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: 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: 56.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 58.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest.

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 10.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Derek. Total of 8 miles in 1:00:29. Ran into a couple on the trail and they joined us. Their names were Stephanie and Tim, a brother and a sister from Burley, Idaho. Both BYU students. They ran with us most of the way. We also briefly ran with a lady from New Zealand, I think her name was Debbie if I heard it right.

A.M -2. Julia got busted for sucking her thumb in a sneaky way when she thought I was not looking. We do not tolerate this type of behavior - when a child knowingly does something wrong thinking he can get away with it because nobody can see him. Her punishment was a multitude of jobs around the house, but she could always cancel the remainder of the list with a sub-10:00 mile including the very first job. She cleaned the living room, then cleaned two toilets. After that she decided to go for a sub-10:00 mile, and we ran 9:21. I pushed Joseph in the stroller.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 15:51. 1.5 with Jenny in 13:05. We saw a girl running ahead of us. I challenged Jenny to catch her before we got off the trail. She hesitated, then said she'd do it for a carob bar. I agreed, she picked up to about 6:00 pace for 0.1 mile and accomplished the task. 0.34 with Joseph in 4:07. Jacob ran 200 meters in 1:58.

Five Fingers - 1503.97 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. Jogged 4.125, ran 2.5 tempo (second half of my standard 5 mile tempo on the Provo River Trail) in 13:51, then back to Derek, then back to the house with him, then some more to make it 10. Not sure what to think about the tempo. I was holding 5:30 pace on flat parts, a little slower on the mini-rollers, felt like I could sustain it for some time, maybe if I slowed down a bit, but definitely could not go any faster because I tried and nothing happened. It was cold. I was wearing Five Fingers, and I ran alone. One thing for sure, no spectacular results. But at the same time it could be and it has been worse.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:53. 2 with Benjamin in 17:12. Jenny ran 1.5 with us in 12:53. 0.34 with Joseph in 3:52. Jacob did 200 in 2:12.

Five Fingers - 1513.97 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 Jeff and Michelle. Total of 10 miles in 1:22:27. It was dark and cold.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:30. 0.34 with Joseph in 4:07. Jacob ran 200 in 2:08. 2 with Benjamin in 17:35, Jenny did 1.5 with us in 13:24.

Five Fingers - 1523.97 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 8 miles with Jeff. Did 4x400 with 200 recovery in the middle. 74.4 - 73.4 - 74.9 - 72.2. Did not feel the power and had a hard time pushing myself into the zone where I have to breathe very hard. But it will come in a few weeks.

I observed about a year and a half ago that "lactic intolerance" for me has a negative effect on the "threshold pace". I put those terms in quotes. After studying and pondering the issue, I realize now there is no such thing as "lactic intolerance" or "anaerobic threshold". Lactate is fuel, the more of it in and of itself will not slow you down. They say acidity of the muscle can slow you down, but there is some evidence that in and of itself it does not. I saw a study where they demonstrated a muscle immersed in acid could actually contract better when activated with an electric stimulus. Threshold pace defined as the pace when lactate levels stabilize does not exist - there is always a gradual drift. There was a study where a group of Kenyan runners pushed their lactate levels very high to where the conventional wisdom would indicate they should not have been able to continue to run like this for long, but they kept going and were comfortable.

To say the runner slowed down because he had too much lactic acid is like to say he slowed down because he was breathing too hard, or because his VO2 went up too high, or because his RER stayed above 1 for too long, or, the plainest of all but equally meaningful explanation - because he was running too fast. All of the above happens when you start running really fast, but what really is the driving cause rather than an accompanying phenonemon? And is there really just one cause? I suspect it is not as simple as we would like it to be.

Nevertheless, there exists a reality that when a trained runner starts pushing much harder than his half marathon race pace, he cannot sustain it for long, and the harder he pushes, the harder he begins to breathe, and the less he can sustain the pace for. When we say "too much lactic acid", even if we are wrong, it could still be useful for practical purposes. There is some inhibitor X, and regardless what substance we believe it to be, and even whether it is just one substance, or maybe just a certain perception of fatigue that results from a combination of substances, does not really matter. The purpose of training is to overcome the inhibitor X.

So my theory goes like this. When you run at your half-marathon race pace, the inhibitor X levels constantly fluctuate. When they reach a critical level during that fluctuation you will slow down. The faster the pace, the higher the peak of inhibitor X. When you do fast quarters you have higher levels of inhibitor X. If you do them fairly regularly, you learn to fight inhibitor X for a minute or so. But that minute is critical when trying to sustain a slower pace if the inhibitor X peak at that pace spikes once in a while too high. Then using the ability to deal with the spike you developed during quarters you can go through it without slowing down and then it drops, and thus you maintain a faster pace.

