Triathletes blog final entry...for now

By Rob Brennan

So here I am two days after the London Triathlon... legs aching, back sore and feeling thoroughly fed up.

Perhaps it's the come down from achieving what was by all accounts a life goal, to be able to do a triathlon. Perhaps it seemed a little too easy in the end after all the build up, crashes on the bike and seemingly near death experiences in the water? I just canít put my finger on it right now, but what is not in question is that it is finally over.

The truth is, it was a really quite pleasant experience! Ok, the swim was not something I'd like to do too often, kicked in the face and elbowed numerous times, but at 36 mins it could have been far worse.

The cycle was great, the time flew by and the course was quite 'user friendly'. The long declines allowed me to push hard in a high gear, gathering speed, and by using the gears well I could maintain the cadence into the uphill and fly past everyone else on the way up. Others seemed to be freewheeling the downhills to conserve energy, and this is where I picked up a big advantage.

Unfortunately, although given my past record, unsurprisingly, I dropped my drink after a mere 5 minutes of the cycle and had no fluid for the rest of the ride.... This was less than ideal as it was a scorching day in the docklands and I had tended to drink almost a litre over the 40k ride in training! I made a couple of energy sweets last the distance but was still very dehydrated after the ride and was feeling decidedly dizzy... I finished the cycle in 1hr 6 mins, a clear personal best and I am sure I could have pushed it more than I did, (especially if I had had a drink)!

A minor blip in transition now followed. True to my accident prone form, and as must have happened to all triathletes at some stage, I lost my running kit! I was pushing my bike around that transition zone in a mixture of mild panic and the early stages of exhaustion and by the time I found my kit I had lost a couple more minutes in this aimless fashion....

But then came the run, ah the good old run, the part I really enjoy. There is something kind of magical about the fact that every step you take is one step closer to the end of the race and all the nonsense of the swim, the transitions, finding your running shoes, having to not drop your water bottle is over. There is no more equipment to go wrong, tyres to burst or potholes to avoid, just you and your legs.

The other thing I like about the run is this; with swimming, a good swim suit and good technique can mask poor fitness and you can log a pretty good time. On the bike, a carbon frame, carbon rims and high density tyres combined with an aerodynamic helmet and some aero bars can potentially shave 15-20 minutes off of your ride... But the run is a pure unadulterated test of your body and your physical conditioning.

Better shoes can make it more comfortable, but if you donít have the energy and strength to lift your legs and drive you forward, and your muscles are not in peak condition to allow them to contract over and over as you bound to the finish, you will not fare well. There is no low gear to help you out, and no freewheeling, I may be biased as I am a woeful swimmer and average cyclist, but it is all about the run, and Usain Boltís very own golden running shoes cannot help you if you have not prepared for it.

The run is the great leveller, it is where you coast past the people with amazing bikes and kit, and quite probably a beer belly who somehow stayed ahead of you during the early stages, it is where you see real pain on peopleís faces as they contemplate Ďhow bad it really would be if I walked a bit.í I am pleased to say no one passed me on the run and I felt great during it. By the end, remarkably I was almost sprinting and I am sure I could have carried on! I crossed the line after a 43m 10k in 2hrs33mins.

I was thrilled that I had done it, and the time was certainly far better than I had dared to hope for, but I was strangely disappointed. I felt that after all of the sacrifices I had made in training, and with my diet in the months leading up to it I could have given more, pushed harder and maybe even neared the hallowed 2.20 marker. It will be a little while before I do another one, but armed with this experience and hopefully a better swim technique, I will be back stronger and quicker sometime soon.

Many thanks to all who sponsored me, in total including the offline donations I have raised over £1,100, but please do not let that stop you adding just one more donation to the pot as it all goes to a fantastic cause.

Many thanks


PS: The burger and chips and three pints of Guinness I had immediately afterwards were the perfect recovery fuel, forget what they tell you in the training guides!