Me and my agent, but more importantly GREAT friend!

Me and my agent, but more importantly GREAT friend!
Jess and Amanda

Swimming in Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Swimming in Lake Taupo, New Zealand
"How sweet it is!"

Jessica Jacobs...IRONMAN CHAMPION!!!!

Ironman Florida, 2010 Women's Champion in a time of 9:07:50

Crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line
Representing 'Ol Glory!!!
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Facing your Fears

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

- unknown


The above quote rests tightly on my visor in my Xterra and in addition it's my screen saver on my phone.  It's so simple, yet if you allow it, it gives you a "gut" check if you really look into all the things in life we often forgo to the little tales we tell ourselves daily. You know the ones…the voice that says, "oh, some day", or "well…I would, but I'm just too busy today".  How about the "I'm too tired today" mantra, or infamously using your family as a crouch and saying, "I have to do this for little John/Jane, today, otherwise…I totally would!"…don't lie to me - I'm with you and have said it to myself as well! Well, 3 weeks ago today, I could no longer "hide" behind excuses - I accepted a challenge, a fear and I was on a plane to Santa Monica, CA to work on something I'm simply not the best at…my swim.  Year after year I've dug deeper and deeper into the well of my being for great results on my bike and run, but the swim has been a second thought, a necessary evil, but nothing I put nearly enough time, energy and passion into.  Why? Because, for years I was told and it was reinforced that I'm not a natural at it.  Plain and simple - I'm one of those lucky people that got thrown in a pool at the ripe age of 3 and developed a sense of the water.  Also, to add more turbulence to the matter, I am a perfectionist and I love being good at things right off the bat. I'm naturally very athletic, so when something doesn't come to me right away, the perfectionist side of me gets aggravated.  Now - before you go ahead and think I NEVER worked on my swim, well - that is far from the truth…but I needed the RIGHT coach to work with me, and unfortunately, I had never truly found one.  There were several good SWIM coaches out there…but, often times I found they were trying to put me into a "cookie cutter" process to become a better swimmer.  Many didn't understand my body, tailor my swim training for a triathlete, versus a strict swimmer.  And many - let's face it, think they can call themselves a "coach" when they have no business being on a pool deck barking out orders…sorry, but, there is a huge difference between being an athlete and then turning around and coaching one.

Allow me to back everything up - after performing rather poorly in the swim at the World Championships and again at IM FLorida in 2012 my coach and I decided that it was time for drastic measures.  I found myself faced with my demon and there was no turning back.  Giving up 15+ min on the swim in an ironman is a near impossible grave to dig yourself out of…it can be done, as I have proved in the past, but it makes for an extremely daunting experience mentally and physically. And at the World Championship level, it is unacceptable.

TRY

"Sometimes I think it's better to never ask why…funny how the heart can be deceiving, more than just a couple times...Ever worry that it might be ruined?  And does it make you wanna cry? When all you're out there doing what you're doing, are you just getting by? Where there is a fire, there is gonna to be a flame, where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned, but just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die, you gotta get up and try, try, try…"
- P!nk

Fast forward some phone calls, research, inquiries and I landed myself in the welcoming arms of Gerry Rodriguez and the wonderful athletes at the "Tower 26"  swim club in Santa Monica, CA. It was time to get direction/coaching from one of the best.  

"Nervous" can't even begin to describe how I was feeling my first morning. You know that feeling you get when you're afraid your alarm will fail you, when you really have no idea the lay of the land and you pray your GPS doesn't fail you? At the pool I was so afraid of getting assigned to a lane I'd struggle to keep up in…thoughts erupting in my head varied from,  "will the other swimmers get irritated with me if I'm too slow…what if I hit somebody on a flip turn?  What happens if I'm faster than someone?  Are they going to get mad at the "new girl" tapping them on the feet?"   Yeah, welcome to the heart and truth of the matter - I was the "new girl" in school, it was my first day and I was hoping everyone would like me…God, didn't I already go thru this in middle and high school? Sigh! ... Needless to say, I don't think I slept more than a couple winks that night. 

I showed up to the Pacific Palisades pool where all Tower 26 workouts take place.  It was a rather "chilly" morning and I had no idea we'd be swimming outside - temps where in the mid 30s and here we were jumping into the water in the dark - can life get any better than this? - (I love knowing I'm awake before the rest of the world and working harder in the first 1-2 hours of my day than most will experience all week). I was instantly put to ease when I walked up to the man I believed was in charge in the big swim parka - I was correct, it was Gerry; a handsome, dark-haired gentleman originally from Trinidad, that resembles the features you'd find in great  actors that were "manly-men" - like a Gregory Peck, Andy Garcia or Rock Hutson. I was instantly welcomed with a big hug and my fear of alienation started to ebb. Without boring you to death with too many details my first practice went well and I found myself capable of handling the workout with ease…did I mention that Monday is "recovery" day at Tower 26?  Good day to start…but no where near the intensity nor volume that was awaiting me in the days and weeks to come!  Ignorance is bliss my friends! 

Good news - I more than survived the sweet sessions that followed.  I found myself taking direction from Gerry and understanding my inadequacies in the water.  I learned to "look at the trees and not the forest" - basically, take each day, each session, each set, each lap - ONE AT A TIME!  The first couple days Gerry had to work on me to "peal the wet blanket" (as he calls it) off my psyche.  I had repeatedly been told over the years that I wasn't a swimmer. So, I believed it and resided myself to it…this took some work to remove that facade, but slowly it melted away as I kept proving myself over and over again what my biddy and mind could handle.  I was churning out more yards and swimming faster sets than I ever had in my life.  If someone would've told me 3 weeks ago I would be swimming 6 days a week, 9 sessions a week and building up to 40,000 yards a week, I wouldn't have believed it possible….but, Gerry took me (as an individual) and figured out what I cold handle - how intense I could be pushed…and so on…(NOTE!!!  PLEASE do not think that you too must to what I did…my whole point in the part is that everybody is very specific and there are no "cookie cutter" shortcuts/workouts or plans that works for everybody!)

