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: 244.22 Year: 3545.74
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
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 56.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 57.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest.

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Derek. Dropped Derek off, dropped Jeff off. Ran 1 mile in 9:31 with Julia pushing Jacob and Joseph with Benjamin and Jenny riding along on their bikes. Then pushed Jacob and Joseph for another 2 miles. Had an accident. Head-on collision with a bike coming from under a bridge. The stroller did very well, no damage at all. My Walmart watch did not do so well - the strap broke. No other damage otherwise. We count our blessings.

P.M. For our family home evening we decided to do Jenny's birthday present geocaching hunt. Sarah hid it some distance away from the house, got the GPS coordinates, and I ran to the location with Benjamin and Jenny. The distance turned out to be 1.72, which we ran in 15:00, 8:43 average.

We found the present, Sarah picked up Jenny, and I ran back with Benjamin. During the run Sarah called us and told us VanGoGo would not start. I told her to get a jump start from Luz, as they were in right next to her house. We got home in 13:27, 7:49 pace average.  I called Sarah, and she told me the jump start did not help.

So Benjamin and I drove back to rescue her. It was dark, and I could not quite remember where Luz's house was exactly, and had a hard time finding it. So I turned on the GPS and used the stored waypoint location to navigate to it. This was going to be a humorous night, it seemed, and the further developments confirmed the suspicion. I got into VanGoGo to see for myself what was wrong, and it turned out that it was in the neutral gear. Once I moved it in Park it started just fine. To add more humor to the night, Sarah forgot her purse at Luz's house. So we had a good laugh.

Five Fingers - 1063.67 miles.

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

A.M. Ran with Derek and Jeff. Then some more by myself, and 2 with Benjamin in 17:26. Total of 14 miles.

P.M. 1 mile with Julia around the soccer field during Benjamin's soccer game. Benjamin's team played much better than last time and won 5-1 against a team that did not appear as weak as the last one. Last time they lost 1-2. The team coaches are very good. In the first game they were kid-disorganized, and combined with the lack of exceptional soccer talent from any of the players this did not produce very impressive results. This time after some work in the practices each player knew his job and did it. I was amazed at the difference, and it showed in the final score.

Ran 1.5 with Jenny later in 13:01. 

Five Fingers - 1077.67 miles.

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

A.M. Started with Jeff and Tyler. Derek was not there for some reason. Tyler had to go to work, so he did not go very far before he turned around. Ran 6 very easy with Jeff. We finished almost 3 minutes behind the 8:00 mile guy. Then ran 6 more alone.

Decided to do a shakeout tempo. Due to my course layout, 3.125 turned out to be a convenient distance. Ran it on the trail as usual. 1.5 out, 1.65 back. Decided to go by feel setting goals as I went along.

Had a hard time getting into a rhythm. First 200 in 44. Then eventually started hitting 83 quarters. 5:35 at the mile. HR at 152. Lost steam, next quarter in 84, and then 85 with a 180. Accelerated after 180, but it was only good enough for another 85. However, got my payback in the next quarter - 82. HR got up to 158. After that I was hitting 82-83 quarters like a clock, but for the life of me could not go any faster. Second mile was 5:36, then 5:30, and 41 for the last 200. I tried to pick it up and bring HR to over 160, but for the life of me could not do it. 16:41 at 3 miles, 17:22 for 3.125, which means I hit the 5 K in 17:16. That is a PR for Five Fingers.

Jogged some more, finished 12 miles in 1:32:07. Amazing how fast the 8:00 mile guy comes to you when you are going 5:30 :-)

Ran another mile with Julia in 9:45.

