Breaking the Wall

Week starting Apr 22, 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: 146.77 Year: 146.77
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: 1276.97
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 in the morning. Supersonic speeds of 7:12. Daylight makes it faster. Felt energized, tried to talk Ted into picking it up on the last mile, managed to convince him to go fast on the last 0.5. Timed the last quarter, it was 1:26. I was pleased with the fact that HR went up to 151 very quickly, I started breathing right away, but the pace did not feel hard.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon, and some more with Benjamin and Jenny in the stroller. Talked to a guy named Jason on the trail for about a mile. He is training for a marathon in Rexburg, ID in July. With Benamin and Jenny in the stroller it was about 100lb + the weight of the stroller.  On the last quarter they sang me the BINGO song and got me going. I hit it in 1:34. Not sure what it translates into stroller-less, I would guess around 1:24. The inflation of the tires makes a big difference.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Saw Dr. Jex. He took an X-ray of my lower back in the running position with the knee lifted up. I wanted him to check if I lose the lumbar curve when I lift up my knee. Sure enough, I do, it goes down from 35 degrees to 13. This explains why I do not lift up my knees very much. However, it is not yet clear what the root cause of this would be, or how we should go about fixing it. He also gave me a special cylinder for mid-back exercises.

Then went to the Provo Canyon for some serious painful work. Started with a warm-up followed by a prayer asking for the courage and humility to accept the pain. Then 5x400 alternating down and up. 70.6 down - 76.7 up - 70.1 down - 75.8 up - 69.1 down. I think that was close to still air.

Then a jog up to Nunn's Park, and the standard 3 mile tempo down in 15:53. Splits - 5:21 - 5:16 - 5:16. The head wind has picked up, but it was not as bad as last week, I think. Regardless, this is the fastest time of the year. It was quite painful, but I was holding the pace. The last two miles felt like a very long quarter. I think taking the headwind into account, this is probably worth 2:26:30 in St. George.

Then a jog back to the place of quarters. The place of pain that leads to success. Again, the same 5x400. The head wind now got stronger and it showed in the splits. 72.2 down - 75.0 up - 71.9 down - 74.8 up - 66.3 down. Pushed hard on the last one, but I think if there was somebody to push me it could have been faster.

2.7 mile cool down. Total of 15.2 for the workout. Came home, the weight was down to 141lb, this means I need to eat and drink a lot.

Then I thought about all the things I had to do. I remembered a comment made by one Russian coach who coached high school runners. "Those teachers, they just do not get it. The guy has just finished a 20 K run, and they expect something from him. He cannot do it, he is as if had just  had 100 grams of vodka!"  The fatigue of a workout has an interesting effect on you. I think it is very good. It helps you lay aside the matters that are not important and pay more attention to the things that really matter. In the New Testament there is a story of Mary and Martha. Mary is listening to Christ, while Martha is busy serving guests. Martha gets upset because Mary is not helping her, yet Christ says that Mary has chosen the better part. Sometimes we fill up our lives with stuff, mostly not that important in the eternal scheme of things, and forget to take the time to choose the better part. I think the fatigue of a workout, combined with the experience of overcoming pain prior, has a tendency to take us from the Martha territory into Mary's territory and take the time to choose the better part.

Ran with the kids in the evening. Total of 17.1 miles for the day.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Ted was out of town, but I still had to run early to make it to the temple. Had a little bit of an upset stomach, but not too bad compared to the rest of the family.  Set two records this morning. Average HR was 105. And I made 5 bathroom stop. So the records were related. However, HR was still low, around 110-112 most of the way. I ran 1:17:37 for 10.05. Aside from the stomach issues, felt good.

