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an Easter special: a post on religion!

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

They say never to discuss religion or politics in mixed company (or your blog?), but in honor of Easter Sunday and the random monks that we see almost daily (living next door to a huge temple) I’ve been inspired. Plus I’ve got all these sweet pictures!

I still get tripped out seeing the monks get out of a pick-up truck or answering their cell phones.

I still get tripped out seeing the monks get out of a pick-up truck or answering their cell phones.

Religion has the power to unite people but also causes far too much conflict and war.

My mom is Catholic and will no doubt be going to Easter Sunday mass. My dad will be going to his Chinese Baptist church. At home in the kitchen, the wall is adorned with Jesus, Mary, various Buddhas and other Chinese deities. When we go to the cemetery to pay respects to my late grandfather, we burn incense… along with paper clothes and paper money for him. And do the three bows.

All my cousins on my mother’s side grew up Catholic and went to a private Catholic school in San Francisco. Meanwhile, my siblings and I went to public school (but heck, we turned out ok). My parents didn’t want to choose between their two religions, and so they didn’t push a certain religion on us. Plus, public school was free…saved that tuition money for college.

Sure my mom threw in the occasional Bible story during bedtime; Noah’s Ark and Adam and Eve mixed with Green Eggs and Ham, Corduroy Bear and the Very Hungry Caterpillar (my personal favorite…hahaaa). We even got dragged to church with Mom every now and then on Christmas and Easter. I was always jealous of my cousins who got to eat the bread and drink the wine.  My favorite part was singing along to the songs. When I was younger, I was terrified of ghost stories and thought maybe if I believed in God, the ghosts wouldn’t come get me at night. Oh, who am I kidding, I still hate scary movies. :(

I’ve lived all over the USA where the degree of religiousness varies from one end to the other. I was in college in California when the Pledge of Allegiance debate happened in our state–to remove the clause “Under God” from the daily pledge to the American flag. That same year on the other side of the country, stickers were placed in science textbooks in Cobb County, Georgia, with a disclaimer that “evolution is a theory, not a fact…” I would actually go on to live in Cobb County, GA when I moved to the Southeast USA for graduate school. When living and racing in that area, I got accustomed to a “morning prayer” for the safety of all competitors before the starting gun went off. In Texas, I’d sometimes drive by the mega churches on the freeways…which caused traffic jams on Sundays.

I believe in being a good person and doing good things, and have pretty high morals. But I don’t believe you should go to Hell if you are homosexual, or if you use birth control, or if you believe in evolution. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and I respect that. To each their own. Unfortunately not everyone agrees with my philosophy–while I have an open mind and heart, I do get bothered when others try to convert me. When I worked at a running store after college, one of my coworkers was always sneaking religious materials into my cubby hole. She would make snide comments about how all the hours I spent on triathlon training would not help me after I died, but if I spent that time studying the Bible, it would.

When traveling the world it is also interesting to observe the different religions wherever we go. In the Philippines, it was Catholicism to the core. It was actually difficult to find tampons in the grocery store. Here’s a picture I never got around to posting of the Easter parade that went through town when we were in Subic:

Easter is a big deal in the Philippines

Easter is a big deal in the Philippines

Here in Thailand, most of the Thais are Buddhist, but there is also a sizable Muslim population. So there are temples and mosques every where.

Central Mosque of Krabi Province

Central Mosque of Krabi Province

We live next door to Wat Thum Sua, AKA the “Tiger Cave Temple.”  The big temple is currently under construction and it’s a very impressive structure. Easy landmark to spot when you are coming home from a bike or run!

Wat Thum Sua!  i.e. what to tell the taxi drivers as your destination

"Wat Thum Sua!" i.e. what to tell the taxi drivers so they know where to go

offerings to one of the two tigers guarding the temple

offerings to one of the two tigers guarding the temple

under construction!

under construction!

its a flying god!

it's a flying god!

When I was in Nakhon Si Thammarat a week ago, one of the local women took me on a mini tour of the city, which included seeing the Lak Meuang, or City Pillar Shrine. Most major cities have one, which houses the city’s spirit deity. Visitors are encouraged to pay their respects and also make a wish, expressing your heart’s deepest desires.

