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IMAZ photo race report.

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

It’s been over 3 weeks since my last race at Ironman Arizona. As Coach would say “that was an entire career ago.” I’ve been super busy ever since with other work obligations and getting back into full off-season training (not an oxymoron) in the McFlurry-esque Delaware winter, so I’ve also been tired and uninspired.

So I began writing a simple photo version with some captions since I have soooo many racing pictures from IMAZ. Then it got longer and I found some writing inspiration again. So here is the “short” photo version. Of course I realize a “short” version for me is probably still longer than most other people’s. ;) And there’s always the video mini race report recap that Felix shot…

morning swim start by the bridge

So I swam really hard. I was very excited to stay with a small pack and pretended I was chasing my swim buddy, Zeke, just like in training. He wears a hot pink swim cap every now and then. I just kept saying “stay with Zeke, stay with Zeke!” When the sun came up a little more, I realized it was my friend Miranda. In the beginning of the year I was able to swim with her at IM Malaysia and IM China, but only for maybe 75% of the way before I dropped off. So I was super stoked to get out with her and of course 10mins faster than what I’ve been averaging all year!

These photos are from my old Harvey Mudd College classmate Tom, who lives in Phoenix now and signed up for next year’s race. You can tell how happy I am about my swim, can’t you? ;)

chasing down Miranda who bolted through transition

At this point, I didn’t even realize I had come out of the water in front of 5 other pro women and 2 pro men. I was just really happy I went 1:06!

those guys are totally checking me out

Apparently I was giving the thumbs up to the official photographer:

superstars always smile for the camera :D

Then I got on the bike, and even though it got to be pretty rainy and super windy with a little bit of hail, I am a gun biker and can stay in the aero position through all of nature’s elements. Here is photographic proof…

Leaving T1. Aero position assumed!

still in aero...still leaving T1...

There were cacti. Which is plural for cactus.

flying by cacti while showing them the aero position.

Ok, I admit, I got slightly out of aero position only when reaching for more Hello Panda cookies in my back pocket.

more Pandas, please.

I felt strong, and magical, and high on caffeine.

3rd lap got a little congested passing age groupers.

I think I passed like 5 or 6 pro women on the bike? I felt pretty darn good even though the bike training has been thrown on the back burner to make room for swimming. 5:16 is my fastest bike split this year!

finishing up the bike, now allowed to get out of aero position.

Then I got to start running. I was feeling good and very happy. Are you ready for a montage of happy running pictures? Here you go…most of them courtesy of the Ritenours, one from “Burrito Fanatic” on Twitter:

gosh I am sure feeling good!

I was telling myself "relax and stay focused."

Ironman is fun and easy!

it is a common misconception that Ironman is a miserable experience.

maybe I'm not going hard enough?

Ok, enough. but I had to put this one because my legs actually look sort of skinny and not like big tree trunks.

I was super extra pumped because I had my very own cheer squad that included my MOM…who hadn’t ever seen me race in the pro division…and the Ritenours, who hadn’t seen me compete since I was a scrawny prepubescent high school runner.

Mr. R, Mom and little Serena on the lookout

Mom and Serena

Mom takes the best photos!

These don’t even include all the photos that my personal camera crew Felix was taking…I’m sure you’ll get a load of those soon too! Here’s a cool shot of me from overhead:

powered by Camelbak. maybe they will sponsor me next year.

Around mile 5, a guy on a bike passed me.

I didn't see the sign on the front of his bike.

Then if you thought I was looking good and smiley, I heard a voice with a British accent say “good job Jocelyn…we haven’t actually met yet…” and a flash of red went by:

the triple Ironman world champion laps the Wongstar.

I was so surprised that all I said was “oh!” and then as an afterthought “good job, Chrissie!”

Let it be known that no other women lapped me. ;)

And I was still feeling good on the second lap (there were three laps):

lots of people yelling "Go Wongstar!" and "Go Jocelyn!" I'm famous!

the fans love me.

demonstrating a proper heelstrike for Coach.

Then I hit a rough spot that third lap and wasn’t so smiley any more.

not so smiley Wongstar.

