Thursday, 21 September 2017

WTS Grand Final Rotterdam.

WTS Grand Final Rotterdam.

I had one aim for the 2017 season; Qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. Last week I can say, I made automatic qualification.

Why did I start with that statement over talking about the race, well if you’re reading this and you are from a Commonwealth Country, you will understand the significance.  You will have watched them on TV growing up and always viewed it as a major games (obviously a level below) in between every Olympics; well that has always been my view anyway. It’s also a big deal being from somewhere like Northern Ireland, that means a lot to me, more than people outside of N.Ireland will understand and Commies being the only opportunity to race and represent Norn Iron within triathlon; that’s huge.
This wont be my 1st Commonwalth Games as I did go in 2014 in Glasgow, but it was of the discretion of the selectors, helped by the fact that it was the 1st time the games held a mixed team relay. I wouldn’t say I was there to make up the numbers, but in hindsight I was a little out of my pay grade.
This time around, I read the criteria set for Northern Ireland and didn’t ready past the automatic selection paragraph, I didn’t need to know, I already had my aim; “Top 15 in any WTS race in the 2017 season.”

All season it was my sole focus and my main target, last year went well and exceeded expectation, my ranking jumped massively and I wasn’t in dyer need of ranking points. I could have chased lower level races, made some podiums that look good on paper and possibly made a lot more money but that didn’t interest me; all in for World series races.
The  year started off full of confidence, “… I’ll just do it in my 1st race in Yokohama and get it out of the way, easy!”
Always easier said than done, the season didn’t go as easy as I wanted it to. I’m not going to be negative that just the way it was meant to pan out. ‘always darkest before the dawn’, ‘sunshine after the rain’ … all those silly clichés work fine.
I crashed; I made silly mistakes; I got sick etc, etc…
Then things started to click.

The last couple of races were starting to come together, my confidence started to build, the belief in myself and my training started to return. Montreal; 24th, Stolkholm; 20th.
All getting closer but no cigar, what more could I do? Only one more chance left, the Grand Final.
How could I do what I wanted to do in the Grand Final (the hardest, most stacked race of the season) when I couldn’t in any other WTS.
Well I didn’t have any other choice, so I just had to. Last chance saloon!

That sounds as if I just chose to do it. I didn’t, it was always planned to be a possibility. I had been at altitude for 2.5 weeks leading into Stockholm and then straight back up for a further 2.5weeks leading into Rotterdam. I knew altitude worked for me as it was pretty successful last year. I must thank my coach for facilitating this camp and my training partners (Alec, Danilo and Vittoria) up there pushing eachother along every day.

So on to the race, before I bore you anymore.
I knew I was in good shape, I knew I had done the work and anything I hadn’t done I believed the altitude work cover (placebo or not).

I guess I should follow the order of the triathlon and start with the swim leg. I was uneventful to be honest, even if at no point I could even roughly work out where within the field I was situated. I just followed white water (even though there was definitely a lot of swimming off course) and thankfully felt good and excited within the top 20.
A good transition and I knew from the 1st corner I had safely got myself in the front pack. Finally no missed break away, I was at the head of the race from the start, 1st race target achieved. Now for task 2; ‘try and stay upright for 40km’

The bike course in Rotterdam was pretty crazy, not helped by the weather conditions. Wet, cold miserable on top of a tight technical route, with tramlines, cobblestones and countless numbers of 90* corners and U-turns just to make it interesting… and the verdict? I want more courses like this!
It suited me, the conditions were nothing I wasn’t used to growing up in Northern Ireland and being at Uni in Scotland (tame in fact), but the technical element was great fun and sprinting out of corners, I will take any day compared to sitting on the rivet as a pack is lines out.

I stayed near the front of the pack for much of the race, never really pushing the pace but being in control, staying on safe wheels and avoiding the elastic band effect out of every corner and actually felt pretty comfortable, I can honestly say I didn’t find it a very hard bike leg.
I’ll thrown in a little fact for those in the know when it comes to bikes just to give you an idea of what the conditions of the course were like. I raced with 70psi in my front tyre and 75psi in my back, just to make sure I had grip and control, that’s pretty dam low … but it worked.

