Breaking the Wall

Rocket City Marathon

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Location:

Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986

Gender:

Male

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.

Personal:

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 nine children: Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, Matthew,  Mary, and Bella.  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: 148.02 Year: 3163.85
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 120.59
Brown Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 1509.03
Brown Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 903.91
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
268.3028.7210.900.00307.92
Green Crocs 4 Miles: 307.92
Night Sleep Time: 206.50Nap Time: 5.50Total Sleep Time: 212.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
11.000.004.000.0015.00

A.M. A very cautious medium long run of 15 miles. I had to play the balance between not getting sick and not losing the fitness and felt like I was driving a car on a narrow road on the edge of a cliff. Too far to the right and you run into a mountain, too far to the left and you are flying off the cliff. In a week from this date my driving skills, so to speak, will be evaluated at the Rocket City Marathon.

So first I ran with the kids with each running according to his health. Benjamin did 3, Jenny 2, Joseph 0.5, Jacob 0.5, Julia 0.25, William 0.25.  Those distances tell a story - none of them are 100%. Then I ran 8.25 more with the last 4 fast from the middle of the Provo Canyon to the house. So some down and some up. I started out fairly quickly with 5:33 and 5:35. Then I felt that my heart was not pumping enough oxygen and slowed down to 5:46 in the next mile. The last mile was uphill, and I did it in 5:52. This gave me 22:46 for 4 miles. Afterwards I rested as well as I could to avoid getting sick taking a nap for 1.5 hours.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 15.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
0.000.000.000.000.00

Day of rest. 5 out of 7 kids were still in a non-public-place condition, so Sarah and I took turns going to church. When I got home after the first two hours, I taught the kids a short lesson on Moroni 7-8. Among many points it brought up the fact that Moroni wandered completely alone for 36 years.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Comments(1)
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
11.700.000.300.0012.00

A.M. Total of 12. Ran with the kids, each according to his health. Benjamin did 4, Jenny 2, Julia 0.5, Joseph 0.5, Jacob 0.5, William 0.25. Fighting an uphill battle trying not to get sick with the help of garlic, oranges, EmergenC, and sleep.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Comments(2)
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
10.500.001.500.0012.00

A.M. 12 miles total. Benjamin did 5, Jenny 3, Julia 2, Jacob and Joseph 1, William 0.5. I did a 1.5 tempo run in 8:26 on a net uphill and felt strong. Nevertheless I did feel a serious threat of catching a cold so, I tried to rest as much as possible during the day.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
8.500.000.000.008.50

A.M. 8.5 total. Benjamin did 5, Jenny 3, Julia 2, Joseph and Jacob 1, William 0.5. Trying to dodge the cold. Getting a bit of nose congestion and throat soreness, and a little bit of fatigue onset around 4-5 pm, but still holding on. The run felt good, and no fever was detected.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 8.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
8.000.000.000.008.00

A.M. Our friend Rob joined us for a run this morning. He ran 3.5 miles. Joseph and Jacob did 1, William 0.5, Benjamin 5, Jenny 3, Julia 2. It appears that the threat of a fever is over. I still have some congestion and rough voice, but no coughing and no fever. So I am going to the marathon.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 8.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
2.000.000.000.002.00

A.M. Trip to the race. Flew the "private jet" from Provo to Denver, then on to Nashville. Too bad Frontier is ending Sasha's private jet service in January, but to compensate Allegiant will now be flying on Monday and Fridays to Mesa, and according to the TSA agent I talked to, there are negotiations with other airlines to have daily flights. 

From Nashville I rented a car (Kia Rio) for $22 a day total with tax which I really liked. It drove very smoothly and 90 mph happened when I was not paying attention. I am used to driving older cars that have to be pushed pretty hard to go 80, and you definitely know it. Drove to Decatur and stayed there with Jon and Kelly Elmore.

When I got to Decatur I went for a 2 mile run. The humid air helped my throat feel better. Legs felt good. So I assumed things would go well the next day, but it turned out I made a serious miscalculation. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 2.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Rocket City Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:44:17, Place overall: 9
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
0.8026.220.400.0027.42

A.M. Rocket City Marathon, 2:44:17, 9th place.

