Monday, June 22, 2020

Covid-19 List Update, Podcasts, and Secret Project Reveal!

So I absolutely killed #11 on my 19 During COVID-19 List... and by “killed” I mean “blew off so badly I might as well remove it from the list”. HA! You know, the one that said “blog at least once a week”. I still haven’t learned my lesson from last year’s goal of “update Wongstar blog once a month.” 😂

But in other exciting news, I have been interviewed by not just one, but TWO, podcasts! Something I hadn’t even considered putting on a list before (“be interviewed as a podcast guest”). I love podcasts! I only started listening to them a few years ago, when I was training for my first JFK 50-miler, and needed to entertain myself while running for multiple hours.

Podcasts weren’t really a big thing when I was racing professionally 10+ years ago, so I’m super tickled that people still want to hear about my start in triathlon (which was officially 20 years ago in June of 2000!) and subsequent pro career. The first interview happened on New Year’s Day this year, but only went live a couple weeks ago. My friends Kathy and Rob just started their own podcast in conjunction with their passion project, WeRunWithYou.

If you haven’t heard it yet, I’m episode #3 and you can find it here: WeRunWithYou podcasts.

I waited a day to listen, because I think I sound funny (but don’t we all think we sound funny?) but once I got over that, I enjoyed reminiscing along with the recorded version of myself. I cringed a little when we brought up the Swine Flu of 2009 and had a small laugh about it (total facepalm!), but who could’ve predicted COVID-19?! I touched on what it was like racing as an Asian-American pro triathlete. It meant so much to me to be able to represent on the starting line and I had the most supportive fans. This is something that I’m very passionate about and one of the main reasons I have returned to racing (at a much smaller capacity), and will continue to race in the future. Representation matters!

The other podcast should come out in a few weeks, and the two hosts described me as “one of the most prolific triathlon bloggers in the late aughts and early 2010’s”, which gave me a big nudge to update THIS blog. ;)

So if you haven’t already heard from my social media announcement 3 weeks ago, #19 on the list was “NEW SECRET PROJECT” which is....growing a human!

Yup, we are having a little baby girl who is due in early December! What this really means is that #19 on the list takes priority over all other items on the list. Best and most legit excuse ever for blowing off the list, am I right?!

We’ve definitely been supporting a small local business at least once a week (#1). #2: donating blood, apparently is not allowed when you’re pregnant. D’oh! Note: I actually started compiling this list before I realized I was pregnant (though we’d been actively trying), and left it on there even though I published this list a week after we got our first positive home pregnancy test. Also, I told Kevin on April Fool’s Day, because I am so HILARIOUS!

Aero is thrilled about losing Only Child status, can you tell?

Numbers 5 through 7 are all related to working out. But baby girl’s got a mind of her own, so most of my first trimester I just listened to my body. I worked out when I felt good, and slept more when I didn’t feel so good. Also #7 “figure out best use of the ‘smart’ trainer”—yup, don’t use it at all! ✅ 😂

I am at 16.5 weeks now and feeling much better, but I definitely got sick of riding in the living room early on in the pandemic. The tri bike has been temporarily retired, and I’m now exclusively on the road bike. Once my belly gets TOO big, I guess it’s back on the trainer! I already have to pee all the time, so close proximity to a toilet is never a bad thing when pregnant.

That’s all for now. I can make a whole post about #12, films and books by Asian-American creators, which I had intended to do last month for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May. But you know. #19 not-so-secret project had other plans for me. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Pandemic blogging: 19 during COVID-19

As promised, I made a list of 19 things for me to do during this COVID-19 pandemic to keep myself busy, productive, entertained, and healthy. I will also litter this post with my favorite COVID-19 memes, because, why not.

I learned from the mixed results of last year’s 19 during 2019 to be more realistic, more specific, and...well, less ambitious. For example, #6 was originally to do both push-ups AND burpees during 2 strength workouts per week. HA! Am I really going to do that? How about just one strength workout per week (which is one more than I usually do) and have the option of push-ups OR burpees? I can always do both if I’m feeling ambitious. But let’s be honest, I hate both push-ups and burpees. 😉 Another thing that didn’t make this new list was the reappearance of “paint the ceilings” from last year’s list. Am I really going to do that? Only if this pandemic goes on way longer than we want it to, and I absolutely run out of other productive things to do. #truth 

1. Support a small local business at least once per week. So far I have bought new sneakers and socks from our local running shop, Delaware Running Company, which is offering delivery and curb-side pickup. Trail shoes with BOA dials! I considered this my one “Coronavirus splurge” as I didn’t really need them, but wanted to support the shop.

2. Donate blood. I have never donated blood before, because my high school track coach taught us to be greedy with our blood (not really, he just didn’t want us passing out at track practice). Right now, Team RWB is encouraging its members to donate blood (#WR2GR = wear red to give red) since many blood drives have been suspended to limit the spread of COVID-19.

3. Reach out to friends & family members in 10 different countries.
I have made many friends in my travels as an international triathlon superstar, and I’ve been curious how everyone is doing in different parts of the country. If there’s one good thing to come out of all this madness, it’s that I’ve gotten back in touch with many friends from all over the world (and USA, see next item). So far I’ve hit up friends in Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and Canada. Wow! Only 4 more to hit 10!