So, how do you peel away your demons? There are many ways - facing them is one, as stated above but also surrounding yourself with positive people is another.  I believe a column was written once on me describing my bike and run combo to be one of the best in the business, but my swim was compared to a mannatee…(ouch!) I too convinced myself that "I'm just not a swimmer"…well, I'm here to tell you (and my old self) that that is bullshit!  (DId that shock anyone?  Sorry - but, those who really know me know I have a little "potty mouth" - mama is so proud!) Bottom line kids…you are what you tell yourself you are.  If you tell yourself you're slow…guess what - you'll be slow.  If you tell yourself you're fat - you're probably gonna carry yourself with your head down and decomposed.  If you tell yourself you can't do that balancing pose in yoga, make that interval on the track, hit those watts on a bike, or do that set of 100s in the pool, well, damn straight - you just fulfilled your own destiny and you aren't even going to attempt it!  

Last year I wrote a blog about surrounding yourself around positive energy and "firing" the energy thieves in your life.  I had someone in my life that left me utterly flat every time we spoke and I've since removed this person from my inner circle. That applies to your goals as well!  If you surround yourself around "go getters", "believers", ones with positive energy that also want the best for you as well - you are more likely going to go beyond what you thought was possible. It's quite simple if you think about it! I think that that is why I've got such an enduring heart for dogs…they welcome you at the door, wag at the sound of your voice and are ready to give you little kisses for no reason at all…(I must have been a dog in a previous life!)

Morale of the story - or blog - find your weakness and confront it.  Don't hide behind your fears and hope and pray that they'll go away…don't pull an ostrich!  You'll feel so free when you face your demons, acknowledge them and devise a plan of attack.  So…go out there, grab your weapon of choice and face your fears…what have you got to lose? Oh - and pet a dog…it'll make you feel better!

Cheers!

Jess

  



Monday, November 5, 2012


IM Florida 2012 Race Report



How do I begin a race report that is still so raw at times to talk about.  I go from utter disappointment, to realizing that this is a part of the process, the journey and business of being a professional. I guess it's just time to "put on my big girl panties" and just type!

So - after the World Championships and being sick in Kona I obviously wanted to use my body to its greatest potential and go after IM Florida with vengeance.  I wanted redemption for what I wasn't able to put together in Kona.  Especially with my bike/run combo.  I was able to still put together a great bike split in Kona, but my body wasn't able to run due to a chest infection.  So - after getting better and rested I headed to Florida determined to do my very best physically on that course that I love so much.  

Leading into the race I had several race commitments that took me away from relaxing more than what I would like.  In the 2-3 days leading into the race I was required to attend 7 functions.  It might not seem like a lot, but it's a hour her, 2 hours there and it does require your energy, attention and adds stress to be here and there on time on top of taking care of your own last minute details for a race.  Bottom line - I learned that that was too much and now know where my limit lies.  Remember, while I was required to shake hands and chat with the masses, my competitors were chill-axing on their couches with their feet up…it makes a difference.

Race morning I felt great - cool, calm and excited to race.  The air temps were higher than any other year I have raced (this was my 5th start in a row).  I found that getting into the water it was going to be a choppy swim heading out to the first turn buoy.  Rough, it was.  This was definitely a tougher swim to deal with over last year.  I unfortunately was slower by 3-4 min than last year which frustrated me, but after the swim, you HAVE TO put that performance on the shelf and move on to the next obstacle.  I was excited that there were several other Pro female bikes still racked when I got to my bike!  Yeah - not the last one out of the water!  BONUS!  

Getting out on the bike, I was super calm and even though I heard there was a 14-15 min gap bt me and first, I remained calm.  I took the first 10 miles to wake up my legs and gain control of my hydration, start salt intake and take a swig of my gel.  Computers on, timer on my watch on…check, check, check!  By mile 10-15 I started the passing of chicks….always feels good when the prey are hunted down - that feeling NEVER gets old!  My instruction was to stay bt 190-215 watts, but, in all honesty I was delivering 220-235 with ease.  I tried really hard to not wrap myself around the numbers and go back to what "feels" right as I have done for years…what felt right to me was holding 220s.  I'll need to download my Power tap to see the official results - but killing the bike with a PR split of 4:46 - I'm proud of that. And yes, I had an official sitting around me all day so clean riding was in order!  

