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.
...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.
A.M. Did 12 total. Benjamin did 8.5, William 0.5, Andrew 5, Jenny 4, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, Julia was finally able to run after her foot-slicing accident and did 2 miles. Did 5 miles with Matthew in the stroller, and also did a pickup for about 0.4 uphill at around 5:45 pace.
A.M. Total of 12. Took Benjamin, Logan and Andrew to the track. Benjamin and I paced Logan to a 1000 PR of 3:07.6. Andrew ran a 300 with us in 55. I am thankful I can still pace a 1000 in 3:07. Then we ran some more. Benjamin did 8.5, Jenny 4, Logan 5.5, Andrew 5.25, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5.
Murray Fun Days 5 K (3.107 Miles) 00:17:34, Place overall: 6, Place in age division: 1
Marathon Pace Miles
VO2 Max Miles
A.M. Ran Murray Fun Days 5 K in 17:34, 6th overall, first master, $100. They are nice to masters - one of the few races that pays masters as much as it does overall.
I decided to do this race for two reasons. After UVM half I realized that with a few extra races I could earn some cash in the master's USATF circuit. I used to race the circuit, but as the number of children has increased, my ability to win prize money has decreased, and our financial situation has improved, I could not anymore justify spending that much time on Saturdays going to races. However, this year with me turning 40 I realized that a couple of 5 Ks and maybe a TOU half would be all I would need to do in addition to UVM, Desnews, and TOU marathon to place in the money. So this was one of the 5 Ks. The other will be Draper Days.
The other reason was I wanted to see what Benjamin could do in a 5 K against your regular USATF circuit competition on a course that I knew. I would highly recommend anybody to run a circuit race if you want to run a 5 K in particular. Unlike many 5 Ks out there, a USATF circuit race has an accurate length (unless the police car takes a wrong turn, which has happened before, but this is a rarity), usually accurate mile markers, a pool of consistent competitors, and a long history of performances. If you run that 5 K in a certain time with certain splits, you have a pretty good idea where you stand and what you need to do to improve. If you run one of the multitude of fundraisers/fun runs/etc the quality of the information is just not the same.
Since we were going to be in competition the plan was that Benjamin was going to follow me, and if I felt I wanted him to lead I would motion to him to do so. Nevertheless, this race was not supposed to be me pacing Benjamin like in the Utah Valley. He has outkicked me before in a 3 mile tempo run, and he has beat me in a 2 mile race, so this was going to be a race over the last mile. I also wanted to win the masters, and I knew that Steve Anderson and/or Dennis Simonaitis (51 years old but still going strong), and/or Mr. X could give me problems.
The temperature at the start was 67 F, with the dew point of 63 F which gives you the relative humidity of 88%. This turned out to be a problem for me, but more for Benjamin. Our first mile was 5:32. We made our way through the crowd. After the turnaround I did not see Dennis either ahead or behind. I was quite perplexed by that. I learned later that somebody stepped on his foot and he felt the injury was bad enough that he could not race. I swear I did not bribe that guy :-)
I could tell that Benjamin was struggling, so I did not quite press on the gas pedal as hard as I would have otherwise in the second mile, and I even said a few words of encouragement to him. This made the second mile slow even though it was downhill. Well, even though the first mile is uphill, it does not have a 180 turn. Also, it is hard to get going on the downhill after running uphill. So that mile ends up being not as fast as you would hope. This time it was 5:43 bringing us to 2 miles in 11:15.
At this point I realized I needed to start running my own race, and let Benjamin tough out his - he had been telling me to go for some time now, but I wanted to make sure he really did not have another gear before I took off. So I gave it a push and caught up to Garret Jones. This took quite a bit out of me - I could not pass him - maybe he sped up as well - and I sat on him all the way until it was time to kick. I thought he was going to outkick me. He surged with about 400 to go and I thought I was dead, but I found a little bit of energy to stay with him. Apparently that in combination with the hill that preceded the final 200 meters was too much for him. When we got to the 3 mile mark which I think was about 3-4 seconds off on the far side (making the kick time faster than what it should have been), I saw 17:05 and not realizing the mark was off, got really mad about all the effort that I had put into the third mile to get only 5:50. So I kicked, and to my surprise Garret did not respond. I kept running scared of his speed, but there was no reason to fear - I gapped him by 4 seconds. Benjamin finished not too far behind in 17:47.
So the finish order was Teren 15:18, Josh McCabe 15:42, Jake 15:44, a high school runner (forgot the name) 16:29, then Albert 17:21, then me with 17:34, then Garret 17:38, Benjamin 17:47, another runner in 17:58, and Steve Anderson in 18:06.
We ran some extra miles with Steve Ashbaker, Jake and Sandy. I ran another 3.5 miles when I got home. Benjamin ended up with 8.5 miles, I got 12.
Not sure what to think of this race. The time was slow. I probably lost 15 seconds or so on pulling Benjamin for the first two miles at a conservative effort instead of being more aggressive and catching up to Albert quickly, but I do not regret it. He is my son and I want to be with him when he struggles. Also, as a coach being there and sensing how he responds to changes in pace is very valuable. Not sure how much of a factor was humidity. Last time I raced in humidity (Rocket City) I struggled a lot. I could definitely feel bothered by the humid air coming in. I suppose we will see in Draper Days in two weeks.
For Benjamin, humidity is going to be a serious concern - he has two track races coming up that will likely be in conditions that are more humid than what he is used to. He told me when he tried to push it in the third mile he felt like he was going to choke. When he finished, he said his legs were not tired. So in other words he could not bring in enough oxygen to make them work. We need to do something about it. So I looked around and found a humidity mask (Humidiflier) that recirculates the moisture in the air you breathe and make it more humid. I ordered two - one for me and one for Benjamin.