4. Reach out to friends in 25 other states. Same as above except in the USA. So far, I’ve chatted with many family members in California (duh), but also friends in Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Alabama, Montana, Colorado, Rhode Island, and probably more I’m forgetting about right now. The real question might be, do I really know people in 25 different states? Maybe!!

5. 30 minutes per day of intentional movement. I have read multiple sources stating it is actually detrimental to your immune system to work out for more than 90 minutes (and this article here supports it). So even though I have enough time on my hands to train like a professional triathlete again, I am not planning to do more than a 90-minute easy run or bike ride (and definitely not every day). Most of my workouts will probably be in the 45-minute range. I also not intentionally driving somewhere to run or bike, because that kind of defeats the point of staying at home and social distancing, and I hear many local parks have very crowded parking lots (because that’s how you get people to go exercise—tell them they’re not allowed to go outside). So the starting line is always out my front door.

6. 1 strength workout per week (push-ups and/OR burpees included). Strength workouts are my least favorite, and I only seem to do them in a group setting. That’s not actually possible right now, so I may look into other options, like how Peleton is giving people 90 days of free access to their online classes, and I think TRX has live classes as well, but that would require me to actually have their equipment. 🤔 

7. Figure out best use of the “smart” bike trainer. I was really stoked about finally getting a smart trainer (the Wahoo SNAP) after over 15 years of grinding it out on a “dumb” trainer. But other than it being quieter and smoother, I’m undecided about how much I actually like it. I had a free 14-day trial on Sufferfest, which I used to love on the dumb trainer just going by RPE’s, but on the smart trainer, the watts would sometimes go out and freeze the video. I had a 30-day free trial of Zwift, and it was cool to make my own avatar and see all the people from all around the world biking at the same time, but I feel like either I am really weak on the watts or it’s not calibrated properly. And I know I am an out-of-shape retired triathlete, but I am pretty sure I should still be a mid-pack rider when I am out of shape and retired, yet everyone is still passing me and that sucks. 😭 

8. Leave positive reviews for favorite podcasts and local businesses. This is just something I’ve always meant to do. Why not now? Let’s spread the positivity!

9. Clean out the junk drawer. This is also in the category of “JUST DO IT”.

10. Teach Aero to come when called (bribery is okay). So, Aero was valedictorian of her 6-week obedience school—actually, she was the only puppy out of 5 students that made it to the sixth week, final exam, and graduation, but like her mom we know a win is a win. But she still has trouble with her “recall” AKA coming when called, especially if she ever makes it out the front door and into the neighborhood—it’s GAME ON SUCKERS! She has “high prey drive” as we think she is a whippet/terrier mix which are both hunting breeds, and very much wants to kill all the squirrels, bunnies, and birds. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting her back into the house when she is playing in the backyard (bribery is ok!) but I still don’t trust her to get loose in the neighborhood.

11. Blog at least once per week. Hey guys!

12. Watch/read/support films and books by Asian-American creators. I absolutely loved 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians and made a conscious effort to incorporate more Asians and Asian-Americans into my Instagram feed (athletes, actors, authors, comedians). It’s ridiculous that it had been so long since there was a really big Asian-American movie here in the USA. Last year I did a pretty good job of supporting local Asian restaurants and this year I am going to support more Asian-American entertainment and content. So far I have borrowed Ali Wong’s book, Dear Girls, for free from the local library in eBook form (she would be so proud!) and also rented “Go Back to China” on Amazon Prime. Currently watching season 4 of Kim’s Convenience on Netflix. I am also planning to rent Parasite! Other suggestions welcome!

13. Learn to make jook (AKA congee or rice porridge) in Mom’s fancy rice cooker. Last year “Learn to use Mom’s fancy rice cooker” was on my 19 for 2019 list. WAY TOO BROAD. I decided to go super specific and learn to make jook!

14. Obtain at least 25 continuing education units in prosthetics & orthotics. Every 5 years, my certification as a prosthetist-orthotics renews. Mine just renewed in January. I don’t typically have trouble getting the 100 credits we need during each 5-year cycle, but plan to make an extra effort to take continuing ed courses while I’m not at work.

15. Watch and re-watch classic and newer Disney movies. We got Disney+ last year and I am loving it! Some movies I haven’t seen in decades, and some I hadn’t at all. I just watched Frozen 2 and Moana last week for the first time, and bonus for item #7, did them both while biking on the smart trainer.

16. Sleep in every day I don’t have to work. I’m NAILING this one!

17. Clean the gutters. We just got a new roof, so I want our gutters to look pretty too.

18. Cut Aero’s nails without making her bleed. EPIC FAIL on this one already. I tried this over the weekend and we agreed never to do this again and never to talk about it again. I have never heard her scream so loud and seen so much blood come out of such a little dog. And that was only for one little toenail! I have come to realize that her nails apparently file themselves to the perfect length when we go on our little 2-mile runs together on pavement. Also, I am definitely returning those clippers to Amazon. We can use that $18.99 for more dog treats, because I am a very, very sad and sorry dog mommy.

