Wednesday, 20 March 2019

10 Things I Hear As A Fat Runner

Most people who know me, know I admit I'm no Mo Farrah in stature. It's always something I have to deal with, being a short arse as well, weight never looks great on me. It's just something I have to deal with. The weight comes and goes, plus I love my food. 

Anyway I thought I'd write the 10 things I hear often said to me when people who don't know me very well, hear I'm a runner and the type of events I run. 

1. No offence but you don't look like a runner (always a winner this one, starting with "no offence")

2. You? You run?

3. There's no way you can run that far

4. Have you just started?

5. Is it harder to run being a larger person?

6. Why aren't you skinny?

7. You should try Slimming World or Weight Watchers. 

8. I can't even drive that far

9. Don't you get bad knees

10. You have cake after a run? (Yep I have heard this a few times)

I once saw on an American Running Forum which I'm not a member of, mentioned me and that I was too thicc (fat) to be an Ultra Runner. No idea how I've made it across the pond.

I never claim to be the fastest, the best or even any good at my sport. I run, that's just what I do. I used to be really really fat, now I'm just not as fat as I used to be. I've always said people are welcome to join me on runs, if they're faster than me, then they'll either have to loop back or run slower. If I'm faster than them I will run at their pace. 

Just because I'm not physically slim doesn't mean those like me are not runners, as long as both feet are in flight as you move, you are a runner regardless. So whether you are skinny, large, tall, short etc etc if you run, you are a runner. If someone is out there running, encourage them don't make them feel like shit, at least they're trying to make a better version of themselves.

I just love to run


#GoTailwind #UglowSports #StitchFree 

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Kit Review - Zoncolan Running/Cycling Glasses

It's not often I get the opportunity to do kit reviews, so when I received a private message  from via one of my social media outlets, I was a little dubious. Anyway, a few emails afterwards and here I am now writing a blog on this piece of kit which is available here Amazon

Now I love wearing with sunglasses, and I've been fortunate in the past to be supported by a brand before. One of the pairs I liked had interchangeable lenses which allowed me to wear them in any weather in, in any form light level. So regardless of whether it was raining or blowing a gale, my eyes would have protection. I hate wind and rain getting into my eyes whilst out running and even occasionally cycling. 

So these glasses arrived, in a nice hard protection casing, along with a soft bag and if required a neck strap. Can't remember what you actually call the neck strap but you know what I mean. 

Zoncolan Glasses 
On first appearance they looked a bit chunky, and definitely not a pair you would want to wear every day on the street or beach trying to look cool. These are definitely a pair designed with the purpose of running or cycling in.

Before putting them to the test I tried them on for size as such. To be fair they were pretty comfortable. As I never looked them up really prior as I wanted to gauge everything with out any pre made assumptions, I didn't actually know anything about these pair of glasses. 

They felt pretty light on my face, which is always a good start and also fitted very comfortable. So I decided, I would put them to the test during my up and coming race at the time, the Arc of Attrition (see race blog here ) . The weather was expecting to be rubbish, so with what are clear lenses, this would be ideal for the rain and wind that was to be expected. 

I wore them from the start of the race, and what I didn't realise was they were light reactive lenses. As the sun came out my glasses got darker. I only noticed properly when I looked at my reflection on a car window. This was a pleasant surprise, I honestly just thought they were clear lenses. 

Tested during the recent Arc of Attrition pic by NoLimits Photography
Anyway as the race progressed for me, they remained on my face. It wasn't until my race was over in the dark and there wasn't any need for them I took them off. I actually forgot they were there, to be honest. The design of them being light made it feel they weren't on my face at all. 

Now something I found with other brands was that they often fog up, when I stop or slow and down whilst running. This never happened at all during the race, the lenses have little holes in them at the bottom which allowed the air flow around them better. Also even when I had my Buff up around me face because of the cold and the wind, they never fogged up like others have before when doing the same thing. 

As the day darkened the lenses became clearer and soon running in the dark they were clear lenses, protecting my eyes from the elements. 

They felt really comfortable during the race - pic by Mudcrew appointed photographers
Since the race, I've run in them a lot and in various weathers, although during the race they never fogged up, they did once during a training run. However that said within like a second they defogged without the need of me having to remove them from my face. Which is something I've had to do with other brands. 

Now you'd think for light reactive sporting glasses you could be asking for a tidy penny to be spent for a pair but they're on Amazon for £27 which actually isn't that expensive and I can tell you they're really good for their value. 

I know people often will say the product is good because it was sent to them free, but this isn't the case, I'm saying for the value and for what they are designed for they are surprisingly good. Yes as I said you wouldn't want to be seen wearing them for every day use but they're not designed for that. What they are designed for is for running or cycling and they do the job very well!

