Tuesday, 12 June 2018

一期一会 One life, one encounter

I think the title really sums everything up for me to be honest, I've been all about "You Only Live Once" now for a few years since first finding out one of my best mates had terminal cancer. The Japanese idiom "One life, one encounter" which means "Every encounter is a once-in-a-lifetime encounter" really sums it up to be honest. Despite being away from everyone for 10 months I plan to make the most of it.

Finally left Sasebo, Japan
Sailing from Sasebo eventually, although a good thing as it meant we were finally heading on to our next stop via our operational tasking, it was also a sad thing. I sort of fell in love with the place, it's beauty, it's people,  it's way of life. There was still more of the area that surrounded it that I wanted to explore. 

As we left though we didn't know exactly where our next stop would be, our original port of call of Okinawa was cancelled, and all we knew was it would more than likely be another Japanese port and it could be Sasebo again. It was not so, eventually after much deliberation, Okinawa was back on. There local elections going on in Okinawa, and the whole political situation of the Americans being there is a bit sensitive, the last thing they really want is a ship full of Matelots and Bootnecks going ashore getting drunk and possibly causing issues with the Americans which upsets the apple cart during the election period.  Anyway were going there but how things were going to go was still up in the air. My main concern was being able to go out side the base and run in what looks like a stunning Japanese Island.
Beautiful white beaches stretch around, stunning views, one side East China Sea the other the Pacific Ocean. The thought of running along the coastline with the potential views was starting to excite me. I'm hoping, all going well, I would be able to go stretch my legs along those coast paths. I have no doubt it would make my friends of the Plymouth Coastal Runners very jealous. 

Sunset, in Okinawa 
Since sailing, it's been back to the upper deck running and treadmill running in the gym. I'm not going to lie, I'm quite bored of it. The needs must, and it's some thing I need to do and even do more of. Arc of Attrition in February will soon be on my door step! I need to start thinking more positively about the AoA, as at the moment being away is not helping at all with my mental preparation for the event. If I was a runner who was as good as the likes of Dan Lawson, Robbie Britton or Damian Hall, I would be far more confident in how I would perform. Yet I am not, so I know I will be fighting all the way, every damn mile as far and as fast as I can go. 

I digress though, I still have another 6 months to go before I am home now 4 months have been completed. Strewth if the original plans were still going from our short notice deployment, we'd be heading back home now to complete a 5 month deployment by time we got back alongside in Plymouth. Alas it's not and we're out here for another 6 months carrying out our role enforcing UNSCRs and representing the flag in the area. 

On the 6th June, we had a remembrance service for two occasions, 1 was for D-Day 74 years ago, a day my Grampy Scott would never forget. The other was for Landing Craft Utility F4 now known as FJ which was sunk during the Falklands Campaign where her Coxswain and crew were all killed after saving over 100 Matelots from the burning HMS Antelope. It was renamed FJ after the Coxswain CSgt Johnston. The F stands for Fearless the ship it belonged to during the conflict. All the rest on board us start with an A except FJ herself. 

Remembrance Service for F4 and D-Day

So after 11 days of making sure the North Koreans weren't doing anything they shouldn't be, we got ourselves alongside in Okinawa, home of Mr Miyagi or so I thought! If you watched Karate Kid part 2, you would know he went home after hearing his dad was ill, alas the film wasn't actually filmed in Okinawa though it was filmed somewhere in Hawaii. Pretty gutting if you asked me, we've been watching the film a few times to get ourselves prepared to go there. There was not going to be any wax on wax off here. 

Naughty Chinese following us everywhere we went.
Okinawa is a pleasant place, although very politically sensitive. The islands has had an American presence and a lot of it (31 bases of various forms currently) since the second world war, and now using it as their gateway to Arabian Gulf as well as the Asian/Pacific region. I can understand why the Okinawan people feel a little bit intruded on. To this end we had to be careful of our presence as well as we don't want upset the apple cart while it's the local election period going on. 

With the Pacific Ocean on one side of the Island and the East China Sea the other side, it's easy to sea why this tropical island is popular now a days for tourists to visit. It has it's long history going back prior to WW2, and recently highlighted with the film Hacksaw Ridge. I battlefield tour I put myself down to visit. 