Ran to Team Provo practice and pushed the stroller most of the way. Total of 14.2 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Ran the standard 5 mile tempo this morning. Did not realize I would feel the consequences of the stomach problems yesterday. I was able to eat simple foods and drink liquids, but I was not nearly as hungry as I should have been. It did show in the tempo run. First mile in 5:30, things are going well. Next 0.5 in 2:44, now I am a second ahead of the 5:30 guy. HR gets up to 160 like it should. Then the next quarter in 1:23 followed by 1:24, HR dropping. Maybe just lost the focus. Pressed harder, HR stuck at 158, next two quarters 1:24 and 1:26, 13:51 at the turn-around. Now something is definitely wrong, but I can still hang in there and run a bit under 28:00, I thought. Next quarter in 1:27, that is actually not too bad for the 180 turn recovery, but then the next two are trouble - 1:25 with HR dropping down to 156 in spite of the increased mental effort (5:42 for the mile), followed by 1:27. OK, odd problem, this usually happens around mile 15 in the marathon except it does not feel the same way because the muscles are feeling tired and the joints start to hurt, but this time the muscles and joints are just fine, but there is still very little glycogen in the legs. I've had this experience a couple of times before. Last year, shortly before DesNews marathon after three weeks of no less than 15 miles a day with at least 6 at sub-6:00 pace this happened in a 10 mile tempo run. And in October of 2004 I tried a tempo run after getting a similar ingestion bug and not eating very much for a day.

Next two quarters in 1:30, HR goes down to 152. But it feels hard, I am putting out my top tempo muscular effort. If I did not look at the watch, I would have said I was still running at 5:30 pace! Then 1:28, 4th mile in 5:55. Next quarter uphill in 1:31 followed by 1:30. With 600 to go I started feeling stronger and was I able to pick it up to 5:30 pace again. HR got up to 160, and I ran the last 600 in 2:03 at a steady pace. 28:27 for the whole run, 5:49 for the last mile. The weirdest tempo run I've had in a while. I thought of cutting it short a few times, but decided to finish it for scientific as well as mental purposes.

The cool down was also unusual. A tempo run would normally put my HR even at the cooldown pace (8:00 mile) to at least 127. Today HR stayed at 118. I considered cutting the mileage today given the upcoming 30 K on Saturday and the glycogen depletion caused by the stomach problems on top of high mileage, but decided to stick with the program. Cooled down until I was at 13 miles for the run. Came home, and still was not hungry, bad sign. Drank some raspberry tea, that got things going. Was able to eat three normal size meals afterwards, and now feeling hungry as I am typing this.

I did much better than Sarah in the stomach area, though. She was throwing up last night. So were Joseph and Jacob. Benjamin did not throw up, but was not able to eat much.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. Then went to the USATF meeting after dinner with Benjamin and Jenny. Benjamin gave me our mile splits as we drove, a new way to entertain an 8 year old (as well as a 34 year old) while driving.

I have always been curious about the negative feedback mechanisms that kick in once the muscular glycogen is low. I know that some people have them more developed than others. I remember in the Top of Utah Marathon 2005 at mile 17 I was running low on fuel. The pack made a surge, and Demetrio Cabanillas Jr not only went with them but he actually was a very active participant in that surge. Had they told me the race ended at 18 I would not have been able to stay with them. Then he came back to me at 21 even though I had already slowed down to a 7:00 mile premature cool down. He obviously had a lot less glycogen left at 17, but he did not have my negative feedback mechanisms to stop him in the surge. I often start my marathons aggressively, and hardly ever run an even or negative split. It is not uncommon for me to hit a half in a time that would be under a minute slower than I would have raced it all out. However, I do not recall running slower than 7:10 pace at the end of a marathon in the last 6 years. I think my negative feedback when glycogen is low is very strong, perhaps maybe even so strong that it inhibits my shorter races. But it saves my rear end when I make bad pacing decisions in the marathon.

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. Started out at 8:00, then gradually progressed to 7:00. HR was consistently 124 at 7:00 pace, that is about 4 beats per minute low for me. Ran with the kids in the evening, and added some more, still with the kids, but the non-running ones this time, and they were in the stroller. In fact all of the evening running was done with a double stroller. 30 K race tomorrow, it is going to be very interesting.

Added a new feature to the blog. You can now change the logging template. There are some limitations - it has to be already there among the pre-existing ones (I still have to create them manually), and you can only change to the one that has compatible set of fields with what you currently have. And of course, being in beta it may give you a surprise. Send me an e-mail if it does.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Race: (18.88 Miles) 01:50:38, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Striders 30 K in Ogden, 3rd place. Actual finish time was 1:50:38, but I took the wrong turn on the last mile and ended up adding an extra 0.24 that also added a downhill followed by a steeper uphill than the original course to make up. Fortunately, my Course Tool helped estimate the difference. It said at 5:50 flat pace equivalent, the wrong way would have taken 1:38 longer. The race directors apparently overheard me talking about the wrong turn and adjusted my time. At least, I had 1:50:38 on watch, and my official finish time was 1:48:37. This is actually a very good guess at what I would have run without the wrong turn. The detour alone cost me 1:38 physically. Half way through it I realized I was off the course, and I was not sure how much I was adding. I saw a big hill to make things worse. I lost the focus because the goals I've set for myself earlier now had to be readjusted. The natural tendency in that situation is to ease off to a comfortable pace at least for a while. Had I been on the normal course, I would have seen my split at 18 miles and would have shifted gears to get a solid sub-1:49:00. Nevertheless, the mishap did not change the placing - Paul and Steve were too far ahead, and Ken Richardson was too far behind.

