Breaking the Wall

Week starting Sep 16, 2007

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

A.M. Woke up around 3 AM to go to the bathroom. Then laid in bed, but my mind started playing BINGO, I was still wired from the race, but yesterday I did not know and finally rested enough to where the wiredness started interfering with my sleep. So I got up, read the scriptures, then finished my race report, and checked a few others. By the time I was done it was time to run. Ted and I ran easy 12 starting out the first .25 with James at around 7:45 average, then we gradually progressed to sub-7:00 at the end, total time was 1:27:42. Felt very strong, could not tell I had run a marathon, looked for signs, the only things I could discover is soreness upon touch in the shin muscles (good sign, I like to be sore there, this happens when I start getting in shape), and a tingly feeling for about a mile or two in the gluts after a VPB stop.

I told Ted I was looking forward to this week because it was going to be a break. Only 100 miles planned, all speed work at his pace, the long run of only 17 with half easy, and no race on Saturday. I never thought I'd ever think of a 100 mile week as a break.

P.M. 0.5 with Julia in 5:02 pushing Jacob in the double stroller, then 1.5 with Benjamin, and Jenny running, and Jacob in the double stroller in 14:16, then put Jenny in the stroller as well, and finished 2 miles with Benjamin - our time was 17:58. Then added 2.5 in 18:50.

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

A.M. Speed workout with Ted at 4:30 AM on the trail. He had an early meeting, I had to take my mother to the airport. It was dark. We warmed up 4 miles. Drafted behind Ted, occasionally would get wired a bit and pull alongside. We did 6x0.5 with 0.25 jogging recovery. 2:35.7 - 2:37.1 - 2:37.1 - 2:39.1 - 2:35.7. They felt at around the level of aggressive threshold, maybe approaching 10 K race pace. On the last one Ted said he might want to pick it up on the last quarter. So with a quarter to go I pulled alongside and picked it up to see if Ted would respond. But he did not want to be unduly uncomfortable, and dropped back a bit. I just coasted waiting for him to catch up, but he did not.

My mother lost 11 pounds in the month she was here, from 192 down to 181. She cannot run because of her leg injury, so she rode the stationary bike 6 days a week for 10 minutes, and ate our diet. At the airport she told me she noticed it was a lot easier for her to walk.

Some food for thought - an article on Hobie Call. A little old, but still an interesting read, perhaps even more interesting due to its age. For those who missed the big news. He ran 2:16:39 on Saturday in the Top of Utah Marathon. For those who do not know - Top of Utah course is not slow, but it is no St. George, and even no Chicago/London/Berlin, probably comparable to Boston. For those who know the course - his first half was 1:06:40, and he came back with 1:09:59. The second half has a couple hundred feet of net elevation drop, but it rolls more than enough to negate it. So in other words, had he had to run the Great Salt Lake Half out and back, he would still have finished under 2:20. So we've got a guy that can go under 2:20 on a flat course at 4500 feet.

He will still be a dark horse at the Trials, especially with the misleading letter "a" right next to his time for "aided course". If he runs an equivalent quality performance there, though, it would cause a lot of wide-open mouths. Chances are he will - I've never seen him crash in a marathon.

P.M. 2.13 to Benjamin's soccer game with him in 17:20. Another 0.75 around the field by myself in 5:46. Benjamin's team won 5-1. Back 1.6 in 14:23 with Jenny, then added to get 2.03 in 17:30.

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

A.M. Easy 10 from my house in 1:14:48 with different parts run with Jeff, Ted, and Adam at 5:05 AM. Felt strong. Last mile was 6:27 still in the dark, this is a big deal for me, I am usually not motivated to run that fast at any point this early and will not do it unless really trying. The form felt very smooth once we got into 6:40s, there seems to be a struggle, the feet still feel stuck on the ground as if there was glue on my shoes as always, but at the same time there appeared a new force that is fighting that glue. In the past there was no struggle, I just had to bite it and use pure muscle power to deal with the consequences of the glue.

