Breaking the Wall

Week starting Mar 24, 2013

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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: 232.17 Year: 3533.69
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: 734.48
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 83.20
Night Sleep Time: 45.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 46.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. Got a strength workout rocking Matthew to sleep during the meetings, but was able to participate nevertheless. Again was tired when I got home and took a nap.

Sarah made new friends with a neighbor family  and we had them over for dinner in the evening.  They asked me how I managed the transition from living in Russia to living in the United States. My short answer was that the first 20 years of my life (while in Russia) were a long culture shock even though I had never been outside and did not know any different. When I came to the United States, the shock was over and I gradually recovered.

I suppose the subject deserves a slightly longer explanation. When I was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a realization hit me that I would feel at home with the people that have made the covenant to follow Christ and were serious about it. When I moved from Moscow to Provo I found a higher concentration of such people. We may complain about Utah Mormons, or various shortcomings of BYU students and professors, and perhaps for a good reason - with all the knowledge that we possess we should do better than what we are doing. But the truth of the matter is that it is the "Utah Mormons" that make Utah what it is - a place with the lowest smoking rate, lowest alcohol consumption, a place where you are more likely to be helped by a stranger, a place where people have more reason to trust each other than anywhere else in the United States that I visited. In spite of all the shortcomings of Utah that the natives grumble about, this is where I feel at home. While there are people that are not doing a good job living their faith, and I have had plenty of disappointment with that, we still have more of those who take it seriously here than anywhere in the world, and it shows in a number of ways. It all depends on what you choose to see.

Right now I have the ability to live anywhere in the world. I can move anytime almost anywhere. My employer would not notice much of a difference as long as I had a good internet connection. But I am still in Utah and am refusing to move.

When I travel to other parts of the United States, I do not quite get that feeling. Visiting a big city makes me feel like I have taken a step back in the direction of the Soviet Union. I begin to feel a portion of that oppressive spirit.

So coming to Provo from Moscow was an easy adjustment. If it had been New York I think it would have been different.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Easy run. Total of 12. Did a little pickup with Benjamin for 0.2. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 3, Julia 2, Joseph 2, Jacob 2, William 0.5.

Green Crocs 5 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

A.M. Total of 12.7. Did a workout with Benjamin. He was finally healthy enough to try the 2 mile tempo run down the canyon. I did not have any particular goal for him, we decided to start out trading quarters and then see what happens. I took him through the first quarter in 84, then he did his in 83, I did mine in 82, then he was headed for around 85 on his, and I did not like that, so I took the lead early and made it 84 to hit 5:33 for the mile. After that I decided he had the ability to break 11:00 if he drafted, so I told him to just sit on me until he was ready to come out, and I took him through the next two quarters in 81 and 80. He handled it fine, and took the lead around 1.5 mark to pull me for the rest of the tempo. I was very pleased for two reasons - one was that I did not have to lead anymore. The other was that Benjamin was showing he was in good shape. We ran the last 0.5 in 2:33 (5:06 pace) and finished in 10:47.7 - my second fastest time this year. Our last mile was 5:14, which makes it for my most negative split in this workout with the second mile 19 seconds faster than the first. Prior to that I had been consistently 2 seconds slower in the second mile. Benjamin is becoming a great training partner.

It is a lot of fun to run with your 14-year-old. Particularly when somebody we meet on the trail tries to guess the relationship. A few days ago a runner said to us - why aren't you boys in school? I had him guess who we were and what we were up to. His guess was that Benjamin was in high school and I was 23 years old, married, and in college - after he had observed my wedding ring. With Benjamin he was not too far off, but with me he was off by 70% on the age part, and off by 15 years on the college part, but he was correct on being married.

Jenny ran 3, Julia 1, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.70
Night Sleep Time: 4.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 4.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 12.5 total. Ran with the kids. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 3, Julia was sick, did not run, Joseph and Jacob did 2, William 0.5. 

P.M. Oil change time. 1.5 miles back from the car shop.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 14.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. Ran with the kids. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William and Julia 0.5. Benjamin and I did a workout. 4x400 uphill near our house. The first 130 meters are actually down, starting at maybe 1-2% grade, then maybe a 30 meter segment of about 6-8% down, then about 90 meters up at 6%, 90 meters at 3% up, and the remaining 90 meters at 6% up. The recovery was jogging back. My times were 74.8, 75.8, 74.8, 72.4. Benjamin stayed with me in the first 3, and dropped me in the last one finishing it in around 71.2. All of that came in the last 120 meters. I was very excited about that because it shows he has recovered from his winter issues and is getting into good shape. And this was the first time he gapped me by so much. He has edged me out before, but never really truly gapped me until now.

Green Crocs 5 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

A.M. 12.5 total. Most with the kids. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 3, Julia was too sick to run, Joseph and Jacob ran 2. Jacob set his course PR of 16:45. This "2" is really around 2.05, and is hilly. I would have to work hard to break 12:00 on it. Jacob's last 800 meters was 3:43 (uphill), which I was very happy about given that his track PR is only 3:24. Joseph took off with 800 to go and ran 16:36, with the last 800 in 3:35. William ran 0.5. Joseph then added 2 more with me, Sarah, and her friend Shelly, and ended up with 4 miles for the day.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 5.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 5.00
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A.M. Finally got respectable sleep. First 20 mile run since the Rocket City Marathon. Ran with Chad. Benjamin joined us for 8 miles after we had already done 6. So 4 miles into Benjamin's run and 10 miles into ours we ran a 4 mile tempo from around the magic bridge in the Provo Canyon back to the house. The course is the first 2.25 downhill, the last 1.75 rolling up. The target was 5:50. We went around low 5:40 down the canyon, and hit the 3 mile mark in 17:05. The last mile was 5:52 for me and Benjamin, and we finished in 22:57, which is Benjamin's PR for 4 miles. He did not drop me this time - the distance neutralized his top gear and helped me survive. We slowed the pace down for Chad a little after the first 2 miles for the next 1.5 to help him get a good time, but then in the last 0.5 I wanted to break 23:00, so Benjamin and I went for it. Chad finished in 23:14, which is also a very good time for him.

I felt stronger than I ever have this year. The strength was in the legs, I felt like I had more support, and the form felt smoother. I attribute this to two factors:

  • Tempo runs
  • My new toy - leg press machine. I've been working out in the last couple of weeks three times a week with 165 lb on each leg in 3 sets of 10. This idea came to me during a tempo run. I realized that the best muscle to compensate for my L-4 defect was actually the quad. Which is why my quads are so large from running. The body knows what it is doing. Then the hamstring, the glut, and the calf working together provide some additional support. I used to think big quads were bad because they meant I had a problem and they hog energy without providing much return. I realized that this was not quite correct. I do have a problem, but it cannot be solved by having smaller quads. Precisely because of that problem, until an angel from heaven comes and heals my L-4, I need to have huge quads. So a natural way to hit the quad, the hamstring, the glut, and the calf was a leg press. So I found a machine for $317 on Amazon including shipping, it comes without weights, but I had a total of 165lb already so it was perfect.

Joseph did 2, Jacob 1, Jenny 3, William 0.5, Julia 0.5.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 20.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 83.20
Night Sleep Time: 45.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 46.50
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