Monday, December 25, 2006

Adventures of Another Type

Happy Holidays everyone (all two or three of you who read this). The holidays for me are filled with many fond memories of childhood and spending time with my family. I am sure this is similar feeling for many people, but as I grow older it is less about me (surprising I know) and more about creating these same memories for Jake and Hanna (my nephew and niece). I also feel it is an moral obligation to help the unfortunate children during this time of year. This year it was a bit difficult for me to shop (broken leg) so I donated money to the Make-A-Wish and Toys for Tots. I will also be dropping off food later this week to Northwest Harvest. I know my contributions are not large, but if everyone could help out it would make a bigger difference.

I know it's cliche that kids grow up so fast, but it really is true. This year Hanna was more aware of the Christmas spirit, well at least that Santa and relatives give lots of presents. The opening of presents was a whirlwind of activity. Jake was tearing through them like a starved cheetah chasing a gazelle on the Serengeti. I think there was one point he didn't breathe or blink through 4 gifts and I'm not sure he even knew what he opened before the next prey was spotted, caught and ravaged apart.

I have a new appreciation for my parents and my brother and Lenor (his wife) for the amount of energy it take to have and raise children. After breakfast I was exhausted and promptly passed out after cooking some eggs and cheese with Hanna on her Dora "The Explorer" Kitchen set. The sounds of a Star Wars Light Saber whizzing over my head woke me and my body felt like it had been through a 4-6 hour training ride/run. I mustered the energy to dawn some 3-D glasses and look at the constellations on Jake's wall and then take a few family pictures before heading home. I'm wasted, looking forward to a good night sleep before hitting the gym tomorrow for a workout of much less intensity!

Hanna walking the runway in her new pink coat and purse.

Two Elmo's??? Which one...touch decision for a two year old.

Uncle with young Jedi and Hanna (on cell phone)

Hanna with cell phone and pony. Eric is going to have his hands full with this one.

My brother, 95 year old grandma and me.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Vandylicious

I'm the V to the A-N-D-Y
And can't no other man put it down like me!
I'm Vandylicious
My body stay vicious
I be up in the gym
just working on my fitness
I'm Vandylicious

It's so delicious
I'm Vandylicious T-t-t-t tasty, tasy
D to the E to the L-I-C-I-O-U-S
to the D to the E to the L-I-C-O-U-S

The 300 Club

This is not the pint size version of the very odd, conservative Christian show hosted by Pat Robertson, but I'm willing to go "Christian" if Pat would lay his hand on my forehead and "heal" my leg and get rid of a few "evil spirits" whiles he's at it. The 300 club is an infamous bench press club at my old gym. Although I am not a member, my old workout partner Matt and I were giving it our best shot during our lifting days. I believe our MAX was 285, a mere 15lbs from reaching godlike status! However, now with my gimp leg, I think I am going to try again for the wealth and prosperity of the club. My paltry lift of 185 today is like Star Wars, in a galaxy far, far away...from the three hundy club!

12/21 Bench Press - 185lbs
12/28 Bench Press - ??

Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm Weak.....but happy!

I’ve stated in early post about my addiction to all bike things that are shiny, new and lightweight. Yet, with countless internal conversations, 8 week detox program and several self-help books I have given into the temptation and purchased another bike (actually, I am still in discussions with my bike shop on pricing, but it sounds like they will work with me). And to make matters worse, I am purchasing the frame only, so I can piece the bike together exactly to my twisted, obsessed specifications.

The bike in question here is the new Specialized S-Works Carbon Disc. I looked at several bikes, including another Yeti AS-R or Orbea Alma, but after research I concluded that the Specialized would be best suited for my needs (if I can not reach an agreement with my bike shop then I think I will look more seriously at the Orbea).

The latest reports on the Specialized are extremely favorable. The bike from the factory with spec parts weighs in at 23.9 lbs. I am confident with the right components this can be lowered to 23 or 23.5 lbs. Does .4-.9 lbs. really matter in the big picture? Absolutely not, but I am a weak and feeble human...but, I’m happy!


My annual fix was replenished with the juicy goodness of the Specialized S-Works Carbon

Touching the Sky

The last visit to the orthopedic was a dose of reality, but my understanding of the severity of the break and the rehabilitation process is much clearer. I am definitely in for the long haul, but I am optimistic that if everything heals correctly I should be back to 50-75% by mid-summer. The fracture which is classified as an intracapsular fracture, which is more severe than a extracapsular fracture, as the break lies beneath the bodies blood supplies. My orthopedic’s main concern now is that the blood supply is not disturbed and we avoid avascular necrosis. Avascular necrosis is a disease that results from permanent or temporary loss of blood supply to the bone. Without blood the bone tissue dies and the bone will collapse. Avascular necrosis occurs in roughly 20-30% of patients with an femoral neck fracture. I am optimistic that with my good health and fitness that I will be in the 70-80% that this disease does not occur.

The planning for my first race is already in motion, but I am cautious not to get too excited. I am aiming for the Leadville 100 “Race Across the Sky” Mountain Bike Race. The race is enormously popular and the only way to enter is through a lottery system in January. Lance Armstrong is doing the race this year, so that should definitely up the lottery entry. The race itself is a 100 mile “out and back” high-altitude race. Starting in Leadville, CO at 10,152”, the race never dips below 9,200” with the highest point at 12,600’ above sea level. To be classified as an “official finisher” you need to complete the course in 12 hours. I am fairly confident that if I can gain my aerobic capacity back and 75% of my strength than I can compete in the race.

If you have a moment send a prayer to the healing gods care of “Aaron VanderWaal”. Your kindness will be rewarded! Peace.