P.M-1. We bought a van from Canyon Motors in Provo (610 W Center). They specialize in used natural gas vehicles - just perfect for us. We never buy cars on credit, which at least for now means we never buy anything anywhere close to a new car. And we wanted to help alleviate the US demand for foreign oil while saving a bit on gas as well. It is 1996 Dodge Ram B2500 CNG. 72 K miles. Seats 15 passengers. $8402.96 including the sales tax, registration, and other fees. $3K alternative fuel vehicle tax credit. 14-18 mpg at $0.86 a gallon. Right now it is more than twice as cheap to drive as Zhu (our 93 Ford Escort Wagon). And the best thing - I stuck my nose right next to the exhaust pipe while the engine was running, and could smell nothing.

The official name of the new van is FRV - The Fast Running Van.

One drawback is that now we would have to plan our fuel stops thoroughly while traveling. But there are quite a few natural gas stations all over the state. Flying J in Springville, there one in Orem around exit 272, a couple in Salt Lake, one in Ogden, and one even in Logan. Going south, Fillmore, and St. George. We will still keep VanGoGo - 4-wheel drive, spare vehicle in case FRV breaks down, and for trips in remote areas where natural gas may be unavailable. Also for short trips when we do not feel like parking FRV in a tight space, and for Van 2 in relays.

Being a used car, FRV still needed some pre-sale fixing, and Sarah did not want to wait for me to finish the paperwork, so I did the paperwork and ran home - 0.7 miles. We should be getting the van today.

P.M-2 : 0.3 running errands, 0.5 with Benjamin in 4:21, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 12:38, total time for 2 miles was 16:59. Had fun running away from dogs. There were 3 dog incidents in the last half mile that resulted in accelerations. I was impressed with Jenny's top end speed. Kenyan kids run away from hyenas, ours have to settle for dogs.

Five Fingers - 1091.67 miles.

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

A.M. Big group today. Started with Jeff, Derek, Jeff's dad Don, Vern, and Michelle. Vern and Don ran 1 mile out, Derek kept on going to BYU at 6 while we turned around. Jeff turned around 8 miles into the run because he only needed 10. Michelle finished all 12 with me - she actually had run some before we even started - she was doing a 22 mile run. Had a VPB stop, then caught the pack afterwards. The quarters were 84 and 80, and I felt more energized than yesterday. At 6 Michelle started her end of long run death march tempo. Her splits were 6:42, 6:33, 6:22, 6:25, 6:27, 6:21. Her last 2 quarters were 94 and 87. I gave her a challenge to push my HR past 140. She reached it with about 1 mile to go for the first time, and then finally in the kick she pushed it as high as 149.

Afterwards ran 2 miles with Benjamin in 15:39 including the lunch out qualifications 0.5 in 3:03, splits of 93 and 90.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:40, and 1.5 with Jenny in 13:13. Played soccer with some Latinos during Benjamin's soccer practice. Also shot basketball hoops.

Five Fingers - 1108.17 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 12.1 in 1:33:00. Started with Jeff, Daniel, Tyler and Don. The group kept getting smaller. Then Derek who had a late start caught up to us. Ran with Jeff and Derek to 10.1, then 2 more mostly alone, but I did meet a runner, I think his name was Ken, ran with him and bit, and invited him to join the blog.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:09, with Jenny joining for the last 1.5 in 11:41. Julia ran with Sarah and Luz earlier in the morning. Then 2 more to the tennis court and back. Played tennis with Benjamin.

Five Fingers - 1224.27 miles.

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

A.M. Ran with Derek. We did a 2.62 warmup. Then I did a modified Lindgren tempo. This time I warmed up for 0.5 miles at a slower pace before trying to run 5:00. Derek joined me for the last 2 miles.

Splits: 84, 83, 79 (jumped over a tree), 78 - 5:24 mile, 81, 85, 88, 87 (5:43), 86, 87 (14:01 at the turnaround), 89, 86 (5:47), 86, 84, 85, 86 (5:42), 82, 83, 84 (tree jump), 81 (5:30) - 28:06.2.

HR: climbed to 162 during the attempt at a 5:00 mile, then dropped miserably. Sat around 155 between 1.5 and 3.7. Then with Derek's help got up to 158. In the last mile got up to 160, and hit 166 in the last quarter.

