Breaking the Wall

Sandy Classic 10 K

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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
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Ran alone this morning. Standard 10.04 course. Eventually eased into sub-7:00 pace. HR stabilized at 125. Hit the first half in 35:35. On the way back ran the standard 2.5 mile tempo. First 1.25 at 5:40 pace, all quarters 1:25 exact. That for some reason felt brisk in a way, I would not have called it relaxing, but at the same time I felt no urges to run slower. HR fairly quickly, quicker than normal made it to 155. Then I shifted gears into threshold gear. First quarter in 1:21. Thought the uphill one would be 1:23, or 1:22 at the very best, but I ended up with 1:21 again, and felt strong. Another one, which still rolls unpleasantly was 1:21. Earlier I thought maybe I was just being too feisty but now I started to gain confidence in the new level of fitness. Next quarter in 1:20, and kicked it a bit on the last one - 1:16, 13:44 for 2.5 and 5:18 on the last mile. Even caught the 5:30 guy at the very end and beat him by 1 second.

This in and of itself is not a super great accomplishment except that I have been doing this run weekly putting in essentially the exact same effort, and getting the exact same results over the last month or so. I did not feel like I mentally put in any more effort than I did before. What is interesting is that my HR shot up from 155 to 164 within about 0.3 from the time I started running threshold effort, and then eventually maxed out at 169. This HR response was accomplished without extreme mental effort. I also felt that I had the ability to make my legs sore. This may sound like a joke to others but it is a big deal for me. I often find myself in a prize money race in a situation where a little bit more in effort results in quite a bit more in money. I try every imaginable method to push myself to the limit, but the body gives no response. After the finish, the legs feel fresh, and I do not feel tired at all.

The feeling in the tempo was somewhat comparable to running in Arizona in the Del Sol Relay on the first leg. I was running 10 seconds per mile faster than I would have on the same terrain in Utah with the same perceived effort, and I was able to push my HR higher. At this point I feel inclined to attribute the change to a better functioning of the nervous system in response to my efforts to keep blood sugar at a decent level throughout the day.

Finished 10.04 in 1:07:22. Ran a mile later in the morning, half with Julia running and Jacob in the stroller, the other half with her in the stroller as well. Ran another 4 in the afternoon, 1.5 with Jenny, 1.5 with Benjamin, and 1 back and forth watching them play in a park.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Ran with Jeff McLellan this morning. We warmed up 2.34 very leisurely, then did 4x400 with full rest (very slow 400 meter jog) on the trail on the standard quarter workout stretch going towards the lake (faster direction, but still about 1 second slower than the track). First in 69.1, I was surprised, did not think we'd hit sub-70 on the first one. Then another surprise - 66.2. One more surprise - 63.2. That one felt fast, but at the same time had somebody told me to finish the 800 when I had 30 meters to go, I could have been coaxed into it. Enough surprises. I've got a race tomorrow. I told Jeff I wanted to relax on the last one, although it was tempting to blast it out to try to bring the average under 65. We did it in 69.4.

Then we ran 5.93 for a cooldown. Started out at slower than 8:00 for the first mile. Then gradually picked it up as the lactic acid from the workout began to disappear and worked our way to 6:40 pace at the end.

Ran 1 mile with Benjamin and Jenny in the evening pushing Joseph and Jacob in the stroller in 9:03. Then ran 4 more miles with Jacob and Joseph in the stroller in 30:16. Started out at slower than 8:00 then eventually worked my way to 7:00 pace at the end.

Sandy Classic 10 K tomorrow. The goal is to be in pain for the majority of the race. If I can do that, the time and the place will come. 

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Race: Sandy Classic 10 K (6.21 Miles) 00:35:15, Place overall: 5
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Sandy Classic 10 K, 35:15, 5th place.

Drove up with Benjamin. He ran the 5 K in 23:20 according to his timing.

At the start we had Paul Petersen, Hobbie Call, Nick McCombs, and Vance Twitchell . Hobbie took off fast enough for Nick, Paul, and Vance to not want to follow, and they in turn took off fast enough for me not to want to follow. So I ran the whole race in no man's land.

