Thursday, July 28, 2011

Momma Wongstar presents the best of SF Chinatown

where to find ingredients for magic Chinese soup

So I'm back in California for several days, originally to race the Full Vineman on Saturday, but accidents happen and plane tickets were already booked, so here I am for a little R&R with the family! I totally just ate way too much, so much that my stomach hurts (damn this excellent Chinese food and fresh California strawberries!!)...and thus I'll postpone my swim and write a blog about this morning's Chinatown adventure with Mom instead.

First she was very proud to demonstrate that she now knows how to use an ATM:

Mom got a debit card! I saw a pig fly too!

Yes, she is one of those ladies that always holds up the line at the supermarket because she still writes checks to pay for groceries. Actually today, we got some groceries that were so cheap, we filled up two huge bags for under $5. No check needed:

Mom taught me how to pick a good lotus
Anyway, we have been coming to Chinatown in San Francisco since I was a wee little girl, but I guess I never really appreciated how awesome it is until I've lived in other countries and other parts of the USA. You always grow up assuming that things like Chinatowns are the same as Chinatowns everywhere. Not so! The one in SF is like the oldest and largest one in North America.

Mom swears they were still alive but
how come they weren't hopping around?
After living and racing all over Asia, I came to realize that when you are in SF Chinatown, it really is like being in Asia. The price tags and street signs are in both Chinese and English, all the store owners speak Chinese, and you can find all sorts of weird Chinese cuisine and magic herbs.

We had a few missions today. Mission #1: I wanted some roast duck (Peking duck!) but Mom said there was now also roast GOOSE...whoa. The best place to go in Chinatown is on Grant Ave. between Broadway and Pacific:

Geese on the left, ducks on the right

below the geese are goose kidneys. We got some to try.
Yeah, I thought they looked like testicles too.

After watching Kung Fu Panda 2 and calling myself an Asian Triathlon Superstar the last 4 years, it was important for me to be more in touch with my Chinese roots. So I requested that Mom teach me to make some magic Chinese soup. She boils a pot every day and always told us when we were little that drinking it would make us faster and stronger! So Mission #2: gather ingredients for magic Chinese soup!

Location: the Great China Herb Co. (the sign is the first photo up top), on Washington, between Grant & Stockton. I remember coming here as a kid...there are jars of dried seahorses, bumblebees, and all kinds of deliciousness.

Our stash includes some dried goji berries, Korean gingseng, dried logan fruits, and other things I don't remember how to pronounce.

But they are all good for your immune system and chi! We also got some special stinky Chinese ointments...all great stuff to help me on my road to recovery from that stupid crash and become better than ever!

Mission #3: stock up on super delicious Chinese (and ok, Vietnamese) food that you just can't get the same of in Delaware!

The best fried chicken is from a place on Stockton, between Jackson & Washington, called "Phoenix" something. All you have to do is look for an autographed photo of Yan Can Cook on the window:

Inside, there is a bunch of dried lard hanging on the wall next to the Buddha shrine.

Then for the best Vietnamese, we went to a place called "Little Paris" on Stockton, between Washington & Clay. Mom got a bunch of those Vietnamese sandwiches that come on French baguettes but I was much more interested in the dessert...

My favorite one is sometimes called the "Tri color dessert" since it has red beans, yellow beans, and green worm looking jelly things mixed with coconut milk.

Guinness was totally jealous. And so are you!

Anyway, all those trips to Chinatown as a kid, and I thought this was all normal. Frogs and dried seahorses for sale, lard hanging on the wall, stinky medicine, wormy desserts...great, isn't it???

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

White Tiger stays home!

Traveling carry-on only for the first time in YEARS. bike fees or not, it's quite nice not having to lug the tiger around! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How to make water running more fun!

I remember my former teammate Brandon always saying that you could always tell when pro athletes get injured or were having a bad season, because they go off the grid on their blogs and Facebook and stuff. But I like to blog and have been told by some fans that they will actually check my blog every day for an update (!!!) so that's encouraging. People want to stay posted on how I am doing with the crash recovery, plus, almost everyone can relate to being injured. So I figure I can write some of my tips on how to stay motivated when you have to do something boring like...water running!

