Breaking the Wall

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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: 53.25Nap Time: 7.00Total Sleep Time: 60.25
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fourth leg of the Wasatch Back this morning in the form of a 7:00 AM Stake Semi-Annual Priesthood meeting.  They always have those at 7:00 AM in our stake. I forgot about the last two and missed them, so this time I was determined not to forget. The Lord blessed me - in spite of missing the sleep in the WBR I felt very energized. I even felt energized afterwards in the three hour block. Once I got home I got a good nap, though.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 9.75
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. I got my check from Ogden. $550. And along with that I found on my doorstep "a ball of curious workmanship" from Ogden as well. This is what I like to say when I find a gadget on my doorstep. Just like Lehi found Liahona near his tent one day. Except this one does not work according to your faith. It was Suunto t4 foot pod/HRM toy.

I ran 3 miles with Tyler, and then spent the rest of the run playing with the new toy. Good - HRM works well. The adjustable strap might even make it fit on Benjamin, Jenny, and even Julia. Bad - time display is tiny, hard to see. No display of stride frequency, only an estimate of the running speed. It always irks me when a gadget displays what it does not really know (distance) while fails to display what it does know (stride rate, ground contact time, foot acceleration vector). I knew that display of the ground contact time would be unrealistic to expect, much less the foot acceleration vector in any form, but I did hope that I could at least get the stride frequency. Without it, the foot pod is annoyingly useless even when calibrated. In hopes that it would be somewhat reliable, I went through the trouble of attaching it to my shoe (now I am having a hard time taking it off, too). Before calibration, it was showing a pace 30 seconds per mile slower that actual at around 8:00 pace. After calibration at 8:00 pace it got better at paces slower than 7:00 mile, almost satisfactory. However, at sub-6:00 pace it was showing a faster pace by about 5 seconds a mile.

I could put up with that if it was not for this quirk. I accelerated quickly in one stride, and then eased off in the next in the middle of jogging at 7:50-8:00 pace. It showed 5:05 for the accelerating stride, and 12:30 on the ease-off stride. I can guarantee you I did not go from 7:50 to 5:05 in one stride, or from 5:05 to 12:30 in the next. The manual did warm about it, though. But I do this all the time when I run.

Ran a mile in 5:25, got HR up to 164. Total of 15.1 for the run.

P.M. 1.33 with the Benjamin, Jenny, and Julia to the library in 13:03, back with Benjamin and Jenny, this gave us 25:37 for 2.65. Then another 2.5 in 18:46. Ran into Jacob Howell, and then shortly after a BYU runner Rich Nelson who ran leg 10. Found out from him the composition of their Van 2: Jason Dorais, Warren Davis, Chad Durham, Rich Nelson, Ryan Merriman, and Derek Taylor. According to him they had no pace projections like us, just ran.

Five Fingers - 465.45 miles.

T4 Racer - 212.69 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Michelle came for a speed workout. We did 4x1 mile on the trail. Original plan was 5:45 each with 200 meter recovery. Michelle rebelled. I suggested we extend the recovery to 400 first time she is slower than 5:45. She did 5:40.1, 200 recovery, Matt joined us for the remainder of the workout. 5:46.5, 400 recovery, 5:45.1, 400 recovery, 5:45.7. Matt pulled away on the last one, was probably around 5:42-5:43. HR peaked at 157 a couple of times, once when we hit two 85 quarters back to back on the third one, and the other time when Michelle kicked with a 39 200 on the last one. Otherwise it stayed under 153. When Michelle struggled (88-89 quarters), it was 148, what a cold insensitive heart! However, when I yelled at her to give me five, it would go up to 152. Next time we should give the watch to Michelle so she could see my HR and play the "make Sasha work" game. If anybody wants to play it, feel free to come. Also, towing subjects wanted for power training. I have a harness I want to use to do some power training without hills (more specific to flat running), but nobody to tow this week. Ideally I want somebody slower so there is no way we can run a certain pace when the partner is being towed by having him just run that pace. This is also good for the slower runner - overspeed training.