View from the top of Hacksaw Ridge
So the running, what about the running?? Well to be honest, running was as enjoyable as expected. Although we had limitations to where we could go i.e remain within the wire of the bases, we could still go for a run or a cycle outside of the wire. This was because they believe there was less chance of upsetting the locals during the election period if we were running or cycling. 

Powering up a little incline on a tiny trail section
For my first run I wanted to explore the wire of the White Beach Naval Base, and a little bit outside. To which I did, I went around the base, when I got to the main gate, I went out for a little bit and then came back in and continued my way around. The outskirts of the base wasn't flat it had some inclines, but the whole are was beautiful to be honest. I could think of a lot worse places to be stuck inside of a wire. The wire took me from one side of the base by the East China Sea to the other which was by the Pacific. The views were beautiful, and although it was very warm and humid, it didn't take away the enjoyment of the experience. 
Admiring the Pacific Ocean
Within the first few minutes of running, I was soaked in sweat. It was pouring from my brow down my face like a waterfall. It took me a few moments to get into my stride, but I was taking in so much of the sounds and views it didn't matter anyway. The base is surrounded by forest really, there is plenty of wildlife about including plenty of bats at night.

Outside of the base was slightly different, minimal traffic on the roads, pavements were in pretty good condition, so nothing to really grumble about. The place was full of ups and downs, and the buildings all look like they always take a battering from the weather when the tropical storms come around. There are even signs in the base for Tsunami evacuation routes!

I made my way back into the base and followed the wire around to the other side of the base, on the Pacific Side. Again the views were amazing, and as the sun started to set, it started to cool down. I found a drinking fountain to top up my water bottle, I had gone through one bottle of Great Tea tailwind and I need more liquid.

Green Tea was my flavour of choice during this stop

Over the next few days, as well as the odd run, I also went snorkeling. Just floating around in the beautiful sea was just what was needed. I bought one of those fancy full face snorkel masks and I won't lie, it was strange at first but once I got use to it, it was brilliant. So much better than the standard snorkel and mask set up.

I also took one of the lads from my department out for a run, to help him get more into it. He struggles with the fitness test, so I said I would take him out and show him how to enjoy running, which will help him in the end to pass his fitness test. We all have to start somewhere and treadmill running on board isn't the best way of getting into running in my opinion. It is of course a way of filling a need, but when you have places like Okinawa to enjoy, why stay on a treadmill?

My new snorkeling mask.
In other news, I've recently found out I have put 4th in the top 10 UK Ultra Running Blogs. When I found out I was a little taken back to be honest. I've been nominated before in various other Blog awards for running, but alas nothing has ever come from it. Also just being in the Top 75 Running Blogs in the UK was an achievement for me. To have a in the Top 5 of the UK Ultra Running Blogs is something totally unexpected. I know I'm not the best writer out there, I don't currently do it for finance etc, just for the fact I like writing about some of my experiences. I can only hope some of what I write was of any interest for others and maybe of some use. 

As it stands I will take that as a result, and to which I can thank all my readers for their support. I've started to put together my next short film for the first run in Okinawa, hopefully be done ready to up load when I next have good enough wifi in our next port of call. So keep any eye out for part 3 of my Far Eastern Adventure

Whilst I have this opportunity, I'd also like to congratulate all my friends who have been recently racing around the globe. From those who were racing in the Jungle in Peru to those racing more locally at Dartmoor Discovery, Classic Quarter, Jurassic 100 and many many more. Although I am away running in some beautiful spots, I'd rather be among friends racing and having fun. When I finally get signal and scroll through the various feeds seeing every one racing, it does make me homesick and very jealous. However you guys were amazing and there were some fantastic recent performances! Well done you all :) 

Until next time


#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Sasebo, so beautiful they made us stay longer

So my stay in Sasebo (see last blog) lasted longer than expected, we were due to sail on the Monday, but we wouldn't sail for another 9 days, so we pretty much had 2 weeks alongside. Not that I'm complaining of course, unless it scuppered stuff I was planning later on down the line.

This gave me more time to get out and about both running and being a general tourist. Sasebo is a wonderful place, and I can tell you I'd be happy to be drafted here if there were ever an opportunity of a draft for me. Alas I can't ever see that happening. The Americans have it so good here I can tell you and they are definitely looked after better than we are.
One of the many Torii's about the city.
I did a couple of runs just out side the base through the streets, making note of where things were to go see later. The streets and traffic aren't that busy here, although the traffic lights take forever to change. The area here is pretty safe and I would say you'd have no worries bimbling about at night on your Jack Jones.

