[Kyle] After a week at work that got increasingly more difficult as it wore on, I went to the UK to join Maryanne for a few days. My flight was much less stressful than hers. I even managed to get a whole row to myself until halfway through, when some woman decided she would rather sit by me than her husband and then immediately spread out like she owned the place, all without making the slightest acknowledgement of my presence. As I was in the window seat, I suddenly decided I needed to use the lavatory a lot, but she never got the hint.
Maryanne picked me up at Gatwick and we drove to her Brother Russel's house in Cornwall to stay for a couple of days with his family, Clare and Alfie. Russel is also a runner who is training for a half marathon so I was happy to take him up on his offer to go for a short run in the morning. I did a pretty good job keeping up with him for the first mile as he warmed up. Then he sped up. We did do the whole run together and I have to say that Cornwall's beautiful steep, rolling, green hills were a nice distraction but I was having to do a pretty fast race pace to keep up with him. He kept talking about how nice and relaxing the pace was and how nice it was to go for a run in which you're not trying to beat yourself up. Whatever, fast guy! ...less talk, more running... too out of breath to talk. We got back to the house and he looked as if he'd had a nice refreshing massage. He checked his log and said it was the slowest he'd ever run the route. That's why he felt so refreshed! Hey, man! I have jet lag... Yeah, jet lag!
We spent the rest of the day exploring Plymouth. Maryanne played games with our nephew Alfie while I tried to pretend I wasn't too stiff to move.
The next day after a much slower run (hey, that is refreshing!), we went to the beach at NewQuay. It was starting to get very cold and windy. The forecast was for the worst storm of the season in the next couple of days. We still had a good time playing soccer on the beach and running around in the sand and climbing the rocks as it blew.
Maryanne had a friend at work who lent us a timeshare in the countryside near Milton Damerel for the week (Thanks Carl!). We all drove up together and spent the afternoon in the timeshare, which was really nice and the staff couldn't have been more friendly.
By the next day, the storm hit full force. The wind was howling and the rain was pelting the walls and windows loudly all night. The news people were saying gusts to 80 mph were expected. It seemed like a crazy day to go for a run but I doubted I would be doing much else that day so I decided to get some excercise and see a bit of the countryside. When I left, it was only pouring icy rain which is usually only misereable until I get fully soaked and then as long as I wear enough layers, I'm fine after that. Then it started to hail. Little stinging, 80mph hail. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all but I'm already nearly 3% of the way through, no point stopping now. The hail eased a bit and the sun even came out for a few seconds. I decided the storm was starting to pass and I just made the mistake of leaving a little too early. The countryside of Devon (the next county over from Cornwall) was just beautiful. I found a very nice, very narrow, very empty rural road to run on. I only had to scamper up a hedge a couple of times for cars (no room for a person and a tiny european car on these roads, they were that narrow) and the drivers were very friendly, if a bit surprised to see me way out there in the rain. Then the storm hit. The wind just howled. I kept thinking cars were coming up behind me and slamming on their brakes to stop but it was just the wind. I had an easier time running up really steep hills with the wind at my back than straight down them with the wind blasting in my face. The rain was thick, the big drops all having been shredded into an impenetrable spray. I had trouble breathing and water kept going up my nose. Every now and then I'd get to the unprotected top of a hill and a gust would throw me off the road into a hedge. When I finally got back, Maryanne gave me that look. You know, that "what were you thinking" look. Well, I was thinking I didn't want to get out of shape. Training in a tempest seemed the best way. After I peeled all of my soaking clothes off, we spent the rest of the day doing laundry and watching movies...much more sensible.
The next day with the rain stopped but the wind still up, we drove to Land's End and The Lizard at the southwest corner of England. Land's End was interesting geographically but was covered in tacky tourist shops and such, which were mostly closed for the season. The biggest attraction was the howling wind coming off the ocean. Huge waves were crashing onto the cliffs. It made me glad not to be at sea in it. Not this time of year, no, thank you. The Lizard was much prettier and more like a park. Miles of green turf ended in steep cliffs with the waves crashing below. Little paths ran to this beach or that beach. We edged our way to one cliff about 500 feet above the beach and when we stuck out heads over, it was like sticking them out of a car window into the upward blast.
Then the next day, it was all over. Time to go back. Back to New Jersey with it's traffic and it crowds and its litter. Everything is still brown there. At least it'll be easy for me to get up early for work for a while.