2014: Dum spiro, spero.

It’s been a funny old year, from a sporting perspective. A lot of what I’ve achieved has been pleasing, not least undertaking new endeavours (and enjoying them) and finishing the year back running again with some kind of decent form, albeit on the road and trail. What happens on the hills in 2015 remains to be seen.

Looking at the metrics, my running mileage will just squeak past the 900 mark, my lowest since records began! But pure mileage doesn’t tell the whole story, and latterly I’ve gotten into the habit of making my running miles quality miles, unlike yesteryear, where I was pushing out miles in order to record them. Conversely, my biking miles (over 2,000 and counting) have dwarfed anything I’ve done before, so I guess we’re witnessing a new Lynch era.

I’ve managed 24 races this year, which beats my bests of both 2011 and 2012 (and it would have been 26 if the Chequered Flag Duathlon had gone ahead and I hadn’t had to miss the Borders Cross Country in Chirnside, both in December), but the key difference is in the make-up of those races. Whereas before, these events would be almost entirely running (and hill running would predominate), in 2014 I completed 17 running events (and started 18), but also managed 4 cycling and 3 multi-sport events. In fact only 4 of the 24 events this year were hill races. Changed days indeed.

January

The racing started early this year with the Tri-Trail Race Series 1 at Foxlake (14 km, 59.52) followed by the annual pilgrimage to the Devil’s Burdens Hill Relays where I was safely kept away from any hills in my usual slot in Leg 1 from Falkland to Strathmiglo (4.49 miles, 30.31).

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Running on John Muir’s Way. Ouch.

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Leg 1 runners, Devil’s Burdens Hill Relays.

The Tri-Trail Race Series 2 over heavier conditions at Foxlake (14 km, 1.00.34) completed the month for me but Archie also had a very good run at the Bupa Great Junior Run at Holyrood Park, completing the 2.5 km course in 10.17. Impressive stuff from the boy!

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Archie with his loot.

February

After several fast training runs I was hopeful of a PB in my 5th running of The Carnethy 5 Hill Race, but conditions dictated it wasn’t to be and I missed out by 50 seconds (5.7 miles, 1.10.06). Archie also ran the To the Col race and had a miserable day, falling in a bog and finishing last (2.5 km, 30.22). Tough love, son.

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PB-chasing on the summit of Carnethy.

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A trio of Carnethies on Scald Law.

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Archie, brave to the last.

February also saw my first attempt at a mountain bike duathlon, at the Bowhill Long, which was a terrific day out (20 km, 1.53.42).

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Mud and snot at Bowhill.

March

A squad of us descended on the Kintyre Way peninsula for a recce weekend for the Ultras and Ultra Relay. A top time was had and plenty of miles were covered.

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Middle-Aged Men in Lycra.

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Gregor, are you looking forward to this Leg?

After a fantastic skiing trip to the Alps I got back just in time to catch the 4th race in the Tri-Trail Race Series  at Dalkeith Country Park (13.5 km, 59.05), finishing 5th overall in the series.

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It’s times like these.

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Forefoot striking at its finest.

April

April was a quiet month, race-wise, although I managed some lovely running on the Cateran trail at Easter, but I picked up a calf strain, and it turned a bit nasty and the Kintyre Way trip looked in doubt.

May

I decided to miss my much-anticipated revenge run on the Stuc a’Chroin 5000 to recover, and it all worked out in the end and I was on the start line at the Kintyre Way Ultra Relay with the rest of the Carnethy A Team to help us to victory and a new course record of 8:25. I ran Leg 5, Carradale to Ifferdale (6 miles, 49.47) and it was a memorable weekend.

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The numbers of the beasts.

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High fives and happy times.

This was followed by the Club Dreghorn handicap (5.3 miles, 50.38) and a rare run on the road for the Edinburgh Half Marathon, where I set a PW (13.1 miles, 1.49.44) in helping Rose George to achieve a PB: a very satisfying experience which can be read about in more detail here: https://bubstersdaddy.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/a-rose-between-two-thorns-2/

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A wonderful group remembering a wonderful friend.

June

This was a busy month and a trip to London saw me finally breaking my Parkrun duck, achieving a new PB in the process at the Bushy event (5 km, 19.32). Neil Burnett and I then cashed in our annual boys weekend away to run the Trotternish Ridge Race on the Isle of Skye (27 km, 4:52:34). It was a tough and hot day out for me but what an event, and what a location! I’ll be back.

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Like a bird on the wing.

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Broken.

I undertook the Solstice Bike Ride (70 miles through the night) with others from work and Carnethy and set myself up nicely, ahem, for my 4th Seven Hills of Edinburgh Race the next day, where I was a fair bit outside my best (14.3 miles, 2.17.00).

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Solstice bike fun.

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Seven Hills for many fools.

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A chair stabiliser.

There was the Club Nine Mile Burn handicap (5.5 miles, 49.16) and things were rounded off with the low-key White Tops Hill Race in Auchterhouse (6.4 miles, 59.34) where my going-the-wrong-way form returned spectacularly.

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White Tops Hill Race: It got hillier.

July

July was the start of holiday season, but I managed to squeeze in the Maddy Moss Hill Race (6.2 miles, 1.08.25) and scrape another PB at the Edinburgh Parkrun (5 km, 19.26) before we headed off to Spain.

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Maddy Moss. A great race.

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Parkrun pain.

