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. Total of 8 miles. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, Julia 3, William 1. William ran a mile PR of 8:50.3 improving by 2 seconds on the same course. His splits were 2:15, 2:18, 2:09, and 2:08. He got excited about going for the record when I told him that his split at the quarter was fast enough to get it. But about 900 into the run he said he did not want the record anymore. That is exactly how I felt at mile 18 on Saturday. I told him he's gone way too far and worked way too hard to just give up and miss the record now. He rebooted his 4-year-old mind, sped up, and got the record.

Analysing my performance on Saturday I realized that there may have been three factors involved:

  • Aging
  • Lack of training at fast paces
  • Fallout from Big Cottonwood half a week earlier

While aging is going to become more and more of a factor in the next few years it does me no good to use it as an excuse, although there may be some things I can do that I have not done already to forestall it. It would do me no good to blame the sub-par performance on the prior half-marathon - not much to do about it except not do it next year. However, lack of fast pace training can be fixed. I made a mid-year resolution to make sure that I always run at least 20 miles a week at paces 6:00 per mile and faster and figured out how I can do it while running with the kids. There is a 500 meter stretch where I can do pickups.

So I followed that resolution today and got about 1.2 miles at around 5:50 - 6:00 pace. Legs felt the impact of the marathon, but could move enough to do the pace without major pain.

Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 3.00Green Crocs 6 Miles: 8.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From RileyCook on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 12:42:57 from

Sasha, I feel quite confident that the Big Cottonwood Half last week hurt your marathon. Even when we don't necessarily feel sore after a downhill screamer, there's still residual fatigue in the legs. To me, this is the main culprit.

I don't think age played a huge role, I mean you just ran a 1:08:59! You still have speed at your age and that half shows it.

But I like your plan of running more miles under 6:00. I keep track of how many miles I run under 6:00 pace each week. I have 700 miles this year at or under 6:00 pace, which is like 18 miles or so a week. I think it's beneficial to have a decent quantity at that pace or faster. I also keep track of sub 5:30 miles (I have 522 of those) and sub 5:00 miles (I have 134 of those).

I'm confident you will run faster next year at TOU and break your own, new Master's PR, as long as you don't do a crazy downhill half the week before.

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