Breaking the Wall

Del Sol Relay

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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 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: 141.72 Year: 762.89
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: 987.95
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 1529.15
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 24.99Nap Time: 2.52Total Sleep Time: 27.51
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Got good sleep. Went to church. Visited a family I home teach. Took a nap.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 10.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 4 with Ted and Hyrum in 34:39, another 2 with Ted in 16:02, then 10.1 by myself in 1:06:09. It was raining, and the rain was cold, and I was alone, so I picked up the pace to get warm, and then just could not slow down. Ran into Matt with 1.5 to go, and ran with him for a mile as well. Total time for 16.1 was 1:56:50. Hyrum did better than I thought he would after a break of over a year. Ted was alive as well, that is a good sign.

P.M 2 with Benjamin in 15:55, 1.5 with Jenny in 12:53, 1 with Julia in 11:13.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Started the run with Ted and Josse. Had 2 VPB stops, that gave me some pace at threshold catching up. Timed 700 meters of it - 2:23, almost 5:20 pace. Started out with a 1:03 300, and then eased into 5:20 pace for the remainder. Was happy to see that 5:20 pace came to the surface fairly quickly and painlessly at 6:00 AM in the dark on a somewhat slippery surface. Was originally planning on doing strides, but figured this was good enough - all strides combined into one segment. The pace eventually progressed to a bit faster than 8:00. Dropped Ted off at 6, Josse at 10. Eventually eased into sub-7:00 pace, which soon became 6:40. Then after another VPB the rhythm was broken and 6:50 was what felt natural. Ended up with 1:51:46 for 15 miles. Looking forward to Del Sol. No wrong turns this time, no more people getting sick or injured. Everybody wash your hands, stay away from sick people as much as you can, sleep well, and do not do anything stupid. I hope I can follow my own advice.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:45, 1.5 with Jenny in 12:46, 1 with Julia in 10:38.

Night Sleep Time: 0.12Nap Time: 0.02Total Sleep Time: 0.15
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.1 with newly married Jeff. Started out slow, took 3.5 miles to catch the 8:00 guy. Then woke up and went slightly sub-6:40 pace in the last 4 miles, last 0.5 in 3:02. Total time was 1:12:38. Jeff's car decided to give him a wedding present. Refused to go even after a jump start, so it is sitting in front of our house right now waiting to be taken to Computune.

P.M. Took Zhu to Jeff's house so he and his wife would have a car at least while we are gone. Brought Benjamin, Jacob, and the stroller with me. Ran 2.03 with Benjamin running, and Jacob in the stroller in 15:47. Then put Benjamin on a bike, and ran 5 miles in 37:10 pushing Jacob in the stroller with Benjamin on a bike. Then 1.5 with Jenny, no stroller, in 12:53, 0.5 alone in 3:29, and 1 with Julia in 10:29.

Night Sleep Time: 0.11Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.11
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Traveling to Mesa for the Del Sol relay. 1 mile with Benjamin and Jenny in  Kingman, AZ. Then 0.5 with Jenny in 4:21, followed by 1 mile with James W and Benjamin in 7:55. Then 7.03 with James with two 0.25 pickups at 5:10 pace. Felt good and ready to go.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Del Sol Relay (181.7 Miles) 17:04:37, Place overall: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Easy 6 with James W, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny, additional 0.5 with Benjamin, and 1 mile with Julia.

P.M. Brief report, more details when I have time. Ran Leg 10 of Del Sol (7.4) in 42:20, average pace technically 5:43, but with adventures.

Now details. Our team was as follows in leg order: Van 1 - Dave Holt, Logan Fielding, Nick McCombs, Clyde Behunin, and James Barnes with Steve Hooper driving. Van 2 - Adam Wende, Ted Leblow, Kory Wheatley, myself, Jeff Shadley, and Steve Ashbaker (the Air Darkhorse).

Google was supposedly the team to beat, but after checking their performance history in other relays, I knew that they would not be breaking 6:00 average by much if at all. Barring an exceptionally catastrophic event, our team should not have had a problem outperforming this. I was more concerned about some Arizona running store bringing current and post-collegiate runners together. We did, however, consider putting on our van to taunt our competition, but it was a last minute thought and we lacked the materials. Apparently, according to one of our team members who talked with Google, they indeed had done the above search and knew they were in trouble.

