Breaking the Wall

July 14, 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: 51.55 Year: 2011.51
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: 881.43
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Tempo run with Jeff. Did some bushwhacking on the warm-up trying to find a alternative route to having to run on 820 N and Geneva road. Found a one-way solution of sorts, but it was not viable - too much hole crawling and fence climbing. Total of 2.75 for the warm-up.

Tempo run. Usual course - the 2.5 mile stretch between Geneva Road and the Utah Lake, out and back twice/(three times for Jeff). The plan was 10 for me, 15 for Jeff. After I am done with my 10, join Jeff at his 13.5 and try to run as far as I could at his pace. The workout had different purposes for each of us. For Jeff - develop fuel storage capabilities. For me - learn to fight neural fatigue.

Total time: 55:59 - new course PR by 39 seconds.


by mile: 5:43 - 5:36 - 5:38 - 5:34 - 5:38 - 5:28 - 5:41 - 5:33 - 5:31 - 5:37

by 2.5: 14:08 - 14:01 - 13:54 - 13:56

by 5: 28:09 - 27:50


This was a breakthrough run. I was not expecting it. I have difficulty understanding where this strength came from. I cannot think of any regular physiological reasons. This whole week has not been that great. The only thing I can think of is my conversation with Hobie Call the day before. As we talked about training and other things something happened. I got off the phone, and felt different. I did not think much of it although I did wonder with a measure of hope in the back of my mind if it was a real physical change, not just a feeling. Once I heard that the Japanese believe in learning by osmosis, or in other words, assimilating a skill or a capability by virtue of merely being around a person who has that capability. The person telling me about it was mocking the notion, but as he did I thought to myself, and ever wondered since, if there was some merit to this concept. I think today I observed the strongest material witness that learning by osmosis has something validity.

Hobie and I have opposite strengths and weaknesses. His neural drive is superb. He can run a 5 K so hard that his muscles will hurt for a week. I cannot run a marathon that hard. But at the same time, I can put my body through all kinds of abuse and never get injured, while he has to watch every step. I have wished I could borrow a portion of his neural drive for a long time. Well, it appears like I was able to do it, and all I had to do was talk and listen. I did not do any mental games, or visualization before or after, except briefly thinking 2 miles into the run about how the leaders ran a suicidal pace in the Olympic marathon. If anything, I doubted the entire time that I could keep the pace. But something got reprogrammed on the subconscious level and I just kept doing fast quarters one after another.

The entire run after 0.5 miles felt like a long long quarter. I noticed my legs wanted to do a quarter, and I just let them. For some reason I had no fear. The odd thing is that I've tried this many times in the past, but it was the top-down decision. I would say to myself, go this pace until you cannot, or push yourself into pain and see how much pain you can take. And it never really worked. The conscious will was there, but the subconscious will was lacking. Today the conscious will was lacking, but the subconscious will was there. So after the first mile I started pushing the pace and breathing hard not quite sure of where I was headed with that. 2 miles into it I gave myself a reassurance that if this worked for Wanjiru, it could work for me. But I was still skeptical thinking build a gap, the longer you go, the less you will lose when you crash because there will be less left.

At 2.5 I thought - it would be nice if I could keep this, but I know I can't. Nevertheless, I tucked behind Jeff and just kept telling myself, one more quarter at this pace. It hurt, but surprisingly never got worse. By 5 miles I began to believe that I could finish ahead of the 5:40 guy given a decent star alignment. Then Jeff at 5.75 got confused by his watch and thought we had slowed down to 5:50 pace. So he "corrected" it and our next quarter was 79. That hurt, but the fact that I could do it at all was very encouraging. Taking the next mile easy in 5:41 allowed me to recover, and I began to believe that 56:30 was a possibility. At 7.5 we were 3 seconds behind the 5:36 guy and I thought it would be good to get beat by 10-15 seconds, so 56:10-56:15. But Jeff kept pressing the pace, and I managed to stay with him, and to my utter amazement with a mile to go we got 2 seconds ahead of the impossible-to-beat-for-10-miles-on- that-course-56:00-5:36 guy.

When I finished 1 second ahead of my virtual elusive nemesis and started jogging I realized how mentally drained I was from the effort and was not looking forward to any more running, much less fast running. But I needed miles, and I wanted to do what I could to support Jeff. I said to myself, just 0.5 miles, that's better than just leaving Jeff in the hole to run alone. I was able to make it to the mile, in a great degree thanks to the fact that Jeff was hurting. But it was still a decent mile - 5:29.

Jeff had a great run - 1:23:02 for 15 miles, in my estimate worth 2:25 in Ogden if he does not blow up. Right now he probably will, but with those tempos done consistently he likely won't when it is time to race.

We cooled down, this gave me 17.8 for the whole run.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 11:18, 2 with Benjamin in 17:38, Jenny ran the first 1.5 in 13:23.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 17.80
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From paul on Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 19:51:54

Glad Hobie rubbed off on you in a good way. I had a similar experience last summer after he thrashed me and made me look foolish at the Sandy Classic. My training definitely improved after I talked to him about how hard he was training.

From wheakory on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 00:33:27

Nice run. I believe someone that you know has great potential can put a different fire or motivation in your own training to want to improve. He really got you excited, and maybe put some energy in your motivation.

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