One of the reasons I hate to break my routines is that sometimes I have a very difficult time getting back on track. I will be plodding along smoothly and then take the smallest break from working out. Suddenly, it is harder than ever to get out the door and moving again. This is where lot's of practice in this situation helps. I know that once I get going it will get easier and I will crave it again, but it takes a few days and several workouts. That's where I am right now, rebuilding after a two weeks of hardly anything.
Week of April 5: 32 Bike, 10 on foot. April 12: 64 bike, 20 on foot.
The reason for the break was well worth the time off. Jakob qualified for Regionals in New Orleans. It was a meet that he has been looking forward to for the last year. We never had any doubts that he would qualify to go to the meet but we all wondered how he would fair against many very good gymnasts from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and the most talked about, Texas.
Jakob had a personal challenge at this meet as well. He would get to face 2 gymnasts that haunted his competition dreams. The first was Vitaliy Kondratov from Texas. Jake went to 7 meets last year and took first all around in all but 1. In that meet he took second to a strong performance by Vitaliy including a 15.8 out of 16 on the pommel. He has talked about competing against him again since that day. We didn't see Vitaliy at the same meet this year so Jakob wondered how he was doing all season.
Another gymnast Jakob has used for motivation this year is Londyn Phu from Kansas. While he hadn't competed against him this year yet, Jakob had heard that London was getting some amazing scores and to add insult he was a year younger. After hearing this, Jake promptly gave up eating candy for 3 months until this meet. At the gym he worked harder and learned new bonus point skills. It makes me proud that he sees the way to success is through hard work. It takes serious effort to impress me and Jakob's tenacity blows me away on a regular basis.
Jakob takes gymnastics as a serious business. We involved him in it when he was 5 as we were sampling all the sports trying to find something he would like. We don't push him to practice at all. If anything, we often suggest rest when it is needed but any such suggestion is met with a look of disgust! He passes many opportunities to play like a normal kid in order to push himself in the gym. The days he does have off are often spent on the trampoline working out anyway.
We drove down to New Orleans on Wednesday to give Jakob a full day of rest on Thursday before the meet early Friday morning. He seems to be able to compete better when he has this time to chill out. We used it to see some of New Orleans and catch up with one of my best friends from the Marines who lives in the area. Brandon and I were inseparable in those years but I hadn't seen him for 16 years. Brandon and his fiance Jamie were gracious hosts and tour guides for the trip.
Jakob woke Friday morning both nervous and tired. He had difficulty sleeping the night before but after a shower I could tell he was already preparing for the meet in his head. You can see as it happens because he starts getting quiet and staring off in the distance a lot. In the car over we let him control the music with his ipod to help pump him up. The songs range from Sick Puppies to Bob Dylan. At some point he usually turns over control of the music and says he ready to go.
Once inside the gym I sat with him for a few last moments before it started to see if he needed anything. He told me he had seen Vitaliy. I told him he couldn't beat him if he weren't there.
There were 65 competitors in his age group. Not only were Londyn and Vitaliy there, we saw several other very strong boys doing some phenomenal routines. At small meets we can often keep track of other contenders scores and have an idea how things are shaping up. Here it was impossible. So many scores and gymnast numbers, we could only watch and hope. Jakob hit all 6 of his routines. He was strong in every event and received scores that we knew would place him near the top of the list though we weren't sure where.
They recognized the top 20 in each of the 6 events. Our main hopes for him were to place in the top 12 at the meet. Doing this makes you eligible to attend a camp in Dallas this summer to work with some of the best coaches and gymnasts in the country. As each event was called out, we realized he was easily going to be within the 12. He received a 4th, 5th, 7th, 5th, 5th, and 7th. No single boy was in 1st on every event. This meant the all around was up for grabs.
They began to call out the all around winner. In my head I tried to calculate. I knew he could do no worse the 7th. That meant he could go to the camp! As they called out 7th place it was Londyn Phu. Jakob looked anxious and watched as other boys went forward. When they got to 4th and called out Vitaliy's name, Jakob looked to his coaches smiling. He had beaten both of the boys he had thought so much about. Although, I'm sure he will face them again and again if he continues this pursuit.
I cannot explain how excited and proud we were to see his face as they called his name out for first place! His expressions on the podium were priceless and the smiles uncontrollable. It was gratifying to see all of his hard work pay off for him. Jakob earns his victories with a persistence and work ethic that is inspiring. I tried to capture as much of the trip as I could in the video below.