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: 266.81 Year: 266.81
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: 1438.17
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 55.75Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 56.25
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Julia surprised us today. She read most of her talk in Primary without help. We are very excited - she is on the verge of reading.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Jeff is in California, so I ran alone. 12.1 in 1:27:57. Did my standard hyena sprints.

A.M - 2. Ran to the Provo City Center to try out some equipment with Adam. Found the leg press machine somewhat useful for my purposes. My goal is to find something that will produce the maximum degree of muscle recruitment. Ran back. Total of 2.2 miles.

P.M. Costco Relay. 1.08 with Julia in 10:36, 3.42 with Benjamin in 29:08. Jenny joined for the first 1.56 in 13:48. 

Five Fingers - 950.9 miles. 

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

A.M. Ran with Michelle, and Josse. Matt joined us after a mile. The original plan was for Michelle to run the standard 5 mile tempo at 6:00 pace, while I towed Josse trying to stay with Michelle until she dropped us, then keep towing until Michelle had a gap of about 100 meters, then drop the harness, catch up to Michelle as fast as possible, and pace her from that point. Josse was not feeling good, and decided to just jog. So I just paced Michelle, which was OK as I could tell I was still feeing the neural fatigue.

We hit the first mile in 5:57, and during that mile I was really glad I was not towing Josse - I could feel the signs of neural fatigue in my stride and in the overall feeling. I was thinking, I am glad she cannot run low 5:50s, and it was not "I am too lazy to run 5:50s this hour of the day", not a sleeping lion annoyed that his sleep was disturbed, it felt like the start of the Provo Half - I really do not want to race today, I like my bed better than running. Michelle's HR was around 173-175 towards the end of the mile.

On the second mile Michelle started losing steam, but she was consistent - 4 quarters in 1:31, 6:04. HR about the same. We hit the turnaround in 15:04. I waited as long as I could to start the Give Me Five (TM), but I figured after a 180 Michelle needed to be woken up. 6:07 for the next mile. Her HR dropped to as low as 171 on a 1:32 quarter.

Over the last two miles Michelle tried to pick up the pace, but she did not have much juice. Nevertheless, she was steady. Her next mile was 6:08, and she closed with a 6:05 to finish in 30:21. Her last 200 was 41 seconds, though, and I had to work to keep up. Her HR was very interesting during the kick. She was able to get it up to 178, but then it dropped to 176, although I did not feel any let up in the pace. Not sure what that means. Might be normal - to accelerate is harder than just to maintain. Which implies that when you are kicking you should explode for 5 seconds with every bit of energy you've got, and then coast to the finish, and you can coast pretty far.

Also, the highest I've seen her HR is 180, yet she has been able to maintain 173 for 5 miles. That is 96%. I wonder if this ability is a sign that the cardio is stronger than the nervous system, which could mean that either the cardio is very strong, or the nervous system is very weak.

Ran some more with Michelle, Josse, and Matt, total of 13 miles for this morning.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:51, 2 with Benjamin in 17:14 with Jenny running 1.5 in 13:10.

T4 Racer - 398.14 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.25Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Gerry Lindgren tempo. Interesting results.

Again, this tempo is done like this - go out hard at your dream pace until you can't. Then run the rest of it at your best pace in that condition.

Warmed up, did some strides to be ready for the 5:00 pace. First mile: 75,77,79,82 - 5:13. Legs started caving on the second(!) quarter. HR never went above 164. The breathing was the hardest in the first quarter. Hmm... - last week I managed a 5:08. Am I holding back, or am I in worse condition?

Second mile: 85,86,86,87 - 5:44. Same as last week for the total, but 87 at the end is a bad sign. HR drops to around 160.

Third mile: 90,90,92,91 - 6:03. 13:57 at 2.5. HR drops to 153(!) Michelle is going to chick me if I run like this for the second half. Emily is going to chick me for the whole tempo. I am trying every trick I know to go faster with absolutely zero results even though I am barely breathing. It feels like the end of a marathon. Some food for thought.

Fourth mile: 92,91,90,90 - 6:03. HR had sporadic spikes to 155 in the last two quarters. Interesting.

