were waving at us.

At first I pretended I was one of the sharks in Finding Nemo, but then I remembered they are vegetarian.  Screw that!  I’m a strong meat-eating girl who likes her steak a little bit bloody.  I decided I was the shark from Jaws instead.  So then I had the Jaws theme in my head…

swimming

here I come! JAWS!

I even saw STARfish on the ocean floor, midway through the swim.  They waved their little starfish arms at me and cheered “Swim like a superSTAR!  GO WongSTAR!”

I didn’t get caught by the age groupers until about 45 mins into the swim…which I thought was not too shabby.  We had a 15min head start, but once they came by, they flew by…  I couldn’t really tell if the swim was short or if the current was strong, I just didn’t worry about much except to keep swimming as hard as I could for as long as I could.  And if people say the swim course was short, well, swimming it all by yourself sure feels like a long time.

swimming

popping out at last!

I was happy to be out, as usual.  Finishing the swim is always my 2nd favorite part of the whole race.  My first favorite would be crossing the finish line!  :)

swimming

nice Avia logo eh!

It did seem to take a bit quicker than my last swim, that horrible 1:18 in Florida…

swimming

Land, ho!

In fact, you could say I was pretty excited when I looked at my watch…

swimming

what's the damage?

…and saw that it said “1:05″!  No way!

Ill take it!

I'll take it!

Yep I was pretty happy with that.  Can you tell?  1:05 is my PR from EmbrunMan and this swim was without a wetsuit.

transition #1

transition #1

My bike was pretty easy to spot in transition, per usual.  Someday this will change.  Off I went!

The bike course went 3 times around the island and was really gorgeous, although ridiculously windy on the other side.  We went right along the coast with absolutely no protection from the wind!  I was actually quite happy the swim wasn’t on this other side as the water looked extremely choppy.  My first lap I took it out pretty controlled as usual, holding back the effort so I could dial it up later.

biking

fastest training wheels on the pro rack!

I saw the First Mate yelling for me as she had run back from the swim start to T2/the finish line area.  Then I turned up the effort and felt great!  At halfway, I let it rip and caught 3 pro women between my 3rd and 4th hours.  I was definitely on pace to go under 5:20 which would be slower than the last 2 races, also flat courses, but were nowhere as windy as Cozumel.

biking

huff puff huff puff

On my 3rd lap I hit the wind and just felt like my legs ran out of juice.  I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t stomp out the last 60k really hard like I usually do; it is normally the fastest part of my bike split.  A great sherpa and cheerleader is always looking at her watch, and according to my First Mate, I lost over 10 minutes on that last lap!

biking

grinding away!

After future contemplation (yes it has been almost a month) with Coach about what happened, he pointed out that I didn’t exactly get any real bike training in for the last 6 weeks prior to this race.  Yup, this was the 3rd ironman-distance race in a 5-week span, which was not intentional at all.  I had Cozumel on my race calendar since I qualified for my pro card 6 months ago.  GreatMan was originally held mid-September, got cancelled, then postponed for late October.  In early October, the same week I committed to doing GreatMan, IM Florida finally got back to me and suddenly I had 3 ironmans in 5 weeks!

biking

whoa whoa crosswinds blowing me over

Coach was not worried about me racing that much and therefore I was not worried either.  In fact I did get quite excited and temporarily insane after Florida and asked, why not just throw in IM Arizona into the mix too?!

Coach was smart enough to draw the line there.  This is why we have coaches.  Because 3 ironmans in 5 weeks was perfectly acceptable, but 4 of them was clearly stupid.  Duh!

biking

Really gorgeous bike course, wouldn't you say??

Well the wind was just as relentless on the last lap and I was still pushing a big gear like normal.  This would come back and bite me in the butt later…  I rolled into transition and ducked in and out of the change tent with a 57-second T2!  My friend Amy Kloner was one of the race announcers and I heard her yell that I was in 8th place.  No way!

Well, another pro woman, Michaela, sprinted by me right out of T2, so my 8th was quickly down to 9th, and I let her go as the pace was too quick for me so early into the run.  It was extremely humid and pretty warm, so I did my share of splashing water onto myself and stuffing my sports bra with ice.  If men were smart, they too would wear sports bras for these hot races.  Man-bras don’t count, they don’t have the elastic at the bottom to hold the ice in.

biking

skipping along, lap #1

I knew Amy K from when I was in grad school in Atlanta (2004-2006), and another of the ATL girls, April Gellatly, was also racing.  The three of us were all amateurs back then and both of them would kick my ass.  April and I were in the same age group and she would always win it.  Well, now all 3 of us are racing in the pro ranks.  I was trying to give April a run for her money as she had spanked me out of the swim but was only a couple spots ahead of me on the run.

The crowd support was phenomenal and I really felt like a celebrity.  A lot of them would yell for me by name “GO JOCELYN!” and I would always think they actually knew who I was, since I am so famous and all that, before realizing that I had my name on my bib number.  The First Mate did however have her hot pink sign that said “GO WONGSTAR!”  I loved it!!

running

hurting a little but still moving!

