Brenna is from Peoria, Illinois. Raised by a single mom with two siblings, Devin and Brylie. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a full-scholarship. She moved out to Boston following graduation in 2018. Brenna has been running here and there her whole life. In grade school, she had mile time trials and used to beat all of the boys. Brenna has been running pretty competitively since the 5th grade. It started during softball practice when her coach had her running the bases and realized she was fast. Brenna’s main events were the short hurdles, long hurdles, and long jump. The 800 meters is fairly new to her having only really run it indoors her last two years of college. Brenna got in to running for the thrill of competing and hates losing more than anything. When she played basketball, she realized she was fast and loved the idea that she was responsible for her success, or the autonomy of the sport. She believes she can achieve anything she sets her mind to and loves the idea that everything in the sport is objective, you’re either fast or you’re not. Brenna is currently not sponsored. She has a love for Chipotle and Michael Jordan.
How does it feel for running and racing to finally be back to normalcy?
To be honest, I would not say things are quite “normal” yet. We still have to get covid tested frequently and wear masks while traveling. While racing and running is the same, the work it takes to put meets on currently is certainly far from what it was before.
What was one of the things you missed during the year of Covid restrictions?
One of the things I missed was sports. I get excited when I watch athletes competing. It was boring to not have any sports. Also in the winter, not having access to an indoor track in Boston. The cold and snow was miserable.
What was one of the biggest training hurdles during this period and how did you deal with it?
A big training hurdle was just continuing to train without an idea of when races were popping up. It’s easier to see an end goal and work towards it, than it is to be monotonous day to day. I also got a stress fracture in August, and being consistent is very important to me. So that was hard to push through.
What was your experience like in this year's Olympic Trials?
The experience this year was very cool. This was only my 3rd USA meet I competed in, and first Olympic Trials. I wanted to absorb and learn as much as I could and watch what some seasoned vets were doing. To see people I’ve watched on TV since I was little, it was unreal to be there competing with them. Every track athlete has the same goal to make an Olympic team. So, I really took a minute to soak in the fact that I got one step closer to my ultimate dream.
What was the most special moment you took away from the Olympic Trials?
The most special moment was racing in the same heat as Athing Mu. She is just a talent like the sport has never seen. I saw someone tweet that they felt bad for people that had to race her in the first round. Not me, I was excited. I knew it would be a fast heat and I had no option but to run fast.
What lesson did you learn at the Olympic Trials that you will take with you for future competitions?
The lesson I learned is this sport takes a lot to be successful. For me, I work full time and am in school. Many of the athletes only run for a living. Some have to work to make ends meet. Some are in school. Everyone’s story and background are different, but I learned if this is my dream, I have to make even more sacrifices than I am now.
If you could change one thing about the sport, what would it be?
If I could change one thing, I would want more resources and accessibility for athletes who want to train but may not be able to make ends meet without a solid contract. Everyone who wants this should have the same opportunity to be successful.
When it comes to running, what would you say is your biggest strength and weakness?
I would say my biggest strength in running is my competitiveness and determination. No matter what heat I’m in, my first focus is to win. It helps to be really competitive, because if I focus on winning, the times usually come with it. My biggest weakness is patience. I want things to happen quickly, and unfortunately, track and field is just a different sport. It takes years of mental and physical work to get to your peak performance levels.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
When I was jogging on a trail in Boston, I slipped and face planted in the dirt. Luckily nobody saw.
What's your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is losing! I hate it.
What's your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is all of my dreams not coming true.
In your free time when you’re not running, what hobbies do you enjoy?
When I’m not running, I love eating, getting my nails done, watching reality tv, sitting on the beach, and shopping. I love pampering myself! I also like jumping in pick-up basketball/volleyball games when it’s hot.
Who is someone you look up to in the sport?
Is it okay to say everyone?! Every competitor of mine is sensational for doing this sport and chasing their dreams! This takes so much sacrifice, I applaud anyone who does this.
Who is one of your favorite athletes to train with?
My favorite athlete to train with is my friend, Aaron Whitman. I usually train alone, but we push each other because we’re both so competitive. He never lets me beat him in any rep he jumps into. That’s good for me. It makes me work harder.
What's next for you?
I am going to continue training for the next two World Championship years, and Olympic year, while living in Boston. I’m also entering my 2nd year of Law School. Back to work! I balance working, school, and running with a lot of discipline. I may not be able to hang out with my friends or go on trips every day. It’s definitely not ideal, but the pandemic offered the opportunity to be working and doing school from home. It gives me an idea of when I need to run if I have a meeting or class. So I don’t procrastinate. I believe you can handle anything you set your mind to!
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