Breaking the Wall

Week starting Apr 08, 2007

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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: 266.81 Year: 266.81
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: 1438.17
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Easy run with Ted, and then with Stuart early in the morning. Ran with the kids in the afternoon. 

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

Speed workout in the Provo Canyon. Same as last week. Warm up, then 5x400 alternating up and down. 72.0 down - 76.7 up - 72.3 down - 74.4 up - 73.3 down. Cross wind the entire time, became more of a headwind for going down on the last two. Then jogged up to Nunn's Park and started the standard 3 mile tempo down to the mouth of the Canyon. Head/cross wind almost all the way. First mile 5:26, HR jumps up to 158 quickly. That is a good sign. If HR is slow to respond, you are running anaerobically for too long. Next mile in 5:23, HR makes it to 161. It is interesting that gusts of wind make it drop to 158, and one strong gust managed to drop it to 156. You would think the extra resistance should raise it, but I think what happens is that a gust knocks you out of rhythm, you lose concentration and stop pushing as hard.

Finally a clear spot on the first quarter on the last mile. No headwind for the whole quarter for the first time. Hit it in 1:18. Heart rate goes up to 163! I feel like I am getting into good rhythm, setting my sights on showing the 5:20 guy who's the boss.  However, more headwind followed, I barely manged 5:20 for the last mile. Total time 16:09. Although it was 8 seconds slower than last week, there was quite a bit more headwind this time. I felt more in control, though, and was consistently speeding up in spite of having the gusts of headwind periodically knock me out of rhythm. The effort also felt easier.

Then jogged back and did 5x400 one more time. Unlike last week when I seriously considered not doing the last set, I did not have such thoughts. 73.3 down - 77.4 up - 73.7 down - 76.0 up - 66.9 down. Pushed the last one.

Running at 4:50 pace or faster feels like I am riding a bike with a bent wheel. I do not feel it as much at slower speeds, but at faster speeds there is a wheel feeling, and you get to feel the quality of your wheel more acutely. For me that wheel is not as bad as it is for some people, probably average for a 2:40 marathoner, which is much better than what it is for the average runner, but the deformities make a difference between being a good local runner and being able to run professionally. This needs to be fixed.

13.5 for the workout with the cool down. Ran some more with the kids in the evening. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy recovery run with Ted in the morning. Was feeling sleepy. 7:37 pace for 10 miles, average heart rate 116.

Ran with the kids in the evening. Took Benjamin and Jenny to the Team Provo Practice. Benjamin ran all the way, Jenny ran the first mile. On the way back, pushed them in the stroller. They sang BINGO, and got me to speed up to 6:40 pace at the end. 

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

Slept in this morning to have the nervous system ready for the tempo run. Ran later in the morning. Found Karl Jarvis on the trail. We used to train together a lot, but then his schedule change to where we could not do it any more. Turns out we live only a mile away from each other. Ran with him for a while. Got a nice 5.4 mile warm-up for the tempo. Then ran the standard 5 mile tempo from Geneva Road to the Utah Lake Park and back.

First mile 5:30, second 5:32. So far so good, feels easy, very steady pace, HR at 159. 13:49 at the turnaround (2:47). Had a glitch recovering from 180 turn, next 200 in 45, then 43, 1:28 for the quarter. Next quarter in 1:25, 5:40 for the mile, 16:42 at 3 miles. Then 1:26, followed by 1:24, and again, 1:26 and 1:24. 5:40 for the mile, 22:22 at 4 miles. HR climbed to a steady 162. The pace now feels harder, although it is slower. Next quarter uphill is 1:26 followed by a 1:24. I cannot seem to break the pattern. Leftover from the quarter repeats maybe? I push, and then I want a break. Then 200 in 40 seconds, I got excited. But then slowed down to 43, (1:23 for the quarter), followed by the last quarter in 1:25. I think it would have been 1:24, but with 100 to go I saw a dog without a leash or visible owner, it looked like a playful dog, and it looked very interested in playing with me. So I lost concentration and slowed down a bit. After I finished, the dog started playing with me, but I was not in the mood. 28:00 for the run, best time of the year so far. Last mile in 5:38, which I consider a 5:31 equivalent going the other way, or flat. HR climbed to 167 at the end. I might have been getting slightly dehydrated, or perhaps the surge to 40 seconds for 200 m after 4.5 raised the HR. What is odd is that the surge did not hurt as much as it should have, but at the same time, the last quarter was slow, and it felt the same as the surge. There were small random and rather mild bursts of wind. Maybe they were stronger than they felt. I wonder if that what caused the odd fluctuations of the pace on the second half.