August

A good chunk of August was spent lounging in Spain, where I managed a good amount of hill running with Neil, swimming (in anticipation of my first triathlon!), mountain biking and generally getting slimmer and fitter.

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The rocky road to ruin.

There was a 7km obstacle race that I took part in with friends and Archie held off the Catalan field in the Junior race to win his first International title!

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Catalan mud, Scottish smile.

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Veni, vedi, vici.

Disaster struck on my return to the UK at the end of the month though, and after a good performance at the Red Moss Club handicap (5.9 miles, 42.16), I had high hopes of smashing my PB at the Baddinsgill Round Hill Race. It was not to be, however, and a torn meniscus saw me limp off at halfway, my first DNF for some time. Injury meant that I missed out on the whole of the Carnethy AltC5 Series, but I really enjoyed organising one of the races, the Bonaly Blast Trail Race, where 21 racers took part on the night.

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Bonaly Blasters.

September

This was to be the start of several weeks of run-less frustration where my knee failed to improve quickly. I kept the fitness levels up through swimming, spin classes and cycling and was disciplined enough to rest up the running (missing the Ben Nevis race and the Comrie Hill Relays in the process) and my only exception to this was the Eyemouth Sprint Triathlon, in which I put in a very enjoyable comedy-of-errors performance (25.75 km, 1.41.04) which can be read about here: https://bubstersdaddy.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/if-at-first-you-dont-succeed-well-youll-just-have-to-tri-again/. The day before the Carnethy Equinox run had seen some running of an alternative kind. Let’s just leave it at that.

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Equinox hallucinations.

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Eyemouth. Not a textbook performance.

Archie also had a great run at the Caerketton Doonhiller (0.8km, 4.28).

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At least one of the family can run downhill well.

October

Given my down-time in terms of running, I still needed the competitive edge of racing, so I decided to embark on some of the Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series. This turned out to be one of the best decisions ever made, as I have really enjoyed myself and will certainly be Cyclocrossing again in 2015. The first event, at Callendar Park in Falkirk, (9.3 miles, 44.47) can be read about here: https://bubstersdaddy.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/cx-in-the-city/

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Re-mounting on a mound.

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It’s not called a pushbike for nothing.

I finally bit the bullet and saw the surgeon this month, and he confirmed my worst fears – that the arthritis in my knees had advanced and further injuries would become more frequent and prolonged. More details here: https://bubstersdaddy.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/things-can-never-be-the-same-again/

He recommended giving up competitive running, advice which I have thus far ignored. However it did open the door to a change in running style and footwear (minimalist) which so far has been successful https://bubstersdaddy.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/heel-to-heal/

The arthritis has opened new windows of opportunity, however, and my bike-based events continued apace in October, with the Scottish Cyclocross Series, Races 2 and 3 – Strathclyde Park (11 miles, 54.31) and Irvine Beach (8.4 miles, 51.10) coming soon after each other.

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It’s cycling, but not as you know it.

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Are you Irvine a laugh?

Archie continued his run of Club races with Manor Water. Unfortunately he ran too far in one direction before turning, but still came away with a valuable lesson in life (which his Dad has still to learn). (Distance?, 36.05)

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The Man-up-son Water race.

November

This was our busiest month yet, with a collective 6 races between us. I came back to run racing with my first outing at a Borders Cross Country Series, in Lauder. It was a good start, a mini-breakdown 2/3 in, and a decent finish (4.3miles, 33.17).

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Porty photobomb.

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Galloping behind some Gala Harriers.

However I struggled to recover in time for Tinto, so Archie was on his own for this one, winning the Tinto Tiptoe in a new PB (1.2 km, 8.09).

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On tiptoes for the Tiptoe.

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Archie heading for the win. That’s my boy.

Consecutive weekends of racing saw me complete the Borders Cross Country Series, Gala (3.6 miles, 26.55), the Bowhill Duathlon (Short) (10 km, 41.07) for 21st place, the John Muir Winter Festival, Foxlake Cyclocross (9 miles, 59.26), and the Borders Cross Country Series, Peebles (4.4miles, 32.40). November was a return to form for me, with all performances being solid.

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Gala. Rivers of mud.

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Transition time, Bowhill.

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Nearing the finish at Bowhill.

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A tight course at Foxlake suited my bike.

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Can you spot where the timing strap was?

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Running after girls. It’s a bad habit.

December

December was looking to be another busy month with 3 more races, but the middle weekend came to nothing in the end, so the East District Cross Country Championships at Camperdown Country Park turned out to be my final competitive race of the year. I enjoyed the day and the 3 x 2 mile circuit was tough but runnable (6miles, 42.08).

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The Pied Mincer of Dundee.

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Your running number is your age in this race, apparently.

So, in conclusion, it WAS a good finish to the year until the folly of taking on the Footworks Omm/Skora Uphill Challenge on Sunday https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jfQvfeaP-U&feature=youtu.be&a which has left me nursing a sore and stiff achilles, and I’m hoping that it will recover in time to allow me to put in a good performance at the first event of 2015, the New Year’s Day Triathlon. Aside from that however, I’m looking forward with anticipation in seeing what running in the hills will bring me in 2015, mixing up my run races, getting involved in more bike and multi-sport events and generally staying fit and healthy and surrounded by kindred spirits. I’ve joined Edinburgh Road Club from 1st January so looking forward to being part of two high-achieving clubs for the next 12 months at least. While I breathe, I hope.

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