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Archive for the ‘Race Reports’ Category

the most spectacular DNF ever!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Hi from my last day in Jeju!!! Just wanted to post up some quick pics to show that I am all right and smiling and not a big bloody stitched up mess! These pics were taken today, honestly, in the dress I was planning to wear on stage at the awards banquet, but you don’t get called up if you don’t finish. :(

I've been told at least 3 different stories about what these statues are ;)

You’ve probably heard by now that I was in a pretty awful car crash during Ironman Korea. I was so excited because race day started out with not just one, but two morning poos, which everybody knows means you are going to do AWESOME.

To all the fans, the Wongstar loooooves you!

So obviously I was going to have my best swim ever (1:02 baby!!!) and then was tearing it up on the bike. Only minutes from the end of the bike a minivan got in the way and White Tiger would have none of that. He got in a punching match and broke his um, knuckles…

the minivan was space aliens after all

But hey you should’ve seen the damage we did to the car! I  jumped to White Tiger’s defense by slamming my chin into the windshield. These Korean drivers need to learn that we don’t mess around. I’m kind of sad nobody took a picture of it.

poor tiger! (otherwise he's A-OK)

The aerobars and windshield must’ve taken the brunt of our unplanned cagefight because I got away very lucky with just 16 stitches in my chin and 8 more in my elbow and a bruised up knee. I am walking okay, no broken bones or whiplash or spinal injuries or concussion. I met some guys today at awards who actually saw the whole accident and they thought I was DEAD, but I’m far from dead. So don’t worry everybody…especially you Mom! :D

Unfortunately I’m not allowed to swim for 2 weeks because of the stitches…which I am actually sad about now that I am a swimming MONSTER!!! So it might be time to get a tattoo or two. Sad it was my first DNF ever in my 11 years of triathlon, but hey I don’t do anything half-assed so it had to be a good one! If you are going to DNF you have to make it SPECTACULAR! :D

oh and happy 4th of July my fellow Americans. :) Maybe I should buy a hot dog from 7-11 (which strangely isn’t open at 7am).

Ironman Texas $ Analysis

Monday, May 30th, 2011

the Ironman "O Face"

Expenses:
entry fee: $ 0 (with purchase of $750 WTC pro license)
travel expenses: airline reward miles there + $203 home
airline bike fees: $ 0
accommodation: the generosity of Minsok & Bliss Pak
food costs: $60 (airport meals and snacks)

Income:
Prize money won: $0
Airline voucher for 8-hour flight delay: $300 (virtual money!)

Total balance:
$300 voucher – $263 expenses = $37 UP!

After doing my taxes earlier this year and realizing how much I spent in travel expenses on my 8 Ironmans versus only winning one paycheck worth $500, my goal this year was to make 2011 a more profitable racing year. Just breaking even would be a big improvement actually! People have been interested in the financial aspect of racing as a pro so I thought I would do a little cost analysis after each race this year. My goal is to become a more financially sustainable pro triathlete!

As for the race, well, I did so well that I got featured not just once but TWICE on the finishers’ video at the awards ceremony. The screenshot above says it all; the video parts of me are at 1:26 and 8:24 if you don’t want to watch the whole video. :)

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I’ll get around to the race report. Eventually…

introducing the race sherpa

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Yesterday was my 2011 triathlon season opener, the New Jersey Devilman–about a third of the Ironman distance with a slightly longer bike (0.8-mile swim, 40.3-mile bike, 8.8-mile run) and actually the first triathlon I’ve done shorter than an Ironman in the last two years.

I ended up as 2nd woman overall and it was a great way to shake off the cobwebs since IMAZ back in November, get in a solid “speed” training day, test out some new race gear and of course prep my equipment with custom stickers and stuff!

we can't all be The Wongstar.

I had my aerodrink bottle Wongstar-ized, made a special edition Hello Panda bento box, and put on the new *pink!* Blaze Hydrotail from Beaker Concepts.

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes... LOVE is all around me and so the feeling grows...

I tried out my new Project X wetsuit from 2XU, aka the “Tron Wetsuit”, and it was super fast!

Project X!

I raced in my teamTBB edition golf ball aero helmet from Louis Garneau

the super fast golf ball helmet

Scottie had sent me my 2XU race uniforms since I missed the photo shoot in Thailand. Everything fit but the one-piece race kit, which was just too short for my long torso. It gave me a front and back wedgie, like I needed to be 3 inches shorter, so I ended up racing in my cycling kit which looked super sharp.

pic courtesy of Tri-Dawg Lenny

Most importantly I got to test out my new race sherpa, who made his triathlon debut. He won’t be coming to all my races since he is just a rookie sherpa and undergoing very intense training in order to become a full-fledged Ironman sherpa, but I think he performed rather well yesterday considering he had never been to a triathlon before.