Used them a lot info February!
The company that sells them also restores sunglasses as well, if you need lenses for your Oakley's they do them etc etc. You can find the product here on Amazon  or you can visit their website for more info here 

So there you go, overall I'm pretty pleased with this product, a friend has also ordered a pair herself now after suffering the effects from the weather on her eyes during the race. 

I've used them for runs since and still happy to wear them from now on. 

Thanks for reading


#GoTailwind #UglowSports #StitchFree 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Arc of Attrition 100 Mile 2019 - Is it ok to DNF?

We have to scroll back in time a little to actually this time last year, I should've been standing on the start line to the Arc of Attrition 2018. Instead I was about to sail for a short notice 5 month deployment which as some of you know ended up a 10 month deployment instead. 

As I was sailing down the Bay of Biscay, I was envious of those racing around the coastline. Knowing that should've been me. Alas it wasn't! I had to defer my place and hope I'd be around for 2019. 

Rolling forward I came home end of November 2018 and whilst trying to give back some valuable family time, I also had to plan in some quality training for the Arc. Yes I had been running whilst away, but I hadn't had the quality training this event requires. It may have been too little too late, but I was going to give it a good damn go! 

Out on the CP for my first recce run
Having sat down with my wife, we worked out when best to get down to Cornwall and do some recce training runs. So I cracked on with my training in and around family time, before Xmas and then when January came off we went down to Cornwall for 3 weekends on the bounce. 

The paths were looking good over the three weekends,  testing out my kit went pretty well and I had my plan formulating. I did have a few niggles with my left calf, but I was managing it. 

During one of my recce runs, around the Kynance Cove area, I took the wrong path and ended up wasting time trying to get across, boggy lumpy marsh type land. I said to myself "right, don't take that one next time as it will be during the race, follow the path around closer to the coast line"

Sometimes on the South West Coastal Path, you could take the wrong path easily if not concentrating and you can waste a lot of time correcting yourself. 

With my recce runs out of the way, I was duty the weekend before and was able to give my left calf a rest the best I could. I had some fun times during the training, but did get some confidence issues. I'd been out of the long distance game for about a year thanks to work last year and my mental game wasn't up to scratch and it was something I would need to conquer soon or it might screw me over. Also knowing there would be people wanting me to fail as well, was also playing on my mind and I needed to make sure they'd not get too much in into my head during the race. 

How can you not love these trails?
Race weekend soon came round quickly, and I had to sort myself getting down to Redruth where my parents lived and where I was staying. My son was still in School back in Plymouth and didn't finish til 1pm on the Friday. So my support crew aka my wife wasn't able to crew me until she got down straight after picking him up from school and dropping at him at my parents on the way. This meant the first 3 hours ish I'd be with out a crew, I prepared for that kit wise and mentally wise. 

Thursday afternoon I got the train down, I took  with just some of my kit as well as the mandatory kit I was to race with. As we approached Redruth the weather had gone from rain to heavy snow. Suddenly this threw a lot of issues in the works, had I got the right shoes with me to start with? Had I enough warm clothes to race in? I had to to try and block that out my mind. 

It also got to the stage that I thought I may have to walk to registration just over two miles away as the roads might have been too bad for a car. Loads of people had issues on the roads traveling down, some didn't even get to the start sadly. That was my main goal, get to that start line. It didn't matter really after that, I just had to get to the start line. I really felt sorry for the organisers Mudcrew, although they always want the weather challenging, it usually storms not snow blizzards. It caused logistical nightmares!

I made it to registration, luckily the sun came out and thawed the roads enough for my parents to drive me there. Suddenly, I started seeing friendly faces  I've not seen in a while and my heart warmed up. With a hug from Jane Stephens one of the RD's for the race, followed by others I felt so happy. This was my happy place and I was back in it!

Snowfall in Redruth WTF?
After registration I went back for some food and tried to get a good night sleep. I slept pretty well, and because I registered the night before I was in no rush in the morning. My running pack was packed, clothes ready to go on and my parents dropped me down to the start. 

There was some snow still on the ground, it was cold and the wind made it feel colder. However I was surrounded by more friendly faces, and more hugs, handshakes and smiles were coming my way as I met and greeted friends who were either running, crewing or helping with the race. That's one thing I find with this discipline of the sport, the friendships made are amazing. I've turned up to 10K races before in the past and I may meet someone I know, but most of the time you are just a face in the crowd, you run, you finish, you go home. With these type of events, you see friends, you catch up, you make new friends, and then that friendship continues on regardless of how long it is until you see them again at another event if you don't see them in between. I love this type of relationship with other runners of this discipline. 

Jane and Fergie two out of the 3 RD's. 
I digress, so I got my tracker fitted by Richard from Racedrone. It was good to catch up with him briefly also, after which all of us gathered for our race safety brief. I had a joke with Fergie one of the RD's about reversing the course and telling everyone just to see their faces, but alas he never did. After our race brief, we all got on to the 4 buses that was provided and we were off on our way to the start line in Coverack. 