A good position and a fast transition and I was out of T2 sitting in 5th. No that’s where the hard part starts, 10km standing in my way of a good result. I waited to be caught by the big names in the race, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to stay with their pace, but it was worth trying to pull me away from the rest of the field.
I had the same tactic anytime anyone came up on my shoulder; try and get dragged along without digging too deep.
Finally I found my rhythm, it just so happened to be while running for 15th/16th position. This was it, how much did I want it? Just to make things trickier, that other person running for 15th/16th was Matt Sharpe from Canada. I would consider myself to have a very good sprint finish if I needed to use it, with not too many triathletes able to out sprint me, but there has been one who has on more than one occasion, yes; Matt Sharpe. So for once, I couldn’t leave it to a sprint, I just had to grind it out.
For three laps out of four it was all I was thinking about, before managing to shake him off, for the last lap, it was just don’t crumble … push on.

I did it! I crossed the line in 15th exactly what I needed, I couldn’t believe it, it meant so much to me, to be able to perform and produce when the chips were down, I did it! I achieved my aim for the season.
Not only that but it was a bonus to achieve the highest finish by an Irish Male in a Grand Final. Something I take pride in as I have spent the past few years chasing the guys that came before me and I aim to raise the bar for those that aim to chase me. On top of making my Commonwealth Games auto selection it was nice when someone pointed out I was the 5th across the line from a commonwealth Country, good confidence for next year. (I totally understand that the others in the race make a huge impact on overall results.)

Hopefully this was a much more positive post than previous ones as to much negativity was a common statement on the feedback I received, so just so that it wasn’t too positive; 14 guys still beat me on Saturday … there is work to do, bring on 2018.

Although the 2017 season is not completely finished I race a World Cup in Huelva, Spain this Sunday. Just one more race before putting my feet up for a few weeks and getting refreshed ready for a big winter of training to make 2018 one to remember.

Thanks for reading!
Russell. 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Stockholm WTS 2017

Well, the last blog I posted here was Edmonton WTS. Since then I raced Montreal WTS the following weekend, over the Olympic distance (my preferred distance)  where I had a good race improving on my Edmonton result and finishing 24th.
I did actually write a blog post about it but it took me so long to get around to uploading it, that it was no longer really relevant; … It was no Shakespeare masterpiece so nobody missed out!

Following Montreal I flew directly back to Europe for an altitude training camp in Font Romeu, France (close to the French – Spanish boarder.) 
I spent 2.5 weeks living and training at 1850m above sea level until last Thursday when I traveled to Stockholm, Sweden.
(I will do a blog in the next week or so about Font Romeu as I have actually came back since the race.)

Stockholm has been a regular fixture on the WTS calendar for the past number of years but this was my first time, first time in the Swedish capital. I soon realized why this is a regular stop and an athletes favorite, with Stockholm being a beautiful city with a technical and interesting course with a little bit of everything; short sharp hills, cobblestones, tight corners and stunning historic buildings to race around.

Enough of my less than imaginative trip advisor review, I might as well start talking about my race before you go back to scrolling through instagram or twitter because I’ve gone over 140 characters already.

The swim was in front of the town hall, consisting of two laps, one large 1000m lap followed by a shorter 500m lap, exiting the water between each lap.
Unlike the swim familiarization the day before, the water was very choppy, which was going to make for a tough swim.
pc. World Triathlon