Monday, December 11, 2006

35 Days Later - My Leg is Still Broken

Today marked the 5th week since the surgery to repair the femoral neck break in my left leg/hip. I met with a new orthopedic surgeon today to assess the break. Sometime over the past several weeks I conjured the illusion that I would be able to start bearing weight on my leg after 5 weeks. My doctor quickly extinguished those dreams with reality.




X-ray (above) and illustration (below) of the nifty hardware that is now holding my left femur into my hip.



The break is healing very well and he was actually surprised how much bone calcium/callus was already forming, however, I am still 4 weeks (minimum) away from putting any weight on the leg. First, 25% weight bearing and then the rehabilitation process will be approximately 25% more each 4-6 weeks. I appreciate my doctors candor, but it was a difficult pill to swallow knowing that I will not be full strength until August, September or October of 2007! He could obviously see the disappointment in my expression and in a touching doctor to patient moment he said, "you are healing well, you are young and active and you will be healthy again, but you need to let this heal. Patience is a virtue!" Ahhh...my moment of zen!

However, Is patience really a virtue or is this a generational saying that is suppose to give you a sense of peace to balance out the frustration you feel when you hear the word “be patient”

Patience originates from the word patient, so I looked up the meaning. The meaning fit with why I was told patience is a virtue. The root word was what caught my eye though, since patient derives from the Greek word pEma and the Latin word pati, both which mean to suffer. Hmmm, now I think we are arriving to the root of the real understanding.

I admit, I am not the most patient person. I expect immediate results and they should have been done yesterday. However, I think I will heed the good docs advice, let the bone heal and come out of this as a stronger, more bionic, person.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Inspiration

My first memory of inspiration was in the dentist office. Odd yes, but I remember reading the inspirational and motivational posters that my dentist had on the walls 10, 20 times, trying not to gag on the "bubble gum" flavored fluoride paste dripping down my throat. You know the posters I'm referring..."The true reward of a thing well done, is to have done it" or "The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible". These quotes were usually preceded in the poster by a like picture. The pictures were usually of some type of natural occurrence (visualize a frozen plain with a beautiful red tulip blooming through the ice as it was a sunny spring day...Perseverance!) that visual stimulated the mind and created a cohesive mental image stronger than the quote or picture isolated by them self.

As I grew older I found inspiration in other ways, mostly from my family, friends and other athletes. However, since I started doing triathlons several years ago, the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt, no matter how many times I hear, is still the most inspirational and overwhelming story. I could try to paraphrase their story, but I wouldn't do it justice. This link will shoot you to an excerpt from a Sports Illustrated story. There is also a short video at the end that captures the spirit and strength of this father and son. I was lucky enough to be at the Ironman World Championships this year to see the Hoyt's and although their race did not go well, the image that I saw will forever be ingrained in my mind.

Friday, December 01, 2006

If Harborview Manufactured Bikes

I received my first hospital bill today and I hope I have good insurance. Not including my ambulance ride, my three night stay in the luxurious Harborview cost just under $33,000 and I didn't even get a room with a view. Matter of fact I had to share my room with what I can only assume was a mental patient.

OK, so I'm sure we have all been sticker shocked over the cost of a new mountain bike. The new Specialized S-Works Epic Carbon Disc retails at $6500 (although this is one sweet piece of bike @ss)! However, this $6500 is nothing if Harborview made bikes. The titanium plate that is now fastened to my broken femur cost $3754.60. From what I can tell the piece is around 4 square inches, which equates to $938.65 per square inch! Let's try to equate this into a cost of material in building a new bike (I said try...I'm a little rusty in my mathematics).

For simplicity sake let's say the tubing diameter of our Harborview titanium mountain bike is 1" (front triangle, rear triangle, etc.). Using my Yeti AS-R as the measurement model I have measured approximately 106" of tubing. Using pi, which is the ratio of a circle circumference to it's diameter, a 1" diameter tube would equal 3.1415". Our Harborview bike would measure 333" square inches of titanium material and equate to a retail cost of $312,569.51!!!!! Oh yea, this is only the cost of the frame, but seriously what is another $3000 in components at this point.




The new Harborview full suspension titanium mountain bike...so sweet, so fast, so economical! Starting at $312,000 (frame only).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

AV's Top Ten of 2006

It's that time of year, the turkey has been carved, Christmas lights are being hung, the retail shopping frenzy has started and the first snow has dusted the Northwest. It's also that time of year when everyone post ambiguous top ten's for the year. A couple of my obscure favorite are the Top Ten Urinals, MSNBC's Top Ten Wimpiest Cars of 2006 (now that is news...sorry if your car is on the list), Top Ten Weirdest USB Drives (WTF!) and finally, the Top Ten Worst Album Cover (A couple of these are really disturbing. My hat's off to #3, Ken "By Request Only"...Ken is one smooth cat).

To keep with the spirit of top ten's no one really gives two craps about; I will submit my own top ten of 2006. However, to spice things up I will try to perform mine in third person. Why you may ask? Well, first, because I can. Second, I have a broken leg so that's puts me in a distinct category of sympathy and allowed to do stupid things and third, it's me and everyone loves me! (editor note - for those that know me I am 100% smart ass with no credentials. For those who don't know me I am 75% smart ass with no credentials and 25% narcissistic)

OK, with our further ado, AV's top ten of 2006:

10. Aaron VanderWaal enters first expedition race with Nuun Mud and Flesh Wounds in Moab Utah. Aaron and team race well, but Mother Nature cuts the race short by 30+ hours.

