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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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Training for Wisconsin and Kona

Yes, I'm biting the bullet and racing in Wisconsin (Ironman Wisconsin) again this year, with only a 4 week turn-around time to the "Big Dance" in Kona. Some critics may think this is crazy - but I've decided that after I felt so good and performed well in Roth, Germany after only having a 3 week break from Ironman CDA that I'd give this a shot! I love Wisconsin and as many of you know, it's home for me...family will be there, fellow cheeseheads and come on...that course and the support from the volunteers in unbelieveable! I had a big break-thru race there last year and I'm ready to capitalize on that this year....my training here in Alabama has been going very well as the weather has cooperated the last month...it's not as hot and humid as it was last year, but beautiful conditions for some great training. I'm very focused right now even as many of my training partners are starting to "wind down" from the season and begin to focus solely on "Alabama football"!

There is something to be said for the amount of training I'm doing alone right now and how at peace I am with myself and surroundings during the endless hours on the road and in the water. I've had time to think, think, and think some more the last few weeks - I will sometimes "zone out" for miles at a time and think about my family, something my brother discussed with me over a lengthy phone conversation, an expresssion my daughter learned from a scene out of "High School Musical" or the latest drama my husband is dealing with at work...whatever it is, it helps tick away the miles and time I have to put in for the week. Let's be honest...this sport is my salvation from a lot of things...some may need meds, therapy, drugs or a bottle to "cope" - me...I need an open road!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ironman Couer d'Alene!!!

Ironman Couer d’Alene

My 2009 ironman season was kicked off in beautiful Couer d’Alene, Idaho. I race here as an age-grouper in ’06, so I was familiar with the town, its fantastic scenery, and community filled with some of the best people you can come across and tough, tough conditions.

When I left Birmingham, the heat was in the 90’s and when you factor in the heat index we were looking at temps hovering around 110! Needless to say coming to Idaho sends you into a bit of a tail-spin. You have to pack not only summer, but also some autumn like clothing as well…you’re only 90 miles from the Canadian border, so, chilly weather is certainly to be expected!

Water temperatures this year were kind, but it was still 62-64 degrees! Definitely wetsuit legal! The water literally takes your breath away for the first few minutes, so never mind the anxiety you face swimming competitively, but now you have to add the “shock” of cold water and you’re in for a LONG swim…oh and did I mention the waves on race day…year, Lake CDA is NOT kind and in my opinion one of the toughest swims on the race circuit!

The bike course was changed in 2007, so I had reacquainted myself with the new hills I didn’t experience in ’06…tougher course…by all means! I swear, the race organizers looked for and FOUND every hill imaginable and plotted it on that course…and I like hills…I thrive on hills, but in all honesty, I could not find that gear on race day to really get myself attack like I normally do on the hills. Not making any excuses for myself, but I did find it a bit more difficult starting so far ahead of the mass age-groupers. This made for a LONELY day out on the ride as I normally attack, attack, attack on the bike – I love going after the better age-group swimmer’s, as well as the faster female swimmer’s, but this was not the case on race day. Our Pro start time was 6:25…35 min ahead of AG’s…I would pass someone about every 90 min on the bike…then see nothing for miles and miles…let me tell you how many times I thought I saw someone, got excited only to realize it was a mailbox in the distance…oh, if only you could’ve heard the curse words I was muttering!

Finally as the run began I landed myself in 8th place…I didn’t really know how my run was going to pan out as I was in a lot of physical pain from the bike…my right scapula seized up around mile 80 and I could even raise it up to get fuel at the last two aid stations. In T2 I begged on of the volunteers to rub out my muscle spasm in my right scapula. I felt so bad for her as I was telling her, “go ahead, press down harder, deeper!” Poor thing probably thought, “What a nut-case!” (However, I did find this particular volunteer and thanked her after the race…she was an angel for doing such unconventional work on me!) Once I got out on the run I was instantly happy, I knew I still had a FULL marathon to do, but I was out of the saddle and virtually pain free. During the run you do 2-loops and run along the lake, back thru T1/T2 (cheering fans), thru local neighborhoods and then again along the lake front…it is actually one if mot my favorite IM run courses and my attitude and time agreed! I felt very strong on the run and kept moving thru the field with a strong charge. Capturing 7th place on the run didn’t come easy, but I made my move and pass around mile 22 and didn’t look back.