P.M. Sick kids today. Ran with Julia, 0.3 in 3:10, she is recovering from a fever yesterday. Then 0.5 with Benjamin in 4:55, really sick, and 1 mile with Jenny in 10:08, on the sick side. Pushed Julia and Joseph in the double stroller for those. Then put Joseph in the single stroller and ran 3.25 in 24:23. felt good.

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

Update: For those who did not notice - the long awaited discussion forum is active, click on the link above.

A.M. Paced Ted through the Provo River 5 Mile Tempo along with Jeff. His plan was to go out at 5:50 and then pick it up. I asked him if he wanted us to just pull him, or if he wanted to trade quarters, he wanted to trade quarters. We warmed up 3.88 to the 2.5 mark (the gate by the Utah Lake), and started the run there. Went through the first mile fairly even in 5:46. Ted took the first uphill quarter strong, got 1:26, then I had to speed up to pass him to take mine, and I did not slow down, so our next quarter was 1:23. This gave us 5:41 mile. We hit 14:20 at 2.5, did a 180 and headed back. Next mile in 5:43. I announced we were 10 seconds behind the 5:40 guy and proposed to chase him down. Ted was reluctant, but he is a pretty easy going guy, can be talked into running faster even when he does not feel good. To make things more interesting he took his quarter and hit it in 1:22. I took the clue and did mine in 1:22. Jeff took his, and now really put some hot pepper on Ted's plate - 1:20, but Ted was still there with 1.25 to go, which was a good sign. I asked Ted if he wanted us to pull him, or if he wanted to take his quarter. He was smart - he knew if he could take his quarter he would break the rhythm and would not have to run the last mile in 5:23. But the momentum carried him through a 1:24 quarter, which gave us a 5:28 mile. I tried to be nice but not as nice as Ted wanted me to be on the next one - he wanted 1:25, I said he could do better than that, and ran 1:23, Ted survived. Jeff being a much nicer guy, took it easy on the next one - 1:24. Ted started smelling the barn and did his in 1:23. On the last one, I wanted to break 5:30, so I picked it up to 5:20 pace right away. Ted hesitated, but after some aggressive encouragement got going. I ended up getting 28:08.4 on my watch which I stopped a bit too late, Ted was a bit ahead and got 28:07.7 on his watch. This gave us 5:30 for the last mile, 1:20 for the last quarter, 10:58 for the last 2 miles, and 13:48 for the second half, actual negative split of 32 seconds, and effective negative split (adjusting for the uphill/downhill mile) of 25 seconds.

Ted set a bunch of records today, fastest 5 miles on that course, and fastest 2.5 as well. This run shows his threshold is good enough for at least 2:30 in St. George, and very possibly a life-time PR period. And based on his training, he should be able to use his threshold very well in the marathon.
This also goes to show that threshold improves a great deal just off plain aerobic conditioning. Ted's speed work has been very spotty, virtually non-existent in the last two months, but he's been running high mileage.

I was happy to be sufficiently conversational at 5:30 pace on a flat surface to announce splits and other news items every quarter, and do some aggressive verbal encouragement. This is a good sign for St. George.

P.M. Ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:25, she is feeling better. Then 0.5 with Benjamin in 4:28. He is feeling better too, but still not 100%. Then 4 miles in 27:34. Ran the last 2.5 without looking at my watch in  17:19, which tells me my true recovery pace is just a bit under 7:00. Then 1 mile with Jenny in 9:43. She is almost 100%, but not quite there yet.

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. Easy run with Ted and Adam. Adam went with us to the gate then turned around. 1:14:14 for 10.1.

P.M. Just ran with the kids. 0.5 with Julia in 5:22, then 1.5 with Jenny in 14:08, and 1 with Benjamin in 8:13. All are now healthy.

