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.......




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#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!



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#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer