Breaking the Wall

September 19, 2019

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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: 90.98 Year: 2713.79
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1576.28
Neon Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 22.05
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Tyler and Jeff. Tyler ran our warm-up, 2.5 out, then 1.125 back to the start of the tempo. Then he went on back to the house, and we ran the Gerry Lindgren style tempo. The plan was to start out at 5:00 and hold it until I could not. Then run the best pace I was capable of to the end.

Rather unconventional, but it makes sense to me. You will not learn to be comfortable at 5:00 pace by running tempos at 5:20-5:30. At least I won't - I've tried for years. There is a hard barrier around 5:20 where I lack something that cannot be overcome with pure aerobic training. Nor will you learn by running mile repeats at 5:00 pace. Those essentially are mini-mile races. All I've gotten out of those is that I learn to be comfortable running 5:00 pace for exactly one mile. Then in a race as short as a 5 K (flat), I get to the mile in 5:00 feeling good, I might be able to go another quarter at that pace, and then I am done.

So I wanted to try something new. Ask the body - why can't you run 5:00 pace forever, and make it ponder the issue for 5 miles of pain. This would also provide a chance for lots of measurements and observations.

We had one false start - 100 meters into the run I realized that my watch had not started. So we called it a stride, and went back to start for real.

Jeff was feeling sleepy and took me through the first quarter in 78 according to his watch. I did not look. We sped up on the second to 74 according to Jeff, but my watch said 2:31. Next quarter was 76, and then my legs started to give out. I made an honest effort to keep the pace, but was falling behind. Maybe subconscious fear of really leaving it all there in the first mile vs kind of when I had 4 more to go. I could only do 81, which gave us a 5:08 mile on my watch. What is interesting is that HR only got up to 164 at the point of failure.

The subsequent quarters were 86,86,87,85 for a 5:44 mile. HR dropped to 159-160. Better than I expected. I had concerns that I'd be running slower than 6:00 for a while to recover.

Things began to improve in the third mile to my surprise. HR went up to 163, and I started hitting 84 quarters consistently. We hit 2.5 in 13:42 (2:50 for 0.5), and then 16:30 at the 3 mile mark (5:38). I made a mental note that I'd be a second or two faster than my 5 K race time on Saturday at the 5 K mark.

I managed another mile in 5:38. HR started to hit 165-166. With Jeff challenging me to give him five I managed 5:35 in the last mile, HR climbing to 170. Total time was 27:43.4, 5:32.68 average.

We ran a cool down after that to make the total 12.17.

Some analysis - the whole run felt like I was running uphill. I was concerned after being unable to run 5:00 pace as early as 0.75 into the run that things were really going to go downhill, but was pleasantly surprised when they did not. The result provided some evidence in support of the heat sensitivity theory to explain a set of recent sub-par 5 K performances. I was pleased to see HR getting as high as it did in the second half of the run and staying there. It was high for the pace, though, but this is to be expected. Running anaerobically early on produced some oxygen debt (although not much, from VO2 Max data my max RER is only 1.06 vs more normal 1.10-1.15), and so it would be reasonable to expect that the heart would be pumping harder to clean it up the rest of the run. But it is good to actually see that my heart can work into those ranges for a sustained period rather than just theorize that it can because it used to be able to when I was less fit. I wonder if the Gerry Lindgren tempo might be about the only way I can give my heart a workout until the neural drive/strength issues are fixed.

In spite of the Gerry Lindgren maneuver, and the fact that the second half is naturally about 7-10 seconds slower than the first due to the terrain, the splits were 13:42/14:01.

This run also has resolved my concerned that I might have gone into a slump similar to the one after DesNews 2006. Back then I struggled to run 28:26 on the same course starting normally with plans to negative split, and those issues continued for over a month.

P.M. 1.05 with Julia in 9:50, 2.1 with Benjamin in 16:52, Jenny joined for the first 1.6 in 13:10, and one more with no running kids. Pushed Julia and Jacob for all of the run except the initial part with Julia running.

T4 Racer - 370.23 miles

Five Fingers - 884.30 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.25Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 7.75
From Tom on Wed, Aug 06, 2008 at 12:00:52

Interesting blog today Sasha with the Lindgren tempo experiment. I seem to have the same issues but at about a minute slower pace (6 vs. 5). Sometime if I can work up the gumption I need to come up and have you hook me up to the HRM and put me through the run-at-6-min-pace-till-I-die routine. Just sounds like loads of fun.

I was also wondering...have you seen the finalized map yet for the 1/2 marathon this Saturday? Last I heard it was starting near the dam then once you get to Vivian it's the same as the last couple of years. Have you heard anything different or seen a map?

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