By the midway point of the ride I was excited to get a new coke out of my Special Needs bag as well as take a few chugs out of my can of Red Bull.  Every 10-15 min I was taking in sips of my gel flask and every 30 min I would take in 1 salt tab.  Around mile 70 I started feeling the effects of the race - neck, arms were getting achy - but legs were pumping like pistons!  Had to reinforce cola into my body and gels - but right around mile 80 I knew I needed to get in the calories and was under, but the thought of eating just wasn't and usually isn't desirable.  This is something I really need to examine preseason and figure out!  Do I need to start incorporating CARBO PRO or something similar into my bottles so calories are going in but I don't' have to worry about eating them.  The last 2 races (Kona and Florida) I craved water all day, but drinking the perform (even watered down) wasn't appealing. It tasted too strong and didn't feel like it was "sitting" right - nothing that made me sick, but definitely drinking coke or even Red Bull seems to work better for me later in the bike.  By around mile 100 I was feeling the effects of riding hard and trying to gather my head around the marathon.  I knew I went into the well during the bike, but nothing too badly, just wasn't as fresh as I'd like to be leading into the run. I followed my usual routine the last 7-5 miles of the bike where I think about the first 3-4 miles of the run and how I'm going to feel and what I'm going to try to run out of T2.  I visualize getting off my bike, handing it off, running into T2, grabbing my bag, putting on my shoes, asking for a volunteer to put on my bib while I'm slipping on my shoes, etc.  I was mentally in a pretty good place, but knew I was far off of 1st and 2nd place and had a large number of girls nipping at my heels going into T2.  I'll admit, I was afraid that I had really rode harder than I probably should have and expended a lot of energy only to get frustrated watching how much drafting was going on as I passed and how much drafting continued after I passed.  These girls had ultra fresh legs going intuit the marathon - bottom-line.

Onto the marathon I felt strong and looked solid.  I was out of T2 very quickly (around a 2 min T2 time) - and off I went trying to maintain a smart first 3 miles.  I have a tuff time settling into a smart time right out of the gate as I'm excited to be running, I'm going past so many awesome fans and I look down at my watch and sure enough - it says, 6:15.  TOO FAST!  So, I try to slow down and next mile says 6:20-6:25…again…too fast.  Mile 3, 6:35….ok…now that's a little better, but you're gonna pay in this heat (it was a good 82-85 degrees with no shade on the course, so, being conservative early on would be smart…well - right around mile 3-4 I hear these tiny little foot steps coming and WHOOSH - Rinny FLYS past me as if I'm standing still…she's cruising past me on a 6:00 pace and I was going 6:20 at the time and it felt like I was standing still…it sucked.  It brought me down a notch - I'm not going to lie, that deflated me a bit and it's something I need to work on mentally.  I'm so accustomed to passing, passing, passing chicks all day long.  Very few actually pass me.  So, how do I still stay mentally tough and confident if/when this happens?  I've faced being re-passed on the bike before and I'm been smart and confident enough to not get caught up in that game and stay true to my ride and my race…I always think to myself - I'll get her on the run…no problem.  But, on the run if I'm passed…how do I stay cool, calm and not allow the negative thoughts to enter?  I tried to say to myself, "Just run YOUR race - let Rinny do her thing - you can't control her, only yourself and it's very early in the race."  

By mile 6.5 of the run I was feeling like I had a good rhythm, but no where near "my running capabilities" - I couldn't pinpoint what was wrong with me on the run yesterday.  It was very frustrating and the only thing I can honestly tell you that I think it was was my fear of the girls behind me creeping up on me and coming with their fresh legs.  By the turn around I knew I would be able to see there turn over and it brought me back to that ugly place I was in at IM Canada 2010..  Same freaking thing happened.  I wasn't feeling good, they looked amazing and I mentally fell apart.  I continued on and by mile 11 I was getting very hungry - putting in cola and some pretzels were pretty much the only calories I was craving.  By mile 14 I got some Red Bull from my special needs bag and that tasted great!  However, I think my energy debt was settled in and I was starting to really slow down. I kept feeling more and more lethargic as the race progressed and I was getting dizzy.  By around mile 17 I remember going thru an aid station and feeling cold/chilled.  By mile 20, I just wanted to fall asleep.  I put my hands on my knees and said to a volunteer, "Can I just sit down for a bit?" Down I went and I started shivering and again, all I wanted to do was lay down and fall asleep.  Next thing I knew I was being asked a million questions and was getting my vitals taken.  Blood sugar level plummeted to 64 and according to the medics if you go under 100 you're getting in a danger zone.  Into medic tent I went for an IV - I quickly got wrapped in blankets and was getting fed pretzels and chicken broth.  Again, all I wanted to do was sleep - but those damn medics just keep asking you questions!  (I realize they do that for a reason, but, man I felt like saying, "Shhhh - leave me alone!"

Needless to say I got my vitals under control and my body started coming around and then the disappointment started settling in.  All I could think about was that I disappointed so many people in the last 3 weeks.  It's a tough pill to swallow and I know that that is not something I can control or shouldn't even consider, let's be honest, we're "Type A" personalities and are our own worst enemy.  

In all honesty, I'm tired.  More emotionally and mentally than physically.  Physically I love training, I love the cycles that triathlon takes my body thru.  I'm accustomed to waking up, training, eating, training, napping, training, etc.  But, the mental and emotional toll the last 5-6 weeks I've had to go thru has been tough.  Let's face it, it's been a long season, especially with trying to gear up for IM NZ and Melbourne. But, in the last 5-6 weeks I started doubting my abilities a little when it came to landing in Kona and facing the competition.  I wasn't afraid of going hard on the bike and run, but my swim is my weakest link by far and I HAVE to do something serious about it.  That is my NUMBER 1 goal going into 2013.  If I can drop some serious time from the swim - I'll be unstoppable and something very difficult to beat.

So, I think after disappointment you naturally go into "fix it" mode.  I've evaluated what went right, what went wrong and what I need to sustain and improve upon. This is something I'm so used to doing from my Army days that it is engrained in me.  I gotta look at the positive, gotta look at what went right and sustain it.  Then I look at what went wrong and how to improve on those mishaps.  Finally, I sandwich it all with the reminder that this is still only a sport and not everything in my life.  That I've spent 3 months away from Kasey this year and I better learn from it all so that it's not all for nothing.  Learn from you failures to succeed in the future. So, here are the things I really need to work on going into 2013:

1.) Swim
2.) Mental stability on the run
3.) Believe and challenge myself to stay on feet during the swim and believe in my abilities on the beach right from the start.
4.) Decide what my plan is for 2013. I have a good idea of how I want to approach it.  I believe my idea is smart and simple!

