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Archive for April, 2011

These are the legs that winter built.

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

How To Become an International Triathlon Superstar, Step #23: Spend hundreds of hours (i.e. thousands of virtual miles) on your trainer during the winter to grow your bike monster legs.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I officially survived my first East Coast winter and I’m happy to report that I am feeling the positive effects of all my indoor bike miles. Which I just calculated as almost 200 hours worth. And if you do a super low-ball estimate of say 15mph, that’s 3,000 miles!

I'm sure you were expecting a boring picture of me with my massiver quads on the trainer but you get a picture of me racing in Louisville instead. Now imagine my legs are 2x bigger. Then quiver in fear.

Once December hit, I was tired of spending a whole hour putting on so many clothes just to ride outside. And it sketched me out to put on ski gloves so thick that I couldn’t really feel the brakes properly. I told Coach I didn’t actually mind riding the trainer (I have a CycleOps Fluid²) and he agreed that I didn’t have to ride outside any more, pointing out something else scary that manifested on the wintry roads: ICE! Great in cubic form in a fun fizzy drink on a summer day, but freaky and scary and dangerous on a cold winter day. Coach said it wasn’t worth busting my collarbone just to ride outside in the fresh air.

And I really didn’t mind riding inside so much. It was much better than freezing my butt off outside and buying special winter biking layers. For nearly four months (December-January-February-March), I was riding at least 10 hours on the trainer every week. I may have gone outside two or three times, when we got a false alarm early spring in March, but it was a REALLY long winter. I was starting to get cabin fever towards the end of it.

my rain & winter best friend

“Ugh how can you stand to ride on the trainer so much?” everyone always asks. Oh not too bad: that was about 200 hours of TV shows and movies. I became a proud card-carrying member of the public library, where you can borrow DVD’s for 7 days (and renew up to 3 times). For FREE of course! Much better deal than Netflix or Redbox or Blockbuster, eh? It also pays to date a guy with an expansive DVD collection. ;) And for the short 45-min spins on some days, that’s a full episode of Glee or Nikita or Hellcats, or two episodes of The Big Bang Theory, which you can stream online for free. (Yes “FREE” is like a magic word for me.)

Also if you are a cheapo like me, you quickly learn that you don’t need to turn your heater on in the winter if you warm up your little studio apartment by biking inside it. See, I am not only saving the environment but my utilities bill.

So then I waited until it was consistently warm enough for all the ice to completely melt. There were a couple of days back in February when it hit over 50 and people would say “oh, now you can bike outside!” but I still wouldn’t, because cabin fever and all, there were still insidious patches of ice out. So I figured better to have an X-Men movie marathon (Wolverine is my favorite) or watch the Blade trilogy. I even got through the first two complete seasons of The West Wing before I got bored with the third one. A 4-hour ride means two 2-hour movies, and a 3-hr ride is either 2x90min movies or 4x45min TV episodes.

I like to experiment with real food while training.

As an interesting side effect, it seems that my already massive quads grew even larger. (In college, my cycling teammates called me “Quadzilla” because my legs were bigger than theirs. And they were all boys.) At first I was horrified that I got fat and slow over winter, even though my boobs have been shrinking (the surest sign I am getting fit), because my jeans have been tighter in the legs.

Then I started punching out my standard 150km time trial loop every Sunday and was shocked that I have been going faster than I’ve ever been. The same exact loop I had mapped out in October and my ginormous quads just keep going. The Wongstar is pleased. Coach had always said riding on the trainer makes you strong but I guess it took me 200 hours of indoor biking for me to see the light. :)

It is now T-minus 1 month til Ironman China so I’m excited to see what I can do there. So to all of you who bitch and moan and say “I hate riding the trainer!” all I have to say is “You must hate getting faster too.”

The end. :)

a pro triathlete’s workweek: a belated Tax Day special

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

yes, happy indeed that I got a refund!

Despite my… excessive use of terrible puns (see what I didn’t do there? that took restraint) my friend Larry in Beijing is still happily demanding “more blogs!” Very well, I had started writing up a “tax day” special that was supposed to go out April 15th but that came and went, and by now I’ve actually gotten my $206 tax refund from the IRS, so hooray!

I’ve always done my own taxes since I had my first part-time job in college but this year was different and a bit intimidating since I was doing them as a “professional triathlete” for the first time. Well, not just as a pro triathlete, but also as a freelance writer and the marketing manager of a bike shop. Three jobs. Tricky stuff!

