Going the distance

By Nikki Blankenship - [email protected]

Triathlete Jay Jacobs stands next to memorabilia from one his Iron Man competitions, races he trains hard just to finish.

Triathlete Jay Jacobs stands next to memorabilia from one his Iron Man competitions, races he trains hard just to finish.

Athletes often put their bodies through intense workouts in order to be at their best and reach their goals. Jay Jacobs, of South Shore, spends his days as the Senior Revenue Cycle Manager for Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC), but he spends much of his remaining time training to compete in intense, long distance races that keep him working year round.

Jacobs explained that he remembers watching Iron Man Triathlons on television in the 80s. He was immediately intrigued.

“It’s always been on my mind to be able to do it once,” Jacobs stated.

As Jacobs neared his 50s, he felt like it was time to pursue his dream. Jacobs has been a part of the SOMC community since before the hospital was named SOMC. His dad was the CFO at the old general hospital and stayed on board as it became Scioto Memorial. Other family members have also carried on the committment to the local medical field. In addition to Jacobs and his father working for SOMC, his oldest sister is married to Dr. Gregory Hudson with Christ Care Pediatrics in South Shore, and Jacobs’ wife is Hudson’s office manager.

Through SOMC, Jacobs has had access to great health care and healthy living opportunities. The hospital offers a free membership to the Life Center for all SOMC employees. With a genetic predisposition to certain health problems, this was a benefit Jacobs could not ignore. He takes three blood pressure medications and has sleep apnea, despite his focus on fitness. That alone was a motivator to stay fit.

While working out, Jacobs met a man who competed in triathlons. That dream that was always in the back of his mind suddenly became a real goal that he was ready to work towards.

“It was mainly a goal to stay healthy,” Jacobs explained. “I’m sure if I wasn’t exercising, there would be worse issues.”

Jacobs was already an avid swimmer, had biked as a kid and was a runner in high school. He decided to take that combined experience, the advice of his new gym buddy and the advantages offered him through his employer and put his strength to the test.

Jacobs borrowed a bike and finished his first event in 1997. Since that time, he has completed two full Iron Mans, two halves, and two Triple Ts (in addition to several other races).

“When I have goals, I can get stuff done,” commented Jacobs.

A full Iron Man consists of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26 miles of running all to be completed within 17 hours. The first time competing, Jacobs said it took him 16 hours to finish, a time he has now reduced to 13 and says he could likely do an even longer event now.

Triple T is a three day triathlon held in Shawnee Forest in which competitors race over 146 miles of biking, running and swimming in three days.

“It’s a very well kept secret,” Jacobs stated as he explained that the Triple T is a local event that sells out every year and brings in more than 500 people to race.

Competing in such events takes a strict training regimen. Jacobs says he mostly developed his routine on his own. He trains six days a week all year long, which includes a couple hours of training a day and six hours on Saturdays. The triathlete says he uses local events to help with his training and fills in with what he needs that is not being offered. This includes participating in events, such as the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) biking event that takes place on Mother’s Day weekend and spans throughout the region. Though he says there are plenty of local competitions, swimming is a little more difficult. To make up for the lack of swimming events, Jacobs uses the Life Center pool and lakes to help him reach the needed distance.

“I tell people I don’t look like I go to the gym six days a week,” Jacobs joked.

No matter his appearance, the effort does take a tole on his body. Clearly, after such an intense race, pushing his body and challenging his endurance, Jacobs needs to take time to care for himself.

“Once you do one, it takes some time to recover,” he commented. “You train, train, train, do the event, recover and train, train, train.”

That recovery time, however, is brief.

“Within a couple of days, we’re (he and his support system) consistently getting ready to do something else,” Jacobs stated.

Jacobs confirmed that training for and competing in triathlons is quite physically demanding. As a result, he works with the SOMC run clinic, gets leg massages monthly, works with SOMC rehabilitation and takes a yoga class twice a week. Yoga helps him to relax while also building his strength and helping him to stretch and condition his muscles.

“It’s a whole (SOMC) community thing,” Jacobs affirmed.

Without that community support as well as the support of friends and family, continuing what has become his passion would be much more difficult.

With all the time spent in the gym, Jacobs says his wife is just happy he does not ask her train with him. Often, he sees her when he passes her on his way out to the gym, coming back from training or on the track in a race.

“She’s a very patient woman, and she’s very supportive,” Jacobs commented before adding with a smile, “When I get up on Saturday mornings, I leave her sleeping.”

In addition to a supportive wife and employer, Jacobs says that he has several friends that diligently show up to train with him but still refuse to show up on race day. However, Jacob stays busy with plenty of chances for them to decide to compete.

This year’s event schedule includes a half Iron Man in Raleigh, N.C; a smaller triathlon in April; the TOSRV in May; a half event in September in Augusta, Ga.; and possibly a full Iron Man in Panama City, Fla., in November.

For each and every race, Jacobs has only one focus.

“It’s always been about the finish,” he explained.

Each race is different, courses are each different and the weather always varies, making the outcome had to determine.

With little ability to guess the outcome of a race, Jacobs says, “Whatever happens, happens.”

No matter what race day brings, Jacobs goes in knowing that he has worked hard to ensure he is ready and stays determined to achieve what many wouldn’t attempt.

Triathlete Jay Jacobs stands next to memorabilia from one his Iron Man competitions, races he trains hard just to finish.
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2017/01/web1_jacobs-3.jpgTriathlete Jay Jacobs stands next to memorabilia from one his Iron Man competitions, races he trains hard just to finish.

By Nikki Blankenship

nblankenship[email protected]

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.