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





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