When I first sat down to write this blog I honestly had tears in my eyes. As some of you who follow me on twitter (@the_e_m_u) will already know I will be racing for team TBB next season and I'm really excited about getting started with the training in early January. At the same
time it is very sad for me to leave Milton Keynes and to leave all the friends I have made there
Just over 6 years or so ago I moved to Bedford to do the PGCE in Physical Education. The plan was to go there for 9 months to complete the course then get out of there ASAP and get back home to Ireland to find a teaching job. As it turned out I found a job in a great school near Bedford and decided to stay there for at least an extra year though I still really couldn't see myself staying for too much longer than that. At the time I wasn't in to triathlon though I did do a little running for fun so I joined a running club, Bedford Harriers. I had just bought a bike but I didn't ride it until I was forced on to it with a running injury. I quickly found a love for the bike with the help of a few friends in Bedford and soon was thinking about triathlons.
I stayed in Bedford for a few years and began training with local clubs Bedford Traktors Triathlon club, Bedford and County and BRCC cycling club. I absolutely loved it and became a true weekend warrior. By 2009 I had won the Irish duathlon championships (and followed this with a few British age group titles) and around that time I met Mark Booth who became my coach and through him I picked up my first ever sponsors, Fusion and then in 2010 Corley Cycles. I was totally over the moon to have a sponsor and I have been so grateful for their support ever since. At the same time I switched to Team Milton Keynes triathlon club and eventually moved from Bedford to Milton Keynes.
Milton Keynes to an outsider is a strange place. It's famous for its roundabouts and concrete cows! But when you live there it's so much more and it's a great training ground for a triathlete or any athlete. You are never more than ten minutes from the countryside; there are hundreds of paths for running and biking both on and off road, amazing facilities, great cycling routes nearby and great training groups of all levels of ability. Most of my memories from Milton Keynes will be of the people I met who became great friends and of some of the epic rides we did when I first started training with the guys there.
Those rides were so much fun, they were usually pretty hilly and consisted of one or two stronger riders pushing the pace for the entire ride and the rest of us following and working hard to keep up, too stubborn to get dropped from the pack and I guess I was scared that if I did get dropped I wouldn’t be able to find my way home. Most of the rides felt like a race and just finishing them without being dropped felt like a pretty good achievement. They taught me a lot about how to ride and handle a bike. The banter was great and if we ever had coffee stops they were always great craic.
Mark Booth has been the only coach I've had until now, he's the person who got me to where I am now and along the way became a great friend. If you've ever met him you will know that he has an infectious enthusiasm for all sport, especially triathlon and he gives so much of his time to helping others get involved in sport and coaching as well as being a great athlete himself. As a coach Mark had a straight forward, hardworking, no nonsense approach to training which suited me down to the ground. He also organised a lot of the training for the Team MK triathletes and we had some totally epic training sessions were sometimes we would get 40+ people turning up. One of my favourite of these sessions was a tough brick that was a 10mile TT bike & 3mile run x 3 although I did once have a pretty bad crash on that session!
So the time has come for me to leave MK and I have a lot of mixed emotions. I can't wait to get away and to start training with the Team TBB, but at the same time it's sad to leave everyone behind. So many people have been so kind and helpful to me over the years and I couldn't have done it without their support and friendship. I have so many great memories from the past few years and I'm so glad that my 9 month stay in England became so much longer!