Coming into the race, I was just planning on a long tempo on tired legs. Stomach flu on Wednesday while doing high mileage did not help with glycogen stores. Or maybe it did, after all. I did not back off on the miles on Friday, but I was panic-carboloading Thursday night and all day Friday. Ted brought me some Hornet Juice, which makes you burn more fat during the run. I think that definitely helped.

Paul and Bob took off, Steve and I followed them, and quickly caught them about 0.5 into the race. Then we ran like friend on a long run for a while, very conversational, telling stories, etc. I was not much of a conversation partner, but I did chip in when I could. I was amazed at how conversational the other three were at sub-5:50 pace on rolling hills at 5000 feet. I felt sluggish in the first three miles, then started feeling better, and after 5 I started feeling really good, although not as good as Bob, Paul, and Steve. Mile splits were (going by the markers) 5:50 - 5:54 - 5:46 - 5:42 - 5:43. We were rolling a bit down, but still we were rolling. 28:55 at 5 miles. At 6 miles I missed the Gatorade from the hand of the volunteer, and stopped to get it being very concerned about bonking later on. Then I was able to close the gap. During the early miles, HR was around 154. When closing the gap, HR hit 163, and it felt sustainable for a while, although not the whole race.

Then we started a gradual ascent at about 1% grade. There was a 5:50 mile at HR of 158, and then on the mile from 8 to 9 the effort picked up. Were still on the climb, and the split was 5:41. My HR hit 161, and I started to hurt. I started feeling more confident in my glycogen stores and decided to skip the next water stop, just to try to hang on at fast pace longer, then maybe they will end the surge, and I might have company for another couple of miles. But they were running very strong not letting up at all. I got dropped at 9.25, and eased off to a nice marathon pace effort. HR was at 155. 57:52 at 10 miles. Now we are on the Ogden Marathon course and going in right direction. Next mile in 5:40, downhill, but into a bit of a headwind. Another mile in 5:43. This is good, I am almost going the same pace I did in the half-marathon, and I am further along into the race than I was back then. And it hurts a lot less in spite of the mileage.

The downhill quickly ended, now the nasty rolling hills, and this time we are rolling up. Still doing slightly sub-6:00 miles, that is very good this late on those hills. 13 mile split was 1:15:14, that makes 1:15:53 half. I was very happy about that half. Three weeks earlier I raced a half that dropped quite a bit  of elevation (I think about 600 ft) in 1:14:29. This one maybe dropped 50-100 feet net, but the rolling and climbing was much more serious than in the half earlier. And this is en-route in a 30 K!

1:27:08 at 15 miles. Very encouraging, still going sub-6:00. Next mile in 5:55, followed by 6:07 on a more steady uphill. Nothing to complain about. And then somehow I ended up following the Ogden Marathon course instead of going straight to the Red Moose Lodge. Then I see a downhill. I do not remember that downhill being at the end of the half. Bad sign. Then I see the road ahead of me that I know leads to Ogden. Downtown Ogden is 12.5 miles a way. I was planning on a 30 K tempo today, not a 30 mile tempo! Fortunately, I saw a turn-off to the Red Moose Lodge, and now I new where I was. So I ran to the finish the best way I knew. Backed off just in case.

At the finish, I found out that Bob's calf decided to give me $50. He cramped up and was forced to stop at 16 miles. So I ended up 3rd, and that also gave me 3rd in the whole series. Paul and Steve ran amazingly well, especially Steve coming back from running a marathon a week earlier. 1:45:18 for Paul, and 1:45:33 for Steve. Just think about it - 3x10 K back to back each in a bit over 35:00 on average at 5000 feet on rolling hills and no elevation drop a week after a marathon!

Ran with the kids in the evening. Another high mileage week. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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