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

Sunday 16 September 2018

Singapore, the Lion City Continues to Make Me Smile

After we left Vietnam, we headed South to Brunei. It was an important visit for the ship as we were hosting His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei. It was a big deal, as the UK has very important links with Brunei and it is one they want to keep secure. Sadly our stay wasn't for very long and the only time I had off the ship was to go and keep my self in date for shooting rifles. So I along with others spent the day down the ranges keeping us in date. It was stupidly hot and humid, but it meant I wouldn't have my post deployment leave disrupted by having to go to the ranges once back home. 

Ship's Company photograph whilst at anchor in Brunei pic by Ship's Phot (edited by me)
Once all the Brunei stuff was completed we departed and made our transit to our final port of call in the Far East. Outside of Brunei territorial waters was our friends waiting to shadow our movements as we expected. We headed Westwards to Singapore, I am so excited by this for a few reasons. 

Shooting at the ranges in Brunei
1. The most important reason is, it means after we leave we are making our slow way back in the right direct of home. 

2. The Formula 1 Grand Prix! I'm not going to lie I am stupidly excited by this. Ever since I found out we were coming here again and it was at the same time as GP, I had my tickets booked. Months and Months of waiting for this. I've had friends that went to Silverstone to watch it and I have missed out. Being an F1 fan and a runner has given me the opportunity to run around some of the GP tracks. I doubt I will be able to on this Street Course, but to be able to go watch the Singapore Night Street race will be awesome. Along with the various music acts etc, it's going to be an amazing memory to take away with me. 

Getting up early for our transit around the Island of Singapore to get to our berth, it was going be a long day. This will be my 9th time of visiting this wonderful place during my Naval Career. I'm very fortunate in doing so. I hope to visit here on holiday one year so I can experience it with out the limitations of work added. 

Seriously I love this place! On top of the GP my fingers are crossed to make one of the three parkruns in Singapore. I did manage to last time, but I was staying in a hotel nearby, where this time I am on board the ship at the top of the Island. However since my last visit there is a new parkrun in the centre of the island, to which I am looking at participating in. It maybe the better option. The East Coast Park parkrun which I did last time was a beautiful parkrun along the coast, so it will be hard to beat for sure. You'll have to read on to find out. 

I made it to Bishan parkrun
After the first night at the F1 for the practice sessions I got up early to grab a taxi to the nearest parkrun. I left the ship about 6.30am, by the time I got the main gate and got in a taxi it was about 6.55am. I started to think I wouldn't make it to even the nearest one in time, but luckily I did with about 10 mins to spare. 

I heard the RD Brief and the 80 odd of us, soon lined up. It was a nice small gathering of runners including two school running teams. The temperature was very warm and really humid, before I even started I was soaked with sweat. 

In stride
The RD started us and we were off at 7.30am, making our way around the park. It was a two lap course and a very beautiful city park it was. Loads going on around us, with other runners, walkers, exercise groups. It so nice to see a wonderful spare being used by so many at so early in the morning for exercise of various forms. 

I made my first lap around and my calf was a little sore but it was holding up. The taping I did was doing the trick. I was taking it reasonably easy any way due to the heats so my calf was manageable. 

Like anywhere there is a parkrun, the marshals are brilliant, and the fact that there is now 3 here in Singapore is brilliant. This island is the same size as the Isle of Wight and is packed so much with so many things.

I finished the second lap to the cheers of the runners who were already finished. I took my token and scanned my barcode in with the token. Like any parkrun, where there is a parkrun there usually follows coffee, cake and chat. Some of us went to the nearest park cafe and socialised. A mix of locals and tourists gathered to chat and it was nice. A great way to end my parkrun journey in the Far East.
Who doesn't like cake after a run?

My agenda then switched back to the F1, with Saturday being the Qualifying Sessions. OMG what a day that turned out to be. Not only was qualifying awesome but the whole atmosphere was great. Liam Gallagher and The Killers were the two main acts playing that day. I was buzzing from the whole thing. 

