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


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!" 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


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 sweet, so fast, so economical! Starting at $312,000 (frame only).