Breaking the Wall

Week starting Jun 11, 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
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Today was my first day of the experiment. The idea is to raise the aerobic power since I am not that good at running anaerobically in shorter races, and it is not possible in longer races anyway. Lydiard says anaerobic work interferes with aerobic development. I have always taken it with a grain of salt, but I have never really given the idea a fair try. In the past, my idea of aerobic development was jogging at 7:00 pace, occasionally picking it up to 6:30. Well, I can still jog at 7:00 pace, and even through in a mini-tempo on a recovery day in between anaerobic speed workouts. But if I removed them, I could do much more - run 6-8 miles a day at my marathon race pace. That would really push the aerobic system. We'll see how that works.

Went to the Provo Canyon. Warmed up a mile. Put on ankle weights and did 4x100 alternating up and down - up 19.6, down 18.2, up 19.0, down 17.7. Now the form started feeling good. I think the mistake I made in the past week was to only jog with ankle weights - I am now realizing they are most effective when you sprint in them.

Then ran 8 miles at marathon pace effort up and down the canyon being very careful to not feel anaerobic even when going up. The average pace up was 6:07, average pace down 5:38. However, the run involved 3 180 turns, and I had a hard time shifting gears after running uphill. So once I got going the downhill pace was 5:32-5:34. Total time 46:59.

Did some always on the run miles during the day. Ran with the kids. Jennifer made Benjamin work today by running an 8:34 mile with the last 0.5 in 3:44. Then we ran to pick cherries. It is a race against the birds. We managed to get our share.

If anybody knows a good source of locally grown fruit/vegetables here in Provo/Orem or within a 20 mile radius or so, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail through the feedback form. We eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and are just barely learning to garden. I am aware of Strattons and Allreds, but I would really like to get to know a few farmers or just people with big gardens with stuff to sell on a regular basis.

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Ran on the trail about 4 miles with Eric and Jorge to the magic mark. On the way back, did about a 6 mile tempo at about 6:00 pace. Then did 4x100 with ankle weights (19.7 - 19.0 - 18.6 - 18.2).

Aftewards ran with the kids. Took Benjamin on the Slate Canyon Loop to help him learn how not to have fits on a hill. Had Jennifer in the stroller. The presence of a little sister greatly improves the older brother's mental toughness.

We planned it so he would be very tempted. He hit a rolling 0.75 in 5:49 before the hill started. Then he slowed down to a 2:12 on the hill on the next quarter - very good pace for that grade, and had a good attitude. I told him he needed to tell himself he is stronger than the hill. He scaled that nasty hill (about 0.57 long) like an adult Kenyan - as if it were not there, and shifted gears very quickly on the down. His downhill split for 0.5 was 3:28. Last quarter was uphill, but he again tackled it like an adult Kenyan with a split of 1:57, and the total time for 2.11 of 16:44. There was a little glitch as we passed a house with two ladies that live an alternative life style and smoke like a chimney on top of it. The smoke threw Benjamin off, he started having difficulties breathing, and was about to go into panic. That is when his little sister's help came handy. She gave him some firm words of encouragement, and he quickly recovered first mentally, then physically, and sped back up. I was very impressed that he was able to hit a 1:57 quarter split uphill through all of this.

Ran some more in the evening with Joseph in the stroller. Total of 15 miles for the day.

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Had to do an early run today. Tried to map out a flat 8 mile course near my house. Found a loop 4963 feet long (0.94 or 1500 meters), however after doing two of them, I realized I did not like it - too many turns, still some uphill, and I did not want to pass the alternative life style smoking house 9 times. So I went to going a mile out mile back. It still rolls, but it is the flatest mile there is near my house of all the stretches I know where the automotive traffic is sufficiently low. Although you do see some fitness traffic in the area, we could use more of that and less of the car and particularly school bus traffic. In Kenya, running 6 miles to school is a norm. Here, walking half a mile to get on the school bus is considered too much - there seems to be a school bus stop every 200 meters on 1350 E. And they wonder why Americans get beat every time a Kenyan wins. Eliminating frequent school bus stops will conserve fuel, improve air quality, reduce childhood diabetis, and take American runners to a new level. I think I am ready to run for office...