I interviewed him after the race and finally started playing around with some video editing software, so hopefully this means I can post up more fun videos when I leave for Ironman China next week. I didn’t save it as a super high quality but that means it won’t take forever to download/upload.

Without further ado, here he is, with the race report! :)

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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

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:

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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:

relief!

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!

mini IMAZ race report via video blog

Friday, November 26th, 2010

hey Wongstar fans,

for my birthday I got the first edit of a video from the Wongstar documentary series from my friend Felix Cervantes. I am about to board a plane back to the East Coast so enjoy while I am scrunched up on an airplane! It’s a mini race report, the 5-minute video version. No worries I will write a full-on race report with all the nitty gritty details too.

http://www.vimeo.com/17206330

Ironman #18: The Coming of Age, Part 2. (IM Moo RR)

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

(If you missed Part I, the introduction, find it here.)

Since Ironman Wisconsin was my first Ironman ever, and then my third, I always thought the set-up here was considered pretty normal and standard for all Ironmans. Two-loop rectangular swim in the lake where you don’t get out of the water until you have to get out, and a transition area set up inside a building–indoor changing areas–with bikes in the parking lot. Then I did all these races where the swim is two loops but you get out of the water in the middle of it (and the last IM China was FOUR loops), and transition areas that are completely outdoors with changing tents. So it’s actually Wisconsin that has a unique transition area, where the bikes are set up in the parking garage and you run up, bike down, then bike up the spiral ramp to the parking area–they call it “the helix.”

dizzying.

The cannon went off and I thrashed my way along the pack until the last of the pink caps left me in their wake. Weirder yet, I was managing to stay onto the feet of a silver cap…um, a male pro?! but got pretty annoyed after I kept smacking his feet and he was really terrible at sighting, drifting way off toward the shore. I took a gamble, thinking “I think I can swim faster by myself.” I wasn’t sure if this was the right choice as he seemed to drop me, despite drifting off to the right, but later results confirmed that I had indeed outswam a male pro by 6 minutes. Another bizarre thing is another male pro blew by me in the water 5 to 10 minutes into the swim. I couldn’t hang onto him at all, and was completely confused what this guy was doing behind me–later I found out that Max Longree for whatever reason had started the swim late. Yikes.

The swim is what it is, I will spare you the highly unimpressive details and keep working harder to improve it.

meh!

So I had told Rick and Gail, my homestay family and race day sherpas, that the splits I wanted after swimming was how much time I lost on the lead swimmers. If it was more than 30, I didn’t want to know (don’t laugh, it’s happened). Of course after getting out of the water, running up the dizzying helix, going through the change tent and running from one end of the parking lot to the other, I was pretty confused when Rick yelled “22!” at me a couple times. Um, 22 what? Was I in 22nd place? There weren’t even that many pro women. Was I 22nd woman including the age groupers who started 10 minutes behind? Somewhere along the first few miles of the bike I figured it out. 22 minutes down from the best swimmers. AHA. Not great, but much less than 30 minutes. Maybe I should’ve asked how far behind the next-slowest swimmer I was to give me a carrot to chase.

I got onto White Tiger and just worked on keeping steady and working into the bike. This was the first race on the summer circuit that I didn’t show up about a week in advance, so I didn’t get a chance to pre-ride the course. Even though I’d raced it twice before, the last time was 5 years ago and I knew that actually racing the “rolling hills” bike course would be tougher than when I went 6:21 on the same course as an age grouper. My secret goal was actually to see if I could take a whole hour off my bike split. My new “pro” impression of the bike course was that it was similar to Louisville but more challenging–bigger rolling hills and many more corners (yet somehow I ended up hitting the same exact bike split).

shaking off a dingleberry

I paced myself better on the bike than in Louisville because frankly I didn’t have it in me to hit “almost vomit level” on the Panda Puke-O-Meter so early in the bike. Whether this was because I wasn’t as fresh, having just raced Louisville, or just how the day was going, I didn’t know and it didn’t matter. I felt very strong for most of the bike, called upon my long-lost bike handling and cornering skills from my days as a collegiate bike racer, and got in my nutrition. I hit the halfway at about 2:45 and thought “meh…let’s try to negative split then.”

go White Tiger go!