9. The Raid Series US stop this year was in McCall, ID and Aaron VanderWaal and Team MerGeo.com fought it out with the top international and domestic AR Teams. The race went well, but there were many mistakes that mitigated a better finish.

8. Aaron competes in the Test of Metal and breaks the 4 hour mark. The tendonitis in Aaron's right wrist definitely created some pain during technical section. Aaron's goal for 2007 is to break 3:30.

(OK, I can't do the third person anymore it's going to make me puke)

7. Competing in the Xterra USA Off-Road Triathlon Championships. An amazing race, with great friends and a top notch production.

6. Completing the Cascade Triple Crown with Ruaraidh, Matt and Aaron R. Awesome.

5. Racing in the 2006 Sea Otter Classic mountain bike race in Monterey, CA. An amazing event and I actually finished well considering the tough competition. 11 of 95 in AG and 35 of 720 overall.

4. Finishing 4th place overall in the 100 mile multisport Mountain to Sound Race (mtn bike, road bike, kayak and run)

3. First place Age Group victory at the Xterra Vashon Off-Road Triathlon.

2. First place overall victory at the 12-hour Trioba Adventure Race.

1. Anything that involved my bike, my running shoes, a cocktail (or two) and friends.





Cheers to a great 2006 and a rockin 2007!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pill Popping and Needle Pushing

In the course of 5 minutes I have stuck a needle in my stomach, popped 4 oxycodone, 1 morphine sulfate, 1 coumadin, 2 Tylenol PM (please I want to sleep tonight), 2 senna laxative and 1 ducasant (spl?). I haven't done this much pill popping since my mid-twenties. The circumstances are different (recreational vs. medicinal), but the end results are eerie similar; dry mouth, anxiety, lack of cohesive thought process and in general a mess. Damn I am one fine piece of ass these days! (editor note: I did get a hair cut today, so at least I am no longer a wooly mammoth)

I am happy to say that I am slowing weaning myself off the goods, probably sooner than the doc expected, but I want my mind back. I'm not the smartest cookie (wait, does that even make sense), but I want to salvage whatever brain matter I have left. Someday soon I will have to be a productive component of society and the sooner I can get off the little brown, red and green pills the better. Until then I will welcome my morphine induced dreams with open arms and ride the candy cane roller coaster as it plunges through a waterfall of creamy, milk chocolate.

EPO, Testosterone, dna manipulation....sorry, just a little blood thinner. I'm clean. I know hard to imagine with a race resume like mine that I could be clean!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cascade Triple Crown

(Sequence out of order. This event dates back to July 2006). The Cascade Triple Crown is the Puget Sounds mountain bike version of an ironman. A devastating 10+ hour ride of pain. The CTC links 6 separate trails, 3 separate peaks (11,000+ climbing) and over 50 miles of riding. The first CTC completion was back in 1997 and there are relatively few people who do it each year. It is my understanding that we were the only group to complete the Triple Crown this year.

I was accompanied on the ride by Aaron Rinn, Matt Hayes and Ruaraidh Stenson, all of whom I adventure race with and all of whom are probably a step above me in riding prowess. I always love riding with riders that are better than me. It allows me to push myself and I can also learn from their skills. We decided to add a bit of twist (and distance) to our ride by turning the ride into the "dirty" Triple Crown, meaning we would avoid all paved roads or limit our usage of them.


Uber mountain bikers Rinn, Stenson and Hayes before CTC ride.


(Excerpts from Ruaraidh BBTC write up in italics)

The weather was mixed from really cold, as in flakes of snow on top of Crystal to misty to sunny.
Left the airstrip at 6:30 which was a bit later than planned. Getting up to Crystal summit took a while but the single-track climb was easily manageable and quite fun. Saw a little bear about halfway up. He just ran 15 ft right in front of me, so we figured that if there was little one there must be a wheelie bin sized one pretty close by. Instant about turn and pegged it downhill 1/2 mile and waited for 10 mins. No sign of the little fella or its mum on the way back up.


Did they seriously see a bear?

Got a major mechanical when Rinn's seatpost bolt sheared at the top of green valley. Luckily it was a 2 bolt type and we were near the Summit restaurant where we "borrowed" some rope to lash the saddlerails to the frame. Mighty strange to see 4 grown men trying to jimmy rig (fix by any means possible) a bike in the restrooms of Crystal Mtn, it was however nice and warm in there given it was about34 outside! Headed back down Crystal on some fun single-track but took a wrong turn somewhere just past hen lake.

Views like this are worth the pain.

Green trails not much use here as there are a myriad of trails with no signs. We got one that started wide then narrowed to nothing. Bushwhacked for about 2 miles loosing quite a bit of time. Once off Crystal we headed for Corral pass, that road is nasty but we did it non stop so were probably back on schedule after that. Nobody had done the ridge section before and it was such a blast. The sun came out and gave some great views off the Palisades which were uber cool!

Views from Palisades.

Down those switchbacks and steps before taking a left onto Whiteriver trail. Fun crossing of the suspension bridge! Trip along Skookum was OK although I flatted. Getting up Suntop was much harder than when I did it the day before, wonder why?? Again we didn't stop on the fireroad and VanderWaal and I got dropped but still reached the top feeling OK. The trail down is really fast but unfortunately there is the issue of that single-track climb which was hard, we all felt tired at that section which just seemed to be never-ending. Suntop trail once we started going down proper was slick and quick, quite fun to end the ride as it's not punishing on the body especially the hands and wrists which were hurting at that point.

Ruaraidh was quite nice to me in his write up. Truth is told the last climb up to Suntop was brutal. I was wasted and it was impressive to see Hayes and Rinn hammer up the hill. Ruaraidh stayed back with me, as he had previously done the Ramrod (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day) on Friday and Suntop on Saturday (we figured it out later that he climbed over 30,000 ft in four days...sick).

