Breaking the Wall

Week starting May 07, 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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
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

Ran 10 miles in the morning alone with a mile with ankle weights, and two mile marathon tempo pick-ups one in 5:46, and the other in 5:41 over by my house. In the afternoon ran with Benjamin and Jennifer, as well as my usual always on the run.

The recovery is going very well. Only the hamstrings are moderately sore. This is exactly where I want it to hurt. I've been trying to make them hurt after a marathon for a long time. The only other times when they have hurt recently has been after Top Of Utah 2003, and St. George 2003 - my two other best marathons. I believe this one was a better performance than those - my predictor says I ran an equivalent of 2:22:50 in St. George, and after going back and analyzing the data that made me set it this way, I still agree with the estimate. A number of elite runners that were in the same shape for both, and finished within the same or comparable distance from me in both marathons get correct predictions using the current formula.

Total of 13 miles for the day. Now it is the time to let the muscles rest a bit, and start developing the deadly 5 K fangs for the circuit. There are going to be plenty of college-speed venom-fanged predators hunting for circuit points, and I need to have a way to defend myself. Plus that speed will come handy in St. George - I'll be able to relax at 5:20 for at least some time.

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

Easy run with Eric and George in the morning. Did some marathon pace tempo pick-ups including a mile in 5:37, and a mile with ankle weights. The soreness in the hamstrings is gone. Total of 11 miles in the morning. Ran with Benjamin and Jennifer in the afternoon. Jennifer is still recovering from the food poisoning on Saturday, but still ran an 8:48 mile on her own initiative. I told her to run a 10:00 mile. Also ran a mile on the Provo River Trail after a meeting with a client. In the evening went to the church to watch the kids for the Relief Society Enrichment Night - it was the Elders' turn. Ran on the way there with Benjamin. We also did a lap race around the church building (outside) with all the kids. Benjamin won and gave our Elders Quorum President (who was a co-pacer with me) a run for his money eventually dropping him on the hill at the end. Then Benjamin's friend Shay wanted to race him in a sprint. I took them to a safe stretch in the parking lot. They first raced uphill on an unknown distance (probably about 50 meters). Benjamin got 10.2, Shay 11.8. He opened up most of the distance on the last 10 meters. On the downhill, Shay did better - Benjamin 9.7, Shay 10.2 - only 0.5 gap. Then I had them do a standing broad jump. We did not have a tape, but it appeared that Benjamin was jumping about 5 inches further. Now Shay is a fairly athletic kid, and is 2 months older than Benjamin. So he can be considered representative of what is normal for an untrained 7-year old to do in sprinting. In addition to Shay, I have observed similar results comparing Benjamin's performance in explosive exercise with other kids his age - he seems to rank towards the top. What is interesting is that I do not do any kind of special explosive training with him - only distance. The only explosive exercise he gets is the normal kid play. My explanation of his performance is that his endurance training gives him the ability to play extra hard and develop additional explosive strength. This is what my wife also noticed - her comment: You have created monsters. They do not get tired like other kids.

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

Did not get good sleep in the last couple of nights. The Ogden marathon awards ceremony took long enough for me to get a sun-burn, and I've been itching for the last couple of days. So the lack of deep sleep, and getting up at 5 AM today to run contributed to not being fully awake. Who called that ceremony an award ceremony? To sit in the sun for an hour and half after running a marathon only to find out that they did not have the checks ready yet. This sounds more like a punishment ceremony to me. I wish they would just hand the checks out when you cross the line instead of the finisher medal (I understand a first-time non-competitive marathoner is excited about finishing, but after 35 marathons it does get old), take your picture, and then honor you "post-humously" at some ceremony later that you do not have to attend if you are too tired or need to get home soon, or better - just do a write-up about the race on the website. Skip the plaque too - give it to the first runner across the line that does not have one yet and really wants it. My house is only 1060 sq. ft filled with fast-moving children - I am running out of room for the trophies. However my bank account is not nearly as full, and always has room for a check. Anyway, I was not expecting to be able to run fast today, and thought of doing 4x1.54 downhill on the Slate Canyon Loop at marathon pace. First one was at marathon pace - 8:38. I felt more awake on the next one and hit it in 8:18. Then woke up more and ran 8:13. Last one in 8:03. When the pace started reaching 5:20 on the rolling hills section it felt hard. However, 5:24 felt like an honest half-marathon pace, and 5:28 felt relaxing. Came back from the temple, and ran a mile with ankle weights. Then later in the afteroon, ran with Benjamin and Jennifer. In the evening with Julia, and then Joseph wanted to go for a run too. But he cannot run very far yet, so I put him in a stroller to give him the experience. Total of 13.5 miles for the day.