Lak Meuang of Nakhon Si Thammarat

Lak Meuang of Nakhon Si Thammarat

I was caught off guard and wasn’t sure what to wish for. All I could think of was “to always be happy and healthy…and my loved ones too.” Of course now I think maybe I should’ve wished for the ability to swim, or maybe to be able to eat ice cream every day and still be skinny. But I think if I am happy and healthy, then many other good things will come my way. :)

make a wish!

make a wish!

I was wondering why there were all these chicken statues hanging out around the shrine. Our host told us that whenever someone’s wish comes true, they bring a chicken back to the shrine. That’s a lot of wishes that have come true!!

like the chicken in The Hangover...how did these get here??

like the chicken in The Hangover...how did these get here??

The ceremony to give out the legs was actually hosted by a local Chinese temple…yup a Chinese temple in Thailand. There is a big Chinese population here too.

reminds me of SF Chinatown actually.

reminds me of SF Chinatown actually.

I think we have some of these at home too.

I think we have some of these at home too.

So have a Happy Easter, or whatever you may celebrate or believe in!

And thank you to the little Easter bunnies Zali and Sophie for the chocolate Easter egg. Now that’s something I can truly believe in. ;)

Ironman China awards gallery

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Featuring the cute little kids playing musical instruments and dancing.

they put lipstick and blush on the little boys too

they put lipstick and blush on the little boys too

The Marshes…

Sitting at the “Professional Athletes” table.

A new friend for life! Kana, recipient of the Wongstar’s magical spare tube and CO2.

I was super stoked to see her on the podium for her age group:

My buddy Larry, we met 2 years ago in the same local tri club training for IM China 2008. He then moved to Beijing to pursue his dream of becoming a Chinese movie director and I moved to all over the world to pursue my dream of becoming a professional triathlete.

The pro chicks on the podium. Funny that I only missed getting called up by one spot!

Amy giving her speech. She hates public speaking!

Amy with her sweet Ironman champion trophy. Yes, I was super jealous!

With Steph Cox, media coordinator, who got to coordinate all my many many media requests. ;)

And ah, my friend Morten! Looking much better the day after the race, if you catch my drift, and surprisingly tall when standing upright and fully coherent. He did not remember me at all. “Morten, you had your head in my lap for 20 minutes and you don’t remember me at all??” ;)

With race announcer Whit and teammate Mat:

And then the incredible Shingo Tani, who is 42 years old and took 4th in the pro division.
The Wongstar: “I want a picture with Shingo Tani! He’s famous!!”
Shingo Tani: “No, you’re famous!”
The Wongstar: “No, YOU’RE famous!!!” :D

What it’s like to be famous…

Friday, March 12th, 2010

How to become an international triathlon superstar, step #7: Embrace the fame and enjoy it while you can, where you can.

superstar!!  really, I am now a big deal here.

superstar!! really, I am now a big deal here.

This is the third consecutive year I’ve come to Haikou, China for the Ironman.  2 years ago I was a very scared and unfit age grouper, it was my first race as a teamTBB development athlete and the Boss had thrown me into the pro division.  I melted in the heat and finished in 12:44.

Last year I had a terrific race and took an hour off my time, finishing in 11:08 (a new PR at the time), thrived in the heat with the 3rd fastest run split and ended up on the ESPN International broadcast as the featured athlete. Actually, I had to convince the producer, Peter Henning, to put me on TV. I told him I wanted to become famous. Nobody really knew who I was or really cared!

the cameras cant get enough

the cameras can't get enough

Well this year–be careful what you wish for?? NIGHT AND DAY. I have improved so much over the last year, and the 2009 ESPN broadcast of Ironman China has been played on a continuous loop here on the host hotel’s TV channel. I got a cover story on Ironman.com, and a huge mention (the first pro woman mentioned actually) in the race preview. I’m even the first athlete profiled in the race program:

thats me!!

that's me!!