When going down to choose my pontoon spot I had in my head I was going to line up on the right hand side beside the best swimmers but as soon as I got there, I made a stupid decision and went far left as there was only 2 people to that side, and in the moment of panic I had convinced myself that with it being choppy I wanted to be near the far side so that I had as few people around me as possible. This did not pay off and I should have stuck to my guns instead of making spare of the moment decisions.
I dived in and instantly felt slow and labored with little get out speed, struggling to move forwards and fight thorough the choppy waters.
I managed to get bumped around, struggled to get comfortable, I got a knock to the face filling up one of my goggles and even ended up getting caught in the string that tie down the buoys while trying to get around the 1st turn buoy.
At the furthest point of lap 1 I don’t think I was far from being in the bottom 10 of the field, but I knew aerobically I was fit and once I turned to head back to the pontoon I made sure I had room to swim and moved through the field exiting around ¾ the way down. Heading into the 2nd lap I knew I still had plenty of work to do so I just had to put my head down and swim though, The good thing about being in a bad position when it is not due to fitness is that your able to swim faster than the people around you. I managed to crawl back a few places and exited the water around mid pack. I know its not ideal but it was an improvement on the shocking start that I got.

pc. Salud Aquawiz Photography

On to the bike and it was straight to work to pull back the leaders and get into as high a position as possible. Leaving transition I knew I was in good company on the bike with powerhouses such as, Blummenfelt, Mola and Bishop who I knew would all contribute. Our pack worked very hard very quickly, picking up stragglers ahead with the aim of minimizing loss to the lead breakaway.

It was a fast technical 9 lap course which made for fun interesting racing but you had to be switched on at all times. I was maybe a little too eager on the 1st lap and on one of the exits of a tight corner I started to pedal a fraction too early hitting the ground with my right pedal… not advised. I don’t really know how I stayed up but was definitely an “Oh Sh!t” moment. Due to that I was maybe a little over cautious on some technical corners as I didn’t want to take anymore risks but also because I had faith in how I was feeling that if I left a slight gap I could cover it easily.

The bike was fast and furious throughout but I felt strong and in control, for the most part, that was until the about 3 laps to go when camera men who were eager to get high profile athletes on camera probably weren’t as far away from the front of the pack as they should have been. An ok scenario when you trying to close a gap to the front, but when it lines the pack out and your not availing of the draft of the camera motorcycle, it makes for some fast km’s riding on the rivet.

I knew this was taking it out of my legs and with being on the penultimate lap I knew I had to move up the pack to stay a little safer and in a better position for the last lap.
Transition was on the short steep hill so just leading into the bottom of it going on to the bell lap I moved up through the pack to around 6th. Climbing up the hill I was probably in maybe one or two gears two hard, but it was too late I wasn’t going to risk changing gears on a cobbled steep hill, this meant that on the brow of the hill I wanted to get on top of the gear and get my cadence up. This accompanied by the fact that, those riding at the front seemed to back of the pace at the same time resulted in me going onto the downhill with a gap; a gap that actually surprised me when I looked over my shoulder, so I committed, why not?
pc. World Triathlon

I put my head down and made sure I was going to enter transition, free from the chase pack to give myself bonus seconds leading into the run.  
Triathlonlive.tv commentators said, ‘I was maybe doing it to get a new bike sponsor for next year.’ NO, instead I was just riding my own non-sponsored bike and 2nd hand wheels I bought off a mate, taking an opportunity that  presented itself to me and making the most of it.
I managed to stay away and gained myself 11 seconds in doing so and in actual fact it was the easiest lap of all the 9 laps, as I could ride my own consistent pace, use every inch of the road as there was no one around me and also get on top of my breathing and enter the run as relaxed as possible.

pc. Viviane's Logbooklet
So after getting into transition alone, I made my way onto the run trying to settle into a strong pace, which was easier said than done. Legs weren’t feeling super fresh and when you start a run on a downhill cobblestone decent with not a single runner around you its hard to work out what pace you’re running at.
I wasn’t able to stay with the faster runner when they came charging past, and tried to hold onto a strong pace until I got caught by runners I could stick with and use to pace myself off, in order to get through a tough 10km as fast as possible.
Just to make things more exciting with this course, the finish line was at the top of the steep hill that we had negotiated 12 times already, it wasn’t going to be an easy finish. I approached the bottom the hill fighting for 19th,20th,21st, the two guys surged away from me as I felt I had nothing to stay with them on the hill, but as I got the brow of the hill I seen them slow dramatically and I said to myself, “I’m might throw up, but every place counts.” I dug deep and emptied the tank. I managed to spit the two guys.


pc. Viviane's Logbooklet
The difference between, 20th and 21st, prize money and no prize money, and a few extra all important points, all decided over a photo finish.
Thankfully I can come away saying I finished 20th. My highest WTS finish of the season and a great confidence booster leading into my last few races.