Ok - so, there's the honest to God truth on what's been going on in the head of dear 'ol Jess after this race.  Hope you enjoyed and can help me out on this journey!

Jess

Friday, March 30, 2012

My 2012 IM New Zealand & Melbourne Journey


Going into my 2012 season, I knew I wanted to hit up 2 races that had higher points early in the season in order to solidify my KPR. This was meant to allow me the comfort of a mental and physical advantage as opposed to a.) worry about points through out my season and b.) potentially burning myself out physically and mentally with travel and racing. I wanted to allow myself the ability to race shorter races in the spring and summer, while "saving" and preparing my mind and body for Kona, and 1-2 other IM distances races in November.


Now, training for not only one, but two IM races early in the season is not something I've EVER done before. The earliest IM I've ever attempted was last year and that was in late May - this year, IM New Zealand was on 3 Mar with IM Melbourne 3 weeks later on 25 Mar. Training in Wisconsin for these two IMs was also a new challenge I had to face. Running on some icy and snowy roads and facing the indoor trainer and computrainer daily becomes a necessity. Luckily, I was afforded the opportunity to train in Birmingham, AL for 4 weeks prior to flying to New Zealand. This offered me the chance to get outside, feel the road, and acclimate my body to the weather I'd face in Taupo and Melbourne.


As luck would have it - the weather served up a turn of events for race weekend and ESPECIALLY race day in Taupo, New Zealand forcing the race organizers the difficult decision of canceling the race. The rumor mill ran amok as I heard things such as: it was only going to be a bike and run and no swim, they were only going to have us do a 1/2 IM but still, no swim, the 3rd rumor that came across was that no swim, no bike, but we would all do the marathon…it became a little nerve racking not knowing when and what we would be doing, especially when you've prepped your body for a full distance race! Finally, the Friday before the original race day, we were all asked to come to a meeting at 4pm to be told the race (which would've been the next day) was cancelled. However, the race was going to be held on Sunday, but it would only be a half IM. This brought cheers and tears to many. Cheers, because, despite the conditions, SOMETHING was still going to be put together. Tears, because, we all came to do an IM and over 500 of the 1600 competitors were first-timers, or what I call, "vIrgins". Let's face it, you spend the time, money, energy - you want to do a full. I recall meeting a girl from the Chicago, IL area that was in total tears. I felt so bad for her (and her family that flew all the way to NZ to watch their girl race). I gave her a big hug and told her she WAS going to be an Ironman, it was just going to be a matter of time. I told her to remember that it's the JOURNEY she took to train for one that builds your character and that's what makes you an Ironman. Yes, the actual one day event solidifies it, but it's a stepping stone of many days, hours, and minutes that puts it all together and you can't forget that journey to get there!


Racing a half, went alright - got my points for Kona but, again, was a bit disappointed I couldn't do a full - but, on the positive side, my body was not as beaten up for Melbourne as it would've been had NZ been a full! So - heading over to Australia after NZ was different than I had anticipated. I wasn't nearly as tired or sore as I would've been had I done a full IM but, I still raced hard and needed a little time to recover. Jake and I took 4 days after the race to enjoy and explore New Zealand as tourists before heading over to Australia. It was also foolish to not do a couple "tourist" things as well as enjoy each other as we haven't lived under the same roof since June 2011 (8 months) and it takes a little while to get accustomed to having someone there ALL THE TIME! :)


Once arriving to Australia I was more than ready to get back to "regular" structured training as I was recovered and thrive on daily "beat downs"! I was eager to get in a good 7-10 days of tougher workouts before tapering again for IM Melbourne. We stayed in Noosa Heads, Australia, which is one the beautiful coast about 2 hours from Brisbane. I was fortunate to find a great deal on a condo for 10 nights before heading to Melbourne, so I took advantage of the hotter, humid climate, while still getting to be doorsteps away from a gorgeous, sandy beach and amazing weather. First workout out the door was a 4 hour ride with intervals…most of my closest friends know, I like and have a tendency to sleep in…especially if there's a husband in bed with me that's in no rush to get up either! Well - first day out, I took my time and it wasn't till about 10am that I hit the rode…big mistake! I felt the humidity within the first 20 min…soaked to the bone on that ride is an understatement! But, what doesn't kill you - makes you tougher! (However, I learned quickly - get your a@$ out of bed!!!)


After 10 days in Noosa, Jake and I flew to the big city of Melbourne. I had no idea Melbourne was as big as it was and our hotel was in the heart of the city! It was exciting to be walking down sidewalks with LIFE going on in every corner. Trams sliding down the street, performers jamming out on the street for some of your change, artists drawing or painting a picture - it's cool to be around that for a bit, but, I am a product of my father and like my own space :) I'm not claustrophobic, however, the older I get, the more crowds of people bother me. My theory on this is that most people, when put into a crowd, stop using their primal instincts or forget about "situational awareness" - they become sheep and just follow the person in front of them or don't necessarily think about others. I'm extremely intolerant of this and get very much on edge. It sometimes makes my husband laugh, but I remind him also that in a crowd, I'm usually one of the smallest/shortest people and it gets a little daunting at times, whereas if you are his height (6'0") - you can tower over the idiots and make your way to your destination with ease…have I been babbling too far? Sorry - I'm off my soap-box now!