I enjoyed the local food, nightlife as well as just being able to chill out on the base if I wanted. It was a shame to leave, however we still have a job to do elsewhere. It would be nice to visit this part of Japan again one day although I'm not sure if that will happen. Who knows!
Delicious Pork Ramen
I decided on one of the days after work to get myself off the streets and back up another mountain. I had a little google and tried to find the nearest accessible one. Luckily there was one in running distance away from the base.

I got myself to the base and started the long climb up, over 1800 ft of climb from bottom to top. The weather was a little over cast, but wasn't looking at raining. The views on the way up (and down) were amazing, but alas when I got to the top the clouds were low, so the spectacular view I was hoping for were dashed.
View on the way up to Mt Eboshi
There was some interesting things at the top, I'm not entirely sure what they were all about though. The route to the top was interesting once I got as far as I could by road, it changed to trail. It was a long steep climb over wet rocks and wet ground. I was glad I went with my trail shoe option I had with me, they can cope with some tarmac but they came into their own on the wet rocks and trail.

I eventually made it to the top and as I said the views were a little disappointing thanks to the cloud however I was glad I made it up there. After taking the usual pictures I made my descent back down. It was a little easier to run down the trail but too far more concentration over the rocks.

At the top of Mt Eboshi
I plodded my way back down the road until I finished at the bottom. Pretty pleased with myself, the temperature although warm and humid wasn't ridiculous like some previous runs. It was still hard work. I finished off the Mandarin Tailwind I had in my bottle and got myself back to the ship. Using the walk back from the gates to the ship as a warm down. I grabbed a Grape flavoured Fanta from one of the many vending machines to refresh my thirst as I bimbled back.

Fuelled by Mandarin Tailwind 
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Japan, it's a wonderful country and highly recommend it to any one.

I've also got round to finishing off my first running video of the trip. I'm not claiming to be as good as my friend Guillaume aka Runexplorer (his films are amazing!), I know I've still a lot to learn when it comes to shooting and editing, but it was fun creating. Here is the link to it, if you fancy watching Far Eastern Adventure Part 1. Also finished my second video which features both mountain runs which you find here Far Eastern Adventure Part 2.

Thirsty work this running malarky.
Alas my stay has finally come to an end, and we're off back to sea once more. My adventure continues somewhere else, the question is where? Who knows cos I at this point do not know LOL.

Thanks to the continued support from Tailwind Nutrition UK it's an honour to be one of their Trailblazers.

Until next time
#GoTailwind #TailwindTrailblazer

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Konnichiwa Daniel Son

As I was still coming to terms with the shocking news of the death of a running friend (see my last blog), we sailed from Brunei in the morning, to carry on with our tasking until we arrive at our next port of call which would be Sasebo in the Nagasaki district of Japan.

I've only ever been to Japan once and that was for 6 days in Tokyo back in 2000.  It's been 18 years ago since I last stood on Japanese soil and I never used to run back then. So I'm very much looking forward to doing so this time round.

Leaving Brunei
Again I attempted to do some research with our limit internet we have, and I've noticed there were a couple of mountains not too far away from the City limits. My goal is to try and venture up one of these, and get some trail running in.

The problem I have is, the ship is always miles away from any where and planning or executing the plans are never as simple as they seem. However this stop does seem to be the best opportunity so far. If all else fails I will get to run another in city.

I'm liking the look of Sasebo in general as it appears to be plenty to do from first glance, looking at the various websites like TripAdvisor. Plenty of cultural things to see, which is something I like doing, as well as the usual enjoying the nights out on the tiles.

As we steamed North, I continued my training at sea. As there were parkruns and runs being dedicated to our friend Sharon, I decided as I didn't have pink to wear, nor was able to do any of the planned runs. I thought it would be good to do a little triathlon of my own. With no pool available (it was very unlikely they would flood the back end of the ship where our landing craft live) for me to swim, I had to do something else instead. I decided the rowing machine would be a suitable swap. Row, Bike, Run would be my tribute to Sharon. Only a small one, but it was a little event suitable for me especially as I don't row or bike that often. I'm pretty sure she would've been happy with that.

