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: 232.17 Year: 3533.69
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
Bare Feet Miles: 46.34Water Clogs Miles: 16.40
Night Sleep Time: 53.50Nap Time: 6.50Total Sleep Time: 60.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. The foot felt better thanks to Josse's scraping last night. Quads and calves sore.

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. Ran with Jeff and Benjamin at Grandview. Benjamin went 2 miles with us in 17:33 (I think). Jeff was a little late and joined us after a couple of laps. At first I was feeling sore and  thought I would run 2-4 miles. But then the form was becoming smoother and I felt better and better. So I upgraded my plan to 6, and then said - I am feeling good, why waste a training run, go full 10. So I ran 26 laps (10.04) in 1:16:48. Jeff's back was hurting during the run and he had a concern it might be heart-related. I did not think it was since it did not hurt any more when he was running than when he was sitting. But just in case I suggested we pick up the pace to get HR up and see if he passes out. He did not, but we ended up running about 0.8 quick with two laps in 2:26 (6:18 pace) and 2:19 (6:00 pace).

After talking to Paul on Saturday I decided to try going gluten-free for three months as an experiment. In 2003 as part of my diet experimentation I did not eat any bread or pasta (even whole wheat) between June and  late September. In that time I ran TOU in 2:27:46 and St. George two weeks later in 2:24:47.  In TOU in spite of opening in a suicidal (for me) 1:10:31, and taking in nothing the entire race except some soy milk mixed with bananas in a blender and a cup of water at 23 I closed in 1:17:15, which is the fastest closing second half I've ever run in the 11 years.  I believe that was my true PR race. St. George in 2:23:57 in 2007 was not as good.

So after contemplating Paul's experience with eating no gluten and not having fuel issues and my own experience in 2003, I began to wonder. Maybe I do have an adverse reaction to gluten after all. I did some research. Turns out that while only 1% of the population have a clinical celiac disease, a lot more experience minor symptoms. Gluten can cause an auto-immune response in the intestine which interferes with the absorption of nutrients, and thus you will have fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and other problems. So I figured I'd give it a shot and see what happens.

This is going to require some creativity and getting out of the comfort zone. Because I love whole wheat bread and depend on it to fill me up. But I do want to know if I have the problem. And I do have an easy way to test if it's been fixed - run 20 miles hard and see if I can go under 5:30 in the last two.

P.M. Benjamin ran 0.5 with Joseph in 6:16. I rode 2 on a bike with Jenny in 17:38. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:42.

Bare Feet Miles: 10.04
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Again ran at Grandview with Jeff and Benjamin. Benjamin ran 2 miles in 17:38 or so, I believe. The grass was cold, almost unbearably cold. It was good for my plantar to heel attachment inflammation. But it gave me some minor blisters. Not sure what to do tomorrow. Maybe I'll try wearing Five Fingers or Crocs on grass.

The grass was also splippery so it was difficult to run a good pace. I got lapped by the 3:00 per lap guy (7:46 pace), but then picked it up in the last three laps to a bit slower than 6:00 (which took some work on cold wet grass) and edged him at the end with 1:17:57 for 10.04.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:35. He closed with a 2:08 quarter. That is very encouraging. Julia won the Thanksgiving 3-4 year old race in 2:00, and I do not believe anybody has ever run much faster than that. So he should be able to win unless there is another Joseph or unless Joseph has a fit. But he's never had a fit in a race. It is a lot of fun training little kids for a race. Mental preparation takes on a new meaning!

With Julia we did the mental preparation like this: "Julia, what are you going to do?" "I am going to run fast and win the turkey!". "What happens if you cry and stop?" "Another girl gets the turkey!" "What happens if you cry and walk?" "Another girl gets the turkey!" "What happens if you fall down, cry, and do not get up right away?" "Another girl gets the turkey!" "What happens if you get tired and slow down?" "Another girl gets the turkey!" "What are you going to do?" "I am going to run fast and get the turkey!"

Jenny and Julia ran their usual distances acompanied by Sarah on a bike. I did not feel like running any more on pavement, and also I was busy with Jeff's programming lesson.

Bare Feet Miles: 10.04Water Clogs Miles: 0.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Benjamin again at Grandview. Wore my new Water Clogs this time because the grass has been getting too cold to run barefoot. Benjamin did 17:21 with us in the first 2. Then we picked it up a bit. Jeff went home after 15 laps because he had to run to Kimia's work to get the car. 

Picked it up in the last two laps - ran them in 2:21 and 2:19 - around 6:00 pace. The grass was slippery, but the form felt good. Nevertheless the heel fussed some. Total time for 10.04 was 1:15:43.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:25. New record for him. Splits of 2:15 - 2:10. Then rode the bike with Jenny and Julia. Jenny got 19:14 for 2 miles. Julia 14:24 for 1.5.

Water Clogs Miles: 10.54
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff at Grandview. Wore Clogs in the first 10 laps. Jeff wanted to do a mini-speed session. 3x3 laps (1.158) with 1 lap recovery. I decided to do some of it with him depending on how I felt. In the first one things were going great for the first two laps - 2:14 - 2:05 and even the first 200 meters or so of the third. Then my Clog fell off. I guess my new Clogs are slightly bigger than the Walmart No-Boundaries Crocs, and are not designed for going faster than 6:00. I was confused and did not stop my watch. Nor did I think of simply finishing the repeat in one Clog. With all the commotion and the extra time to go back to get the fallen Clog my last lap was 2:28, total time 6:48.

