Breaking the Wall

Week starting Jul 08, 2012

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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
Green Crocs 4 Miles: 83.50
Night Sleep Time: 35.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 37.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. The Sacrament meeting talks were on the birth of the United States and its role in the Restoration of the Gospel. One of the hymns was My Country 'Tis of Thee. I remembered some things. 2 Nephi 1:6 "there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord". At the age of 16 while still living in the Soviet Union I had a strong feeling that I needed to learn English fast - my future would depend on it. Over the next three years I would study for 8 hours a day if I could find this much time. I practiced it at every opportunity. The entire time I never felt that I was learning a foreign language, but rather was learning a native language that was technically not native because I never learned it as a child. But it was nevertheless somehow native regardless. Later when I joined the LDS church and started reading the Book of Mormon, I began to understand why it was so. Our country is different in a special way. I wish we understood it better. It is not a reason to be arrogant, rather it is a reason to feel a strong sense of responsibility to keep the commandments of God, and to serve others.

Along with that I remembered my adventures in getting a US Visa. What a mess! And what an eye opener! An African American in the 50s was more privileged and less discriminated than a young man with a dream from a country with less developed economy and unstable political situation applying for a US student visa. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" on the Statue of Liberty  not surprisingly is viewed in a way that is more or less similar to "we all need to eat healthy and exercise". A principle we theoretically admire and are anxious to preach from the pulpit but lack the grit to practice when initiative and sacrifice are required.

I also remembered the feeling of disappointment I experienced when I observed some people getting drunk on the 4th of July. I understand some people will take issue with this, and argue that there is nothing wrong with celebrating the American freedom this way. I used to argue back, including on this blog, but I think I am going to take a different approach. If you feel this way, go to the Lord in prayer and asking to show you why it is wrong, and if you really care to know, He will. If not, well, there is not much else I can say. I will quote a scripture, however - Isaiah 28:7 "But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment."

Somebody in my ward asked Sarah if I felt excluded on the 4th of July due to my non-US upbringing. I do not feel excluded. I feel thankful to be in a country that the Lord has prepared and freed for a special purpose. I do feel sad, however, particularly on the 4th of July, when I contemplate the degree of ignorance among Americans to that special purpose.  


Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Ariel and Benjamin. We did 6. Did a pickup for 0.5 in 2:37. Then more with other kids. Julia did 1, Jenny and Joseph 2, Jacob 1.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Took Benjamin for a time trial of sorts. I wanted to see what he could do on my 3 mile tempo course down the Provo Canyon. The target was something under 6:00 average, but we both knew that he would blow that away, the question was by how much. After a 2 mile warm-up uphill we started the run. I ran alongside for about a quarter to feel how fast he wanted to go, that quarter was 87, which had some uphill, then I moved forward and started setting the pace. We did 82, 82, 82 (5:33), then 83. I knew that those 82s would eventually end, but I figured as long as Benjamin was not complaining or falling back, I would hold it. The nice downhill ended, the next quarter was rolling. Benjamin started to struggle and hit 89. However, he regrouped and sped up to 86, followed by 87, which was not too bad. 11:18 at 2 miles, 5:45 for the second mile. I told him he was 2 seconds ahead of the 5:40 guy. He protested vehemently against the idea of working to stay ahead and insisted he had no juice. I knew that he was wrong, so I told him to be quiet. I knew he would be thankful in a mile. Sometimes you just need to throw away the things they tell you in child education/psychology classes and go with the natural father's instinct. Especially when the pace is 5:45, which I can handle, but I am definitely in no mood to talk going this fast. So I condensed my remarks to one phrase.

It worked quite well. He had two quarters of rebellion in 89 and 90. Then he smelled the barn, repented, and ran 85. At this point I thought all hopes of breaking 17:00 were gone. But Benjamin thought differently. He ran the last quarter in 76, which gave him 5:40 for the last mile, and 16:58.2 for 3 miles.

This was a decent time, given that my best on that course is 15:15. Day after day Benjamin is becoming a more equal workout partner, and pretty soon I am going to hear "Daddy, give me five" as he tries to make me go faster.

