Breaking the Wall

Week starting Apr 28, 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: 69.55
Night Sleep Time: 49.00Nap Time: 2.50Total Sleep Time: 51.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. Learned some good things. The lesson in the Elder's Quorum was on the two great commandments - love the Lord, and love thy neighbor as thyself. Was tired when I got home. Took a nap.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 8.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with the kids and Sarah. Total of 13 miles. Benjamin did 7, including a mile with William. He is still recovering from the double hit of the Friday workout and the camp out, but is doing better. We had to stop and stretch/massage him multiple times, but he got through the run. The problem is tight piriformis on the right causing pain at the attachment point to the sacrum in the SI joint area. Tight hamstrings as well contributing to the problem. Not sure if we would be able to do the Uneventful Provo River Half practice on Saturday. But at least he was able to run today - Saturday afternoon after all the massage and stretching he could not even take three running steps.

Jenny did 3, Joseph 3, Julia 3, Jacob 2. William ran a mile with the hand held in 9:57.

P.M. 0.8 for transportation purposes from a car shop to a gas station. Sarah could not find the car shop, and needed to go to the gas station anyway, and I needed a little shakeout run.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 0.80
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. Benjamin did 8, including 1 with William in 9:27 holding his hand. Jenny did 4. Her aerobic fitness is starting to finally develop. Finally. It has been a struggle over the last 3 years or so. She grew really fast, her muscles could not keep up with the bones, while the heart and lungs could not keep up with the muscles. But she remained in good spirits, we toughed it out together, and she is beginning to break out of it. Today she ran 4 miles in 32:45 with a reasonable degree of aerobic comfort initiating 7:30 pace mid-run unprovoked. She is still having muscle issues - tension in the neck and lower back today. Julia did 3, Jacob 1, Joseph 2. I did a pickup for 0.5 in 2:48 uphill near the house.

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. Benjamin did 8, William 1 in 9:11 holding Benjamin's hand, Jenny 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, Julia 2.25. Jacob and Julia did a time trial on the track. We are focusing on getting Jacob to break 90 in a 400. This is the qualifying standard for the Hayward Field Youth Meet in Eugine. I am not sure if they have the 800 for sub-Bantams, so to get our basis covered we try to get a qualifier in the 400. Plus it is a good goal - sub-90 400 at the age of 6. 

So Jacob raced Julia in the first lap. I thought she would go with him, but she was to scared. He blasted the first 200 in high 42, then faded and finished with 93.1 - a new PR by 3 seconds. Julia still could not catch him and went through the first lap of her 800 in 98. She finished with another 98 and a total time of 3:16.9, which is a repeat of her PR. The conditions were not very good - it was cold and a little windy. We will try again in a couple of days.

I did a couple of pickups. 0.5 from the house going down in 2:45, and then on the way back the same stretch in 2:45 again. It was odd. The stretch looks like it should be much faster going away from the house. But there is a little bump with the grade reaching 9% which just kills the momentum. Also the downhill is hard to get going on - only about 0.15 in length - I need more than that before I find my downhill stride.  Then the bump, then more or less flat, then downhill again about 100 meters of 4%, and 100 meters of 2%. That one is nice, and I start finding my stride there, but the interval end just when I got going. If you go further, it is not nice - a turn, then concrete pavement going uphill. Concrete is not good - bad traction. So anyway, long story short, that 0.5 interval is slow both ways.

One thing I forgot to report is that last week Benjamin broke the 1700 rating barrier in chess for the first time, and his rating now is 1708. He is starting to pull away from me - mine is 1653. 

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. Benjamin's piriformis is still not 100%, although it has been slowly recovering. But we decided to postpone the Uneventful Provo River Half until May 18. He also has 4 AP tests coming up - Chemistry, Computer Science, Calculus BC, and Physics C: Mechanics next week. To keep his brain functional, we will run easy next week. We have an ambitious plan to get high scores, then take the ACT hoping the score is good as well, and apply for the winter semester at BYU. If it does not work, we can always try again, we are used to that. However, Benjamin already has a 4 on Calculus BC to his credit from the last year, which is good enough for BYU Math 112, but it would be nice get Math 113 out of the way as well for $89, so he is taking the Calculus BC test again.