The start line was busy, music playing, everyone getting those last minute selfies prior to big the off. Fergie, introduced the top 5 male and female runners for the race. It was an exciting start line for sure. 

Soon start music was blaring, drums were banging and we were awaiting the horns to set us off. It wasn't long before those horns sounded, we were off down the and along the road. Smoke flares blowing in the wind as we ran past spectators and crews cheering us off. This was it, I took a big breathe in and said to myself "Let's get this done"

At the Race HQ prior to starting
My support crew wasn't going to appear until further down the course, so I set in my mind to just do what I can, manage my fluid intake and keep pushing on. As long as she got there at some point in the first section I would be ok. 

As soon as we started to leave the Coverack area, we hit our first diversion on the path. This took us up and away a little from the actual path via a steep climb, but wasn't a major diversion as such more a pain in the arse especially so early on in the race, as it was narrow and we soon were bunched up. 

Eventually though, as the miles started to tick off, we all opened from each other with some breathing space but able to see each other ahead to follow. I was on plan, and things were going alright. I was in a happy place and making head way. The weather to start with was pretty good, but the path was not as good as it had been during my recce runs. It was sticky and slippy mud, and my first error was noticed. 

Myself and fellow Muskie Sarah (she's bloody great!) pic taken by Carl Champion
I chose to start the race in the Saucony Peregrines because the path had been pretty reasonable prior. I could only take one pair down with as I couldn't carry spares on me during the run and my others were being brought down. I was keeping my more aggressive lugged Koa's for when I reached Land's End knowing they would be fair better for that section afterwards.

So already in the sticky mud, my lugs on my shoes were full of mud, so I couldn't get the traction I needed. I wasn't how ever going to let this put me down. I cracked on, up and down the hills as best I could. The temp warmed up a little and some runners took off a layer, I however was comfortable enough and didn't remove my jacket. I knew it would get colder soon enough and it would save me precious time not having to put it back on again. 

I then had a company for a little while, in the form of a lovely Swedish runner called Lupita. We had some conversation, and I assisted her in directions through a cove. Soon enough though she was off ahead and eventually I was by myself. No one in front or behind for a while, I was alone. Something I trained for during my recce runs was lone running. I enjoy company and if I get some it's a bonus. However knowing I was more than likely going to be alone for majority of the race, I needed to be mentally prepared so despite having offers of training with others during recce's, I decided I needed to be use to being on my own. It worked for the duration of my race anyway. 

Eventually I made it to Lizard Point about 11 miles in my left calf was a little sore, nothing major, but I was a head of my plan schedule by about 15 minutes at this point. I needed a bottle filled, so the Marshalls filled a bottle up and put one of my sachets of Tailwind Nutrition I had in. It was going to be another couple of miles yet before I hopefully get to see my crew. 

I cracked on to Kynance Cove, trying to make good progress where I could. I saw a friend who happened to be one of the No Limits Photographers doing pictures for Raidlight the sponsor of the event along the way. I gave her a hug and thanked Harriet for being out (I know she had to be but that hug is what I needed to keep me in a good place). 
At Kynance Cove having just met my support crew. Pic taken by Mudcrew appointed Photographers
I made it to Kynance Cove and as expected my support crew was there, with bottles ready to change, so I had fresh bottles to get me to the next meeting point at Mullion Cove. I was doing ok at this point. As I made my way after Kynance Cove I soon came to a point where I messed up during a recce run. I saw the path I took last time which was wrong, I knew it was wrong so I then went with what I thought should be correct. I said during the recce don't take that path during the race, as it took me over marshy boggy land and would slow me down. So I followed another path closer to the edge of the coastline and it started to lead me down and around. I saw what looked a foot path as I went round and thought is this the path, it wasn't quite right, but didn't want to stop and waste time or head back and waste time. It was when I looked up and noticed I was at the bottom of a sheer cliff side. "Fuck" I'm such a dick. I missed the correct path as I ran round and cocked it up again! I gathered my thoughts which were over the place, and had to decide whether to go back which would cost me time, or climb straight up in hope to find the path. Thing is I was slowly gaining on the runner in front I could see him on the other side of the cove, and not only had I wasted time, I had cocked up catching him up. 

I decided to climb the side of the cliff back up, it was horrific, I found the correct path and I had lost about 45 minutes to the error. I knew the race was over, I'd be chasing time instead of time chasing me, but I knew I could scrape through the CP1 cut off and see how far I could get before being pulled. I had to control my thoughts, and get on with the job. 