I've been pretty much keeping my emotions and thoughts to myself over this, and just getting on with life. I'm away a long time and I really don't want to be depressed for the majority of it.

My local parkrun dressed in pink for Sharon (pic taken from Plymvalley parkrun FB page)
As we progressed northward the weather in the South China Sea started to change as we voyaged up towards Sasebo. The waters were no longer mirror, and the temperature was dropping from being in the 30's into the 20's. It started to make a big difference when it comes to sleeping, as my sleeping area is under our flight deck which just bakes in the Sun.

Eventually after a fair steam, we arrived alongside in the US Naval Base in Sasebo. Like always the first day was a full working day, I'm planning my running around the next couple of days including the usual sight seeing and socialising on top.

Stunning sunrise as we approached Sasebo
So I awoke at 5am to get myself ready for my run, although it is cooler here in Japan it was still quite warm even at 6am in the morning. I awaited on the Jetty for Kelly who was joining me for a run up the mountain, it would be the first run on this trip with company and I was looking forward to it. We directed ourselves to the exit of the dockyard and started our run. It wasn't long before we started our way up the mountain.

The first part took us through a small housing area, the road was narrow and steep. I wouldn't want to try driving around that area as it seemed to be a bit of a squeeze. As we made our way around the steps winding roads, we soon took a path that lead us to a trail section, I loved this section on the way back down. It was full of little shrine along the path, also we came across a memorial to a submarine crew. Not sure why it was up the mountain, but it was a lovely memorial.

Plenty of steps along the trail
Eventually we made it to the top, and I can tell you it was worth every bit of torture getting to the top. It was absolutely amazing. One view I could see over the bay where my ship was berthed and the other view allowed me to over look the "99 Islands".

We took break to take in the views and to catch our breaths. I was really glad I made the decision to go up there, than to take an easier run through the city area instead.  One thing it did show me, was how unconditioned my legs were to climbing. I've been so used to running on the flat, that my legs were really feeling it on the climb up to the top. With the Arc of Attrition in mind, I will definitely have to put some more effort into the stepper or something similar in the gym on board otherwise I will struggle far more on race day.

The view over the bay

Mountain Selfie
Eventually we made our way down, luckily it was all downhill. it was a good opportunity to stretch the legs out, we remembered the way we came up, and apart from the occasional stopping to see bits we missed on the way up we flew all the way down.

I was glad I took some fluid with me, as although I took some money with me I didn't have any change for the vending machines we came across along the way. The place is full of them, literally a drinks vending machine on every corner. 

This time I decided to go with Raspberry flavoured Tailwind. I don't normally use this flavour but I felt something different and to be honest it was a good decision. It was a refreshing change.

Tailwind Nutrition is all you need. 
We made it too the bottom, although it wasn't and uber long run, we covered around 5 miles in total but it was definitely a good work out much needed after the more mundane running on treadmills and the upper deck.

We used the walk back to the ship from the dockyard gate as our cool down The temperature was getting warmer and we were glad we timed our run right. The best way to describe the run, is that it is very similar to the Gibraltar Rock race. Although similar in distance I would say the climb was steeper. Plus it was a more scenically stunning. Definitely my best run on the trip so far, I'm looking forward to more of them.

Me and Kelly at the end. 
We got ourselves showered and not long after we headed out on a trip to Nagasaki. It was a 2 hour train trip to the other city. We decided we wanted to go visit the place the Atom bomb hit during WW2. The train trip although long was pleasant enough, and not that expensive, it cost about 2,500 Yen which is about £15 ish. We had to get a tram which felt very old school to go to the area of the ground zero. That costs 120 yen regardless of the distance travelling.

We started with the Atomic Bomb museum which was very humbling, before heading to the Hypocentre (ground zero) to see the memorial and finished with the peace park. It was really good, I'm glad we went because I don't think I would ever have the opportunity to go to such a promenade place in History again. If you do have the opportunity I highly recommend it.

So that concludes my blog this time, I thoroughly have enjoyed my visit so far, the rest of time will be chilling and running. Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed it.

Until next time
#Gotailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

Monday, 30 April 2018

I see your Java Sea and I raise you the South China Sea

We said our goodbyes to Jakarta and made our merry way up the Java Sea with over 1000 miles to steam to get us to our next destination. We had to make best speed to arrive on time in Brunei, as we had a lot of official functions and Defence Engagements to carry out.