At which point I focused on digging in, breathing properly and channeling my inner Chinese warrior. I had just watched the movie “Hero” with Jet Li during my last week of training going into the race, so I thought of myself as “Flying Snow.” (My Chinese name means “snow.”) Here is the awesome fight scene between the two women warriors, Flying Snow and Moon. I even found the version with the English dubbing:

YouTube Preview Image

It’s kind of bizarre the things you think about when you are hurting in the middle of an Ironman, and what gets you to the finish line. Some say this is when you find out what you are really made of. So what got me through? I kept repeating “Chinese warriors never give up. They fight to the death.” And that lit something inside of me, and motivated me to keep fighting. Who would’ve thought? BTW, Flying Snow is the one who wins the fight. Though if you notice, Moon doesn’t give up even when stabbed with a ginormous sword through her chest. Epic!

I took off my mostly full second Camelbak during the third and final lap because I was sick of drinking Frappuccinos at that point and it was cold anyway, so hydration wasn’t exactly an issue. There was a bit of grunting and some “on your left!” since the course was getting a bit busier by then. I was pretty happy to hit the finish chute and the smile came out again:


And then I got to be done! I was so happy!

finishing an Ironman = the best feeling in the world!

My 3:34 marathon wasn’t my best, and I missed breaking 10 hours by 5 minutes, but it was my fastest race all year and I am still very happy with it. Like the bike training, the run training’s also been on the back burner and I had told Coach in September that if I had a great swim but a crappy bike and run in Arizona, I would still be over the moon. I didn’t realize until later that there were at least 6 Ironman champions that beat me, world champions and all that, so 12th pro in this field I am quite happy with too. And finally, no age groupers beat me. So there!

I ended the 2010 season feeling somewhat more justified racing in the pro ranks. ;)

I’ll do a season recap in the next few weeks; in the meantime, big ginormous thanks to all my supporters and sponsors!

sunnier times in AZ

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Another brisk day with more McFlurries to come tomorrow! This is what the forecast was when I returned home from my 2.5-hour run outside today. My fingers managed to not break off, which was miraculous. I don’t mind biking indoors whilst catching up to all my favorite TV shows for hours on end, but I’m going to resist hitting the treadie for long run sessions as long as I can!

the irony hasn't escaped me that it's frickin freezin and I still want ice cream.

In the meantime, here are some non-racing pics from Arizona to enjoy while I keep procrastinating on the race report. I’ll try to finish it while I’m (in line, no doubt) at the DMV tomorrow applying for Delaware citizenship.

with Amit from Austin, a longtime fan. we are doing the "WongSTAR" sign.

hanging out with Felix, my personal camera crew :)

the top 8 pro women. I was 8th in Wisconsin but I don't remember being called up. Then again I don't quite remember if I went to awards.

the champs as they play "We Are the Champions"

Me and Mom met Chrissie officially for the first time at awards. Since Momma Wongstar has read every single word ever published on the teamTBB website for the last 3 years, she knew all about Miss Triple World Champion Chrissie. Even though we were on the team at the same time, I never did a training camp with her (my first one was right after she won Kona for the second time and then left the team, so we never had an overlapping training camp).

me and my mumsy

Actually, I guess I unofficially met Chrissie when she passed me 5 miles into the run (she was um, 13 miles into the run) and gave me some words of encouragement along with “we haven’t actually met yet.” But you’ll get that in the race report.

with the world famous Coco

And here I am with Mr. R & the family…yep, he still looks the same as when he was my high school World History teacher, and apparently my mother and I are the only ones who still call him “Mr. R.”

with my host family, the Ritenours

What I like best about this picture is that this is exactly how my mom took it. She isn’t exactly the best photographer, but we all love her anyway. Here is the littlest Ritenour, Serena, who insisted on putting on my finisher’s gear:

future Ironman Arizona finisher!! she's got 12 years til she's old enough.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. R and the Ritenours for hosting us in Phoenix. One thing I have loved about “going pro” is that with all the traveling everywhere, I’ve reconnected with awesome friends and mentors from the past. Never thought that I’d get to hang out with my former high school coach/history teacher 14 years down the road!!! We had a great time in Arizona and ahem…maybe I should go do a winter training camp there. ;)

IM Cactus pre-race blog

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

The blog’s gone quiet as I’ve been gearing up for a spectacular season finale here at Ironman Arizona. Hard to believe that it’s already here…I’m already here…and the race is tomorrow. I’m feeling fit and strong. There’s a huge pro field here, probably the biggest I’ve been in. Ironman.com actually referred to it as a “superstar professional field.” Obviously because I’m on the start list. The Wongstar is not too concerned though. I don’t even know who most of them are. None of their names popped up when I googled “triathlon superstar” so what’s there to be worried about? ;)

