2012 Ironman World Champion

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Pre Challenge Bahrain & other stuff

ge Bahrain It’s the day before Challenge Bahrain, one of the richest triathlon races in the world, and I’m looking forward to the break afterward. Not exactly how I would chose to be feeling before a big race but the last month has gone similar to my year. It started with a rest after Hawaii, then a couple of weeks feeling pretty good, then the last couple of weeks feeling tired. I don’t like this feeling. All I want is to race against the best in the world and beat them. And for me, who believes I can beat them when I’m in my best health and fitness, this is incredibly frustrating and life changing.

The last two years have been dismal for results. It has made me question everything, and made me realize I need to make some changes in more ways than one. It’s made me question the direction I am headed, what I value in life, what I want to get out of my career and what I want to achieve outside of racing too. Sorry but I don’t have the answers to share with you. However, I want nothing more than to be back kicking butt for all those that have stuck by supporting me as I get further and further from being reigning Ironman World Champion. I hope that as of today it is closer in my future than my past to being that title again.

So don’t ask me how, what, or who, but be assured that I will not stuff up again in 2015. You have supported me so strongly that I want to do it for you as much as for me. Or maybe I do really want to do it for me and it’s just my ego that wants to do it so you applaud me again. ;) Either way, I am driven by my supporters, by you the age groupers who make up this great sport and love to see the professionals go into battle and lay it down with courage, sacrifice and guts like no other sport does, or at least like no other sport you all relate to and have the passion for.

I look forward to being part of the race tomorrow. I hope to have a good swim, stay with the main pack on the bike, and possibly run a good run on legs that have not done too much in training. I’ll be very happy if I made top 10. The field here is scary. So deep and talented. Not to mention experienced and tactful.

The experience here at Challenge Bahrain has been incredible. Not just the amazing hotel and free buffets all day, but the opportunity for so many of the most successful professional triathletes in the world to get together, meet, talk, joke, scheme, compare, learn from and compete against. These opportunities are so rare these days with so many races around the world there has been no need or money to support everyone racing each other. But Challenge Bahrain is the start of something new. And the rumor is that on Saturday night there will be an announcement that may allow this sort of contest to happen more often. A few races that allow the best in the world to race each other and all earn enough prize money to making a decent living from. This would be something special.

So I am part of something special this weekend. It’s like being on Kona but everyone is more relaxed, its only a half distance, there’s no hype and heaps of appearances or sponsors commitments. It really is about the athletes. And I just wish I were in better shape to do this, and every other race I enter, justice. Next year I promise.

An open letter to Ironman CEO.

To

Andrew Messick

CEO

World Triathlon Corporation

I wish I wasn’t wasting my time writing this. But I’ve already wasted far too much energy dwelling on this since it was said and I don’t want it to be an issue between us any longer as it is Kona race week next week and we will surely cross paths. Well I know we will cross paths since I am invited to the pre race press conference as your 2012 Ironman World Champion.

It’s been 7 weeks since you alluded that I was unprofessional in that infamous slowtwitch.com article referenced below. http://www.slowtwitch.com/Interview/Messick_explains_the_changes_4511.html

I waited, and a tiny part of me thought perhaps you would make contact to clear the air, and perhaps even apologize for suggesting my painful 11:42 Ironman validation unprofessional, and for comparing me, and indirectly all professional triathletes, to a professional cyclist. For you to suggest the two sports are even remotely similar and requiring similar effort to compete in was disappointing. The questionable morality of the cyclist you chose to compare me to as well was disheartening to say the least. Not to mention the difference between what he got paid to put in a “professional effort” as opposed to what “validating” an Ironman pays.

So what you failed to know, as you or any of your staff never asked, was why it took me 11:42 to complete my validation, and why I chose Zurich. So here is my side of the story. I had planned a great year. It included racing early season ironman 70.3 events plus validating at Ironman Texas in great shape in May, followed by targeting a competitive Challenge Roth in July. However, the reality of being a professional athlete is that we are slaves to our body and we are limited to what we can do physically. I succumbed to very bad fatigue (an issue I’ve been dealing with since I was 15) in March and unfortunately had no choice but to cancel my trip to Texas. This cost me a great deal financially in lost airfares and income. I had to then refocus on gaining my health and fitness to be competitive at Challenge Roth, but as it turned out on race day, it wasn’t enough time. I hurt myself to finish that race as slow as I did. I ran as much as I could but had to run/walk the second half of the marathon as my legs hurt so badly. It was my choice to do this race, as it was my choice to do this sport as a professional and earn an income.

