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
Five Fingers 2 Miles: 80.41Bare Feet Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 56.00Nap Time: 3.00Total Sleep Time: 59.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. The Sacrament meeting talks were on covenants. The lesson in Sunday school was on eternal marriage.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 9.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Started with Jeff, his brother Andrew, and his dad Don. Stopped at Walgreens to go to the bathroom, Jeff and Andrew stopped with me, Don went ahead because he was going to turn around pretty soon anyway. We ran about 4.2 to the hill on 800 South in Orem and did some hill sprints. The hill is officially (according to the Course Tool) 12% grade, but for some reason it did not look like it. We eyeballed the distance, did a timed gauging stride, and decided to go from one wooden pole to the next. I do not care about the distance to be exact such as 200 feet or 60 meters, I am perfectly happy running 64 or 56 meter intervals or even 20*PI meter intervals. But it does need to be the same distance, and I should be able to run that exact same distance on that same hill when I come back a week later to monitor my progress.

We jogged some unknown distance in between until we were ready to go again and it kept changing as the workout progressed. My times were 10.7 - 10.5 - 10.0 - 10.1 - 9.9 - 9.9.  Jeff and Andrew got up to around 8.3.

Then we ran a cool down to make the total of around 10. I added 2 more with Benjamin in 16:34.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:55. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:14. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:13. Pushed William in the stroller.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
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.  Jeff had early work, and I felt like I needed some rest. Plus we picked up my mother at the airport late last night. So I slept in and then went for a run. The plan was 2x2 miles in 11:00 each. During the warm-up I ran into Josh Peavler who just finished running for Timpview High and we ran together until it was time for me to start the workout. I ran the first 1000 with the splits of 81, 82, and 42, and could tell something was not right. I was choking in mucus again. I had not been seeing very much of it at slower speeds, but at 5:30 the congestion was a problem. The pace did not feel like it should either, so there was something going on. HR got up to 159 by 0.5, that is about 5 beats too high as well. Did not feel motivated to run faster or in control of the pace, even though the pace should have been very manageable. Decided to scrap the workout and just jog. Ran most of the rest of the run with Josh - total of 10 miles.

Then added 2 more with Benjamin with a fast 500 in the middle. He did it pretty much exactly according to plan - 20 - 21 - 19 - 20 - 20 - total of 1:40, 5:20 pace average. Then we also did a small pickup at the end of the run. Total time was 15:27 with the last mile in 7:05, which included the recovery from the 500 pickup. I think he is ready for a sub-6:00 mile attempt.

Incidentally, what gave me the push to join a running team in 1984 in Moscow was winning a school 500 meter race in 1:45 at the age of 11.5. Now Benjamin has that time beat by 5 seconds being a year younger.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 17:59. Julia ran the first 1.5 with us in 13:58. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:43. Pushed William in the stroller for the Jenny/Julia run. Jenny gave me a surprise in the last quarter - 1:43. She dropped me during a 180 turn and picked up the pace. With combination of the stroller, running barefoot on asphalt, dodging a couple of cars, and a fairly quick pace it took me a good 0.1 to catch her.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.00Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and his brother Andrew. Tried 2x2 miles again to get a workout and to test the health. It went better this time. Andrew ran the warmup and the first mile of the first repeat. First repeat was 11:00.1 as planned with the splits of 5:33 and 5:27. HR maxed out at 165 when I briefly surged to sub-5:20 around 1.7 into the repeat, but then quickly dropped to 161-162 and stayed there for the last quarter which was covered in 82. Quarter splits were 83 - 85 (Jeff was talking to Andrew teaching him how to relax) - 82 - 83 - 81 - 82 - 82 - 82. I noticed that while HR was OK, and legs felt reasonable, the respiratory rate was high, I was huffing and puffing as if we were running 5:15. I attributed that to reduced lung capacity from the illness.

Normally in the past at this point I would have said - great, let's do another repeat. However, I am trying a change of attitude. I realized that I have been running harder than optimal in my workouts. It is easy for me to do. My legs hardly ever hurt. My cardio is always up to task. The limiting factor is the nervous system. So the natural tendency is to max out the nervous system in an attempt to give the muscles and the cardio a challenge. Also to hit a faster time.

But the nervous system is a funny beast. It is not easy to tell you are taxining it. And the plenalty is high. It really does not like to be red-lined. It works like a photocop. You do not notice anything, no flashing lights behind you. And then a week later you get a ticket in the mail. Except this kind of ticket comes with no explanatory note. It says says - pay $200 or else and does not tell you what you did wrong.