Serena and White Tiger

I am staying with my high school assistant track coach and his family in Phoenix. “Mr. R” knew me when I was a prepubescent 13-year-old super scrawny runner and he was actually younger than I am now when I was in his U.S. History class my sophomore year. Serena is their bubbly 5-year-old and super excited about everything like I am. :)

Momma Wongstar gets interviewed

Also making her first appearance at one of my pro races is none other than Momma Wongstar herself. She hasn’t seen me race since I did an almost-14-hour day at Ironman Florida…7 years ago. The superstar family has been followed by a camera crew filming “Wongstar: the Documentary” and we did some training footage and interviews today.

girls in pink

I got to catch up with my big sisters Donna and Coco who I hadn’t seen since Thailand in April (Donna) and Korea over a year ago (Coco). Also excited that my little triathlon sister, Amy, also flew in as support crew!

Track me tomorrow on Ironman.com, #73 (see–big field, my biggest bib # this year!). Race begins at 6:50am Arizona time, which is 5:50am in California and 8:50am in Delaware. They don’t do daylight savings here, not sure why, something about all the cactus (cacti?) getting confused.

money money money money!

Monday, September 13th, 2010

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

money money money money!
I won prize money today!
my very first American prize money paycheck!


Today Ironman Wisconsin was the first race under the new prize money rules and Kona points system. I swam pretty terrible, 22 minutes behind the leaders, and had a decent bike (I seem to be stuck in a 5:30 rut)–was surprised to see the results later that my bike was actually pretty strong compared to the other pro women. I was so far behind in the swim and didn’t recall catching anyone on the bike, so I figured I was just running in last and really struggled from T2 on. A lot of Coke stops (or I guess here it’s Pepsi) in addition to the nuun-enhanced Frappuccino in my Camelbak. With 3 miles to go I was really fighting the mental demons when I saw one of the pro women walking. Then 2 miles to go I caught another one, and not even knowing I had moved up to 8th place (the last prize money spot) I ran like a bat outta hell all the way to the finish thinking “ohcrapohcrapohcrap she’s going to come back and catch me!!!” I was so scared that I didn’t even want to slow down to enjoy the finish line but did the glance-behind-the-shoulder thing and did slow down a little, even gave two little Asian girls high-fives and had a big cheesy Wisconsin smile going into the finish chute. ;)

I didn’t even know what place I got until after I finished, then I got really excited and proceeded to tell everybody (EVERYBODY) that I won money today. Ok so everyone wants to know how much I got paid. A whopping $500 and 480 Kona points under my belt. Not that much, but $500 more than I’ve gotten paid to do tris all year, so I’ll take it! Not too shabby for backing it up 2 weeks after Louisville, eh?

Special thanks to my homestay family, Gail and Rick, for hosting me and being support crew and cheerleaders all day today!

hooray for homestays!

And so the Superstar Summer Ironman Tour concludes with…MONEY!!!! $$$ :D $$$

True Love in Trolley Square

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

I fell in love today.

I was strolling through the coolest neighborhood in town here, where I’ve been lucky enough to be hosted for the past several weeks (by both the Bike Haus and now across the street at Mags’, another local cyclist). On a whim, I stopped by a leasing office and inquired what was available. (This is ***FORESHADOWING***. Don’t you love it when I point that out? Scottie always called me Captain Obvious. Some rather large changes are happening in the life of the Asian Triathlon Superstar in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. It’s all very exciting as usual.)

All that was available and within my paltry pro triathlete budget was a studio that is 310 square feet. I don’t really have a great concept of square footage, but when I saw it, I fell in love! And it was ginormous!

You see after living out of my suitcase in generous people’s guest bedrooms this summer and in small hotel rooms in various foreign countries before that, all I could think was “gosh, it would be so nice to have a place of my own!” At the first Philippines camp, we had largish hotel rooms, but no kitchen (I cooked in the bathroom, remember?). Switzerland last summer, I shared a space with both the Bean and LC, where we threw two mattresses in the living room and stuck LC in the hobbit hole. In Korea I could touch the stove while lying in bed and open the refrigerator while taking a crap. And of course there were the fabulous petite lil F1 Hotel rooms as immortalized by video tribute in Amy’s blog.

So yes, 310 square feet that includes my very own kitchen is a DREAM! I really don’t have much. I like to live a minimalistic lifestyle, and who couldn’t after packing all the essentials into a rolly suitcase and Hello Kitty bike box?