My goal for the race was to be in pain. I miserably failed to reach it. No matter how hard I tried, I could not sustain a pace that hurt. Could not get my HR above 161. It felt like a slow half marathon. On the positive was able to pick it up on the last quarter a bit - hit 5:03 pace according to the GPS. I also felt strong during the race and hit fairly even splits.

My Garmin 305 showed the race to be 6.28. I noticed that both times going around the South Town Mall  my quarter splits started getting very slow even on the downhill sections even though I felt I was maintaining good turnover and the heart rate did not drop. Then the splits went back to more believable values on the straight stretches.

The official times have not yet been released, but Hobbie was around 31:30, Nick around 32:15-32:30, Paul timed himself at 33:03, and Vance was around 34:00. 

It puzzled me for a while why the times were so slow on this course last year. The course is hilly, but not as bad as Salt Lake Classic. I even suspected that Bill had made a mistake in the measurement of the course after I did a rough map of the course on the Course Tool. However, after redoing the map with nearly perfect tangents, I figured out what was happening. This course is laid out in such a way that running the tangents perfectly is nearly impossible (having slow 5 K runners only 10 minutes in front does not help either), and the loss from improperly running tangents is very high.

After the race, Benjamin and I rushed home as we were participating in the parade in Provo. After the parade ran 1.1 to get the car. In the evening ran 0.5 with Julia, 1.38 with Jenny, and then 6.3 with Jacob in the stroller averaging 7:00 pace.

 Made some improvements in the Course Tool. For one, fixed the missing elevations in the courses. That shrank some courses,  particularly  Summer Games 10k because now you are not taking a vertical dive to sea level right in the middle of Cedar City.

Need some empirical data. I am fairly certain that grade adjustment is a function of the elevation you are at. Right now the Course Tool uses the data I collected in Provo, so it is for 4500-5000 feet of elevation. What I need is to have as many people as possible that could measure out a course on a grade at various elevations, and run it back and forth at a hard, but reliably repeatable effort several times back and forth on the same day (eg. 10x400 alternating up and down).

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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ran alone this morning on the standard 10.04 course. On the way out got 36:47 at a fairly even pace after a very slow warm-up quarter in 2:10. HR did not get above 124 although it started getting warm. On the way back, felt like a short tempo to make things interesting. Decided to run a relaxed marathon pace effort not worrying too much about pace as long as it was faster than 6:00 for 2.25, and then sprint on the last quarter to see what I'd get. Did the first quarter in 1:29, then eased into a slightly over 5:40 pace. Ran the last quarter in 71, which gave me 14:04 for the run, 2:36 for the last 0.5, and 5:29 for the last mile. HR made its way to 154 prior to the kick.

Total time for 10.04 was 1:09:33.

Ran 0.5 with Julia later in the morning. In the evening ran 3.25 to DI and back. On the way out pushing the double stroller with Julia and Joseph, and accompanied by Benjamin and Jenny. On the way back, pushed the double stroller with Joseph and Jenny, and directed Benjamin as he pushed Jacob in the single stroller. Julia and Sarah ran/walked back behind us. This was quite a procession!

Afterwards added another 3.25 at 7:30 pace.

I am getting really odd results from the high mileage. HR at speeds slower than marathon race pace is down - that is to be expected. Threshold is not moved and sometimes I cannot even sustain it for long, pace, breathing, or HR-wise. However, the top speed is slightly better and easier to reach, and my kick at the end of a tempo run has improved. Has anybody observed anything of the kind, or would have an idea of what is going on?

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Breakthrough workout this morning. Finally it is starting to smell like the Trials. I would not say a Trials Qualifier is in the bag, but using a soccer analogy, before I had to pass a couple of very good defenders and then trick the goalee, while now it is just the goalee.

Ran with Nick and Jeff. Standard 5 mile tempo. Was not expecting much starting the day with 64 miles on the odometer for the week already. Last night I felt sluggish. So the plan was to run all of it at 5:40, slower is OK if 5:40 feels too hard. Then a kick with 400 to go. This would measure how hard the tempo really was and give a very reliable indicator of fitness without actually pushing it over the top.