I'm still not running on ground yet but Coach Beck has me putting on a pair of old running shoes and running in waist-deep water. 30mins isn't too bad to tolerate but today's session calls for a whole hour, and there is only so much back and forth you can do (most pools are 25 yards here and only go about halfway, 12-15 yards before the big deep end drop-off) before you get super bored.  I love running to music, especially when I'm unmotivated, but was afraid of dropping one of my ipods into the water (I have the latest generation ipod shuffle and the new ipod nano I won from that photo contest...).

Sherpa came to the rescue and said I could use his old archaic ipod shuffle, which is 5 years old. Apparently he's loaded or something because he said "well it's only $50 if you drop it in the water." Hmm I think I picked a good one! ;) So I clipped it onto my new SLS3 visor (stylish isn't it?!) and wrapped the cords around the headband-ish part. Should be well above the water! We'll see. I forgot that the Y doesn't open until 10am on Sundays. No actually, I forgot it was Sunday. I thought it was still Saturday. Wishful thinking heh heh!

This is also the outdoor pool, and to make water running more enjoyable I look at this as an opportunity to even out the discrepancy in skin tone between my torso and my arms. So I'll throw on a two-piece swimsuit and work on my tan!

I have the torso of a white person and the arms of a brown person.

Because the Wongstar is all about the power of positive thinking, and she can find a positive side to everything!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Knee Knews

My knee is getting better! And my first swim was awesome! Even though working in the field of prosthetics and orthotics makes me appreciate the ability to swim, bike & run more than most people, having these crash injuries multiplies that much much more! I won't be taking those abilities for granted any time soon.

I saw Dr. Jannelli, my "body mechanic," on Weds and he pushed my medial meniscus back in its place. It's already feeling loads better. (Pun intended! bwaha!) He thinks it just shifted and isn't torn or something awful. We're also playing with some kinesiotape. Range of motion with weight bearing is coming back, slowly but surely!

He always has a container of little dark chocolates at the reception desk which also makes my body feel better! Sometimes they (the chocolates) even tell you motivational messages. :D

As for cycling, I thought the indoor biking was over when the snow melted, but I am back at it and making good use of my Delaware library card. Now that I've been a member over 6 months, I have full grown-up privileges, which means I can borrow up to 10 DVD's at a time instead of just 3 (the peewee membership). I started watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles with Summer Glau as a good-guy Terminator. Ever since Firefly, I'll watch anything with Summer Glau. Dude, she's super hot and kicks major ass!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No more elbow ouchies!

This is the elbow photo for Momma Wongstar and Coach Beck who are concerned I am not ready to swim yet. Mom wanted me to wait a few more days. A few more days?! I've been out of the water for 2.5 weeks now! So I said I would take a picture for her.

You can even see my swimsuit collection hanging in the bathroom behind me. I have enough one-piece swimsuits to wear a different one every day for 2 whole weeks. Or if I wanted to swim twice a day for a whole week I wouldn't have to repeat a swimsuit!

The big road rash scars on this elbow are actually from different previous bike crashes. The itty bitty stitched up part from Korea is only a fraction of these old scars!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

crash recovery update, week 2

Raise your hand if you went running today. Or this week. Or in the last two weeks. Heck, raise your hand if you biked outside or went swimming in the last two weeks. Now take a moment to appreciate your good health.

I am jealous.

I have done NONE of the aforementioned activities in the last two weeks and this second week has been testing. The first week after the crash went by quickly in a haze of "I'm alive!" euphoria, painkillers, jetlag, and the last-minute panic of getting myself to go back to a "normal" job for the first time in a few years.

Curious George band-aids!