First night of the F1
It was to be surpassed by the actual race day! I chilled out in the hotel that I was staying at in the morning, making the most of the infinity pool. Eventually we headed out for the big race. The place was buzzing, with various music acts on like Due Lipa and Martin Garrix on the main stage. 

We took our seats for the drivers parade, my opponent was drinking Tiger Beer, I had a pint of G & T and you could feel the anticipation for the race in the air. 

Sun going down on the second night
Just gone 8pm the starting lights were out and we were watching an awesome spectacular race. I was in my element. By far one of the best sporting events for the whole package I've witnessed. I am so lucky it fell on the same date we were due in to Singapore. What a way to finish this Asian/Pacific part of the trip. 

Due to not sailing when expected, it allowed me to pound the streets of Sembawang (the area we are berthed at the north of the Island). It's so easy to run around here, traffic isn't very busy, the pavements are wide and not very crowded.

Giving my legs a good stretched, still nursing a niggle in the calf but life goes on. 

Now it's over we start to make our way back home, we still have 2 months to go, 8 months done but at least we're on our way home! 

In other news if you've not seen it yet here is the link to my latest video, from my Vietnamese stop >> Click here

Well thanks for reading, thank you too Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continuing support. Until next time!


#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Can the Land of the Blue Dragon Be as Wonderful as I Can Remember?

Good Morning Vietnam!

Now say that out loud like Robin Williams did in the film! After what has been 18 years since my last visit to this country. I was looking forward to this stop. It had been touch and go with regards to whether we'd make it here in time due to the issues that were keeping us in Japan (see last blog) but eventually we sailed from Yokosuka leaving finally the Land of the Rising Sun and on our way to the Land of the Blue Dragon. Vietnam isn't called the the Land of the Blue Dragon because of it's shape but because it was one of 4 countries that were known as Asia's Dragons. 

My first ever run in Vietnam!
Before we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City formally known as Saigon we had some national tasking to do by order of the Government. This would mean we'd have our lovely little friend back shadowing us as we sailed around. It also meant spending some more time in Defence Watches during that period. The silver lining to this meant I was able to get into the gym when it was really quiet! I had the gym often to myself and I was able to put in some good sessions. I was pretty pleased how my runs went. Yes it meant the dreadmill once more, however I found an app that made it more interesting/enjoyable. Is that even possible?

It's called RunSocial, and it allows me to run in various countries and various events such as the London Marathon. You can run either a section of the race or the entire section. As you run you are either over taken buy other users who are running faster at that point or you may even over take others. During the London Marathon you hear all the cheers and atmosphere as you pass the crowds. 
New motivation on the treadmill!
It has given me a little bit of an incentive to use on the treadmill, I will admit I have slightly enjoyed using the app. Although all the runs have been going well, I may have over pushed it slightly and caused a slightly niggle in my right calf on the inside of the leg. A couple of rests days should now hopefully see it alright, before I go for a run in Vietnam. 

If I'm not on the upperdeck at sea, I'm on the treadmill FML
So we came alongside the port in Ho Chi Minh City, the same one I visited 18 years ago. Much has changed though. At night now it's a beautiful looking sky line, compared to 18 years ago when it wasn't so. It appears to have changed for the better in my opinion. 

As I was planning on heading out early with others from the mess, I went for a run as soon as I could. Now after reading up on running around in Vietnam, most comments mention it's too difficult, so use a gym. Well I thought I'd find out for my self. I looked on google roughly where we were so I had an idea of my out and back route. 

This trip has aged me going by this pic from the gym
Off I went, off the ship, out through the port gate with many locals laughing saying "exercise, exercise" mainly because I was saying this as I didn't need their moped taxi rides (that is a must do experience lol). I turned right and remembered from the map the road followed the river. So I did exactly that followed the river. 

I saw many locals fishing as I passed by, all looking at me as if I was some weirdo. To be fair I probably did look very weird to them. The heavens opened and soon it was raining, lightly at first. I continued on my route, not having to many issues. The road crossings were a bit hairy but to be honest, as long as you have your wits about you,  it's not that hard. 