This race was an odd experience. Unlike last year I was feeling good at the start and ready to race. I did have a sore throat and some nose congestion, but it was not affecting my energy levels, and I thought I could run well at least for the first 10 miles or so. What I underestimated was the degree to which I was susceptible to humidity. The temperatures started at 60 F and climbed into 70 F towards the end of the race, but that alone did not bother me. I felt that I could have handled a warmer temperature just fine. But I just could not breathe. To make things worse, I could not quite figure out what was going on for a while and that gave me a good scare.

I do not have the time for mile by mile report, plus I think for this race mile by mile detail is not going to have a lot of value, so I'll be more general.

We went out as a large pack at a pace that felt slow, but I thought being at a lower elevation this should have given us around 5:50-5:55. It was 6:11. I wondered maybe if the mile marker was misplaced. Next mile was 6:00, it felt harder, a bit too aggressive in fact, and at that point I knew something was up. The pace increased in the next mile which had some downhill and the split was 5:36. It felt super aggressive, completely unsustainable, but I went with it anyway in hopes that maybe I am just not warmed up, and a little surge could wake me up and get me going. But I quickly realized I needed to slow down, which I did, losing contact with the lead pack forever.

I made it to 5 miles in 29:54. That was very much not a good sign. I could not understand this. This had never happened to me. I was not feeling weak. Nothing was really hurting out of the ordinary except 6:00 pace felt faster than what I could have run for a half-marathon try as I might. I've had nightmares like that, but never in real life. Just on Tuesday I ran quite comfortably for 1.5 miles on a net uphill at 5:38 average alone at 4700 feet elevation wearing tights and a jacket. How could it have felt more sustainable than 5:55 at essentially sea level elevation wearing shorts and running with a pack? Am I just getting old? Well, yes, but not that fast. Is there something wrong with my heart with this being the only symptom? If I am feeling this way this early, what is going to happen when I get to 20 miles? Am I going to live? Will I be buried in Alabama? Should I drop out before it is too late?

I reviewed my personal dropping out policy. If I take a comp from a race director I owe him to finish the race unless I feel that there is a serious threat to my health. I did have a case for my health. However, the only symptom was that perceived effort did not produce the expected pace. Otherwise I felt just fine. I decided to keep running until other symptoms appeared. They never did. The problem was not my health or lack of fitness. It was the lack of being used to high humidity. I had not raced when it was this warm and this humid for a very long time - probably over 20 years. This made me too scared to breathe like I ought to so I was not getting adequate amounts of oxygen. This shifted the pace spectrum by about 20 seconds per mile. But I did not quite understand this until the last 6 miles. So I ran most of my 57th or so marathon, in spite of all of the experience, completely perplexed, somewhat panicked, and rather discouraged.  It was a trial of faith.

My 10 mile split was 1:00:24. I got passed by Patrick Whitehead around 6 miles or so, tried to latch on, but for the life of me could not. At around 9.5 we got onto a road that was straight and open to the wind blowing in the wrong direction. Things were bad enough already, however, and the wind could not have made them much worse. I suppose it could, but it did not. Around mile 12 I got passed by a group of 3 runners, one of them was John Piggott, do not know who the others were. I again tried to latch on, but could not. My split at the half was 1:20:01, with that :01 to mock my pain. I did surge too to avoid it, but still could not. As far as I recall I have never opened a marathon that slow since 1992. Since coming to the United States up to this point as far as I can remember I started every one of my marathons under 1:19. The second half is a different story, but I have always been able to run a decent first half even in my worst ones. My inability to latch on to the people that passed me going not that fast suggested that I was working at my limit. I have had many races where I felt much more relaxed in the first half, and yet still crashed in the second. With that history, I was plain scared about the future. 2:50 maybe today? There are many things that are much worse than a 2:50 marathon, though. My family is still with me, I can still feed them, we are still all in good health, my children are succeeding in many things. Most important, I have a testimony of Jesus Christ, and so do my wife and children. We know about His plan for us. We have a vision and we are following it. That's what is important. If we have that we can deal with anything. So I can definitely handle a 2:50 marathon that happened for reasons not understood.

I did however notice some positives. My pace was slow, but it was not slowing progressively. Though my spirits were low my energy levels were fine. I just could not run a normal pace for some reason I did not understand at the time. But I could run for I which I decided to be thankful.