The first out-and-back lap (of three) went by quickly enough, I didn’t feel all that fresh and peppy but the crowd really helped.  Around mile 10 my stomach was starting to feel a bit off, and I tried to just suck it up and keep going, but my pace slowed… and slowed…and all I wanted to do was take a few steps to let it settle down.  But as soon as I started walking, my low back really tightened up and I could barely even walk!

Oh dear.  I’m thinking this was partly due to pushing too big of a gear on the bike into the wind.  I walked a bit, shuffled a bit, stopped to stretch out my back several times, took in some Coke, walked some more, shuffled a bit, stopped and stretched, and in the meantime got passed by masses and masses of age groupers who were on their first laps.  Things looked bleak and I was afraid I would have to walk it in.  All I could think of was getting to the special needs station at mile 13, the halfway point of the marathon.  I decided that my stomach was just not happy with the Gatorade in my Camelbak, so I really wanted to switch to the Wongstar magic mix, my Starbucks formula.  Once I got my new Camelbak on, I forced myself to shuffle.  No more walking.  Just run really slow.

I was actually pretty surprised that none of the pro women behind me caught me during my 3 miles of walking and stopping to stretch.  It must’ve been a tough day for most of us out there.  Yes, 3 age group women did pass me and truthfully I am surprised that more of them didn’t.

I shuffled my way back to complete my 2nd loop, and my back muscles were starting to feel looser at that point.  The crowds were very encouraging: this buoyed my spirits and I was able to start picking up my pace again.  I actually passed back Michaela, who had sprinted by in the first 10 meters of the marathon, so back into 8th place I went.  It was good to see Bella out there kicking ass as usual.  My old roommate Bean was suffering as well, but we were at least able to encourage each other on the course.

It was getting dark by the end of my last lap, and I was disappointed I would be breaking my streak of 5 daylight finishes in a row this year.  Still, a finish is a finish, and the caffeine kicked in enough during my last few miles that I was fighting off an age group woman who was right behind me and closing in.  Yes, she started 15mins behind me, but for all I knew, I thought she was a pro, and I wasn’t about to let her catch me!

finishing

into the finish chute!

I am always happy to finish an Ironman.  No matter how many I end up doing in a single year, each finish is still special to me.  I will always feel a huge sense of accomplishment no matter what my finish time is, and I will always have deep respect for this distance.

finishing

magic running sticks!

It turns out that my finish time was a 10:37, which kind of cracks me up at this point because a year ago I never would have thought a 10:37 would be considered a bad race for me.  And now it is…  I still managed to go 3:58 in the marathon while walking for 3 miles, which is ridiculous considering I just broke 4 hours for the first time this year, and that was when I ran the whole thing!  I couldn’t even break 11 hours in my July ironman, 4 months ago.

finishing

I'm always happy to cross the finish line... Best part of the whole day!

So am I disappointed with the race?  Yes and no.  Obviously I would have loved to do better.  But in perspective (and there’s lots of time for perspective when you procrastinate on your race report) did I ever think a year ago I could do 3 ironmans in 5 weeks?  at 9:55, 9:54, and 10:37?

I think a year ago I would hardly believe I could do just one of those.  Yes, even the 10:37 would’ve been astounding to me.  To go 10:37 with a sub-par bike and walking a few miles on the run tells me that I have improved tremendously this year.  Besides, I kind of went from breaking 12 hours in April to breaking 10 hours in October.  I skipped the breaking 11 hours part, so I had to go back and do that.  ;)

finishing

not a daylight finish but still my 3rd fastest ironman of the year!

Yep, out of the 6 ironmans I did this year, this last one was still the 3rd fastest!  After so much racing, I was relieved to be done and ready to go have some mojitos.  And what did I learn?  2 Ironmans 2 weeks apart I can do pretty well at both, but a 3rd one 3 weeks later may just be one too many…

whew baby

whew baby

It’s been just an astounding 2009 for me, and I am incredibly thankful to Brett & Alex and teamTBB for making this the year all my dreams have come true.  I am still learning the ups and downs of being a professional triathlete but am excessively happy with how my rookie year has gone.

I want to thank my parents and family for all of their support, and also my wonderful teammates, friends, fans, blog readers, and last but not least, my lovely sponsors, for making it all possible.  Without you I am not a triathlon superstar!

Muchas gracias to the Bike Boutique, Cervelo, Avia, Mark Cathcart, Jeju Island, BlueSeventy, Oval Concepts, ISM Saddles, Scody, SLS3 and Yogavive apple chips!

Have a Merry Christmas or as they say in Cozumel, Feliz Navidad!

