Breaking the Wall

Week starting Sep 23, 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: 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
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Easy run with Ted and Brad (Jeff's roommate), 10.1 in 1:14:44. Did 8x100 strides towards the end of the run averaging around 18 seconds on each. With only 101 miles last week (as opposed to regular 120) I was feeling full of energy. The horses were neighing again, the strides helped calm them down a bit.

A little later took Julia for 0.5, we ran 4:46.

P.M. We were out of toilet paper. So this was a creative shopping run. I learned about a store in Provo that finally decided to stop selling alcohol and tobacco after the owner's 9 year old daughter asked him why in the world he was selling this stuff. He had the guts to go through with his convictions, something that almost every single grocery store owner even in the Utah County seems to lack. At least, this is the only regular grocery store in the Utah County I am aware of with the exception of the  BYU Creamery on 9th East that does not sell alcohol and tobacco. I wanted to support the store owner on this decision, so we ran there to shop. The store is called Reams Family Foods, not to be confused with the more commonly known Reams chain, and is located at 2250 N University Pkwy in Provo over by Shopko, which happens to be a very nice run from our house, almost entirely on the trail, 2.74 miles out .  We took the double stroller, put Jacob in it, then Benjamin rode a bike, and Jenny ran for the first 1.5 miles, which we did in 13:36. Then they traded places. We ran another 1.24 and stopped at the store. Managed to load the stroller with a case of raspberries, 12 rolls of toilet paper, two loaves of bread, and two pounds of grapes. We even got a toy soccer ball for Julia. After another 0.76, Benjamin was done with his run. His time for 2 miles was 15:25. Then we put Benjamin on the bike, and Jenny sat in the stroller holding the rolls of toilet paper and another bag with grapes. Benjamin admonished me to catch the 8:00 mile guy for the whole run. I had a bit less than 2 miles to go and about a minute to close, no problem. With the help of 0.5% grade downhill,  fairly quickly got up to 6:20 pace, slowing down to around 7:00 in the tunnels. This must have been quite a scene to watch - a grocery loaded stroller with two kids in it, and one holding rolls of toilet paper going at a brisk pace. Slowed down to 6:40 with the same effort once it flattened out, what a difference  a 0.5% grade makes for a loaded stroller! Total time for 5.48 was 41:58.

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

A.M. Control 3 mile tempo run with Jeff this morning at 6:00 AM. Ted had to go a bit earlier. The rough plan was - 1:19 quarters - good, 1:18 - better, 1:17 too good in the first mile, really good otherwise, 1:20 acceptable in the first mile, too slow otherwise. The significance of this run is that a 3 mile tempo has accurately predicted my marathon times in the past, and I had the data for this particular course for Ogden 2007 and Richmond 2003.

Warmed up 3.38 very easy. Started at the start of the Provo River 5 Mile Tempo by Geneva Road. Jeff and I alternated quarters, I took the first. 1:17 - 1:20 - 1:16 (0.5% down) - 1:17 (0.5% down), first mile in 5:10 - 1:18 - 1:20 (slowed down to not miss the turnaround, it was still dark) - 1:21 (recovering from 180 turn) - 1:20 (Jeff started losing it, I passed him 50 meters early and went for it), 5:19 on the second mile, 10:29 at 2 - Jeff fell back, now I was running alone - 1:19 (up 0.5%) - 1:19 (up 0.5 %, had to break because a dog jumped right under my feet, bad place too, right in the middle of the uphill) - 1:20 (got complacent) - 1:17 (felt good, but could not put together a kick). Last mile in 5:15, total time 15:44.3. Jeff was suffering from our Saturday run combined with the lack of sleep, so he was reduced to coasting through the last mile in 5:42 and finished in 16:12.

This predicts 2:28 in Ogden 2007 (including the heat), and 2:26 in Richmond 2003 assuming a crazy start. Reasoning - ran this in 16:12 before Ogden this year, 2:32:00 in Ogden, and 16:22 before Richmond 2003, 2:31:45 with the approach "qualify or die", first half in 1:12:12, second in 1:19:33, and those halves would be within a minute of each other run at the same effort.