Pushing on earlier in the race. Pic taken by Mudcrew appointed photographers
I then pushed on as hard as I could. I got to Mullion Cove 18 miles in and my support crew was at the top waiting. I passed by one of the Mobile Marshal Crew at the top first, it was Daz a runner from my club. He checked I was ok, he was wrapped up trying to keep warm, the Arc Angels out and about were amazing. The weather had turned and wasn't pretty any more. I had a quick change of bottles, picked up my poles and made my way onwards. 

My crew continuing to meet me along the way, changing bottles if needs be and some Cola if I wanted. The sun was going down, so as I knew my race was over, I quickly took a picture as it went down , so I had something positive to take away from the race. It was beautiful and it's what brings me to the path often. 

I made my way to Loe Bar (a beach section) and crossed the sand to the right side of the fence as directed in the Race Brief. I wasn't that far from CP1 now, it was dark my head torch on. I made my way up the diversion to the top of the hill and headed towards Porthleven. 

I was about a mile out, and saw time was getting close, so I picked up the pace. I hit the tarmac and it was getting closer to the cut off. I was determined to get there. I was flying now down the road into Portleven. I reached the Arc Valets waiting on the corner, they shouted I had 5 minutes to get to the CP. I carried on with my fast pace, I was blowing hard. I had one of the Arc Valets running with me. Soon I had a few Arc Angels around me, encouraging me on. I went past my support crew, who grabbed my poles of me as I ran. I went passed the previous old CP1 (I would've made the cut off had it not moved from here) and was disappointed for a moment as I ran passed it LOL. I was told we had to run up a hill to the CP1, so I turned up the hill and gave what I could. It was hard! I looked at my watch, I was told it was only 100m to go (it wasn't it was more like 400m) and I had 30 secs left. I couldn't do it, so I slowed to a walk. I saw other runners on the way back out from CP1 continuing on to the course and wished them well and good luck. For me I knew it was over, I was a minute over the time and that was it. I had run 26 miles and gave everything but it wasn't good enough. I felt good, I could've done more and wanted to do more but knew that was that. I walked in the CP1 and saw Jane one of the RD's and got a hug.
Just got to a top of another climb and shocker someone there to take a pic whilst your blow out of your arse. Pic taken by Mudcrew appointed photographers

I gave back my tracker and drank a cup of tea and had some soup. Although my race was over, I was ok about it. This is my 3rd DNF in 7 years, first was at my first ever Ultra, 2nd was the 2017 RAT Plague which I attempted after finishing my North Wales to South Wales attempt the day before. So it's not a new thing, and I've learnt from each of them. This one was ok, I was pulled from the race for being rubbish not because I gave up. 

Me and the wife left the CP and I caught up with two friends having some food whilst they were in the middle of crewing another friend. It was lovely to catch up with them, and the kind words Sarah and Anthony gave me afterwards was nice and I knew then I was in a good place. 

Myself and Lupita. Pic taken by Mudcrew appointed photographer
So that was it, Arc of Attrition 100 mile over. I ran a marathon of it, cocked it up and now I have to just get on and focus on future events. Will I return? I hope so. I enjoyed myself out there and that is what I wanted from it. I reached two of my goals - the start line and CP1 so I have easily something to improve on for sure. Is it ok to DNF? I think so, when an event has a high DNF rate like the Arc has, there is nothing to feel bad about DNF'ing. There were many reasons runners fell short of the finish, the adventure to the start line made them worthy of being there, everything else is a bonus. I was so pleased to see some of my friends reach that finish line, one made me shed a little tear. Mark Evans who had attempted 4 times prior finally crossed that Arc finish line. All of us were so happy to hear that news. 

The course record was broken by Kim Collinson who ran it in 20hrs 43 mins and 46 secs, beating 4 time winner Steve Wyatt. The Female record was also broken by Laura Swanton. 

To all the runners whether you finished or not, you all amaze me and thank you for being on the start line with me. Thank you to Jane, Fergie and Andy all the Angels, Valets and Marshals. Mudcrew events are something special.

So now my next event is the London Marathon, if I end up cliff climbing on that I really have cocked things up!!

Thank you to my support crew Cathy aka the wife for doing what you do for me out on these courses. Thank you to Tailwind Nutrition and Uglow Sports for the continued support. 

Until next time


#GoTailwind #UglowSports #StitchFree 

Sunday, 25 November 2018

End of an Journey? Maybe For This Trip but Not the End of the Adventure

We waved goodbye to Gibraltar, our final stop of the 10 month deployment and made our way out of the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic Ocean. It's mad to think back to when we first came down this was at the beginning of February. I came down with Pneumonia, the Bay of Biscay was rougher than St Paul's in Bristol. Was that really 10 months ago? 

