Breaking the Wall

Park City Relay

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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
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Ran with Ted again in the morning in the Provo Canyon. Warmed up to the Nunns park. Then the standard 3 mile tempo down to the bridge in 15:53. An improvement over Thursday by 5 seconds. Mile splits - 5:17 - 5:20 - 5:16. On the last mile let is slide a bit on the next to last quarter (1:22), but then got mad and hit the last quarter in 74.

Overall, the feeling was that 5:20 pace was reasonably comfortable, but an attempt to go faster would produce a familiar toxic feeling in the body. I have always believed the toxic feeling comes from the lactic acid build up, but now I am wondering if this is something else. I remember feeling this at slower speeds at times towards the end of a half-marathon or a marathon when somebody passes me, and I am determined to stay with him or die. So I speed up, run for about a minute at a faster pace, but not necessarily fast enough to make me breath very hard or get the heart rate up to the lactic threshold levels, and boom, the toxic feeling comes, and there is nothing I can do, except slow down. Once I slow down, things are back to normal, other than the fact that my competitor is gone for good. The feeling does correlate with lower blood sugar levels somewhat, at least it is more likely to appear towards the end of a long race.

Ted finish the tempo run in 17:25. That is an improvement by almost a minute for him.

Afterwards, 5x400 on the flatter section of the trail (0.5% net drop, rolling) with 200 recovery. 69.6 - 69.7 - 71.8 - 71.0 - 67.2.

In the afternoon ran with the kids. Benjamin wanted to run in the Payson Onion Days 5 K. I told him he had to qualify. The qualifying standard was to run his half mile with the first quarter in 1:45, and the last one in 1:40. He did 1:44 - 1:39 with the last 100 in 22. This gave him a half-mile PR of 3:23. So he qualified with flying colors.

Afterwards took Benjamin and Jennifer to their soccer practice. Ran around enough to get the total for the day up to 15 miles. Then helped the coach, and played a practice game.

Finalized my plans for the upcoming Saturday. Glen wanted us to shine the store uniform in Park City, where he now lives. So I am doing a half-marathon leg of the relay. Bob Thompson is doing the other half. We are racing another team from the store - Mike Kirk/Darrell Phippen.

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Easy run with Ted in the morning. Afterwards 4x100 with ankle weights (19.6-19.7 - 18.6 - 18.3), and 2x100 without (17.7 - 17.1).

In the afternoon ran with the kids, and jogged to church and back to enter the Elder's Quorum Hometeaching report.

Also did bench press, 3x3 with 105 pounds, narrow grip. Still taking the Adrenal Formula.

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Easy run with Ted in the morning. He was nice enough to come at 5:30 am to run with me, and with the military precision he was at least 5 minutes early. We did a little pickup in the middle and hit the Slate Canyon Loop (2.11) in 14:05. Saw the Stake leadership out running - Pres. Phillips, and Bishop Smith. Our bishop also runs, as well as the bishop of the 5th ward. Great to see them setting an example for everyone else.

Dropped Ted off, and found another Church leader out for a run - Steve Braiton from the High Counsil. Ran with him a little bit. He wanted to know what 5:30 pace feels like, so we did a couple of pickups at that pace.

In the afternoon ran with the kids, and also jogged a bit during Benjamin's soccer game. They won 4:0 again against a team from North Provo. I told Benjamin, however, not to get too excited as they will soon be playing against the West Provo teams, which have a lot of Mexican kids.

Got an offer from a chiropractic, Dr Jeff Jex, for a free exam, and went with Sarah. He found a few things that are of interest. The lung capacity was 5.0 L. There was some range of motion imbalance in the neck. And, the most interesting, the knee reflex was very weak.

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Went with Ted to the Provo Canyon. Warmed up with him, then did 6x1 mile with 200 m jog rest. Alternated down and up. Started 1.25 miles away from the 3 mile tempo finish. The goal was to get a good cardio/muscle workout for anaerobic threshold. Assuming the nervous system is currently the holdback, I cannot push it hard enough in a regular tempo run. So breaking it up should help then.

Splits - down 5:12.4 up 5:39.7 down 5:11.8 up 5:41.2 down 5:12.6 up 5:35.6. At the start of the last one I saw an older man on a bike and asked him to pace me. The pacing helped.