People are always asking me “is this like your full-time job? Do you get paid just to work out all the time?” so I thought I’d blog a little about the financial logistics of being a professional triathlete. As a pro triathlete, you can get money from sponsors and are also eligible to win prize money at races, but it’s not like being an NBA or NFL or MLB player.

Of course a pro triathlete’s salary is nowhere in the ballpark (heh heh) of the top superstars in those big sports, and even when you Google “lowest NFL salary” you’ll find out that the NFL Players Union has the minimum salary negotiated at $340,000 for 2011, for rookies. I don’t know this for sure but I’m thinking that’s higher than what the top pro triathletes make. I’ll, uh, let you know when I get there. :)

Like me, most pros have other jobs to help pay the bills while they are climbing the proverbial ladder to becoming a triathlon superstar. A lot of them coach. Some of them keep their full-time jobs because it’s very hard to make a living off just triathlon.

I like to consider myself a full-time athlete with other side jobs to help me fund the triathlon dream. An ideal “workday” means I’m out the door by 7am and done with my workouts by 6pm. 5pm is even better, because that’s what a 10-hour day at the office is like on Ironman race day: starts at 7am and finishes by 5pm. Every day is different but I’ve usually got 2 or 3 workouts per day, for a total of 25 to 30 hours a week. I think it mentally makes a difference on race day if you consider being an athlete your main job on a day-to-day basis, as opposed to thinking of it as more of your hobby or something you do for fun.

Obviously I still think it is fun and enjoy it, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. I made $500 in prize money last year, and they kept changing the money rules so that doesn’t include the $3000 or so I would’ve won if the rules were more consistent. :(

mmmm bacon

As for the side jobs that actually bring home the bacon (mmm bacon), the trick is to find one (or two!) where you can work flexible hours and work from home or on the road. In between the training (or usually afterwards, at night) I’ll work 15-20 hours/week doing promotional stuff as marketing manager of The Bike Boutique here in Wilmington. Then another 10-20 hours/week doing freelance writing for MSN TV. So depending on the week, there are times I’ll work up to 70 hours/week if you put all 3 jobs together, and that includes weekends and holidays. Those hours don’t include all the fun self-promotional things I get to do to market myself as The Next Big Thing (you know, Facebook, Twitter, theWongstar.com, dying my hair hot pink and blogging).

There was one day last week where I got up early and worked on writing a feature story from 6am until 6pm, then got on the trainer for 4 hours, then worked on designing an ad for the bike shop until midnight. Then there are those Wednesdays when I have 7+ hours of training and don’t bother turning the computer on at all.

One of my pet peeves is that some people have the misconception that I am on some kind of permanent vacation and I don’t have a real job. Hmm, that’s all I will say about that as I try my best not to be a whiny little bitch in my blogs, and in my normal life really. :D

So there you have it, a small glimpse into the glamorous workweek of a triathlon superstar. Perhaps in a future post I can go into other financials like budgeting and expenses. Oh, and let’s not forget there are also the pros who have rich spouses as their “#1 sponsor”. I have yet to snag me one of those but finding a guy who still pays for dinner after the first month is always very promising. ;)

how to throw an EGGcellent Easter EGGstravaganza

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

superstars throw the best parties! Here’s how to do it:

1. Order up a bunch of Haamonii Smooth Shochu to “share harmony” with all your friends. That’s the Easter spirit! (haha! that pun wasn’t originally intended and I didn’t catch it until I proof-read!)

Easter is an EGGcellent time to share harmony!

Order your own online at D&M spirits, free shipping! :D

2. Hit up the dollar store and buy $30 worth of Easter eggs (we got 112) and Easter candy. Including green Peeps and Winnie-the-Pooh Pez dispensers.

and I’ve probably said this before, but in Delaware, everything at the dollar store really *is* only a dollar because we have NOOOOO SALES TAX! I will not be getting over how awesome this is any time soon. (and this is EGGzactly why everyone should buy a bike at The Bike Boutique here. fact!)

3. No kids allowed. This is an Easter egg hunt for grown-ups!

4. Fill up the eggs with aforementioned candy, quarters, and hmmm “adult” items that ironically go against certain Easter-celebrating religions. Well, the Easter Bunny wasn’t in the Bible either.