Sometime during the second lap of the bike, the camera crew on the motos came by and kept me company for five miles or so. I was incredibly confused, as I was in last place. Don’t they know I’m in last? Is it because I am holding a faster pace than the other women and surely this means I am right about to catch all of them and then crush them on the run? Or is it because me and White Tiger are ridiculously good looking? Oh no, am I going to be known as the slow pro girl whose only redeeming quality is being ridiculously good looking? ;)

The things you think about when you are racing an Ironman. ahahahaha. If anything, having the cameras on me gave me a bit of a boost and I made sure to look good and strong and focused while showing off the sponsor logos. Maybe I’ll get on the Universal Sports coverage! Yeah baby, I’m a gun biker!

rolling home through the farmlands

I didn’t pass any pro chicks on the bike so I still had no idea how I was doing. For all I knew, they were all biking just as fast if not faster than me. I did feel strong though, and age groupers that had passed me early on were getting re-passed that last bit of the bike. I hit mile 102 at 4:55 and figured all I would need to do was hold 20mph and I would crack a 5:25 bike split. Easy cheesy, I was bombing down some of those final stretches at over 35mph. What I didn’t account for was getting on the narrow bike path on the way back to Monona Terrace with very tight 90-degree turns…killing my speed quite a bit, and of course going back up the helix into transition. Those last 10 miles always seem so long, don’t they?

Still, I got there, must have slowed a bit as I hit the line in 5:30 with my legs feeling wobbly. Heading out on the run I felt like a wreck. Apparently I looked like one too, as travel sponsor Mark actually saw me on Ironman.com‘s live video coverage and told me so later. I overheard Welchy announce me heading out on the run, something about starting the bike way behind after the swim…ah, but what else is new. I was already breathing pretty hard and feeling awful which doesn’t usually happen until after at least the first 13 miles! Settle in…settle in… I saw Rick and Gail, and Rick yelled at me that 8th place was 9 minutes up, 9th and 10th were another 5 minutes up…that put me in 11th, and I felt like crap.

oh boy. this is concerning.

Put yourself in my position…Out of the water last, didn’t catch anyone on the bike, and now I’m 9 minutes behind the last money spot and feel TERRIBLE. Give me something to work with here, Wongstar. If there is any good motivation for me to swim just 5 to 10 minutes faster, it would be so I stop starting the marathon completely demoralized. Sometimes I don’t even know what drives me, but I just knew I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe someone would drop out, maybe someone would totally bonk. Deep down, I knew that even if I wasn’t going to win any money, this was another test, another race that would make me stronger for the future champion that I will become.

At no point during the race did I feel sorry for myself and think “most of these other girls didn’t just race Louisville.” This actually never even occured to me; I didn’t see that as a reason I should do any worse. I remembered my Coke “red ambulance” revival at mile 23 of Louisville so I hit this up much earlier in the run…20 miles earlier in fact. I knew I was already in trouble because I felt really hot and it couldn’t have been more than 75 degrees. Geez Wongstar, where did your hot weather invincibility go? You just raced 20 degrees hotter 2 weeks ago and this should feel like a breeze! I was definitely not feeling like a superhero.

it'd be super cool if they filled up the stadium with cheering fans

No matter, I raced like a demented person, throwing ice down my shelf bra, squeezing sponges on myself and sucking down Coke. I mean Pepsi. (Coca-Cola headquarters was across the street from my building when I was at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, so everything is “Coke” to me. Just like how I’ll keep calling the Powerbar drink “Gatorade.”)

The camera guys came up to me again during the second half of the run. “WTF, don’t they know I’m still last?”

Mentally this was one of the roughest marathons I’ve ever done. I usually don’t start encountering the mind demons until I’ve run 13 miles, but this time I did battle with them from mile 0. But I got through it by repeating key quotes I’ve been told by my teammates and heroes in Ironman, and of course the Coach who knows everything.

Coco told me last summer “You have the mind of a champion.”
Bella who had been injured and couldn’t make it to Madison had emailed at least two times telling me “Give it an extra push for me.”
Tereza on several occasions had called me a “little superstar” and if she thought I was one, then I had to be one.
Coach once told me “Deep down, you are made of the right stuff.” And in one of our first email exchanges, he had said “Jocelyn, it all comes down to want. How bad do you want to be a professional triathlete?”

So that is what kept me going. All I did was repeat these quotes in my head, knowing that if only I kept going, it would take me to a goal I had, not for an impressive result that day, but a bigger goal in the future. The best thing about being on a pro team with Ironman champions, and a coach known as a champion maker, is that if they see something in me that even I don’t see, then surely something is there. They know what it takes, and so this gave me confidence and motivation to keep going.

sometimes I felt better, sometimes I felt worse.