We talked some afterwards. Turns out he was a 4:30 miler in his younger years. He told me I looked like a 400 meter runner. I've actually heard that observation before. I think the strength is there in the legs to run a good 400, but the coordination and the neural drive is not. I was actually a pretty good middle-distance runner as a kid - 3:03.8 in 1000 meters a month before turning 13. However, the best I've ever done on that distance is 2:49 at the age of 18. I suppose I'd be able to do about the same now. But based on my 13 year old performance, I should be running at least 2:35. Something went out of whack in the way of speed between 13 and 18, and stayed that way.

In the evening ran with the kids. Benjamin was sick, but wanted to watch Jenny and Abby run from the stroller. Afterwards, I took him for a Daddy half-mile in the stroller. I promised him I'd break 3:30 for him. Well, with 200 to go I saw that 6:00 pace would break his record of 3:23. So I picked it up, and hit the last 200 in 40 - 3:18 for the half mile. Felt strong. Proper tire inflation makes a lot of difference when pushing a loaded double-stroller.

Afterwards, ran to church again to finish the hometeaching stats entry.

Also, did the bench press, 3 sets of 3, narrow grip, 105 pounds.

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Mini-taper for the Park City Relay. Easy run with Eric and George on the trail in the morning. Then ran with the kids in the evening.

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Race: Park City Relay (13.11 Miles) 01:17:35, Place overall: 2
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Park City Relay. Ran the second half in 1:17:35 minus however long it took me to get over a fence. Our team got second place in 2:37:29.

Bob Thompson unfortunately had a hamstring problem at mile 8 and had to stop. Mike Kirk was running with him, stopped, tried to help him get going for a minute. Then went on. In the mean time, Adam from the Wasatch Atheletics team (just moved here from St. Louis) kept on going, and handed off to Leon Gallegos at 1:18:41. Mike came announcing the change of plans as he was running in, so I got going at 1:19:54 in hopes of catching Leon.

The course was not fast at all. Start at about 6650 feet according to gmap-pedometer, and about 6450 according to the official race elevation map (Let hope Paul can get this straight for us). 4 miles of climb to 7041 according to the official map, and 7058 according to gmap-pedometer. The last half-mile of the climb gets brutal, probably 4% grade (any comments on that Paul?), then a decent at some extremely steep grade that makes you break, then a more gentle descent for a few miles, then rolling hills to the finish. Probably about 30-40% on dirt. As if this was not enough, a closed gate on the course to keep the cows out with a sign asking the passer-bys to keep it closed.

I believe some of the mile markers were accurate, at least the ones that were painted on the road. Others were off. In the beginning I was going about 6:00-6:05 pace, if we are to believe the painted marks. The steep uphill mile was 6:48. Once I got to the top, I started getting a side ache, the type I have gotten before from running hard at a higher elevation. So I took it fairly easy coming down. Hit a few 5:40 miles. 40:47 with a 10 K to go. It started to look like I could even dip a bit under 1:16 if I managed to keep the pace. However, now I was on dirt, and the downhill ended. Now it was just dirt, and 6500 feet of elevation. And no sign of Leon. Oh, well, just hang in there.

As if that was not enough, another obstacle. A closed gate to keep the cattle and the runners out. As I approached it, I realized that with the stress of being in a hurry, it could take me as long as a whole minute or maybe even two to figure out how to open it. My hand dexterity is not very good at all - way below average for a man. And even worse after running 9 miles hard at this elevation. So I looked around to see if there was some kind of a hole. No hole, just barbed wire. However, the gate looked like I could fairly easily climb over it, so I did. Probably lost 20-25 seconds of time + rhythm.

Finally made it to the finish area. Saw my mother, and waved at her - she is visiting us from Russia, and was willing to get up at 5:00 am to see a race.

Leon ran a great time of 1:13:29. This is absolutely amazing on this course. What a breakthrough! In the beginning of the year I was beating him in 5 Ks by over 30 seconds. Then he closed it to 3 seconds in Draper Days 5 K. Then he beat me by a minute and a half in the half marathon last week. Now he beat me by as much as 4 minutes just a week later, and I do not think that my performance today was any worse than last week comparatively with the adjustments for the course. He is going to be a very tough competitor in the Top of Utah marathon.

Jed Burton won the marathon with 2:50:08. Bill Cobler was second with 2:55:30. Went for a cool-down with Bill afterwards.

In the evening ran with the kids, and worked out with weights, bench press, 105 pounds, 3x3, narrow grip.

Somehow managed to put in 76 miles this week.

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