It took me a while to get going, especially with all the adventures of the course knocking me out of rhythm. However, I finally started breaking 6:00 miles in the middle, and managed a sub-6:00 average of 47:55 for 8 miles.

Did some always on the run miles during the day. Ran in the evening with the kids. George and his kids happened to be biking as we got out. The excitement of having cycling pacers led to Jennifer setting a new mile record - 8:00. She is going to be 6 at the end August. Benjamin broke 8:00 (with a 7:58.8) on the track a month before he turned 6, and the fastest he's ever run on that course before he was 6 is 8:21. So it seems like she is ahead of schedule. It looks like breaking an 8:00 mile before the 6th birthday is going to become a ritual in our family. Now if we could carry it to breaking a 4:00 mile before any birthday, it would be just super.

When Benjamin was 3, he already looked like a runner - long legs, good form. Jennifer looked like a regular 3 year old, perhaps even a bit clumsy and non-althletic. Now, however, her legs have grown out and are very strong. I tried to get her out of bed one morning, and she kicked me. I felt the power.

Total of 14 miles for the day.

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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ran with George in the morning. Warmed up to the magic mark on the trail past the turn-off to the Y. After that did a tempo run of about 6 miles on the same route as Tuesday. Improved my time from 36:55 to 36:16. This does not say much, as at marathon race pace over 6 miles if you have a time goal to improve you can always cheat and do it especially if you kept track of the splits on the previous run, which I did.

Jogged some more, then did 4x100 with angle weights in 19.5, 19.2, 18.3 and 18.2. After that, a tempo mile out and back in 5:30 - tailwind out and headwind back. Felt good. Good sign - 5:30 pace still feels good at least for a mile after 4 days of consequitive tempos.

Afterwards, ran with the kids. Some always on the run miles with Joseph in the stroller during the day. Total of 15 miles.

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Missed George this morning. Went to the Provo River Trail by Geneva Road. Warmed up, then ran a 6 mile tempo. Out 2.5 in 14:43, then back in 14:44, then turned around and speed up to 5:28 on the last mile. Total time 34:55. Last three quarters were actually all 1:21, but on the first one it was hard to get going after 180 turn and going 5:54 for 5 miles - it was 1:25.

For some odd reason 5:54 pace felt strained. Legs were not relaxing. However, 5:24 pace at the end almost felt easier.

Jogged some more, even did some house shopping in the area. Then came home, and did 4x100 with ankle weights 19.3 - 18.9 - 17.9 - 17.9.

Then ran with the kids, and did another mile later on with Joseph in the stroller. Total of 14 for the day. Provo Riverwoods 10 miler tomorrow.

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Provo Riverwoods 10 miler. 53:05, first place. No prize money, and no competition after the first 0.5 miles. However, since I have to time the race, and need to get a run in anyway, I may just as well run it. Plus it is good for psychological reasons to win by a large margin once in a while after getting beat in more competitive races.

The course had about 900 feet of elevation drop, most of it in the first three miles. My goal was to keep the pace faster than 5:20 or at least not much slower than 5:20 on the not so steep sections, and really get going on the steep ones.

Felt good until the last two miles. Then the legs started cramping up. I suppose this is to be expected - I've been doing tempos every day since Monday.

The mile markers were rather approximate, but fortunately the course had Hawk's magic marks most of the way. This helped me keep the pace on target. Last two miles were around 5:23 - 5:25.

Afterwards, the race was not over. I had to time everybody else. Fortunately, George was there to help, and then Mike West showed up.

Then went on a 3 mile cooldown with Mike West. That, plus a two mile warmup at the start with George gave me good mileage for the day.

In the evening ran with the kids right before Sarah and I went on a date. Our babysitter Chris came early so we invited him for the run. Benjamin and Jennifer were determined to give him a run for his money. Jennifer set a new family record in the 5 and under division for the mile - 7:41. Chris survived the run, but it was not easy for him.

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