My 15 mile split was 1:32:06. No more headwind. Around 18 miles I passed Justin Leach. He was not having a good day, but for a different reason - stomach problems. Almost got lost at one point but did not lose more than 5 seconds on it. My 20 mile split was 2:04:08. I did the math and realized that if I did not lose steam between now and the finish at all it would be 2:44 low. But I thought it was a hypothetical if. Certainly I would lose something, so maybe 2:45 low would be a good optimistic (in these circumstances) goal.

Shortly after mile 20 there was a music station that played some country song performed by a female singer. Right when I was passing it I heard the word "whiskey". I thought - she sings well but she needs to learn about the Word of Wisdom. For the next mile I thought about the entertainment culture in general and realized that in high probability the singer might need to learn about the law of chastity as well. Somehow these thoughts distracted me from the usual matters in that stage of the race and I just ran without fretting about my level of fatigue.

Amazingly with each mile I was hitting splits in the 6:20-6:30 range, which is on track for 40:00 or so in the last 10 K. This cheered me up. Around mile 24 I passed John Piggott back, and shortly after passed Patrick Whitehead. I realized that what I thought was impossible at the half was going to happen - I was on pace for beating my time last year. Now, my last year's time of 2:44:58 is nothing to brag about, it was done after a fever. But it was something to beat, and when you struggle you need to have something to beat, even if it is a standing pole. Patrick to some extent represented me from the last year except I think he was a little slower at the half and he was a little faster at the finish with 2:44:47.

I ended up running the last mile in 6:20 with the last 10 K in 40:09. This is actually the fastest last 10 K I've ever run on this course. My splits by half were 1:20:01/1:24:16 - 4:15 positive split, which is actually strong for me. That is the type of split that, adjusted for the terrain difference, I have historically run in my best marathons. At the end I finally understood the reason for the slow pace. So in spite of a slow time unlike last years I finished the race in good spirits.

Immediately I headed to the car to drive to Nashville to catch my flight. Clocked 3:03:47 from the start of the race to being dressed and having the key in the ignition.

P.M. I certainly thought I was done running for the day, or at least I thought that I deserved to be done running, but I was wrong again. My flight from Nashville to Denver left late. When I got out of the gate in Denver I had only 3 minutes or so to make my connection to Provo, that is 3 minutes to the time the plane is supposed to leave, which is 10 minutes after they close the gate. My legs were sore when I finished the marathon, and they were still sore on the plane. But the thought of all the consequences that missing this connection would bring made me forget about the pain and the post-race fatigue, so praying for mercy because the law of justice had me hopelessly locked out already I dashed from gate A-34 to gate A-64 greedily inhaling the dry air of the airport terminal and wishing I could have breathed like that during the race. It was about 600 meters or so. When I got there they had already closed the gate, but the plane was waiting for me. They took me in through a special exit, and all was well.

 

 

 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 27.42
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Comments(4)
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
0.000.000.000.000.00

Day of rest. Went to church. Afterwards we had a family Christmas party. We did it earlier than normal because Sarah is due around Christmas.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
7.000.000.000.007.00

A.M. Lots of snow today. Ran with Rob and the kids. Total of 7 miles. Benjamin did full 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. Rob ran around 5, I think. We slipped a lot.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 7.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
8.000.000.000.008.00

A.M. More or less a repeat of yesterday except I did 8 miles total. Benjamin did 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. Rob did 4. Even more snow today, sometimes we could not even go 10:00.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 8.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
10.002.000.000.0012.00

A.M. Last night Sarah was feeling nervous about labor and had a hard time falling asleep. So I gave her a math problem to solve. The problem was this. A plane on the 45th parallel starts flying west trying to "catch" the setting sun. How fast does it need to go for the sun to stop setting? She solved it for the case of doing it on the equator ( circumference of the earth/24 = 1035.62 mph), but struggled with the 45th parallel location. So I started explaining the solution. To make long story short all you need to do is multiply the equator speed by the cosine of the parallel, so in this case circumference of the earth/24 * cos(45 degrees), or in other words (40000/1.60934) *(sqrt(2)/2)/24  = 732.29 mph, however I started explaining the proof of that, and she fell soundly asleep within two minutes. 