Our count down ship
Now as we made our way back up through the Bay of Biscay, there is a little swell enough to rock us to sleep at night but it's far from it's brutality it has often known to cause. We have some guests on board in the form of Parents and Children joining us for the trip home. Some have coped with the rocking others not so but I believe they still would've enjoyed the experience none the less being with their loved ones for so long. My son unfortunately was too young to come, but to be fair it means homecoming will be far more special. 

As this trip comes to an end, so will my training on board. I continued to treadmill although easy runs due to the rolling of the ship, it makes you feel like your running up and down small hills often and it would be too easy to come off, if care wasn't taken. 

The Thursday night before we came alongside was spent at the buoy in the Plymouth Sound. It's so close to home, the excitement is hard to maintain. You know the family are right there but still not close enough to touch. I'm not scared of showing my emotions to be fair, times have changed where man no longer should be scared of a tear or two. Homecoming is going to hit a lot of people hard I think. We've been lucky to have better technology on board to allow us to stay in touch more. When I first joined in 1997 there were few mobiles around, no emails and getting time to phone home at sea was hard due to the lack of phones on board that allowed you to do it. Now we have constant emails, wifi and phones (operationally dependent of course) which allows staying in touch so much easier and I believe this helps with maintaining the bond in the families. Ok the WiFi isn't the best we can just about send FB Messages or Whatsapp but it's more than we used to have and all currently that is needed. 

All the family and friends waiting on the Jetty
I can safely say it's been good for me. I have had my moments of struggling being away, but with my running and being able to communicate with family and friends back home it's helped.

The day of homecoming arrived, everyone is up early for various reasons and it was time to get us back alongside. Over 1500 family and friends were expected to be on the Jetty waiting for us. The city of Plymouth saluting us from the Citadel with their cannons as we sailed past. It's a big day for the ship. If you went back to last December when during Operation Sea Training we were told " by the way your now deploying early next year for 5 months to the Med" and then 1 month in the deployment you get told "by the way we're extending you til 10 months in the Far East" we have traveled a long way and for a long time with very little time before hand to be prepared both physically and mentally.  Now it's over and we were finally back! 

Reunited with my boy!
The following day at home was just about chilling out, nothing major but I was surprised in a nice way to catch up with some of my friends in the evening that came out to see me. It's amazing the little changes around the area you notice that others take for granted that have happened. Road layouts, shops closing, the list goes on. 

Sunday was a day planned out by my son. He wanted a daddy and son day, no mummy as he says "Mummy has had me to her self for 10 months" So his plan was for me to run with him at our local Junior parkrun in Plymouth, lunch then cinema then tea then bowling. 

Me and the boy at Junior parkrun
The morning started with the Junior parkrun in Devonport, Plymouth. I've never run it before as it started up during my time away. It was one that had been talked about happening over the years and finally it's happened. It's a wonderful park and the course is a nice 2 lap course with a cheeky little hill to run twice for the kids. 

We turned up and it was nice to see some of my running friends there with their children. My friends were either volunteering whilst their children ran or running with their children like I was. My boy said to me prior he wanted to beat his PB for the course, so that was our goal. Off we went when the run was started and made our way round, with my boy thanking all the Marshals as he went, giving them all high 5s along the way (this may have slowed him down) 

He's grown up around parkrun since he was 3 years old when I first started myself. He continued  to run, and often saying he felt destroyed hehe. He was working hard, and all I was doing was giving him encouragement. He led the pace not me, I've never pushed him like that. I have never been a fan of pushy parenting. I rather he enjoyed it, than being forced. 

He eventually finished and he smashed it. He took almost 2.5 mins off his previous PB. Did it help having me there? Possibly a bit of confidence for him, or he wanted to impress me with how much he's come on. Either way, he did it and he did it himself. 

After we had finished, the boy went home in the car as I ran home, I needed to get my run in before the rest of our day continued. I have always tried my best to fit my training in and around my family rather than fitting the family in and around my running. It was also a good excuse for me to test out some of my new kit that arrived in the post prior to me coming home. 

My new kit from UglowSports
On first impressions the kit did very well, the top was comfortable, light, and felt good to run in. The shorts were fantastic, and loved the pockets on them. I liked the stitches design in all the garments. The jacket was what I was most impressed with. I wore it originally as I thought it was going to rain and because it was cold. However despite it not raining, I didn't end up over heating. I also didn't end up like a sweat bowl in it. One first use in no rain, it was pretty good. Looking forward to giving it a good run out when it rains, as this jacket will be my go to jacket for the AoA in Feb. 

So that concludes my blog in my series of blogs from my travels around the world. I've still yet to have a look at my footage from the rock race yet, that will be something I will do over the next week during my time off and hopefully will be able to put a film together of some sort. 

Thank you everyone who supported me and kept up with my travels whilst I was away. Thank you to Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continued support. I hope to continue being a trailblazer next year. Next year is going to be a good year I reckon. 

So until the next blog! 

My run home!


#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer #UglowSports #StitchFree

Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Rock - No Monkeying Around Here

Ladies and Gentleman welcome to ....................... The Rock! 

After almost 10 months we have arrived in Gibraltar, the gateway for many UK Naval ships to the Med or like us the gateway back home. We finally left Duqm and after some more of the exercise we finally made our way down the Gulf of Aden, heading towards the Bam el Mandeb, the choke point into the Red Sea where the chances of being attacked is always a possibility. Even whilst we have been away deployed, Saudi Naval ships have been attacked and sunk here. 

I've kept my training mainly to the gym, and although the temperatures have started to drop, the gym is still at the time I've been training anywhere between 30-34 degrees. To be honest, it's going alright on the treadmill so far. I've not had any niggles recently in my calves which only really seem to be caused when running on the ship's treadmills. 

Bam el Mandeb choke point (pic taken off google)
I have started to bring in reps of steps in my sessions, and I'm hopefully going to be able to build up on this until I can get back to the coastal paths back home, where there is no shortage of steps. 

Treadmill running a needs to a must
I'm starting to build on my plan for the Arc of Attrition, making sure I keep my goals smart. My main goal and always has been is to make it to the start, I missed out this year, due to short notice deploying on this trip. Once I'm on that start line, with some of the best runners in the world and also my friends you will see me with a nervous but very big small on my face! 

Nothing really else matters after that, it really doesn't. 

Our trip after the Bam took us up the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal before taking a left wheel and heading to our final port of call prior to home and after 4 weeks at sea it was Gibraltar. Now apart from Monkeys, Gib is also renown for the Rock. In good Naval tradition, the ship organised its usual Rock Race. 

Getting some step reps in!
The Rock Race is a 2.7ish mile race from pretty much sea level to 1300ft to the top via a road. Now most entrants are usually still in their clothes from a night of drinking in the town, and mostly in fancy dress. There are some serious racers who like to put in a fast time with the record being around 17 ish minutes and has stood since 1986. I've run this race many times in the past, some worse for wear and some not so. The last time I did it, I ran it 3 times in a row for fun. 

The Rock during the day was still covered by the mist
This time, I just decided to run up and back down and enjoy it. Whilst doing so I filmed it and took in the sights and atmosphere as I go. However it was an early start once more so were clear of the first road section in good time for the traffic. It was dark, the wind was strong and it was miserably wet. There were two ships in, ourselves and another but surprisingly not many ran from both ships. Maybe the weather put them off, usually even if they were hanging from the night before most would still give it a go. 

There was unlikely to be much of a film made from it, but I was going to see what I could do. After a safety brief we were off, although it was meant to be after three honks of the vehicle horn, that didn't happen so we just went when someone then said go. 

A view on the way, if it wasn't for the lights you'd see nothing
As soon as you head out of the dockyard, you turn left and follow the road then right through the tunnel. You hit the first round about the Trafalgar Pub and turn right before hitting the next round about turning left and that's when it's all up hill. 

The incline isn't steady it's a calf burner for sure, my achilles were starting to hurt more than my calves though as the climb went on. I went off at a steady pace, as I wasn't in any rush and I was soon over taking people as they slowed to a walk as the climb went on. Eventually we hangered left and came off the main road and made our way up the tarmac path in the Rock grounds. Just as you get to the top of a climb, you sharp turn the other way and carry on zig zagging up. 

Even as I made my way up, it was still dark. In the past usually the sun has come up and the temperature rose, but not today. It remained dark all the way, at some points you could over see the dockyard looking into Spain and the lights shinning but that was it. 

At the top with great views in the background......Not!
I made it to the top eventually, and was sad there were no views to be had at the top. It was foggy, and you couldn't even see the finish line until you actually got there. I saw a silhouette of a monkey near the finish but they too were hiding from the weather. The skies opened at the top and it hammered it down. I didn't hang around at the top for very long, I made my way down giving my legs a good stretch as I ran down back to the ship. 

So that was my last foreign run on this adventure, the next time I step on dry land will be back in Blighty as I continue my training towards the AoA and London Marathon. I will do a final blog once home to round the trip up but for now, I'm looking forward to coming home and seeing my family and running in the rubbish weather. 

On the way down I eventually was able to see my ship

It's been a very long 10 months and I can only thank my readers for your support these last 10 months. Also again a big thanks to Tailwind Nutrition UK and my fellow trailblazers for their continued support. 

Until next time my friends


#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

Monday, 29 October 2018

Is it Time to Leave the Middle East and Go Home Yet?

Are we there yet? The memories of the long car journeys with my parents when I was a child ring strong in my mind as I say that common question kids ask. Are we there yet? Well are we? No, no we are not! At the time I started writing this blog, we have about 24 days until we are finally back. Over 9 months have passed and we are currently doing what we have been sent to do originally in this part of the year. 