Last mile: 91 (up a slight grade), 88, 86, 83 - 5:48, and 28:51 for the tempo. 14:54 for the last 2.5. Emily did not chick me, got to enjoy small success! And I put a whopping 23 second gap on Michelle's second half yesterday. And I outkicked her in the last 200 by a whopping 1 second (40). For sure I thought earlier that she was going to beat me on that segment today. Something interesting happened in this mile. With 1 K to go all of a sudden I started running faster. No heroic effort. The earlier miles when I could not break 6:00 for the life of me were a lot more heroic. But all of a sudden I started breathing like I would in a tempo, HR went up to 160 and I started running 5:44 pace feeling like I could go further.

Jogged some more to make the total 12 miles.

Plenty of food for thought. Clearly a case of neural fatigue. But also an interesting twist. We are deal with some odd resource here. Neural fatigue is just underscoring the importance of that resource, makes it come out more in plain view. Today it got exhausted in a bit over a minute of running at 5:00 pace to where I could not hold that pace anymore. It continued to get exhausted at a pace as slow as 5:44 to the point of not being able to run sub-6:00. Running slower than 6:00 partially replenished it to the point of being able to run 5:44 again, and that replenishment was very sudden. It is not blood lactate levels - if it was, HR would have stayed high to clean up, and the breathing would not have calmed down. Fluctuating blood sugar is a reasonable possibility, but if it was, I should have felt weak and fuzzy headed during the slump, and I did not. There were absolutely no symptoms other than I could not go sub-6:00 no matter how hard I tried. And it felt just like the end of St. Jude last year, and Salt Lake, and Ogden this year. I know I need to go faster, I feel good, the head works, the legs are not sore, I know every second could cost a few hundred bucks, and for the life of me I cannot go faster.

So what is that mysterious resource? My first thought was something in the brain. How do you find out for sure? My first thought was I need a brain scan machine to measure me every day, and see what is different between good days and bad days. But who is going to give me a brain scan machine along with the necessary expertise? That is wishful thinking. Come on, think of something more simple.

After some thought, I had an idea. In the absence of equipment we use the infamous Sasha Science. Question number of one - once we know it is section X in the brain, what are we going to do to fix it? Well, we are going to try a number of different things and measure how they affect that section X. Can we measure how that section X is doing without a brain scan machine? Sure. Gerry Lindgren tempo with the HRM tells us everything we need to know. Only one problem. Gerry Lindgren tempo is a rather invasive measurement. I can do it only twice a week at most. However, here is an idea. Do a whole bunch of those tempos. Always make a prediction for the split at the mile, and the finish time for the whole tempo after the first quarter based on how I feel. Keep doing that until I start getting it right. Once I perfect the skill I will only need to run one quarter in 75 to know what would have happened in the whole tempo. I can run one 75 second quarter every day! So that gives me the benefits of daily monitoring with a brain scan machine without having to pay a cent for it. The beautiful thing is that if I am completely off the target, and it is not in the brain, or if it is but the modern day science has no way of measuring it, the method still works! Columbus thought to the end of his life that he had found a new way to India, but that did not change the consequences of his discovery - thanks to him we are now here in America. Inspired pursuit even with factual errors beats being exactly true to the fact but treading in your own tracks with no inspiration. I can try different things, measure the results, quickly, and hopefully find something that works.

Of course, there is no free lunch. It might take a long time to develop a sense that is keen enough to know what's up from just one quarter. But at least it is worth a shot.

T4 Racer  - 410.13 miles. 

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:45, 2 with Benjamin in 16:40 with Jenny joining us for 1.5 in 12:53, and one more mile alone.

Five Fingers - 954.9 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran the first 6 miles with James, the rest (6 more) alone. Total time for 12 was 1:29:21. Had to stop for a VPB, told James to go ahead. Then caught up to him. During the catch-up decided to practice 5:00 pace. Ran a quarter in 76, and then another 100 in 20 with no stopping. It felt unsustainable. Not sure if better or worse than yesterday, but I was not going to try to find out. I'll wait until Saturday.

The idea now is to focus on 5:00 pace. I must be able to hold it on my 5 mile tempo to have any dreams of an OTQ. Sure, I'll only need to run 5:18, and at sea level, but it would need to be on a rolling course for 26 miles, and likely on a less than perfect day. So I figure at the very least I need to be able to transition from 5:00 being a near-sprint to a brisk tempo pace. I am figuring the cardio is there to support it, but something, some component X (neural drive?) is missing. Some day I have more of it than others, but never enough. Perhaps the days when I have less are most meaningful for study - the problem is more apparent, and hopefully this will inspire a solution.

