Breaking the Wall

November 26, 2020

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Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986



Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

Best marathon: 2:23:57 (2007, St. George). Won the Top of Utah Marathon twice (2003,2004). Won the USATF LDR circuit in Utah in 2006.

Draper Days 5 K 15:37 (2004)

Did not know this until June 2012, but it turned out that I've been running with spina bifida occulta in L-4 vertebra my entire life, which explains the odd looking form, struggles with the top end speed, and the poor running economy (cannot break 16:00 in 5 K without pushing the VO2 max past 75).  


Short-Term Running Goals:

Qualify for the US Olympic Trials. With the standard of 2:19 on courses with the elevation drop not exceeding 450 feet this is impossible unless I find an uncanny way to compensate for the L-4 defect with my muscles. But I believe in miracles.

Long-Term Running Goals:

2:08 in the marathon. Become a world-class marathoner. This is impossible unless I find a way to fill the hole in L-4 and make it act healthy either by growing the bone or by inserting something artificial that is as good as the bone without breaking anything important around it. Science does not know how to do that yet, so it will take a miracle. But I believe in miracles.


I was born in 1973. Grew up in Moscow, Russia. Started running in 1984 and so far have never missed more than 3 consecutive days. Joined the LDS Church in 1992, and came to Provo, Utah in 1993 to attend BYU. Served an LDS mission from 1994-96 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Got married soon after I got back. My wife Sarah and I are parents of eleven children: Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, Matthew,  Mary,  Bella.  and Leigha. We home school our children.

I am a software engineer/computer programmer/hacker whatever you want to call it, and I am currently working for RedX. Aside from the Fast Running Blog, I have another project to create a device that is a good friend for a fast runner. I called it Fast Running Friend.

Favorite Quote:

...if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie


Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 232.17 Year: 3533.69
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Neon Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 734.48
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 20 mile run to Bridal Veil Falls and back. On the way out ran 7:00 pace up until I got to the Provo Canyon. Then slowed down to 7:30 for a while as the wind did not want me to enter the canyon, and then sped back up to around 7:15 after that. The time at the turnaround was 1:11:11. On the way back ran a tempo. I knew it was going to be good, but I was not looking forward to it. It was not the tempo that I minded, I suppose, I just did not like to run all 20 alone. But I did not have anybody with me today, so I did not have a choice. I suppose I did have a choice to run less or not at all but those were not reasonable choices and had the consequences attached to them that I did not want. 

So it was actually nice to run the last 10 fast - less time, a feeling of accomplishment, and the time is spent in a trance of sorts. There is some pain from the effort, but definitely no boredom. So I turned on the jet engine and went. Learning from the experience in the last two weeks, and, come to think of it, my entire racing experience, I decided to be a bit more aggressive in the early miles to get a good split and feel like I have some vested stake in the run. I've seen the jet engine work for years, but it never ceases to amaze me how one moment you are going 7:00 and you feel like you are working, and then the next moment you are going 5:30 and not only are you still alive, but you can keep it for 10 miles.

I hit my 3 mile downhill tempo course in 16:30, which starts around 0.5 into the tempo, and then was maintaining something in the 5:40 range for the next 2 miles or so (small downhill). My split at 6 miles  was 33:13, and then 39:04 at 7 miles (5:51 - uphill). Then I did 5:48 (downhill, but with turns, a bridge and a tunnel), followed by a nice warm goose egg of 5:54. The turns, tunnels, bumpy road, and bridges were too much for me by that point and I was losing concentration. On the positive side, this mile consisted of a half in 3:00, followed by kicking into gear and speeding up to 5:48. In the last mile I said enough goose eggs and ran it in 5:40. It took some effort, but I did feel that if I had somebody challenging me, I would go faster. My time for the last 10 miles was 56:26. I was happy that I was able to show the 5:40 guy who is the boss by 14 seconds. This was my fastest time this year for the course. It is not too far away from my best time ever, which is 55:38.

I weighed myself at 145.0 before the run, and was down to 141.4 after. So 3.6 lb loss over 20 miles. By the evening I got it all back up with a plus - 147 something, which is good - pack some nutrition and liquid. I have been wondering lately, however, if it is possible for me to weigh 138 lb at the start of a race with the same muscle strength and bone health. I do have to specify "at the start of a race" because of the fluctuation of as much as 10 lb depending on when the weight is measured. So somewhat on a whim I decided to try an experiment - do push-ups and situps twice a day to cause some muscle activity where it normally does not happen in hopes of packing my strength more compactly.The idea is that a slow-twitch fiber muscle mass gain will be small, but the activity will reduce the fat mass with a small net positive, and every little bit counts.

I've also been eating fiber to try to clean out the gut better. It may not be a lot, but there is no reason to carry that stuff around. 5 lb of dead weight for somebody in the 150 lb/16:00 5 K range is worth about 8 seconds a mile based off the VO2 Max model - assuming that VO2 max for a given runner on a given day determines performance 100%, and then going to the charts to see how much faster you would run with the current_weight/(current_weight-dead_weight) increase in VO2 max. Flawed model, but good enough for a quick and dirty estimate.  When the weight fluctuates as much as it does it is hard to measure the progress, but I think in the last two weeks I managed to get rid of at least 3 useless pounds.

P.M. 2 miles

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 22.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.50
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