Week #2 became a mental struggle towards the end, as I've never had my capacity to train for triathlon be so limited, but the worst is over soon. Of course I understand that it could've been much worse and know other pro triathletes who *have* had it worse ("it's part of the job description," an old teammate told me), but I've been pretty much injury-free since meeting Brett Sutton in fall of 2008. (I'm talking free from serious injuries that completely sideline you and that you can't train through.) I know people hear stories about Brett breaking his athletes, but when I met him, I actually had shin pain so bad that I was running in the pool my first few weeks in the Philippines. He totally changed my running form (I had been trying that stupid forefoot running technique) and I haven't been hurt since.

Even in the 7 or 8 triathlon years before teamTBB, I can't remember a time when I couldn't at least train in one of the 3 sports when I was nursing an injury. That's how most people get into tris anyway, right? I personally came into it from having a running injury during college track, but I was able to bike without pain and joined the cycling team. Then there was that time in college I bruised my sternum at a party and had some other overuse injury running, but I could still bike. Or that other time I injured my hip flexor from trying out Powercranks, couldn't run or bike, but at least I could still swim!

Hello Kitty band-aids!

The caveat this time is that I've got open wounds stitched up and can't swim until they are completely healed. Oh sure I could, but I'm not about to get some nasty infection and prolong my recovery! The chin is all healed and I'm waiting on the elbow. I took the elbow stitches out myself (I'm an Asian girl MacGyver y'know) and have been cleared to swim starting Wednesday! I really can't wait to swim! Who'd ever thought I'd say that???

It is really frustrating to not have my normal steady flow of endorphins from training 25-30 hours per week. Right now my main limiter is the knee that was all banged up. The bruising and swelling is all gone but range of motion is limited, especially with weight bearing. So no running yet and no hard biking. I meant to post up this picture from a few days post-crash when I was using Mom's magic Chinese trick for getting rid of bruises with hard-boiled eggs. You peel it right away and put it in a thin handkerchief, rub the bruise until the egg gets smooshed, and then throw the egg away. You can't eat the egg unless you want all the evil spirits that the egg absorbed from the bruise to go back inside your body!

nasty bruises!

Obviously this worked because 2 weeks post-crash, I am completely bruise-free. I didn't take any new pictures because it's really not that exciting! My skin tone looks normal now!

I've been able to spin on White Tiger in the living room (we are also still waiting for new aerobar parts) and did my first little water run today. I've been able to do long walks ok but intensity-wise, everything is pretty low. The hilarious part of going to the pool today was that I was trying to decide which pool to run in, the warmer therapy pool or the colder competition pool. I asked the lifeguards how shallow each pool was, so I could make sure my elbow was out of the water. There was one lady who was doing water aerobics and she chimes in "if you are feeling apprehensive, you can put on a water belt!" hahaha! She thought I couldn't swim or something!

I'm really glad for the distraction of starting my new job, getting to know my new coworkers and the flow of things, and shaking the dust off my brain. Otherwise I'd just be sitting around sulking! Clearly the new job was just meant to be. I put in a request to register for IM Louisville at the end of August, but as Coach Beck said, we are just going to take it day by day. I don't want to rush the healing process and start racing again before my body is ready.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ironman Korea in 4 photos!


my uber fast superhero Project:X "Tron" wetsuit!


sweet Token race wheels!


The Camelbak filled with a new secret rocket fuel recipe...
that never got field tested.

Yeah that's dried blood on my neck. But I got yummy snacks!

These super cool pics are from my Korean photographer friend Ahn, who has one of them fancy cameras. You can check out more of his awesome photos on his photo blog here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Being a working girl again

Last weekend I gave myself an advance on my first paycheck, because I had to get ready to be a working girl again. This involved getting a new haircut, blacking out the pink in my hair, and of course getting new work clothes. When I moved to Wilmington last year, I hadn't actually anticipated going back to work this soon, so I only had one pair of slacks (which I wore for my interview) and a couple of dress shirts. Shopping was obviously necessary! :D

I snapped a photo of my new hair while I was at the dressing room at Target post-haircut because it was looking good!