A.M. Total of 12 with 0.8 pickups at around 5:20 pace. I decided to start doing pickups on easy days to stimulate the metabolism given that I am getting older, and should start experiencing problems with it soon if I have not already. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5.
P.M. 2 with Benjamin and Julia running, and Matthew in the stroller.
A.M. Ran with Steve and Chad. I did 20, Chad and Steve turned around at mile marker 9 and joined me later in the tempo at different spots. Steve did the last 7, Chad did the last 2. I did the warmup 10 miles uphill in 1:17:15 if you can call that a warm-up, but I supposed you can because the remaining 10 was a lot faster even adjusting for the grade - 58:34. It was humid and started to get warm. I felt I was struggling with the humidity, but decided to just be bold, give it a good push and deal with the consequences. It hurt, but I was not slowing down. It did help to have Steve around - he kept pressure on me and once in a while would take the lead which provided relief. Then Chad chimed in with 2 miles to go and was helpful as well. Steve started running out of juice with about 0.9 to go, Chad made it to the 0.5 to go mark.
I was happy that I made some inroads against humidity. Hopefully when I run the Rocket City Marathon this year it would not be a bomb like in the last two years. I need to win two battles - against fall-winter germs and against humidity. Also a third one - against getting older.
With turning 40 I gained a new appreciation for the gospel of Jesus Christ and particularly for His gift of resurrection. Without it the life of a runner is rather sad. It is sad even when he is 20, but the full reality of that misfortune does not come until he is older. Without Christ's resurrection a runner has nothing to look forward to as he ages. He will just keep getting slower and slower likely hitting a few years of not being able to run at all before he dies. And he is going nowhere. With the resurrection of Christ he can look forward to a body that does not need to run because it has a superior mode of transportation - although the closest we can get to it in this life without external mechanisms is running. So he is looking forward to discovering a better way to run once this life is over and once a few things happened on the other side that are necessary before the resurrection.
Relatively few people realize that resurrection is actually a gift to all regardless of their choices here. The path to it is less painful for those that make good choices, and the place they get to go also improves with the choices, but everybody who is here on earth will be able to move in a perfect resurrected body with the VO2 capacity becoming irrelevant due to having a superior source of energy.
Benjamin did 8 including 2x500 pickups on the road - one downhill, one uphill. Down in 1:32, up in 1:38. Julia did 2, Jenny 4, Joseph 3, William 0.5, Jacob 2.
Day of rest. Went to church. We had a Fast and Testimony meeting. William decided to bear his testimony, and he actually managed to do it on his own, sort of. He started on his own, then lost track of his thoughts, and Sarah helped him finish it.
In the afternoon I took an hour nap. Then I used Street View to familiarize myself with Eugene. Then we had the missionaries over for dinner.
A.M. Total of 12. First 5 with the stroller and Matthew in it. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Julia 2, Jacob 2, Joseph 3. The air felt warm and humid. I started the run at 147.0 lb and finished at 142.0 lb. I should start a new weight loss program - lose 5 pounds in one run!
Benjamin got his AP scores today. 5 on Calculus BC, 4 on Computer Science, 4 on Chemistry, and 4 on Physics C: Mechanics. This gives him credit for Math 112, Math 113, Computer Science 142, Chemistry 105, and Physics 121 at BYU. So we are going to apply for the winter semester.
I was particularly happy with his score in Chemistry. For me this is a vindication of our home schooling approach. The big question is - can a child student being only 14 years old exceed the parent teacher? He did not have to exceed my knowledge to get good scores in other subjects. But in Chemistry he did and he succeeded. This proves to me that you can successfully home school in subjects you do not have the expert knowledge of. The key is teaching the child how to learn - instead of teaching the facts you need to teach initiative, confidence, proactive problem solving, and other good qualities in that department. If the learner quality X has been developed, he will learn the necessary facts and techniques on his own.
A.M. Total of 12. Did a workout with the kids. First Benjamin and I ran 2000. Logan joined us for the last 1200. The purpose was to practice the pace for the Eugene track meet this Saturday. I paced Benjamin through the first two laps in 76 and 77. Then he took over and settled into 80s. I was happy that he did not settle into something slower. Then in the last 100 he and Logan kicked, but I could not respond. So Benjamin got 6:31.6, I got 6:33.1. Based on that I predicted 9:40-9:45 in Oregon if he runs alone, 9:30-9:35 if he has a pack to run with.
Then we did what was supposed to be 800 for Andrew, and 500 for Joseph and Jacob. It ended up being 800 for Joseph because he did not realize he was supposed to stop at the 800. So Andrew ran 800 in 2:58.1 even splitting, Joseph in 3:05.8 with the first lap in 89, Jacob did 500 in 2:00.
A.M. Took Jenny to the track. We did 300 in 59.1. Benjamin, Logan and Andrew joined us. Andrew fell back a little not realizing he was going only 300. Total of 12 miles. Benjamin did 5, Jenny 3, Julia 2, Jacob 2, William 0.5. I did a pickup down the canyon for 1300 meters in 4:14.
Drove to Eugene from Orem. Went through Winnemucca, NV. Took us 14.5 hours with all the stops. Got in some running on the road, and the rest once we got to Eugene. Total of 8 miles. Benjamin did 3, Jenny and Julia 1, Joseph 1, Jacob 1, William 0.3. Once in Eugene I found a track and decided to calibrate my sense of pace. My natural mind-drifting pace was around 6:40. I did a pickup for a quarter in 74. It felt like the Provo Canyon going down.