I have, indeed, become Ironman China’s “media darling.”

So, what is it like to suddenly become famous? Well let me tell you, as I’ve also documented this quite well; life is short and who knows if it’s just my 15 minutes of fame!!

In line for the flight to Haikou the girls behind me saw the Wongstar Hello Kitty bike box and the new punk red highlights in my hair (good luck red for China) and asked if I was a rock star. “Kind of,” I said, slightly amused and only half kidding.

When I went to get registered for the race and pick up my race packet, the whole room of volunteer girls started SQUEALING. I’m completely serious. They’ve seen me on TV and think I am some kind of celebrity. And I am. Right. I kind of am. I was swarmed for photos. SWARMED! “We’ve been waiting for you all day,” they told me. “We only go crazy for you!!!”

I was invited to my first press conference–ok I know I said Ironman Malaysia was my first press conference, but really any and all of the pros that showed up were told to get up on the table. Here there were only 6 of us that were invited, and with special name tags too (with our Chinese names). World champ Chris McCormack, Lothar Leder (first guy to break 8 hours), and then multiple Ironman champions Luke McKenzie, Nicole Leder, and Heather Gollnick.

part of me is not sure I belong at this table, the other part says "yeah you do!"

No, really…it blew my mind to be sitting at the same table as these athletes. Macca was training in Southern California and winning all the local races when I was a total newbie, teenage triathlete in college there 10 years ago. He introduced himself to me today, already knowing who I was.  I had always seen the names, Lothar & Nicole Leder, and the night before she came up to me to shake my hand and said “ah, YOU must be the famous Jocelyn Wongstar!!”

And Heather actually won the first Ironman I ever did–Wisconsin 8 years ago. How am I sitting at the same table with them, and they think I’m the famous one?!

Lots of interviews followed the press conference.  I lost count of how many times I’ve been interviewed here. I can say that I’m the only pro triathlete here with a real Chinese name–the rest of them had phonetic translations of their English names.

sounds like Wong Sure-Er which sounds like WongSTAR :)

sounds like "Wong Sure-Er" which sounds like "WongSTAR" :)

Some of us were also invited to dinner at Coffee World/Pizza Corner, the food and beverage sponsor of the race. A lot of local media, fans, and other racers were invited to ask us questions and meet us.

with Coffee World manager and Eric the race announcer

with Coffee World manager and Eric the race announcer

Dong Qi is the local Chinese triathlete who also raced in the pro category in 2008. I actually finished about 15 seconds behind him and we are both planning to go hours faster this year! He is the local favorite for guys, and apparently I am the local favorite for girls.

This girl wanted my autograph:

And then the photos. Photos and autographs…

one of the pizza employees who is a college student. I told her I worked as a waitress in college too.

one of the pizza employees who is a college student. I told her I worked as a waitress in college too.

More interviews:

The local news station wanted to take video of me running and biking and have me say something cute in Chinese. “Cheer for me on Sunday!” which I totally slaughtered phonetically but apparently got the accents correct. So after a day of interviews and appearances, I managed to get back to the hotel room in time before the carbo dinner to catch myself on TV!

from the press conference

from the press conference

White Tiger makes his TV debut!

White Tiger makes his TV debut!

the new Louis Garneau helmet comes in time for its TV debut too

the new Louis Garneau helmet comes in time for its TV debut too

This smile was made for TV!

This smile was made for TV!

Almost anyone who gets in the elevator with me recognizes me and every other person who walks by as I blog in the lobby waves. Sometimes I hear whispers of “Wongstar” as people pass. I’ve been meeting people all over the world who are following this blog!! People keep asking to take photos with me when they meet me in the lobby or hallway or during dinner or the expo.

It’s INSANE. The whole thing is just crazy.

And I absolutely love it! :D

The day this becomes NORMAL at all my races will be madness. And you’ll be sure to hear about first! ;)

Unleashing White Tiger!

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

this is so freakin’ cool that it deserves its own post!!!  click on it to see a bigger version!

When you are an aspiring international triathlon superstar, you make all kinds of friends around the world, especially those with fancy cameras.

