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!