Here comes the honest portion of my blog…I'm not going to lie or withhold any feelings on this part, because, a.) it's therapy for me to honestly put out my feelings in order to learn from them and b.) if at any time my experience can help out a reader, fellow athlete, etc, then great! Win, Win! I was feeling uneasy going into IM Melbourne - not scared to race, or to be in a big city, but I felt a couple things. Allow me to number them and then follow up with how I dealt with them!


1.) OUTSIDE EXPECTATIONS:


First, I knew I was going up against the best of the best in the world…this posed a lot of challenges to me that I haven't faced in my career to this degree. I already put an enormous amount of pressure on myself on a daily basis, but I also have a great support network of family and friends that put a lot of faith and belief in me as well. With that wonderful support also comes pressure and unfortunately ignorance. So many believe in me and somewhat live "vicariously" thru me that the pressure to always win (regardless of the competition) is at the forefront of their minds. For example, when I didn't "win" in New Zealand, I received a couple texts and emails with forlorn "congrats" or "you go get 'em next time" - I hate those "pity" emails and sometimes get frustrated and down by them…I feel like shouting, "I don't come to your job and ask you why you didn't get that account, or make that sale?!?!?" Now, how did I deal with this? Well, I'm mature enough to know I'm simply under a microscope and that that is the pill I must swallow when it comes to this crazy profession. At the same time, I also have to learn to switch it off and not really care about who I "please" or don't "please" --- it's NOT my job to make this person or that person happy. However, I've also learned that it is simple ignorance on their part and I must remember that my sponsors, coach and agent have put full faith and belief in me, so, I need to believe in me! But, more importantly - if you don't get a good vibe from a "friend" or family member - fire 'em! Yup! You heard me, FIRE THEM OUT OF YOUR LIFE! They are energy thieves, will never be happy and are most likely unhappy with their lives and want some company in their own misery! I find myself (now in my 5th professional year) selecting very few close friends and family to confide in about my training, lifestyle and racing - I begin to surround myself with people who understand the ups, downs, twists and turns that racing takes, or simply give you an energy boast! If you're ever confused by not knowing ether someone is toxic or not…just ask yourself, "Do I feel energized after I speak to them or after I'm around this person do I feel a bit lower?" Your answer should be sweet and simple! Next on my list is...


2.) YOU CAN'T ALWAYS PEAK FOR EVERY RACE!


I had to remind myself several times on this trip that it's MARCH…the big dance is in October and if you are in peak form now…well, good luck getting there again or maintaining that till October! It was frustrating for me to not get to race an IM in New Zealand, even though it was a good thing that my body didn't have to endure two IMs in a matter of 3 weeks - however, my body was a bit confused. I trained for an IM and then had to turn on the 1/2 IM switch. I then got a little recovery and tried to ramp up again for about a week before tapering again - my body has been going hard for a good 2.5-3 months and THRIVES on consistency and training - this slow down in training was difficult on me mentally and physically but I had to believe in the process and put my faith in my coach that he would properly advise and prepare me for these 2 races. Then, the next step (and even bigger picture) is to get me back to training for the next 6 months leading up to Kona. Believe in the process regardless of what your ego is shouting…no…you are not getting fat! Yes, people - I too have those negative thoughts that wreck havoc on my soul and if any of you have a special pill to take that hampers those evil little voices, please send them to me! This brings me to my 3rd point…


3.) EMOTIONS:


I found myself several times get a little emotional in Melbourne. I think looking back it was a combination of things. a.) not training in my normal environment and on a normal schedule threw me for a loop and b.) I was away from family and friends for quite some time - almost 2 months away from Kasey (daughter) brought on a lot of "mother's guilt" and the lifestyle of living out of a suitcase for close to 5 weeks overseas (not to include the 4 weeks in Alabama before flying down under) was starting to wane. Yes, I was with Jake, but I had that pressure of spending time with him while mentally and physically getting myself geared up to race…by no means was he putting undo pressure on me, but it was pressure I put on myself to spend quality time with him knowing this was our month together before he left for Afghanistan this July (for 9 months). This all lead to the inevitable…number 4…


4.) RACE PRESSURE!


This was a HUGE race…the Asia-Pacific World Championships…a 4000 point race and let's face it - this was the best competition outside of Kona the world was going to see this year before the World Championships! The big names were showing up, while the question in my head that kept ringing…"Do I belong?" was stirring controversy. The pressure of getting enough points for Kona, making some money to justify all this sacrifice, time away from family, cost of the trip, etc…at times, it's enough to make a grown woman cry!


So, how does one deal with all these factors? Great question! Let me know when you figure it out! Ha! Ha! No, in all sincerity, I think it all comes down to taking each individual stressor and properly compartmentalizing it into a section. This is a part of the whole journey and I put myself in a totally different situation this year than ever before by coming overseas for 2 HUGE races in order to properly position myself for the World Championships. I had to continuously remind myself to keep my "eye on the prize", which was to gather up my points for Kona so I didn't have to spend all summer "chasing" them and burning out my body and mind prior to the big dance. I learned a lot of things this last month. I slayed a couple dragons by facing some big fears - like going over seas to compete on foreign soil…guess what, when you're not in your back yard and aren't the favorite - you better have a fan in your head pushing you along! Another thing I learned was BELIEVING in myself. The last 4000 point race I attempted was last year at IM Texas. I defeated myself mentally before the gun even went off. It took me months to recharge my mental battery and get to that place of confidence and belief again. I was determined to erase the 4000 point race curse I faced last May and I did that on Sunday. Remember, the race doesn't start when the gun goes off…you still have the challenge to get to the starting line - many forget that piece of the puzzle! Lastly - and probably the most important piece I took away from Sunday was finally believing in myself and knowing I belong in the top 10 in Kona. I've heard others say it - I've had it whispered in my ear, but to KNOW, now, without a shadow of a doubt that I'm in that arena of greatness, I am fully charged up to spend the next 6 months dedicating myself to that goal. It's going to be a great 6 months to watch it all unfold!