The one above is courtesy of PK, a working freelance photographer and owner of Pee Kay Pixz.  He is currently uploading last weekend’s photos to his online portfolio, the album is at http://PeeKayPixz.zenfolio.com/imlangkawi2010 and he will also be adding some team photos over the next few days to our own team album at http://peekaypixz.zenfolio.com/teamtbb.

Thanks for the awesome pic PK, and for beautifully capturing White Tiger’s debut at Ironman Malaysia!  LOVE IT!  :D  will include it in my race report coming up next!

easing the pain of no prize money

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

How to become an international triathlon superstar, step #6: Get called up on stage to win a cool trophy, and learn to use said trophy appropriately.

Who cares about the race, how about the awards and the after party? Mom & Dad want to see that sweet trophy I won!

Just a short procrastination on the race report…which I will do soon too because I need to cram in Mandarin Chinese lessons REALLY QUICK as I’ve been invited to the press conference at Ironman China! *squeal*

So this was my very first awards ceremony at a WTC Ironman event where I got called up on stage as a pro!

Here I am!  I have arrived!

Here I am! I have arrived!

I was actually the very first athlete to be called up! They only announced the top 5 pro men & women and the women got up there first, even before the amateurs…

CHEESE!

CHEESE! I think I am the happiest!

It was a little surreal actually, standing right next to former teamTBB alumnae girls Belinda & Hillary who had taken 1st and 3rd. Years ago as an age grouper I had really looked up to them and wow, things have certainly changed.

raise your crystal trophies up and yell HUZZAH!

raise your crystal trophies up and yell HUZZAH!

I couldn’t help thinking of the awards ceremony at my first Ironman 8 years ago, when I sat with my mom looking at the faster athletes getting called up on stage. I told her I wanted to be up on that stage one day. She had said “Of course you will some day” but moms are supposed to say things like that. And I didn’t actually mean up on stage for the pro category, I would’ve been quite happy with getting top 5 in my age group! I’ve never even won my age group in an Ironman!

Belinda making her speech. I took some mental notes.

Belinda making her speech. I took some mental notes.

The boys were next:

HUZZAH!

HUZZAH!

Hiro and his big paycheck! He was like team captain for the weekend.

money money money!

money money money!

Sometimes the awards ceremony is a bit of a drag, but not when you have Haamonii Smooth Shochu as your liquor sponsor!

how to enjoy the awards ceremony: sharing harmony

how to enjoy the awards ceremony: sharing harmony

The Japanese know how to party:

Maki says her dad drinks shochu every night!

Maki says her dad drinks shochu every night!

Emma won her age group AND her first ticket to Kona! This is why she is also the perfect wing-girl to go trolling for boys with:

did she find a stud muffin?  did she??

did she find a stud muffin? did she??

Speaking of boys, the whole point of racing Ironman on the pro circuit is to meet the hot (and tall) foreign ones. No more silly age groupers for me. Here is my 5th place male counterpart, Andreas:

5th place is a good start

5th place is a good start

He didn’t make the money cut-off either. Thus, we would soon make good use of our very practical trophies.

all done! best awards presentation ever!

all done! best awards presentation ever!

When all was said and done and all award winners announced (and the bottle of Haamonii shared around the table), the ceremony ended with a bang. Hiro and Maki said that this is what my prize money was spent on:

good-bye prize money!

good-bye prize money!

It was then on to more celebrating…so what was it I said about our trophies being practical? I was told that they were made of local Langkawi crystal.

both beautiful and functional

both beautiful and functional

This is my new Slovakian friend Marek with his pretty nails, the only pro I outswam. He said I came by like a shark. Funny how speed is all relative ;)

prettiest fingernails of all the pros

prettiest fingernails of all the pros

The new trophies and new friends helped ease the bitterness of not winning any money this weekend!

no prize money, someone else buy the drinks!

no prize money, someone else buy the drinks!

Disclaimer: the Wongstar encourages responsible drinking. Please don’t drink and drive. However, if you are a nerdy guy trying to impress a nerdy girl, by all means attempt to drink and derive.

