Breaking the Wall

January 27, 2021

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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: 266.81 Year: 266.81
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: 1438.17
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Benjamin at Grandview. Benjamin went 2 miles with us in 17:33 (I think). Jeff was a little late and joined us after a couple of laps. At first I was feeling sore and  thought I would run 2-4 miles. But then the form was becoming smoother and I felt better and better. So I upgraded my plan to 6, and then said - I am feeling good, why waste a training run, go full 10. So I ran 26 laps (10.04) in 1:16:48. Jeff's back was hurting during the run and he had a concern it might be heart-related. I did not think it was since it did not hurt any more when he was running than when he was sitting. But just in case I suggested we pick up the pace to get HR up and see if he passes out. He did not, but we ended up running about 0.8 quick with two laps in 2:26 (6:18 pace) and 2:19 (6:00 pace).

After talking to Paul on Saturday I decided to try going gluten-free for three months as an experiment. In 2003 as part of my diet experimentation I did not eat any bread or pasta (even whole wheat) between June and  late September. In that time I ran TOU in 2:27:46 and St. George two weeks later in 2:24:47.  In TOU in spite of opening in a suicidal (for me) 1:10:31, and taking in nothing the entire race except some soy milk mixed with bananas in a blender and a cup of water at 23 I closed in 1:17:15, which is the fastest closing second half I've ever run in the 11 years.  I believe that was my true PR race. St. George in 2:23:57 in 2007 was not as good.

So after contemplating Paul's experience with eating no gluten and not having fuel issues and my own experience in 2003, I began to wonder. Maybe I do have an adverse reaction to gluten after all. I did some research. Turns out that while only 1% of the population have a clinical celiac disease, a lot more experience minor symptoms. Gluten can cause an auto-immune response in the intestine which interferes with the absorption of nutrients, and thus you will have fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and other problems. So I figured I'd give it a shot and see what happens.

This is going to require some creativity and getting out of the comfort zone. Because I love whole wheat bread and depend on it to fill me up. But I do want to know if I have the problem. And I do have an easy way to test if it's been fixed - run 20 miles hard and see if I can go under 5:30 in the last two.

P.M. Benjamin ran 0.5 with Joseph in 6:16. I rode 2 on a bike with Jenny in 17:38. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:42.

Bare Feet Miles: 10.04
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From Jason McK on Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 14:48:39 from

Good luck with the test. After reading Paul's post, I called my mom (who was diagnosed with celiac 9 years ago) - she ran her second marathon at TOU (beating last years time by 5 minutes at 5:17). She has been gluten free for years but hasn't found a diet that makes her happy. She's going to try Paul's...

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