Breaking the Wall

Week starting Feb 26, 2006

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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: 104.81 Year: 750.54
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 120.59
Red Crocs Lifetime Miles: 1909.35
Brown Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 280.91
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Tempo run with Steve Ashbaker today in the Provo Canyon. We did 2 repetions of 3 miles downhill starting at Nunns park and finishing at the mouth of the Provo Canyon. Steve had already run 5 miles in the morning and was feeling tired. We decided to do the first one at 5:30 pace trading leads every minute.

5:21 for the first mile. Steve asked me if I minded if we slowed down. I agreed. Our next mile was 5:16. So much for slowing down. On the last one we picked it up to 5:08 to hit 15:45 for the total. Not bad especially with the head wind.

Then we jogged back to the start again. Turned out Steve did not realize we were doing another repetition. Since he was already feeling out of gas, we decided to go easy on the second one, and we sure did. 5:42 for the first mile. It felt so good.

When Steve heard the split, he picked it up a bit during his turns, and I responded with the same on mine. Second mile in 5:24. The pace kept slighly creeping up. This makes me think of a passage in the Book of Mormon: " And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." (2 Nephi 28:21).

I had only hoped for a sub 5:20 last mile. However with a quarter to go I realized that if we did it in 74, our average for both tempo runs would be 5:20 per mile. It was my turn to lead. We ran it in 73 to give us 5:08 for the last mile, and 16:14 for the total.

Then Sarah came with the kids to the park and brought us some fruit. I ran another mile with Benjamin and Jennifer.

Afterwards, Steve came to our house, had dinner with us, and we set up his blog.

With the "always on the run" miles, the total mileage for the day was 15.

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Easy run with Eric and George this morning. Did 5x400 at about 5:40 pace on average. Eric did 2, then we dropped him off, and George did the rest. Had a nice conversation about benefits of healthy eating and proper money management. The total length of the morning run was 10 miles.

Sarah had an ultra-sound today. We found out it is going to be a boy, and she is due on July 16. While we were waiting, Benjamin and I went for a 1 mile run.

Later in the day, took Jennifer and Julia for a mile. Julia ran 1000 m, then we put her in a stroller. Then Jennifer picked up the pace and set a record for 400 m - 2:00. I jogged another mile later in the evening to make the total 13 miles for the day.

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Speed workout in the Provo Canyon today. 12x400 starting at the Canyon Glen Park downhill with 200 m recovery jogging back up after each interval. With a moderate tailwind I was able to average 66.6. The slowest repetion was 67.7, while the fastest was 65.5 (the last). The first two were 65.6 and 65.9. I think there is a bit more downhill on that section and the tailwind was a bit stronger. I do not think there was any tailwind on the slowest repetition - at least I felt no headwind jogging back after doing it. That is the fastest I've ever been able to do this workout, even with tailwind. During the warmup I jogged with a runner named Gary who is also a computer programmer. I was also fortunate to find a partner for my cooldown - Sam, a UVSC student who is also participating in the ROTC program. In both cases we had a nice chat. After the cooldown, Sarah came with the kids. I ran another mile with Benjamin in 8:41, while Sarah ran with Jennifer. Then I taught Benjamin to ride a bike while Sarah finished the rest of her run. With the "always on the run" miles the total mileage was 13.5 for the day. The form during the intervals felt more relaxed and coherent. I felt that my muscles were working in harmony more than they normally do. I felt I was able to run with a very wide relaxed stride like I did when I was 13. Here is what I find interesting. Back in Russia they often tested us on a ten-fold broad jump - maximum distance in ten steps from a standing start going from one foot to the other and landing into a pit. They do have correlational chart the data that ties the jump to other metrics. Look for the second table. The Russian term for the the ten-fold jump is Десятерной прыжок. If you see Бег and then a number, it is running that distance in meters. When I was 13, I ran 60 meters in 9.3 and jumped 21.50 meters. According to the chart, my jump corresponds to 9.0, which is a little faster, but still within the allowable range. I could run 200 in 30.7. The chart does not have a 200, but it does 300. I am fairly confident I could have run 300 in 48.0 at that time. My stride felt relaxed. Now at the age of 17 I jumped 27.50 meters. However, my best 200 meters was 27.5. This would convert to about 13.9 in 100 meters. The chart shows that with that kind of a jump I ought to be able to sprint much faster - 11.9. My stride was not relaxed any more - it felt very tense. I have not been able to fix it since. I noticed that there is a way to relax my stride - run with reduced resistance - eg. downhill and with a tailwind. If I train like this for a while, I start getting better results even in regular or high resistance running - flat/still air or uphill/headwind. However, training with high resistance makes me tense up, and although I get stronger, my form gets so bad that I start running slower either with high or low resistance.

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Ran with George this morning. Eric was out of town. We did 6x400 on the Slate Canyon loop. George is getting faster. He averaged 1:20 on the first 5 which we did downhill. Then the last one was flat. He managed 1:25. What I am particularly happy about is that he is holding his ground throughout the whole interval which he could not do before. So far it looks like George is the type that responds better to intervals than to slow jogging or tempo runs. Total length of the morning run was 10 miles as usual.