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

A.M. 16 mile run with Ted, Jeff, and Jeff's roommate Brad. Started at Borders at Riverwoods, and went out to the middle of nowhere in South Fork and back on. First 8 easy, chatted a lot, the horses were neighing. I said it is a bad sign for the training partners when your horses are neighing. Jeff said, what about if the training partner is feeling good. His horses were neighing as well. On the way back the plan was 6 at marathon pace, and then the last 2 at threshold to learn how to push at the end of a marathon. We got to the turnaround by Ted's GPS in 1:02:08, and then Jeff and I took off. We eventually worked our way to 5:20 pace and just held it there. The distance was approximate until we got to the Vivian Park (about 1.5 from the turnaround), after that we were on the magic triangles. Our first mile was 5:33 on the triangles, then 5:24, after that we starting gradually closing on the 5:20 guy for the last 6.5 starting at the first mark after Vivian Park. The pace felt relaxing, almost conversational. The little uphills felt like they were not even there, good sign because I remember how much they used to hurt at tempo pace, we never ran slower than 1:21 quarter even when it flattened out or on sections with uphill. Very good for only 1% grade drop. With 2 miles to go, the 5:20 guy had 12 seconds on us. I told Jeff it was time to start working, so we started trading quarters instead of just running side by side. We ran the last two miles in 5:14 each, good effort considering that it is only about 0.5% grade down with a bit of rolling, and I felt I still had some gas in the tank. I got exactly 5:20 average for the last 6.5 - 34:40 total, 42:53 on the way back, total time 1:45:01. Jeff struggled a bit on the last quarter as I tried to eat the 5:20 guy, and dropped back a second or two but he was still there, which is a good sign for him. I would not be surprised to see him qualify. His main issue would be fuel, but I think his threshold speed and mental toughness along with the downhill of St. George on the last 6 miles could save him. Jeff is very tough, he hangs in there to the last drop of blood.

Speaking of blood, a popular Russian song from the 90s popped into my head while we were running and stayed for the entire last 8 miles. It has a typical Russian stark reality flavor to it, which can be good to taste for aspiring to run a good marathon. The words go like this, the translation and the lack of life experience context loses quite a bit of that flavor - Your blood type is written on your sleeve, and your ID number is written on your sleeve, wish me luck in the battle, wish me luck. Oh how I do not want to be left in this grass, oh how I do not want to be left in this grass, wish me luck in the battle, wish me luck.

Our last 10 K would have been around 33:08. The elevation drop over the last 10 K is around 400 feet, less than DesNews, but I think overall better quality, so we can say I ran the equivalent of a 33:08 DesNews 10 K at the end of a 16 mile run with the first 4 miles of it fairly comfortable. This runs tells me that standard "A" would not be out the realm of possibility, although definitely not a given, marathon is a long way to go. But it is a good confidence builder.

Afterwards, went to pace Benjamin in the BYU Homecoming 5 K. We debated which race to run, the kids 1/2 mile, or the 5 K, Benjamin decided that beating adults is more satisfying that beating kids. I was a bit concerned how he would run after being sick last week, but the run showed that he recovered for the most part. The course was comparable to Heart of Holladay, maybe even a bit slower. The length was correct, it has been wheeled according to the race director, and it also showed to be 3.16 on my GPS. Benjamin ran 22:14.1, PR by 12 seconds, 59th pace, and 3rd in 1-12 age division. Afterwards talked to Michelle Lowry. I knew she was running the race, but I was afraid I might not recognize her because I've seen her only once in person, and she had dropped a lot of weight. My concerns were valid, she did look different from what I remembered, but still withing my ability to recognize after the adjusting the weight expectations in my mind. She ran 19:36, very good time, a mother of three running at the level of a college walk-on, and getting there from 21:10 on a similar course in a period of two months. I think she has a shot of a sub-3:00 marathon.

The warm-up with Benjamin was 0.32, also ran 0.5 with Jenny and Julia in 5:20.

P.M. Ran 1 more mile with Jenny in 9:11.

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