Jogged the recovery lap with Jeff, and decided to skip the next one for good measure. Figured the grass was not as cold as yesterday so I decided to go barefoot. Running barefoot felt good, so I decided to run Jeff's last repeat. It went better than I expected: 2:05 - 2:05 - 2:01 - total of 6:11, 5:20 pace average, first two laps at 5:23, last one at 5:13. 5:23 felt sustainable, 5:13 was more pleasant than miserable, and the best news is that I did not get dropped. In the past whenever Jeff would get close to a 2:00 lap I inevitably got dropped even if we were running only 3 laps. So maybe going gluten free is already starting to bare fruit, who knows. If only I can get the foot to stop fussing before St. George now.

Total time for 26 laps (10.04) was 1:13:29.

P.M. Joseph is on the roll. He wanted to set a new record. I warned him that too many records in a row is not a good idea, but he insisted that he was fast. So he opened with a 2:19 quarter, and then really picked it up closing in 2:02. 4:21 for the new half mile record. Then supervised Benjamin, Jenny, and Julia while riding a bike. Benjamin ran 2 in 17:47, Jenny in 18:46, Julia 1.5 in 14:12.

Bare Feet Miles: 6.18Water Clogs Miles: 4.36
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran again with Jeff at Grandview. 10.04 in 1:13:50. Barefoot. The grass was warmer - just perfect. Cold enough for a natural ice bath but not so cold to make it unbearable.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:57. Supervised Benjamin, Jenny, and Julia on their runs on a bike. Benjamin ran 2 in 17:47. Jenny in 18:59. Julia 1.5 in 14:31.

Bare Feet Miles: 10.04Water Clogs Miles: 0.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Timed the Slate Canyon 5 K/1 Mile. It went well. Only one glitch. The race-supplied barcodes did not scan on my scanner. But we were prepared. I had created a more flexible bib entry system. My hack running on Nokia 770 transformed the $99 scanner into a fancy scanning machine worth  that was capable of a combination of scanning and manual entry and could send the scan results to the timing system via WiFi. So we did it with manual bib entry as runners went through the chute.

Both the mile and the 5 K courses were very slow. A lot of hills.

Benjamin won the mile with 6:46. Jenny was the second girl with 8:07. She got beat by Jessica Resindez (7:23), but Jessica is 11 so Jenny won the 9 and under age division. Julia was the 6th girl with 8:44, and 4th in the 9 and under division. But she was not even 7 on race day. Jenny also ran most of the race barefoot because her new Crocs were too big, one of them came off, and then she ditched the other. That's OK, though, as she will grow into them.

What is interesting is that the field in the mile got chicked with the exception of Benjamin. Second boy was with Benjamin shortly before the turnaround, but ended up 54 seconds behind over the last half mile. From that we should probably conclude that soccer and tag will get you ready to run a decent 800, but to run the mile you need to run.

The kids race repeated itself in a way in the 5 K. The field got chicked again with the exception of the overall winner. Jeff ran 15:54, then Lindsey Dunkley 17:21, and Mary Ann 20:11. This was a PTA fundraiser so not a whole lot of money available for the prizes. To make do with what they had and make it fun they did the battle of genders. Women got a 3:00 bonus for the purpose of prize money calculation. So Lindsey ended up winning $75, Jeff got $50 and Mary Ann $25.

I think the battle of genders is a great way to provide a decent cash prize when the budget is low. Some may argue that 3:00 is too much, and it definitely is at a sub-15:00 (man) performance level, but is appropriate for the natural competition depth in the 16:00 and slower zone.

The course is a beast. My course tool gives Jeff 37 seconds, and Lindsey  40 seconds. The reason for the difference is that with the hills in effect extending the length of the course the faster runner will have more time to gap the slower one. So, converted to a flat course, their times become 15:17 and 16:41. Mary Ann's 20:11 becomes 47 seconds faster - 19:24, and Josse's 21:09 becomes 49 seconds faster - 20:20.

P.M. Could not only run in the afternoon. It was less than ideal. Hot, especially on the grass. The grass itself was warm, which did not give me a chance for an natural ice bath on the run. And I would not dare run anywhere else for fear of aggravating the foot. So I did my usual 26 laps around Grandview. 10.04 miles in 1:10:50, 7:03 average. Picked it up a bit in the last 0.5, but still slower than 6:00 pace (6:12). But the the heat and on grass this was  a solid effort. HR hovered around 145 at 7:00 pace, and climbed to 158 when I sped up to 6:12. Here is what's interesting. Normally if I get the HR up in that range and then stop, in two minutes it is down to 85 or so. But because it was hot two minutes later it was around 108. And four minutes later it was still over 100.

Another interesting point is that I was not breathing 145 bpm worth at that HR. I could have easily conversed. Normally at 145 I am huffing and puffing and speak in monosyllables.

P.M-2. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:15. Took Sarah on a date to the Canyon View Park where we sat by the Provo River under the bridge and looked at the stars as I soaked my feet in liew of an ice bath.

Bare Feet Miles: 10.04Water Clogs Miles: 0.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Bare Feet Miles: 46.34Water Clogs Miles: 16.40
Night Sleep Time: 53.50Nap Time: 6.50Total Sleep Time: 60.00
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