Breaking the Wall

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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, and Mary.  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: 178.83 Year: 745.63
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 606.85
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 120.59
Black Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 2604.35
Khaki Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 1046.69
Camouflage Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 878.48
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 37.75Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 39.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Typical Sunday. Got good sleep at night, went to church, took a nap later in the afternoon.

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 9.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 15 miles in 1:47:50. First 2 with Ted and Hyrum, then 5 more with Ted, and the remaining 8 by myself. Had a fluke happen after dropping off Ted. The nervous system did something weird and I ended up with a 5:59 mile without actually trying to run in that range. The breathing and the muscle strain were within the easy pace range, so I did not feel anything. I figured I could not have become a 2:05 marathoner overnight, so there was no way that 6:00 pace would be a true easy especially at altitude. And as I paid closer attention to the body signals I could feel that the nervous system was working in the non-easy range. So I eased off consciously although without hitting the breaks and dragging on purpose, but was still in the wrong range - next two miles were 6:14 and 6:11. So I decided to reboot myself by doing strides. Did 8x100 in 17-18 seconds. That calmed me down and I was able to get back into the true easy pace for the rest of the run.

However, this experience in combination with the pace fluctuations in Del Sol made me wonder if my muscles, and heart are already fit to run much faster, but the brain/nerves are lagging behind.

P.M. 1.5 with Jenny in 13:20, 2 with Benjamin in 16:45, 0.7 alone in 4:33, 1 with Julia in 10:20.

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

A.M. 15 miles in 1:48:39. Started with Ted, Jeff, Josse, and Adam. Adam turned around after a mile, dropped Ted off at 6, dropped Jeff and Josse at 10. Picked up the pace a bit on the last 5, ran it in 32:52. Also, did 1.25 worth of catching up after bathroom stops at around 5:40 - 5:50 pace.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:52, then 3 more in 21:35. Pushed Jacob in the single stroller for the entire run. 

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

A.M. Ted was not feeling good, did not make it. Jeff slept in. So I ran alone at 5:15 AM. Started out a bit quicker than normal - 7:21 in the first mile, after that a slight sub-6:40. Ran into Jeff at around 5.5 mark, and we ran together from there. 1:06:59 for 10.1.

P.M. Sarah went to Wal-Mart and got me a pair of crocs for $5. I wanted to try them as a proof-of-concept for near barefoot running. At the very worst, I figured, they would make nice slippers for the summer. Did my entire evening run in crocs. First a mile with Julia in 10:47. Then 1.5 with Jenny in 13:45. Her ankle was hurting, so she did not have to catch the 9:00 girl today. Then 2 with Benjamin in 15:26. Then 5.5 more by myself. I was pressed for time, and needed to keep around 7:00 average to avoid being late. Started with a first quarter in 1:45, followed by 1:41. Then hit the mile in 6:38. Figured I'd just stay ahead of the 6:40 guy. Then I noticed that my split for the next 0.5 was 3:07. I recalculated it to be sure, it was right. The next one was 3:02. I figured, forget it, this is my second run, and I have only 3.5 left, and then a night of sleep, I am not going to hold back. If I feel like running 6:00 pace, I'll just go for it. After that it was unreal. I started running 5:40 pace without actually trying to run a tempo. The rhythm and the harmony of movement were so appealing that I did not notice the effort. The form felt great. I went by a couple of guys in their 40s going around 8:00 - 8:30 that looked like they were experienced runners. This must have been quite a sight for them - a runner in crocs passing them at 5:40 pace, I must have looked like a beach bum running away from a tidal wave. I slowed down to 5:50 under the bridges, and then was back up to 5:40 pace. Ended up catching the 6:00 guy for the whole run with 32:52 for 5.5. Last 3 miles in 17:07, 5:42.3 average.

Checked for side efforts from crocs afterwards, there were none so far. Noticed that the shin muscles were working a lot better, and I felt like was getting more out of them than in regular shoes. It was also easier to take my foot off the ground, there did not seem to be as much of my usual lingering.

Night Sleep Time: 6.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Finally I got around to doing a scheduled speed workout. It did help that Jeff wanted to do a tempo. I decided I was going to become a boltun, which is the masculine form of boltushka. Both words mean a talkative person in Russian. For me, being a boltun means I am not going to schedule any speed work unless somebody is doing it with me, and even then, go his pace even if he is slower. The rationale behind it is that even though my muscles and cardio can handle pushing the pace every other day fine, my nervous system subtly becomes worn out. The lack of muscular fatigue does not help, either, because it tricks me into thinking I am good to go for another workout too soon. With a partner, the nervous system will get taxed less. If he is slower, I can move up front and pull him and still be OK. If he is faster, I can draft - the muscles will work harder, but the brain will not. If he is an equal match, then we'll trade quarters, and the brain will be working half the time.

After yesterday's experience I was confident the crocs were good enough for a 15 mile run. Jeff's first question when he saw them was if they stay on your feet. They actually do quite well. We warmed up a few miles, then started the Provo River 5 Mile Tempo. The plan was to run side by side for about 0.5, then I would move up front and pull Jeff at whatever pace he thought was right the rest of the way. Jeff is still not quite in his top shape after his injury, normally we just trade quarters. So we did the first two quarters in 1:24. After that I accelerated to move up, but forgot to ease off once I was there. So the next quarter was 1:20. Then I eased off to 1:24, 5:32 for the mile. Jeff seemed to be doing OK, so I ran the next mile in 5:30 at a steady pace hoping that maybe we could beat the 5:30 guy. But then Jeff started struggling and we backed off some. 13:51 at the turnaround, we lost quite a bit hitting both quarters before and after in 1:26. Doing a 180 in the dark over by that gate is a bit tricky.