However, this is only applicable if you have a solid aerobic base. Otherwise, inhibitor X cannot go down if you keep running the same speed for too long. The peak will last longer than a minute and you will slow down with out of breath and "I want to puke" symptoms.


T4 Racer - 697.27 miles

P.M. Helped Jeff pace his wife Kimia through her first 5 K time trial in 55:47. She did it essentially untrained, off a sedentary life style, and with zero athletic background or mindset. So it was quite a challenge for her - mostly mental. Both Jeff and I agreed that if a trained runner's brain were driving her body, she would have run under 40:00. After some thought, now I believe as fast as 33:00. The problem was that she was afraid to throw up, while an experienced runner even completely out of shape will push to throw up so he can relieve himself and keep going feeling better.

0.34 with Joseph in 4:17. Jacob ran 200 in 2:25 - slower today because it was getting dark. 1 with Julia in 10:45. 2 with Benjamin in 17:16, Jenny ran the first 1.5 in 13:16.

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

A.M. Started the run with Jeff and Derek. Ran with them for 8 miles. Then was planning to run 2 more, but ran into Brandon Ashcroft, and he was going a little further, so I ran with him. We went to Geneva road and then came back to my house. He stopped briefly to meet my family. I joked that I went for a run and found a Russian-speaking souvenir - Brandon served a mission in the Ukraine (Donetsk), and interestingly enough had served near my birth place. I was born in a little town Rubezhnoye near Lugansk, but did not stay there long. Three months later my mom brought me to Moscow where I lived until I was 20.

I think this is about fifth time in the last two years that I ran into somebody during a run that was a Russian speaker.

Total time for the run was 1:20:50 - 10.5 miles.

Five Fingers - 1547.47 miles.

P.M. Jacob ran 200 in 2:08. 0.34 with Joseph in 4:08. 1 with Julia in 11:03. 2 with Benjamin in 17:32. Jenny ran the first 1.5 with us in 13:11.

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

A.M. Ran with Jeff, Tyler, and Brandon. We did a 2.62 warm-up, then a tempo run. I went 10, Jeff and Brandon did 5, and Tyler did 3 because he was concerned about the shin. The plan was to go not slower than 6:00 but not much faster. I put the not-much-faster clause in it because I knew from how I felt this week that much faster would be difficult.

The course was the standard 5 mile tempo twice, so the same 2.5 mile stretch 4 times, 3 180 turns.

Total time: 58:59.7

Splits by the mile: 5:56 - 6:00 - 5:46 - 5:54 - 5:57 - 6:01 - 5:49 - 5:56 - 5:57 - 5:47

Splits by 2.5 - 14:49 - 14:44 - 14:47 - 14:38.

I felt OK, though not great in the first 5 miles. When Jeff pushed the pace a bit, it felt harder, but not miserable. When Brandon started struggling I was able to cheer him in Russian. Russian is better suited for getting somebody to go faster when he is in pain. There is a rich variety of powerful two-word phrases that can motivate a struggling runner. To communicate the same idea in English you would need four or five words, and your sentences are at least twice as long. Most of those phrases start with the word nado which is often translated as "you must" or "you need", but the original word has no "you" in it. It just means there exists an abstract need or requirement that is above you or anybody else. You are not a part of it, it is above you, and you'd better meet it or else...

Felt OK for another 2 miles, about the same as earlier, but then all of a sudden 88 quarters started feeling very difficult. I was not breathing very hard, but I felt like I had a tongue in my quads and it was tasting concentrated lemon juice the entire time. That feeling is not there when everything is normal until I start hitting 82 second quarters. So 5:55 felt like 5:30, except for the breathing.

At 5 miles I thought that going under 59:00 would be easy. At 7.5 I thought it would be difficult but doable. With a mile to go I was not so sure. With a quarter to go I thought it would be a miracle. So I gave it all I had. My mom used to say "I see Paris" when she tasted something very sour. Well, the last quarter was only 82, but I still saw Paris. The "Paris" effort got me a little bit under 59:00, so a small victory.

Ran 1.38 cool down, got home and took the kids to do the trail cleanup. I noticed that the most common type of trash was cigarette butts.

Then ran with Jacob and Joseph. Jacob ran 200 in 1:54. Joseph did his 0.34 loop in 4:08.

P.M. 1 mile with Julia in 10:48. 2 with Benjamin in 17:20. Jenny ran the first 1.5 with us in 13:20.

T4 Racer - 711.27 miles

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 56.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 58.00
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