Our final ride statistics for the day were as follows:

63 miles of riding
11,800' of climbing
11.5 hours of riding time

The completion of this ride was euphoric. It was an amazing accomplishment with a great group of friends.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Next Chapter


"Like sand through an hour glass, so our the Days of our Lives" (start intro music) First, let me admit, that yes, I did watch Days of our Lives in the summer of my sixth grade year. Not sure why, but I'm guessing it was some pre-pubescent stage I was going through (You have to admit that for a 12 year old boy, Hope was pretty damn hot). Second, my life does not resemble anything of the show, well except continuous love triangles, searching for serial killers in my down time and performing the occasional exorcism on demonic possessed relatives (but seriously, who doesn't). And finally, this post is not consistent with my usually adventures as it relates to my extracurricular activities, but is more related to my life.


The house I owned in Laurelhurst with my ex-fiancé official closes tomorrow and I look forward to turning over the hour glass and flipping to the next chapter in my life (and receiving the equity check). The relationship with my ex has been over for months and the closing of the house is the last component of my previous life. I have much respect for my ex and wish her a life full of happiness that she truly deserves. I am excited to enter the next chapter in my life as I look forward to meeting new people and discovering new adventures. Breaking my femur has definitely stalled the process slightly, but even from this setback, I have met new wonderful people, spent more time with my family and friends and will have a new appreciation for life once I am healed. Today marks the two week anniversary since my surgery. I will probably skip the cake (unless someone brings me a tofu/soy cake) and instead start dreaming about my first run. I'm not sure if this next chapter will be an assortment of short stories or a long plot/character building chapter, but I promise a lot of photos and pop-up pictures!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Chicken Anyone?

My legs are often been referred to that of a chicken. Not sure if it's their pasty white tone or the silky smooth feeling from shaving them. More than likely it's that lack of muscle on the lower or upper extremities that causes this reference. OK, so I have legs that resemble that of our barnyard friend the chicken! However, I am amazed that these little guys have enough power to ride and run over the steep hills that I often encounter during training ride/runs and races. Admittedly I am not the fastest, but take those in front of me, eliminate 50% of their leg muscles and let's see who is leading who. Enough with the alpha male BS...not my thing. This winter was supposed to be the season of transformation for my legs. I had vowed to run double and triple Mt. Si's weekly with my teammate Roger and hit the weight room. Roger is training for the H.U.R.T. 100 miler in Hawaii, so he had no problem agreeing to this weekly event. It would also be advantageous for him to get me to perform this weekly workout, so he would no longer have to tow my skinny ass on steep trekking ascents.

Unfortunately the mighty alteration of my legs into might diesel pumping power houses went out the window when I decided to do my best impression of Joseba Beloki in the 03 Tour. I have accepted this fate, but what has surprised me the most is the atrophy is my leg since the injury. I am just shy of two weeks since I broke my femur and already my left leg, even with swelling, is 1.5" in diameter smaller than my right leg. I find this amazing since there wasn't much muscle to start. This actually terrifies me a bit...how much smaller can my leg get. I am hoping not much, but will keep you updated on the amazing shrinking leg.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Nostalgia

My broken leg has definitely afforded me with some additional time on my hand (around 10-14 hours extra a week since I cannot train). Yes, I could be productive and do my job, plan for the future or work with my brother on our real estate projects. But, somewhere in my morphine induced laziness I find it much more productive to search the Internet for all the new bike goodies coming out in 2007, new training tips and in general waste my time. Today, during a 5 hour long conference call with my boss in Atlanta I started going through old photos and reminiscing about the good ole days. Since I'm 32 now and we are nearing the year 2010 I can justify calling the 80's and early 90's the good ole days! I was mostly looking at old race photos and came across a kick ass one of my brother Eric sporting a mean ass mullet. Dude, this kid wasn't messing around! Short on the side, short on the top, don't touch the back!!! I need to scan the photo so I can upload it. I found one of him, but you can't get the true appreciation of my brother's ability to grow the weed!

E. Vanderwaal circa 1990.

It's funny when you look at the past and remember how easy things used to be. Granted, my brother and I were very fortunate to have kick ass parents, but still no bills, limited responsibilities and the freedom to do or be anything you wanted. Our old family photos focused around several different activities; Holidays, a few vacations, riding motorcycles and drag racing. Our life was pretty much consumed with drag racing from 1988-1997. I wouldn't have given it up for the world, because I meant some great friends, traveled the US and spent some quality time with the family. I will get the staples out of my leg tomorrow morning, but I think I will spend tomorrow afternoon reminiscing through some more photos and enjoying a little nostalgia.


VanderWaal Brothers, 1994, Sonoma CA.

Xterra USA Championships

First off my current blogs are not sequential. I currently have a gimp leg (broken femur) so I am randomly catching up on events from my year of racing. I was lucky enough to qualify for the Xterra USA Off-Road Triathlon Championships. I've raced at this race for the past 3 years and each year I am consistently out performed by many of the national age groupers. I've accepted this, but the enjoyment of this race is the atmosphere and friends I have made through Xterra. This year I would again be staying with a group of friends for Colorado and Arizona.

The course is set up as follows; 1500m swim, 35K mountain bike and 10K run. The swim is two laps of 750m in beautiful Lake Tahoe. The bike is epic!!! You start with a 1200' 5 mile climb up a

Start of the Flume Trail after 1200' climb. Swim start was at the far right side of lake.

sand box to the Flume Trail. You then enjoy a rip through the famous Flume Trail which sits 1400' above Lake Tahoe. The trail pops out at Marlette Lake and you then have another 1200' climb up to the top of the climb and then you have 6 miles crazy descent through loose sand back to transition. The run is 2 twisty laps in and around Incline Village.