16:40 at 3 miles. 22:17 at 4. Then Jeff struggled on the micro-hill - quarters of 1:27 and 1:26, then I told him we needed to run sub-5:40 to break 28:00, so he sped up a bit, and we closed with 1:24 and 1:23 to finish the 5 miles in 27:57.

Ran back with Jeff to his house, then the additional distance to make the total of 15.

More notes on the crocks - the pluses are that the form feels great, the foot comes off the ground quickly, the fatigue is less noticeable, the foot lands on the toe, and the shin muscles are working very well, better than in any other shoe I have ever worn. The minuses are that my big toes do not like the feeling of rubber pressing against them, The side of my foot hits the side attachment clip of the back strap on the sharp turns at fast speeds, and the extra rotation of my right foot causes it to rub against the top edge of the shoe which resulted in a minor blister. Plus their durability is not that great. After only 25 miles I am already seeing wear marks in the toe area. No wear marks on the heel, a very good sign. So far, I am encouraged to try Vibram Five Fingers, which should have all of the advantages of crocs but would hopefully address the disadvantages. Plus, being able to use the toes more freely should help.

P.M. Crocs again. 1 with Julia in 10:27, 1.5 with Jenny in 13:10. She said: "There is no way I can catch the 9:00 girl" as she closed 10 seconds on her in a quarter. She repeated that half-way through the next quarter in which she closed the remaining 10, and added another 3 seconds on top of it. Afterwards, she was finally convinced that the 9:00 girl was not that hard to beat, and put another 17 seconds on her in the next quarter closing in 1:58. Sometimes our perception of reality is not correct.

Another 2 with Benjamin in 17:39. He is racing on Saturday, and he said before the run that he did not want to run faster than 8:50 pace. He ended up being right on, which took a lot of self-restraint. Added another 0.5 by myself.

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

A.M. 15.1 in 1:46:50 in Crocs. 11.1 of it with Jeff. Ran 0.9 via a short cut to his house, then with him, then dropped him off and ran 3 more. I think I have the blistering issue resolved, possibly the Crocs stretched out. My lower calves felt a bit fatigued, though, so I think I'll give them a break tomorrow and run in my racing flats instead. Plus it would really be bad to end up with a broken Croc 8 miles away from the house while Benjamin needs to get to his race soon.

The Crocs are still in good shape, the wear marks on the front did not get bigger, and no wear marks on the heel appeared. You can still read "Made in China" on the bottom of the sole, as well as No Boundaries TM. No, this is not a joke, an April Fool's day joke, although it does sound like one, I really have been running in a pair of $5 Crocs, Jeff being a witness.

Here goes the shoe counter, let's have some fun:

Crocs - 45.1 miles.

I am curious if they can handle 500. Already 9% there.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:39, 1.5 with Jenny in 12:30, 0.7 with no running partners in 4:58, and 2 with Benjamin in 18:32. Pushed Jacob and Joseph in the stroller for all segments except Benjamin's. Wore Crocs.


Crocs - 50.3 miles.

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

A.M. Steve Ashbaker the Air Dark Horse rescued me today from having to run 20 miles alone. Decided to take a break from Crocs today, and wore racing flats.

I originally wanted to run to Bridal Veil and back, but it was cold enough already without the wind, so we agreed to do our 10.1 mile course twice. We were having fun in the first half. First, we caught the 7:00 guy at mile 3. Then there was a branch on the road. Steve being the Air Dark Horse flew right over it. I being the Low Flying Spy Plane ran into it and took a spill. Only a few scratches, got up and went on, no problems.

Then it was time for Russian jokes. Here is the one for today. Gorbachev comes to the White House. Reagan seats him at the piano and says: "You can press any key except that red one". Gorbachev finally is overcome with curiosity and presses the forbidden red key. He gets splashed with ink, and plans a revenge.

Now Reagan comes to the Kremlin. Gorbachev invites him to the piano and admonishes him not to press the forbidden black key. He finally gets too curious and presses it anyway. Nothing happens. He does it again. Still no result. He goes to Gorbachev to complain: "This is borning! Back in America...", to which Gorbachev replies: "There is no America."

We were having so much fun that we forgot it was time to shift gears into the brisk easy  zone - around 6:20 - 6:40, but we did remember around mile 6, and made it to 10.1 in 1:08:58. After that it was time for the tempo portion. I told Steve that a quarter under 1:30 was good, and over 1:30 was bad, otherwise, anything was acceptable, and we got going. At first we were going 5:50 pace, then we even picked it up to 5:44, but then Steve was not feeling good for some reason, so we eased off to 5:50, and then to 5:55 - 6:00 pace. We ended up running the last 10.1 in 59:48, 5:55.25 average. Total time for 20.2 was 2:08:46, 6:22.48 average.

Immediately afterwards took Benjamin to the Rex Lee 5 K. Ted and I decided that since Ted was injured, it would be better for me to pace his son James, and for him to pace Benjamin. James ran a PR of 19:25, and Benjamin ran a PR as well, 22:02. I was impressed with his last 200 in 45 seconds. Ran some extra, ended up with 25.2 for the whole deal. James even gave me about a mile in my marathon pace zone.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 37.75Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 39.75
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