We were heading to the Northern part of Brunei called the Muara District. I had carried out some prior research as I always do, to find out more about the running in various ports I will be visiting. Like the majority of the time, the timings don't match when official events are on, so often my running is just that.

There are Hashers out here but sadly the night of Hashing is on the day we sail, so I won't be able to participate in that event. So instead like normal I tried to plan my own route, taking into account of where we are berthed alongside.

My first run in Brunei
I was duty the first day in, so I wasn't able to stretch my legs that evening, but the following morning I arose early. One of my oppo's took over early from me and I was down the gangway and off the ship. With out knowing where to go as such as the planned route made no sense, I decided to go with instinct. I knew roughly the direction to take and thankfully I made it to the beach. It was 1.5 miles to the beach from the ship. Once I got there I took in the views and then ran a further 3 miles up and down the beach before heading back to the ship.

Powered by Berry
To get through the beach you have to pass through a recreational park, where at 7 am in the morning there was a BBQ already on the go (as you would). It wasn't what I expected to see at that time. The traffic was completely the opposite to Jakarta as in there was less of it. I actually felt safe running on the road to and from the beach to be honest.

Although the weather is pretty much the same as Singapore and Jakarta, it didn't rain on me this morning and the sun is still shining, however it is due to have a tropical storm again. Luckily out here they currently don't last for long. A good 20 or so minutes and then it stops and dries up.

I've visited the Far East a long time ago but I was never in to running. Luckily I am now and it's great to be able to explore some fantastic areas and probably going to places those who don't travel by two feet ever go. I've run a lot in the Middle East, the Med and Europe, since I took up running, so it's nice to go elsewhere now. Training on board hasn't changed it still sucks but once my legs are on dry land they are very happy.

I've got some very exciting places to run over the next few months in and around working. I'm very much looking forward to the adventure ahead.

Muara Beach
Whilst in Brunei, I did some touristy stuff which included going into the Jungle to see the native monkey's and hopefully some Crocs (I'm not talking about the shoes). For 10 BND (£5 ish ) it was brilliant! Our local dude, took us deep into places to help find what we were after and told us a lot about the water village. It was definitely worth more than a fiver so we ended up giving him some more. If you come out here it's worth doing.

In the Jungle, the mighty Jungle
I saw other things like the Sultan's Mosque which was pretty impressive, the malls which aren't the best malls I've visited in my travels but they're alright. However they do have some freaky manakins!
I will admit despite this place being a dry state, I have had a good time here, and I've tried to make the most out of it.

The happiest manakin in the world!
Also I've entered the London Marathon ballot once more, since 2010 when I got in first time, I have re-entered a further 9 times now. Who knows 2019 could be 9 times lucky! It would be nice to race it one more time, yes it's not the best in the world, it's road etc etc but it's very special to me and now my wife also finished it, it would be good to do it again.

And to end on a sadder note, during my stay here I heard the sad news that a friend of mine Sharon sadly passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest during the swimming section of the Malaga Half Ironman event. It was an event she's been dreaming of doing for a while and she was so happy leading up to it. She was one of the happiest, smiliest of people you could imagine. She was always kind to me, and I've no bad words to say about her. She was a lovely person. She will be missed at our local parkrun and at our running club the Plymouth Musketeers.

I dedicate this blog to her! She was wonderful and far too young to be taken away from us. I will miss you Sharon.
Sharon and myself at a muddy Plymvalley parkrun. 
Well that brings me to an end of another blog, sorry it finished on a sad note, but these things make us realise how short life can be, and as I always try to do, I try and make the most of it!

Until next time.
#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Across the Java and Beyond

So we left Singapore and started our journey to our next port of call as we have some Defence Engagements to conduct over the next couple of  weeks. After a 6 hour period of special sea duty men to get out of Sembewang port and then through the Malacca Strait traffic separation scheme, we were on our way to Jakarta in Indonesia.

Leaving Singapore behind
This will be the most Southerly stop as it stands on our deployment (things may still change) but as it's our first crossing across the Equator, we must pay homage to the ruler of the seas "King Neptune". It's an age old Naval tradition that we carry out. I've done it twice before so this would be my third, however I was to be one of the "Bears" in the ceremony. Our role would be to carry out the punishment set by the Judge under the watchful eye of King Neptune and his wife the Queen. It would be a long ceremony, as 320 odd personnel would be getting punished for their first crossing.

