The year was an amazing experience, and I am very privileged to have had the chance to be a part of Team TBB and to work with Brett Sutton. For the first few months, whilst training in Lanzarote I worked closely with Bella and Stephen Bayliss. After this I was coached by Brett for the remainder of the year when training in the amazing locations of Leysin, Switzerland and Cozumel, Mexico.
I didn't start the year with a solid race plan, I went with the flow and chose races according to where I was and what I felt like doing or what I thought might suit me sometimes making some very last minute decisions to race.
I learned a lot from my year with Brett and the biggest change for me has probably been how I approach and prepare for races. I learned to view each race as a stepping stone or a training session in preparation for the next. I've learned to cope better with whatever is thrown at me both before and during the races. I didn't let it bother me when I borrowed various different bikes (I raced on 5 different bikes) for races some without even riding in training. From July till the end of the season I raced with little or no run training after picking up an injury which was managed very well by Brett which allowed me to keep racing where others might have sidelined me (I actually produced some of my fastest run splits at this time).
Of course it wasn't all positive, on the other hand I found that I was quite often thrown negative comments which for me is not what I need. It made me loose a little confidence in myself which I'm now having to build back up.
I raced last year with the goal of getting enough money to survive as a professional athlete in a sport where the prize money is minimal. I managed to finish on the podium in every race but one (I was 6th at IM Arizona) so altogether it was a good season and just about managed to get by financially.
As I mentioned in my last blog I have started to work with my new coach, Spencer Smith which has been going really well. My first training block was in Aguilas in Spain which was an excellent place to get back in to the swing of training and the fitness after the long end of season break soon came back. Training isn't a million miles from what I was doing last year. Some of the major differences have been; getting used to swimming without a pull buoy and paddles all the time, doing very structured sessions on the bike and run an using power on the bike and a Garmin for running which is taking some getting used to.
There was no better way to end the camp than with a race so the Aguilas Duathlon the day before we left was excellent timing. It was sprint distance so it was a good hard hit out. I had a good gap on the first run which grew throughout the race and it was good to start the season off with a win. This was actually my second race this year as at the beginning of January I won the Northern Ireland and Ulster X Country championships.
After a fairly hectic trip back home where I visited my family back In Ireland, went to Planet X HQ in Sheffield to pick up our new bikes, visited my cousin in Glasgow and visited Ritchie's family in Scotland I'm now at my second home in sunny Mallorca. Ritchie and I are now ambassadors for Ferrer Hotels so we will be spending a lot of time out there training throughout the season. It's a perfect set up out here for us here with the hotels own 25m pool and excellent biking and running right on our door step. Now its time to start entering some races!