The Yeti ready for battle


My goal was a top 15 in age group and around a finishing time of 3:18. This would be 22 minutes off last year, but I was comfortable that all components of my fitness were much stronger than previous year.

Sunday morning was beautiful and I was stoked to get the race going. I did some pick-ups and felt great! As the race start approached I grab the wetsuit and went down to the lake. The water was a chilly 58 degrees, but I felt great warming up and was confident with my race plan.

Self portrait before race. Wearing the glasses to hide my fear and tears!


The start is a mass start (pros and amateurs) of around 400 racers. I had a great starting position, but when I hit the water the wheels came off. My breathing was erratic and I was struggling with my stroke. 3 minutes of swimming and I thought I was going to die. I started to hyperventilate and actually had to stop and tread water. Unfortunately, when I stopped I was run over by all the racers behind me. Shit!!! OK, my swim sucked and I was blasted coming out of the water. I was 8 minutes slower than expected. Dude, my biking legs better be on today!

Mommy!!!! Why am I such a shitty swimmer. I know I am uncoordinated, but really, that bad!!

I was so happy to be on the bike and started to tear up the trails. The climb up to the Flume Trail was beautiful. I was making up great time and then got stuck behind many slower riders on the Flume trail. Unfortunately the Flume trail is single track and passing is not possible. On your right is a rock cliff with boulders protruding out into the trail. The left side of the trail is a 1/4 mile plunge into Lake Tahoe (ouch). My attitude was good and once off the Flume I was able to hammer again. The rest of the bike was uneventful and I was able to shave 5 minutes off last year’s time!

Done!!! Where is my beer!


Off on the run. I felt great and there were no surprises. I dropped 6 minutes off last years run which equates to almost 1 minute per mile. Booyah! Unfortunately my swim was terrible and my finishing time was 3:31, much slower than expected, but overall I was happy. My finishing place was 24th out of 40 in age group, but at this time my focus was on the after party. There is nothing better than a bunch of skinny-ass triathlete trying to drink each other under the table. It's complete amateur night, but always good for a few stories!


Oh sweet nectar of the gods!

You have to love the local talent. One of Lake Tahoe's finest cougars!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ironman

I was in Maui several weeks ago for some R&R and I realized that my vacation was overlapping the Ironman World Championships in Kona. I have sort of lost track of Ironman events since I started devoting more time to AR and off-road triathlons. However, I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to see this amazing event. I purchased an inter-island trip the day before the race and was heading to the race start 12 hours later.

I am finding it difficult to describe the experience of this event. It was magical, exhilarating, inspiring, extraordinary...it was simply epic!! There was so much energy between the athletes and the fans cheering for them. The whole event was oozing fitness and health and I've never seen so many fit people in my life (athletes and spectators).



2006 Ironman Champion Norman
Stadler starting the run.

I watched the top pros and age groupers finish and decided I needed to start making my way back to the airport for my 10pm flight. Instead of waving down a taxi I decided to walk the 7 miles to the airport along the Queens K Highway. This is the infamous highway that the marathon portion of the race is run. Walking the highway in the dark with athletes who had been out on the course for 13+ hours and still had several hours to go was very emotional. Some of the athletes were overcoming "off" days while others were performing to their highest ability, but the amazing thing was their positive attitude, good humor and mental focus on the finish. The 2 hour walk/jog to the airport along the Queens K Highway during the 2006 Ironman Championships will never be forgotten.
3rd place finisher Kate Majors

SNAP!

I don't know if I believe that "all things happen for a reason", but I definitely think opportunities and set backs occur and it is our responsibility to learn, understand and make the most out of each situation. I am not a philosophical person, but the past 7 days I have been thinking a lot about myself and how I would handle my current personal physical setback. I have been pretty fortunate in my life to not have incurred more serious injuries based on my activities. In my 32 years of existence I have ruptured and had my spleen removed, broken each arm, two concussions, fractured foot, broken nose, tore ligaments in my right ankle, multiple broken ribs and several less tendonitis issues. However, this past weekend I broke the femur in my left leg during a casual road ride. The pain was excrutiating and it is still pretty intense.

12" scar (on the posterior of my left left) from the surgery to fix my broken femur.

The fracture occurred on the upper femur as it nears the hip. I now have a plate and 4 screws holding my leg together. No cast, no brace, just my limp leg. The hardest part of the injury is knowing that I will not be running for 5-6 months! I will be able to swim, pool run and spin in 6-8 weeks, but no running for 1/2 year. And then it will be another 2-3 months to regain my aerobic base and another 1-2 months to gain back my speed. I am seriously looking at this time next year when I will be back to running with the same endurance and intensity. This is an extremely difficult pill to swallow to someone who is used to running 4-6 times per week. Honestly I am having difficulty
with this situation, but as each day passes the light is getting brighter. I am looking forward to the first day I can jump in the pool, spin for 15 minutes and lift a few weights. The best part of this situation is the intense appreciation I am going to have for each run, bike, swim and kayak once I am healed. Until then I am enjoying the extra time to spend with my family and friends.

100 Year Storm

The Moab Xtreme Expedition Race was suppose to be my first introduction into expedition style racing. The plans was for me to enjoy and learn from the experience in hopes that I would be ready to compete in 3-5 day races in 2007. Mother Nature had other plans for this race. The worst storm to hit the Moab Desert in 100 years and I got to experience it! The race was scheduled for roughly 3-days of racing for 300 miles. I was teamed up with Martin Buhr, Mike Chan and Marna Kagele from nuun-Mud and Flesh Wounds.