5. Hide the eggs all around the house…our guests were really most EGGcited about finding the eggs with the quarters, go figure.

like a kid at the candy store, but with more money to spend!

6. There were two birthday guests. One of them got a really embarassing birthday gift that we made her open up in front of everyone. The other one was found passed out on top of the dryer with his feet in the washing machine at 3am. Photos will not be posted on this blog to protect the innocent, and instead kept for blackmailing purposes in the near future.

Hope you all had an EGGcellent Easter! For the fans who are concerned I am “socializing” more than I am training, never fear. I EGGzuberantly report that I’ve been having some of my strongest sessions yet (most EGGcellent!), which leave me rather…EGGzausted. No EGGzaggerating. Ok I better end this blog now… before you throw rotten eggs at me. ;)

Penn Relays 20k Champion!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

My name is Jocelyn Wong and I am the proud winner of a Penn Relays gold watch.

the gold watch of champions!

Which any track & field fan knows is like a super huge deal and means you’re like super duper duper fast.

I didn’t actually know this either. Let’s rewind.

So I’ve been swimming my arms off the last 6 months and Coach thought it was high time to get the running legs back under me too. He then realized that I’ve got no races scheduled until Ironman China. Holy moly, he thinks…that’s more than six months since she’s raced at all (IM Arizona being the last). Ok, he doesn’t really say “holy moly”; I’m sure there’s an Australian equivalent. Actually, what he really says is “you should’ve raced like yesterday” which makes me scratch my head a little (it was a Monday) until I got my Sutto translation book out and figured he meant it’s mid-April and I should already have started my race season.

So now I get to do the New Jersey Devilman on May 7th, which is like a 1/3-ironman distance (50 miles total) and then I tried to get into a sprint race this weekend (“I don’t care how short it is!” Coach bellowed…ok not really) but couldn’t get an entry into any local sprint races with just a few days notice. I have to admit being just a tad frightened as I haven’t done anything shorter than an Ironman in nearly 2 years, though I was also excited with the prospect of doing a sprint triathlon with a 200m swim. ;)

Well it was Mac to the rescue as he knew there was the Penn Relays Distance Classic last weekend, which is a 20k road race and a 5k road race, the first events to kick off the Penn Relays Carnival. Being a track nerd in high school, of course I had heard of the Penn Relays–it’s the oldest and hugest track & field invitational in the country. SINCE 1895. Dude that’s like over 115 years ago. That’s quite possibly older than anybody alive.

I'm tellin' ya, it's like a Big Deal.

You only get to go if you are a super duper fast high school, college, or whatever you call those post-collegiate elite track & field athletes. Just like this sign says here…a bunch of USA and world records have been set on Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania campus. Last year they had a “USA vs. the World” competition which really meant Usain Bolt and his Jamaican brothers came over to spank our American 4×100 relay team.

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Since it wasn’t a triathlon, the Boss ordered me to bring my bike and trainer to the race and hammer away on my Cervelo for an hour right before the gun went off. So at 6:30am on a fine Sunday morning, I found myself on the sidewalk right outside the famous Franklin Field in Philadelphia, dripping glorious sweat, going hard and going nowhere as college track kids, marathoners and recreational runners filtered in and out of the registration area, trying not to stare at me.

road trip to Philly! Mags was designated driver :)

The gun went off and I knew Coach’s intentions: to kick-start my fitness and kick-start my racing mentality. There’s definitely no substitute for the adrenaline that racing gives you, and since I train mostly on my own, I don’t always have an outlet for the crazy competitive monster lurking inside of me. You now, the one that unleashes strings of profanity (“I will tear your @#$”(*!& legs off and then eat you for dinner, you $@#!(*&!!! RAWR!”) and thinks of all kinds of really sneaky and mean ways to toy with your mind and then kick your ass.

I felt the burn in my legs right away from the biking and really, the entire week (weeks? months?) of training since it’s not like I rested for this. Just another training day! I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of pacing since I haven’t done any standalone running races shorter than a marathon in years, and gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever even broken 45 minutes in a 10k. I remember that running a 5k in under 23 minutes during college was a struggle for me. But I’m a whole different animal now, and that’s a good thing. :)

Runners took off all around me and I settled on a sustainable hard pace slightly out of my comfort zone. The course was flat, out-and-back with the turnaround at 10km, but it was a super blustery day. I kept one girl in my sights who had put a huge gap on me in the first mile, but didn’t realize she was the race leader until someone told me after the first 5km. The only markers were at every 5km, so I couldn’t really tell how fast I was going until I could check each 5km split. I focused on running as evenly as possible, and of course going after the leader. You know how Chinese people are. If you’re not #1, you might as well be last. ;) That’s what my grandpa tells me anyway.

