Thursday, 12 July 2018

It's all about Nippon 日本

As we left Busan in South Korea, it was only a few days until we arrived at our much need next destination. We were heading to Yokosuka (pronounced YOK KOS KA) for our mid deployment maintenance period. The ship hasn't had a proper maintenance period since we first game out of extended readiness last year. This was to due many factors, but mostly due to the super busy programme the ship had since the first day of sailing back in June 17 but that's another story.


Leaving Busan in the fog
This period alongside in Yokosuka also meant the half way point of our 10 month deployment and also my period of RnR coming up. I had the option of flying home by RAF flight or fly my little family out. When looking at and despite being the more expensive option I flew my little family out as it meant I had more time with them, less hassle than flying with our RAF brothers, who always find it very difficult to support any other service except their own, and it would be them saying good bye to me instead of me saying good bye to them again. It turned out to be the better of the two options I can tell you!


Entering Yokosuka
So they arrived safely at Narita airport late morning and on time too! I met them both at the airport, where we would then head to our apartment we had booked for 11 of the 12 nights I had with them (the last night was in a hotel for our wedding anniversary). This was located in an area of Tokyo called Asakusa. I didn't know too much about the area nor could I recall having visited it last time round, so had no information on it at all in my head. It was a bit of a trek with all the luggage from the airport but eventually we got there and what an area it turned out to be. Full of life with the tallest tower in the world aka Skytree over shadowing us. It was colourful as well as busy.


Electric City
We spent the rest of the day briefly bimbling around Asakusa to get our bearings and chilling out in the evening. The following day headed to Akihabara aka Electric City which was a 45 minute walk from where we were. As the weather was awesomely hot and humid, that's exactly what we did. We walked there and spent the rest of the day there looking around the various shops etc.

The next two days was all about the Disney. There are two parks here in Tokyo, first one we went to was Disneyland Tokyo, again fantastic day, with one thing that comes to mind. It appears if you want to experience Disney you need to go FULL Disney. There were so many people dressed head to toe in matching Disney shit, it was unbelievable. It was like Mickey Mouse had bent over and had Disney Diarrhoea and plastered them. The second day of Disney was in DisneySea, which was more ride orientated based on a Maritime Theme with an evening finally show which was amazing. We definitely had a great couple days and it was a treat worth giving my son for being brilliant whilst I've been away.


First day at Disneyland (boy was very excited)
So our plan for the following day was to have a chilled out day, but to go out early for a run. Once the run was finished it was to be a relaxing day, doing very little as such after the previous two days as they were quite manic. We decided to go run around the Sensoji Temple area. The Temple is a popular tourist attraction, it's probably one of the biggest I had seen up until then, with shrines in the same area and a market type place also right near it. The Temple is beautiful and as expected well maintained. It doesn't cost anything to go visit so that helps the reason why it's so popular I have no doubt.

We got up early due to the current temperatures over here in their 30's and very humid. We got ourselves ready and headed out the door, then headed off on our merry way down the footpaths towards the Temple area. We remembered the way to go and ran through the Temple area and down through the market area. Eventually we decided where half way was and ran back pretty much the same, so not to get lost. The roads were pretty quiet, however there were a few people around the Temple, looking around when we went through.


Running through the Sensoji Temple area
The route was simple but I enjoyed it so much, to have my little family keeping me company. was great. No time or distance set, just a nice out and back route. After our run, we chilled for most of our day then headed out for something to eat in Electric City at night to see all the lights lit up.
Very sweaty, warm but lovely family run
The next few days was all about sight seeing, from going up the SkyTree tower (the tallest tower in the world and 2nd tallest structure in the world), the Edo Castle in Tokyo centre, going to the Baseball which had an amazing atmosphere, to getting the Bullet Train to Nagoya to watch a Sumo Tournament. Again a fantastic experience at the Sumo, I ain't going to lie. If you ever get the chance go to the Baseball and the Sumo (Sumo tournaments only happen 5 times a year so you will have to time it). We did so much but we hardly scratched the surface of Tokyo. 


Skytree Tower
Sumo Tournament
Baseball Giants vs Baystars!

We did get another run in between all the other touristy stuff. This time it was a run along the Sumida River, again nothing to difficult but and enjoyable route with the little family taking in the sights and sounds of Asakusa. We took a left from our apartment, run south to the river, ran along the river then up to the main road and back to the apartment. 