Playing war games with the Omani's. So we went back into Duqm once more prior to the exercise, sadly I didn't get to re act the run I managed from the hotel last time, my training has remained on board. Mainly because we can't run through the dockyard area on foot. Not really having the opportunity to do it from the hotel either as the by time I had the chance, it was too late in the day and darkness would've been upon me. How much I love running in the dark, by myself in the desert sands is not the most suitable situation I like to put myself in. 

There was some perks to being alongside and that was decent enough wifi, to upload my latest film visit my youtube channel and download emails etc etc. So it was then I found out I had some good news all round for two reasons. 

1. After 9 years of ballot rejections since the first time I entered the London Marathon to which I was successful to finish in 2010 I finally won another ballot place. Which means I didn't have to try and get rejected again through the club for the 5th time. So this year my wife completed the London Marathon for the first time and next year I will do the London Marathon for the 2nd time. 

I couldn't believe it!
2. The second reason was I've become a Brand Ambassador for UglowSports. I'm really excited by this. I've only heard good things about this brand and having the opportunity to represent the brand is amazing. I loved my time representing other brands in the past, so to continue representing Tailwind Nutrition UK and now Uglow it's going to be a good 2019!! 

So as I progress through this war game exercise, my training continues in the ship's gym, making the most of the treadmill. Although once again, I've got another calf muscle niggle at this point. I've never had so many niggles in one area before and it's only happened whilst using the ship's treadmills. So again I will have to manage them the best I can once more! I never had these niggles prior to using these treadmills. 
Two of the Typhoons that came out to play
Anyway I digress, so I'm hoping to get at least 1 decent run once alongside, otherwise it will continue on the treadmill until we finally get to our final stop.

We didn't arrive alongside in Duqm until very late, due a long delays actually not caused by ourselves for a change it was eventually 11pm. So going for a run a shore was out of the question at this point. I then saved it for the following day knowing I had the afternoon off. Although the following day I was starting to umm and ahh to whether I should bother going to the hotel for a run, or just stay on board and use the treadmill. They were though decontaminating the vehicles after the exercises, so our gym was out of bounds. So I had made the right choice anyway by going to the hotel.

I got there about 1pm via the laid on transportation. The temperature was already in its high 30's, it touched around 37 degrees when I ran. There was no breeze off the sea, it was pure dry heat. I decided to run along the beach and coast this time. There was two parts to the ground, soft sand and hard packed ground, so running wasn't all soft under foot. 

I left the hotel grounds and headed out along the beach. The small waves were tumbling in as I ran along and the sea gulls (unsure of breed) were launching as I ran past them. The view was spectacular. To one side I had the sea and the other nothing but desert and rocks. 

The heat was as draining as I expected, I slowed my pace right down so I could enjoy the run and finish it. I took in the views around me, taking in how lucky I am to have run in the places I've recently run. I'm still experiencing a lot of negativity around my running, whether its body shaming or the belittling of my achievements (by work colleagues), being able to go for a run is allowing me to cleanse my head of the negativity for the time being. 

My run across the sand with views of local fisherman
As I turned around and made my way back, the heat was definitely making it tougher. It's surprising what difference this type of heat is compared to the humidity heat of the Far East. However I am looking forward to the rubbish weather training back home in the UK! The cold, wet, blustery weather that trains you perfectly for those warm spring marathons such as London........not. It is my home and it's because of that I'm looking forward to training in it. My calf never played up during this run either. It appears only to be caused by the treadmill currently. I will have to watch how it goes on the treadmill so not cause any major issue that will have an impact on my future races early next year.

The Rocks and the Desert on the other side of me as I ran
In other news, my son ran his first Junior parkrun back home by himself (he's only ever run parkruns of any type with me or his mum). He ran it in 15mins, and whilst doing so he made the effort to go and thank all the marshals by high fiving them all as he went past. I've taught him well, he knows what it means to be thanked for volunteering as he done it himself so many times before. He has told me he is looking forward to running with me at both types of parkruns when I return. This made me smile very much and is now something definitely worth looking forward to. 

There is nothing better than bonding with my son whilst we run together. He may only be 8 years old and not yet capable of running long distances (in our terms long as in his terms everything run is long haha!) but just being able to run with him is one of my favourite things to with my boy. Family time is one of the most important things, and I have to juggle the work, family, training balance well. 

There may not be lots to do in Duqm but it's beautiful to run in
So this brings another blog to an end and I wish to thank those who have taken the time to follow my adventures away. To those who have given me feedback thank you, I'm glad you've enjoyed it. It's not over yet, but thank you for the continuing support.

Thank you to Tailwind Nutrition UK for the continued support, I can thank the brand enough for the support given to me. If my readers haven't tried the product I highly recommend you do, exchange the gels for something so much better. 