The kids ran in the Track City Classic youth track meet in Eugene, OR. First Benjamin ran the 3000 meters. Benjamin came with a goal of breaking Josh Rohatinsky's record in the 13-14 year old division of 9:49.10 set in Cedar City in 1996. Now this is the official record. Josh remembers running 9:21 in Florida at some point, but I could not find any official record of that, nor could anybody in the Utah USATF. Does not matter that much anyway - 9:49 could have been easily taken down by Conner Mantz and a few others. It is just that fast 14 year old kids in Utah for one reason or another do not race in the USATF-sanctioned meets. In any case, a relatively weak record was handed to us, and we jumped at the chance to break it. With the help of oxygen, cooler temperatures, and national-level competition Benjamin succeeded this time with some measure of vengeance running 9:35.32.
I stood at the finish, so I got his 200 split and then every lap after that. I timed his first 200 at 33.7 but it was more like 34.3 because of my delayed reaction and the time delay for the sound to travel around 140 or so meters from the 3000 start to where I was standing. The gun did not emit visible smoke - I perfer the smoking guns for such starts because you can start your watch when you see the smoke avoiding the sound delay.Then his laps were 77.1, 76.8, 80.5, 79.3, 78.8, 76.6, and 72.0 for the kick.
He lost contact with the lead pack after the first 200, but that was good - they were pushing it too fast. The announcer called out the leader split of 70 for the first lap. Benjamin saw 73 on his watch. After 600 I told him to regain the contact. Fortunately he trusted me. Before the race he was having a little bit of a confidence issue. Last year the race was won in 9:07. This instilled some holy fear into him and he kept asking me what they would open in and what he should do. I told him to expect the opening lap of 70 followed by some settling into pace at around 73-74 if we had the runners capable of 9:07 - 70 too fast, but then once they settle, make contact with the back of the pack that is going for 9:07 if there is one and sit on them till the "standard bearer fainteth". However, this time it was different - at 600 I knew there was no 9:07 pack. Benjamin easily regained the contact over the next lap and reached 1000 in 3:08.2. However, I was not paying attention to the overall split very much - I just knew that if he kept his laps under 80 the fast start and the kick combined would bring him under the record.
The announcer called out the 1200 split at 3:48. When he passed me at 1400 I saw 80.5 and I was not happy with this lap. I told Benjamin to start putting pressure on the leaders to go faster. We did not come all the way to Eugene to play tactical games - we want a fast time, we want the record! At this point what he should have done is hit the gas for 30 meters, take the lead, settle into 77-78 per lap pace and cruise as close to the inside as possible. Instead he applied mild, rather indecisive pressure from behind. This could work in a road race at faster speeds but this was the track, and the speed was too slow. So he ended up running quite a bit on the outside. Nevertheless the pressure worked and the lead pack was knocked out of their comfort zone. Two black coaches standing next to me nodded in approval and commented that it was a very good idea to take the competition out of their comfort zone.
At this point I should say something about the ethnic make up of the youth track crowd. In the sprints you see a lot of blacks - even in Utah. In the distances it is the Latinos. In fact, after this lap the lead pack was cut down to three Latino kids - Gabriel Fendel, Miguel De La Melena, Melecio Gonzales, and Benjamin. The national 14 year old boys record in 3000 of 8:56 is held by Phillip Rocha, who is a Latino as well.
With two laps to go Benjamin was looking strong. I realized that he could win the race, and I knew what he needed to do. He needed the Lasse Viren kick. He has one. He cannot accelerate in the last 100, but he can put some serious pressure over the last 600-800 meters. He showed that ability as early as 5 years old in his first 5 K. I experienced it myself first hand in the Ward two mile race a few weeks ago when he started grinding me with 800 to go and eventually succeeded. So I yelled at him to show the Lasse Viren. The black coaches laughed and wondered if he knew who Lasse Viren was - after all the young generation might not remember him. I assured them - yes he does - he grew up on bedtime stories about Lasse Viren. In our house this is one name the children hear often. That and Bob Kempainen. Every time they complain during a run they hear a story either about Viren falling down, getting up, and winning the Olympic 10,000 with a world record, or Kempainen doing 4:55 miles at the end of a marathon while throwing up.
Unfortunately Benjamin could not hear me well as the noise of the spectators exceeded my voice volume. So he was a little indecisive in making the move. Part of the problem was the lack of experience in racing on the track against competition. However, by the time they reached the last lap the race was down to him and Gabriel Fundel. The last lap was quick, but not quick enough to neutralize Gabriel's 100 meter kick. He ended up winning with 9:33.83. Benjamin finished second 1.49 seconds behind in 9:35.32. Miguel was third in 9:40.09 - a new PR for him. Six boys went under 10:00.
After the race Benjamin's Crocs became a hot item of discussion. Here is the video of the race:
Then we went home, and returned in the afternoon for the rest of the children to run in the 800. By that time it got warmer, and the wind picked up. Additionally there were more participants in the sprints than the meet directors anticipated, so the 800 start got delayed by about three hours. Joseph ran 3:01.37 finishing 5th. The winner, Miles Jones ran 2:42.61. This was amazing to watch - a 7 year old can actually move that fast! He was not big either. Third place was 2:56.62, and I think that was reachable - Joseph just needs more mental preparation when racing against competition. Jacob who is only 6 held his own against kids of the older age and finished 10th in 3:18.83 out of 11 boys.
Julia ran 3:13.32 finishing 26th out of 28 girls. She does have the disadvantage of having to race in essentially an upper age division this year - she is not yet 11, but they go by the birth year so she is racing against girls that are 11-12 years old. The winner in her division, Kara Smith, ran 2:25.31.
Jenny ran 2:59.39 finishing 24th out of 29 girls. She also has the same birth year issue as Julia. The winner in her division, Lauren Paven ran 2:27.22.