I felt recovered from the marathon and ran total of 12 today. All of it was with the kids and/or Rob. So Rob ended up doing 4 miles with one of them in 7:36 on hills, Benjamin 7.5, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, and William 0.5. Benjamin and I did a 2 mile tempo down the Provo Canyon. The purpose was to assess the damage. For Benjamin, the loss of fitness after the cold. For me, to verify that the cause of 2:44 in Rocket City was indeed humidity and nothing else, and also to measure the recovery from the marathon.

We went through the first mile in 5:42, and Benjamin was struggling. So we backed off to a little under 6:00 for the next half mile, and then picked it up in the last 0.5 (5:38 pace) to finish 2 miles in 11:29.  It was obvious that Benjamin had suffered significant damage, but on the positive side his fitness was not completely destroyed, and he has made great progress just over the last two weeks. Two weeks ago he struggled at 8:00 pace. Now he can sustain 5:45 over 2 miles.  

I felt great and the entire time wished I could have felt that way just in the first two miles of the marathon then bring the humidity on. This alone would have made me 40 seconds faster :-)

So this run confirmed to me that I am just really really bad at dealing with humidity right now for one reason or another. Maybe it has something to do with that I've had almost zero exposure to humidity over the last 20 years.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.000.000.000.0012.00

A.M. Did 12 total. Most with the kids and Rob. Rob did 4, Benjamin 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
10.800.500.700.0012.00

A.M. 4 with Rob, most of the rest with the kids. Did a couple of pickups. Benjamin did 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. I got 12 total.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
15.000.000.000.0015.00

A.M. Ran with Rob, the kids, and Chad. Total of 15 for me and Chad. Benjamin did 8, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5, Rob 4. There was a lot of snow. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 15.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
0.000.000.000.000.00

Day of rest. Went to church. Today was Sarah's birthday. Jenny and Benjamin made dinner and it was good. Sarah and I got to appreciate what great kids we have.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.000.000.000.0012.00

A.M. 12 total. Ran most of it with the kids. Rob and Brad ran 4.5. Benjamin did 7.5. Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.500.000.000.0012.50

A.M. 12.5 total.  Most of it was with the kids. Benjamin did 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. Benjamin and I found another runner and he joined us. His name is Adam.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.500.000.000.0012.50

A.M. 12.5 total. Most of it with the kids and Rob. Rob did 4. Benjamin did 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.000.000.000.0012.00

A.M. Total of 12. Ran with the kids. Benjamin did 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
10.000.002.000.0012.00

A.M. Total of 12. Most with the kids. Benjamin did 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. Benjamin and I did some pickups. 1 mile up the canyon into a headwind in 5:57, then on the way back 600 with about the same effort in 2:04. Rob ran with us, did 4.5 miles.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
14.000.002.000.0016.00

A.M. Medium long run - 16 miles. Ran with the kids, Chad, and Adam. Benjamin did 8, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 1, William 0.5, Adam and Chad 13. Benjamin, Adam, Chad, and I did a 2 mile tempo down the canyon. The target was 5:40 pace. The road was mostly clear, but there was some snow that got in the way occasionally. Chad was not feeling well and dropped back after the first quarter. Adam and Benjamin seemed to have been handling the pace OK, so I took them through the first mile in 5:31. Then we did a quarter in 82, and I decided it would be nice to break 11:00 for 2 miles. So I cranked it up. This was too much for Adam, but Benjamin handled it more or less OK, though with a groan. Then with 0.5 to go Benjamin started pushing the pace, and with 300 to go he really pushed it to the point where I felt like groaning. Our time for 2 miles was 10:55. Adam got 11:07. Chad coasted to finish in 12:10 or so. So it appears that Benjamin has recovered well from his illness. Adam's performance shows promise - I told him he should be running 1:15 half on the Provo River course by the spring or faster if things go well.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 16.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
0.000.000.000.000.00