I’m now back in Font Romeu, for my final preparations for the Grand final (World Champs) in Rotterdam on 16th September.


I’d like, to thank Triathlon Ireland for sending me to these races, Stephen Delaney for his support and guidance during the weekend, Ian O’Brien, my coach, all my training partners for getting me into shape my current sponsors; On Running, Zone3 and InfoCrank and obviously my family for everything they do. 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Edmonton WTS 2017

Edmonton WTS 2017

Photo Cred: Tommy Zaferes
I have raced in Edmonton every year since 2014 (World U23 Champs, WTS Sprint that past two years.) Its funny how a race venue is portrayed in your memory depending on the performances that you have there.
When you have a good race somewhere, you are always very willing to go back, even if it’s not primarily a racecourse, which suits you. Mentally it’s a place where you can have another good race, because you’ve performed well there once, you can always do it again.
Edmonton is one of those places. U23’s was my best race at a world championships when I finished 16th, the 2015 in Edmonton was my best race to date back then and was a big step forward, it was also the one race that allowed me to get high enough in the World ranking to be eligible for selection for the Olympics last year (or as a reserve in my case) and last year was my second top 15th finish WTS.

Although I haven’t had the results I have wanted this season, I still went into this race with an ‘I’ve always had a good race here’ mentality. The bonus to going to somewhere multiple times, is how comfortable you are with it, you know the good places to eat, the best places to train; it keeps things very relaxed and familiar and reduces a lot of thinking and stress that is also a benefit leading into a race.

The race was two weeks post Hamburg, I had a great week at home, which was fantastic after so long on the road this season. Nice to be at home but sad knowing the fact, that the 8days I had there, helped to double to total amount of days I have spend in Northern Ireland since leaving for America back in January.
Being on the road doing what I love is great at times and a fantastic opportunity, but it is not without sacrifices and being away from home and family for so long is definitely the hardest part of it all.
So I flew to Edmonton from home and arrived on the Monday night giving plenty of time leading into the race, to be able to get over any jetlag and just get rid of the travel from the body.

Photo Cred: Tommy Zaferes
The days leading into the race went smoothly with the body feeling good and looking forward to getting and opportunity to race at the highest level once again. Unfortunately this race was another Sprint distance race; far too many on the circuit this year, in my opinion.
Anyone who watches the races regularly will have noticed that Edmonton has a very different swim course to most, which thankfully I have always found suited me in the past. The course is in a very small, shallow lake; almost more a duck pond than a lake. It is a beach start which allows for no more than one step before hitting the water instead of the more common pontoon dive. Once in the water it is not very far to the 1st buoy before taking a dog leg and loping around the back of a small island.

At the weekend I chose to stand to the right hand side of the starting line, which has always been notorious for having a slight disadvantage than the left hand side, in distance to the 1st buoy. Regardless I had decided that’s where I was going and I so did some of the top ranked guys before me, so I wasn’t too worried.
The weather was completely different to all other years in Edmonton, two years ago it was 7*C and on Saturday I stood on the start line in 27*C heat with a non-wetsuit swim (I would have much preferred the cold miserable weather).