Chinese New Year in Singapore

Friday, February 19th, 2010
Happy Year of the Tiger!!

Happy Year of the Tiger!!

For the first time in my life, I got to celebrate Chinese New Year in Asia. Sure it’s a big deal at home as a Chinese-American, but nothing like in Singapore. I remember as a kid we would wake up CNY morning and there would be the red banners with gold Chinese characters hung about the house…we ate big feasts with the family and got hung bao’s (the red envelopes with money inside) and special candy. The house got cleaned up really nice right before Chinese New Year, but never on the first day or first week, otherwise all your good luck gets washed/swept/vacuumed away.

Some parents pulled their kids out of school during Chinese New Year, but my brand of superstar parents would NEVER let us miss school for any reason. It was perfect attendance or bust–ok there was that one year we had the big earthquake in 1989; that was the ONLY time I remember ever missing school, but I digress.

But in America, Chinese New Year never seemed to be a bigger deal than Christmas. It was kind of like Christmas but with Chinese food. Ok, more Chinese food, since we have Chinese food at Christmas too.

So I got to be in Singapore during the CNY madness. Lots of decorations everywhere!  Me and Beck got some photos by the temple next to the Bike Boutique on our first day:

this is the tiger with money

this is the tiger with money

and this is the tiger with...food.  hehe!

and this is the tiger with...food. hehe!

Then I went off to the Philippines and came back for the first day of the Year of the Tiger. My favorite Singaporean couple, Li Ying and Bernard, took me out for a CNY breakfast…

if all the Chinese joints were closed, we were gonna have Indian food for breakfast...

if all the Chinese joints were closed, we were gonna have Indian food for breakfast...

but no, I insisted we must have Chinese for Chinese New Year!

but no, I insisted we must have Chinese for Chinese New Year!

They were actually worried that there would be no place open on the first day of CNY. And it was true…nearly all businesses shut down for the first five days of the new year! I was told that people get Monday through Wednesday off work!

see, they have to advertise they are actually open

see, they have to advertise they are actually open

You are supposed to wear new clothes on Chinese New Year, so I wore the only new thing I had…a dress from when we to the beach in Thailand.

try not to stare at the sexy forehead tanlines from my swim cap!

try not to stare at the sexy forehead tanlines from my swim cap!

It was actually nearly impossible to hail a taxi cab the whole time we were in Singapore…that’s how crazy busy it was due to the holiday. Beck was actually convinced we were going to miss our flight back to training camp because we couldn’t get a cab to the airport!

Anyway, one of my more recent CNY traditions has been to check out what the new year’s horoscope forecasts.  There are Chinese 12 zodiac animals based on your birth year and I’m a Rooster.  You can look up your own on websites like www.tarot.com and www.chinesezodiachoroscope.com. The funny part for me now is that when there are predictions about my “work” and “career” and “boss”–well, that would be about triathlon and the Coach!

Here are some predictions for a Rooster girl like me:

“Work could be a source of strain for you during the Chinese Year of the Tiger. You may be forced to adapt to new procedures and schedules that don’t suit you. Unfortunately, your boss won’t be responsive to your complaints. If you keep harping about the new routine, you could find yourself on the unemployment line. In this economy, it’s best to keep your head down and your mouth shut.”

Translation: no complaining to Coach about the workouts or new swim technique ;)

“Work will be more demanding than usual, forcing you to assume new duties that may feel distasteful. …If you play your cards right, you’ll get both a raise and a promotion by the end of 2010.”

Translation: even more demanding training….but also…more prize money???!!! :D

“Love can flourish for Roosters in the Chinese Year of the Tiger. However, you need to cultivate a little tact if a new relationship is going to get off the ground. Compromise is essential in the Year of the Tiger. If you learn to keep your mouth shut whenever a love interest annoys you, a strong alliance will ensue. You’ll even start to think of your partner’s quirks as charming, rather than irritating. It’s just a matter of diverting your thoughts whenever they become critical.”