I eventually got to my turn around point and headed back. The loudest thunder crack I have ever heard (louder than Concorde breaking the sound barrier) followed a bright flash of light and it then rained heavier. 

I ran along despite the rain, as it cooled down the temperature. I took in as much of the atmosphere as possible. I still had my niggle in the calf, so I took the run easy. Not wanting to aggravate it too much, which seem to do the trick. I strapped it up with rock tape once I got back. 

The streets of Ho Chi Minh
I finished back at the port, and I really enjoyed my run. It really wasn't as bad as they made out on the internet to be honest. Like I said as long as you have your wits about you and happy to take your time when it comes to the crossing, then all is good. Yes they are lunatics, red lights mean nothing to them but it's doable. 

So I went out that night had a few too many drinks and had a good time. Visited an old haunt called "Apocalypse Now" which was like I remembered. Suffered the morning after as expected. The following day I went out to the market it area where there was the biggest market of "genuine" goods I've ever seen. You name it they have it, and the quality is getting far better than it used to be. 

On the third day I went off on a trip I did 18 years ago. I visited the Chu Chi Tunnels. it's tunnel system used by the Viet Cong during the war with the Americans. Our tour guide's Grandfather served with the South Vietnam army as a Lieutenant. He was a really good tour guide with a great sense of humour. It was a just as I remembered i.e bloody brill. Highly recommended for sure. It was so interesting and you understand why they were so good at Gorilla warfare compared to the Yanks. 

These trails would be awesome to run on!
As I was walking around with the group, it go me thinking how great it would be to have a little trail race around the area of that Jungle. I reckon they would make a great 5k or 10K route there if not more. 

I also got to fire an M1 Garand rifle, the last time I did this trip I fired an AK47 and M16. This time I wanted something different and it was ace. What a rifle! I can see why it was a legend of a WW2 weapon that continued long after. 

So that brings me to the end of this blog once more. I hope you enjoyed a brief insight to Vietnam. For a communist country apart from all the flags and military dotted about, you wouldn't have known, considering how much this place has changed. it has a lot of western brands and products now, so it's communism has moved on a lot compared to the communism of say North Korea. The people seem happy, it's very tourist attractive now and it appears to be receiving a lot of investment. 
The 18 years difference! (Yep I had hair once)
Thank you all for reading and the continued support. I will be releasing a video of my run around Vietnam in the near future so please pop over to my youtube channel and subscribe. Thank you to Tailwind Nutrition for their continue support. Until Next time!


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Didn't know Tony Stark lived in Vietnam???

Monday 20 August 2018

Just When You Think You Are Done With Japan....

I was completely wrong!!

We sailed from Tokyo a day early to escape the on coming Typhoon again because they were worried about getting battered alongside but once more it came no where near where we were. 

We were due to go on operations once again to enforce the UNSCRs but the ship had other plans and we ended up anchoring off Sasebo to conduct repairs. Unfortunately this wasn't working, so we limped to Yokosuka and put ourselves back alongside in the place were were, throughout July in our Mid Deployment Stand Down Period. 

That was that, back alongside in Japan, after what I thought would be the last time. First night in and I was shore patrol, ie bimbling about in uniform around the Honche (an area popular for drinking by the yanks) outside the gates. They have a strict curfew and we don't so the ship puts a patrol out to with the Yanks to make sure there is no trouble. It's a waste of time, but hey ho ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die. 
Out in the fresh air on the coast where I belong

Anyway the first proper opportunity I had and I was out on a run. Again the weather was sunny, very hot (35 degrees) and very humid. There was a little head breeze as some points which made a refreshing change but still sweated profusely. 

I decided to do a route which I covered previously the last time I was here. Through the dockyard, out of one of the gates and through the town then around a little coastal stretch before heading back. 

The sun was beating down, and it was definitely making me work hard, I eventually slowed myself down and tried to make it more comfortable a run. In the park I ran through there was a musical fountain, the spray in the air was refreshing so I had to go stand in in the spray briefly to try and cool for a moment. 