I got a good clean start and very soon I found myself leading the charge from the right hand side, joining the left hand side arrowhead at the 1st buoy in around 8-10th position, which had been led out in blistering pace by Richard Varga.
I started to feel the pace on the back straight struggling to hold good form as the pace was very high but still know I had done the hard work and got myself into a good position to start with.
I was happy to hear afterward when I watched the race replay that it was the fastest non-wetsuit swim in WTS history, so I didn’t beat myself up as much about feeling the pace learning that fact and as I exited in 12th out of 50+ guys I mustn’t have felt as felt bad as most.

I was in a world of hurt non the less exiting the water at the back of the lead pack and struggled to have a fast transition which left me in no mans land for the start of the bike but I was glad to be swamped by some big names such as Gomez, Mola and Murray to be brought back up to the front.
The rest of the bike pack was pretty uneventful, even on the new harder course which involved negotiate and pretty hard hill 6 times.
When I say it was uneventful that doesn’t mean it was easy, far from it, this race was full gas from the gun. What I mean is that it stayed together and nothing of much significance occurred. That was until the last lap when I got a little TV time, not necessarily on purpose.

At the bottom of the hill I found myself at the front of the pack and quite close to the camera motorbike, I moved across onto the back wheel of the motorbike to keep the pace high with minimum effort and in doing so found that I had got myself a gap from the pack. I just wish I had committed to the attack as soon as realised I had a gap. I hesitated, as I knew I would have had to solo the last half lap by myself, that hesitation hampered my chances of making anything of it. In hindsight I wish I had of tried, I wouldn’t have finished much further down than I did. What’s the worse that could have happened, I still managed to get demoralizing comments from ‘Triathlon Live’ commentators at the fact that Mola wasn’t going to be worried about my run speed.

At the very end of the bike I made an attempt to get a little gap leading into transition but it was missed timed and a little too early, which resulted in me approaching the dismount line mid pack.
Don’t worry I don’t have much detail to go into on the run section of the race. From the 1st few steps I knew it was going to be a struggle, little did I know that those 1st few steps where probably the fastest few strides of the day, it just got worse after that. I struggled to get on top of my breathing, specially exhaling. I was shuffling along with shortness of breath unable to get into any rthymn and far from comfortable. I’m not one to pull out so I was left to trot around as I watched the rest of the field run into the distance as I stumbled across the line in 32nd.

Another frustrating performance, with a swim and bike to be pleased with but a run, which hindered a good final finishing position.
I am getting myself into the mix and my training has reflected a good performance is just around the corner, its just about putting all the pieces of the puzzle together…
I am currently sitting with my feet up in a hotel room in Montreal preparing to race on Sunday, this time an Olympic distance WTS, my preferred distance.
I am feeling good and loving the city of Montreal, this weekend its time to put it all together on the streets of this fine city.


Available to watch on BBC and triathlonlive.tv
Saturday, 5 August
18:20-20:55, BBC Red Button and online - women's Race (23:00-01:35, repeated on BBC Red Button)
Sunday, 6 August
18:20-20:45, BBC Red Button and online - men's Race (23:00-01:25, repeated on BBC Red Button)
Monday, 7 August
09:25-11:50, BBC Red Button - men's Race (repeat)
14:00-15:30, BBC Two - World Series: Montreal highlights

Thursday, 20 July 2017

First half of 2017 season

I tend to start a lot of blogs like this;

It’s been a while … but it has.

The last time I updated this I had just finished a training camp in Arizona with my new Squad which I have joined this year; Origin Performance.
With so much happening since then I’ve had plenty to write about, so why haven’t I? Well mainly I struggle to sit down in front of a computer and actually start typing. I know I need to get better at promoting myself and getting my story out there, as it now seems to be a big part of being a sports person.
On top of that it is always much easier to write and promote oneself when things are going well, its much harder when things haven’t gone to plan.
I don’t want to start off too negative, I am training well, I’ve been based in some really awesome places, just results haven’t been where I have wanted them to be.

So, a proper update.
So after being based in America for three months my squad decided to base themselves out of Banyoles, Spain (90mins North of Barcelona). It’s a popular training location for triathletes as the whole town revolves around an amazing lake, (which hosted rowing at the Barcelona ’92 Olympics). Great cycling, awesome open water swimming, decent running trails and consistent, sunny weather; if not a little bit too hot at times.

