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Love the Wongstar? “Like” the Wongstar!

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

In honor of the new Facebook movie “The Social Network” premiering next Friday, we present to you a very gratuitous plug of the Wongstar’s official Facebook page.

The WongSiSTAR loves the Wongstar, do you?

The Wongstar promised her fledgling Facebook fan club that if she hit 500 fans, she would get “I (Heart) Wongstar” stickers printed out. At the moment the fans are just 491 strong, so please visit the page and click the “Like” button.

If you already “Like” the Wongstar, she gives you permission and absolutely encouragement to be that annoying FB friend who suggests it to all your friends too!

And yes…she realizes it’s no longer technically called a fan page and saying you merely “Like” the Wongstar is nowhere near the actual emotional connection you have to her. It is, after all, called the “I <3 The Wongstar: The Official Wongstar Fan Club.”

not a fan of the new verbiage

It’s unfortunate that it’s not a “Love” button or one with a heart or “less than 3″ sign (<3).

Love the Wongstar!

While you’re at it, you should definitely also become a fan of (…I mean “LIKE”…) The Bike Boutique Wilmington, my new local bike shop!

Hope you’re having a great weekend! Thanks for “liking” me and any stronger warm & fuzzy feelings you may harbor towards me!

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.


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. ;)

how to become a triathlon superstar…secrets revealed!!!

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Really exciting! Our TBB store here in Wilmington is getting ready for our first big event. Bek and James are flying in and we all get to talk about some of our big training secrets. I’m stoked because I have never done a talk before as a pro triathlete. 15 minutes of fame baby! :D

I’m totally going to do a Powerpoint presentation on how I went from a 12- to 14-hour ironman age grouper to going pro and breaking 10 hours twice (I took over 2 hours off my Ironman PR last year). I love Powerpoint presentations! Especially when it’s a topic that I’m an expert on! And who’s more of an expert on myself other than…myself? ;)

Wait a second…I just looked at the schedule more closely…they said the three of us would get to talk for 15 minutes each. But it only gives us 30 minutes. How am I going to tell my whole life story in just 10 minutes? :( It will have to be the Cliff Notes version of “how to become a triathlon superstar…”

Well I hope to see all of you Wongstar fans who are within driving distance here on Saturday! “Driving distance” is completely open to interpretation! Other than my Powerpoint presentation, I need to print out more Wongstar autograph cards.

You gotta RSVP to make sure you are on the guest list… email wilmington@thebikeboutique.com to let us know you’re coming!

a trip to the zoo.

Monday, August 16th, 2010

things to do in Delaware #1: go to the zoo.

Today I went to the zoo. I was pretty excited. Delaware only has one zoo, the Brandywine Zoo, and it is a 15-minute walk from the Bike Haus. I run by the zoo all the time.

Sure it was probably a small zoo, since it’s a small state, but the website said there was a tiger. Pretty exciting because it is the Year of the Tiger, and my bike is named White Tiger.

So I went to the zoo, and was really excited about seeing the tiger.

oh boy oh boy the zoo I'm gonna see a tiger oh boy

I got to the tiger exhibit.

oh boy oh boy it's the tiger exhibit oh boy

And the tiger was dead. :(

what do you mean the tiger is dead?!?!?!

Apparently the tiger died 2 weeks ago. Apparently it is even on the front page of the website and I totally missed that memo because I have this small little netbook with a small little screen and didn’t scroll down far enough. I was just so excited and clicked the “Animals at the Zoo” link, which clearly hadn’t been updated to account for dead tigers.

Rest in peace, dear tiger.

having your way with bike mechanics

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

This post is dedicated to all the lovely bike mechanics who have ever helped service any of my bikes.

Chris: the first TBB bike mechanic in the first store in the first state

Chris: the first TBB bike mechanic in the first store in the first state

Back in the days before I was really famous, I learned the hard way that you can’t just walk into a bike shop if something was broken and expect the bike mechanics to drop everything and fix it for you right then and there. Some of them expect you to leave it with them for a week. Or set up an appointment…which had a 2-week waiting list. WHAT! I can’t not ride my bike for over a week. And I am leaving for a race in 2 days.

In time I learned the answer: beer and cookies.

Girl Scout cookies if it is Girl Scout cookie season.

So I come armed into the bike shop with the bike, beer and cookies, my killer superstar smile, and sometimes a short skirt. I am not sure if all of those above factors are necessary but they are 100% successful in combination.