I noticed the Japanese flag was at half mast and it was at that moment it dawned on me that  I was our running on VJ Day. Victory in Japan signified the end of World War 2, the surrender of the Japanese meant it was over. So the fact I was running around the base where the Attack of Pearl Harbour was planned which brought them in to WW2. 

It's a bit surreal to be honest, thinking about it. Here I am enjoying something I do, running around the base and the town of Yokosuka, and it was where, the place that got them into the war and that led to some horrific fighting and torture of allied prisoners imaginable. 

Anyway I digress, I finished my run back at the ship, and chilled a little prior to going back on board for a shower and to get changed. 

The following days run was a run just in and around the base, nothing to difficult just a nice run out and around. I did find though going through the tunnels in the base, my Garmin struggled which surprised me as they're not exactly long and to be fair I never really noticed this in past. No biggy really as I am currently not too fussed about stats right now. 

Flying through one of the tunnels on the base

The weather was a bit blowly which was nice, although it wasn't too strong you still noticed the head wind, which is something I've not been used to recently. I felt pretty good during the run as well, again something that has been lacking recently. Don't get me wrong I've been enjoying every run I've had but I've not been 100% happy with my running itself. 

I've been pretty good, I got out again and smashed another run outside the base along the coast past the civilian port area. It was pretty busy with both people and vehicle traffic, and the route wasn't the most exciting either, it just felt another run done that was it. I did however enjoy it and had fun in the process. Sometimes even the most boring runs can still be enjoyable and fun. 

The weekend arrived and knowing I was going to be duty on the Sunday I wanted to make sure I had a really good run on the Saturday. So I decided to run once more up Mt Ogusu. This time however I wanted to run up it via a different trail. This meant I had to get to the other side of the Mountain. So I bussed it over to the other coast and ran from that coast up to the top and back. 

Once I left the tarmac and hit the trail at the bottom, it was pleasant surprise. There was a river running along the bottom with the trail running along it. This was brill! I loved the running along the stepping stones and having the coolness of the shade. Why didn't I run this route last time?

Soon enough the watery trail ended and the ascent started with plenty of leg burning steps. My thoughts turned straight to the Arc of Attrition next year. This is what I need to be getting in my training. Plenty of steps! 

Stunning view at the top of Mt Ogusu
The steps ended but soon followed by step climb of weathered trail. The path continued up and down rolling but mostly going up. There were plenty of walkers bimbling along the trail as well which nice. All friendly and saying hello as I passed them. 

Eventually I made it to the top once more and this time, the observatory was open so I was able to go up to the top and see over the trees and take in the breathe taking views. Sadly it was too hazy to make out Mt Fuji in the distance but I wasn't disappointed with the view at all. Beautiful scenery makes the effort getting to the top all worth it. 

Then it came to descend once more and it was fun going back down. Luckily I decided to wear trail shoes because there were some greasy sections. My Peregrines were good for the task and some how with out realising at the time, they matched my running attire LOL. 

So much fun!

I hit the bottom of the trail and ran back along the watery section and had fun whilst doing so. It was another hot day hitting 34 degrees during the run but it felt less humid and more of a dry heat this time. What a really enjoyable run that was!

I was duty the following day and to keep my run streak going I did a mile on the treadmill, followed by 20 mins on the bike. Nothing exciting but it did the job. 

Over the last couple of weeks I seemed to have hurt my shoulder, like maybe I slept funny but instead the pain, occasional numbness, pins and needles it hadn't subsided. I've booked an appointment with the Doc on board to find out what damage I've caused. 

Hopefully not too much damage, it probably won't help that during my recent run around the base I thought it'd be cool to do a cart wheel. How wrong I was for two reasons! 1. It bloody hurt 2. I look like an elegant baby elephant trying to walk for the first time. 

Yep so graceful I know!
Anyway, this should be my last time in Japan (I know I said that last time) all things well, my next blog should be from the next country I am visiting. It also means on the way home too, with around 93 days (at the time of this publishing) left to go of this deployment.

Thank you for reading, if you haven't already pop over to my YouTube channel and subscribe. Subscribe here!


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