Day of rest. Went to church. We had a great Christmas program. While I sat and listened to the music some thoughts and memories came into my mind that I feel are worth sharing. Last night during dinner we were learning Russian. While explaining the Russian word жук which means beetle, I remembered a funny poem that my mom likes to recite while playing chess in the middle of a violent attack about a capitalist beetle and a worker beetle perishing in the class struggle. This time I decided to look up some information about that poem, and with the help of Google quickly found its full text along with the biography of the author. As soon as I read that the author was born in 1898 and died in 1937 in Leningrad I had a suspicion about the cause of his death, and without reading further to confirm it decided it was time to teach Benjamin a history lesson. I told Benjamin what I knew and asked him to guess the most likely cause of his death. With a few hints he got the answer I was looking for - Stalin's purges. Sure enough, further reading confirmed that my suspicion was correct - arrested on November 19, 1937, executed by firing squad on November 24, 1937 for counter-revolutionary activity and being a part of Trotsky plot, pretty much the exact same "crime" for which both of my grandfathers were sent to labor camps in 1938.

It is quite amazing how the ruling system once established is capable of keeping the people under oppression. My mother and my aunt happily recited "We thank comrade Stalin for our happy childhood" while their fathers were in prison for no other cause than being perceived  as capable enough to present a threat to Stalin's rule and their mothers were scrambling to feed the family while living under constant fear of being arrested themselves for their relationship to the "enemy of the people".

So as I sat and listen to Christmas music the life of my grandfathers was on my mind. First of all, I felt extremely thankful for having been born in 1973, having the ability to learn English, and having a talent for programming computers. Then I wondered what I would do if all of a sudden I found myself in the Soviet Union in 1937. At first I felt completely hopeless. Then a few minutes later I remembered meeting a Russian professor of computer science who taught at Weber State back in 1993. He told a story of his daring miraculous escape from the Soviet Union around that time. He found a place to hide under a train and was able to avoid the Soviet border guard checks as the train crossed the border. He eventually made it to the United States where he later joined the LDS church. A remarkable man in many ways, not the least being old enough to be able to tell this story in 1993, and have a mind capable of adapting enough to teach computer science in English.

Being under that train must have been a very intense moment. If you are discovered, you can count on being executed. But on the other hand, if you have a mind that can learn computer science and stay with its rapid development well enough to still teach it professionally 50 years later in a foreign language, under the Stalin's system you are just as doomed as the man found hiding under a train crossing the border. So he took his chances, and he was blessed for his faith.

Thinking about that made me feel thankful again. I had my set of struggles getting to the United States most of which ironically came from the US government, which was acting like it forgot why it was even allowed to exist in the first place, but I did not have to ride under a train. Now that I see that the Lord has blessed me so much, what I am going to do with it. I hope something good.

As these thoughts went through my mind, I reflected on the mercies of the Lord Jesus Christ and His great power to guide and to lift. I thought about the extent of His love for us. Sure there is a reason to rejoice. For a good portion of my life I lived in fear that some tyrant, some murderer, or some tormentor will somehow make my life difficult or perhaps terminate it. When I acquired faith in Christ, I realized that I did not need to worry about that at all. Evil men can kill the body, but they have no power over the spirit, and it is the condition of the spirit that will matter in the end. And there is only one person who has the final say in where my spirit is going to end up, and it is myself. The only thing that can ruin me in the long run is my sins. God will not judge me for the things I do not choose. What a liberating realization that was.  

 

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 10.00
Comments(1)
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.000.000.000.0012.00

A.M. Ran with the kids, Rob, and Adam. Total of 12 miles. Benjamin did 8.5, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1. William 0.5. One slippery run, I fell down several times, but it all ended well - no injuries, not even scrapes as the snow was soft.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.000.000.000.0012.00

A.M. 12 miles total. Most of it with the kids.Benjamin did 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. Today is the day we officially remember the birth of Christ. There must be a reason why we count the time from the year He was born, even though this happened more than 2000 years ago, and I want to bear my witness that it is not just a tradition. He did something that is worth remembering for this long and much longer - He paid for our sins. When we realize what those sins do to us, and that we cannot go through life without at least some, we will know why that is a big deal to have those sins atoned for. Merry Christmas to all.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
8.000.000.000.008.00