My first set of races from here was an Asian double; Chengdu World Cup in China and Yokohama World Series in Japan at the start of May. Chengdu was a slightly different format than previous years, a Sprint Triathlon Qualifier on the Saturday with the top 9 out of each of the 3 heats progressing through to a super sprint final on the Sunday.
I felt good on the Saturday comfortably qualifying in 6th in my heat to progress, but in the final I just wasn’t fast enough. I finished an Ok 17th , a mere 26secs behind the leader … small margins make all the difference.

Onto Yokohama the following weekend for my 1st WTS race of the season. I think this might have been some of the worst weather I have ever raced in and that weather was to come to the demise of my race. It all started quite well in the swim with making it to the 1st Buoy in the lead for the first time in a WTS race. I died off a little but made it out of the water safely in the front pack.
With the weather being resulting in a lot of surface water as well as notoriously slippy white lines on the road, it made for a very sketchy bike leg with all competitors rather nervy.
Unfortunately on the 3rd lap of the bike I crashed, I would love to be able to tell you what happened but I don’t really know. The whole pack was lined out in single file, going in a straight line, one minute I was upright the next I was sliding on my ass in the same direction we had been cycling in. On review of footage it looks like it was possible that I was touched from behind, but it happened too fast and the weather was so bad, I can’t even put the blame on anyone.
On top off crashing I managed to damage my rear skewer, which resulted in being unable to secure my back wheel into the frame. I ran to the next wheel station, got a spare wheel and tried to continue, but the time I lost was too significant; I got lapped out.
Post Yokohama, I had three weeks to get ready for Leeds WTS and with no 10km in the legs after not being able to finish the race I was able to get back into training sooner and fresher than I would have (I had to find some positives from it).
Leeds last year was my best performance to date (11th in a WTS), so I had put a little extra pressure on myself to have another good performance this year and I was feeling good, training was showing that there was no reason why a similar result wasn’t possible.
With another good swim, I exited the water amongst the front group and was ready to get into the mix, but managed to seriously fluff up T1.
Everyone knew that T1 was going to be crucial in this race as the exit was on a steep hill. As I ran out with my bike I clipped someone, which broke my elastic and sent my left shoe spinning on my pedal. With the added difficulty of having no momentum on the hill I managed to get flustered, and made a meal of getting started; every time I placed my foot on my shoe it seemed to be on the sole and not the top.


Frustratingly this small but crucial basic element of triathlon cost me the front pack and resulted in me finishing 10-12 places lower than I could have after the strong swim I was able to have.
That’s racing, fitness is only one element of triathlon and although mine was good, I messed up the basics and it cost me dearly. I still biked well and had a solid run to finish 23rd, a result I would have been happy with last year, but not this year.

One week later I traveled to Kitzbuhel for European Olympic distance champs. As much as it would prefer it not to be, this will be a short update…
I must have picked up a bug and the morning of the race I was throwing up right up till the hooter went. I lasted the swim (just about), onto the bike I was very nauseous and weak. I tried to push on but continued to vomit and I knew I had to take the decision to pull myself out of a race for the 1st time ever.

Once again it was back to Banyoles for another training block before Hamburg WTS, (last weekend). Thankfully after a week or so to get over my illness from Kitzbuhel, training actually started to go pretty well once again.
Although going into this race it was hard to concentrate on the good training done, when going into all the previous races I was happy with my fitness yet crashes, illness and the basics let me down. So although I wasn’t overly happy with the final result I came away from the weekend mentally stronger to have put a full race together.
Hamburg has always been a fast and furious race where the margins are small.
I tired near the end of the bike resulting in a very poor position leading into T2 which put me on the back foot going onto the run. With tiring on the bike previously and heading onto the run in a very low position I didn’t move up much and finished the day in 39th.

