I'm not a natural athlete...at all. This fact may surprise those of you who know me now...but not those who have always known me. Specifically my mother...just spend any length of time with us and she will gladly jump into the stories of my inability to be an athlete...seriously...she just did it last night...to my coach. Love you mom!! But really, all kidding aside, growing up I sucked at sports. I was slow and clumsy. My head was never in the game and I never really "got it." I played baseball in 3rd grade and got the "Most Improved Player" award...if that tells you anything. But despite my utter lack of athletic ability, I always loved sports. I loved the feeling of pushing my limits, of doing things that not everyone else did. This may also explain why I was a springboard diver, a waterpolo player, and a wrestler (on the men's team) in high school. I didn't do the "normal" sports...it just wasn't my thing.
When high school was over I had to find a new outlet. Luckily for me I worked at the local gym and took up bodybuilding for a while...so NOT a good idea for me...I bulk up way too fast and looked ridiculous. One cross country move to FL fixed that and led me in another direction. When I moved to Miami and was surrounded by the beautiful people and the gym rats I was compelled to become a gym rat myself. I spent hours upon hours at the gym. It was my social time and workout in one. I loved being one of the girls everyone else watched...yeah, I know conceited, but honest. I even met the women who would introduce me to my husband at that gym...so I guess it was fate.
When I moved to Key West and got married there weren't any fancy gyms to be seen...so I took up running. Well...sort of. I signed up with Team in Training to run the New Orleans Rock N' Roll marathon in 2004. I would run maybe one day during the week (not the 3-4 runs they told us to do) and would then try to keep up on the group runs on the weekend. One weekend we were running 8 miles and my knees gave out. The military doctor told me that I should stick to 5K's...that my body wasn't made to run long. So I switched to the walkers group. Then during a 15 mile training walk I noticed that I had to stop to pee WAYYY too many times...took a pregnancy test that afternoon, and BAM! No more marathon for me...it was pregnancy and weight gain for me!
I put all athletics on the back burner for a long time, but when Shanne turned one, Mike deployed and I had new incentive to workout out. I fell back on my gym rat past and quickly dropped the extra baby weight that had been left over. Mike came home and was very pleased with the results...so pleased in fact that I was soon pregnant again...pregancy and weight gain again...oh joy! But this time was a little different. I was working at the hospital by this point and had met some crazy people that were into this thing called triathlon. I had heard of this craziness before but had never seriously considered the idea. But now that we were in San Diego (triathlon capital) I felt like maybe I needed to change my M.O. I convinced my mom and signed us up for our first triathlon in October 2007 (I was due in April 2007). I swam a lot during my pregnancy, but once I had Addison I bought a bike and started my personal version of training. I really thought I was killing it out there, but when I finally finished that darn sprint triathlon, I realized I had a looonnngggg way to go.
The other realization I had shortly after the triathlon was that I was a very slow runner. Mike was deploying again, nursing school was starting, so I signed up for my first marathon. Perfectly logical idea I think...you are slow, therefore scare the crap out of yourself into training to become faster...or at least to go further. I was blessed enough to have a wonderful, wonderful friend and training partner named Lauree. Lauree is an ultrarunner...she is crazy. She runs 60 mile races for fun...perfect. So Lauree and my other crazy friend Jessica (not an ultra runner, just a super fast multi-marathoner) took me under their wings and guided me through the epicness of training for ones first marathon. Lauree was my Buddha, Jessica was my realist. It was a match made in proverbial Heaven. They brought me to that start line as ready as I could have possibly been...and they both stayed by my side the entire 26.2 miles...it was amazing. I would love to say I had a fantastic time, felt great, and rocked the race course. But truthfully, I didn't. I had major GI issues (big surprise there) and seriously felt awful for a large portion of that race...but something happened to me as I came down the finishing shoot and realized that I was about to finish my first marathon. I had set an outlandish goal for myself and had actually reached it...crazy, empowering, amazing, unreal, joyful...it was surreal. I loved it...and I was hooked...to triathlon, to running...I was in love with it all.
The Jackie you all know now is definitely an athlete. In the context of San Diego and the triathlon/running community here...I'm not fantastic...but from where I've come from...I'm doing pretty well. I finally hired a coach about a month ago and wish I had done it sooner. The gains I have seen in one month rival what took me a year to accomplish alone. I am training for my first "official" half ironman in July and am finally becoming the runner I secretly hoped I might possibly be. I have many, many more crazy goals to accomplish and am excited to one day reach them all...I'm just happy I have a lifetime to keep trying...