My 5km splits ended up being 22:05, 22:19, 21:51, 22:04, which I personally think is awesome because they are faster than my 5km and 10km run times from my previous life and on totally unfresh legs. And they are pretty darn even so I paced myself very good. :)  I really don’t slow down that much from half-marathon/20km pace to marathon pace, which is why I might as well do only Ironmans anyway, and I don’t actually slow down so much between a stand-alone running race and the run leg of a triathlon, so I might as well race triathlons! :)

I ended up catching the leader with 4 miles to go; she was running with an ipod so I was hoping she wouldn’t hear me sneak up on her. Then I wondered if I should stay just behind her and wait until maybe the last mile to make the pass. But then I thought about Wongstar’s Rule of Catching Up: “if you catch somebody, that means you were going faster than them, so if you don’t pass them, that means you are slowing down.” So I made the pass, then in my head started screaming “AUGHHH!!! she’s gonna catch me she’s gonna catch me she’s gonna catch me!!!!” for the NEXT FOUR MILES.

the famous Franklin Field, where dreams are made

There was a very brutal headwind with only a mile to go that was like running into a wall, and I kind of wanted to slow down but I haven’t won a race in a while and the number of races I have won can be counted on one hand. Then there was a final lap around the track inside Franklin Field and I called on the pre-pubescent track star I was once upon a long time ago to belt out the last 200 meters and then I crossed the line. Winner winner chicken dinner!

{On a side note, one thing that always makes me laugh (later) is that I finish most of my races running as hard as I can, then cross the line and kind of want to die, right? Well, the volunteers always seem so alarmed and ask “Are you okay?!” First of all, I can’t talk for 2 minutes, so don’t expect a response. Second, of course I’m not okay, I obviously just beat the living daylights out of myself. Third, don’t worry, I’ll be okay in 2 minutes.}

with Dave Johnson, director of the Penn Relays

Then at awards, it was so cool, I learned that I won a gold watch! And that since Penn Relays is such a prestigious track invitational, winners of every event get a gold watch and it’s like a BIG DEAL. So to win a Penn Relays watch, you have to be like one of the best high school or college runners in the country, or like Marion Jones (hopefully without drugs) or Usain Bolt, or…the Wongstar. ;)

I was super duper excited when I learned I won a gold watch!

Here is the press release: “Relays Week Begins With the Distance Classic”. And Momma Wongstar wanted a close-up of the gold watch, cuz she is all about the bling-bling, so this one’s for you Mom! :)

bling bling!

And of course huge thanks to Avia running shoes for getting me to the finish line first!

Avi-Rhythms, the choice of triathlon superstars

the latest playlist: the “Spring Mix”

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Delaware: a place with all 4 seasons... in the span of a month.

Delaware can’t quite decide if it’s still winter, or summer, or spring, or…Seattle. In early March, we had this nice stretch of warm weather right before the actual spring equinox, so I packed away my winter clothes, and of course we got hit by coldness in the 30′s and 40′s again. One morning we got hit by McFlurries again and I wanted to pull out my hair. Now I’m afraid that if I return my $14 snow shovel at Lowe’s, I’ll be jinxing everyone everywhere and we’ll suddenly get a giant snowstorm and I’ll be stuck somewhere with no snow shovel to dig my way out.

Then this past week we got a day in 70+, followed by some rain and sub-40′s, then up to the 60′s, rain again, low 50′s, and tomorrow will be SUPER SUPER SUPER DUPER EXCITING at 86*F! It’s like Mother Nature is having a silly April Fools’ joke.

Still, it’s not torrential Thailand downpours though, and I was disheartened to hear that my kick-off race of the season has been cancelled, as Koh Samui has been devastated by flooding. My heart goes out to the people of Samui Island; the RD said the roads are so torn up it’ll take over 5 months just to repair them and the pictures on Facebook are worth thousands of words…

why there will be no race in Koh Samui...they've got bigger issues.

So looks like my season opener is back to being Ironman China on May 29th. I’ve got no race reports or new training camp stories, so what’s a girl to blog about? I figured I’d go with the tried and true. People like to read about things they can relate to. They want to know what I eat, what music I listen to, who I’m dating ;) and what kind of coffee I like.