Well folks with that, I better hit the hay! Hope you enjoyed my piece of insight and I'll be writing another (much shorter) race report tomorrow regarding how IM Melbourne unfolded!


Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoyed this piece!


Cheers!


Jess



Sunday, March 11, 2012

My trip (so far) to the land Down Under!!!

Hey all!!!

Some of you know I've been in New Zealand for the Ironman, but some of you may not have known! Well, to catch you all up, I was in NZ for 2 weeks and now I'm here, in Australia getting ready to race in 2 weeks.

Allow me to recap you on my adventures and such! My apologies for boring any of you! I really need to BLOG once a week so I can get my thoughts out clearer and more concise! But, before I forget - I would love to hear from you all and miss home (the great United States of America) a lot!!

To recap NZ: left the US on 23 Feb and arrived on 25 Feb in Auckland...here was my traveling for that:
3 hour drive from Green Bay to Chicago O'Hare (snowing...yes, left Wisco while it was coming down...how appropriate? Took a video just to remind myself when I would get home sick that it was SNOWING in the northern hemisphere!) Then got on a plane for LAX (4 hour flight) - then a 3 hour lay over, then a 13 hour flight to Auckland, NZ followed by a 3.5 hr drive to Taupo, NZ - which...might I add...I had a quick learning curve to adjust to as I drove on the OPPOSITE side of the road on the opposite side of the car...yes, in NZ and Australia they drive on the right side of the car and on the opposite side of the road...so, everything...absolutely everything you learned from little on...just gets thrown out the window! I was CONSTANTLY turning on the wind shield wipers every time I wanted to turn on my "turn signals"! I stuck out like a sore thumb indeed! Oh...and traffic lights? What are they? Everything down under is a traffic circle or "round about" - Dad would be having a fit! For those of you who don't know...one of the last things I remember my Dad complaining about before he past away was he HATED traffic circles! I remember him saying: "This isn't Europe!!!" Ahhh, gotta love the man and his stubborn ways!

After finally arriving in Taupo, I drove to my "home stay" I was connected with by my agent. I was staying with the wonderful "Docherty" family! All I really knew about them was what my agent told me - that they were a lovely family that she and her hubby have stayed with in the past and they were awesome and would take great care of me! I was connected via Facebook with Fiona, the daughter, as she was a professional marathon runner back in NZ for the summer while she resides in Boulder, CO during our summer months...I was told she was going for the Olympic Trials for the NZ team, however, when I got to talking with her, I unfortunately learned she's had to put that dream on the back burner for a bit to take care of an injury that needed surgery this past week. Well - to my surprise, as I walked into the home I was amazed by the beautiful photos all over the walls...photos of Fiona racing and running on all over the world and then there was a pic of this guy holding up a NZ flag and a silver medal at the Athens games...holy hell...I was staying in the home of Bevin Docherty...yeah, the silver medalist in Triathlon from the Athens games. As you can imagine I felt like an idiot for not knowing this sooner and then I soon realized that HE was the guy that beat Lance Armstrong in Panama 70.3 just about 4-5 weeks ago....ha, ha, ha...ignorance is bliss! None the less...Fiona, and her mother, Irene and father, Ray treated me very well and I don't think it matters to them WHO they are, or WHO I am...it's about who you are as a person and how you treat one another...look...I could be a total jerk, and at the end of the day - no one is going to remember your accolades, but, they'll remember how you TREATED them! I always tell myself that when I'm talking to people...at the end of the day...it's not about your accomplishments, but your 'tude! (Can't learn that in a text book!!! Well - wait...maybe you can if you consider the Bible a textbook?!?!?)

So, on to the race - I was in Taupo to do Ironman New Zealand...however, as the weather reports were shaping up for race day, the frantic mood of the race organizers and participants was becoming very unnerving. I kept looking online and in the news and it wasn't looking good. I'm not a type of athlete that gets really bent out of shape about weather (cold, hot, wind, rain) - but, when you see the waves crashing into the water front and the wind kicking up...you begin to wonder, "is this race going to get off the ground?"

Well, as race day approached and the weather got seemingly worse and worse - the final verdict was in as the winds were reaching 100-120KMs an hour and temps as low as 9-12 degrees C. The race was cancelled. However, as a silver lining - we were going to race a half IM the following day. This put ease to many racers that traveled from 47 different countries, but I really felt bad for the over 500 "ironman virgins" out there that trained long and hard for probably 6 months to a year just to hear Mike Reilly say, "You are an Ironman" - but, mother nature has a mind of her own (as most woman do!) and she is not something we can control. Safety first is what the race organizers had to think about and I applaud them for that decision. I would NEVER want an accident, or heaven forbid, a death on my hands if I were a race director. I can say with certainty, there would have been a lot of bike accidents in those winds and I don't even want to think about the inevitable drownings that could've occurred - (not to mention the poor volunteer kayakers that would've gotten thrown from their boats!) For me, it was a little heartbreaking as I too have been training for an IM...not a half and although as a professional I must always "roll with the punches" I was really looking forward to completing my 19th IM on NZ soil! But, as a "cup half full" kinda gal, I looked at it like this - I was still going to make up the same amount of points and money in a half as if I would if it were a full AND not put as much damage onto my body, which would help with my recovery for my next IM 3 weeks later. This was all good! The whole purpose behind racing these 2 races (NZ and Australia) so early in the season was to knock out 2 big points races early and get those points for Kona...then train, train, train all season (summer in the states) without having to worry about "chasing" points all over the US and Europe! My goal is to get to the World Championships fresh and ready to race - but, that would be very difficult to do if I would have to race all over the world in the summer...traveling can really burn you out and racing long course can also create a lot of havoc on your body as well...you have to be very smart with your racing and training schedules if you want a long career.

