Breaking the Wall

Week starting Jul 02, 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: 232.17 Year: 3533.69
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: 734.48
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A short taper before Murray Fun Days. Also the beginning of an easier week. I am realizing 3 weeks of 90+ with daily tempos was perhaps too long - two should have been enough. Or very possibly I did not need it at all - I suspect am already aerobically developed enough for the limit to be somewhere else, and until that mysterious "somewhere else" gets pushed up, additional aerobic development either will not happen, or will not help me run better.

Went to the Provo Canyon to do a tune-up workout. Warm up, then 4x100 with ankle weights. Up 19.7 - down 18.2 - up 18.8 - down 17.5. Then 0.5 up in 2:38 (79 - 79) with a solid headwind. Full recovery, then 0.75 down in 3:38 ( 74 - 71 - 73). Felt very relaxed in the first 1000, but then holding the pace became significantly harder. Full recovery ( 400 meter jog), then 2x100 with 300 jog rest down both in 14.6. Felt unusual explosive strength, but could not quite translate it into speed.

Ran with the kids aftewards, and jogged a bit in the evening with Benjamin running, and Jennifer and Joseph in the stroller.

Intersting - my tempo mileage experiment did not seem to affect the speed, but so far I've seen a drop in the strength endurance. Interestingly enough, my friend Albert Wint has had similar results. I also did run into the same problem back in 2002 - I could go fast and it felt easy for a while, but then all of a sudden I could not hold the pace.

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Murray Fun Days 5 K. 16:39, 3rd place after my teammates Corbin Talley (16:22) and Mike Nieslen (15:36). In the absense of a number of fast runners, we pulled off a 1-2-3 for the Wasatch Running Center, which made Glen (the store owner) very happy. The course is not the fastest by any means - 1% grade up for about 1.1 miles, then 180 turn, and the same grade down on the way back. From there somewhat of a rolling hills around the Murray City Park to the finish.

The start was rather abnormal. Corbin pulled off a manuever I considered doing myself but thought would be logistically impossible - two races in the same day, finishing 3rd in Sandy Classic 10 K 15 minutes earlier with 33:56. I did not ask him how fast he had to drive, but in my earlier discussions with other runners the consensus was you had to be on a police motorcycle to make it.

So with another race under his belt already Corbin was not anxious to push the pace. Mike was not in a hurry to do so either. At first we were moving so slow that I considered taking the initiative to push the pace, but feeling a bit of a headwind made me change my mind. About 0.7 into the race Mike finally started going, and I tried to go with him. He dropped me fairly quickly hitting the mile in 5:09. I got 5:16, and was very happy with it, especially considering the grade and the fact it did not feel too hard. I though the second mile would be easily 5:10 going downhill. It was not - only 5:20. By that time Corbin had started to recover from his earlier race and caught me. I tried to hang on, and made it to a little bit past the 2 mile mark. After that, I was just praying I would not get passed (with the prize money cut-off being top 3), and trying my hardest to discourage the possible predators. Fortunately, the venomous predators were not around, and I managed to stay in 3rd place. Third mile was 5:30, and the kick was 33 seconds. It was actually 32, but USATF rules say you always need to round off the finish time up to the nearest second, so 16:38.01 rounds off to 16:39. On the last mile, as usual, I felt I could go a while at that pace, but lacked the juice to go even 5 seconds per mile faster.

I ran 15 seconds slower than I did last year, but I knew I should not expect much after my three-week mileage/tempo experiment. Losing only 15 seconds in a 5 K immediately after the hard and possibly unwise training is probably not that bad. Especially if you get $50 and good circuit points for it. So in spite of a slow time, I am very happy with this race.

In the evening ran with the kids, and worked out with weights (bench-press). One set of 6 with 85, then another set of 6 with 90, and then a set of 3 with 100. On the last repetition I barely was able to get the barbell on the stand. This is a sigficant improvement from Saturday. Could your muscles possibly get stronger after one workout? Or possibly the fatigue of running and the general stress of life was higher on Saturday that tonight?

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Ran very easy in the morning with George and Eric. Need to recover from the hard training in the past three weeks. We jogged about 8.5 miles on the trails.