A.M. Matthew Alexander Pachev was born this morning at 7:49 AM at our home. Sarah had the first contraction of significance at 4:30 AM. So it was a relatively fast labor. Everything was normal up until she started pushing him out. With just a little bit left to go we had a little scare - our midwife Cathy and her helper were not picking up the heart beat on their monitor. So they gave Sarah the oxygen and told her to push as hard as she could as she coached her through it. I got to witness the zeal of a tiger mother when the feels the life of her baby is in danger. Matthew soon came out, and with a little bit of help started breathing normally. Later Cathy told us about a delivery she was a part of where they could not register the heart beat for 45 minutes. This one required a transport to the hospital, but it all ended well - the baby came out healthy. Cathy has a great record - out of more than 1,000 home deliveries with all kinds of unexpected turns all of them resulted in live birth, and very few required hospital transport. After watching her tackle this problem today I have to say this is not just luck.

 Matthew was 20.25 inches tall and weighed 7 lb. Two minutes after his birth Sarah's phone started playing Called To Serve. This is her default ringtone which helps her not get annoyed when the phone rings at a bad time. This time, however, Called To Serve had a different meaning. It was her running partner Shelly calling to see if she could take the kids.

 Benjamin, Jenny and Julia took care of Joseph, Jacob, William and Stephen in the meantime. They were so organized that we never even knew they were in the house. Once we were ready for them, we invited them in to see their new brother. Afterwards Benjamin took his siblings on their runs while I stayed with Sarah to make sure she was OK. He did 7 miles himself, Jenny did 3, Julia 2, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. Benjamin even ran a little bit with Stephen.

Then Benjamin and I traded places. He stayed with his mother to make sure was was OK while I ran 8 miles. The road conditions were very difficult today. It took me 1:06:04 to run 8 miles. On the positive side, I scored zero falls which is better than the last few runs. This run put my current pair of Crocs over 2000 miles.

Matthew 1 Matthew 2

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 8.00
Night Sleep Time: 5.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 5.00
Comments(18)
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
13.500.000.000.0013.50

A.M. Ran with the kids. There was a lot of snow. Our usual route was not passable. We ran on the streets. Jenny and Joseph did 2, Jacob 1, Julia 3.5, Benjamin 7, William 0.5. I ended up with 13.5 total.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 13.50
Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
10.500.000.000.0010.50

A.M. Total of 10.5. I am cutting the mileage a bit to deal with the lack of sleep with Matthew waking up, and also with having to do more around the house. Golden but often forgotten principle of training is that when your recovery is reduced, you must reduce the stress. William did 0.5, Jacob 1, Joseph 2, Jenny and Julia 3, Benjamin 6.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 10.50
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.000.000.000.0012.00

A.M. 12 miles total. All with the kids. William did 0.5, Jacob 1, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Benjamin 8.5. Benjamin and I actually managed sub-8:00 average in spite of the snow and ice.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
0.000.000.000.000.00

Day of rest. Went to church. The sacrament meeting talks were on missionary work. One of the speakers was raised in the family of 9 children and he was the youngest. He had served a mission in Chile. Sarah and Matthew stayed home, the other children came with me. They behaved perfectly - I did not have to do anything to keep them quiet. Joseph and Jacob without any promptings opened the hymn books, found the hymns and were singing them. Afterwards a sister in our ward asked about the secret of getting them to behave. My immediate answer was home school and daily scripture study. To this I would add a general approach that removes bad influences from the home - no video games, no mainstream TV, no "not that bad" much less just plain bad movies, no music of the telestial kingdom,. no other forms of dumb entertainment. On the "do" side, in addition to regular scripture study and prayer, plenty of academic instruction, rigorous physical activity (running), and chess.

Later I wondered about our culture where it is OK to say that N kids (with N >=5)  is too many, but it is not OK to say that M kids ( M <= 2) is too few. If N is too many, which one of them do you send back? 

Sarah often comes home from a shopping trip and says how she does not like it when people tell her that her hands are full. I suggested she should answer - yours are empty, why don't you come and help me? 

 

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Comments(1)
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.000.000.000.0012.00

A.M. 12 total. Most with the kids. Benjamin did 7, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. Benjamin and I spoke Russian for the entire 56 minutes of the run. He is getting a lot better.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
268.3028.7210.900.00307.92
Green Crocs 4 Miles: 307.92
Night Sleep Time: 206.50Nap Time: 5.50Total Sleep Time: 212.00
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