P.M. 2.05 with Benjamin and Jenny to Benjamin's soccer practice in 18:49. Pushed Julia in the stroller. 1 on grass with Julia in 10:38. 2.17 back in 16:54 pushing Jacob. 

Five Fingers - 968.12 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 12.1 alone in 1:29:09. Did a neural strength evaluation/sense development interval. Was planning to run 400 if feeling really bad, 500 otherwise. Got to 500 and was feeling good enough that I wanted to run a bit more. So did 600 in 1:52, that is 5:00 pace. It felt a lot more sustainable than yesterday or the day before. Official guess on what would have happened in the Gerry Lindgren 5 mile tempo - 5:04 for the first mile, and 27:30 for the whole thing.

P.M. 1.1 alone, 0.5 with Benjamin in 3:09, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 11:47, 1 with Julia in 9:54. Julia run was particularly interesting. She was dragging along at about 10:30 pace when we saw a couple running. I challenged her to catch them. She said no. I said how about for a fruit snack. She said no. How about if you get to play GCompris (an educational computer game)? Still no. How about if I read you a book? She said no, but I'll do it for all three. So we struck a deal, and she whizzed by them, then eased off just enough to keep them at bay to the end of her run.

Five Fingers - 984.32 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Interesting workout today. Total of 21 miles with two tempos. One after a short warmup, the other towards the end. The first being the Gerry Lindgren kind, the second end of the marathon kind.

Warmup - 2.62 miles in 20:50.

Gerry Lindgren tempo: First quarter in 76. Official prediction - 5:10 for the mile, 27:50 for 5 miles. Subsequent quarters: 76, 79, 82 - 5:13 at the mile, 3 seconds off the prediction on the slow side. HR peaked at 163 around 0.6 then dropped to 160 by the end of the mile. The first half mile felt more sustainable, but then I could not sustain it.

Second mile: 83, 84, 86, 86 - 5:39. HR at 159-160.

Third mile: 86, 86 (13:44 at the turnaround), 87, 86 - 5:45. HR drops to 157. Not for the lack of trying, though.

Mile 4: 87, 84, 87, 87 - 5:45. I decided to try something new. Attempt a surge to see to what extent this overrides neural fatigue. Could do it for a quarter, but could not sustain it. On the positive side, I was back to pre-surge pace post-surge. So perhaps this is a good strategy - I just bought myself a couple of seconds for free. HR climbed to 160 during the surge, then went back to 158 afterwards.

Mile 5: 86, 85, 84, 81 - 5:36. Was able to get HR above 160, and to as high as 166 on the last quarter. Total time was 27:58, last 2.5 in 14:14. Much better than on Wednesday.

Jogged 6.5 miles in 51:41. Met Larry Lawrence and Marie Gluhn (Hodson), ran with them for most of it. Larry back in his youth was fast - 3:58 mile. Then did another 5 mile tempo. I did not plan to make it 5, it kind of happened on accident. I only wanted to go 3, but then realized I started it too early, so I figured I'd go more. Then it also took me forever to get up to speed on those twists and turns, and the bridges, so I needed to go the whole 5 to hit a sub-6:00 average. Ran 29:58, last mile in 5:51. It got warmer, but not too bad. Cooled down 1.38 miles - total of 21 for the run.

Observations - not a whole lot of difference between the last 3 miles of the Gerry Lindgren portion, and the end of the run portion except for some fuzzy head. So in other words, it appears so far that I can simulate the end of the marathon minus the fuzzy head by running hard in the first mile and not stopping, just tempoing through. With proper focus I can run through the fuzzy head as fast as 5:30-5:40 pace on a good day. Fuzzy head in and of itself does not cause the slow down, there is something else that is involved, and I can get that something else to show its ugly head in the Gerry Lindgren tempo. So I will call that a small victory - I know how to make the dragon stick his head out. Now I just need a sword to chop it off.

P.M. Went to Michelle's house to watch the womens Olympics marathon. Turned out we were the only ones there. Ran there with the kids. 1 mile with Julia in 10:34, then 1.5 with Jenny in 12:40, and another 0.5 with Benjamin to make the total time for 2 miles 16:39. Kids did very well at a higher elevation and with the hills (6000 feet).

T4 Racer - 431.13 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 55.75Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 56.25
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