Breaking the Wall

Week starting Apr 23, 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 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: 188.26 Year: 188.26
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: 1359.62
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Got up this morning and it was raining. A speed workout in the Provo Canyon was the last thing I wanted to do. However, I know one thing, something they say in the General Conference and other church meetings a lot - you are free to make choices, but you are not free to choose their consequences. The consequence of missing a speed workout is failure to develop speed. I did not want that consequence, so I went and did the speed workout anyway. Warm-up, then a mile with ankle weights, then a 1.5 tempo uphill in 8:35, 4 100 meter strides at then top, and then the real workout begins - 16x300 down with 200 recovery. Managed a sub-50 average for the first 8 with some tailwind. Then it turned into a headwind, and I slowed down to barely sub-51 with a couple of slower than 51. The slowest was 51.6. Gave it pretty much all I had on the last one and got 49.0. Average of 50.4 for the whole workout. A little bit of jogging, and then a 1 mile tempo down in 5:16 into a headwind. I liked how that mile felt. I had to work, but it was relaxed and felt sustainable. Total of 12 miles for the workout. Legs felt a bit sore from the 10 mile race on Saturday. Ran with Benjamin, and Jennifer, in the afternoon and also did a mile of always on the run in the evening. Total of 15 miles for the day.

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Easy run with Eric this morning. He did a tempo run - 3 Slate Canyon loops (6.33) in 47:44. Had a pitstop-forced tempo pickup to catch him in the middle. Dropped him off, and ran a mile with ankle weights in 7:05. Picked up at the end. Trying to run with ankle weights fast is an interesting experience. Nothing really hurts, it seems, but you just cannot go any faster.

During the day and in the evening did my always on the run, a short tempo pickup on one of them, and ran with Benjamin and Jennifer. Total of 14 miles for the day.

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Did my fast workout in the morning. Again, 4x1.54 downhill on the Slate Canyon Loop. Gradually get accelerating as the more light came in with the rising sun and I was waking up. Started out with 8:38, then 8:17, 8:03, and 7:54. Interestingly enough, every one of them was almost exactly 12 seconds faster than the corresponding one last week.

In the afternoon, ran a mile with ankle weigths, ran with Benjamin and Jennifer, and added another always on the run mile in the evening. Total of 13 miles.

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Mini-taper for the track meet at BYU (Robison Invitational) tomorrow. Ran easy 7 miles with a couple of tempo pick-ups with Eric in the morning. Had quite a bit of fun running with Benjamin and Jennifer later in the morning. Towards the end, we passed a rather slowly moving excavator. Have you ever had to pass an excavator while pushing a stroller with a 3-year old, and pacing a 7 and a 5 year old at the same time? It was during their kick, so we were going about 7:00 pace by then, and that excavator was coming to us fast. We managed the maneuver, though, and hit 9:01 for the mile.

Ran to the Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting because I was late and also to get some always on the run miles in, and also back to make it somewhat on time to do my hometeaching.

Total of 9.5 for the day.

College track meets are probably as close as it gets to racing in Kenya around here, perhaps even better. If tomorrow's meet is like the others I've seen or heard of, the poor guy who runs 16:40 will finish last get lapped by the winner in front of a crowd. With that time, he'd be able to win probably 75% of all the 5 K around the country, and place somewhere in the top of the pack in others. But in a track meet, there is no pack of joggers to beat, and to make things worse, there are a lot of people watching.

So my goals for the meet. Not to get beat too bad by the college runners, which includes not finishing last, and not getting lapped. If somebody like Bryan Lindsay or Josh Rohatinsky shows up, this could be a challenge. They could do 14:30 even here at altitude. In that case, to avoid being lapped, I would have to run at least 15:45.

I also want to break my track PR of 16:19. I've raced only once on the track before since coming to the US, and it was raining hard that day, and the track was wet. So this should be too big of a challenge, hopefully.

But most of all, I want to be able to run strong and relaxed start to finish, not have any laps slower than 79, kick in 73 or faster, and determine the strengths and weakness my training has given me so far this year.