This time though I got to try out my new shorts I purchased. My current shorts have served me well since I first took up running in 2009. They have so many miles put in them, from my first marathon in London 2010, my first Ultra in 2012, my New Forest to Land's End 7 day ultra, my run across Wales and all the training and races in between. I won't be throwing them away though, they have to many memories in them. The new shorts however felt really good, very comfortable indeed. The pocket at the back was large enough for my iPhone X, something I have always struggled to find when looking for a replacement shorts was a pair with a large enough pocket for a phone. It also comes with 4 over lapping pockets which is ideal for snacks, rain jacket fits in to a little sack. Anything really, gels, salt caps etc etc. On first impressions the Patagonia trail shorts are pretty good purchase, but not cheap. 


Running in the new shorts


Best kind of runs
Eventually though I had to send my little family off on their way back to Blighty. It was hard for me to say goodbye the first time, it wasn't any easier this time either. The next time I will see them will be when I'm eventually home. However until then I still have more time here in Yokosuka, as the other half of the ship's company need their RnR, so I will have more time to explore this area and get more runs in. 


Sad times saying goodbye again
I must thank you all for reading, the support given to me whilst away is always appreciated. Also the support from Tailwind Nutrition UK as well, as always it keeps me going especially in this uber warm climate. 

Until next time safe running everyone.


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You can now view the video for the runs here >>> Far Eastern Adventure part 5



Sunday, 24 June 2018

From the Land of the Rising Sun to the Land of the Calm


We left the beautiful Island of Okinawa to head back out on operations once more, thus putting me back into the not so exciting routines at sea.

The next port of call is Busan, South Korea towards the end of the month which I'm looking forward to. When I last visited there, it was known as Pusan but that was 18 years ago. I have no doubt the city which features in the latest Black Panther film has changed a lot since the last time I visited. It's a busy stop coming up but I'm looking forward to revisiting the place for a couple reasons as you will find out later on.



Leaving Okinawa
Whilst, we are at sea it was time for my annual fitness test. Nothing too difficult for me especially at my age of 40, although I do have sign a death waiver. This is so I can't sue the MOD if I die during a fitness test because I chose to do the bleep test over the Rockport walk. I passed as always which wasn't hard as I only have to get to level 7.8 on the bleep test for my age. I'm not going to go into the RN fitness test standards because that's a whole different level of discussion.


Sunset coming into Busan waters
The weather wasn't great, it was like a cold wet miserable day in Plymouth, more than the warmer climates of the East China Sea. I did what I had to do even though it was raining and that was all that was needed. I've nothing to prove to anyone, or myself. I did record it on my Garmin though just to record the location of where I conducted my fitness test, more than anything and it's funny to see the actual results. How much I would love to be as good as it suggested there was no way I ran 4.30 min mile nor did I do 2.7 miles in 10 mins odd. What caused this? Well the ship moving as I ran effects the GPS, I could've set it to treadmill mode but then it wouldn't have logged the area I ran it in. That's all I wanted it for, I know if I uploaded it to Strava, there be some sad person claiming I cheated as they take what Strava says as gospel. "If it's not on Strava it didn't happen" Bollocks. 


Flight deck out in the East China sea the location for my Annual Fitness Test
Further a field back home, my boy ran the 2.4km Junior race as part of the Hope24 event festival. He's ran it twice before, but  it was either with me or his mum. This year he wanted to do it by himself "because Mummy is too slow" and he did. He did brill, as we had some reservations on him doing it by himself, as sometimes he requires a little motivation to get him round from one of us. However he didn't require us and he smashed it out of the park. Very proud of my boy, we're not pushy parents at all. Far from it, if he wants to run it's great, we'd never force him. That's how I believe a lot of children lose their motivation for sports. Again I could go on with this as I have seen many pushy parents in Judo a sport I participated and taught for around 30 years prior to retiring from it, but I won't that's another discussion. 

Obviously I am sad I never got to see my boy do this in person, but that's one of the down sides to my job. I have, since he's been born, missed a lot of things with him. Especially birthdays I've been home for about 1 of them and I will be away for his 8th birthday this year, and as it stands possibly away for his 9th. During this period it was Father's Day also, sadly another I am not home to spend with him. Luckily the post arrived in time prior to sailing with my Father's Day card and gift, so I haven't totally missed out but sadly it's the downside to a job at sea. Much like my own father who was in the Merchant Navy for 36 years. He was often away for birthdays and Christmas' a like. 