Afterwards, put on ankle weights and did sprints with George.

Did some more running with the kids, and some jogging in the afternoon/evening to make the total 13 miles.

Amazing what competition does to me in a sprint. I managed 16.8 - 16.3 - 16.4 - 16.3, setting a new record for an ankle-weighted 100 m. My regular 100 m PR is 13.9. George also set a PR for 100 m - 15.7.

For some reason, having competition in a 5 K does not do the same thing to me. I might feel some extra competitive fury in the first mile, and then I am feeling very mellow. However, in 2004 was able to do something to stir it up in one race - Draper Days. This year, I suppose I has some semblance of it in Magna, but not as furious as Draper Days of 2004.

I think it was also there in the Top of Utah in 2003. It became particularly evident when Paul did a bit of a photo editing to get me into the picture of our WBR team, and used the face from the TOU 2003 finish. I remember feeling very aggressive in the early miles, then mellowing out a bit later on, but still being a lot more aggressive mentally and emotionally than I normally am in a marathon.

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For the first time in a long time, my quads were sore. So I decided to run easy today. Ran with John Bishoff and George on the trails. Came home, ran with the kids. Light sprints with Benjamin with ankle weights - 200 in 41.4, then 2x100 19.7 and 18.2. The last one was with his old friend Bitner - Benjamin actually ran 19.6. Did some more running during the day to make the total 13.

Also worked out with weights. Did 2 sets of 3 with 100. On the third one, could only do 2. I do not think I was feeling as strong as on Tuesday, and overall I was feeling somewhat tired when I started the weight workout. I did not get a knap today. I suppose explosive strength is very sensitive to the lack of sleep and overall fatigue.

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My quads were still sore from the sprints on Wednesday. Wow! This is something. I can run a marathon downhill, and they do not get that sore. But sprint a bit all-out with ankle weights, and they start hurting. I suppose the magic is in the all-out.

So I decided to take it easy today. Ran a couple of loops with Eric. Then found Steve Hillam on the road and ran some with him. Stopped for a "biobreak", then caught him running a mile in 5:44. Felt something in the quads - they were stiff. Then we found another runner on the road - Jeff Wright, and ran with him. He used to be a sprinter/middle distance runner - 400 m in 47, 800 in 1:51. And he was going fast - about 6:10-6:30.

Ran with the kids, jogged some more in the evening, total of 13 miles.

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Went to the Provo Canyon for the long run. Strategically parked at Nunns. Warmed up a mile to the start of Sharpen The Saw 10 K - too bad that race has been discontinued, but it is still in the certification database.

Ran 5 miles down to what I thought was the 5 mile mark (first lightpole after the old power plant at the mouth of the Provo Canyon) in 28:32. Then up in 32:14 - the wind was pretty stiff. Then back down in 28:07 - total time of 1:28:53. I think I got the 5 mile wrong. My intermediate splits suggest my times should have been about 20 seconds faster for each 5 mile segment.

Went afterwards for a bike ride with Benjamin on the course, and measured it with the Jones counter. Sure enough, my intuition was right. The distance was 5.14 miles - due to the lack of time calibrated the counter on the first mile which was still marked after all the years, and matched the description in the certification document quite well. So I'll call it 5.1 to be safe just in case.

I also checked the elevation drop with - it is about 350 feet, so 70 feet per mile, a bout 1.3% grade for the 5 mile stretch. Stopped at the car (about 11.5 miles) to get Powerade.

Cooled down to get back to the car. Found a runner on the road to join me for the cooldown - John Fee, teaches law at BYU. He was just starting his 15 mile run.

Legs felt stiff at the start, but did not get any worse at the finish. All the way though the tempo I felt like I could keep the pace forever, but I would be very uncomfortable if I tried to go any faster.

In the afternoon, ran with the kids. Benjamin wanted to run a mile time trial, and set a new record of 7:12 with the splits of 1:47 - 1:50 - 1:49 - 1:46.

Worked out with weights in the evening. Benchpress - 3 sets of 3 with 95 pounds.

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