Sasha science analysis for St. George - in the 3 mile run prior to Ogden I did enough VO2 Max workouts to have the ability to cheat in the 3 mile tempo. Ted paced me on the last mile, I hurt a lot, and ran it in 5:18. It was a true VO2 Max mile. Today I ran 5:15 on the last mile for two reasons - did not have anybody around to stir the pot, and could not get to a VO2 Max pace due to the lack of training at those speeds. That is OK, it is good to have a governor that would not let me go that hard in St. George, especially on Veyo. Prior to St. George 2006 I ran the standard downhill 3 mile tempo from Nunns to the mouth of the Provo Canyon in 15:35. This one tends to be about 35 seconds slower than that one. That would give me 15:10 on the Provo Canyon tempo, projecting it over the marathon, 3:38 faster than my finish time in St. George 2006, so 2:21:54. I have a trump card to pull out - higher mileage and a lot more Big Workouts this year, so I should be able to hold the threshold better through the marathon. That could come handy for getting the standard A, or in case something goes wrong, a bit of a cushion to still get standard B.

P.M. 0.5 with Julia in 5:05, then 1.5 with Benjamin, Jenny, and an empty single stroller in 13:49, then put Jenny in the stroller, last 0.5 with Benjamin in 3:32 (you can tell his horses were neighing the whole way through Jenny's run), that gave us 17:21 for 2 miles. Benjamin's soccer team lost  for the first time this season 0-2. Benjamin's explanation of why - 75% of the opposing team were Hispanic, the rest were giants.

Taper time - I feel like I am driving through a construction zone, fines double,  with a trooper following me.

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

A.M. Easy 10, first 6 with a big gang at 5:00 AM - Ted, Jeff, and Adam, the remaining 4 just with Jeff. My watch got messed up during a VPB stop, but I figure my total time was around 1:11:50. Felt strong, could not tell much of a difference in effort between 7:30 and 6:20. The horses were neighing but I was able to hold them back for the most part. Ted said he had just one horse neighing.

P.M. Sick kids today again. Ate garlic and washed my hands after every suspicious contact as a pre-caution. They say a clove of garlic a day keeps the doctor away. Jenny had a fever, so she did not run. Jacob had a fever earlier today, and was breathing funny, Sarah took him to the doctor, but turned out he was just breathing funny, he was actually getting enough oxygen, and then he started breathing normally towards the end of the day. Benjamin struggled through 0.5 in 4:51, I call that sick for him. Julia ran 5:25 for her 0.5, she and Joseph were the only kids without symptoms today.  Ran to the church and back, that gave me another 0.25. Slacking a bit to keep the trooper from giving me excessive taper mileage ticket. I think the trooper's name is Ted.

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

A.M. Ran with the BYU ROTC Army Ranger Challenge cadets. Could not find shoes/shorts, had a late start, took a shortcut to BYU, 1.85 miles, 12:47 6:54.5 avg (used the new calculator feature I coded up yesterday to compute that) fairly brisk for 5:15 AM, but being late gave me the extra adrenaline. The cadets were doing 1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1 minute fartlek with equal rest. During the warm-up I discovered that at least two cadets spoke Russian, and it sounded good to me. With the temperature being 39 degrees, I spoke to them in a burly Russian man mumble rather than like a newscaster, making no allowance for it being the second language for them, and noticed no trouble on their part. I was actually expecting to find some Russian speakers since we had a group of about 30 and mentioned it to them. They suggested I should try Spanish. I did. Nearly half the group started chattering away simultaneously in Spanish telling their mission stories and jokes. Mind you, this is a group of white guys most of whom grew up in Utah in a family where English was the only language spoken.

Back in Moscow in the 90s as Russia opened up to all variety of missionaries I had a chance to meet with a number of representatives of different religions. None of the ones I met had more Russian fluency that a couple of phrase book sentences except for the young LDS missionaries who ranged anywhere from accented functional to virtually native fluency. Even some of the older missionaries, including the mission president and his wife were fluent. Some of them were really good. I remember talking to Elder Jamie Codee, who incidentally happens to be Kendra Hooper's brother, and Steve Hooper's brother in law, small world. We spoke for half an hour, with him doing a lot of talking, and I had not caught anything that did not sound even the tiniest bit wrong in spite of staying on alert the entire time waiting like a vulture to correct him.