I did figure that the floor plan needed some modifying. The apartment manager said that previous tenants have fit a twin bed in the “walk-in closet”. Hmm, I think even a full-size one can be squeezed in, but maybe having a twin will reinforce “good behavior.” ;) So yes, White Tiger can have the bigger room, and I am thinking of resurrecting Khan the (Dead) Warrior Horse as Khan the Kourier Horse–a single-speed commuter bike.

So yeah, stay tuned. The next time you hear about this place I may very well be saying “Hey this is Wongstar, welcome to my crib!” :D

Survivor Louisville: race report

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Race morning was so warm that I did not need a jacket or pants as soon as I stepped outside. I didn’t even need my sweet new long-sleeve T-shirt that said “Gettin’ Lucky in Kentucky” courtesy of homestay Kellie! Just my race kit on and ready to go.

The swim in Louisville is a very unique time trial start for the age groupers and the only race on the circuit where you have more than 2 hours and 20 minutes for the swim cut-off. I think they get to go off every 5 seconds and it takes about 40 minutes to get everyone in the water. The swim cut-off begins after the last swimmer gets in the water so if you are a really bad swimmer and are the first swimmer in line, you actually get 3 whole hours to swim the 2.4 miles! In years past I believe they didn’t start the total race clock until after the last swimmer got in as well, so you would have up to 17 hours and 40 minutes to do the whole Ironman, however this year you only had until midnight to finish.

This time-trial start concept for the age groupers has actually caused a “race before the race” for the best spot in the line for the swim start. Some athletes have friends and family members actually camp out in the wee early morning (as early as 1 or 2am???) as if they were lining up for a movie premiere. Luckily as a pro athlete I don’t have to worry about this as we all get to go off at the same time, 6:50am and no waiting in lines. This made a really smooth race morning set-up, as transition was already nearly empty when I got there at 5:30am, most age groupers were already scrambling to line up for the swim start, so really short lines for the porta potties!

As in years past, the water was too warm for a wetsuit, so I got to wear my blueseventy Pointzero3+, which is the last time we’ll get to use these before the new WTC rules take effect. I swam hard when the gun went off but was only able to stick with the next slowest hot pink cap for less than a minute. Then I was in no-man’s land for pretty much the entire swim. You get to head out and around Towhead Island going upstream (but really they said there was hardly a current), then hit the turnaround, at maybe about 1/3 of the 2.4 miles, and then go downstream the rest of the way.

I like to count my strokes by 2′s to get into a rhythm and when I hit the turnaround my watch said 27 minutes. So “1-2, 1-2, 1-2″ became “oh sh*t, oh sh*t, oh sh*t” as I pushed myself to go faster. If that’s really a third of the swim then that’s gonna be an 81-minute swim. NOT GOOD. I bumped up the effort level…like Coach says, when you think you are going hard, think again. You can always go harder.

Current or not, I definitely swam the next two-thirds faster, and by the time I hit the end of the island the age groupers had started catching up to me, one by one. I decided to hit the accelerate button even more, and flipped the switch to “approach vomit level.” Coach always said I should never save anything for the bike and run. So now instead of “oh sh*t, oh sh*t, oh sh*t” I was thinking “vo-mit, vo-mit, vo-mit!” It seemed to work well as some of the swimmers who had started at least 10 minutes behind me seemed to have trouble passing me, and I was even able to get on some feet here and there, albeit briefly. I got out of the water and the clock said 1:02, really 1:12 with the pro head-start, and my best non-wetsuit swim all year! Still nothing to write home about, but not a bad way to start the day, I can only be 20 minutes down on the leader at most…

don't trip, potato chip!

On the bike I went somewhat conservative for the first hour then really punched it.  This was something new that I tried.  I figured, there is no use biking conservative and saving your energy for the run if you aren’t even within spitting distance of any other pros when you hit T2.  You might have more energy to run, but you have to weigh that against being completely demoralized finding that the next pro is 3 miles ahead of you!  Also it would be very hot when we all got to the run, so I figured I would give it a little extra during the bike when the temps were a bit cooler.  I had nothing to lose. Racing so much gives me a chance to test my limits, and I wanted to see how fast I could go on the bike and how it may affect my run.
So I biked almost like I didn’t have to run afterwards.  The course was fairly empty during my first loop, very clean…  The course is a rolling hills kind of course with an occasional short steep hill, so I was able to get into a good rhythm, using my momentum to launch myself up the hills, which always seemed to be preceded by a downhill.

bike til you hurl

Inspired by how hard I was able to swim, I decided to apply the same logic to my bike.  I tested out my new powermeter.  The name of my powermeter is the Panda Puke-O-Meter, as inspired by my bike nutrition of choice–Hello Pandas!  You bike so hard that you approach vomit level, but it’s a fine balance, because you don’t want to actually puke up your Pandas, otherwise you go into calorie deficit and bonk.

