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!!!
There was an error in this gadget

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