I considered beating Google by a lot one of the main reasons for coming to the race. Why? There was a mission to accomplish. I want to see the US companies to start following the pattern of the Japanese corporations. I want to see strong corporate teams where winning a race is a matter of importance to a corporation enough to actually do something about nurturing the runners. From what I've observed about Google, of all the US companies they appear to be one of the most open to the idea of promoting the company by winning a race. Most corporations spend millions on maintaining their public image but are perfectly content to send a team that will not break 8:00 average pace. Google is different. They care. At least some people inside the company do. I wanted them to seriously ask this question - How in the world are these guys from Utah and Idaho manage to beat us so bad? What do we need to do to beat them next time?

However, beating Google would not have quite done the job had we not won the race outright. After the first leg, we saw that this would not be easy. Although we had no problem separating ourselves from Google as I expected, The Running Shop team from Tuscan was strong. Their runner finished together with Dave. Logan opened a 1:30 gap on his leg, then Nick increased it to 3:42, and Clyde to 4:19. Walter increased it further to 4:27, and then James to over 5 minutes in spite of being sick.

Van 2 took over. Adam ran strong ahead of his projection, Ted and Kory ran strong as well. We were not timing the gap any more as we could not afford to wait. My leg was interesting. I was projected to run 5:28 pace for 7.4 miles on rollers with a net elevation gain which I felt was a bit overoptimistic for a number of reasons. Nevertheless I should have been close. The leg started with 1.5 miles of 2% grade uphill and a steady headwind. I had forgotten by GPS at James and Lybi's house and borrowed one from Adam. Unfortunately, it did not start right away when I pressed the button. However, about a quarter into my leg I got it started for real. I was running a steady 5:50 pace in the initial section. Then I hit a 1:18 quarter on a short downhill, and settled into 1:22 - 1:24 quarters once there was no headwind. Had a hard time hitting my true threshold in the dark and at this late hour (11 pm). Had an adventure with about a mile to go. My flashlight fell off. It took me a few seconds to realize it was gone. I figured losing a few seconds by going back to get the light would be better than losing the light and possibly getting our team DQ'ed on top of it for running without the light. So I went back and got it. I do not know exactly how much I've lost on it, Adam probably could figure it out since it is on his GPS. My overall time was 42:20, 5:43 average assuming the leg was indeed 7.4. I do remember that the GPS had an auto-pause, and afterwards was showing 5:36 pace average for the timed portion of my run (7.15). So the leg could have been a bit longer than 7.4 as well. I ended up being 1:42 slower than the projection, and Jason from the Running Shop gained 2:35 on me.

To add injury to insult, once I got in the van I realized that my cell phone was gone, and we could not possibly go back to get it. Fortunately, I knew that most likely it went down at the same place as the flash light, and we could figure out exactly where later from the GPS.

Jeff and Steve ran very strong on their legs and more than made up for my adventures. We handed off to Van 1 with 7:48 gap on the Running Shop.


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

A.M. Brief report, details when I have time. Leg 22 of Del Sol in 17:30, GPS measured at 3.37, 5:11.57 avg. pace. Then later leg 34 (GPS measured 6.17) in 33:58, 5:30.31 avg, severe nervous system fatigue in the last 3 miles - no surprise, though, since I got zero sleep and the leg was at 9:45 AM. Our team won by almost 42 minutes though, with the average pace of 5:38.34, which would have been good enough to make top 5 in Hood to Coast.

Now more details. Van 1 ran very well, featuring Logan's 4:55 average over 7 downhill miles which alone increased the gap by 4 minutes. Adam received the baton about 17:30 ahead of the Running Shop and attacked his leg with the typical Adam fury. Ted did very well on his leg, and handed to Kory, who ran ahead of schedule as well. Then it was my turn.

I was angry for two reasons. I was upset about the mishaps on my first leg and wanted to redeem myself. And I knew that the only way I could run half way decent at 4:45 AM after not sleeping all night would be by getting productively angry. I have a hard time with that. I have no problem getting emotionally upset, but I do have a difficulty becoming upset in a way that gives me a sustained increase in muscular power output. So I tried to get as mad I as I could about what happened earlier in hopes of channeling the energy into running performance, and it did work to an extent. I ran 4:50 pace on the downhill portion (about 3%), and then once it flattened out I slowed down to around 5:20. 17:30 for the leg, gapped Jason by 10 seconds, was happy with the effort.