During the final stretch I saw my family cheering my on one last time – they held out an American flag for me to wave. With pride I grabbed it and proudly waved it for all to see…I am very proud to wave our “stars and stripes” especially in such an internationally deep competition. After crossing the finish line I saw my family, I remember hugging my husband and telling everyone else how hard it was out there. They all agreed that the conditions (cold and windy) were tough on a lot! I was lucky…as we got back to the car it started raining! I felt so bad for my friends still out on the course. My friends Nan Gelber, Eddie Thomas and Travis Grappo all came from Bham to race and they were out there as I got to go back to our rented home and shower! My husband looked at me in the car and said, “I’m so happy you’re done and we do not have to stand out there in that weather!” So, I guess that was one positive thing about starting at 6:25am!

As we were driving home the texts on my cell phone came in and I was receiving my congrats, but one fond message I received that wasn’t expected was one from my friend Kyle – he wrote in a text message, “girl, you got the run course record! They just talked about it on “ironmanlive.com” – I couldn’t believe what I was reading! It didn’t register at the time, but later, once I got my wits about me, I realized how big this was! Heather Gollnick had the run course record of 3:15 something…I clocked in a time of 3:12 flat…I bested the record by 3 minutes! What a great way to salvage a less than perfect swim and bike day! Needless to say the moral of my story is simple…never, ever, ever give up! I felt like and wanted to throw in the towel in T2. I was in a lot of pain and wasn’t performing up to the level I wanted – but I am NOT a quitter out there and respect all the athlete’s and fans for putting their lives on hold to compete and watch…it’s my job and duty to finish! This is why I LOVE ironman racing…it is such a long day out there. You can feel horrible one minute, but turn a corner and your body says, “ok, I’ll play nicely” – now sometimes you really have to go thru a world of hurt to get yourself mind/body connection to comply, but patience is such a virtue and I’m learning to love it every day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PowerMan (National Duathlon Championships!)

PowerMan Weekend!
What a great, great weekend and event! Not only did I win the PowerMan event - also known as the National Duathlon Championships...so, yes, I am now a national Champion!! (And no one can ever take that away from me!) - but, I got to be so lucky as to cheer on my hubby the day before at the Magic City Duathlon! (It's a shorter event, but just as exciting! It's a 5K run, 15 mile ride and 1 mile run!) ---- my daughter and I got to be the cheerleaders for Daddy!!! It was very fun, but I can now see why so many say, "it's exhausting being the fans!!!"
On Sunday, it was my turn to go to work! 5 mile run, 34 mile bike, 5 mile run...my plan of attack was to go into the first run conservatively, then lay down the hammer on the bike and let 'er rip on the second run. Very good game plan and smart...if you're patient and controlled! The gun went off and all of the ladies were excited, but I didn't feel as though anyone was going out too hard, so I found myself leading the pack within the first 400 meters. Not what I anticipated or wanted, but I do like to control things! I found 2 girls right on my heels if not breathing down my neck during the first 3 miles of the run, but I got a chance to open up my lead and put a little gap b/t #2 and #3 by mile 4 and 5. I got into transition with a 10 sec lead (not much by any stretch, but, it was nice to be first!) --- once on the bike it was time to open up that lead. As planned I rode hard thru the streets of downtown Birmingham like a mad woman! It paid off as I had a 5 min lead going into transition for the second run...that felt great, but I did my best to not allow that lead to slow me down! The second run was tough during the first mile, but than I got my "runner's legs" under me and ran it home for the win! It was nice to win on my home turf (again) and be around such amazing friends and family! I love the Birmingham family I've established here in less than 2 years! I'm so incredibly blessed to have great training partners, friends, a coach and bike shop (Bike Link) that goes above and beyond the call of duty (and with a smile!!!) If you get the chance, definitely support the Team Magic events in the area - Teresa and Faye are wonderful race directors and are always looking for what's in the best interest of the athlete! Hope you enjoyed the blog and I'll be updating you on my adventures some more this week! Promise!!!
Cheers!
Jess

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Orleans 70.3 (Half Ironman Race)