Dressed as a Dodgy Bear (2nd on left) for the ceremony
In a timely procession, one after the other, the punishments were carried out with some having their crimes read prior. Some were punished more than others, some even tried running away but the King Neptune's Police Force soon chased them and and dragged them back. If they hid, they were found and punished more. By doing this we appease Kind Neptune and now we should have good favour for the rest of our journey.
Another one gets a good punishment
2 days later 20th April arrived and I got to celebrate it once again at sea. I spent my 21st birthday at sea out here in the Far East and now I get to spend my 40th birthday out here as well. Luckily some birthday post had arrived just in time in Singapore so I had some lovely birthday mail, including the latest Garmin Fenix 5 from my wife to open. I will be giving that a good test drive over the next few months whilst away.

My new Fenix 5 birthday present arrived :)
Some people feel down about getting older, but to be fair I'm looking forward it. I had some good times in my 30's, with many achievements. I ran my first marathon, I ran my first ultra, I ran from the New Forest to Land's End, I finished my last year in the 30's running from North Wales to South Wales. I also got married, had a son and bought a house. If I am to have a midlife crisis, it best involve some running! So now I am 40 years old, it does come with some perks, I'm in new age categories for races and also at work I have to do fewer bleep test levels for the Navy Fitness test hehe!

Finally we arrived in Jakarta in Indonesia, I've been reading up on running there. Now the trails are a bit of a trip outside of the city, so I'm not sure if I will get the time around work to get there Especially as it take a couple of hours in the traffic just to go 7 miles to the centre of the city. Obviously I can run around the city area, however the level of pollution doesn't sound great, but I've run in worse. I am hoping because I'll be in the port, the coastline will be more accessible. This is what I thought about as I crossed the Java Sea.

What better flavour for training in the Tropical areas?
It was a long day day after getting alongside with various Defence events and ships open to visitors, so I didn't really get a chance to take my legs for a stretch until the following morning. The trails are just a little too far away really to fit them in especially as I don't have long here and want to make the most of getting out and about. So I took my self and my GoPro out for a jaunt through the busy streets. Even at 7.30am it was stupidly busy, it was raining In good tropical fashion but in the stupid heat it was refreshing.The streets traffic starts building up from around 5am ish.

The traffic was constant
Although I didn't get into much stride it was a nice run, yes I almost got killed by the traffic just turning into you as you tried to safely cross at junctions, yes it rained, but I love running in new places and I had many locals saying hello as I ran passed. I was either going to get wet from the rain or drenched by sweat. Rain the much preferred option on that one.

Mid run selfie
I didn't have much of a route planned so it was a simple out and back type route knowing there would then little chance of getting lost on the way back. Looking forward now to doing more exploring of the city later on. Defo recommend this place if you fancy something a little different!  Sadly the coastline wasn't as accessible as I thought it could be.

Anyway back home in the UK whilst I was working (loosely put) in Jakarta, my wife Cathy ran her first ever marathon. According to the media it was the hottest London Marathon on record. I'm not going to lie, I had my doubts how my wife will cope with me being away, the weather, the training didn't go to plan as she hoped, her anxiety and panic attacks, that she would finish. She did finish, ok not in a world record time but she still finished where many may have given up. She found someone to keep her company from about 1 mile in. Which was nice to hear when I spoke to her after she finished. She really does struggle with her panic attacks whilst running due to the issues she has with running, so usually that's where I come in. The fact she found company pretty much all the way around is amazing and I can't thank her new friend enough. Seeing those tears at the end as she showed me her medal was amazing, it even got smokey in the room I was in using the wifi to track her progress from hehe!

Definitely proud of her! Will so do another one? She'll say no for now I know that, but who knows, when I'm not away so much and able to help her train and look after our boy whilst she trains, maybe she will try another to improve on her time. Maybe she will do an Ultra? Follow in my footsteps? We will see.

My wife (in Yellow) and her new friend with their well deserved medals
So it won't be long until I am in our next port of call. Will I get some trail running in? Fingers crossed!

Thank you to the continued support from Tailwind Nutrition UK, even my wife was using it during VMLM.

#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

Monday, 16 April 2018

The adventure takes me to the heart of Asia...