This worked out well, and on the second lap of the bike was when I started overtaking age groupers on their first loop.  The Panda Puke-O-Meter was so effective that at times I was breathing rather audibly. If I was a professional tennis player I would be the girl that always grunts every time she whacks a tennis ball.  But since I am a professional triathlete, I just grunt every time I breathe, which is more often.  At about the halfway point, I put a packet of Starbucks VIA iced coffee into my aero drink bottle and mixed it with water I grabbed at an aid station (you blow bubbles through your straw to mix it up!).  This is my rocket booster for the bike leg! :)

the Panda Puke-O-Meter Powermeter

I put myself in the hurt box quite a bit and was able to catch at least two pro women.  Towards the end of the bike, the bike juice in my legs was running low, even though I was drinking a full bottle of the fake Gatorade (what is it, “Ironman Powerbar” drink) at every aid station, which would be at least 6 liters of fluid + electrolytes, it seemed that the near vomit-level bike effort and rising temperatures were taking a toll on the legs.  The last 10 miles felt like they took forever; you don’t quite see that you have reached downtown until you are right there.  I wasn’t able to keep my Panda Puke-O-Meter pace and my hamstrings felt like they were on the verge of cramping up toward the end.  Truth be told, I wasn’t sure I would be able to run off the bike at all! :(

As I stumbled off my bike and handed it to the volunteer in T2, I could see there were other pro women just leaving transition or not too far ahead on the run. Striking distance! I put on my first Camelbak filled with pre-frozen Nuun-enhanced Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino. Kellie has a DEEP FREEZER in her garage for such purposes, and by the time I headed out on the marathon, it was the perfect temp (the drink mix, maybe not so much the weather ;) )–melted but definitely still icy cold!

heading out, feeling good!

My legs were a little shaky to start with but I could tell it was going to be a scorcher, so I headed out at a conservative pace that I knew I could hold for a hot marathon–8:20′s.  I was happy to find that my run legs did in fact still work after biking like a maniac and felt it really wasn’t that hot.  It was overcast during my first lap of the run and I kept sipping on my ice cold Starbucks, holding steady on the 8:20 pace and catching 4 or 5 pro women.  It was really cool seeing Bek in the lead, she was way far ahead, and I was able to count the other pro women ahead of me by the bike escorts.  The 5th bike escort was a bit ahead, and then there was no one…actually, then there was…me.  I had run up to 6th place.  Whoa!

I was able to maintain the same pace throughout the first 13 miles, then switched out my Camelbaks at special needs.  I had actually run out of my Frappuccino rocket fuel by mile 10, which never happens.  I had filled up the entire 2 liters too!  Usually I just fill it up to 1.5 liters and don’t even finish it by 13 miles.  For the normal weather races anyway.  So that’s ***FORESHADOWING***.  Only I didn’t even realize it was foreshadowing.

And so inevitably, thanks to the heat, accumulated fatigue in my legs, and mental strain, my pace soon deteriorated to 9-minute miles, then 9:45 after 9:45 after 9:45 during the next 10 miles.

What I also didn’t realize was that the 5th place bike escort was with an amateur triathlete and that I was actually 5th pro for most of the marathon.  I’m not sure if knowing this would have changed anything, because when Kelzie (the last pro I had passed much earlier in the run) blew by me with about four miles to go, I was shattered.  I had been entertaining foggy-headed thoughts of a nice cold shower somewhere, maybe even walking.  Walking sounded so good.  Then Kelzie blew by and I needed to regroup, stat.

this isn't so fun any more!