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

Sarah found some cream for my itching shoulders, and I was able to take a good nap in the afternoon yesterday, and go into deep sleep last night. Got up this morning and ran easy on the foothills near my house with Eric and George. Had a forced tempo pick up to catch them after a bathroom stop. Then ran a mile with ankle weights, and a marathon pace tempo on the Slate Canyon Loop (2.11) in 12:26. Climbed the hill section at 6:45 pace, and that felt relaxed. I kept it relaxed on purpose, not worrying too much about the pace, only measuring it to see what I get for the effort. On the flat/rolling parts ran 5:44 pace. In the late morning ran with Benjamin and Jennifer. Then in the afternoon went to TOSH in Murray to participate in the Lower Back Pain study. Ran on a magic treadmill at different speeds. Had special markers attached to me all over my body, and cameras and the computer watching their every move like a hawk. Also the magic treadmill measures the ground reaction forces. They will mail me a CD with all of the measurements afterwards. They are still looking for subjects. If you are interested, contact Joe Seay at lbprunningstudy at (make sure to put the real at sign here you see in e-mails, spammers go a way), or call 801.314.4037. One of the research workers was actually Jed's cousin. Small world. They had fun when I asked them to crank up the treadmill to 5:00 pace. Their normal protocol goes to 8.5 mph (about 7:03 pace), but I wanted to get a measurement at a high speed. They said high speed running gives them some interesting results to study. I told them I'd help them recruit people that can give them a good sample at that pace. We have a few with the blogs here.

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

In the morning ran with Eric and George on the foothills. We dropped George off to do more miles on dirt, and I encourage Eric to run fast for the last 0.75. He maintained 6:12 pace and I really liked his breathing. It sounded like he was handling the pace a lot better than he used to.

Then I put on my ankle weights and did a short fartlek. Started out with 50 seconds slow/10 seconds fast, but then realized that it is much harder to get going in 10 seconds to get any workout with ankle weights than without, and made it 45 slow 15 fast. Did this for a mile - 7:09.

Afterwards a tempo run at marathon pace on the Slate Canyon Loop (2.11). Did it in 12:23. Felt good.

Then ran with Benjamin and Jennifer. Went to see a client for the rest of the day. Ran a mile during a short break. In the evening ran about 1.8 miles to the theater - Benjamin and Jennifer were in a play. Total of 13.8 for the day.

I think I am starting to figure out my pelvis mystery. My right leg is 9mm longer and it tilts accordingly to compensate when I stand. After running with ankle weights for the last few weeks, I have been feeling different, and am starting to catch the form I had when I was 12. Back then I could relax and just fly. The stride felt effortless. I ran a 10 K in 37:38, 1000 in 3:03.8, and 3000 in 10:08.2. Then a mystery happened around the time I turned 15. I trained consistently, but nevertheless gradually that ease of movement was gone. I started feeling like an elephant, and have been the rest of the time until now. At the same time, durin g a medical check-up, the doctor noticed there was something strange with my pelvis, but he could quite figure it out.

Now after wearing the ankle weights for the last few weeks, that 12 year old smoothness is beginning to partially come back. I felt it particularly on the hill at mile 14 in Ogden. I fully expected to be dropped on that hill. However, when I hit it, I was able to run fast and relaxed, and drop the competition to my surprise.

My explanation so far of what happened. Between the ages of 12 and 14, a very critical bone formation period, I ran 4 days a week during the cold time of the year in Moscow on an indoor track at the Znamenskiye track and field school. It is 200 meters long, and has curves about 25 meters long. They are very sharp, and are tilted at a large angle. I averaged about 30 fast laps during my hard workouts. The pace was rarely slower than 6:00 mile, and was often faster than 5:00 mile. So I would hit those curves time and again. Eventually, it raised the right side of my pelvis more or less permanently, and this encouraged the right leg to grow some extra length into the provided room.

Whether it really happened that way or not, one thing I am fairly certain of is that running on those curves did the damage that caused the loss of smoothness, and running with ankle weights now is partially undoing it. The question is - can that damage be undone in greater measure? If genetically I am supposed to not have it, is it possible to encourage an adult body to restore itself to the shape it is genetically supposed to be?

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

Ran in the Provo Canyon in the morning. A mile of warm-up, a mile with ankle weights, some strides and jogging, then the real workout.

2x1.5 miles downhill with 0.5 recovery jog - essentially full rest. The idea was to go out at 5:00 pace and hold it until it would become impossible. Then just hang in there to the end doing my best.

There was tailwind in some places, and cross winds in others. First one - quarters 74-74-74-75-75-76. 7:28.3. Not bad. Chatted with an older guy named Phil during the recovery jog, and one more. 75-75-74-77-76-74. 7:31.5. In both repetions, it seemed like my body was trying very hard to run aerobically. It almost felt like a tempo run through the first mile. Then it got a bit harder, and on the last quarter the breathing was out of control - sucking air in like crazy, and exhaling with vengence. And all that just to keep the pace. With the cooldown, it was 10 miles for the workout.

The rest of the day was rather crazy, as Saturdays often are. However, I managed to get my jogging in. Ran with Benjamin, and Jennifer in the afternoon. Then at 10:00 pm I was still at 11.75 for the day, 1.25 short of my daily minimum quota. The day does not end until I've run 13 unless I am tapering, so I went for another 1.25. All the kids were still awake. I took Joseph and Julia in the stroller. Benjamin said he was feeling like a fast mile, so I took him also. He ran a mile in 7:55, would probably qualify as a world record for a 7 year old timed running after 10 pm, if they kept such records. Then he jogged another 0.25 with me.

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