Breaking the Wall

Week starting Apr 21, 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: 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
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 87.00
Night Sleep Time: 51.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 51.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. Got a lot of happy birthdays. 40 years old officially.

Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. Benjamin did 8.5, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph and Jacob 2, William 0.5. Jacob set a PR for our 2+ mile course- 16:09, an improvement of 36 seconds. His first half was 8:18, second half 7:51.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 15.5. Did a 10 K time trial with Benjamin. We drove to the Canyon View Park and warmed up 3.25 miles to the start of our 10 K course which was about a quarter mile past Bridal Vail falls. Then we ran to the house from there. The course has an elevation drop of about 380 feet according to Pachev Uneventful 10 K, but it does have uphill in the last mile. Actually the profile I made is not 100% accurate - it completed missed the uphill in the last 0.2. I can understand why - there is one road that goes sharply up, while there is a road right next to it that stays flat, and in between those two there is a steep wild hill part of which is actually on our property. USGS data shows average elevations for squares, and coupled with a possible geo-coding error we have a problem. In any case, the profile is accurate for the first 6 miles of the course, and the Course Tool suggests that we get a speed up of 8 seconds per mile from the downhill not accounting for the final climb. That is within the range of believable.

One thing for sure is that this course is slower than Deseret News 10 K measured correctly with police not taking runners the wrong way. I wanted to see what Benjamin had in him over a longer distances, so the target was to run 5:40 down the canyon until failure, then see what kind of failure we got if any.

From the start Benjamin was tailgating me, so I figured he was full of juice and decided to build a lead on the 5:40 guy while we could. So first mile in 5:29, then 5:32. Around 2.5 Benjamin groaned, and I figured we should ease off. Next mile in 5:37, 16:38 at 3 miles. I am figuring we went through the 5 K in around 17:13. Then Benjamin started to wear out, I am suspecting it was more psychological as he had never run this fast for this long, so I eased off the pace to 6:00 for a quarter or so to let him rest.  I wrote this and observed that it is quite remarkable that I am calling 6:00 pace for a 14-year-old boy in the middle of a 10 K "rest".

I would have been happy if he had just run 6:00 pace all the way home, but he did a bit better. Our next mile was 5:52, followed by 5:54. The closing mile uphill was 5:53, which I was very happy about. Our total time was 35:30.2 which comes out to 5:42.8 average. Closing 5 K on a more difficult part was 18:17 in spite of the crash, which is still quite respectable.

This was a good confidence builder for Benjamin. He's never run more than 4 miles at sub-6:00 average. He learned today that he can go out aggressively, and when he crashes it will still be faster than 6:00. This is a very important mile stone.

Jenny and Julia did 3 on their own. I ran 1 with Jacob earlier before we drove to the park, and then did 3.25 with Joseph back to the car, and then 2 more with Sarah. So I ended up with a medium long run.

And I suppose I should record my own master's PR of 35:30 for a 10 K.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 15.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. Took Jenny for a mile time trial at Orem High Track.  This was an important step for her. She is 12 years old and has struggled with growth. Her muscles grew faster than the bones, and the bones in turn grew faster than the heart and lungs. Last year was the first time she ran PRs since she was 8. Her training runs have been difficult. Yet she has endured well. That ability has come from knowing that she is a daughter of God, and having a testimony of Christ. The Lord knows I am weak, so He sends me strong children.

Jenny recently started running 4 miles for 3 days of the week alternating it with 3 on other days. This was a step of faith for her, and she wanted to measure the progress.  Her PR was 6:42. With Joseph running 6:38 she also felt motivated to retake the the non-Daddy non-Benjamin family record. Benjamin and I paced her. The target was 1:38 laps, then kick in the last lap hoping for a 94 and 6:30 for the mile.

The plan was executed perfectly which was quite remarkable. I was able to hit three 1:38 laps exactly. I think the reason is that Jenny is a very rhythmic runner. I remember back when she was 6 or 7 she would hit the exact same split on every quarter - this amazed me. Sensing her rhythm helped me run evenly. It did help that she never lost contact and I did not have to worry about asking for a low five. Then she kicked and ran the last lap in 92, which gave her 6:28.2 for the mile - a PR by 14 seconds and a huge mental breakthrough.

Jenny ended up with 3 for the day. Benjamin did 8, Julia 2, Joseph and Jacob 2, William 0.5.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. Today was a significant day in our family history. A child with all of his baby teeth did not break a tooth, and did not break a window (another child did earlier), but he broke something else - 7:00 barrier in the mile. This child was Jacob, which now makes it 7 people out of 10 who have broken 7:00 in the mile, while those who have not are all under the age of 5.  We also now have the distinction of having somebody in the family who broke 7:00 before turning 7. This would not have meant much to me if it was my first child, but with the fifth it means a lot because now I know how impossible it is for a 6 year old to crack 7:00 barrier in the mile.

First, I paced Joseph through a 400 in 86.6. This was not quite what we were hoping for - well, you cannot have success all the time. Joseph for the life of him was afraid to really sprint and it was subconscious - there was nothing he could do about it. But this is normal and is not too hard to fix. All we need to do is have Jacob start ahead of him.