Nobody set 800 PRs today due to the conditions and the start delays, but everyone was close enough that we got a family 4x800 PR for this quartet (Jenny,Julia,Joseph,Jacob) of 12:32.91.
Then we went to the beach in Florence, OR. I joked that if we had Utah and Oregon drivers try their skills in the country (not state) of Georgia where we went on vacations back when I was a little kid, even though both places have mountains and roads going through them the Oregoneans would do better because they get a lot of practice on similar roads. Oregon highways are very narrow and windy. I was surprised that a route from a relatively big city to the nearest beach would be a narrow windy highway where you are lucky to go 55, or at least I did not feel comfortable at much faster than 45 in most places in our big van. The Oregon drivers seemed to be just fine and handled the curves very well. I checked the Oregon highway fatality rate and discovered that it was actually low - 0.8 deaths per 100 million miles driven. Utah is 1.1. Nevada is something around 2.3 even though most of their roads go through the desert and are as straight and open as it gets.
I managed to get in 10 miles of running in between the events.
Day of rest. We went to church in Eugene. It was only 3.5 miles away from the house. The ward was surprised to find a family of 10 walk in that nobody knew. We met a couple of runners there. One was a 4:22 miler back in 1948 in high school, and back then they ran the real mile, not 1600. The other was 35 years old, still running, personal best of 9:45 in 3200 in high school. Stevie did not want to stay in nursery, so I ended up taking him to the Elder's Quorum.
Friday night Jenny asked me a question about how to deal with the pre-race anxiety. I struggled with that question in my teenage years. It was a big deal. I wondered how in the world an Olympic athlete is able to deal with the pre-race pressure. After I came home from a mission I did not struggle with it as much anymore, the answer seemed to be intuitive, but I never had to explain it to somebody else. Challenged, I gave it some thought and tried to put into words what I knew. Then a few ideas came to me, and I saw them plainly. So here they are.
I recall a study done of performances by Kenyan distance runners vs US/European runners in high stakes competitions such as world championships and the Olympics. There was a pattern - Kenyans frequently ran PRs while the Westerners frequently bombed. The author of the study tried to find an explanation and reached for such odd things as the Kenyan tradition of boys being circumcised in their teenage years without a pain killer and with an expectation of showing no signs of pain. The answer is actually quite simple, I believe.
The key is Alma 5:27-28, and the key phrases there are "stripped of pride" and "sufficiently humble". Also, Doctrine and Covenants 88:6 with the key phrase being "descended below all things". One major driver of pre-race anxiety is the perceived pressure to perform and the worry of what others will think of you if you fail. Someone who grew up in the Kenyan-type poverty is vaccinated against that. He knows that there is no way that anybody will think of him below what he has already experienced so he is not too worried about that. The other key driver is the worry about the pain and your ability to push through it. Through my own racing and through pacing others I gained some understanding of this matter. This is how I prefer to describe it - at some critical point in the race you start to think that you are too good for the pain. Somehow in your subconscious mind you think that it is below the dignity of a human being to experience so much of it. So you slow down. Again, the root of the problem is the wrong kind of pride. You are not willing to descend below the pain.
Through those experienced I gained an appreciation of the idea of Christ descending below all things - a frequently forgotten part of his Atonement. We often think about a mortal not being able to rise above - to travel at the speed of light, to command the mountains to move, etc, but we forget the limitation we have on descending below. No matter how hard we try our humility is limited - there is only so much beating we are willing to take before we call it quits. But Christ showed us perfection in this regard and challenged us to reach it. Running is a great tool for the purpose.
To clarify we need to say that we are talking about true humility. Telling everyone around you how unprepared or unfit you are is actually a manifestation of disguised pride. True humility gives you the power to align yourself with the way things are which enables you to see clearly and follow the path to making them better. It gives you the strength to forget about the irrelevant and only focus on the fundamentals that matter. It gives you the power to succeed.
Drove back from Eugene to Orem. The route through Portland was quite a bit longer not only in distance but also in time - 15.5 hours as opposed to 14.5 through Winnemucca, NV. Got some running on the road and a little bit after we got home. Total of 11 miles. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 2, Julia 1.5, Joseph 2, Jacob 2, William 0.5. It was nice to be able to pump my own gas once we got to Idaho. The question I have is if Oregon and New Jersey can get away with keeping people from pumping their own gas, why do we worry about what others think of our alcohol laws here in Utah?
A.M. Ran with the kids. Total of 13 miles. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 3, Julia 2, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5. I did two pickups of 500 meters on a hilly stretch. 1:36.1 on the part that looked down, 1:37.9 the other way.
A.M. Total of 12. Did a workout with Benjamin to give him practice for track racing. We ran 1200 passing each other every 50 meters. I hoped to keep 75 seconds per lap, but it proved more hectic than I thought. We only managed 3:54.1. Benjamin's Croc fell off in the middle as well and we had to stop to put it on. This was also rhythm breaking. This is the first time this happened to him in a workout. Need to evaluate why. Crocs definitely have a lot of advantages. Aside from the cost and the shocking effect on the observer, and the convenience of no shoe laces is critical for training little kids, the main driver for Benjamin is the lack of forced traction that would be caused by spikes. Going around a curve in spikes is not good for young legs. So I estimate the chances of Crocs falling off in a 1500 meter track race are somewhere around 1%. That is OK. A possible little comedy, and even a DNF in a "critical" youth race - in quotes because I do not believe any youth races are really that critical - is a small price to pay for healthy feet, legs, hips, and lower back in maturity. Also for the shock effect of achieving a spike-quality performance the 99% of the time when they stay on.