Ran a cool down, 12.25 for the run. Ran with the kids in the evening.

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

Easy run with Ted in the morning. Did some tempo pace pick ups. Ran a quarter in 1:19, then another in 1:23, and then 0.75 up a slight grade for the last 0.3 in 4:14. Did not get enough sleep at night, but made up in the afternoon. Right now sleep is one of the most critical elements of my training. Demetrio Cabanillas Jr. once told me about a sleep study where they paid subjects to sleep. That is the kind of study I would love to participate in!

Ran with the kids in the afternoon and in the evening. Total of 13 miles for the day. 

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

Got very good sleep the night before. Did not get out of bed until my body told me it did not need any more sleep, which happened at 7:00 am, 8 hours of sleep total. Started the day by running with Benjamin to the Team Provo practice. Saw ROTC cadets there. They were doing a 3200 meter run. A couple of them wanted to be paced for 14:00. I led them pretty much on pace. Only one was able to keep it. With the kick it ended up being 13:44. Then Benjamin wanted to run 100 meters. He was pretty tired from everything, but still managed 19.8. On the way back, I pushed Benjamin in the stroller. By the time we got home I had 6 miles on the odometer for the day done in a one hour period.

After a two hour break which included a play practice for our Stake Conference tomorrow and calling the ward leadership to remind them of the afternoon meeting, I continued the run. Ate a banana and drank a 17oz glass of water immediately before the run. Jogged 1.9 to warm up, then ran my standard 10 mile tempo. First mile in 5:54, then 5:50, 2:52 for the next half, 14:36 at the turnaround. On the way back held a steady 5:48 pace. HR finally stabilized at 151 until mile 4. Then there was a slight uphill section, and it went up to 154. 29:08 at 5 miles, 14:32 for the 2.5, and 5:49 for the uphill mile.

Picked it up a bit on the next 2.5 stretch. Next two miles 5:42 and 5:43. HR stabilized at 157. Then 0.5 in 2:53, 14:18 for the 2.5 and 43:26 at the turnaround. Decided to push the pace hard on the last 2.5. Two bikers, a young couple on a date, passed me and made an encouraging comment. I asked them to pace me. They agreed. They wanted to chat, but I told them I'd chat in 2 miles. I started seeing 1:24 quarters, with occasional 1:25s. Steady 5:38 pace until the mile to go. With 0.75 to go I started pressing harder. I saw the heart rate climb to 166, but it felt sustainable. This could be partially due to the warmer weather, but also to an increased level of fitness. Ended up with the last mile in 5:33, last 2.5 in 14:00, last 5 miles in 28:18, and 57:26 for 10 miles, fastest time for the year.

Cooled down with the bikers. Their names are Steve and Rachael. I guess if our Steve (Ashbaker) is not available to pace me, I'll find some Steve to do it even if he has to be on a bike. Having the Steve and Rachael at the end was very helpful. I am not used to people leisurely chatting around me when I am pushing the pace, but it was very nice. It got my mind off the pain, and I ran sort of in a trance.

What is interesting is that on Thursday I ran a 5 mile tempo putting in a threshold effort in 28:00, which is only 18 seconds faster than the last 5 miles of the 10 mile tempo today, and I did not shift into threshold pain gear until the last 2.5. It is also interesting that the last 2.5 was 11 seconds faster than the last 2.5 of the tempo on Thursday in spite of the fact that this 2.5 stretch was from mile 15.5 to mile 18 for the day, and more precisely for the first 4 hours of the day. Part of it certainly is the gain in cardiovascular and muscular fitness, but I wonder if a part is biomechanical. I got up on my toes more on the last 2.5 and it came naturally. The form felt more smooth and relaxed once I started going faster. The uphill or 180 turns did not seem to knock me out of rhythm as much as they usually do. Of course, all of that could be the result of increased neurological strength gained from the sleep.

Arthur Lydiard used to say that miles makes champions. That is not quite right. Beds make champions, not miles. Miles only prepare the champions for the bed to do the job. Miles make only tired and overtrained runners without proper sleep.

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