Well, my first triathlon of the season was kicked off in New Orleans this year at the inaugural NOLA 70.3. Never visiting NO before I got an opportunity to take in a bit of the energy of the city a couple days before our Sunday race. The city’s reputation did not disappoint…it is a crazy, crazy city! As my dear friend Kate Clarke once said, “It’s as if something is in the water and everyone is drinking it!” My daughter, Kasey, got to see firsthand a lot of beads, masks, and boas (and maybe other things a 3 ½ year olds eyes shouldn’t see, but, she got to take in the culture, (is that what we call it?!?!) she even picked out a boa at a local shop on Bourbon Street and no doubt, my “girlie-girl” picked her trademark color…PINK!

As far as the race itself, if you didn’t already know, it was a star-studded event. I’ve never competed against such a huge competitive field in my professional career and although it was intimidating (especially as the first race of the season – think names such as Natasha Badmann, Heather Gollnick, Kate Major, Lisa Bentley, Desiree Ficker, Nina Kraft and believe me, the list goes on and on…) I tried hard to welcome the competition with open arms and believed that it would be a great opportunity to really see where I’m at this early in the season!
Going into the race with this outlook was very wise because I ALWAYS have to remember that what others bring to the table is out of my spectrum of control. I can control many things, but how others perform is not one of them! During every race I go in with many goals. This helps break up my day and also sets me up with several outlook options rather than putting all my “eggs in one basket”! I went into the swim telling myself to get on someone’s feet. It is no secret the swim is the “thorn in my side” – I didn’t grow up a swimmer and really didn’t learn to swim properly till about 1-2 years ago! This puts me at a disadvantage to those who were tossed in the water at their local YMCA at the ripe ‘ol age of 3, but, I instead grew up running and biking like a banchee, so, there’s the pay-off! So, back to the race…I wanted to hang on to a pack of girls and work together in the water and it happened for me! For the first 800 meters of the swim I hung on to another chicas feet before I decided to pass and open up my speed and go a little harder. When I got out of the water I saw my sister, Jayne, and was smiling as I knew I wasn’t the last damn pro female out of the water…hell, I even passed some male pros out of the water as well! This was huge!


With that I got out on my bike and this was my first time on my new baby. This year I’ve been blessed with a great bike sponsor, HAWK RACING. I’ve got a custom made HAWK racing bike and it is special. My bike was designed with several factors in mind, but the color scheme was Kasey’s idea! I asked her, “Hey Kasey, mommy gets a new bike this year, what colors should it be?” Quickly, without hesitation, she said, “Pink!” With that, I decided to make my bike pink, purple, and blue…I wanted to honor Hawaii with Hibiscus flowers, my triathlete pendant I wear religiously around my neck was scanned and painted on the top tube along with my name and a couple butterflies accenting the corners. If you haven’t seen the bike yet, please check it out on my website or on the Hawk website at www.hawk-racing.com It is gorgeous and you can get a limited edition “Jessica Jacobs” bike also! It not only looks cool, but rides like a dream – I’ve been properly fit on it at Bike Link (local shop here in Birmingham) and the race wheels are phenomenal. The bike portion of the race was very windy at times with gusts as high as 17 MPH! This was pretty tough, but it’s the same conditions for everyone and nowhere near the worst I’ve experienced… (think IM Arizona – now, that’s wind…OUCH!!!)

During the 13.1 miles of the run, I have to admit it was pretty uneventful. The conditions turned from overcast skies and humid to sunny skies and humidity! Once the sun broke out that was all she wrote! I never saw so many people go straight to medical after a race. The aid stations during the run came up about every 2 miles and in my opinion, with humidity and heat as high as it is in NOLA you need aid every mile. Some may disagree, arguing it too expensive or unnecessary, but when you have 3,000 competitors in a race, you have the resources to purchase the water, ice, cups, sponges and Gatorade! That was the other thing I missed…ice and sponges! I would literally go thru an aid station and think…oh…2 more miles before I get some respite from this heat…it felt very close to Kona conditions out there! I guess I’m so accustomed to IM racing and having those luxuries every mile and accessible to my disposal that when I race 70.3 I’m a little “out of sorts”.