Hope24 is an amazing event, it was it's 5th birthday this year and I'm sad I wasn't able to participate in any form. From what I have seen on various SM outlets, it appears it was another successful one again, with my friends enjoying themselves and some even achieving more than they expected. Well done to all of you! Hopefully I will be back next year. I've missed seeing all my friends especially those who I formed friendships through the event itself. 



My boy proud of his Hope24 achievement
That said we eventually arrived in Busan, South Korea. I wasn't hanging around as I was off on an organised to trip to Seoul first, a 2 hour train trip from Busan. This was because the following day I am visiting the De Militarised Zone aka the DMZ. The border between North and South Korea. It's one of those once in a life time opportunities really, I've never been before and the likelihood it would happen again if very unlikely. The fact I could say "I've been to the DMZ" is pretty ace to be honest. 


Tracked my wall in and out of North/South Korea




At the DMZ






















So the DMZ was so surreal but so amazing, definitely one of the best experiences I've had around the world and I've been to wonders such as the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China etc. We could only take pictures at certain times, and as the phone signals were being blocked by the North, so I could only manage to track my North/South bimble on my watch. It is definitely and experience I recommend to any one. If you get the opportunity to do so, then take it. 

The following day after I got back from the DMZ, I went to the Korean War Remembrance Service with pretty much everyone else from the ship. The Korean War is often the forgotten war and it's easily to forget that is actually has never ended yet. It's just a military cease fire, nothing more. It was a really lovely cemetery and the service was good. Sometimes it's easy to take things for granted, this war only started 5 years after the end of WW2.

So anyway back to the running. After what was a busy few days, I finally got out for a run first thing early morning the next day after the Remembrance Service. I didn't get to go out in Seoul, mainly because I had little time there and I wanted to explore and get drunk in Seoul to be honest, to which I did. So my run in Busan, came at 0530 before I was going to be stuck on board duty. 

I went out of the main gate and took myself up the stonking hill. The temperature was warm and it was humid at that time. Haze over the sea was yet to be burnt off, but the views nevertheless were still stunning once I go to the top. I took in the views and eventually carried on a bit down the other side before turning back round to run back to the ship. 

Running across the top of the big hill
It couldn't be a long one as I had to get back to take over from the guy who was duty the day before. Knowing how hot and humid it was going to be I knew I had to stay hyrdated, so I went with Green Tea Tailwind once more, making sure I had ample of fluids.The climb up the hill was tough and the descent was pleasant it was long but not knee busting steep. All in all a good run.

It was nice to get out on my own again, allowing me to ponder things. The area was pretty quiet at that time, birds were singing and it was nice. Busan is a good place to visit, with lots to do. Whilst there I found out that there is a trail from Busan to Seoul that measure 330 miles ish. Thus has given me an idea for maybe a future adventure, however not sure how the wife may feel about it yet. We shall see, I've plenty of ideas for my next big adventure but it depends on where I go after I leave this ship. 

Green Tea is yummy!
Running in Pusan is now the 8th different place I've ran in this trip so far, although it may not be as great as some of the others, it was by not disappointing at all. I recommend visiting this part of world, it certainly different, the South Koreans love their drink so be prepared to party hard. 

So by time this gets published I will be seeing my little family in 4 days time when they fly out to join me at my next stop for 2 weeks. It's going to be fantastic and I'm really excited. I know my son is going to have an amazing time. I'm glad I chose not to fly home, as there was so much hassle flying home thanks to the RAF, it almost doesn't seem worth it plus I'd have less time at home. 

#LiveitLoveitRunit taking in the views of Busan during a break in my run.
Well that concludes another blog for the time being and brings you all up to date, feel free if you haven't already to read the other blogs. 

Thank you to the continue support from everyone, and especially my sponsor Tailwind Nutrition UK. It's great to be a Trailblazer out here on my adventures. Until next time.



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#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer

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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#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
Owain
#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.

Nagasaki
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
Owain
#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.
Owain
#GoTailwind #Tailwindtrailblazer