Monday, July 16, 2018

5 Years Running

Today was a long run day.

Even with Guns N' Roses blasting through my earbuds,
"Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty" thoughts wander and I reflected upon the fact that I have been running for 5 years now.

I went back over my blog post of 2014 and had a good laugh at my 5 year plan.  Based on those posts, my running has exceeded my expectations.  I started with a 30+ minute 5k, now I'm sub 23 minutes.  My first Half-Marathon was 2 hour and 7 minutes, now it under 1 hour and 44 minutes.  

Really, I'm content, even if I never beat those records.  I used to think that if I could just average an 8:30 minute mile for a half, then that would be enough.  I've managed a 7:55.

Does this mean that I'm not striving for faster? Of course not. I'm human.

Right now I'm nowhere near in any shape to run those times, and that is fine.  Since Afrika, I've been bulking up on miles.  

I got my hands on this book:
I mentioned this book in one of my earliest blog posts. Now I'm going to give the 5k training plan a try for Monterey this Fall.  I think I will use it for my half-marathon that I plan to run in the Spring.  I've been running twice a day on some days, something I haven't done in quite awhile.  For example:
Tuesday AM
Tuesday PM
Wednesday AM
Wednesday PM
Thursday AM
Thursday PM
Friday AM
Friday PM
Saturday AM
Saturday PM


Today I ran 16.9 miles at a 10:11 pace.  I haven't had a "gel" in years.  For these long runs I drive out to the end of the canal.  My car contains a cooler with a supply of water and assorted veggies/fruit.  I grab 2-4 pieces at the end of each 3.7 mile loop.  There is a port-a-potty where I park and so other needs are met also.

Next week I reduce my miles to something in the 40s.  I'm going to sprinkle in some "speed work" for this low mileage week.  I've been doing hill sprints on the treadmill twice a week, so I should be ready.

For the first time I've managed to achieve a 10mph pace on the tread mill (at 1% grade) and hold it for about a 100 yards.  All previous attempts resulted in me panicking and hitting the stop button, or pulling out the safety key. I believe "teaching" my legs to run at this faster pace is critical to any future improvement.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


So around my 50th birthday, my wife and I started to get serious about our "bucket list" which included doing a safari in Africa.

Then the big Ebola outbreak occurred and we put the trip on hold.

With our 25th anniversary coming up, and the Ebola outbreak ended, my wife got more insistent and found a good tour group to go with.  Ebola cropped up again in the Congo, but remained contained, and our trip was booked.

I'm not going to say where in Africa we went because apparently it might help poachers to track down animals of interest.  But I do have a few pictures and videos to share.

A Giraffe:
A female lion
A male lion: we encountered this big fellow on our last day.  He changed my perspective on "marking territory" in a big way.
The ubiquitous Cape Buffalo: okay, maybe not ubiquitous, but there were a lot.
A white rhino.
And a leopard
So that covers the "Big Five" plus a Giraffe.
We saw a lot of Baboons.
A few Wildebeest.
Some Hyena, including a dead one, killed by a male lion defending its lunch!  We also saw a den with several baby Hyenas.
Cute little mongooses, or is that mongeese?
Hornbills are now the iconic bird of Africa for me.
Here is a warthog - best picture I could get.
I really like this Elephant picture.
And let's not forget Zebra.

We enjoyed the local beer.
I don't think it would be much of a surprise to say we saw "The Smoke That Thunders."
We visited geological wonders.

I got only two short (30-40 minute), back-to-back treadmill runs in during the middle of the trip.  I am now trying to regain my running fitness.  Running on Safari is generally not recommended.  I wouldn't want to be mistaken for prey.

For the second time I took malarial medication on a trip where I was never bitten by a mosquito.  Early on in the trip I had a case of "Shaka's Revenge" that put my gastrointestinal system into the worst tail-spin that I can ever remember.  Our guide suggested it was due to the medication, I'm less sure, but I stopped taking it just to be safe.  I began questioning my guide and various natives about malaria.  Long term malarial medication is just a no-go for all of them.  They rely on mosquito netting, and diethyltoluamide (DEET). 

So Africa is checked on my "Bucket list," well, except for Egyptian pyramids.  Still there is a desire to do some more Safari in the future.  My wife was quite keen on all of the birds she got to identify.  Apparently the best time to go birding is during the rainy season, which is also the mosquito season - ugh!

A final picture from our sunset cruise.

Friday, June 1, 2018

North of Nancy 1944 a Rommel AAR

I set up a smaller scenario for another solo play of Rommel based on the "Breakthrough" scenario on a standard 6 by 4 foot table.  I based the scenario on the Battle of Nancy, the Northern sector. 

The 317th and 318th regiments of the American 80th infantry division and CCA of the 4th Armored Division.  Against them were elements of the 3rd Panzergrenadier division and the 553rd Volkgrendiers.