My eyes still look tired from jetlag!
Clearly my "advance" was still frugalicious as I went to Supercuts for a $16 cut, dyed the hair myself for under $4, and bought some sweet slacks at Target for $24.99 a pair (big spender, I paid full price on those pants!). It's a little weird to have all black hair again; I keep looking in the mirror and thinking "WHOA my hair is black!" Then I realized why it was extra strange--my hair has never really been jet black before, it is usually various shades of brown with the top/front even lighter from all the sun and chlorine I'm exposed to.

(For the record, nobody at work told me I had to dye the pink out of hair, it was my own decision. When you are working with older patients, sometimes they won't listen to you because you are their grandson's age, even with normal-colored hair. So having hot pink hair doesn't help patients take you seriously!)

I'm going home at the end of the month and will go through my stash there for more dress clothes...although I've also realized that I haven't had to dress up for work in over 4 years, when I was a resident at UT Southwestern in Dallas. At Gary's office, we usually wore scrubs and running shoes to work--every office is different. And 4 years ago I was more of a pants aren't gonna fit. I guess this means I need not feel guilty about new clothes shopping. heehee!

It is kind of fun actually to dress up for work again. I feel like a superhero with an alter ego. I am "Jocelyn Wong, MSPO, CPO," a mild-mannered prosthetist-orthotist by day...well 4 days a week, and 3 days a week I am THE WONGSTAR, international triathlon superstar. Or maybe it's the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana complex. LOL

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy 7-11 Day!

Did anyone else get their free 7.11-oz Slurpee today?

I got the red flavor! I smiled at the cashier and cheerfully wished him "Happy 7-11 Day!"

The sullen Indian boy glowered at me and remarked, "there's nothing happy about today." He obviously didn't know that the most famous triathlete in all of Delaware had just bought overpriced beef jerky from him. (Well, yes, I had to buy something! I can't be such a cheapo and just take a free Slurpee, now that I have a big girl job.) I guess my superstar charms don't work on everyone after all.

Fascinating 7-11 true stories from my worldly travels...did you know...:

  • 7-11's in Thailand have Thai iced tea, Thai iced coffee, and Thai iced GREEN MATCHA TEA in their fountain drink dispensers?
  • Also at Thai 7-11's, instead of having burgers on bread buns, the patties are sandwiched between two sticky rice "buns." Can you say "gluten-free"?! (They were awesome!)
  • In the Philippines, me and the Bean were revived and saved from heat exhaustion multiple times during our first two training camps by green apple-flavored Slurpees.
  • In mentioned in a previous blog somewhere else...the 7-11 by my race hotel was not open yet at 7am. (In case you didn't know, before they went 24hrs, 7-11 was open from 7am to 11pm.)
  • Also in Korea...and this might be even more blasphemous than not being open at 7am...THERE WERE NO SLURPEES. All me and Larry wanted after the race was to celebrate with some Haamonii in Slurpees. Dude, woulda been the BEST RECOVERY DRINK EVER!
I made it through my first day of work! Huzzah, everyone should celebrate with a Slurpee!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

more on the crash...and the aftermath

Well, so much for Ironman #21! Even my original plans for Ironman #22 (Full Vineman at the end of this month) have been altered due to the most spectacular DNF ever at Ironman Korea. It's now one week after the accident, where it was more me hitting a car rather than the car hitting me. Now that I'm much more healed up and saw the parents briefly on my SFO layover on the way home (so they knew I was ok!) I can post up some gory photos from the bike vs. car crash:

the first post-crash photo taken by big bro Michael Wright
That was after I was released from the hospital and most of the blood had already been wiped from my head and neck. "What exactly happened?" everyone keeps asking, and so I don't have to keep repeating myself, here is the story:

I was nearly done with the bike. Maybe a mile to go to transition (yes, out of 112 miles). Since it was a 2-loop bike, there was a fork where you went left to do your second loop and right to finish. This was a weird 5-way intersection at the bottom of a hill (from the direction I was going) which was heavily manned with cops and volunteers controlling traffic. There was a minivan stopped at the intersection. I was biking pretty fast downhill, hugging the right side of the road, heading towards the right of this minivan to go to the bike finish, when it begins to make a right turn into my path. I made the split-second decision to go to the left of it, while screaming and hitting the brakes...but just ran out of time.

my first self-portrait taken, post-crash and pre-shower. ouch!