I'm looking forward to trying out my new kit from UglowSports when I get back home. I will let you all know how that goes. 

Until the next time.......

#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

Monday, 8 October 2018

The Pearl of Arabia, Will it Be Fun in the Sand?

It was a sad time leaving my fav country of Singapore, however it was time to start our long and slow journey in a home ward direction. Thus ending my Asian/Pacific region part of the adventure. At the time of writing this I've less than 2 months left to go and I can honestly tell you, I am glad to be heading home. 

Don't get me wrong I've loved running in every country we've visited and seeing the sights they provided, tasted the wonderful food and drinking the lovely drinks each one has provided. Being able to create new memories whilst re visiting old ones and been amazing. It is though time for me to go home as I am a little fed up of being away from family and friends now. 

As I said it's not over yet, I've still got a while to go. So as our trip across the Indian Ocean became a little uneventful, I have kept myself busy with work and going on the treadmill. 

Our ship did allow for one of it's oldest Naval traditions, with a "Hand's to Bathe" this went back to the days of sail, no doubt to the days when personal hygiene was a luxury. Fresh water was a precious commodity, so captains dropped anchor in a calm sea and ordered all hands on board to jump ship and get clean. So for us, this is where the ship's company can go for a dip in the sea as the ship drifts along. I've done it a fair few times in the past, however I decided not this time, as I've done it in the Indian Ocean before and we were greeted by Tiger Sharks or Nobby's as we call them back then. So for me I went and had a gander at those experiencing it for the first time. 

First sunset after our arrival into Duqm
After a period at sea, it was time to go alongside in Duqm, Oman. I love Oman having been to Muscat a few times as well as Shalah, this would be my first trip to Duqm. Originally a fishing port, it's building to be the next Muscat. However so far for us all it is a make shift village on the jetty out of cargo containers and a bit further out two hotels. So not expecting much to be honest, but I am looking forward to running in the sand. 

I've done a few times before out here in the Middle East in the various countries, it's good this will be a new place to stretch my legs. It's going to be the first of a few stops here as we're being part of a major Exercise with Omanis that is quiet important to the UK. The Omanis are the nicest Arabs that I've come across in my opinion. Every time I've come here I've felt welcome, and to be honest I recommend those who fancy a trip to the Arab States to visit places like Muscat. 

So we got told we couldn't transit the dockyard by foot, so we had to use the transport laid on. This included the 500m journey to the Container village. So we'd have to get a bus which drove at 2mph to the made up village. Such a joke, it's so we'd have to pay for the transport laid on. 

The village is alright, it had a pizza hut, some bars, kebab stall, souvnier stall, barbers, basketball court, some dart boards, toilets, a little dance floor. What more really do you need for a Matelot apart from beer and food? 

Yep Pizza Hut not sure it's geniune however it's bloody good pizza!
So my plan to get a least a run in sand will have to be via getting transport to one of the two hotels that's being laid on, and run from there. It will happen!!!
Tide was out?
Just so happens a friend from back home out here working with a maintenance company for the ship happened to be staying in the one of the hotels. I arranged to meet her at some point in the morning at the hotel. I arrived just after half 10 in the morning and the temperature was already quite hot with no humidity. 

We soon made our way up the road from the hotel heading towards the rock desert area in the distance. The roads were quiet, there is very little traffic that passes through the area currently so it's ideal for those who just like roads. 

Having fun in the sand. 
We got to the end of the road we were on and notice a trail going in a round toward the rock desert area we wanted to go play in. The heat was draining, and with my friend Flick suffering also a little from the night before, it wasn't going to be an "easy run". It was a pleasant one though for sure. When we got to the top, the views was amazing. From one side you could sea the coast, from the other nothing but sand! 

Flick taking in the views
We decided not to go back the way we ran up. We decided to go a different way down, and that became a challenge itself. Fun but still a challenge we had to scramble down sharp drops, trying to slip under the loose footing. It became a point it was better to press on than it was to go back. Although not very runable, it didn't matter at all, we both had smiles on our faces. 

On our way down
Once we eventually got back to the trail, we headed back the way we came to the hotel. We had spent a good hour out in the heat, I definitely felt it. Although I was used to heat, I wasn't used to dry heat. It does make a big difference.

The hotel soon was at our foot steps and it brought an end to our run. This became my only run on dry land during this visit. It's not the easiest to do for logistics but it was do able. Hopefully get another in next time. Otherwise it has been the usual visit to the treadmill around this run sadly. 

It was great to have company and the the fact it was a run with someone from home made it better. It lifted my moral of being away so long a little. At the time of writing this I have 45 days to go! 

Thank you for continuing support and to those who read my blogs. It really has kept me motivated. Also thank you to Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continued support, Lemon was my choice this time round, hydration was definitely key. 

So until next time!


#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

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