After that we jogged 200 meters and I wanted to test Benjamin's sense of pace in absence of the surges as well as the ability to lead, so I had him lead a quarter at the effort that felt the same as the the 1200 interval. We ended up with a 78.9 400. Odd - I thought we would see something like 75-76. Then we jogged maybe 100 meters, and I did not want to end the workout without ever running Benjamin's target pace for 1500 meters. So I paced a 400 in 72.2.
Then we ran with other kids. Jenny did 4, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5.
A.M. Jacob's 7th birthday is on Sunday. We have a tradition of sorts if the weather is good and suitable for the mile record and if the child is young enough for me to be able to pace it (Benjamin has already graduated from that) to try to set one while the integer part of his age is still one year less. So Jacob did a mile time trial today at the Orem High track with Joseph being a front running helper.
I wanted to see how he would handle 6:40 pace. I botched it a little with a 1:38 first lap, but he responded cheerfully and followed me. In the second lap I sensed that he was starting to have a small difficulty breathing. I gave him his inhaler before the start of the run, but I think the dust from the small particles evaporating from the hot track was perhaps too much for him. It was even bothering me some. I eased off the pace to 1:43 for the next lap and we hit 800 in 3:21. Then Jacob's breathing problem got worse and I eased off the pace even more - next lap in 1:46. He was able to hold it together for the last lap repeating 1:46 and finishing the mile in a new PR of 6:55.1 improving his time by 2.7 seconds. The balance of 2 seconds went towards the 9.34 meters extra on top of the 4 laps. Joseph ran 6:53 and felt quite comfortable.
Even though this was only a small improvement, I was quite happy. Based on how Jacob handled the opening lap I knew that he had at least 6:45 in him if he could control his breathing. Also, from the trivia perspective - while still officially 6 and with all of the baby teeth still in place (although one of them is currently loose), he is now a 6:55 miler. After watching the race in Eugine and studying results of the USATF regionals I realized that sub-7:00 mile at the age of 6 is perhaps not exceptionally unique. But it is unique in our family. Jacob so far has shown most talent of all of our children. The key is to properly guide him through the development so he will not lose it.
Then I ran with the other children. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5. I did some pickups including a 100 uphill at 6% grade in 18.8.
A.M. Total of 12 miles. Ran with the kids. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5, Andrew 5. Julia wanted to do a time trial. So we did 400 meters at the Orem High Track. She ran 85.7 opening with 20 then 21, 22, and 22. This is a new PR by 6 seconds, and it is good to know she has some quarter speed. Then after jogging a little bit I wanted to see what she could do in 100. She did 19.3. So her 100 ratios for the 400 and 800 are 4.44 and 9.89. For a comparison, I have 59.5/13.9 = 4.28 and 2:12/13.9=9.50. Valery Abramov, the current Russian record holder in the 5000 (13:11) had 48.8/11.2 = 4.35 and 1:46/11.2 = 9.46. So her ratios are actually not too bad for a 10-year-old girl, but we do need to work on speed endurance.
I also did some pickups. 500 on my hilly course in the faster direction in 1:34.8 and 400 uphill in 75.1.
Draper Days 5K (3.107 Miles) 00:17:14, Place overall: 17, Place in age division: 3
Marathon Pace Miles
VO2 Max Miles
Ran the Draper Days 5 K in 17:14, 17th place overall and 3rd master, $25. There is something special about a 5 K road race at 4500 feet on a certified loop course with some hills where breaking 15:00 is not enough to win, breaking 15:10 is not enough to be in the open money, and breaking 17:00 does not get you into the top 10 while there are only a little over 200 finishers. This is Fast Running Blog officially the most competitive road 5 K in Utah - at least I do not know of others. This our Carlsbad 5 K minus the mass participation.
I brought Benjamin with me to the race. We warmed up about a mile together along with Steve Ashbaker, and then the race started.
Everybody started very fast. Then some younger runners slowed down creating a roadblock of sorts. Benjamin and I worked our way through the crowd and about half a mile into the race caught up to Steve Ashbaker and Steve Anderson. Once we did, either they joined us or we joined them - it was probably mutual - we slowed down some and they sped up some. We worked together for some time. The mile at the official marker which I believe was accurate was 5:22. The first mile appears to be a slight uphill. I felt just right. In the second mile my legs started to feel more tired. Ben Van Beekum passed us. I tried to hang with him, but I could feel that my legs lacked the strength. I missed the mile 2 split, but Benjamin remembers the split being 10:43 which would have given us 5:21 for the downhill mile. In the meantime we were gradually closing the gap on Walter who was maybe 15 seconds ahead at the mile. He being the master was a target for me and Steve.
In the third mile, which is a slight uphill, my legs started to give out more as the competition including Steve Ashbaker began to pull away. I signaled to Benjamin to pass me and go after them. He took off quite energetically. Walter won the masters with 17:03, Steve was second in 17:10 with me third with 17:14. Benjamin, however, was ahead of both of them finishing in 17:01. I thought - how funny - the people I could not beat I sent my son to beat :-)
I was not unhappy about my time - this is an improvement compared to Murray Fun Days, but I was much happier about Benjamin's. 17:01 in a road 5 K on an honest course at altitude is quite solid for a 14 year old boy.
Josh McGabe won overall with 14:53, then Teren 14:59, Riley 15:04, Jake 15:09, and Scott Keate 15:25 for the top 5.
I ran total of 12. Jenny did 4, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5, Benjamin 8.
Day of rest. Went to church. The sacrament meeting talks were on dealing with adversity. One speaker mentioned his struggles trying to sleep-train his kids. He explained that this helped him understand why God leaves us alone to solve our problems. Raising children definitely has helped me understand this at a new level. It is no surprise to me that I hear "If God was really there he would not let us struggle" mostly from people who do not yet have children.