The next thing I knew I was lying on the ground (I was still screaming for at least 5 seconds), there was shattered glass all around me and something warm was dripping off my head, which I knew instinctively was blood. I tried not to move much in case I had a spinal injury, and as my eyes looked up there was a lot of blood pooling on the pavement and all over my right hand and arm. It was pretty freakin' disturbing--I've been cycling for nearly a dozen years now and have never been in bike accident with a car. When the ambulance finally came and I got carried onto a stretcher, I saw that the rear window of the minivan was completely shattered. Whoa did I do that?!

White Tiger sacrificed his aerobars for me.
Piecing together info from other competitors who had actually saw the accident, and seeing the damage on White Tiger (my bike), it seems that instead of going to the right or left of the car, I hit the rear windshield somewhat dead-center. The aerobars hit first (they snapped) and my bike and body then got launched upwards and forwards, and my head went through the windshield before we all bounced back onto the ground. In hindsight having that windshield there and smashing it with my chin probably saved me from spinal cord or brain damage...or worse. (I just saw an episode of House MD where a BMX biker was internally decapitated from a blow to the chin. YIKES.)

the elbow stitches...not so pretty but they'll do
My original report on stitches was wrong--I got 16 total stitches, 11 in my chin and 5 in my elbow. My right knee was pretty badly bruised (probably from hitting the top tube of White Tiger) and I have some mild bruising elsewhere, and smaller cuts all over my neck which have all healed by now. The unanimous consensus is that I got off extremely lucky, which is why I am not that upset about the whole thing. I don't know if it was the cops' fault for not enforcing traffic or the driver's fault for not listening, but at this point I am just extremely grateful that I managed to escape the incident with pretty minimal injuries.

the chin stitches...which made me look like I had blue chin hairs
I got my chin stitches taken out yesterday by the Sherpa and his mom (who is a nurse) and everyone says it looks really good--the Korean doc did an awesome stitch job. The elbow ones come out in another week and then I'm allowed to swim again. My knee is looking much better and the swelling and discoloration has come down quite a bit...still a bit stiff, but walking on it is totally fine, stairs are a little tricky. White Tiger is parked on the Cycleops trainer for a little bit while we both get fixed. It turns out that it wasn't just the aerobar extensions that got busted but the base bar replacement parts are needed but I can only do about 30mins easy spinning right now after applying some heat to help mobilize the knee.

the worst bruising was 3 days post-crash
Coach Beck is starting me on a light recovery program starting tomorrow, which is also my first day of work! So it works out well, as I'll be easing back into work again full-time (32hrs/week is considered full-time!) while also training and racing. In the meantime, thanks everyone for all the nice messages and hugs and concern. I am really ok and I will be ok! Most of the pics here were taken within a couple days of the accident; I'll put up newer ones later this week to keep you updated on my progress.

Sharing Haamonii...the best way to make everyone
feel better after a bike/car crash or Ironman!

Friday, July 1, 2011

"This will be 21 for me."

So I did the swim course today and another guy got out after I did. We did some polite chatter...
Tri-guy: "Seems a far way out, doesn't it!"
Wongstar: [reassuringly] "It'll be much easier swimming with a bunch of other people."
Tri-guy: "So have you done this distance before?"
Wongstar: "Yeah...I have."
Tri-guy: "A few of them then?"
Wongstar: "Yeah...I've done a few of them. How about you? Is this your first?"
(Hey, he sounded like a newbie so I had to ask, right?)

Tri-guy: "Oh no. I've done a few of them too."
Wongstar: "Oh, ok."

Tri-guy: [all nonchalant-like] "Yep. This will be #11 for me."

Oh no he didn't. Well if he's gonna pull out the big numbers...

Wongstar: "oh? This will be #11 for you?
[dramatic pause...then even more nonchalantly...]
This will be #21 for me."

Tri-guy: [incredulous]

Yeah well don't play the numbers game with me if you can't hang, buddy. HEEHEEHEE