Teammates Marna, Martin and Mike

My current AR team gave me the green light to race with them as the pace would be a bit slower than I'm used to, but give me a good perspective on how my body would react to 3 days of racing. The race director was continuously trying to re-route teams and find other options, so that all of these adventure seekers could continue on! He finally had to surrender to Mother Nature's wishes early Saturday morning around 1am. For safety's sake, racers were returned back to the start/finish line to complete the race.

Marna and me in a brief DRY moment of Zen before race start!

The race was insane. Roads have been completely washed out, boulders were falling from all directions and slot canyons turned into raging rivers. We pushed our bikes through shin deep mud, summitted an 11,000ft peak at 2am while soaked and trying to hide from the wind and scrambled up a cliff side while trying not to get blown away by the 60mph gust of wind.

Over the shoulder shot of a Marna on bike tow.

Flash ruined the images, but the altimeter was reading 10,700'

However, in all the disaster, there was beauty. The white river rafter section was amazing. The red rock canyon walls turned into amazing water falls. Hundreds of rain induced waterfalls were raging over the tops of the cliffs. There definitely was dissapointment that we could not finish the race, but we had fun and the team work very well together. The trip was not a complete waste, as the weekend turned out to be beautiful and we had an amazing hike in Arches National Park on Saturday and an epic ride along Poison Spider Trail on Sunday.

Hike at Arches National Park

Sunday ride on Poison Spider Trail

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My New Steed


OK, I have a problem. I don't push needles, I'm not a pediphile, drunk, pervert (not totally), etc, but I love new, shiny, lightweigh things, especially in the form of bicycles and their parts. I wrecked on my old road bike during a multisports race earlier this year. For the most part the bike was fine. The aero bars were junk and the rear deiralluer and brake were pretty messed up, but the bike would have been operational with some work. No way...it was tainted. It had tasted the dirty road and I wanted nothing to do with the dirty, dirty bike! OK, I'm being a bit over-dramatic (just a little), but I thought this was a perfect opportunity to purchase a new road. Similar to other additictions this may have been a component to my failed engagement (she's a great girl and will find someone better to make her very happy). My AR teammate Roger was in the market for a used road bike, so the timing was perfect. We had one last spin together. It was emotional, but we both knew there were better things in the future for each other (wait am I talking about my relationship or the sale of my old road bike). I dropped her off (the bike) at Roger's and now started my search. Carbon, carbon, lightweight, lightweight, carbon...yummy! I an effort to help my pocket book, since I don't race road, I decided to purchase a new Flyte bike through my mountain bike team. Flyte is the new Airborne bikes. The SR3 is their lightweight carbon race bike. John and Tom at Triumph Multisport sold me the components and built up the new work horse. I didn't weigh her, but I'm guessing she comes in right around 18 lbs. My first ride was kick-ass. Super responsive and comfortable. Good times ahead (or so I thought...see future post).

MerGeo.Com Wins 12 Hour Trioba

My first big AR Victory! What a crazy good feeling. I have won mountain bike races, triathlons, smaller Adventure Races and even drag races in front of 10's of thousands of people, but their was something about pushing yourself to exhaustion and then beyond and coming away with a victory that feels so good. I am writing this blog 5 months after the fact, but the feeling still resignates in my mind. My teams race recap is below.

Eric, Yours Truly, Julie and Ruaraidh enjoying a post race photo!

The second stop of the 2006 Trioba Adventure Racing Series was triumphant for Mergeo.com as they won both the overall and 4-person coed division, beating series favorite DART-Nuun by over 17 minutes.

The race took place in and around beautiful Snoqualmie Pass, WA and involved a quick 1 mile run to separate the field, followed by an 8 mile kayak, 17 mile mountain bike, 17 mile trek and finishing with a leg burning 8 mile time trial style mountain bike along the Iron Horse Trail.

The team included Eric Bone, Ruaraidh Stenson, Julie Heidt and Aaron VanderWaal, and even though the four teammates had never raced together as a team, chemistry and communication were a major factor for the victory. “Our transitions were smooth, we carried a positive attitude throughout the race and we shared equally in the physical and mental components of the race,” stated Eric Bone. This chemistry would eventually lead to the fast trekking leg of the day and ultimately seal the victory. “It was exciting to beat DART,” remarks Aaron, “the weekend prior 3 of the 4 of us raced individual in a 100 mile multi-sport race, so we didn’t know if are legs and body would recover, but once we started racing our bodies felt great and we kept fueled through our Clif Shots, Bar and Shot Bloks!”

The victory now puts Mergeo.com in first place in the Pacific Northwest Championships. The overall winner of the series will likely be whichever team beats the other at the season ending 24 hour race being held in late September.

Friday, November 10, 2006

100 Mile Multisport Iron Race


The Mountain To Sound started at Snoqualmie Pass at ended in Golden Garden on the Pacific Ocean. The race was a 100 mile relay or you could opt for the iron division where you mountain biked 18 miles, road biked 50 miles, kayaked 14 miles and ran another 20 miles! Hell, if you can do the whole thing yourself why wouldn't you! Of course with several teammates off my adventure racing team, MerGeo.com, entering the iron division the stakes were definitely increased. Not that we are a competitive bunch, but I think we would compete in anything including who could pee the longest (duration), farthest, yellowist, clearist, etc. OK, maybe we are a bit competitive, but our ability to laugh and have fun far outweigh our competitive nature.