Where the last blog left off, I was waiting at Port Said at the northern point of the Suez Canal waiting to go through. We did indeed go through the Suez and made our way South towards the Red Sea, soon enough we went from the warm Mediterranean temperatures to the hot and sweat temperatures of Egypt and the Red Sea.

Going through the Suez has changed a lot over the years compared to when I first went through back in 1999. Back then we were on the Forecastle of the ship in shorts and deck shoes working, now we have guys fully manning the guns in body armour etc and no one else is allowed on the upper deck. We were at an enhanced posture all the way down the canal.

After a fair trek, we eventually popped out. The canal is approximately 120 miles long, and all the way down I was thinking, I'd love to run it and try to beat the ship through (Well just get there and the ship pick me up at the end will do). Not do it on a treadmill and do the distance but actually run the length of the canal. Alas I don't think that will ever happen whilst I work within the RN.

So we are in the Red Sea, and my training continues either on the treadmill or around the upper deck. We were slowly sailing down as we were waiting for an American task group and French ship to come through with us. There has recently been attacks in the area on vessels so were were all going though the Bam el Mandeb known as the BAM the choke point of the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden.

This time our posture would be further enhanced and we'd be closing up into Defence Watches firstly (a 1 in 2 routine) prior to the 12 hour BAM transit where we would then go to Action Stations which is our highest state of readiness, should we be unlucky and be attacked. Luckily we weren't and all was well. It was a long ass day though because some were unlucky to have to say on watch for another 6 hours or more after falling back into Defence Watches.

Bam el Mandeb choke point (pic taken off google)
As we go out of the other side and so forth rumours of where we were heading starting to creep around the ship. Eventually we got told the Far East, but still unsure of whether after Singapore we would be turning right to Australia or left northwards to Japan etc.

With thousands of mile to go across the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, it was going to be a long transit. Training sessions in the gym in the early hours when it was cooler although still very warm or on the upper deck when it was a little cooler either first thing or last thing before sunset. Sessions are now on running, cross trainer, bike and stepper. The stepper is in mind of the Arc of Attrition I have early on in the year next year.

It was also confirmed to us when we were looking at getting back and yes it is now pretty much 10 months away from home. I'm sad that I won't be seeing my family for pretty the whole of the year, but I have to find silver linings and going to the Far East, where I have been luckily with work a few times in the past, I get to go again to. Then the thought of running in some of these places makes me smile. We are just awaiting confirmation of the ship's programme so we can plan things, and for me to be able to see if there is any races I could enter.

Training in the gym
As time went on, we made our way across the Indian Ocean, seeing various things like Flying Fish leaping out of the water, lightening storms of great proportions and beautiful sunsets. We had flight sports and BBQ's in the lovely weather. Occasionally it would rain which was well need to 1. freshen the air and 2. wash down the upper deck of all the sand that built up from the sand storms.

Then we got told where we were going and finally we had a programme, the Government want us to left. So after Singapore left is where we were heading.

I can't tell you off all the places we are going yet, but as I visit them I will continue to update you on my adventure runs.

We made it down the Malacca Strait and finally have about 3 and half weeks we came alongside in Sembewang, Singapore. I've visited here 6 times in total, the first time in 1999 and the last time in 2000 pretty much 18 years ago. The wife had booked me into a hotel for a couple of nights so I could get some time off the ship, abuse their wifi to update my phone etc and so I could be close to one of the parkruns here in Singapore. They have two, 1 in West Coast Park and the other in East Coast Park. The hotel is near the East Coast one. It's an earlier start out here compared to back home, most likely due to the temperatures, they have.
Sunset somewhere along our transit in the Indian Ocean
I'm not going to lie, I'm a little excited to do it. I never thought I'd ever return here to be able to do one here so I'm pretty happy. I woke up early in the hotel my lovely wife booked for me for a couple of nights, and I got my self ready. I made my to the start of the East Coast Park parkrun, as the sun just started to rise. The start was at 7.30am here due to the humidity and the temperatures in the country. Even at that time it was still very hot and humid. Knowing this, I was happy to just go and enjoy the sights as I bumbled along as an easy pace. Soon enough plenty of other runners turned up and and we given the standard pre run briefing, and the tourists like myself had a really nice welcome. I wasn't the only person from the UK, there were about 6 or 7 of us in total. Some on holiday and others like myself there on work reasons.
At the start of the parkrun in Singapore
We walked down to the start and we were off, down the path along the coast. It's a very flat course much like Southsea in Portsmouth but much nicer scenery. Looking out sea you could see the 100's of ships at anchor. I also passed groups doing yoga, Thai Che, etc. It was a very busy park especially at that time in morning.