Another speaker mentioned an experience after the General Conference. A request was made for someone speaking Mandarin Chinese. He volunteered and got to talk to a woman from mainland China. She was impressed by Elder Holland's talk and wanted to be baptized. He helped make the arrangements for her to meet with the missionaries and she did get baptized. Later I talked to our local missionaries and they told me a missionary from mainland China will soon be serving in the Provo Mission. The Chinese are coming!
A.M. 12.5 miles total. Rather unplanned, but I realized that I did not have enough miles for all of the children too late and figured I rather have a less than perfect taper than have Julia run alone.
Jenny did a 400 meter time trial at the Orem High track. Her time was 77.3, an improvement of 6 seconds over her PR from last year. Her splits were 18.5, 19.3 (37.7), 20.3 (58.0), and 19.3. I was quite happy about that. Now with proper endurance we will soon be seeing 2:40 in the 800 and sub-6:00 in the mile, and the endurance should be on its way - we finally figured out how to run 4 miles daily. She ended up with 4 miles total.
Julia did 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5, Benjamin 8. Benjamin and I did a pickup for 0.5 at what I thought would be my marathon pace aiming for something like 5:45, but it ended up being 5:30 on a non-aided stretch. I was happy about that as well.
In the evening I showed Benjamin the video of Steve Cram setting the world record of 3:29.67 in the 1500 meters while racing Said Aouita. The reason I wanted him to see it was Cram's 400 meter kick. He never reaches the blazing speed of Aouita and almost gets caught on the home stretch, but his height and leg length prove advantageous in leaning so he ends up winning by 0.04 s. Benjamin has a similar strength - the ability to power through a long kick.
It is also interesting to compare the age progression - Cram was born in October of 1960. He ran 4:31.5 in 1973 , then 4:22.3 in 1974, 4:13.9 in 1975, 4:07.2 in 1976, then 3:47.7 in 1977. I do not have the exact date for the times, but it would reasonable to assume they were reached some time in late spring or early summer. Benjamin so far has 4:31.58 at 5700 feet of altitude in 88 F heat at the age of 14.4 which we should probably compare with Cram's 4.13.9 at the age of maybe 14.7. So about 18 seconds minus heat/altitude adjustment behind pace for 3:29 lifetime 1500, but hopefully he can close that this Thursday in Greensboro, NC. He really does not need 3:30 1500 for a good marathon, 3:40 will be sufficient. But a low 3:30 will sure be nice. So I told him to stay within 10 seconds of Cram throughout his life up until he is 25 - let's see if he can do it.
Deseret News Marathon (26.219 Miles) 02:37:57, Place overall: 2, Place in age division: 1
Marathon Pace Miles
VO2 Max Miles
Deseret News Marathon, 2:37:55, 2nd overall, 1st master. With the double-dip this would be $750, without $500, with the modern socialist "everyone is a winner" "it is not fair that masters with all their experience rob younger runners of the money they deserve" it goes down to $250 - the official policy is not stated on the website and I have not yet received my money, so I suppose I'll find out later.
The time was not very fast, but it was fast enough to be the fastest master time for this version of the course. I get extra perks for being old, I suppose.
James and Allie were nice enough to let me stay with them the night before. James gave me a differential equation problem to solve before I went to bed which I worked on in my mind while trying to fall asleep. Once I solved it I fell asleep immediately completely forgetting about the race or anything else. I highly recommend this method. I recall a study a while ago that recorded the highest number of yawns per student during a lecture among a number of technical courses in the one on differential equations.
The race went like this. In the first 4 miles which are a very steep downhill I ran with Jon Kotter and John Rosswog. The splits were 5:13, 5:10 (10:23), 4:59 (15:22), and 5:33 (20:55). Around 4 miles Jon pulled ahead while John fell back. It stayed that way all the way to the finish with each gap increasing by about the same amount with just one exception. I stopped for a VPB shortly after mile 5. So mile 5 was 5:27 (26:22), then the VPB mile had some uphill on top of the standard time loss, so it was 6:18 (32:40).
Then the climb up the Little Mountain started. I thought I was going to get 6:30 on the next mile, but the perception of strength apparently was deceptive. My split was 6:44 (39:24 at 7 miles). Then I knew that 2:36 would be really good, but things could go as bad as slower than 2:40. To keep it from being slower than 2:40 I adjusted the effort listening carefully to my legs and my heart. I feel that this early pace adjustment was critical for being able to hold it together reasonably well and running under 2:38.
Next mile which starts up but then changes to down demonstrated that 6:44 was not just from being cautious on the climb - 6:19 (46:43) - that mile should be under 6:00. Do not recall my split at 9 miles, but at 10 I was 57:35, which gives me 11:52 for the next 2 miles. So I am finding some kind of a rhythm, but still lack the power - both in the legs and in the heart to move like I did last year.
From 10 to the half I moved at a fairly steady pace and hit the half split in 1:15:35 - so 18:00 for the 5 K. Not stellar, but still sub-6:00. Then somewhere around 15 I needed to go to the bathroom again. 5:30 AM start leaves me helpless - I went three times before the start, and still could not get all of it out - it is just too early. Knowing that I was fairly safe in second place and first master I considered using the official one due to the heavy presence of the half-marathoners, mostly ladies, but when I ran past it it was hopeless. There was a line of about 5 people. So I did not have a choice - failure to VPB would have had tragic results. I quickly realized that it would be better to be seen squatting by one lady runner that will try hard not to look in your direction anyway than to have all of the spectators on the course and at the finish see the consequences of your failure to squat at the right time. I was able to find a decent spot and resolve the problem quickly enough to have 6:18 split for that mile.
