It’s Christmas time and what does that mean?
Well, one of the things it means is that my wife and I hire a car a go to visit our Northern mothers (one in Ayr and one in Leeds). The other thing is that I get to run in some different places. Hurrah, let’s pack up the car and be on our way.
Ayr is our first destination and is a fine seaside town on the West coast of Scotland. Ayr is often windy and this Christmas it seems to have settled in to really show off its talent for flinging we fragile human beings hither and thither along the prom.
Everyone is huddled up in their rain clothes peering out at me bustling along in my running shorts. They shake their heads sadly at this poor fool who was obviously dropped on his head as a child and now doesn’t even have the sense to stay indoors when the Scottish weather starts to do its thing. I’ve been out three times so far and it’s been a mighty battle each time.
The first outing was the most pleasant. I only received a medium level battering and by the time I’d passed DoonFoot and was slogging my way up the beach, past the castle and on to the holiday camp I was taking it all in my stride (admittedly sometimes my stride went sideways as the wind gave me a playful little nudge).
Approaching the castle (more of a small tower really) there was a sheer cliff face. Tempted as I was to explore further, I felt there was more running to be done before scrambling about on the cliffs so I saved that one for the way back. I’m glad I did as the climb was a little easier from the other side.
I couldn’t actually get inside though. The doors and windows had been bricked up. A shame but possibly necessary to cut down on vandalism. Running back was much easier as the wind was behind me. I actually felt that I was cheating a little having the wind carry me along so twisted my route around a little so that I could run into the wind again. I see you there giving me a funny look but I maintain that it was a perfectly rational thing to do.
Next time out things started to get really silly. The promenade from where I’m staying on Prestwick road down to the docks was receiving a soaking as waves crashed over onto the road. It looked splendidly dramatic but was quite worrying and involved some paddling to get by this and into Ayr.
I persevered and then checked my phone to see how far I’d gone. Drat! My running app had stopped recording and so showed that I had run about 1 kilometre whereas I was at about 5. Ah well, back I go into the splashing waves and the paddling pool road. The wind was behind me here and I kept on, going past where I started, to twiddle about in the streets for a bit. Excellent fun but rather more weather than I like to confront all in one go.
Third time out was just appalling. it started off at about the same intensity as day two but with Storm Eva having just whistled on through it was dragging a bunch of squally squabbly weather systems it its wake.
I hit the sea front and was about to run into Ayr when I spotted a small path going away toward Prestwick. Always keen to explore I jumped on it and wombled my way along between the sea and the golf course. The waves were being as dramatic as on the previous day but I wasn’t going to let a bit of weather stop me from getting in the miles. I passed a sign later telling me that I could get hit by flying golf balls and that it was all at my own risk. Fortunately I knew I was safe. Golfers are renowned for coming out in all sorts of weathers but this force of wind is enough to dissuade even the most maniacal of golfers. I ended up in the town of Prestwick and thought of carrying on to the airport (famous for being the only bit of the UK that Elvis Presley ever visited. He touched down there while changing planes) but turned instead back into the streets that would take me back home. It was then that the hail began. The wind flung the hail at me with incredible force and it did feel like I was being soundly whipped. I was stuck out in the open and not enjoying it at all. It was then that I discovered that I was quite lost. I also realised that I was feeling quite miserable. OK, fix this. I opened up the running app on my phone. I expanded the view and there not so far away was the blue line showing where I had first began, only a couple of kilometres away. Hurrah thinks I. Head down and head for home.
I arrived back and, of course, it stopped hailing just before I went into the house. “It’s horrible out there says I.” “Looks OK to me says loving wife.” “It was hailing a minute ago” I claim. She shakes her head sadly. “You’ve turned into a soft Southerner haven’t you?”
“Harumph” says I.
That told her.