Maylene mom to compete in Ironman

Published 5:39 pm Friday, June 19, 2009

While growing up in Green Bay, Wisc., Jessica Jacobs came across an Ironman race on television one day and made it her dream.

“I’m going to do that one day,” Jacobs said she told herself. “I didn’t have a plan, but it totally excited me.”

Jacobs, 32, of Maylene is now one of the top American Ironman pro women and competes in her first race of the season Sunday, June 21 at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Her dream started becoming a reality while stationed in Germany with the Army in 2003. She decided to attempt the Ironman Switzerland race as an amateur — a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. With no training for triathlons, and having never done one before, she completed the race through Zurich as the 1,248th finisher of more than 1,400 competitors.

“It was a rookie move,” Jacobs said. “I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. It’s actually served me very well, because I do better with long-distance Olympic stuff.”

Since she and her husband Michael retired from the U.S. Army and moved to Birmingham in 2007, she decided to find a coach and turn pro last year. She finished 12th at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii and third in both Wisconsin and Florida. This year, she’s aiming to set records.

“I feel much stronger this year at this time than I did at all last year,” Jacobs said. “I’ve learned so much in the last year.”

The hardest part, Jacobs said, was making the switch from amateur to pro in her training.

“It’s very disciplined and structured. I basically had to turn the switch off in my brain and decide I’m a professional now. This isn’t just my hobby,” said the mother of a little girl, Kasey.

Jacobs prefers hilly courses like Idaho, and her coach Frank Myers of North Shelby believes she will do well this weekend.

“The reason I know she’s going to have a great race is I can see it in her training. She is doing a volume of training in a week that is far better than she’s ever been able to do,” Myers said. “This race is much more what she’s used to riding in Shelby County.”

You can follow Jacobs’ race Sunday by visiting Click on the Cour d’Alene icon for live streaming video and an athlete tracker.