As mentioned above, the run was okay…our field was pretty spread out when I got off the bike so locating your competitors and chasing them down was not an option. Still, I did run down two females during the 13.1 miles which kept my motivation alive. I’m all about moving up little by little as oftentimes my strategy is all about patience and it’s something I’m mastering with my IM racing. IM is such a long day and chipping away at your competition is just something I feed off of as the time and miles tick away.

I ended the day in 13th place, with a finishing time of 4:36. This is nothing to be disappointed with and highly competitive with the world-class athletes I faced that day! Thankfully, the first race is down and the cob-webs are getting cleaned out! 2009 race season has begun and it looks good! Next up, PowerMan in Birmingham, AL in 2 weeks…it’s the National Duathlon Championships, so this should be an exciting event right in my town!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

You are not invincible!

This week after the marathon has been a blur...I was of course on a huge endorphine high for a couple days after the race...but just as I was enjoying the moment a little virus decided to settle right in my body for a party...although this is not a party I like to attend! Yes, I got the infamous "after race illness" that so often plagues many athletes after a key race. I'm actually really ok - just got a chest virus that takes time to "run its course".

I have a theory that during the week prior to a race your body goes into a state of "hibranation" --- now, with that being said, your body also says..."hmmm, I'm not working me as hard as normal...well, I'd better take this time to repair, rest and take advantage of this break...don't know when I'm going to get to rest again"...well, with that being said, I sincerely believe that during this time of "rest" your body tries to repair, but ultimately "let's it's barriers down" which may lend a hand to a host of virus's marching right into an unsuspecting territory...i.e., my body!!!

Well, regardless of whether or not my theory has any scientific evidence or not, it happended to me! I was feeling a head cold coming on Saturday (day before the race) and it didn't let up on Sunday morning when I woke up. You can guess that after running 26.2 miles that your immune system just doesn't stand a chance to any viral infection waiting to pounce! So, yes, this past week I've gone thru more tissues, cough drops, Earl Grey tea bags, nasal sprays and cough medicine than I'd like to admit...augh! I hate being sick...I mean seriously, who does like it? But, I really hate it...I don't have time for it and it just doesn't go very well with my everyday activities...puts me in a bit of a crunch! You see, I'm a mommy, a wife, a triathlete, a coach and I teach a lot of classes at the YMCA and Gold's Gym in Birmingham, so, when I'm sick...I need to find subs, explain to my daughter why I can't play, feel guilty that my husband has to play "double duty" as daddy and mommy and then explain to potential subs and coaches why I'm sick and then get better and so on...blah, blah, blah...it's all just too exhausting! I found myself taking 2 days off...this NEVER happens, but rest is what the doctor and coach ordered - and quite frankly I didn't mind and it was a recovery week, so, if any time off was going to happen, I'd better take it now!

We've all been there - sick, injured, or just in a mental funk...whatever the case may be it's a blessing to go thru this piece of the journey. It's a way to re-respect your temple...the body we pull out of bed everyday and train, torture, sculpt and sometimes abuse in order to get the results we all dream and deem so important. I forgot that I wasn't invincible. Thankfully I was able to race last weekend before this head and chest cold took over my body - however, this past week I paid for it...I learned this week though that rest and repair are so important and your body is smart...it knows what it needs...like, for instance right now, I need a good meal and a good night's sleep...still repairing, still getting my health back up...still respecting what God gave me...and remembering to never take it for granted!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mercedes Marathon...breaking new barriers!