As per the WTC Ironman rules, I had to validate for Kona by completing an Ironman. The only time I could now fit this in, after the depressing bout of fatigue and the troubling inability to race or train at an elite level for many months, was to complete Ironman Zurich one week after Challenge Roth. This was the event that was after my bout of fatigue had cleared, had the minimal amount of travel involved, and the minimal time away from preparing for your marquee race, and my main goal, of the Ironman World Championship.

But whatever race it is, you have no idea how I feel about not being able to race for the win. This year has been full of hard times, disappointments, and days I could barely think straight. In Zurich I did irreversible damage to my body to push to a point of stressful pain and still have 12km’s left to walk. It was no fun at all. It was a very long, very stressful, hard and tiring day.

Not once have I ever spoken up against your validation rule. Even in Zurich I accepted it for what I had to do and did not complain, but respected it was the rule that I had to abide by. I have never said a bad word against this rule.

In 2012, when I was your reigning World Champion I said in my speech on awards night in Kona “Andrew Messick is doing a great job” and so on, for you.

In 2013 I wore your logo with my reigning World Champion gold star on my training and race apparel as you had asked me to do, for the benefit of WTC. In my preparation for Kona 2013 I allowed NBC to film me in my home for two days, for you/WTC. In Kona during race week I took part in a reenactment of an “old school” tri photo, again for you/WTC (the result of which I never saw or heard about, perhaps it was never used). Also in race week I took part in the pre-race NBC interviews, the VIP evening and flag ceremony, and all requests that came to me from WTC. I did everything that was asked of me as reigning World Champion, for WTC and yet in 2014 it seems you don’t like me and allude that I am unprofessional?

So, with Kona race week so close, I needed to write this to you now, so I can say what I want to say, so I can explain myself to my fans, my supporters, and to WTC before it gets brought up raw in race week. Thus I can focus on the race in Kona, and so that we can settle our differences on the same public platform that you elected to mention this topic.

However, whatever happens, the main reason for me writing this was to explain how tough this year has been for me, my side of the story. I am happy to have done that and can now move on. I’ve turned the other cheek. I wish you all the best for your future, and for the future of WTC. And I wish everyone good luck in this historical and grueling event in Kona, Hawaii, on October 11. I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got.

Kind regards

Pete Jacobs

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Jaimie’s Blog – No Longer a Virgin of Full Distance Triathlon!

Jaimie’s Blog: No Longer a Virgin of Full Distance Triathlon! 

Well to say Challenge Roth was uneventful would be an absolute lie.

Apparently it was one of the toughest years in its 30 year history with the wind and the heat at its cruelest with the highest amount of athletes in the medical tent (20% of starters did not finish). Yet strangely the wind and the heat I did not notice until I heard people talking about it – I was doing my first ‘full distance triathlon’, living the dream. My dream.

You know its going to be a memorable day when it starts with Cindy Lauper blaring through the speakers “Girls just want to have fun” – this is awesome at any time and or place of the day let alone in Germany whilst treading water on the start line of Challenge Roth!

What is Challenge Roth? Picture Tour De France moments where one is enveloped in a kilometre of avid supporters 10 people deep whilst pedaling up what is called Solar Hill. Cyclists must ride single file. The ride course snakes through the German landscape of cobbled towns, sculpted horses amongst endless fields and historical landmarks complete with churches and more. All concluded by a 42.2km run beside the RothSea which intermittently winds gaily through endless lively streets where local kids eyes light up with the prospect of you simply high fiving them.

After having a swim which felt slow and uncomfortable yet smiling underwater still on a high from listening to Cindy Lauper I found myself amongst volunteers – ripping off my wetsuit like neoprene geniuses with angel qualities sent from the Challenge Family haha. After thanking them profusely before realizing I was in fact in a race I ran to get on the bike.

After hearing about how fast the bike course here in Roth is I had been over the moon as this race was going to be my longest ride yet, my first 180km. Ever.

Yet straight away the big chain ring wouldn’t work, yelling in English to anyone that would listen I asked where the bike mechanics were, yet to no avail. After stopping and trying to explain it to the bike mechanic for 5 minutes what was wrong I realized there was no hope. So back on the bike thinking like a mad woman ‘this run has got to be fast.’