19. **NEW SECRET PROJECT!** 🤫  That’s all I’m saying! 🤐

Sunday, March 29, 2020

19 for 2019 denouement

My blogging sputtered and died last summer, and I struggled to get back on the horse. (Or maybe motorcycle? to go with the sputter and die analogy? No, horses can sputter and die too.) Many posts sat in the drafts folder, wishing and hoping to someday be finished and published. There was a summer part 2! Updates on my 19 for 2019 list! A freak case of summer PNEUMONIA! The parents came to visit Delaware! And of course...the amazing DECADE IN REVIEW!

In the end, item #7 on the 19 for 2019 list ("Update Wongstar blog 1x/month") was not to be.  The enormity of it being The End of A Decade was not lost on me, and as bloggers people* everywhere did their Decade Recaps, I felt trapped. 2009 was a big year for me. It was the year I became a certified prosthetist-orthotist, in the same month I qualified for my pro triathlon license. And as Robert Frost proclaims in "The Road Not Taken":

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

2019 would bookend the decade that began with me going down the road less taken: choosing to become a pro triathlete and racing all around the world, eventually running out of money, crashing my bike into a minivan during Ironman Korea in 2011, and going back to being a normal person working a normal (okay, way cooler than normal) job. I have so many mixed emotions tied with the end of my triathlon career (which run the gamut from success to failure, pride but regret). Like my triathlon career crashing and burning, thus so did the 19 in 2019 list, and I couldn't bring myself to write a sparkly Decade in Review, when 2009 seemed so much more exciting than 2019.


You know what 2020 has brought?

A) I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS! YESSSSS!!! All 6 figures! And there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that helps you justify cutting your pro triathlon career short than PAYING OFF YOUR STUDENT LOANS! This just happened last month, and it was such a mental shift for me. There is no way it would have happened (any time soon, or even in my lifetime?!) if I kept going down the path of staying a professional triathlete.

Damn right, there was a party.

B) CORONAVIRUS! NOOOOO! Or the official name, COVID-19. Just don't call it the "Chinese Flu", OR I WILL FIGHT YOU. My work hours are getting cut back, which means I have time to actually update my blog once a month (or heck, more often). One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2020 was "write more". (I will not even tell you my other resolutions as they are already irrelevant!) So, apparently I like making lists, and I am considering making a "19 during COVID-19" list, but first I felt it was appropriate to at least wrap up the "19 in 2019" list.

As a refresher, here's the 19 goals or intentions I had for last year:

So, how did I do? DRUM ROLL...

Completed, mostly:
2. Date nights with Kevin 2x/month.
3. Visit Longwood Gardens 6x (every other month). (enough times to make the annual membership worthwhile)
5. Go to the beach 3x.
6. Call and FaceTime family more (1x/week, on weekends!).
10. Learn to hard-boil eggs easier. (got this little gadget for $16 in aqua color)
15. Eat at a new local Asian food establishment 1x/month.
16. Find refrigerator filters and replace every 6 months.
17. Get new roof. (just completed!)

Started out strong, but soon sputtered out:
7. Update Wongstar blog 1x/month.
18. Complete a Marie Kondo decluttering of the entire house. (HAHA! does anyone actually ever finish this?!)

Didn't do at all, but still want to/need to do:
1. Print out physical wedding album.
4. Visit Delaware Museum of Natural History.
9. Learn to use Mom’s fancy rice cooker.
19. Write our wills.
11. Paint remaining interiors (man cave, master bedroom, and ceilings).

Gave myself a reality check and realized I had very little desire to do these:
8. Do each Sufferfest cycling video once.
12. Paint kitchen cabinets.
13. Re-stain patio furniture.
14. Figure out how to refresh faded red Honda Fit paint job. (it's a 2007, and it runs great!)

So, now that I am back on the blogging horse during this pandemic, I am going to up the ante with a weekly update. But you probably won't get a decade in review. OK, fine. Here is all you get for a decade in review:

The above is winning 2009's Korea Jeju Triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run; essentially Ironman Korea but without the official M-dot), my first pro win about 2 months after qualifying for my pro card.

The below is winning 2019's Bethany Beach First Responders' triathlon (1000-meter swim, 30k/18.5-mile bike, and 7.5k/4.5-mile run), exactly 2 months after I was diagnosed with that freak case of summer pneumonia. (I may blog more about this since respiratory illness is currently a HOT TOPIC!)

Big secret: I may or may not have been the only woman racing the elite/open category in both races. Doesn't matter! Breaking the finish tape is super cool and I'm pretty sure these are the only two times in my life it has actually happened.

*A note about blogging: do bloggers even exist any more other than the professionals that monetize their blogs? I almost let Google fool me into using Adsense because I assumed they already shoved ads in my blog before I realized it was WordPress that did that. This is staying ad-free, bitches! And yes, I realized blogging is an outdated medium but I still find it therapeutic to write out my thoughts, even if my future self is the only person who reads this. I hear it's very trendy to start a podcast now but I'm not that fancy and can't even figure out how to do Instagram stories (nor do I want to). Thanks for reading!