I did the unthinkable.  I stopped.  It was at an aid station and hot damn, I was desperate.  I knew if I kept falling apart, all the girls behind me who were doing the Survivor death march faster than I was would also catch me.  So I threw some cold water on myself.  It felt good, so I threw another cup over.  Then another.  Then another.  I couldn’t stop.  The volunteers asked if I was ok. I think I had the crazy eyes.  Then I tossed back a cup of Coke.  It tasted good, so I had another.  And another.  And another.  I couldn’t stop, and I definitely had the crazy eyes.  I must have showered myself with at least 10 cups of water and guzzled down 5 or 6 Cokes.  It was my way of slapping myself in the face; I shook myself off and told the volunteers, “ok, I think I can go again.”

I trotted off, and really there was only 4 miles to go.  It was amazing that by that point of the race, I had taken in over 6 liters of fluid on the bike and over 4 liters on the run, and was still very dehydrated.  I soon felt the effects of the Coke, or as my old friend Bean would say, the “Red Ambulance”: not only could I start running again but was really able to pick it up.  I mean, really dig deep into the darkness and PICK IT UP.

It was then that I saw deep inside of me something I had only caught a glimpse of during my near-puke-level episodes during the bike ride: the scariest little baby monster deep within me.  It was mean and it was grotesque, and it fed on pain.  Lots of horrible, nasty, dark and twisty pain.

mwahaha! Pain, give me pain!!!

Oh yes.  Insert ugly baby joke here.  Oh here, how about this one:

Well, I never knew I was capable of having such an ugly vicious little pain monster inside of me. But there he was. Rearing his ugly baby head and demanding “FEED ME!” So I did. I hurt the most I ever did in the last 3 miles of an Ironman and pulled myself back into a grunting mess, somehow finding the sheer will to make my legs churn out 8-minute miles once again. It must have been rather entertaining to the spectators and the age groupers as I ran by making some awful noises, but that’s The Wongstar, she’s an entertainer, she is.

the smile is now a grimace

I killed myself to go as hard as I could, and for what? I’m not sure. It wasn’t for the prize money as only top 5 paid out and there was no way I was within 8% of Rebekah’s time. It wasn’t even for a top 5 finish because I didn’t realize I was now in 6th place and not 7th. I guess I just knew that if I went as hard as I could, as fast as I could, and left everything out there on the course, then I would be happy with my race. Because if you give it everything you have, and fall short, then there is nothing else you could have done more.

they no longer hold the finish banner for everyone. I'll hafta win for that one!

I crossed the line completely exhausted and dehydrated and was of course promptly wheeled off for a chicken broth IV. I was surprised to learn that I ended up 6th in the pro division and really am happy with that, as I gave it everything I had. Obviously we all would have liked to go faster, but I did what I could for the conditions the day gave us. I’m proud of myself for finding that second wind so late in the race, and meeting the ugly baby pain monster within me. Every race is a learning experience, and I learned I could really push my limits, dig deeper, and then push them even further than I thought possible. It was quite honestly the best training session for Ironman Wisconsin I could’ve asked for! So less than a week and I get to do it all over again. This time I am ready to call on that nasty little bugger.


As usual, big thanks to all my sponsors and supporters for allowing me to live the dream.


the medical tent loophole

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

You know who helps fund the dreams of a triathlon superstar? Homestays! Yeah! Another huge thanks to Kellie and the entire Jones family, including her “training spouse” Dee, who really took care of me in Louisville, helped me complete everything on my Kentucky list, and made the logistics of the whole event extremely non-stressful.

one of the coolest volunteer jobs: finish line catcher!

Kellie and Dee volunteered as finish line catchers and while another overzealous volunteer put the medal around my neck (despite me pointing frantically at my homestay mom), Kellie got the big (sweaty) hug and literally caught me before they sat my woozy self down in a wheelchair. I was wheeled off to medical, as I felt I could close my eyes and pass out (“Keep your eyes open!” they ordered), and dream happy dreams about winning races and giving victory speeches. I was quickly revived and brought back to reality with a gallon of chicken broth. No need to get an IV and I certainly didn’t need to get carted off to the ER. Or, uh, the psych ward. :)

check out my gnarly sock tanlines! SEXY!

And thus, I learned there is a loophole in the rule disallowing family members in the med tent! You see, Momma Wongstar has only come to my first 2 Ironmans, years and years ago, but I would always end up in the med tent with an IV (or two) and they don’t let family in. It would stress her out so much that I told her she didn’t have to come to any more of these silly Ironmans. But apparently if your mom is working as a finish line volunteer, she is allowed to go into the med tent with you. AHA!!  Brilliant!! Ok Mom, you are coming to the next one. ;) Not that I plan to end up in the med tent.