Wongstar, the teenage triathlete

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I am procrastinating on my last race report of 2009.  Yes it’s been 2 weeks and you know I am procrastinating pretty bad when I start cleaning my room instead.  I began to uncover endlessly fascinating things I had saved in my days as a teenage triathlete for some scrapbook I would make some day.  So fascinating that I was inspired to throw them in a little blog first instead of my race report.

my first triathlon: June 4, 2000

my first triathlon: June 4, 2000

When I was 18, I registered for my first triathlon for only $41.00 and a $2.05 processing fee on Active.com.  Using Mom’s credit card because back in those glorious days I did not have any credit cards nor the accompanying ghastly amount of credit card debt.  The race was the Los Angeles Triathlon Series #3, Tri-Express distance: a 250 yard swim (which took me almost 10 minutes), 7-mile bike ride (which I got a flat tire on), and 2-mile run.  Held at Frank G. Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA.

back before everyone and their brother had a digital camera

back before everyone and their brother had a digital camera

Yes kids, once upon a time digital cameras were not so prevalent and race photographers actually used real film, had to get it developed, and then sent you proofs of your race photos with “PROOF” stamped all over it.  This was from the Pacific Coast Triathlon in Newport Beach, also summer of 2000.

9 years and $200 ago...

9 years and $200 ago...

After doing 2 sprint triathlons, I was ready to go big.  I always knew I wanted to do Ironmans.  I saved up enough money all summer working at the footwear department of SportMart, and registered for Ironman California…yes before there was such a thing as a “70.3″ (we called them “half ironmans”) and the California 70.3 in Oceanside was still a full ironman event.  $350 seemed like a lot of money to do a race.  But I just looked up how much it costs to do an Ironman next year…it’s $550!  I wonder how many extra hours I would have to work at SportMart making minimum wage???

Here comes the best part of my triathlon archives…fast forward another 4 years…drum roll please…

kinda gives you goose bumps doesnt it?

kinda gives you goose bumps doesn't it?

SEE!!!  I always knew I wanted to be a TRIATHLON SUPERSTAR!!!

It’s all part of the master plan…mwahaha!

Living the dream!  :D

Cozumel pics: awards & the umbrella drink

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

So I officially got 8th pro in Cozumel after all and went to the awards banquet…you never know if you’ll get called up. In Florida I got 10th and they only called up top 8, in China this year I got 8th and only top 5 got called up. In Embrun I got 5th and they called everybody up! (And yes, there were more than 5 of us.) It’s the moment a triathlon superstar dreams of: getting called up on stage, smiling your big cheesy superstar smile, and waving at all your adoring fans.

So the First Mate and I borrowed an extra race bracelet (thank you Bean) and decided to brave the food at the awards banquet, held at the Moby Dick Show Center.

practicing my cheesy smile in case I get called up!

practicing my big cheesy superstar smile in case I get called up!

There were some pretty cool fire dancers there to entertain us but I was too hungry to take photos. I was intrigued by the trophies though:

you win a Mayan head for top 3!

you win a Mayan head for top 3!

Turns out only top 3 in each age category and top 3 pros got a head trophy and called up. So next year I must get a top 3 to get called up for sure. I guess that’s why they call it the podium!

Rutger making his victory speech

Rutger making his victory speech

Interestingly enough only Rutger got to make a victory speech. I was a bit appalled that Yvonne didn’t get to make a speech! Not sure if that was intentional or if she didn’t want to make one. (Who wouldn’t want to make one? I like to fantasize about what I would say in a big victory speech when I am out training…)

Bella, Yvonne, & Edith

Bella, Yvonne, & Edith

Awards ceremonies can sometimes be a drag but I still find inspiration in seeing the really fast people go up on stage. My mom came with me to my first two ironmans and sat through awards with me even though I was FAR from podium’ing as an age grouper. I remember telling her “I want to be up there!” and she said “You will some day.” I hit the age group and collegiate podium on the next try (3rd time’s the charm) and remember Mike Reilly (or maybe it was Graham Fraser?? crap, I don’t remember…one of those guys!) was saying “These young ones are the future of Ironman racing!” I thought “yeah right. I didn’t even break 12 hours.” I never imagined I would actually be shooting for a podium in the pro division 5 years later.

superstar Bella, mentor to the Wongstar!

superstar Bella, mentor to the Wongstar!

After all the awards, they put some traditional Mexican dancers up on stage and then threw in two roosters for a cockfight! First Mate couldn’t watch. All I could say over and over again was, “isn’t this illegal where we’re from?” And Bean, well, be glad you weren’t there, Bean. The Bean would not approve!

Instead we looked for an after party…

Tiki Tok, within stumbling distance of our hotel

Tiki Tok, within stumbling distance of our hotel

It had fabulously kitschy beach decor and hilarious signs advertising their drinks…

Mojitos!

Mojitos!

I worked at Red Lobster one summer and once spilled two big Bahama Mama drinks. Luckily they hit the floor before they hit my customers. I’m slightly more talented at triathlons than serving tables. I think.

Volcano Tiki, that sounds good...

Volcano Tiki, that sounds good...

Indeed I ordered a Volcano Tiki. It was my one umbrella drink for the trip and something that surely I thought about during the race itself…

cheers to a great 2009 season, with Michaela & Will, or as they say in Mexico, Salud!

cheers to a great 2009 season, with Michaela & Will, or as they say in Mexico, "Salud!"

Race report in progress…check back soon…!