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Did a warm-up run with Eric in the morning. Two Slate Canyon Loops with a 600 m acceleration in the middle in 1:54. Then ran with Benjamin and Jennifer. In the afternoon, went to the track meet. It was windy - 11 mph going exactly along the home stretch. You get 100 m tail, 200 m cross, and 100 m head wind. So the times were slow. I was able to get some of my goals, but not all. I avoided being lapped, but only barely. 10 people started the race. If you count the two guys that were already behind me when they dropped out, I did not finish last. The time, however, was more suitable for a tempo run than a 5 K track race - 16:51. I was able to stay with the pack for the first three laps, which we did in 76 seconds each. It felt good. Then on the fourth lap, the pack started to separate. I figured the slower part of the pack would not slow down very much, and provide some windshield for me. This was a mistake. 4:45 at 1500 m. Then the guy in front of me I was using to draft off all of a sudden slowed down to a pace that felt like a jog. We did this 100 m in 20 seconds. I waited for the end of the headwind stretch, and then passed him. In the next two laps I found out why he slowed down so much so soon. The wind had an effect of making you work harder, and get tired sooner. I hit the next lap in 80, and it went downhill from there. 9:50 for 3000 m (3:25, 82 per lap), 13:20 for 4000 m (3:30, 84 per lap), and last 1000 m in 3:31 (84 per lap). Barely escaped having Joe Bendoski lap me. Ran back to my house from the meet. Benjamin insisted on joining me, so I took him. He had already done his hard run earlier, but nevertheless he ran another 3 miles back home at 9:00 pace. The experience confirmed to me that the correct strategy for running on a windy day is to stay with the front pack as close to the leader as possible, but behind him until you are ready to puke. Then back off, and every time you get passed, if you do, draft behind the person who has passed you until you are ready to puke. Too bad it was not a normal race. I do not really know what this performance really means. To what extent did I slow down because of having to break the wind by myself, and to what extent because I lacked the fitness to do 76 second laps? I noticed that the end of that 5 K started feeling more like a threshold pace tempo run, but there seemed to be nothing I could do to make it faster. This is also how I felt in the other 5 K ran earlier this year. First mile in 5:02, and then 5:20-5:25 pace for the rest of it, does not hurt, but cannot go any faster. This is not how I felt when I ran 15:37 in Draper Days in 2004. It hurt start to finish, and I was anaerobically tired for the rest of the day. I suppose to run a good 5 K takes some practice to teach your body to run anaerobically for the 15 whole minutes of it, not just the first 5. I need to look more closely at the log entries to see what works well for this.

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Ran in the morning, 12 hours after the track meet on the Provo River Trail by Geneva road. Warmed up, then a mile with ankle weigths, some more jogging, and started the tempo run. Figured 5 miles a marathon pace would be a good idea, since I ran hard only 12 hours ago, and a marathon is coming up in a week. Gradually warmed into a good aggressive marathon pace, and hit 2 miles in 11:14. Then 14:02 at the turnaround (2.5). Felt very relaxed at that pace, although I could tell that I had run a 5 K some time not too long ago. But at 5:37 pace it did not bother me very much. 3 miles in 16:51, and I decided to run the last two hard for fun to see if I could do it faster than in yesterday's 5 K. I sure did - 10:58, and 27:49 total. In the 5 K, it was 11:11. Interestingly enough, I ran the last 5 K of this tempo run in about 17:10, only 19 seconds slower than a race 12 hours earlier! Looks like I am starting to suffer from the Mike Kirk syndrome - racing all distances from 5 K to the marathon at almost the same pace. Of course, as Paul has pointed out, the wind can really knock you out of rhythm in a track race, and make you run a lot slower than any logic would suggest is possible. But still, the whole thing does sound rather funny. Got home, and took Benjamin and Jennifer for a run. It was another big records day for Jennifer. We hit the first half mile in 4:50. Then she sped up to almost 8:00 pace, and kept saying it was not fast enough. So we picked it up even more. Hit the next quarter in 1:59. Then Benjamin decided to start a kick, and Jennifer decided to not let him escape. So that gave us the last quarter in 1:46, and 8:35 for the mile. Last half was 3:45. This shows that Jennifer should be able to break 8:00 on the mile without too much difficulty if she went out hard from the start. Did some more "always on the run" miles - 13 for the day.

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