I ran 6 more afterwards. Jenny, Julia, and Joseph did 2, Jacob ran 1.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran 6 with Benjamin, did a pickup for 0.7 up the canyon at 5:45 pace, then more with the other kids. Jacob and Julia did 1, Jenny, and Joseph ran 2. I ran some more, found Jon Kotter on the trail, ran a couple of fartlek intervals with him. On the first one I was able to stay with him for about 40 seconds, then eased off and finished in 3:39 the distance that he covered in 3:22, which was probably around 0.75 miles. He thought that pace was sustainable for him for a little longer than a mile, but definitely less than 5 K. On the second one, I ran the first minute of his two minute interval. On the last one I stayed with him for the first 50 seconds of a one minute interval, and then finished it out to the minute maybe a couple of seconds behind, except he ran for maybe 65 seconds or so.

So I ended up with about 13 miles total distance. 

Benjamin got back his AP Calculus BC test score. It was 4 out of 5. Not too bad for a 13 year old taking his first official test ever. This gives him credit for Math 112 at BYU. Math 110 as well, but it is irrelevant given that 110 is a prerequisite  for 112. We will try to hit 5 next year with more maturity and test taking experience so we can move Math 113 out of the way as well.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 13.50
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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A.M. Trip to Zion's Park. In St. George ran with Clyde and Benjamin. Clyde did 8, I did 10, Benjamin did 6. Then I added 2 with Julia and Joseph. Jacob did 1.

P.M.  0.5 with William, 2 with Jenny.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 14.50
Night Sleep Time: 6.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 6 with Benjamin, we did a pickup for 1.5 at sub-6:00 pace. 2 with Jenny, Julia, and Joseph. 1 with Jacob. A short pickup with Jon Kotter for a minute at about 4:30 pace. Another pickup at 5:44 pace uphill for 0.5. Total of 12 miles.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Today was the Deseret News Practice Run. I had two purposes. Measure how long it takes to get to the start of the race from my house following the magic route through Heber, Kimball Junction, and Jeremy Ranch road; and to run the first 16 miles of the course to remember what to expect, as I have not done that since 2008. Time flies. So I drove up with Ariel. It took 1 hour and 22 minutes. Then Ariel drove further to do his run, and I ran the 16 miles. 

I started right by the Morgan County/Salt Lake County sign, but I think that was wrong because my first mile was 6:19. I think part of it was starting at the wrong place, but part also was just from running too slow - I started with zero warm-up, and had a hard time kicking into gear. The subsequent miles were more normal, but still slow, considering I was going down 8% grade. 5:43, then 5:29 I think. 29:02 at 5 miles. Still feeling sluggish. To make matters worse, somehow I managed to run the 6th mile in 6:24. It had some uphill, but not that much. It should have been at least 6:10. The next mile up the Little Mountain was 6:58, followed by 6:19 which was about half up and half down. When I saw 48:43 at 8 miles I told myself it was time to wake up and try to start running. I was not sure if I did have that wake up in me, but the next mile showed I had at least some juice - 5:23, followed by 6:01 10th mile which has a detour to the subdivision. It was a bit slower than it should have been because I slowed down looking for the turnaround sign. It was not easily visible I did find it painted on the road, however,  and with that obstacle past me, got going again. The mile split was 6:01 with 1:00:07 at 10 miles. 

It was getting warmer, and I was running without water or fuel. However, the next two miles were good - both in 5:33. It felt too aggressive in the anticipation of the Hogle Zoo monster encounter, so I eased off a bit, and ran the next one in 5:38 - 1:16:51 at 13 miles. 15 mile split was 1:28:21 - the miles were 5:48, 5:42 I think. The last mile had the notorious Hogle Zoo bump that can help you evaluate how much glycogen you and your competitors have left in their legs. If there is a decent amount, it feels like a bump. If not, it feels like an endless climb, which is a bad sign because you still have more than 10 miles left. This mile was 5:54, it felt more like a bump than an endless climb, and I was happy with that. Total time was 1:34:14, with which I was not as happy, but since the last 8 were decent, I can claim that the first 8 were just a warmup.

I was also happy that Ariel showed up in my car and rescued me from the Hogle Zoo monster right as he began chewing on my quads and calves. There was some damage left, though, and I could feel it. It should heal up and get stronger on the day of the race.

The kids ran on their own, all except William and Joseph. Benjamin did 6, Jenny and Julia 2, Jacob 1. 

P.M. 2 miles with Joseph. Julia ran 0.5 with William.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 18.00
Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 4 Miles: 83.50
Night Sleep Time: 35.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 37.00
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