Breaking the Wall

January 28, 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: 252.01 Year: 252.01
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: 1353.22
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 16.3 with Jeff and Dan (Dan ran 15.2, we jogged back to him after pickups). The plan was 2x1.5 at 5:20 pace, and then with a mile or two to go run 5:50 pace to test fuel levels and sneak in a fuel stimulus. Thing went better than planned, in fact too good in the first repeat thanks to Jeff's eagerness.

The first 1.5 was done in the dark (we started early because I had to go to a baptism). I wore my HRM for the first time in a while. The splits were 80,80,79,79,78,77 - 7:53. HR maxed out at 165. It felt hard from the start, but did not get much harder, and I was able to hold the pace. I do not care how hard it feels if I can hold the pace as it is getting faster. Dan ran 9:53.

I warned Jeff before the second one not to speed as doing this workout at pace was challenging enough for me already, and we hit the first one 7 seconds ahead of pace.  Now we had some light, and after the first interval I had all kinds of enzymes keeping my HR a little higher. That actually made the pace feel easier. It went like this: 79,80,82,78,80,78 - 7:57. HR maxed out at 172.  I watched the HRM readings in awe wondering why I was not yet having an out-of-body experience, but it was appropriate for the pace, so I can believe it. I think higher HR made the fast pace easier. Dan ran this interval in 9:23.

We jogged back to Dan, finish the interval with him, and then jogged some more at around 7:40 pace until we had 1.5625 left. Then Jeff and I started our fuel stimulus pickup. It started at 5:50, but Jeff kept turning up the heat, and I felt good enough to respond. So we ended up running the stretch in 8:40 (5:32.8 average pace) with the last two quarters in 80 and 77 (5:14 average pace in the last 0.5 in spite of 5 turns). My HR hit 168. I did not know it could go that high at the end of long run. I usually struggle to push it over 160.

Afterwards we jogged back to Dan and finished the run with him.

I did notice that the turns made my form a whole lot uglier. It felt like some nerve was getting pinched and the knee would lock up some. I felt a whole lot better when we were on a straight and level road. I had not noticed a similar issue before. I would say in the past it felt equally awkward the entire way, while today it felt as awkward on the turns, but less awkward on a straight road.

I was very happy with how the workout went.  It gave me some evidence that I might be on the right track with my trigger point massage and scraping.  

A.M.-2 Did another attempt with Benjamin to crack 6:00. We are trying twice a week to see if he can do it before he turns 11. He did not make it, so we have one more try left on Tuesday.

This time  we brought Julia with us. Benjamin ran to 600 just with me, then Julia ran 200, Jenny joined us at 800, Julia bailed about 30 meters later (she was only supposed to go 100, everything extra was a bonus). Benjamin's splits (by 200) were 45, 45, 44, 43.5 up to that point. Around 900 (3:21, 22.5) fresh Jenny started to gap him. He hit 100 around 3:45, then gave it a push to 1100 (4:08) to close the gap, and then hit his patented panic attack about 50 meters later.

Benjamin has a little problem with error handling. When things do not go exactly like he expects it, he panics. I told him afterwards that the correct way to handle the error was to keep on pushing, reel Jenny in as she would not have continued at 6:00 pace for much longer herself,  then use the thrill of passing to hit the mile in 6:03 or so, which would have been a 4 second PR. Who knows, maybe a super-kick with 200 to go may have even recovered the damage of drifting from 1100 to 1400. But he was mentally not ready for this.

However, according to Benjamin, we made another dent in his mental block. This is the furtherest he's ever gone at 6:00 pace. If only he learned how to be rational under stress he would have it. Even though he is little, I believe learning to be rational under stress is such a vital life skill that it should be taught with particular emphasis especially in childhood. What you learn as a child, good or bad, is easy to keep and hard to unlearn. It is perhaps a blessing that this 6:00 mile is so hard for him. If it was easy to accomplish with talent and work alone, he would not have had a chance to challenge the beast of panic head on.

Jenny was rewarded with a quarter PR of 92.5. We jogged back to Julia, then ran a cool down mile in 8:55. Thus Julia ended up with 1.5 for the day, and Jenny did a total 4 as she ran 2.5 with Sarah earlier. Benjamin and I ended up with 2.5 for this run.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph and Benjamin in 4:33. Jacob ran 0.25 with Sarah. She dropped off Jacob and went for another 1.25. I dropped Joseph off,  Chased Sarah down, and ran the rest of it with her. Her time for the mile with me was 11:04.






Water Clogs 3 Miles: 20.55
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
From Ashbaker on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 14:03:58 from

Hmm.. Tough workout. Well done though. Who does your trigger point massage and how much do they charge?

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 15:10:47 from

Steve - I do it myself, free of charge.

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