We soon hit the turnaround point, I high 5'd the marshal thanked her and made my way back to the finish. I crossed the line and scanned my barcodes. Thanking the team I soon left, I had a busy day sort of planned ahead so I didn't hang around to grab a coffee and cake at the nearby Starbucks with the other park runners. Shocking I know, but I had to make my way back to the hotel and get myself sorted. I'm so glad I go out of my air conditioned hotel room and ran it. It was nice to have a little organised event to go to as well. If you're ever out here you can't go wrong with a parkrun.
The view along the way of route of the parkrun
I nailed about a litre of tailwind not for the fuel but for the electrolytes, due to excess sweating thanks to the humidity and the exercise I wanted to make sure I replaced them. Lemon was my choice and it was quite refreshing.

So my adventures went on into the evening in the various bars and clubs into the early hours with a friend off ship. I had a pretty epic time to be honest, I love it out here and my whole stay reminded me why it's one of my fav places in the world to visit. Highly recommended to be honest!

So we leave soon from here and continue our journey, so until next time when I update you all on my adventures away with work.

Out on the streets of Singapore

Thanks for reading

#gotailwind #tailwindtrailblazer

Thursday, 12 April 2018

As the adventure continues we move on finally.....

Sorry for the delay in publishing my latest blog, due to many reasons mainly to do with Operational Security I couldn’t just blab about where I was and what we were doing. 
Eventually we left the fine shores of Crete, we had one final weekend after a brief period at sea to get us back in date for flying, and I spent some of it driving around the beautiful but scarey mountains as me and some of my work friends went looking for a beach. It was worth the road trip! An adventure in it’s own right. 
Off Cyprus doing some flying with the RAF Chinooks

My running took me back to training on the ship, the many laps of the upper deck isn’t with out it’s monotomy, but with the good weather it makes it much more bareable than running on the ship’s treadmills which are just about useable. 
As I plod around the upper deck, it does allow me clear my thoughts of work. As it currently is so unpredictable right now it doesn’t do morale much good. I think that is something I’ve learnt to do during my still short running career. To use it as a way of focusing, clearing my head of the negativity that I may be surrounded by. Even at sea, at work I am lucky to be able to continue my running in some form. 
Laps of the upper deck as the sun went down
We made our way to Cyprus and we sat off at Anchor in the bay just off Akatori. From here the place looks promising, and I await hopefully to spread my running legs along parts of it when I eventually get ashore. We eventually made our way alongside in Limasol. Sadly due to the political issues with another nation, we had very strict resitrictions on going ashore. We weren’t allowed to go ashore by ourselves and were only allowed in certain areas. The restrictions weren’t just due to political issues but also as the area was out of season the locals have a tendency of getting pissed off with tourists and they have been known to frog march people to cash points with guns to get money out for them as well as beatings and muggings. 
So I kept my training to on board, and only went ashore for a  bimble with people from the mess. 
Our programme has gone from a 5 month med deployment supporting NATO to a pretty much 10 month programme, as we were given the kind words of your going through the Suez and now heading east. How Far East, we still didn’t know but what we did know was we were heading to far warmer climates. Were we heading to the Arabian Gulf or Further East? At the time of writing this blog we still do not know the plans the UK Gov have for us. All I know is we won’t be back until the end of Nov and it’s going to get much hotter! Not the most idea training for the next year's Arc of Attrition. Training in the hottest places in the world for the UK’s pretty much nails Winter 100 mile foot race.

Our position at the time of writing this blog waiting in Port Said
In the meantime long time supporter of mine Tailwind Nutrition UK have made me on their official Trailblazers. I’m pretty chuffed with that to be honest, a lot of what I have achieved has because of their support and it will be good to give more back to them by being a trailblazer. 

Some of the goodies sent to me by my sponsor Tailwind Nutrition UK
So where will be my next leg stretch? Dusty deserts of the Arabian Gulf or further East in the humid Asian lands? 

Well by the time I publish this you will now the answer to this.Until the next blog.