The plan of my race was simply, hammer the mountain and road bike and then hang on during the kayak and run. The race started with a quick 200 yard out and back dash to separate the field before jumping on the mountain bikes and riding the Iron Horse Trail. Bang...the race starts. I take a comfortable 2nd place position drafting behind a gentleman who would bring me into the mountain bikes and allow me to jump on my bike in 3rd or 4th position. I wanted to get into the Snoqualmie Tunnel before the masses to alleviate any type of accident. Perfect plan...in and out of the tunnel with no problem. The mountain bike course was less fun than I imagined. It was basically a double track fire road for 18 miles. Booo! Regardless I finished the mountain bike section 2nd for the iron racers and was stoked to jump on my road bike. The first part of the road bike was a scary fast decent leading into North Bend. It was awesome to rip this section and gain some momentum leading into the town. Once in town I tucked into the aero bars and was getting comfortable for a 46 mile road ride. Snap!!!!! The flag girl did not see me coming and was not waving the flag until too late. I tried pouncing on my brakes, but my bike came out from under me and I was not sliding on the pavement at over 25 mph!!! Ouch. I have never wrecked on my road bike, let alone going that fast. I slid into the sidewalk, where I got up and quickly checked for broken bones. Everything felt together and I quickly jumped on my bike to start my race again. I had blood streaming from abrasions on my right leg and arm. Good Stuff. My bike was also more damaged than originally inspected. My rear derailluer was bent and I could only shift in my bottom 4 gears. Not a good thing with several large hills looming. I muscled through the hills (and believe me there is not much muscle in my legs) and was happy to be back on the flats. Once there I wasn't able to pick a cadence that was create enough power and speed. Something was wrong. Either my legs were zapped from the wreck or my bike had further problems. After stumbling through several more miles, I decided to re-examine the bike. Ah ha...my rear brake was also bent during the crash and rubbing my rim. Argh!!! I tried several ways to bend them back, but in the end loosened the cable and released the brakes almost completely. Not the safest thing to do, but I was more worried about gaining back time than safety. The rest of the ride was uneventful and I tried to salvage my legs and energy for the kayak and run.

My support crew (mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law) were ready to roll when I arrived. My first order of business was to clean my wounds which were an ugly, dried, yet ozzing mess! We loaded my kayak into the water and I was very happy to be off my bike and into the kayak (and I'm not much of a kayaker). I needed to make up some time and surprisingly I did. I was hoping to finish in the middle of the pack, but I ended up with the 4th fastest iron division split. OK, I'm back in the game.

I still haven't seen my two AR teammates Roger and Ruaraidh, but I was feeling good and looking forward to the run. I parked my kayak, ate a gu and threw on my running shoes. My legs were a bit tired from the kayak and also tight from my wreck, but after the first 3 miles everything was loosening up. The tempature was also heating up and unseasonable warm for June. Tempatures were in the 90's and this was defintely having an affect on many racers! My fiance at the time, Katherine, (we are now broken up) met me at mile 8 to give me a fresh water bottle, a fresh towel for my head and words of encouragement. They definitely helped and I was feeling good. I caught up to Roger and passed him at mile 12 and now had my sites set on Ruaraidh. I was also feeling good becuase there were several reports that I was in 4th place overall in the iron division. The last feed station was at mile 13. I fueled up, chatted with my parents briefly and continued on with the race. The final 6 miles were brutal. The course ran up Stone Way and then up over the Fremont Hill. On a normal training run this is not a big hill, but after 8 hours and 94 miles it felt like I was climbing Everest!

I could finally see Golden Gardens in the distance and was ready to start shutting it down and coasting into the finish when I saw Northwest Ironman and Tri stud Michael Blue hammering down on me. I could not let him catch me. I dug into my reserves and was able to hold Michael off by 30 seconds for 4th place overall in the iron division. Ruaraidh finished 3rd overall (10 minutes in front of me) and Roger came in 5th place.

The race was brutal, but a beautiful accomplishment. I am looking forward to participating in more iron multisport races like this in 2007!

Test of Metal (and will)!


Squamish B.C. Canada is a beautiful, little town roughly 30 miles from Whistler. It is also a multisport athletes dream town and home of the infamous "Test of Metal" Mountain Bike Race. The race is epic, maybe not to the scale of La Ruta in Costa Rica, Trans Alps or even the Trans Rockies for that matter, but for the competitive age grouper in the Northwest this is THE race. Registration to the race opens up each New Year's Day at 12 midnight and normally sells out within the first 8 hours. The race is limited to 800 riders and unlike many races the start is a mass start. No pro, expert, sports, etc by age groups. Nope, 800 mountain bikers swarming through the streets of Squamish before hammering the 67 KM mtn bike course.

It was suggested to me on multiple occassions to preride the course. Unfortunately, my race schedule leading up to the race was not condusive to such a treat (note to self, preride the course for next year!). Fellow adventure racer and all around around multi-sport star, Jen Seggers and her fiance Tye (they are now married - congratulations!) were nice enough to let me crash at their place for the weekend. Jen also drove me up nine mile hill and showed me a few of the other key areas of the race course.

The energy on race day was amazing. Arriving several hours early was key as there was no staging structure. You basically showed up as early as possible and placed your bike upside down in a starting chute. First come, first serve basis. Approximately 15 minutes before race start they lifted the rope and 800 people went to search for where they staged their bike. It was very comical to see riders have no idea where they had placed their bikes 60 minutes early. The start was a bit nerve racking. You were ass to elbow with every rider around you and knowing that some of these people didn't have any road riding experience and all road etiquette (crossing wheels, riding blind, etc.) would be out the window.