Then Benjamin, Joseph, and I helped Jacob break 7:00 in the mile. Unlike with Jenny, the pacing was less than ideal. I blew it in the first 200 opening in 49. After that Jacob did not trust my pacing, so we had to do a lot of low fives to get him going at the right pace. So our first lap was around 1:45, then 1:47. Things were not looking good for sub-7:00, but then Jacob was able to shift gears and hit the next lap in 1:41. That was quite remarkable. He held his own in that last lap with a high 1:42, which gave him 6:57.8 for the mile, and he got his 800 PR by 1 second as well - 3:23. Jacob runs like no other kid I've ever seen - not just in terms of speed, but in terms of pacing. He looks like he is struggling, like what he is giving is all he's got. Then somewhere mid-distance he can just surge, and then he lives after it.

Then I ran more, most with the kids. Benjamin did 8.5,  Joseph and Jacob 2 total, Jenny 4, Julia 3, 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 15 miles. Benjamin did 9, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, Jenny 3, Julia 3. I did a workout with Benjamin. The purpose of it to get an idea of how much speed he really had, and also to rattle the cage and try to help him not be afraid of higher speeds in longer distances. I was looking through the Utah USATF records in the 13-14 year old division and to my surprise realized that Benjamin is seriously threatening Josh Rohatinsky's record of 9:49 in 3000 meters and the 1500 record of 4:29 as well. Benjamin ran 10:46 in 3200, if you subtract his slowest 200 from the time, that yields 10:03. The splits were not ideal for a record - 5:32/5:14 with the last two laps being the fastest, and the last lap 10 seconds faster than the average pace in the first 7, neither was having to run alone and having to pass a large number of lapped people on the outside lane - he lapped everybody in the heat at least once. So I see how even without an increase in fitness he could have found those extra 14 seconds needed for the record.

Now, in all honesty I do not think the record is that strong. I think Conner Mantz, for example, could have taken it down when he was 14 if he tried - but he just never ran in a 3000 meter race in a USATF meet, I suppose - I do not know for sure that he had not, but I am suspecting if he had we would have had a different state record. This reminds me of Porter Rockwell's defense in the murder attempt on the governor of Missouri trial - the governor is still alive, that proves I did not shoot, because if I had he would have been dead. 

But take it or leave it, the record is what it is, and we decided to try to break it this year. We are tentatively planning on going to Eugine to run in the Hayward Field Meet in July. That is cheating, because Josh ran his record in the Summer Games in Cedar City at altitude. But I do want to know what Benjamin can run at sea level when he is not winning (or at least when he is pushed) for a benchmark. We might do the Summer Games as well to have a fair comparison.

So anyway, I wanted Benjamin to psychologically prepare for the assault. So the workout was 800-600-400-200 down the Provo Canyon. Well, more precisely the distances were slightly longer - 0.5, 0.375, 0.25, and 0.125 of a mile, but we were on a net downhill of 1-2%, so this was probably equivalent to running on a windless day on a really good track like BYU for the above mentioned track equivalents.

Benjamin again took me to school. 800 - 2:18.5 for him, 2:18.9 for me.  1000 recovery jog, then 600 - 1:41.5 for him, 1:42.8 for me. 800 recovery, then 400 - 62.3 for him, 64.8 for me. 800 jog, then 200 - 29.4 for him, 31.6 for me. That was better than I was expecting. I thought he would run something like 2:20 - 1:44 - 67 - 31.

One thing I miscalculated is how much this workout was going to take out of him. His gluts and hamstrings were almost post-marathon type sore. I assumed incorrectly that he simply would not have the speed to run himself into the ground. He did. His speed is ahead of his resilience. I knew that, but I just did not realize by how much. Well, now we know what we need to work on. There is really not that much to do except be more moderate with the speed, just keep working on the base, and wait for the muscles to become more resilient as he grows and his conditioning improves. Then we can really work on speed and seriously kick some trash.

P.M. 0.5 with William.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 15.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Chad, Collin, and Steve Ashbaker. We started with a 2 mile warm-up taking Joseph for 2 miles. Jenny and Jacob started with us. Jenny did 4, Jacob 1. Julia did 3, Benjamin was at the camp out and ran 4 miles. 

We ran 18 more making it a total of 20. The last 8 miles we did a tempo. The pace started out around 6:10-6:20 range, then we visited 6:05 and maybe even 6:00 range on occasion. Chad was sick and backed off around 4 miles into the tempo. Collin started having problems with about 3 miles to go and told us to go ahead. Steve was a little edgy with 4 and even 3 miles to go, but knowing that he might not be quite in shape on endurance, I gave him some words of caution, so he held back.  Once we pulled ahead, he started having issues with around 1.5 miles to go. So it was good that he held back. Our last 8 miles was 49:45 - 6:13 average. Collin finished about 50 seconds back.

Based on this workout I predicted that Steve's condition was 2:47 in the Top of Utah if he were to taper and run it in two weeks. He will get into better shape, though.

P.M. Jenny did 0.5 with William. Benjamin wanted to run more, but he had some issue with his hip from the combination of yesterday's workout, and sleeping on hard ground during the camp out. We did some stretching, icing, and massage.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 20.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 87.00
Night Sleep Time: 51.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 51.00
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