So I asked myself an honest question. How much further do you think you could have gone at that pace today without slowing down? And an honest answer was - no more than 3.5. So based on that I said, next repeat - just a mile. So we jogged  0.5 and then ran 5:28.4 with the splits of 81 - 83 - 83 - 81. I felt decent, even considered going to 2000, but said to myself - Discipline! Do not get too excited. The pace feels harder than it should, something is still not quite right.

Then we jogged to the house to make it 10 total for the run. The total time was 1:12:20.

Then 2 more with Benjamin in 17:24.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:48. Julia ran the first 1.5 with us in 14:37. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:15.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.00Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.25
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Started with Jeff, his brother Andrew and his father Don. Dragged through the first mile in 9:20. Then sped up to 7:30 as Jeff needed to get to work. Don stayed with us up to almost 2 miles, then fell back. It was his sea-level 5 K race pace, and we were at 4500 feet. Andrew turned around at 3. We picked it up some more. It took a long time to catch the 8:00 guy, we passed him around 3.5. Then we kept the pace quick as we needed to finish 10.1 in 1:14. The fat mile helped the cause, we ran it in 5:46. Even though we did not do it quite right to be fat - opened with an 84 quarter, then got back to our senses. HR maxed out at 155, but was fairly stable around 152, which is normal. I felt decent. I even considered suggesting to Jeff that we just keep going at that pace all the way home, but decided to err on the side of caution. It was very tempting, though, to think that we'd be done with our run 3 minutes earlier.

Then in the last couple of miles I must have been getting dehydrated as HR climbed into 132 range at 7:00 pace, and then in the last quarter it was as high as 135 even though we were only going 6:48 pace. So in other words 5 beats too high. But other than the measurement I could not tell anything was different. Earlier in the run HR was normal at those speeds.Total time for 10.1 was 1:12:58.

Then 2 more with Benjamin in 17:19.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 19:12. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:23. 0.5 with Joseph in 0.5.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.1 with Jeff and Andrew in 1:12:47. Don ran the first 0.8 with us until we sped up. Fat mile in 5:45.

Then 2 more with Benjamin in 16:50.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 16:36 pushing William. First mile was 9:19, second 7:17. Julia rode a mile on her bike. She had a blister on her foot that she said was hurting too much to run. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:29.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
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. Jeff and I paced Ben Crozier through the Uneventful Half in 1:32:45. At first we were going sub-7:00, then Ben started to fade, so we gradually slowed down all the way to 7:40 pace on the uphill section. Then in the last mile he recovered and sped up to 6:40.

Then we turned around and started the tempo. I did notice something wrong during the Uneventful Half. For some reason HR was too high. I thought I was dehydrated. Due to the cardio power to muscle power discrepancy (the cardio is much stronger), I can be lightly dehydrated and not notice it other than HR being a bit high. 

Then there was another sign of trouble. I was not feeling bad, legs actually felt strong, the fuel seemed OK, the head was working, so no blood sugar problems, but for some odd reason 6:00 pace was barely manageable. It took me 5.5 miles into the tempo to understand what was wrong. Last Monday after the hill sprints in Five Fingers on aslphalt the top of my right foot was irritated. Since then I felt uncomfortable in the first mile or so of my runs, but then the increased circulation would remove most of the discomort. Most, but not all. There was a problem. I was dealing with it by slightly altering the form, which was killing the economy.

Around 4.4 into the tempo Jeff was neighing to go after the bikers, and he could no longer control himself, and just went. I coasted at a bit slower than 6:00, then finally at 5.5 I understood the problem and took measures slowing down to a jog. 5.5 time was 33:00, exactly 6:00 pace.

During the cool down I noticed that I felt a whole lot more comfortable on grass than I did on aslphat. Bad sign. Total time for 20.11 miles was 2:18:36.

So from now on I need to take some measures. No more Five Fingers or barefoot on asphalt. Yes, I can, but I need to practice what I preach: "Just because you can does not mean you should!" I do not want to go back to a whole lot of shod running, though, so I am going to measure out a big grass loop and do a good portion of my mileage there. Need to figure out what to do for the shoes on the road - how to get the right amount of cushioning without messing up the form. So far Crocs sound promising, but they last only 500 miles, and they do have issues on turns. Maybe with some clever modifications they could be OK.

P.M. The foot was still sore, so I decided to ride the bike for the kids' run.  Benjamin ran 2 in 15:55, Julia 1.5 in 14:52, Jenny 2 in 18:18. Joseph ran 0.5 with Sarah in 5:02.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 20.11
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Five Fingers 2 Miles: 80.41Bare Feet Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 56.00Nap Time: 3.00Total Sleep Time: 59.00
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