Here are the details:
    Number Cost Total
  80th Infantry Division      
317th Infantry Battalions 2 8 16
  105 Howitzer 1 3 3
318th Infantry Battalion 2 8 16
  105 Howitzer 1 3 3
  80th Division Assets     0
  Hellcats 1 11 11
  702nd Tank Battalion 1 10 10
  Division Assets 155 1 4 4
CCA 4th  Armored Infantry Battalion 1 9 9
Armored Shermans 2 10 20
  M7 Priest 1 4 4
  Total Cost   47 96
3rd PzG Panzergrenadier battalion 1 11 11
Rgt. 1 Motorized Infantry battalion 1 8 8
  105 mm Artillery 1 3 3
3rd PzG Panzergrenadier battalion 1 11 11
Rgt. 2 Motorized Infantry battalion 1 8 8
  Wespe 1 4 4
  Parent     0
  Panzer IVH 1 10 10
553 VG VG Battalions 2 6 12
  Hetzers 1 10 10
  105mm Artillery 1 3 3
  Total cost   74 80
Numbers are numbers of battalion, each of which is 3 stands, or "units."

The German set-up:

The Americans on board:
Reinforcements (CCA) for turn 1:

More beginning photos:

The Americans must take two objectives, in addition to holding their own.  The objectives are the little crosses, and stars - the marker flips.
The Americans start with a tactic that allows them to move an unspent German unit using road movement.  They moved the Wespe artillery, and pounced on it, destroying it.
The Germans repaid them in kind by moving the 155mm battery, and crushing it.
Using this tactic takes a lot of op chips, and perhaps there is a balancing mechanism, but it seems very "gamey."  I think I will either remove it as a tactic, make it scenario specific, or change it to only move armor or infantry units.  

The Americans seize the hills and punish the Germans for the attack on the 155.

Germans 3rd attacking CCA.  Those elite panzergrenadier battalions pack a wallop.
The Americans crack the German line by attacking the Volksgrenadiers and support.

They manage to isolate a battalion of the 553rd defending an objective marker.  A series of attacks follow.  Them Volksgrenadiers with prepared positions in the forest put up quite  a fight.  

At first I thought the Americans had this in the bag and would move on to flank the rest of the German position.  This marker was relatively isolated and seemed like an easy mark.  By the time they were finally cleared out, the game was in its last few turns, and there was still a second objective to take.  Here...
With only a few turn remaining, the Americans attacked in earnest.  Fortunately, they had gotten good position early in the game, and could attack from several sectors.

Final assaults that take the Volkgrenadier position and the second objective.

In the last turn, and in overtime, the Germans Counterattacked desperately.  It got to a point where there were no more tactics available, but they didn't dare reset because the game could end at any moment.

Meanwhile, the Americans conserved op chips and swapped in fresh units whenever a group got too worn.  In the last turn of the game, with the Germans fairly beat up, the American launched a series of attacks that crumpled their left flank.  Well, the Volksgrenadiers in the woods held, wouldn't you know it.

I'm getting a better handle on tactics, when to use them, when not, when a shift is better than a doubling of strength.  Overall, I think shifts are more potent.  

I'm still thinking artillery need 2 hits.  They are just too fragile.  I used carpet bombing on the Volkgrenadiers, and the Germans reciprocated with replacement battalion.  If I had carpet bombed the artillery, then it would have been out permanently.  Still, given the allied air superiority in the late part of the war, perhaps this is how it should be.  I will probably change the name of the tactic to "Piper Cub Spotter," or something like that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Operation Cobra

Its not actually Operation Cobra.  Cobra was the inspiration along with the "Breakthrough" scenario in the Rommel rule book.

I had to make some adjustments though as I was expecting 10 players.  I designed it to have 5 commands per side.  The German commands were smaller of course.  The playing area was 5 feet by 9 feet, or 10 by 18 kilometers in game scale.

You can see the Vire river in the upper right hand corner, and no less than 8 urban centers.
Here are the Germans:
The tigers are part of the "Parent" and I allowed the CnC to distribute them as he saw fit.  A bit early for the Panzer IV L70s, but ...I just finished painting them.

Here are the Americans:
Basically an American Infantry division and Armor division.  Two 155mm batteries as "Parent" for the CnC to manage.
The Americans set-up:
The Germans set-up:
Pictures of the battle:
 Sadly, I made some mistakes.  This was judged a flanking attack, but it wasn't.
 American armored infantry and German Panzergrenadiers square off.
 Tank shock to the extreme.  Those Hellcats needed to be intermixed with the infantry.
 Panthers and Elite Panzergrenadiers take over the bockage.
The Germans played quite aggressively.  The Americans took an objective early and never let it go.  An ambitious flanking move by the Germans over the river Vire destroyed one of the American 155s.  The Germans were also threatening the American supply source at the edge of the battle field.  Carpet bombing was used to pick off German artillery units.  I really thought that wasn't historical.  The game bogged down, mostly because all of my players were new to the system.  Still everyone seemed to enjoy the game and are eager for another one.  The next one will be with only 6 players. 

I learned a lot about how to organize the Ops sheets for a multi-player game.  It will go more smoothly next time, and hopefully we will get past turn 5.
A final "endgame" picture.

5 Years Running

Today was a long run day. Even with Guns N' Roses blasting through my earbuds, " Take me down to the paradise city Where the gr...