That meant a great deal to me. The ability to communicate was not an issue. I was already fluent in English, and in fact, I preferred to have religious discussions in English. Religious terms in Russian just did not quite mean their dictionary translations to me, and when put together produced awkward and confusing sentences. 70 years of state-sponsored atheism had subtly corrupted the language. Those same sentences in English flowed naturally and carried a lot of meaning. I was able to get away from my background and think with a different perspective.

What did matter to me, though, is the thorough wide-scale effort to learn the Russian language, which is not the easiest for an English speaker. It represented preparation, solid work ethic, determination, and commitment. I figured a church that had the ability to instill what it takes to learn Russian in their English-speaking youth was up to something worthwhile.

The Spanish chatter ended with Ted announcing it was time to start the speed portion of the workout. That is when the group split, and we eventually ended up with 2.5 cadets. Ted ran the repetitions somewhere in the 5:30-6:00 range. 2.5 cadets were able to hang on until the 3 minute one. Ted wanted to run at least his marathon pace effort, so we would drop our precious 2.5, and then come back to them during recovery. 10 seconds before the first 4 minute one I had to make a VPB stop. Ran a 3:17 1000 (off Hawks marks) up 0.5% grade (the stretch of the Provo River Trail from Wills to Riverwoods), that felt like threshold-comfortable, caught up to/passed everybody, Ted was the hardest to catch, and I think he picked it up when he heard me coming because all of a sudden he started coming to me a lot slower while I was running a steady pace, then ran about 50 more meters with him, and the repetition was over.

Got back to Smith's Fieldhouse at BYU, then ran home without the shortcut. Total of 12.07 in 1:25:42. Sarah had a mile left when I got back, so we ran 1.05 together around the block in 10:00.

P.M. 0.5 with Jenny and Julia in 5:30, Jenny is still sick, but can run a bit, so her little sister Julia decided to be a nice sister and keep the pace moderate. Jenny did struggle, though, but that is better than yesterday when she could not run at all. Benjamin is feeling good today, is planning on running the cross country 3 K at Kiwani's Park tonight.

Benjamin thought he was feeling good, but really the sickness was still there. He suffered his way through 16:31. I think from now on we will have a rule that if 8:00 pace the day before feels hard or impossible, we do not race. Ran some errands to the church and back afterwards, total of 0.5. 

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

A.M. Easy 7.1 with Ted with some strides in the middle.

P.M. VanGoGo has been having bad luck with door handles. So I had to take it to the body shop again. Ran 1.51 back in 10:20. Ran a mile with Julia and Benjamin in the evening in 9:30, and then 0.5 with Jenny in 5:46. She is still sick, Benjamin is a bit better.

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

A.M. Woke up at 2 AM, head fuzzy, feeling chills. Thought it would go away, it did not. Decided not to run at all this morning. Maybe will do the kids runs if they are feeling good tonight, or maybe just a couple of miles of jogging otherwise. It is the same virus that my kids have gotten. No mucus, no cough, no major fever, but the chest gets very tight so it is painful to breathe. It feels like some nerves are getting irritated. Drinking lots of fluids, staying mostly in bed. Our bishop came and gave me a blessing.

P.M. After spending most of the day in bed decided to go for a brief shake-out. It went better than expected. At first my chest was hurting like crazy and I could not breathe. Started out at slower than 9:00 and for a while it felt like this was the limit. Then I learned how to manage the pain, and sped up to bit slower than 8:00. Hit the first mile in 8:26, then headed back. Learned to manage the pain even better, and noticed that my legs were actually just as strong as they were before I got sick, I just was not getting enough oxygen because breathing was so painful. My body told me it would be OK to push through the pain a little bit. I eventually progressed to 7:12 pace for the last 0.75, and finished 2 miles in 15:50. Never thought I'd be so excited about running 2 miles at sub-8:00 pace. I am learning to count my blessings.

It also helped me realize how tough my kids are being able to run through this breathing pain. Being an adult, and having experienced a lot in 23 years of running, I still had to reach into the depths of my mental toughness to be able to go.

Benjamin and Julia ran 1.05 with Sarah today. Jenny took a break, she is still suffering from the same chest problem. 

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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