Mile 23 came and this time the tables had turned from my race in Louisville. I caught a pro woman walking, but I wasn’t sure because the volunteers had marked her age on her calf instead of a “P” for pro. Ok, one down. At least I passed SOMEbody, I guess. I kept trucking along and up the road saw another woman ahead with a two-digit race number on her butt. OH?? By then the race course was filled with many age groupers on their first lap, so it was hard to tell who was in the pro race.

But seeing that pro bib number gave me a boost. I can catch her. I can get her. As I got closer, I confirmed it was definitely a pro number. How best to execute the proper pass? I knew from my experience on the other side 2 weeks ago that the best way to pass is to pass decisively to best demoralize your opponents. I was also a little apprehensive that she would come back and get me. So I tried to do a sneaky pass, running widely on the right as there was a group of three men running to the right of her. Maybe she didn’t see me?! Oh, who am I kidding; who else is running this fast at this point in the race?? Oh nooo, she is totally going to catch me back…run like hell!

RUN LIKE HELL

I was honestly completely convinced that she had latched onto me, breathing down my neck, and if I let up my pace at all, she would get me before I hit the finish line. AUGHHH SHE’S GONNA GET ME! In reality I had nothing to worry about, but I wasn’t about to take any chances. I heard Bella telling me “Give it an extra push for me,” and then I heard Coach saying, “You can always go harder than you think you can.” And they were right. I found that extra push, that extra gear, that I could go harder and slowing down was all in my mind. Don’t give up, I never give up, I can’t give up or she’ll catch me…

almost, almost, almost

I hit the last State Street stretch and couldn’t enjoy the screaming crowds, wouldn’t let myself enjoy the screaming crowds, and where the heck was the finish line already? I finally turned the corner and there it was… I did the look-behind-the-shoulder a few times to make sure, and well, there were no women in sight at all. So finally I chilled out and let the big superstar smile come out and of course high-fived two little Asian girls in the bleachers lining the finish chute. It’s my very important duty to inspire the future generation of Asian triathlon superstars.

woohoo!

I still didn’t know what place I was in, but I crossed the line with a very victorious fist pump, because I felt I had won. Whatever battle it was that I was fighting, I had won, and I felt that something had changed in me, in this 18th Ironman, maybe I found something inside of me that will help me in future Ironmans. The will to keep fighting when it seems that all is lost and there is nothing to win. Something in me clicked. This victorious feeling was even further vindicated when I found out about 10 minutes later that I had somehow clawed my way up to 8th place, the very last paycheck spot.

The 18th Ironman, the coming of age. My career as a pro triathlete has only just begun.

keeping fighting the good fight.

Special thanks to all my sponsors for their support in my journey towards Ironman greatness!

Thanks to my homestay, Rick and Gail, for their incredible hospitality!

And of course a special thanks to my teammates on teamTBB who have ever said anything even remotely encouraging to me, thanks for the inspiration and motivation. It might not have been a big deal to you, but it was a big deal to me. Thank you. :)

Ironman #18: The Coming of Age. Part I.

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Here in the USA, when you turn 18, you legally become an adult. That means you no longer need your parents to sign permission slips, you can buy cigarettes, vote in elections, and go to your local porn shop. You can’t buy liquor yet though. That’s not for another 3 years.

Ironman Wisconsin was my 18th Ironman and the final race of my All-American Superstar Summer Ironman Tour. It seemed only logical that I would come full circle to the very birthplace of my Ironman career: Madison, Wisconsin in 2002.

In many ways I feel this 18th Ironman was indeed a “coming of age” in my triathlon career. But let’s start at the beginning of the trip…the intro below is so pathetic that when I truly become a successful triathlon superstar and write my autobiography, this will probably be the opening scene. It will of course get adapted into my life movie; I haven’t yet decided who should play me–if not myself, I really like the kickass Maggie Q of the new Nikita TV show, though she’s a bit on the skinny side, being one of those vegetarian girls…but I digress!

$4.32

That’s what the ATM receipt told me my available balance was after withdrawing $10 cash to supplement the $16 I had in my wallet. I would need $25 to pay the Badger Bus driver so I could get my brokeass self from Milwaukee airport to Madison for the Ironman. While I was grateful the ATM let me pull out money in increments of $10 (asking the machine for more than what was in your account resulted in having your debit card spit back out at you…I know because I tried) I couldn’t help but look at that sorry, pitiful three-digit number at the bottom of the receipt and think… “Payday, please come soon.” I didn’t even have a return ticket to San Francisco yet. I had been hopping all over the country racing every Ironman on the summer circuit, and buying one-way tickets when I could scrape together enough money…which meant one at a time. Now would be a good time to start winning prize money.

Isn’t the life of a pro triathlete glamorous?

To be continued…

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!!!! $$$ :D $$$

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.

MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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

LOVE YOU ALL!!!