The gun sounded and we where off. The sound of 1600 mountain bike tires was eerie, but beautiful. A buzz that sent chills up my back. Seggs suggested I hammer the first road section of the race to make sure I was in the top 1/4 of the pack leading into the first single track. This would help alleviate too much bottle necking and slowing down my progress. I felt strong on the road and kept to the plan and entered the first section somewhere near the top 100. This felt great and I was able to relax a bit in this section. I felt extremely good during the next several sections and was confident heading up to 9-mile hill. I had been racing for 6 weekends straight leading into this race including a 36 hour adventure race the weekend before in Idaho. The intense race and training schedule also attributed to tendonitis in my right hand. The tendonitis made it extremely difficult to shift and brake. Amy Hayes (my biking friend Tom's wife) was kind enough to have a fresh water bottle for me and the start of 9-mile hill. The hill turned out to be fun, as I passed several riders leading up to the top. Unfortunately, this is were the race started to turn sour. Ring Creek Rip and the Plunge were next on the course. Normally fast decsents are favorable to my riding style. However, with my recent wrist injury, these two sections turned problematic and disasterous for me. I fell several times (not hard, but enough to throw off my rhythm) and ended up running much of the plunge. This is definitely one of the sections you need to pre-ride. I limped through these two sections and much damage had been done. The rest of the course of undulating, technical section that under normal circumstances would not be difficult to ride. However, I was hammered and sore and the freight train of riders where passing me by as I was have difficulty staying on my bike. I was able to recover and actually gain a bit of second wind going into the final three miles. I cross the finish line and essentially collapsed! My finish time was 3:49 and some change. Good enough for 194 overall and 36 of 142 in age group. My goal was to beat 4 hours, which I did, but I pretty confident I can knock off 15-20 minutes in 2007!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

My bike, My brother and Me makes Three


Hit Hood River, OR for a quick getaway over Easter weekend. My bro and I rode Post Canyon on Saturday. It was a slimy, wet mess of cable clogging clay. I was really proud of my brother for sticking the weather out. He is really getting in much better shape and good to see his riding form come back around. We parted ways at the bottom and I went and did a 4 mile climb up the fire road. Hits some snow near the top and had a blast bombing down the fire roads. Had a good race going with a Toyota 4x4 pick-up! I let him win!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sea Otter 2006


Billed as the "World's Largest Cycling Festival" the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA definitely lived up to its billing. Held at Laguna Seca Raceway, the event included road racing, XC racing, dual slalom, dirt jumping, short track and more. Throw into the mix were all the top manufacturers and pro racers from around the world!

We (I attended the race with two local expert racers Tom Hayes and Andrew Rigel) arrived to the course Friday morning. Time to get our credentials, build our bikes, fixed any damage from the airlines and then off to pre-ride the course. The several weeks of rain leading up to the event left the course muddy, slick and in parts dangerous due to the washouts caused by flowing water. Several racers were injured during pre-ride including a broken back (no paralysis)...definitely bad jojo going into the race. Our pre-ride went well. No major accidents and only small mechanical problems due to mud in our derialluers. The course was just over 20 miles with 3200' of elevation including two steep climbs of over 20% grade and a grueling 3KM climb to the finishing descent! OFF to clean our bikes, which we soon discovered would be the norm with all the mud and water.

Saturday we watched Andy take 3rd in the Expert Men's 30-39 Short Track Race (a fast anearobic XC race around a one mile course for a predetermined amount of time). The course was so muddy that riders ran 50% of the course with the bikes on their shoulders..ala cyclocross! Thomas and I did some additional climbs and start burst to keep our legs loose for tomorrows race.

Sunday started bright and early at 4:45am. Up for a liquid breakfast, Starbucks and out to the track by 6:00am for our 8:10am start time. I would be racing in the Sport 30-34 category with 95 other races. The start of the race would combine one mile on the pavement prior to sending everyone onto the double and single track. My strategy was to get a clean start and tuck in behind and draft behind the leaders saving my energy. We lined up several minutes prior to start and after several pre-race farts by several competitors the gun went off. OUCH! Heart rate went from 85 bpm to 170 bpm in 200 yards. Don't these jackasses know we have 20 miles still to race...apparently not. Trying to keep up with the Jones's, I tucked into the peloton (weird to say that in mtn bike racing) and tried to hold my line between several other races. Normally in mtn bike racing there is not such a large group, but like road racing there was much elbowing and tire rubbing tying to gain position. I decided to make my way to the outside and get a run into the tight left uphill corner. I knew I would have to use my brakes and could get a good run leading up to the dirt course. It definitely paid off as I moved from mid pack up to around 25th. The next several miles included position swapping and juggling until we came to the first big climbs. This definitely split the field up and allowed for some breathing room. I felt strong from miles 10-14 and gained several positions until someone went down in front of me. I managed to avoid them, but the wrecked definitely disrupted my momentum. I struggled to find my form for several miles. With 5km to go, which included 4.5km of climbing, I was strong again and making several surges on my climbs. Many of the other competitors were hurting at this point, so I was able to pass 10 riders in the last climb (not sure how many were in my age group) and bridge the gap between myself and Tom (I had passed Tom once on the course, but was passed by him after the wreck). He was know only :15 in front of me and I figured he was shooting for a top 10, so this was a very good sign. Unfortunately, I could not bridge the gap any further. Tom finished in 10th and I finished 11th out of 95 (78 finished the race) in our age group and 35 out of 720 overall. The final 1km of the course was a downhill bomb on the road course. The finishing chute was amazing with several hundred fans cheering you on!

Can't wait until next year!