So - on race day, in a nut shell I got my points I was working toward and added another 1,400 to my already existing 2,000 - so, right now I'm sitting at 3,400 (15th place) in the KPR (Kona Points Ranking). For those of you who don't know...as a pro, you have to get points at races throughout the year, the top 30 women and 50 men go on to Kona...bottom line, you either race a crap load, or race the right races. I get asked a lot, "How many points do you need?" - but, that's the million dollar question! You just race, race, race and get your points and hope you have enough to move on to the next level! Last year was the first year of KPR, so my coach and agent told me a good number to have was 5,000...I think that that must have been the "magic safe" number to have...so, with that...I'm aiming to go over 5,000 to secure my slot to Kona.

I stayed in NZ for 5 days after the race to enjoy the country a bit as it's nearly impossible to really soak in the country and culture the week leading into a race. Jake (hubby) showed up late Friday night before the Sunday race and was able to watch me race as well as stay in NZ and then come over to Australia with me - yes, we get a whole month together before he goes back to Texas to train up for his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in July! He'll be gone for a 9 month deployment as Kasey (daughter) and I will stay in Wisco living with my mother...once he returns in April of 2013, I'll hold off till Kasey is out of school (early June) and we will once again be a family under the same roof...it will be 2 years since that will have happened! Ahhh...gotta love the Army life! So, although we miss our little "Kas-adilla" aka, daughter, Kasey, we're doing our best to enjoy each other for a month. Jake and I went to "Huka Falls" (imagine an abridged version of Niagara Falls), and went White Water Rafting on the Tongario River in New Zealand...it was the cleanest water I had ever seen...and cold as we jumped off a cliff and into it half way thru rafting. Truly beautiful and serene - gorgeous God's country!

On Friday we were SUPPOSED to fly out of Auckland to Brisbane...but....well, let's just say that I'm normally the laid back one on the time schedule and I depend on Jake to be very structured and on top of things when it comes to when to leave, how long it's going to take to get to the airport, where to drop off the rental car and so on...well, I honestly don't know where that man was on Friday, but...we didn't make our flight out of Auckland...so, we had to stay the night and rebook for an early flight out the following day. Oh...what am I going to do with that man? Get him out of his uniform and he all jacked up! :) Jake and I finally got into Brisbane yesterday after a 4 hour flight from Auckland, but then we had to take a 2 hour shuttle bus to our condo in Noosa, Australia, where I'll be training for the next 10 days prior to my race in Melbourne. Noosa is beautiful and right on the ocean...yes, I jumped in the ocean yesterday and swam in the lovely salt water and loved it!! Today, I got to spend the day navigating my way on the Aussie roads during a 4 hr ride. I saw a traffic sign that had a kangaroo and koala bear on it and it said, "Crossing" - haha...I chuckled to myself and thought, "Yes, I'm in Australia!"

It's incredibly humid here and was 30 degrees C by 10am - I think that's like 90 degrees in Fahrenheit. So, needless to say, I was in a little shock today with the temp changes from NZ to here...most days in NZ it was overcast and patchy - temps around 15-18 degrees C....which is like, 50s-60s. I loved New Zealand, as it was very naturally beautiful and serene - but I really like it here in Australia for different reasons also! Both places have incredibly friendly people and I feel completely safe too...it's expensive though...allow me to give you an idea:

Oh - by the way...USD isn't as strong as the Aussie Dollar, but it's a little stronger than the NZ dollar - however, that didn't matter a whole lot when you would go out shopping or eating...see below! :(

Coke Zero 24 pack: $24.00 (AUS) -
Pack of turkey meat at the grocery store for about 1 sandwich: $5.00
Cereal: anywhere from $5.50 - 8.00 a box
Milk: $3.99 a liter (or looks like a half gallon we would get in the states)
Eggs: $2-3.00 a carton
Chips: $2.50-5.00 a bag
Candy Bar: $2-5.00 (depending on the size and brand)
Going out to dinner: Regular pasta meal: $24.00, 2 pieces of garlic bread, $3.50; coffee (small): $3.50
Gas is cheaper here than in NZ - but still $1.49/liter, which would be about $4.50 a gallon in the US. Gas in NZ was around $2.12-2.16/liter

Here's a little story for you to love! Jake and I were walking back from the beach yesterday and saw a little gelato shop...Jake got all excited for a little spoonful of heaven...1 scoop? $7.50! I told him he would have to wait for his spoonful of heaven back in the states! HAHAHA!

Miss you all, hope I didn't bore you too much with my chatter!

Cheers Mate!

Jess

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Road to Wisconsin…Part I

26 Aug 2011


As many of you know, I have moved (once again) in July back home to my original home in Green Bay, WI - there were a couple deciding factors in making this change, but the two biggest ones had to do with my husband deploying to Iraq and the instinctive family connection I craved shortly after my father's passing in March. Since July, I have NEVER once looked back and my focus in not only training, but in my daily life as a mother, daughter, wife and sister has never been so pronounced. You know that feeling you get when you just KNOW you are where you're supposed to be in your life? I'm there RIGHT now! I'm almost waiting for someone to pinch me!


