It all started in Newquay with an olympic distance surf triathlon. We fought our way through the waves to be confronted by hundreds of jelly fish. At this point I thought to myself , "what have you done Brennan go back to racing on dry land". I put my hand into a jelly fish which then went completely numb, and swimming without a proper stroke is quite difficult. But I persisted, got out of the water, ran up a cliff and got down to doing what I do, cycling and running fast. I finished 6th in my first ever triathlon.
Plymouth was my second triathlon, a 250 mass start swim. Thats a lot of bodies to contend with when you are not used to it! Thats not to say I stayed in the pack….I swam so wide to get a clear path that I ended up in the rocks, momentarily stood up then dived back in. On the bike it was catch up time, I passed around 50 people in the first 20km then held my position going into the run, I was in 10th by now. My running legs got faster and faster, though this time I experienced something else, a dodgy stomach. I tried to ignore this as much as possible, and posted the fastest run split of the day ending up 4th overall.
The Geopark Olympic tri; I was learning with every race now and was getting my transition times down so they were not so embarrassing. I was getting some good swim training in by now but didn't feel great going in to the race . It was a hilly bike and run so was going to suit me. I stayed in contention in the sea swim and then took the lead early in the bike leg. I then held that to the finish coming in about 15mins ahead of second place.
In the Cotswolds I posted my fastest race so far coming home in 2hrs04. My running legs were really coming back now after almost 5 years of not running at all. 32mins for the 10km was not too bad.
The National Age group championships, my biggest race so far. Preparation was not so good, I had one week off running due to soft tissue damage in my foot, although felt good going into the race. The journey up to Liverpool was something else, leaving at 7:30am; me, Dad and Sophie arrived at just past 6pm, registered and then went out for a recce of the course. What a day that was, endless traffic from the moment we hit the M5. Following an epic day what you want is a good nights sleep though isn't it, switch off and relax pre race. The night was nothing of the sort, a hot stuffy room coupled with me playing over and over in my head how I wanted the race to go, then getting up at 4am for breakfast, not ideal! Sunday morning: driving rain and wind. The swim went off at a rapid pace and ironically was the warmest part of the race, I got on someones feet and drafted my way through the swim. On the bike I froze, every part of my body became numb and I shivered my way around the 4 laps in 1hr02mins. Running into transition I couldn't feel any part of my body which made for a comically slow change over into my running shoes. On the run I found some good pace makers and set about closing the time gap on my fellow age group competitors. I came home with a 33min run split and 17th out of 44 in my age group. Sophie, who we had given a lift to came second in her age group.
No rest for the determined athlete, on to Weymouth for my next triathlon the following weekend. The choppy sea swim gave me a bit of sea sickness during the race but I managed the fastest bike and run sections finishing in second place. I could have done with about 2km more and I would have closed the 40second gap on the winner.
The Cotswold classic was to be my first of two middle distance races this season, and deep down this was the one I was wanting to produce my peak performance in. Long distance endurance races have always been the ones I wanted success in and it just so happens that I feel more comfortable over a longer duration and tougher terrain. Nicky kindly gave me a lift to the race and was my support crew for the weekend. We made it to registration with about 10mins to spare on the Saturday, pitched the tents then went for a nice Italian to fuel me for the race. I awoke at the standard 4am to find I had not bought a torch, so set about making my pre race coffee by the light of my mobile phone and the moon. Not so easy, I knocked over the first one and then succeeded the second time. I proceeded to transition to set up before the race still in the pitch black. The most spectacular briefing then followed as the blood red sun rose over the lake. We set off at 6.30am for the 1.9km swim with water vapour evaporating from the surface as the day warmed. I managed to find myself a good pair of feet to follow and stuck with them for the duration. The bike was chilly, really chilly and I didn't warm up until the second lap. I was then getting into my rhythm. I completed the 90km bike in 2hrs13min and then set out to run the furthest I had ever run, a half marathon. My legs were good and just got better as I passed runner after runner. It was difficult to gauge positions so I just ran as fast as I could for as long as I could. My run was the fastest of the day 1hr20. I was second and very pleased with it too, I think I found my distance that day. The following day of the race was the most fatigue I think I have ever felt after a race, but a nice earned fatigue, one that you can enjoy.
We were now into September and I was starting to feel a bit tired as I had been bike racing since February, then switched to tri in July. I was also feeling the effect of the following weeks race, thats one lesson for the future! Mum took me up to Bala lake in a borrowed Vito camper van which was ideal. Bala must be one of the most spectacular places for a race. The lake is nestled between mountains in North Wales and Is the biggest natural lake in the UK. I rode the bike course on Friday and looked at the run section as I rode as it was along the same road. I also swam the swim part on Saturday so I knew what awaited me on the Sunday, it was going to be fast. We woke to a fog whiteout, you could literally see nothing. It cleared minutes before the swim start with the sun burning down, like lifting the curtains from a stage ready for the pantomime to begin. The swim was a fight from the off, elbows, legs everywhere. I got though ok then set out to nail the bike and run, passing a lot of competitors I posted my fastest bike in 58mins and a 34min 10km to finish in 2hrs01 and 20th place.
I really have got the Triathlon bug and can't wait to see where I can go with it. I like looking forward to races, but with triathlon I also enjoy every preparation and process involved, so will live in the moment and soak in all of it. I have had a lot of support from everyone this summer; my family, everyone at Colin Lewis cycles, Pete Wilby and the Exeter triathlon club. Thanks to all.
One race to go then the start of another chapter at Loughborough University.