Other observations: When running 5:44-5:48 pace HR was stuck at 155 but the breathing felt very labored. Once Derek joined me and I started running behind him, HR was higher, I was running faster, but the breathing felt a lot less labored. Possible explanation - breathing rate correlates with turnover. Earlier, the ground push-off power (which determines stride length) was reduced for some odd reason, so I had to turn over quicker to run a slower pace. Running behind Derek rebooted the push-off power computer, now I did not have to turn over as quickly.

Jogged with Derek to 10.25, dropped him off, drank a large cup of Powerade, then jogged to 13.62 and ran another 5 mile tempo on the exact same course except this time I did not have to jump over the tree twice.

Felt sluggish and unmotivated during that part, like I was ready to be done with the workout already. Very similar to mile 20 of the marathon. Was not sure what to expect of the tempo.

Splits in the second tempo: 5:48, 5:46, 14:27 at the turnaround, 5:49, 5:49, 5:42 - total time 28:54.7.

HR: Could not bring it over 150 in the first 2 miles. Then it hovered at 152-153 for the next two and a half. Then all of a sudden it shot up to 157 with no change in pace but there was a slight increase in the perception of effort. Was able to push it to 164 in the last quarter which I ran in 82.

Subjective observations: felt sluggish at the start. Had to focus on high turnover to keep the pace. Was able to keep the pace but it required a lot of concentration. When HR increased at 3.5 miles did not feel a significant increase in effort. At 3.25 felt that my ability to concentrate has decreased, and it coincided with a slight let-up on the pace. However, focusing on high turnover allowed me to regain the momentum. Breathing felt controlled, it was rhythmic but not exhaustingly bothersome like in the first tempo after the surge.

Analysis: the increased HR at 3.5 was probably the result of dehydration and rising temperatures - I was over 17 miles into the run, and it was already around 9:00 am. I was actually surprised earlier when I saw that I could maintain sub-5:50 pace with HR below 150 for so long that late into the run.

Ran a cool down of 1.38 miles which gave me 20 miles for the whole run.

I think I've got my marathon second half slow down figured out. Fuel shortage is nothing more that a conspiring catalyst. It is primarily caused by a weak nervous system. I've heard a cop tell me on several occasions that he got tired watching me run. This form of fatigue is somewhat similar to what that cop experiences. When the fuel is low the neural drive goes down. When the nervous system is naturally it may still be enough to maintain the pace. When it is weaker, this causes a problem.

This explains why it is so common for me to let a competitor go between 13 and 16, and even as late as 18 feeling like I could not run even one more mile at that pace, have him gap me enough to be out of sight, but then pass him after 20 miles even though I have slowed down myself. I have plenty of fuel, he has plenty of neural drive. He is running lower than me on fuel, but he can keep the pace because his neural drive is strong. After 13 I have two issues - the neural drive goes down just from the stress on the nervous system itself, plus the fuel runs a bit low which acts as a drive reducing catalyst. No big deal yet for the competitor because his nervous system is strong, he feels good, and knows nothing of his impending doom. I used to be like that when I was running 2:40s. Now, I sense the trouble to the point that I am forced to slow down, I do not have a choice. Then the competitor with his strong nervous system but a less deep gas tank just slams into a wall and cannot break 7:00 while I am still plodding along at 6:00-6:20 pace. This works only for competitors that have not yet built up their gas tank. The moment their gas tank starts working the scenario changes. At 13 all of a sudden I cannot keep their pace. I slow down, they do not. They never run out of fuel and finish ahead.

Now running the second half of TOU with a better than before realization of why I am running slow (and likely why I am getting beat as well) would be quite frustrating. Is there anything I can do about it? That remains to be seen.

T4 Racer - 487.93 miles

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:55, 2 with Benjamin in 16:26, Jenny ran the first 1.5 with us in 12:52.

Five Fingers - 1227.27 miles

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 56.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 57.50
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