As a bit of a break from the norm, I decided I was going to go to North Ayrshire early in the week, and managed to stick to it. Checking the Met office midweek had revealed most of the country was set to be covered in a thick blanket of cloud, but Eglinton had sunny spells with mild temperatures. Any chance of a bit of a sunshine and I’m basically interested, so I bought my tickets and hoped for the best. After that, I didn’t really check the weather again. Had I have done so, I might have taken a few more layers.
Eglinton parkrun is a 2 hour train journey from Edinburgh, then approximately 2 miles jog from the station. Though this is a fair undertaking, this is still a half hour less than getting to Ayr parkrun. To make the start line meant setting an alarm for 5.30, which is also the same time I would need to be on a train at in order to make Aberdeen in one day – so Eglinton is firmly in the middle distance.
Even with that ‘assurance’, 5.30am is a less than friendly time of day. The alarm duly went off, and I stumbled into the dark, coated myself in polyester and went through the motions. I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that coffee in the morning is leaving me feeling a bit odd later in the morning, so what better opportunity to stop the coffee? Arriving bleary eyed at the bus stop, a quick check on the bus app told me that a #12 would be along shortly. Minutes later a bus did arrive, but with no number or destination on the front. A quick internal calculation told me that being inside the mystery bus was definitely preferable to being out in the cold, so on I got. I of course didn’t ask the driver where he was going, where would the fun have been in that? Fortunately the mystery bus did turn out to be a #12, yet I still managed to get off at the wrong stop. Sometimes being an idiot adds a little spice to life.
The train journey meant a change in Glasgow, with a walk between Queen Street and Central station. I’ve not done this before, but it turned out to be fairly straightforward. The sun was now just starting to come up, the temperature was far lower than my southern complexion was happy about and during the journey of less than half a mile, I’m sure I counted four Greggs. I somehow managed to resist this temptation and got myself to Central station without too much issue. The temperature inside the station wasn’t greatly different to outside, and with 30 minutes wait for the train I got myself a hot chocolate and briefly considered stashing it inside my coat like a hot water bottle. That would of course have meant unzipping my jacket, which was clearly a silly idea.
Pulling out of Glasgow Central, the sun was starting to peek out over the Clyde. The whole world was smothered in mist, the sun blasting through and shimmering on the frost covering the ground. A loch here, rolling hills there, sun now firmly in the sky the day was up and running, and soon I would be as well.
Arriving at Kilwinning, I would usually have gone down a few layers ready for the jog to the start line. Today, I was happy to just sweat if it came to it. It didn’t. I followed the route I had carefully planned the night before on streetview, and was thoroughly enjoying having the deserted streets to myself. Hanging the small left turn into the country park grounds, I could see a few people ahead, frosty grass and the sun shining. I stopped to take a photo, and asked an approaching guy if I was near the start line. I’m told It’s just over there mate, and we had a quick chat as we walk the final bit to join the hoard of waiting runners. I’ve read the evening before that Doreen will today be running her 100th parkrun, and has requested a black&white dress code. I’ve managed to find a black t-shirt this morning, but it’s soon abundantly clear that my small effort may not stand out.
Into the scrum, I have foolishly stripped down to just a t-shirt and shorts, plus my neck baffle which I’m sure will make all the difference. We’re looking straight up a tree lined path, and ready to go. I’ve missed the briefing, but I’m assured that unless I’m planning to run under 17 minutes, then I should have someone in front of me to follow. I reckon it’s unlikely I’ll go under 22 minutes today, so that should leave a fair margin for error.
Off we go, and we’re tearing up a narrow run way toward what looks like a slice from a skate ramp. We’re quickly, and possibly a little bit too enthusiastically, up the ramp when we’re spun round and onto a trail into the woods. I debate on overtaking a young lad, reasoning that if I do that, he will almost certainly beat me in the end anyway. Up a small incline, the sun is flaring through the trees before we turn again down a lane and back into the woods. I glide past the young lad, and then things get a little soft under foot, I’m reminded of cross country courses gone by. Round a sharp bend and I’ve already lost any trace of an idea of which direction I’m facing. Thankfully we’re down a quick hill and through a really wet bit near where we started so I get my bearings. Not for long mind.
We’re going over a bridge, and into Narnia as we bear right to follow along a river. I can hear the water flowing, and I’m starting to imagine that I’m watching a time-lapse video of a walk in the countryside. We’re bearing round a slight bend, dodging tree roots, and whole trees in the middle of the path and I guess we must be coming to the section around the loch. Mile one done, 7.07 and I’ve a nasty feeling I’ve gone off too hard.
As we turn the corner at the top of the loch, the guy I’ve been sticking to as today’s pacer seems to be dropping off a little bit. I push forward, and with the sun behind us now I have my shadow to chase instead. My shadow seems to have quite a fat arse. Throughout this section of the course, I have the distinct impression that I’m on a farm. I can now see what I think could be the loch, though I’m not sure – it could be a puddle? I wonder to myself if it’s maybe wintering abroad. Can’t say I blame it in honesty, I’m now actively regretting short sleeves as it’s only nearing the 2 mile mark that I’m starting to be able to bend my arms. Second mile done in 7.19 and I’m starting to pay for that first mile.
We’re off the loch and through the splashy section near the start for a second time and back over the bridge to Narnia. Following the river again, we turn right this time and over a second bridge taking us back into the wooded section we ran at the start of the race. Round a corner, and I realise we’re now going to go back down the skate ramp to home. I’m sure it’s steeper going down than it is to go up, and I rattle my way down it like a barrel going down stairs. As I casually saunter my way down the end straight, my fellow runners are a lot more excited about the finish line and a few enthusiastic souls fly past me, including that young lad I passed earlier. Knew that would happen!
Getting my barcode scanned, I’m invited to help myself to a chocolate or cake. I opt for a cube of flapjack, then quickly find that these are quite tricky to eat with no saliva. I bundle myself back up and head to the cafe where it’s lovely and warm, and a nice lady makes me a huge cup of tea and a fried egg roll.
Scores: 30th place, 22:02