After we finished the cool down, ran around the block 16 times.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:03, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:08, another 0.5 with Benjamin in  3:51, then 2 alone in 14:40.

Five Fingers - 485.42 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.25Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 9.25
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran alone. 15.07 in 1:52:20. This run took my Five Fingers over the 500 mile boundary. I think Steve Hooper will have to tell his sales rep that Five Fingers can go quite a bit over 500 miles.

Did some experiments trying different form alterations and observing their impact on HR at the same pace, or the pace at the same HR. Discovered one thing - we are took quick to conclude that changing the form has given us a performance boost. I would do something different, it would make me run faster, but HR would go up as well. So in other words, I wanted it to work bad enough that I subconsciously sped up and ignored the increased effort, which was easy to do when the pace is in the 7:00 - 7:30 range.

However, I did find something that appeared to be effective. No dramatic effect, but at least something. If I focused on a quick push and then a quick transition to relaxation as soon as the leg was off the ground, I was able to bring my HR down from 125 to 123 at the same pace (7:25 per mile). This was difficult to do properly, though. Not surprising, if it was easy I would have figured it out already. I kept doing one of the two - either relax too much and forget to power, in which case the HR stayed at 123 but the pace dropped to 7:35-7:40, or I would get excited, power hard, but then forget to relax. This would bring the pace up to under 7:10, but HR went up to 126-127.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:56, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:07, 0.5 with Benjamin in 3:56, and 2.5 alone in 14:58. Managed to fit the HRM on Benjamin. His HR was around 160 at 9:00 pace, around 174 at  8:00 pace, and after about 0.1 of sub-8:00 pace followed by 100 meters in 23 (6:08 pace) it got up to 186. First time I've been able to observe his HR at different speeds. 

Five Fingers - 505.49 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Adam the first 5 miles. First we ran 0.5 to verify that he still had the same problem last time we checked. He did. We went through the first quarter in 1:28, and after that he was unable to hold 6:00, and ended up with 3:01.7. He was not breathing very hard at all, but could not go any faster. Bad nervous system problem. Whatever I've got, he has 10 times worse. Helps me put things into perspective. Then I did a little bit of experimental power training dragging him with a harness 3 times, each time for 10 seconds. After that he was concerned he might aggravate an old injury, so we stopped.

Dropped him off, ran around the block. Then ran with the kids. 1.05 with Julia in 10:24, 1.5 in 13:26 with Benjamin and Jenny, 0.5 with Benjamin in 4:22. Then a dog came. Benjamin identified it as a dalmatian. Wikipedia says that dalmatians have excellent endurance and are very energetic and playful. This one was so energetic and playful that after about a quarter of running (1:37) I did not have a choice except put its endurance to a test. At 5:40 pace its playfulness decreased enough to where it was trailing behind and was not trying to hit my legs with its nose. I was encouraged and picked up the pace even more. Unfortunately we were now on the trail next to the river, which provided a nice shade and cooler temperatures thus favoring the dog. I kept up the pressure and on the last mile the dog started to falter. I was encouraged again because I knew once we got away from the river it would be warmer and I would be able to drop it. My expectations were correct. I put about a 10 second gap on the dog in the last 0.4. It came in huffing and puffing after I finished. I was delighted over my success in asserting human dominion over a small part of the animal kingdom in the area of endurance. Total time for the last 2.5 was 14:10 including the first non-tempo quarter in 1:37. Last mile was 5:31. Average pace over the last 2.25 of my unplanned dog tempo run was 5:34.

Total of 15.1 for the run.

P.M. Ran 5 miles in 39:01 in the evening. HR readings were very low in spite of the 80-90 degree heat. In fact, the were even lower than what I would have expected them in cool weather. About 118 at 7:30 pace on average. Started out very slow, felt exceptionally sluggish in the heat, and HR for a while completely refused to go above 105, while the pace refused to go faster than 8:00. Felt more energetic after 2 miles. I think I am starting to understand why they say "oppressive heat". Looks like the brain starts employing defense mechanisms directly in response to the heat vs in response to reduced blood volume from sweating.