Keep my mouth shut whenever a love interest annoys me? Sh*t, no wonder I’m still single.

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone in the world!  :)

The Wongstar Adventure…in a hot air balloon

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

How to become an international triathlon superstar, step #3: realize a childhood dream over 20 years in the making.

I try not to brag too much about being the luckiest girl in the world, but sometimes I can’t help it.  Last week I realized that I am, indeed, living the dream!  Growing up in the late 80′s, my favorite childhood movie of all time was The Chipmunk Adventure.  I watched our ratty VHS copy of it with my siblings and cousins so many times that we had all the words and song lyrics memorized.  A year ago I actually found it on DVD and was ecstatic.  :D

In the movie, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore race against the Chippettes (Brittany, Eleanor, and Jeannette), going around the world in hot air balloons and stopping at various countries along the way.  My sister was always Brittany, the oldest bossy one, and I was Eleanor, the short fat one with pigtails.  (I am no longer the short fat one in real life though, bwahaha.)  I didn’t even get to start going around the world until these last two years that I’ve been traveling with the team and last weekend I got to fulfill the hot air balloon part of the childhood dream.

Ok, so you thought I was in the Philippines to present at a medical conference.  Nah, I was really there for the hot air balloons.  ;)  The PARM conference was held in Clark and for the first time coincided with the 15th Annual International Hot Air Balloon Festival.  (The theme of the PARM conference was actually “Soaring Hot, Flying High!”)

Well, being a speaker at this conference entitled me to an all-expenses paid trip to Clark along with tickets to the hot air balloon festival AND a ride in a hot air balloon!  Inconceivable!  PARM had their very own hot air balloon.  I brought one of my best friends, my Pinay sister Ria who lucky enough lives right in Clark, to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  We got there super early before dawn, to watch the big balloons getting set up at sunrise.

hello giant turtle balloon! and flying beer in the background!

This giant balloon looked just like the giant smile on my face the whole morning:

This would be our balloon!

Gotta get the camera ready…

Ready for adventure!

UP, UP, AND AWAY!!!

Wheeeee we have left the ground!

Spewer of hot air:

The giant sunshine smile:

Our shadow from the view of the balloon basket:

Of course the whole time, I had one of the Chipmunk Adventure songs stuck in my head…thank you YouTube…

YouTube Preview Image

And of course, no Wongstar adventure is complete without chatting up some hot men in flight suits…

The Wongstar is a total sucker for men who can fly.  For example, superheroes.

Living the dream, yes indeed!

introducing the elusive White Tiger

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Hello, my name is White Tiger and I am FIERCE.

Well my Facebook and Twitter have been abuzz with my latest new sidekick, code name “White Tiger.”  When are we going to see real photos of this elusive White Tiger? everyone’s been asking.  Perhaps he doesn’t really exist!

Indeed it is true that according to Chinese mythology (aka Wikipedia), “Legend had it that when a tiger reached 500 years old, its tail would turn white. In this way, the white tiger became a kind of mythological creature.  It was said that the white tiger would only appear when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, or if there was peace throughout the world…”

One of the Wongstar’s virtues?  World peace, of course. (Coincidentally, the answer to all beauty pangeant questions.)  The White Tiger is also a Chinese constellation that represents the west and the autumn season. And hey, I’m from the west and was born in the autumn!  How about that.  In Imperial China, the tiger was the personification of war, and one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.

As of last Sunday it is now the Year of the Tiger (Happy Chinese New Year!), so very fitting that I’ve named the new warrior sidekick “White Tiger.”  (He’s got red racing stripes.) Yes, it still amazes me that I get a new bike every year.  After 2 seasons riding and racing two models of the P2C, I got the best Valentine’s Day/Chinese New Year gift EVER…a sparkly white 2010 Cervelo P3!!!

I was quite happy with my 2006 P2C (code name “Blue Steel”) and also my short-lived 2009 P2C (code name “Khan the Warrior Horse”). My first two Cervelos took my Ironman bike splits down from a 6:12 down to a 5:35, then a 5:09, then a personal best 5:00.  That’s right.  I can honestly say “Riding a Cervelo took over an hour off my Ironman bike split.” Not too shabby, P2C’s!!