In the afternoon and evening did my usual "always on the run" miles, and ran with Benjamin and Jennifer. Jennifer set her mile record today of 9:31. When we started out it looked like it was going to be a regular run. 1:25 for the first 200. Then Jennifer got excited and started pushing the pace. Benjamin took my suggestion to be a gentleman and break the wind for his little sister. Not only did he break the wind, but he also pushed the pace. 2:40 for the 400, 3:50 at 600, and 5:01 at the turnaround.

After the turnaround Jennifer complained the pace was too fast. We slowed down to a 10:00 pace for the next quarter to give her a break. 7:31 with a quarter to go. I thought she was going to do another quarter at 10:00 pace, which with a bit of a kick would give her a respectable sub-10:00. A record was clearly out of the question - she would have had to repeat a PR on a quarter to get it.

Well, little Jennifer is a feisty creature and she got excited again. To my amazement she accelerated to a 2:00 last quarter to break her 1 mile PR by 1 second. Go Jenny!!!

What is even better is that Benjamin and Jennifer have not been getting along all day long. After the run, Jennifer thanked Benjamin for breaking the wind for her, and they hugged each other.

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Started the day with a 1 mile jog. Another 2 mile jog in the early afternoon. Met George on accident. He was also doing his "always on the run". Looks like this is becoming a fashion.

Took Benjamin and Jennifer for their run in the late afternoon, and then started my real run. Did 3 miles with a babyjogger. First Benjamin really wanted to get a rock half a mile away from the house, but did not want to run another mile. Then Julia needed to be taken away from the house for a few minutes while Sarah did the clean up after dinner. The combination of headwind, 33 pounds of weight in the stroller, and a flat tire gave me a good chance to practice correct form in high resistance running. I focused on engaging the hamstring and the glut earlier during ground contact, really trying to feel the impact in the glut.

Then it was time to do some fast running. First, half a mile into a headwind in 2:43. Again practice correct form in high-resistance running. A couple of miles of jogging, and now the same stretch backwards. I got to half-mile mark in 2:39, and was feeling good, so I decided to keep going and add a downhill quarter with the same effort. 3:55 for 0.75 mile.

Another 0.75 jogging to cool down. As soon as I got back to the house I found a bunch of kids buying Sarah's healthy ice cream. They started asking me questions about running. One kid by the name of Curtis wanted to know his top running speed . I ended up taking all of them and having them sprint 100 meters. Curtis ran 17.7 (he is 11 years old). Benjamin set his PR of 21.2, and another 8-year-old girl got the same time as Benjamin. Other kids either did not try hard enough, or maybe were extremely out of shape - they could not break 25. I ended up running a total of about half a mile with them. Total of 13.5 for the day.

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Started the morning with a 1 mile jog. Later in the afternoon went for a 10 flat mile tempo run on the Provo River Trail. Again, the same course as two weeks ago. Start at Geneva Road parking lot, 2.5 miles out to the Utah Lake parking lot, 2.5 back, repeat. First 7.5 at marathon pace effort, last 2.5 give it all I got. First 2.5 in 14:23, 14:25 on the way back, which gave me 28:48 on the way back. Another 2.5 in 14:22 to hit 7.5 in 43:10. Focus on the form. Try to engage the glut and the hamstring early and feel relaxed. Avoid putting all of the weight on the quads. No matter how hard I tried, I still did not quite feel the ground with my gluts as I would like to. I can feel it a lot better when hopping from one leg to the other, which I suppose is the reason I perform out of my range for my running speed in this type of a jump. But nevertheless, the quads did seem to feel a bit more relaxed that two weeks ago. I was anxious for the fast part to see if there was any substance to this perception. Now the fast part comes, and it feels hard. I am reaching out for something I do not have. The words of a church hymn come to mind: Oh, My Father, Thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place, When shall I regain thy presence and again behold thy face?. The meaning is both divine and humorous. I am reaching out past my limits and desire to be where I am not. At the same time, the pain from the effort makes me feel that perhaps the reunion referred to in the hymn might happen very soon if I continue. The form does not feel as good as I want it to be, but the cardiovascular fitness picks up where the biomechanics fail. 13:32 for the last 2.5, 2:38 on the last 0.5, and 1:17 on the last quarter. 56:42 for 10 miles. The last 2.5 5 seconds faster than two weeks ago. Last mile is rather challenging. It has a slight but nasty uphill section for the first half, which makes you slow down by 10-15 seconds per mile or so. And then you have to shift gears not only for the kick, but also just to get into your regular pace. When I decided to shift gears to 5:20 pace on the last half mile, the process was not as painful as two weeks ago, and it actually happened - there were no 41 second 200s of deliberation. This is a good sign. Last 5 miles in 27:54, and that with the first half done at a relaxed pace and a 50 second negative split. In the beginning of January this would have been my best 5 mile tempo run as you can see from the log. Did another mile with Benjamin and Jennifer - 15 total miles for the day.

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