Mid-season Report Card: Wongstar’s Walkabout

Friday, August 27th, 2010

The travel sponsor has requested a blog that is actually about triathlon and not travel adventures and dating stories. :(

living out of a suitcase. dogs everywhere too. miss ya, Mads!

I shall not bore you too much with the nitty-gritty on training and mileage though, as I find that stuff excruciatingly boring to read. But just because I don’t blog about it doesn’t mean I’m not doing it. If my life were like a reality TV show, it would be some freak hybrid of The Biggest Loser (making and maintaining race weight = a daily battle), Survivor (“stranded in a remote locale, with limited resources”), MTV Cribs (some, no ALL, of these homestays are suh-WEET), the Amazing Race (navigating my way across the USA), and… the Bachelorette. I just choose to blog about the fun parts, just like the TV producers only highlight the drama and shenanigans. :)

But fair enough, it is the end of August with half of my summer tour complete (2 down, 2 to go), and for the year, 5 done, 4 to go. So sure, it’s about time for a midseason report card, isn’t it?

This year, or at least this summer, has definitely been different than the last, as I’ve been set loose here in the USA, squad-less, being coached by the Boss through email, and living out of my suitcase. There were a few reasons for this–finances, teamTBB representation at the American races, and some nebulous “test” of sorts from the Boss. As one of the newest pros on teamTBB, this summer has been my symbolic walkabout: “a rite of passage during which male Australian Aborigines would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months.” (Thanks as always, Wikipedia.) Ok, so I’m not an adolescent male Australian Aborigine, but I think you get the gist. :)

Living out of a suitcase and traveling solo has been trying at times–just when you get settled in somewhere, get into a routine and learn the roads, get to know people and start forging stronger bonds with them, hey! it’s time to pack up and go again. Still, I’ve met so many great people that have helped me along in this journey and am really grateful to all of them.  I’ve also learned a lot about myself as an athlete and person during this summer tour. What works for me, what doesn’t work, what I want out of this sport, and what I am willing to do to get there.

Performance-wise, how do I think I’ve been doing? You can’t really gauge too much based on times and finish positions because from course to course, the terrain and weather vary, along with how competitive the field at each race is. Last year, it was quite obvious that I improved by leaps and bounds, because even though all the courses were different, dropping 2 hours and 14 minutes off my Ironman PR could only mean…I got way faster. This year as I am primarily racing in the USA, the competition is obviously deeper than in the two ironman-distance races I won in Korea last year, so getting a top 10 finish in the pro field here is arguably harder than some of the races I spanked last season.

So am I still improving, performing well, and getting faster? Yes. Well, ok, I take it 1/3 of that back–my swim has gone a bit backwards this year. My dad compiled my IM stats for this year with all my splits (thanks Papa Wongstar!) and the swim’s gone like this: 1:18 (non-WS), 1:11, 1:17, 1:22, 1:14 (non-WS). EWW. In my six ironmans last year, there were a couple of 1:05′s and a 1:07. I’ve learned just how difficult it is for me to properly swim (and properly swim hard) when I am on my own. But my bike continues to improve–I’ve got big strong bike legs that will stomp down the skinny girls. My run has been solid and consistent and I’ve learned that I can do those big track sessions (even a marathon on a dirt track) completely alone without a squad or coach around, and faster than I’ve ever run them. The race experience I’ve gained from racing so often has been invaluable, and I’m lucky to be able to live here in the USA where there are so many Ironmans. It was inevitable that the chunks of time I kept chopping off my IM times last year would start to plateau, as taking an hour off would get me in the sub-9 club and then another hour into the sub-8 club, and well that’s not quite so realistic. ;) I do believe that I am still improving and on the verge of another breakthrough.

I’ve had a very solid training block in Delaware, and for the first time all summer was able to swim with a squad under Coach Mac’s guidance. I have high hopes this Sunday to continue the upward trend my swim has returned to at Lake Placid. It’ll be non-wetsuit BUT two-thirds of it is downstream, which I’ll take. ;) I lived without a car in Delaware, so got in plenty of extra bike miles in (a 45-minute bike each way to the pool every morning), and the roads in the Lower Brandywine Valley were amazing for cycling. It was also plenty hot and humid, as it will be here in Louisville on race day, and you know how much I love that kind of weather! The hotter the better, so bring it on! :)