Oh yes. That’s How to Become An International Triathlon Superstar, Step #15: Treat your bike mechanics well and they will treat you well in return.

Yup, a fool-proof way to get the bike mechanic to drop everything and fix whatever ails you. I mean, your bike.

I’m really happy that here in Wilmington, my very own TBB store comes equipped with my very own TBB mechanic, Chris. As it turns out, we competed in the same collegiate cycling conference at the same time, when he was attending Lees-McRae in North Carolina for college and I was racing for Georgia Tech in grad school. On my first day in Wilmington, I went straight to the bike shop from the train station and didn’t get a chance to pick up beer and cookies, but now that I am a famous superstar, Chris went to work right away on the filthy White Tiger.

White Tiger is a filthy beast.

White Tiger is a filthy beast.

I also had a fancy new pair of Token Accura CNC/titanium brake calipers (thank you Token!!) waiting for me that needed to be installed.

Token Accura brakes: pretty, lightweight, and super functional!

Token Accura brakes: pretty, lightweight, and super functional!

So to show my appreciation when it’s not Girl Scout Cookie season, I usually go to my nearest grocery store and pick up the yummiest looking fresh-baked cookies from the deli section. I peruse around and think, “if Coach allowed me to eat cookies, which cookies would I want to eat?” Now that I am living with Jennifer and Katrina, my homestay family, who are avid bakers with a kitchen full of ingredients, they encouraged me to bake cookies from scratch. I hadn’t baked cookies for a boy since I had an unpleasant experience with an ungrateful douchebag last summer, so this would help ease me back into it.

nom nom nom

nom nom nom

Katrina picked out a recipe and laid out all the ingredients I needed from one of her favorite cookbooks.

ummm they are looking like pancakes...

ummm they are looking like pancakes...

The tricky part is that heat and humidity becomes a factor just like in Ironman racing!  The recipe told me to roll the dough into balls, break them apart, them smash them back together for a cool-looking texture and design.

its hip to be square

it's hip to be square

Right. Apparently heat and humidity makes the dough a melted squishy mess even before it hits the oven. I had enough trouble just rolling them into balls. :(

toast-shaped cookies

toast-shaped cookies

Well, they still tasted pretty darn good. Just kidding Coach, I didn’t eat any, I swear… ;)

Chocolate Chip Square Cookies

Chocolate Chip Square Cookies

This was just a practice round, I think next time I’ll try to make the dough ahead of time, refrigerate it, and then quickly roll them into balls and stick them in the oven.

In the meantime, I encourage you all to bring your local bike mechanics cookies and beer! They will love you forever! :)

Why TBB Wilmington is my fave bike shop.

Sunday, August 8th, 2010
Welcome to Delaware

Welcome to Delaware

So I landed in Delaware, nicknamed “The First State” as it was the very first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. When did they sign it? Just look on the state flag:

They are so proud of being the first state that many businesses here incorporated it into their names: First State Lanes (bowling), First State Ballet Theatre, First State Health & Wellness, First State Towing, First State Gymnastics, First State Automotive…you get the idea.

Obviously it was only suitable to open the first American TBB store in the first state. You know what else? There’s NO SALES TAX IN DELAWARE. You totally want to buy your very own White Tiger (the 2010 Cervelo P3) here. Heck, upgrade to the P4 with the money you save! ;)

Randy, the shop manager, picked me up from the Amtrak station and took me to the latest and greatest Bike Boutique shop. After having visited the TBB stores in Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia, I realized immediately why this one was my new favorite.

holy crap, I am larger than life!

holy crap, I am larger than life!

Randy then twisted my arm and forced me to autograph the wall.  And you thought all that autographing practice was in vain, didn’t ya?

ooh yeah, whos laughing now?

ooh yeah, who's laughing now?

How to Become An International Triathlon Superstar, Step #14: Autograph your larger-than-life-size likeness on the wall of a bike shop.

practice makes perfect!

signing my boobs. OK not quite, just below them.

And thus I became the first TBB athlete to sign the wall in the first TBB USA bike shop in the first state.

yes, it says I HEART DELAWARE

yes, it says "I HEART DELAWARE"

My brother from another mother, Scottie, also graces the wall in his blueseventy Helix wetsuit:

its Scottie!  AKA Robin

it's Scottie! AKA "Robin"

Rumor has it that Batman and Robin will be heading here later this month…in the meantime, I am enjoying being the only TBB celebrity pro triathlete in Wilmington, DE. :D