Around mile 16 I saw Steve Ashbaker running towards me. He ran with me from that point to the finish. It was very helpful to have him around and meant a lot to me. As expected the Hogle Zoo Monster attacked me when I ran past the zoo and things became difficult from that point. I made it to mile 20 in 1:58:33. From that point I set a goal not to bleed too much off 6:00 pace. My next uphill mile was 6:38 (2:05:11). I was quite happy with it. Then I ran 5:56 for the downhill mile (2:11:07). I was quite happy that I put a gap on the 6:00 pace, but I knew this was going to be the last sub-6:00. 4 more to go. Plus 385 yards, just like the sales tax. Always remember to add the sales tax, commissions, and fees into the advertised price or you may find yourself not having enough money to pay for the purchase.
Next mile was 6:16 (2:17:23). It was mostly downhill had some minor uphill - you bust through it as it if it were nothing in the third mile of the 10 K, but in the marathon that uphill hurts. I was happy about it. One more mile - 6:06 (2:23:29). Two more to go, plus the sales tax. Calculating the marathon sales tax this turns out to be only 0.84%. I think if we could get enough people in Utah to run we could reduce our sales tax to 0.84%. A runner could just run, maybe literally, for office, win the elections and then push it through. We would also be able to afford it economically - it is my belief that as people remove physical fat from their bodies they also remove mental fat from their thinking. Thinking lean they will figure out how to run the government better than we do now off less money.
Mile 25 - 6:16 (2:29:45). Not too bad, but there is the last mile which is a subtle and steady uphill. We all know that mile.
Mile 26 was as miserable as it is always. After running it one more miserable time I think I have an idea of how to deal with it. I need to verify prior to the race that the blocks are indeed exactly 1/7th of a mile as advertised. Then I need to have a clear idea where the boundaries are and run from block boundary to boundary targeting 55 seconds (or maybe faster or slower depending on what condition I find myself in) for each block. When you are hurting having the accurate immediate feedback and a very immediate challenging but attainable goal is absolutely critical to achieving top performance. When you push and it hurts a lot, if you can feel that this brings dividends you will dig deep and find that extra strength.
At the end of it I met my family. Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, and Jacob, along with Stephen and Matthew in the stroller were awaiting me. They joined me but unfortunately the front wheel on the stroller did not get properly attached and fell off as Benjamin was running with it. So he stopped to fix it and we continued without them. Sarah and William were running ahead of us. Seeing a target in front I instinctively accelerated and passed them shortly before the finish line - this got me to dip a little below 2:38, which was nice. Even though we had that stroller accident, I felt happy to have my family with me at the finish.
So it took me 8:12 to run the last 1.219 miles. That is 6:43 pace. This can be improved. I think with the intermediate block-to-block approach I can improve it by 15 seconds prorated for fitness next year (so compare it to the mile before it in other words).
Afterwards I took Benjamin to Greensboro, NC for the national USATF Junior Olympics meet. We almost did not make it. When we got to the SLC airport, United told us that our connecting flight to Denver was cancelled. Their proposed alternative arrangement would get us to Greensboro after the start of his race. So we started scrambling for alternatives which included visits to the Frontier and Southwest ticket counters which we had to do ourselves because United does not have a deal with them. If only Frontier flew to Greensboro every day we would not have even been dealing with United - Frontier can fly to Greensboro and back for $459 one way for two people in two legs vs $786 (cheapest alternative) by United in three legs. Finally United figured out a way to put us on a Delta flight to to Denver and the problem was solved except we had to hustle to make it and I had to run, or, rather, speed-limp, through the airport on severely damaged marathon legs.
This was Benjamin's first flight since he was 1.5 years old, and he really enjoyed it.
Benjamin ran the 1500 qualifier heat at the USATF Junior Olympics Nationals in Greensboro, NC. Our plan was to just run the heat regardless of whether he qualified for the final or not because the final is on Sunday. We just wanted a shot at the Utah state record in his age division which is 4:29.36. He ended up qualifying with 4:30.84 setting a new PR and missing the record by 1.48. There were 12 qualifiers for the final, and he was the last one.
We learned something at that race. There is a youth racing pattern of a jack-rabbit start, slump in the middle, then a fast kick. We were aware of that, but what we did not realize is that it persists at all levels rather than apply just to the slower runners. The reason perhaps is that most youth train at low mileage and a lot of speed work which primarily consists of intervals 400 meters and shorter. At least I cannot think of a better explanation.
The lack of awareness of that pattern killed the record attempt. Adjusting for the impatience of youth but at the same time hoping for some level of sanity among the best of them I told Benjamin to start out towards the end through the first 200 meters, then make his way into mid-pack by the 400 mark hitting 68, then pass 3 runners or so in the second lap which I estimated would yield around 71-72, a few more in the third yielding around 72-73 and then kick as fast as he could in the last 300 which would hopefully bring something in the range of 4:22-4:28 for the whole thing.
Well, after the first 100 Benjamin was in the last place, and after the first 300 in 50.644 he was third from the end. That is while on pace for a 67 quarter. His split was the slowest among all the final qualifiers. The new technology now provides the splits every lap with the 0.001 precision for all runners - I love it. If it was available a year ago and I had a chance to look at the splits we would have gotten the record in this race.
In the second lap everybody in his heat slowed down a lot. Benjamin learned an important lesson - you must have standards of your own and you cannot just follow your peers. He does know that at a higher level, but in absence of tangible metrics and in the heat of the race he digressed to the standard teenager thought pattern of following the peers. He passed a few, but it was not enough. His split from 300 to 700 was 75.577 - third slowest among the qualifiers. He was thinking that the leaders in his heat were running around 70 (instead of 73-74 in reality), so he was not focused on them, but instead on the midpack guys who were running around 77 instead of what he thought would be 74.