I got a good response from my post on my treadmill playlist, so here is the one that I call “Spring Mix” despite the first state’s confusion on what season it really is. There’s nothing like a new playlist to keep you motivated when the forecast calls for rain! I’ve got a mix of new songs plus remixes of old ones. I put in YouTube links if you want to listen to any of them. My inspiration is drawn from TV shows, movies, random websites with cool soundtracks, the real radio and Pandora… I am a big fan of music videos (or heck, silly YouTube vids) too, so I embedded some of my favorite ones in there along with random commentary. Because I’m like a Blu-ray DVD with all kinds of bonus features. :D

the cherry blossoms blooming on my Wednesday transition run route: Brandywine Park

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  • We R Who We R (Danno Darko Remix) — Ke$ha. Me and the wondrously trashy Ke$ha are proud to have a few things in common: we like putting glitter on our eyes, we’re “hot and dangerous”, and we like to go “hittin’ on dudes…hard.” It also goes without saying: “You know we’re superstars, we are who we are.”
  • My Body — Young the Giant. ”My body tells me NOOOOOO, but I won’t quit, cuz I want morrrrre…” the PERFECT song for masochistic ultradistance athletes.
  • So Yesterday (Radio Remix) — Hilary Duff. Favorite lyrics: “If the light is off, then it isn’t on.”
  • What the Hell — Avril Lavigne. Just like the song, the video is totally fun. She steals a taxi cab then goes clothes shopping, then BLATANT PRODUCT PLACEMENT with her own clothing line! (I have her star hoodie.)
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  • Children 2000 (Trance Remix) — Robert Miles. A favorite from back in my college days. Or maybe even high school.
  • Hot to Touch — Werewolf vs. Unicorn. This was actually from an episode of Hellcats, which I got hooked on after being inspired for last year’s Halloween costume. (I’m endlessly amused that I have the same outfit even though there’s no way I can do all those tricksy gymnastics flipsies.) “Werewolf vs. Unicorn” is actually a fictional band and they wrote the song specifically for the TV show. Check out the crazy cheerleader gymnastics:
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  • I Want It All/We Will Rock You (Mash-Up) — Queen, from the Sucker Punch soundtrack. Oh yes, I rather enjoyed Sucker Punch… so much that I downloaded the whole soundtrack immediately and am contemplating skipping Ironman Lake Placid in order to party at Comic Con in a bedazzled sailor girl outfit. Just kidding. Really. ;)

I like to abuse the fact that some people can’t tell when I’m joking or not. Happy training and happy spring wherever you may be in the world! :)

The Waffle Traumatization

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

About two years ago at training camp, there was an incident with a waffle that left me severely traumatized. (Has it been two years? Coach has me working on a little story for him about my earlier days on the team, so I’ve been reminiscing a bit.) Suffice it to say that triathlon is a sport where it is important to be lean if you want to go fast, and I was not lean and I was not fast. (Although being taller does help hide it better…) So I got enough of an earful to traumatize me from waffles for two years.

Living at training camp with other pros exposed me to all kinds of strange and fascinating eating neuroses almost everybody had. More so with the girls as it seems the boys could all eat like dump trucks and still be skinny bastards. There were a few bitter weeks following the Waffle Incident when I lived with Scottie and Zack AKA “Dumpster,” and true to his name, sometimes Dumpster would eat 6 Eggo waffles as a snack. (He wasn’t trying to be cruel to me, that was just normal for him.)

Well, I am happy to report that I am on my way to a full recovery on waffles. I don’t like them with whipped cream (that’s only good on sundaes) or maple syrup (too sugary and I have no dental insurance) but here is one of today’s blueberry waffles with my own blueberry topping (Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, a pack of açaí berry-flavored Emergen-C, and flax seeds):

nom nom nom happy tummy song

I wouldn’t go so far to say that it was the best thing I ever ate, but I have learned many things since my earlier days on the team. While I had quickly learned how to make myself really hungry and miserable if I wanted to get really skinny really fast, I later learned that there are healthier ways to go about getting lean without just saying “this is bad for you” and “that is bad for you” regarding everything that actually tastes really good. :)

Along with waffles, I am also currently cultivating a very “healthy relationship” with bacon and ice cream. ;)

Happy eating!