Sunday morning I woke up still feeling a cold coming on more and more - but I just masked the effects with 2 "Day Quil" tablets and went on my way to the race. Ate a bagel with cream cheese in the morning with some coffee and then sipped on a bottle of water/gatorade all morning till the race start. Felt VERY relaxed on race morning (still of course had my race morning bowel movement - but didn't happen till I got to the race...really wasn't nervous at home...just tired.) Said my "hello's" my area "Red Clay" teammates and people I know before the race and found Jon (my run buddy) and went over how we were going to feel, communicate and run our races TOGETHER till mile 10 when he would pick it up and go! When the gun went off, I really didn't feel too nervous...26.2 miles is a LONG way and your race can really blow up in the first couple miles if you go out too hard and get caught up in all the nervous energy and ego's of those around you! Jon and I started together and stayed that way mile after mile...it was so peaceful and easy! We really watched our pace and we were finding things that would trigger our instincts to want to "pick it up" once we recognized them, we'd note them to each other and pull on the reigns! We tried to keep pace with Eric, a friend of mine that works with "Fleet Feet" and he too wanted to go under 3:00 --- he's been doing Ultras as of late, so the marathon pace wasn't something to which he was accustomed. Around Mile 7 I told Jon he should take in his last GU by mile 8, he told me he wanted to take it now at mile 7, I told him to go for it, better sooner, than later! I was so proud of him and his patience and ability to work with me. This was his first 1/2 marathon and it was unfolding beautifully. Right before mile 10 he saw someone he wanted to chase down in the final 3 miles, knowing he was going to pick up the pace, I told him to start to go and run his last 5K with everything he had --- knowing myself too well, I know this would be a perfect opportunity to pull over and pee...first and formost, I HAD TO GO!!! and secondly, I knew that if he started to pick up the pace, that I too would naturally want to follow my buddy...this could turn a well laid out plan into a complete disaster within miles. So, right before the 10 mile mark, I found a little pit stop and told Jon to go! The plan was perfect...I lost maybe 10 sec, but, felt as light as a feather and he got a good little cushion ahead of me and although I could still see him, he was far enough ahead of me that I didn't feel compelled to run with him. It went perfectly planned! Going down the main streets of Birmingham thru miles 11-13 I found myself having to really pull on the brakes, I wanted to pick up the pace badly, but I knew that the race still had at least 7 more miles to go before I could really turn up the heat..."the race doesn't begin till mile 20" is all I kept telling myself over and over again! Passing thru mile 14 I saw that I was about 3-3.5 min ahead of my projected time at that point...I thought, "Wow, either I'm going to smash my goal time, or the last 10K is going to kill me...let's see what happens!" At mile 15 and 17 I was so excited to see my husband, daughter and coach...this was going to be a test...was my coach going to be angry with my time? Was I too far ahead of my goal time? He was happy and told me, "Hold this pace till 20 - then run the hardest you can for 10K." Huh, easier said than done there buddy...that's what I wanted to say, but again, I was feeling good! My quads started feeling the effects of the mileage around miles 17-19...at one point I thought to myself, "God, my legs feel like tree trunks" Anyone that knows me knows I have "thick" quads...not manly, just not your typical skinny runner chick legs...they are built for cycling and serve me well in that arena, and definitely know how to manuever a run course, but at mile 19 I would've given anything to shed a little weight off those bad boys! By mile 20 I finally got to "unleash the beast" - however, how much was left of the beast? Miles 20-22 were definitely the toughest miles of the whole race...I kept telling myself only 6 more miles, only 5 more miles, only 4 more miles...once I got to only 3 more miles I was so happy...than again, that is where we got a nice down hill as well and my quads got a chance to stretch out a bit and change direction! By the 24 mile marker I found myself passing a lot of guys...were they relay team members or were they doing the marathon and burning out? The final 1.5 miles took forever...I'm not going to lie...it is a straight shot back into the city and the streets go on FOREVER...I kept looking upward at the buildings I knew would surround Linn Park, and slowly, but surely they got closer and closer...finally I heard more spectators cheering and up ahead was Dana Harmon, a fellow colleague from the YMCA - she was screaming at me, "Jess, you're the first female!!!" I thought, "What, seriously?!?!? How come no one told me?" Unfortunately many couldn't tell who the first woman marathon finisher was due to the half-marathon and relay's going on...so, until I rounded the corner and went into the "Marathon Finish" chute - it was clear only then to many that I was indeed the first female. Pure joy ran over me...first I knew I accomplished my goal of going sub-3 hours...I went 2:54:53, but it was going to be a pay day! I lept up in the air, pounced on the final timing mat and kissed it as if to seal the deal. I was so happy as I got to celebrate that moment with my husband, daughter, coach, his wife and kids and yes, my training buddy Jon was there waiting...he too had something awesome to celebrate...his 13.1 goal time of 1:30 was smashed as he clocked in a 1:27...not bad for your first half Jon, not bad at all!!!!