Breaking the Wall

Week starting Jan 24, 2010

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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: 188.26 Year: 188.26
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: 1359.62
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Water Clogs 2 Miles: 69.05Water Clogs 3 Miles: 2.75
Night Sleep Time: 47.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 48.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. We had good talks and lessons. The talks in the Sacrament meeting were on missionary work. The lesson in Sunday School was on agency. One brother shared a funny missionary story. They visited a man who claimed affiliation with the Southern Baptist Church. The discussion turned to the doctrine of salvation by grace and the role of works. The LDS missionaries stated that faith without works was dead. The man said it was false, grace alone was sufficient with no works required. The missionaries showed him a passage in his Bible (James 1:17-20) that backed up their point. The man got angry and ripped that page out of his Bible.

Interestingly enough, the lesson in the Elder's Quorum was on anger. The teacher shared an experience he had trying to control his anger when his computer got infected with a virus when his wife clicked on a box that said the computer was infected and offered to download and run a "cleaning tool", which "cleaning tool" was in fact a virus. One brother, a black convert from New York, raised his hand and said - "That's nothing, a friend of mine had a similar problem with his computer, and he got so angry that he smashed his $1000 laptop in pieces!"

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.2 in 1:18:33. The trail was covered with snow for the most part, but there were some clear patches. Did pickups where I could, total of about 0.75 of them at around 4:50 pace.

On the biomechanics battle front over the course of the last week was able to work out the trigger points in what I think is pectineus (I am still quite a newbie when it comes to identifying muscles by feel), and discovered a nasty trigger point in a larger and lower hip adductor.  Have been working on it. Need to have the faith and the patience.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:44. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:28. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:33. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:29.

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 12.95
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. Met him on the trail. It snowed a lot, so the pace was very slow. On the way back to the house saw a runner, turned around and ran with him. His name is Kevin Ellsworth, and it turned out that he actually was a Lost Sheep. Ended up with around 15 miles in 2:07.

Jenny ran 2.5 with Sarah. 

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:57. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 12:46. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:36, 0.25 with Jacob in 2:28.

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 17.75
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Jeff and I were both asleep. Met him on the trail. 10.15 in 1:22:01. Did a little pickup at the end at 5:50 pace to wake up.

Found a lose bull on the trail. He broke through the fence and got out. He did not try to attack us, but we turned around early and then added on just to be safe. This is the first time in 25 years that I can remember I have ever modified my running course due to a threat from an animal.

P.M. Ran 2 in 18:37. First 0.5 with Benjamin and Jenny. Then Julia joined us but she had scraped some skin off her foot in a playing accident, and could not go very fast. So I told Benjamin and Jenny to pick it up. Benjamin took off with 0.75 to go, Jenny with 0.3 to go. Benjamin ran 17:11, Jenny 18:00. I stayed with Julia. 

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 12.90
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Met Jeff on the trail. 10.1 in 1:18:58. We did a 0.5 pickup up about 0.5% grade in 2:43 (84,79). It felt easier than I expected. The magic right adductor (adductor brevis, adductor longus, portion of adductor magnus?) seems to be making small progress, but is still "trigger-pointy" and the form still feels ugly.  I have been scraping it and finally got some red spots to come up, which is encouraging. 

So far I've had success removing trigger points and improving the range of motion without stretching in the upper back and in the pectineus. No improvement in the form, though, still ugly. However, what is important is that I am learning how to fix muscles. One step at a time, lots of trial, lots of error, finally success.

I should know something about trial and error. Dealing with errors is the life of a computer programmer. Most of the time you test your work you get an error. Then you fix it, and run into another. A programmer without errors in his life is like fish out of water. Good programmers learn to love errors. If they do not, their job satisfaction greatly decreases, and they get "promoted" into management. I had a co-worker once that often answered the phone with "What's the error?", and would comment after a successful run of ping: "Host is alive error".

So errors are good. Lots of error, then finally success. You appreciate it more. 

Jenny ran 2.5 with Sarah. 