I yelled the split out to him and he started moving. My split was more drastic - 76.0 due to the visual inaccuracy, so he pushed it. His lap from 700 to 1100 was 72.841 which now was the second fastest among all the qualifiers. In the last lap he started moving well from 1100 to 1300 but in the last 200 lost steam - probably the combination of fatigue from travelling, high humidity (73%), quick start, and having to surge in the third lap, got to him. Nevertheless he still had a decent finish in 71.774 which still was the second slowest of all the qualifiers.
Afterwards we went for a jog. Half way through we realized we did not know where our car was. So we spent the rest of the distance locating the car. To be more exact Benjamin was the one who jogged. I speed-limped on my marathon legs.
We flew back the same day and got home shortly after midnight.
A.M. Last night made some tea out of maral root extract and drank it. This morning the soreness was considerably less - could walk down the stairs without pain. Running was still painful, but I progressed quite a bit beyond speed-limping. Ran a total of 6 miles with the kids averaging around 8:30. Benjamin did 5.5, Jenny 4, Joseph 3, Jacob 2. Jenny and I ran the last 1.5 miles at sub-8:00 pace. This was my first sub-8:00 experience since the marathon.
P.M. Adventures. We went to Sarah's niece's baptism in Brigham City. On the way back around 7 miles south of the Brigham City exit the serpentine belt of our old van (we have two now) decided to break. I learned what happens when serpentine belt breaks - the engine is still going but gets hot fast, the power steering is gone, and GEN light comes on indicating a problem with the alternator. We got rescued by Sarah's family - it took two cars - a mini-van and a suburban, and they got to Sarah's sister's house in Taylorsville. The van got towed to Ogden. I got on the Front Runner with Jenny and we rode to the Orem station from which I ran all the way to the house, which was 4.2 miles. I considered calling somebody for a ride, but decided I was not going to take 30 minutes of someone's time to save 20 minutes of mine.
Jenny ran about a mile with me, then walked the rest of the way until I came back and picked her up. Fortunately a couple of months ago I bought the right kind of church shoe - I say church shoe because the last time I got dressed up for something that was not a church function was a job interview in 16 years ago. Once my technical skills improved I did not need to dress up to get a job anymore. Those shoes cost me only $25, I bought them at PayLess, they way 13 oz each, which puts them in the category of a heavy trainer, but they have a flexible sole, much more flexible actually than your typical heavy trainer. So they are quite comfortable for running. Legs felt good but it was hot. Fortunately Benjamin happened to have a spare T-shirt which I put on instead of my white shirt. This made the run less miserable.
Then I dropped Jenny off at her party and drove to Taylorsville to get Sarah and the rest of the kids. Benjamin and Julia ran 2 miles
Day of rest. Went to church. During the Sacrament meeting my attention was drawn to the hymn we sang - Oh, Ye Mountains High. I read and re-read the words. I noticed it was written by Charles Penrose, so when I came home I studied some about him. This hymn made me feel a special connection to the early LDS pioneers. The times are different but the principles are the same, and I can feel it.
Felt very tired in the afternoon, took a 3 hour nap.
A.M. Total of 12. Ran with the kids. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5. William asked me if he could get a paint set. I told him he had to break 10:00 in the mile without holding somebody's hand and without stopping. He agreed to try. In his first attempted he ran the first 400 in 2:08, very well ahead of pace, but at around 500 decided he was too tired to run further. Then he wanted to try again. This time we slowed him down but he was still going sub-9:00 pace. But shortly before the 400 mark he decided to stop. It will take him some time to learn to focus - he is only 4. Benjamin was worse at that age.
I did 1.5 miles on my nasty course from the Provo River bridge to the house in 8:42.9. It was warm, and I struggled. But at least I could finally run normally for the first time after the marathon.
A.M. Total of 12 miles. Benjamin did 9, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 1. Joseph did a mile time trial on the track. The reason was that he broke his Android tablet and I told him that if he broke 6:30 in the mile I'd get him a replacement. So it went like this.
First lap was 96, then 97, then 95. He kicked in 95 and got 6:26.0. Benjamin and Logan helped with the pacing. Andrew ran with the assignment to stay with Joseph and kick at the end. He ended up kicking in 42 for the last 200 and finishing in 6:21, which is his official mile PR - if you can call our time trials official that is. While not officially recognized, they are at least more official than the majority of the fun runs because in ours the distance is accurate and so is the time - no chip malfunction and other problems.
I am quite happy about this time. Benjamin's fastest time at the age of 8 was 6:43 and he did not break 6:20 until he was 9.5. Joseph it seems will be going under 6:20 this year.
Did some strides with Benjamin.
P.M. Rode the Front Runner to Ogden, and then ran to Midas, which is about 3 miles from the station to get our van. Then drove it back to Orem. Timed both ways. With Sarah taking me to the Orem station and the train leaving on time and arriving 1 minute early my time was 2:40 on the way out. On the way back in spite of quite a bit of a congestion going through Salt Lake I made it in 1:33. I have to say that while Front Runner is great for people that do not have a car, I am thankful to be able to drive one. And I am also thankful I do not have to commute.
A.M. Total of 12. Benjamin did 9, Jenny 4, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, Julia 3, William 1. Benjamin and I paced Logan through 1.5 miles on my nasty course from the bridge to the house. The target was to break 9:00. We hit the first mark which I call the mile in 5:37, and the next uphill quarter in 85. Then Logan started to fade. We slowed down trying to encourage him, but he was not responsive. So Benjamin wanted to run ahead and I said, let's go. So we went, and Benjamin dropped me over the last 100 meters. He finished the whole thing in 8:30, I got 8:33, Logan got 8:42.9. Then Benjamin and I did some strides.