Apparently team management decided that I was now worthy of an upgrade!  Well I apologize for the technical difficulties; my blog has been so awesome that it sort of, er…broke…and haven’t been able to post pictures.  And it’s against my religion to write a blog without pictures.  I think I’ve finally figured out how to get around it.  In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to build up a little suspense, now does it??

So despite the fact that I got him on Valentine’s Day, Coach has warned me already not to get too attached to this guy and that I shouldn’t think about him “that way.”  White Tiger is “just a tool” for me to use to become a better athlete.  This was because Coach was there when Khan died his untimely death on the way to that starting line in France, and I cried (well wouldn’t you?) so now he doesn’t want me getting too attached.  I think this is really just Coach’s way of delivering subliminal dating advice:  don’t get too attached to any boys, they are all just tools. HAHAHAHAHAHA

So this is why White Tiger shall be referred to as my faithful sidekick, and not my true love.

Fine, Coach, fine.

Thank you Cervelo and the Bike Boutique!!!  Special thanks to the TBB mechanics who helped assemble White Tiger just in time for V-day & Chinese New Year!  We’ve already gone on a few rides… the verdict?  The Dynamic Duo (Wongstar + White Tiger) are screaming fast and super aerodynamic!  I’m forecasting that the Year of the Tiger will see even faster bike splits.  :D

Snow Baby Hits the California Snow

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

True facts about The Wongstar:

  1. The Wongstar’s Chinese name means “Snow Baby.”
  2. If you say it really fast in Mandarin, “Wong Xue Er”, it almost sounds like “WongSTAR”!
  3. The number of times the Wongstar has actually been in the snow can be counted on one of her hands.
  4. The Wongstar rather enjoys referring to herself in the third person.
the sisters show the Wongstar how its done

the Chow sisters show the Wongstar how it's done

This weekend I headed east with Amy and her sister Tammy, in search of the mythical California snow.  The two of them grew up in upstate New York and are used to much colder below-freezing temps; it would be my first cross country skiing expedition.  I have only downhill skiied once and snowboarded once back in college.

the limited edition Avia Nordic skiing jacket

the limited edition Avia Nordic skiing jacket

So if you go east toward the Nevada border in the winter, you start to see snow!  It is only about a 3-hour drive from my house but I haven’t ever done one of these Tahoe trips that everyone talks about.  We ended up at Royal Gorge in Soda Springs, which is the biggest xc ski resort in all of North America.

Tammy attacks the hill

Tammy attacks the hill

I ate the snow quite a bit.  Ok more than a few times.  Several times?  Make that “a few” x “several”.  I didn’t think it was possible to fall over so many times while cross country skiing…I was under the impression that this would be easier!  Amy encouraged me to try gliding more.  ”Just like in swimming.”  Oh, right.  I need to work on that in my swimming too.  Good thing there was lots of fresh powder to cushion my tumbles.

Brrrr!  who knew California could get so cold?

Brrrr! who knew California could get so cold?

It started snowing more and more while we were out there, and I kept declaring “It’s like Christmas!”  Or at least, how one imagines Christmas would be like according to Christmas cards.  I can’t say I’ve ever had a white Christmas…

the car was covered when we finished playing!

the car was covered when we finished playing!

And yes even though Christmas was 3 weeks ago, I suddenly had all these Christmas carols in my head.  ”Winter Wonderland” and “Let It Snow” and “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”  BUT I was a good friend and successfully restrained myself from singing them out loud.  AHAHA!

proof that it indeed snows in California

proof that it indeed snows in California

In conclusion, I think I was named “Snow Baby” not because I was born in winter, but because I am inept at these snow sports.  I have a whole new appreciation for the upcoming Winter Olympians.  I think I will stick with triathlon!  I might not be so talented at tris either, but at least I can train hard and race in warmer climates…

the drive back home, singing Winter Wonderland in my head...

the drive back home, "Look at all those Christmas trees!!"

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!