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:46. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:05. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:37. Spaced out Jacob's run because he was asleep at the time when I ran with the other kids, and I forgot to go with him later. 

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 12.60
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.1 in 1:17:59. Met Jeff on the trail. We moved a bit quicker today, but still pretty slow. Did a form evaluation pickup for about 0.2 at around 5:50 pace. According to Jeff the form looked stiff at first, but then better later on. We also did a 0.5 pickup up about 0.5% grade in 2:33.9 even splitting it. It felt better than I thought it would. The plan was only 5:30 pace.

Jenny ran 2.5 with Sarah. 

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:49. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 12:58. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:15. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:15, his new record.

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 12.85
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 15.2 with Jeff in 1:51:14. Did a ladder in the middle. 800 in 2:20.1 (68,72), 1000 jog, 600 in 1:45.5, 800 jog, 400 67.6, 600 jog, 200 30.8. The jogging was done at around 9:30 pace.

The temperature was 18 F, and I was wearing  tights, jacket, hat and gloves. Not the best conditions for this type of workout by far. I was surprised that I was able to hit those times. Given the conditions and my lack of middle-distance training in the last 8 months I optimistically hoped for 2:24 - 1:48 - 70 - 32. So when Jeff opened with a 33 200 in the 800 repeat I warned him. It took him a while to settle down (thus 2:20 split), but I handled it OK. Did not feel a huge anaerobic bear, and did not want to feel it because I still had the rest of the workout in front of me. So I was content to hit the second quarter at target pace.

I was also happy with how the rest of the work went. The times demonstrated that the 2:20 800 opener did not quite put me at my limit. This is significant. My all time 800 PR is 2:12 on the track in perfect conditions at the age of 18 after six months of focused middle-distance training. So to run 2:20 in 18 F in winter gear on the road with no middle-distance conditioning except 5x400 two weeks ago in the last 8 months and live to do the rest of the workout respectably means something good had happened.  

What is interesting is that I never felt my legs powered hard enough to merit going this fast. The form felt loosened up, there was less resistance, but I did not have more power. 

I am very encouraged by this development. I have spent the last 10 years looking for a structural improvement, and have never had a workout or a race where I could even suspect a measure of success from my structural efforts. "Structural" = "not related to leg power or endurance", e.g. improving posture, flexiblity, re-activating a deactivated muscle, etc. Improvements came mostly from the increased aerobic power and better health. I ran more miles, I ran more of them at race pace, I did brutal workouts, I cleaned up my already clean diet, I slept more. It helped me achieve a measure of success, but I was up against a wall because I had reached the limit of those methods, or at least was very close.

I knew that if I were to reach my goals, I needed to find a structural breakthrough. I had hopes that the medical profession would have the answers, but not before long it became clear to me that if it did the answer was hidden far away, each step in the search cost money and time, and I did not have either one to look for the answer using this route. So my only hope was, to quote a Primary song our children sing in church,  "search, ponder, and pray".

Finally after 10 years of discouraging struggles today I saw a dim glimmer of light from the depths of the dark and never ending tunnel that winds around being good but not that good of a runner in hopelessly perpetual circles. Finally something I did in the structural department produced the results that I consider positive, pointing at the possibility that I may be going in the right direction. It was the trigger point massage and scraping of the Magic Adductor. Medically I still do not quite know what I am doing. In fact, I cannot even tell which adductor my Magic Adductor is, Longus, Brevis, or Magnus, or if it is a combination of those. I have been going by feel asking the Lord every day to give me inspiration and then paying close attention to the body signals as I would go through the trouble area. 

It was an exciting moment for me today. It was nice to receive a small assurance that I am somewhat close to the right track. 

P.M. 2 with Benjamin and Jenny in 17:29. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:31. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:51. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:49. 


Water Clogs 3 Miles: 2.75
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Water Clogs 2 Miles: 69.05Water Clogs 3 Miles: 2.75
Night Sleep Time: 47.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 48.00
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