Also did a stair test with myself, Sarah, Benjamin, and Jenny.  The test consists of running up a stairway of 11 stairs as fast as you can landing on every stair. Results - Benjamin - 2.8, Jenny - 2.9, me -3.3 (self-timed), 3.6 (Benjamin-timed), Sarah - 3.8. I timed everybody when I was not running. The test is supposed to measure your ability to quickly contract and relax a muscle, which I believe is an important component in the Quality X. I wondered if the fact that Benjamin was closer to his natural stride length for the stair climb allowed him to contract/relax more efficiently. So we did a test skipping every other stair. The times were 2.3 for him and 3.1 for me, so no, I am just bad it at. The fact that I was not that much better in this ability than pregnant woman 25 weeks along gives some food for thought.

Five Fingers - 525.59 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 15.07 including 1.05 with Julia in 10:07, and 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:22.

P.M. 5 alone in 35:50.

Five Fingers - 545.36 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Did the Provo Riverwoods 10 miler twice. First up, the immediate 180 and dash back down. Brisk warm up for the first 5 miles, then tempo the rest of the way. A fairly miserable workout as you climb 800 feet in the first half, but great preparation for Deseret News.

I had two goals - beat Josse's race time from two weeks ago (1:07:02) on the way up, then James Barnes' winning time (56:42) on the way back. After a bit of jogging at 7:30 pace I realized that if I had any chances of beating Josse I needed to get down to business. So I started going around 6:40-7:00 pace up the Provo Canyon. Occasional gusts of wind did not help, but I was able to keep respectable pace through them. HR quickly got up to 130-135 range and stayed there. Got through the first 5 miles, and shifted into the tempo gear. To my surprise I had a hard time getting HR above 145 no matter how hard I tried to push it. The pace was around 6:10-6:20 range until I went into the South Fork.

Did the 3.23 stretch up South Fork in 21:26, 6:38 average. Passed Michelle and Josse doing their pre-tempo warm-up. 1:07:40 at the turnaround. Chicked by 38 seconds, bummer!

On the way back tried to crank it up, but had a hard time kicking into gear. HR absolutely refused to go above 145. 3.23 in 17:56, 5:33 average. Not that great of this kind of drop (400 feet in a bit over 3 miles). Better watch out, or I might not only miss James, but get chicked by Michelle on the descent. Her split at that point was only 33 second slower.

Focused on running not slower than 5:40 figuring that if I can do that on flatter portions and James's average was 5:40 I should be OK. With only one caveat. The course is actually about 0.07 longer than 10 miles. Back when Curt certified it it went straight near Bridal Veil Falls. But since then he added a detour on the little bridge to avoid crossing the old highway.

Finally kicked into gear and started seeing 1:23 quarters. HR climbed to 149 but rebelled against the 150 range. Towards the end as it got warmed it got up to 152. Picked it up to 5:20 pace on the last quarter, HR finally progressed to 155 during that. Finished the second half in 56:20, 22 seconds ahead of James's time. Total time 2:04:00.

P.M. Benjamin ran in the state meet. I jogged a bit with him during his warm-up. He won Bantams 1500 in 6:04.20 beating his only competitor by 18 seconds. The effort earned him $4. I set up a bonus structure for him - $1 for every lap 1:35 or faster, $4 for breaking 6:00, $2 for breaking 6:10, $1 for breaking 6:18 which was what he ran last time. Time bonuses non-cumulative. His splits were 1:35, 1:39, 1:39, and 1:11 for the last 300. His last lap was 1:34. So $2 in lap bonuses, and $2 time bonus. Decent effort for 85 degree heat.

Afterwards we went on an adventure drive on the Squaw Peak road from Provo Canyon to Hobble Creek Canyon. Ran with the girls in the middle. Julia ran 1 mile downhill in 8:47. Jenny ran 1.5 in 13:23, first mile was downhill, last 0.5 uphill. That was quite an adventure drive, I think that is my PR for off-road driving both in terms of distance, the closeness to the edge of a cliff, and the bumpiness of the road. Prior PR was Avon pass which pales in comparison.

T4 Racer - 232.69 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 53.25Nap Time: 7.00Total Sleep Time: 60.25
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