Felt sluggish in the warmup. Then we started the tempo. First quarter did not look promising - 1:27, did not feel particularly easy. Next quarter in 1:25, felt harder than the first, but sustainable. Again nothing special. Then 1:22, and another in 1:22, 5:37 for the mile. Nick and Jeff were setting the pace, and I was just following them. The pace did not feel hard, but I've had so many days like that where 5:30 pace early on felt easy, and then after 2 miles I could not sustain it. So I was not getting too optimistic.

Next 0.5 in 2:43, and it feels OK, still like a marathon pace. This is encouraging. Nick saw were ahead of the pace and eased off a bit. Next 0.5 in 2:47, 5:30 for the mile, 11:07 at 2. That felt way too comfortable. HR still hovering around 150. 2:49 for the next 0.5, 13:56 at the turnaround. Still feels comfortable, but I am crossing my fingers. Jeff started to struggle and fell back. Oddly enough, we traded places from last week when it was I who struggled exactly the same way - the breathing is fine, but you just cannot go any faster.

Nick picked it up a bit. 2:46 for the next 0.5, 16:43 at 3 miles, 5:36 mile. Still feels like marathon pace, maybe a tiny bit too aggressive, HR  made its way to 157. Steady pace for the next mile, 5:33, 22:16 with a mile to go. The uphill quarter in 1:23, that brought HR up to 163, but it did not feel 163-miserable. Next quarter in 1:24, feels more threshold like, but still not quite there, then 1:23.

Finally the last quarter. The moment of truth. Was I just fooling myself telling myself the pace was easy, was this a mental game, or a real gain in fitness? Ran 69 seconds - this removes all doubt. The fastest I've ever been able to do off anywhere close to that pace before has been 76. This gave us 5:19 for the last mile, 27:35 for the 5 miles, which is a course PR for me, and the last 2.5 in 13:39.

Ran 0.1 during the day to find Joseph who escaped from the house on his toy motorcycle. He did not get very far, but this is our family escape distance record for all ages, not just 2 and under. In the evening ran to Reams to get Jacob some diapers, then a mile with the kids, and then 4.04 with a stroller and Jacob in it. Met Scott Hillman and his wife Esther. Scott is going to join us tomorrow.

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Long run in the morning. Ran the standard 10.04 course twice. First time around easy with Scott Hillman. We chatted in Russian all the way, very relaxed, got 1:15:37, HR stayed below 120. Then a quick bathroom stop  at the house, drank a quart of Powerade, and then ran the second half hard. Had a rough time getting into a rhythm on the first mile, but then  settled into a nice 5:45-5:50 pace. Hit the 2.5 tempo stretch on the trail in 14:27 on the way out. 29:12 at the turnaround. The tempo stretch on the way back in 14:27. HR hovered in the 150-154 range. 150 felt relaxed, 154 felt like I was working, but still had some gas in the tank.

It warmed up a bit at the end, I felt I had to put in more effort to keep the pace, but I could handle it. Picked it up on the last 0.5. Timed the last quarter - 1:23. Came back in 29:07, total time for 10.04 was 58:19, average of 5:48. Total time for 20.08 was 2:13:56.

Ate breakfast, helped a neighbor move. Made sure not to carry anything too heavy, left this to the guys with bigger muscles. Started feeling better during the move.

Took a nice two-hour nap, felt good afterwards. Ran 2 miles with the kids in the evening, then took Sarah on a date. She rode the bike, and I ran. Started out at 8:00 pace, then gradually eased into 6:30-6:40 pace. HR at first hovered around 127, then as I lost a bit of water it drifted to 130-132 range around mile 5. It is amazing what a man is willing to do to impress a woman, even if he's been married to her for 10 years. Sarah asked me if I was working. I told her, watch, let me show what happens when I am working. So I ran 0.75 in 4:07 with the quarters of 1:24, 1:22, and 1:21. That felt good, like I could hold it for a while, even though I already had about 28 miles on the odometer for the day by that point. I guess the combination of a nap, proper carbo-reloading, and a drive to impress a woman can do wonders. Finished 8 miles in 53:34, out in 27:32, back in 26:02.

Record weekly mileage, somewhat unplanned, but I felt good, so I decided to go for it.


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