Moving on from these races that have been below average, I am looking at this as a turn around point in the season. There is still plenty more races to come and I am excited to prove that the hard yards have been put in and the fitness is there to put a very big performance together.
I have to remember that this is a transitional year, that I have moved to a new squad, new coach, training with new people and in very different training locations. Things are just taking longer than I would have liked to fall into place, but there are still much more racing to be done this season.

On Monday I head off to Canada for the next two WTS races, first in Edmonton and then the following weekend in Montreal. Time to get some decent results on the board!

I’ll check back in post Edmonton, apologies for the novel.
  
Russell 

Monday, 6 March 2017

2017 ... A year for change

As I am currently ready for my first race this weekend I guess I should take this opportunity to post an update on what I Have been doing since the start of the year and my plan for the rest of 2017.

I am currently on my my second training camp with Origin Performance, this is my new training group overseen by my new Coach Ian O’Brein, but first, I want to give a mention to a few people who have helped me up to this point.

Since I went to University back in 2010 I was coached by Blair Cartmell, he is someone who I can’t thank enough for all the time and effort that he put into me over the years; a friend and a coach, someone I have so much respect for.
A special mention must also go to Triathlon Scotland and everyone involved who welcomed and accommodated me, so much more than any other federation would have. I always felt like part of the team; being invited to training camps, traveling to races and giving me so many more opportunities than I ever would have had staying at home.

A final mention must go to all my friends and training partners in Stirling, I’m not going to name names, but they all know whom they are. I believe that the people you surround yourself with, have a massive impact on you and I couldn’t have asked for a closer nit group of friends who I was able to train and socialise with everyday.

You might be starting to wonder why on earth I decided to move away if everything was so good but some times change is needed to keep things fresh and to avoid becoming stale.
I graduated from University in the summer of 2015 and I decided that I would stay in Stirling for one year after, to train full time and to see if it was good enough even when wasn’t tied down to that location.
As things happened last year I didn’t really spend that much time in Stirling due to being a partner for Aileen and Bryan leading into Rio Olympics; it involved a lot of training and gallivanting around the globe. One draw back to this was that the majority of my flights were being booked from Dublin, resulting in me having to travel home before flights and returning to home afterwards, all these days/weeks either side of training all added up and therefore I wasn’t really in any one place long enough to be settled.

I was lucky enough that the training I was doing was still very good as I was getting hard blocks when away and able to rest and tick over when I wasn’t on camp, although it did lack consistence, something I am striving for this season.

With that year away from Stirling (as much as I love the place and the people), I couldn’t face another long cold winter in Scotland. The appeal of somewhere further afield started to become rather appealing, somewhere new to keep things fresh, as well as being far enough away from home that the desire to pop back so often was no longer there not to mention warmer climates.

I decided to join Origin Performance as I had actually trained with them for a few weeks last summer when Bryan and Aileen went down to Rio (after our training camp in Florida) and I needed a place to stay in America leading into Edmonton WTS. I enjoyed the dynamic of the squad, the different approach to training and exciting prospect of training somewhere new.

I traveled over to Arizona at the start on January to join the team and train out of Tucson, Arizona for the month. Great training in fantastic weather was a perfect combination to build my fitness back up after a long season and a relaxed end to the year. It will take a while to get used to training with a new coach but things have started off well and I am currently happy with my current form and fitness.
As I write this I am currently on my second camp in Gainesville, Florida preparing for my 1st race of the season, which will be a Continental Cup (doubling up as CAMTRI North American Championships) in Sarasota, Florida this weekend. The aim of this race is to start to the season off with a good performance, somewhere that will require little travel and a perfect opportunity to test my fitness early season.

After this race I will continue to build fitness and speed, leading into bigger races at the start of May with Chengdu World Cup and Yokohama WTS. Here I will look to replicate some of the performances I had last year but with much more consistency.

I will soon post here a more in depth plan for the season and a race report on next week but I will end now as I am sure boredom has started to set in reading my ramblings.


Russell


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