Finally I shall leave you with the question I ask myself when I wake up every morning:

my answer is always "BE BETTER"

gettin’ lucky in Kentucky

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I am one efficient triathlon superstar. I waste no time at all ticking off things on my list here in Kentucky. I totally got lucky last night! ;)

I flew in late and my homestay mom, Kellie was there to greet me at the airport. I get to stay with the Jones family here at mile 12 of the bike course and realized last night that indeed I have hit the jackpot! Their version of the “basement” that is mine for the week is GINORMOUS, with a huge living room, game room, bedroom (with big grown-up KING bed!), mini kitchen, bike room (as in two turbo/Computrainers and flat screen TV), AND exercise room (as in gym equipment and treadmill and elliptical trainer). The fridge was fully stocked with the grocery list Kellie kept requesting from me, and since she did the Ironman here last year, I have my own personal tour guide and training partner! They have hosted former IM Louisville champion Mariska Kramer for the last three years, but she isn’t racing this time. So the Jones are a top-class experienced and very expert homestay family! I am soooo lucky! :D

spotted here, 6 years ago.

This neighborhood is actually famous for being where Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson of Newlyweds fame (I know, so 2004) stayed during the Kentucky Derby episode. (I’m putting in the link to tempt you, but you don’t really want to read the episode recap, it might make you cry. Not tears of joy.) Actually, they stayed in the house right across the street from me! So what did I say about the Kentucky Derby and big funny hats…?

still to do...get a big funny hat

Well I have not made any leeway on getting myself one of these awesome hats (gosh and Jessica’s would so totally match the teamTBB hot pink!) but I sure saw a lot of horses today. Kellie took me to do some recon on the bike course and there are horses horses horses everywhere. Reminded me of the Boss and all his horse training stories.

On the KFC front, I have learned that there might be something even more gruesome/awesome than the Double Down sammich. Rumor has it that certain KFC locations are testing out something bloggers are dubbing the “Skinwich”: “5 layers of fried chicken skin, lumped on a bun and topped with white American cheese and bacon.”

mmm the skin is the best part!

Now surely they should have it here in Kentucky. It would be wrong to test out a new KFC product in any other state. ;)

superstar secrets revealed!

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Today was our first event at TBB Wilmington“The Secrets Behind the Success of teamTBB”.

opening the chamber of secrets...no Parseltongue needed.

I had printed out some autographable photos of myself (taken by Snap-Attack! back in Thailand). A triathlon superstar is always prepared.

you know you wants one.

Our adoring public included members of the University of Delaware triathlon training group, Team in Training, the teamTBB/Deep Blue cycling team, Tri-Dawgs, Coach Mac‘s athletes, and even a Slowtwitcher!

what a cool bike shop!

We all got to talk about being a part of teamTBB and how we’ve improved as athletes since being coached by The Boss.

I look like I have to pee, but I don't, really.

As promised, I came prepared with a Powerpoint Presentation. It was difficult, but I managed to condense the story of my triathlon life in only 9 slides. Impressive, no?

I am an expert on this topic.

I have had my share of critics tell me I have no right to call myself a superstar, as I am still not THAT fast. But as I was putting together my slides, it gave me a chance to step back and realize that what I’ve done in the last two years is pretty crazy. In a superstar-worthy kind of way.

The short version, if you are new to this blog: I spent 7 years as a mediocre age grouper with a 5:15 half IM PR and 12:08 IM PR. After being picked up as a teamTBB development athlete and about 12 months of online coaching with The Boss, I achieved a goal I had been going after for years: I finally broke 5 hours in a half ironman. Gosh, I thought that was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Then another 14 months later (many of those months spent at training camps), I broke 10 hours in an ironman.

WTF right? That’s like breaking 5 hours in two half ironmans back-to-back. Unfathomable. Did this really happen? Yes, and thanks to the magic of the internet, it’s all been captured in this very blog! :)

this is the slide with the secrets. oh you can't see it from this angle?

So I think I am allowed to be proud of myself. Yes, there is still much work to be done, but I will get there. Like James always says (and he autographed the wall with this), “Onwards and upwards!”

Batman signs the wall.

My homestay family, Super J and Super K, came to support their favorite triathlon superstar and learned even more about me than they expected! They thought they already knew all my secrets (especially all the fun dating stories) but they got an earful.

they housed me for 3+ weeks and still wanted my autograph.

Thank you to everybody who came today! Hope you enjoyed it and learned a bunch! Those of you who missed out…well, no secrets for you. ;)