At any rate, once arriving and getting situated in Wisconsin I raced in two 70.3 races - both were "training races" leading into my IM endeavors later in my season, but none the less, I wanted to perform well at both and see where my fitness was at the time. First off was Racine 70.3 - it was on one of the hottest and most humid racing days I ever experienced! Yes, my friends, it gets hot in Wisconsin…don't let the "Frozen Tundra" of Lambeau Field fool you! The day was an "ok" day for me with a 4th place finish. It gave me some perspective as to how I could perform on very tired legs as my coach and I didn't taper for the race at all…but, rather, "trained thru the race" - I reminded myself of what my ultimate journey was - and that wasn't until September!!!


Next on the schedule was Steelhead 70.3 in mid August…I drove to the lovely town of Benton Harbor, Michigan in which I was pleasantly surprised at the atmosphere and local area…very cute! Beautiful homes line the coast of Lake Michigan and the little shops make window shopping a must! The race ended up turning into a duathlon due to the 7 ft waves that crashed the am surf…so, a "time trial" start was arranged quickly and effectively by the race directors. It was a first for me, but a really cool experience! I was excited to race and race hard right from the start! What was cool about that race was we as pros had a 30 sec gap between each other…so, yes you were chasing, but also being chased! It was so much fun! You had to tell yourself all day, "Go! Go! Go!" Because you really had no idea how far ahead you were of "X", "Y" or "Z"! At the end of the day I put together a solid performance and took home 3rd place! I was very happy with my run split as I negative split the 13.1 course…very good confidence boost heading into IM Wisconsin!


So, here I am, only 2 weeks out of a major race…I feel like a race horse at the Kentucky Derby! I went to Madison last weekend and rode the course Sat and did the marathon course on Sunday…it was awesome! What a city! So many riders were out there testing the course on Saturday - it was really so special and fun…seriously, what other IM course allows you so much access to great country roads where hundreds of riders can get out on it beforehand? Not many! The city of Madison, Verona, Mt Horeb and Cross Plains really embrace IM and for the most part accommodate our nutty lifestyle commitment! (Doesn't hurt that we bring in a ton of money to their gas stations when we need to refuel on gatorade, water, bars and coke!)


Lastly, I can't not finish this blog entry without mentioning the wonderful reception I've received from several athletes in the Green Bay and Milwaukee areas. I was honored to put together an open water swim clinic for the Ozuakee Triathlon club in late July. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon! (see photos!)

Also, I've been blessed to meet a couple great training partners in Green Bay that are also on their journey to IM Wisconsin…Bill Roach, Marc Barbier and Jason Helgeson. These three gentlemen greeted me with open arms and have shown me some great routes and have reminded me (once again) what the core of triathlon is all about! Simply going out there…doing what you love and doing it to the best of your ability…so cool, so pure, so simple!


Well - that's about all for right now…thanks for taking the time to read a little about my journey and get ready for my "Wisconsin Part II" blog…so much more to come!


Cheers!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pro's and Cons to moving to El Paso, TX

As some of you know, I recently made the trek from just outside Birmingham, AL to El Paso, TX. My husband was offered several duty assignments, which included, FT Benning, GA, Alaska, FT Riley, KS, Korea, Ft Irwin, CA and FT Bliss, TX --- we reviewed the pros and cons of each assignment and duty location and found our best scenerio to call "home" (for at least 3-7 years) in El Paso, TX....or, FT Bliss!

Many friends and even some family were confused by our choice, but looking at our options, we felt the best place to raise our daughter, a climate I can train in year-round and a duty assignment to help catapult my husband's career, was in Texas. I mean, let's me honest, yes, Alaska would've been gorgeous...but, how many months could I actually train on my bike outside?!?!

Well - it'll be 1 month this Sunday since I've arrived to our new casa, so, I've gotten a pretty decent "lay of the land", feel for the people, taste for the climate - that is why I can feel comfortable to give you my "PROS and CONS" list of El Paso/FT Bliss, TX!

ENJOY!

Pros:
Very Friendly atmosphere...haven't met one person that has been rude to me, or treated me with disrespect.

Cons:
Driving on post is ULTRA SLOW --- I think 35 MPH is the max?!?!

Pros:
Weather has thus far been quite pleasant - it's chilly in the morning (December), but quickly warms up and you can be out on your bike taking off layers by 8-9am!

Cons:
I heard Mar/Apr is the windy season...dust, sand storms, tumble-weed -- yippee!

Pros:
My husband is happy he's back serving in the Army and my daughter goes to a great private school and she is getting a phenomenal education

Cons:
My dogs have a smaller backyard than in Alabama!

Pros:
The on-post pool is 50 meters, 8 lanes and open 7 days a week...new gym is 60,000 sq ft and has state-of the art equipment...even a TRX room!

Cons:
The pool is 50 meters...that's a long way to go before you "flip"!

Pros:
I have been introduced to some great people in the tri community here and swim with some friendly guys at noon on Wed who have been nothing but welcoming!

Cons:
I miss my training buddies in Bham...God I miss you guys!

Pros:
The roads here have SHOULDERS --- amazing concept that Bham has yet to implement

Cons:
Seems to be a lot of glass out there...what is up with all the smashed beer bottles?!?!? And why wasn't I invited to that party?

Pros:
I have extra time to spend with family and take care of my home since I no longer teach spin classes at Gold's Gym or the YMCA.

Cons:
I dearly miss my clients from the above gyms - you guys really made me feel like I was afforded the opportunity to help change, cultivate and add a POSITIVE impact onto your lives...and for that, I will forever be grateful!

Till next time - be good! Santa's watching!!!

Cheers!

Jess