He will run in a USATF track meet in Park City on May 11. The goal is to get the qualifying standard in 3000 for the Hayward Field Meet which is very low - 11:30, but it needs to be an official mark. He will try to crack 10:00, but it might be challenging doing it alone and at 6500 or so feet. But we take what we can get.

Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 1. I did a pickup for 0.5 at around 5:40 pace, then I did a 2 mile tempo coming back to the house from the canyon. The first mile went well - 5:38, which is good for that course, but then I had an odd incident  - my hamstring seized up, and I had to slow down. I still could run the last uphill mile in 6:00 in spite of that, but that was all I could do. So I ended up with 11:38.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.25
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 12.5. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 3, Julia 2.25, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 0.5. Jenny ran 23:58 for 3 miles - her first easy run in a long time that was sub-8:00 average. 

Jacob and Joseph did a time trial on the track at Orem High. Jacob did 400 while Joseph did 800. We started Jacob just a little bit in front of Joseph after Joseph had already run a lap. It was quite interesting. Joseph opened with 43 high 200, then he got a little cautious and slowed down hitting the first 400 in 90.4 or so. With Jacob in front of him he pushed harder in the second lap. But Jacob, being fresh and starting 2 seconds in front, was way too fast and gapped him by a good margin in the first 200. Then Jacob started to wear out, while Joseph maintained the pace and started to close, but he ran out of road.  Jacob ended up with 91.0 400 - new PR by 2 seconds, while Joseph ran 3:00.4 for the 800 - a new PR by 7 seconds.

Benjamin stood and watched to avoid aggravating his injury by fast running, while I paced Joseph. Benjamin commented on Jacob's turnover. Well, he is not even 4 feet tall yet, so to run a 91 quarter you have to turn over like crazy.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.50
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. Kids ran on their own. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Jacob 1, Joseph 2, William 1. I did a long run - 20 miles. After running the first 5 I realized I really did not want to go any further at any pace.But yet I knew that if I dug deeper I would find another 5 easy miles followed by 10 hard ones. And I did - I ran my first 10 uphill in 1:15:07, and then came back in 58:56. It was a struggle to do alone, but whenever I slipped to 6:00 pace, I always found another gear that took me back up to 5:50 no matter how late into the run it was, and no matter the terrain. That is a good sign.

I did however feel that I need to get more sleep, so I took care of that right after breakfast. It felt good to take a nap.

I realized not too long ago that I could not name a single sub-2:07 marathoner that did not have some kind of religion in his life. I understand why. Up to a certain point of speed you can run the marathon off your natural talent and conditioning. But there comes a time when you cannot progress any further unless you use your faith. I have been there. When I ran my best marathon I approached the start with trepidation because I knew I would be sprinting from the gun. Yes, to some 5:29 pace is a jog, especially on the St. George course, but to me it is very close to sprinting. I have a good excuse - I have only about two-thirds of the L-4 vertebra. Regardless, it was a scary experience, a step into the dark.

Now, there are people you have a healthy spine and other subsystems, and who can condition themselves to be able to go much faster than that without having to visit that zone. But I believe the limit is around 2:10-2:12 for the most talented, well-trained, well-nourished, and well-rested. To go faster, therefore, even the most fit will have to step into the dark, and move their legs by faith. Where does that faith come from? You need to believe that your running has some kind of a higher purpose. You need to more than believe, you need to know. And that knowledge naturally comes when you have faith in God, and God to you is more than a fictional character or concept, but somebody who sent you here, and somebody who will meet you when you are done with this life.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 20.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 69.55
Night Sleep Time: 49.00Nap Time: 2.50Total Sleep Time: 51.50
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