If you want an image of what the bike course is like here at Challenge Roth – Think of your racing track you had as a kid with the remote control cars married with the above Roth landscape – and voila you have the 180km bike course!

I secretly had a time of 10.15 I wanted to achieve, maybe without a training program and riding 2-3 times a week this was unrealistic. Lol

Severe cramping reared its ugly head at the 20km mark. I thought of Pete and what he would do, so I initially altered my running style to stand taller with feet underneath me and chest out, failing this I then took some deep breaths, walked A LOT, and did some dynamic stretching. I also imagined a gold healing wave sweeping down my legs, and over my adductors. It relented a bit.

Luckily (note the word ‘luckily’ is lightly said) the ‘angry’ jaimie had reason to come out and play, forgetting about the cramps intermittently. Having a 6ft+ man built like the Statue of David plow full force into you (it seems he wanted a drink from the aid station on my side) on the running course will do that. I flew through the air with my right leg cramping like a bug on its back legs flailing with panic.

With no apologies the Statue of David look alike kept running, unfazed.

The volunteers picked me up, through tears I thought ‘there is no way I’m not finishing because of this, Pete’s at the finish line (I had no idea how he was or how his race was) plus I had seen pictures of the finish line – this girl was going to have finish line action if it killed her. A girl rarely gets a chance to run down a red carpet (albeit in sweaty lycra smelling like something stuck to the tractors tyres I just passed, hey I’ll take what I can get)– in Europe of all places!

Crossing the finish line was a mixture of emotions, angry that I didn’t have the race I had imagined (admittedly only imagined a time I wanted to aim for before the race when asked what splits I wanted to do, and frustrated that cramps came on so early. Blessed I crossed the line with the love of my life arms outstretched, the most supportive husband in the world, my best friend, my partner in crime.

Everyone who signs up for a full distance triathlon who commits to swimming 3.8km, riding 180km and running 42.2km all in one session has to have the support from their family. This is something I battled with, is it right for me to race the races when this is Pete’s job. Should I be there 100% of the time for him?

As I sat on the portaloo before the race start race morning I was reminded of this. I heard a man ask Pete in the portaloo line if it was hard having your wife racing too. I held my breath. Pete replied, “its easier she just does what I do.” If he was referring to eating tuna, kidney beans, rice cakes with peanut butter and banana as opposed to the European food one ought to indulge in whilst in Europes culinary fair then he was 100% correct! Grrrrr haha.

Thankyou for everyones beautiful messages of support, I will do more triathlons if it means I get to feel so warm and fuzzy when reading each and every one.

Triathlon is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle, a mechanism to keep one sane lol and Challenge uniquely makes everyone feel like family.

The plus side of walking a lot of the run is you can wear high heels to the after party and dance like nobody is watching!

x

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Getting excited about Challenge Roth

Pete Jacobs finish

With less than three weeks before the Challenge Roth race starts, early in the morning on a calm spectator lined canal, I have suddenly become surprisingly excited. I’ve raced in Roth four times consecutively from 2007 – 2010, finishing 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, and 4th. So it’s not new to me, I know the town, the race venue, the course, the atmosphere, the vibe, the finish line, the experience, the expo, the events outside of the race, the locals, the race organizers, the carbo, the after party, I know it all! And that is why I’m excited, as those memories get closer to the surface as I get closer to getting back to Challenge Roth!

And now, as those memories start to flood in they are boosted by what I’ve heard about the additions to this year’s event. As it is a special year being the 30th year of triathlon in Roth, and the fireworks at the end of the race will be the biggest ever, as will the finish line arena and grandstand, and the spectator party points along the course, and just everything will be bigger and better than ever before, and before it was already the biggest I’ve ever seen at a triathlon!

I’m excited to catch up with Bob Babbit and “Breakfast with Bob” in Roth. One of the most knowledgeable, charismatic, interesting and funny characters in the sport of triathlon, Bob asks all the right questions and has all the back stories for the last 35 years of triathlon. For the first time there will also be an English live race channel hosted by none other than the legendary Belinda Granger, who has more experience of winning these crazy races and of talking than anyone I know, and will be incredibly entertaining and informative for those watching online.