Jeff ran strong on his leg, then handed off to Steve. Steve was running angry as well, and beat his predicted pace. We increased the gap to 21:56 before handing off to Van 2.

By that time we had passed most of the teams that started earlier which I was happy about for two reasons. No traffic jam to worry about near Saguaro Lake, and the pristinely clean port-a-potties up ahead.

Van 2 was mostly on schedule, although the fatigue began to take its toll on some runners, and they were a minute or two off on their legs, but I was expecting that. Paul's spreadsheet does not account for the sleep deprivation fatigue, so you should always add 10-20 seconds a mile on the third set of legs. Nick and Logan did not skip a beat though, and were right on schedule. I suppose some runners handle the relay sleep situation better than others, we need to make a note of that and give them longer legs at the end in the future.

Adam was wound up for his third leg. He ran great up the hill and was still ahead of schedule on the Ragnar of Del Sol in spite of being on the third leg. We asked Van 2 to stay around to time the gap, and I became very concerned when I saw them drive by 24 minutes into Adam's leg. Then I realized that due to the dynamics of the race, it was more likely that they just got tired of waiting and took off.

Ted got a decent time on his leg, then Kory survived his. He was struggling with neural fatigue, but still ran decent, and handed off to me. My leg was a steady 1% grade downhill, 6.1 miles of it. The temperatures got up to over 70 F, but that was not a big problem. The heat did not bother me very much. I ran the first mile in 5:13, followed by 5:18. A bit slower than the projected 5:11 pace, but still acceptable. My teammates sang me BINGO, controlled the lights at the intersections, and handed me water. Sarah and Lybi came to cheer as well with all of the kids.

The real trouble started on the third mile. The neural fatigue was reaching the levels above my ability to fight it. I ran a 5:32, followed by 5:38, and a 5:44. What a joke! This is on a downhill at near sea-level altitude. This reminded me of the important role that the nervous system plays at speeds 5:20 or faster. If it gives out, it does not matter how fit you are, you are going to be stuck around 5:40 pace. I mustered all of my strength and managed a 5:34 mile, plus a semblance of a kick for the remaining 0.17 to finish in 33:58, 46 seconds slower than Jason even though he had lost some time at a light. I am sure glad my teammates brought the baton far ahead enough to where this did not really matter.

Jeff ran very well, and even had a little experience with a couple of dogs, then handed off to Steve. We did our best to control the lights and direct Steve to make sure he did not get lost, as his leg had a lot of turns, and was not properly marked in some places. At the end we all jumped out of the van and finished with Steve. In spite of our big lead he pressed hard to the very end and made all of us work to keep up. 17:04:37 at the finish, a win by 41:58 over the Running Shop, and 1:45:24 over Google.

Immediately afterwards we all went to James and Lybi's house for lunch. We downloaded my route of leg 10 from Adam's GPS, researched it, identified the location where my cell phone was dropped, entered the coordinates into my GPS, got directions to it from Google maps (it was a 61 mile drive one way), and I went geo-caching. I had never geo-cached before like this - a night with no sleep, three legs of a relay in the meantime, no nap, and straight down to business to find something I actually needed very much as opposed to something useless in regular geo-caching. The treasure hunt was successful. My Garmin led me right to my cell phone. Wonders of technology!

P.M. 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny, and 0.5 more with Jeff Shadley and Benjamin. Went to the awards ceremony. It was a bit of a bummer. The results got messed up, and we got nothing more than a set batons, while Google got a treadmill for winning the corporate division. Our 5:38 per mile average and an outright win by quite a margin unfortunately did not get a fair amount of attention in the announcements. At least we got some publicity from passing a multitude of teams and actively recruiting people for the blog at every opportunity. Google got to see the power of the Fast Running Blog in action. And I wonder what we would do with the treadmill if there was one for us anyway.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 1.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 24.99Nap Time: 2.52Total Sleep Time: 27.51
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