These are just a few of the bigger details happening at Challenge Roth. A lot of this information and excitement has come from listening to a podcast by Irontalk where they interviewed Felix, the now head of the Challenge Family – although he will tell you his mum still is the boss ;)  - and listening to Felix it’s obvious his passion for the sport is bigger than ever. I’ve known Felix for several years, since my first race in Roth, and it’s always a pleasure catching up with him and talking about triathlon, travelling, life, whatever. He is a cool guy and only wants what’s best for our sport, and is getting that job done in a great way. Another reason I’m looking forward to Roth is to experience the hospitality of Felix, the rest of his crew, all the locals, and all the Germans in general. Germany is home to some of my best travelling memories and I can’t wait to experience it with Jaimie this year.

My peers, my competitors, my rivals – They are strong this year and I can’t wait to be on the start line with such a class of athlete and go head to head with them for about 8hrs of racing! Several top 10 Hawaii finishers are on the start list and it’s going to be a great race to be part of. And no less it’s great hanging out with these guys and girls pre and post race in such a great party atmosphere. Challenge Roth is one of the few races where I have no trouble staying awake until the last finishers. It is an awesome party with a great vibe.

On top of all of this, I will get to show my beautiful wife all of the things I’ve mentioned, all the things I’ve experienced before and are a part of my life, will become a part of her life as she competes in her first ever full distance triathlon. I am so happy that Challenge Roth will be her first experience of this tough distance, as there is no better race experience than in Roth. Even just the little town of Roth is such a special place it will be hard to keep Jaimie focused on the event… but with all the distractions maybe they will keep her relaxed, as it’s too hard not to enjoy the show that Challenge put on.

So the show is getting close, and I’m getting excited and happy to be heading back there this year, and I’ve already decided I’ll be back there in 2015 too! To everyone racing there, I hope the sun shines on us all day and we all have a great race. See you in Roth!

Race Plans

So I have decided my next race will be Challenge Roth. I had planned to race IM Texas as my validation for Kona, however illness in March put a big hole in my preparation and I decided racing well at Challenge Roth is my second most important goal, Kona being the first. The set back also meant I can not race at Escape from Alcatraz which I was very excited to be heading back there to relatively warm waters after experiencing it last year at a much colder time of the year.

So it was these tough decisions, a few moments of searching for what’s important, why I do this as a job, and reassessing my goals that made me realize I do this as a sport, and that is how I must approach it. This is not like other jobs, and nobody has any idea what it is actually like to experience the sport as life and as a job from this side of the fence. It is unimaginable, every day I’m discovering new aspects of this journey that can’t fully be explained it’s such a deep battle between many facets of ones personality, physical and mental bodies, outside influences, expectations, criticisms, all boiling together on the inside with no easy recipe to follow. And when things are going well it seems to all flow along, but when there’s a problem it can become a real mess and it’s easy to lose ones path.

I was physically struggling a week after winning in Huskisson Long course, and went downhill from there. I went really deep at Challenge Batemans Bay and crossed the line in a terrible state, on a day that I now know my body should not have been doing what it did. I was not healthy that day. But not in a way that most people feel unwell, but in a way that I have been struggling with for 15 years. Fatigued. When my body is not 100% I know about it because I’m unable to do the things I enjoy doing. Or even if I can do them I don’t enjoy them. I manage this fatigue issue, but it still flares up and I’m still learning about how the body works,  and mine in particular. A week later I knew I was in a really really  big hole but Oceanside 70.3 was the following weekend and I really wanted to go and see my sponsors, do some media promotion, some PR work, etc. and I did and it was a worthwhile trip.

I had to roll around the course I was so flat on the day. And I jogged with an age grouper chatting along the way. I survived with as little damage as possible, and really enjoyed the trip and think it was a beneficial trip. But now, as Kona draws closer I can’t take those trips just for the sponsorship side of triathlon. Now I have to spend every minute figuring out how to get in the best shape I can for Challenge Roth, and Kona. My main goals of the year. The two biggest long course triathlon races in the World. That is what is driving me in 2014.

So yes, I do still have to validate for Hawaii, by finishing an Ironman event. And I will do this at an undisclosed location, with no media, no pre race commitments, no support, just spending every single minute looking after myself so I can be in the best shape possible in Kona. It remains, and always will be, the race I test myself against. The one day a year where I test what advancements I’ve been able to make in this life.

This year is about me, doing what I want. It’s about rediscovering what I want to achieve in this life. Because I want to. Because this is what I want.

Happiness is the meaning of life. But like all good things it requires work.