Breaking the Wall

Week starting Oct 21, 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. Ran alone at 6:10 AM. Easy 13.11 on the trail in 1:31:16, 6:57.7 average. Did 8 strides in the middle that were supposed to be 100 meters, but a few of them ended up being longer as I missed the mark. Started out at 8:00 pace, then eventually warmed into 6:50. Temperatures were around freezing. Ran fully clothed - tights, jacket, gloves, ready-to-rob-the-bank hood. Took off the hood and the gloves after 2 miles. Felt good, although no neighing horses.

Also, had a dream about going for a run with Sarah (the Fast Running Mommy), Logan, and some guy he was coaching. We were doing a tempo run for the guy he was coaching, and ran 3 miles at 5:50 pace. It felt just like 5:50 pace in real life - brisk, but very sustainable. I thought Sarah would be OK because she'd be riding a bike. At the end of the run I realized that there was no bike after all and she managed to stay with us on foot, and did not seem to be particularly worn out from the effort. I was so excited about her breakthrough, but then I woke up and realized it was just a dream.

P.M. 1.75 with Jenny in 15:32, then 2 with Benjamin in 17:09, then 1.05 with Julia in 10:48, then 0.5 by myself in 3:42.

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

A.M. Big workout. It was fairly cold, probably below freezing. Cold enough for me to wear a long sleeved shirt, a jacket, and tights. Ran at 6:10 AM with Jeff. He is still not 100% so he went only 10 easy. Started at 9:00 pace, fairly quickly progressed to around 7:00. Went to the end of Sasha House 10 Miler, then came back to the Provo River Trail gate by the lake (6.22 in 45:25, 7:18.1 avg).

Then started the 7.5 tempo. Felt unmotivated - it was dark and cold, I had a lot of clothes on, and there were leaves on the ground. Decided to be a slacker and run 5:50-6:00 pace. Hit the first mile in 5:46, 14:25 at 2.5. Turned around, the sun came up, I started to pick up the pace. Noticed that my face began to develop its usual grimace. Focused on redirecting the grimace energy into the legs. It worked very well. Ran the next 2.5 (slight down) in 14:07, and closed with 2.5 in 14:09 (slight up), last mile in 5:36, hard but without excessive strain. Total time for 7.5 was 42:41, 5:41.47 avg.

Cooled down to the house, 1.38 in 10:06, 7:19.13 avg. Total time for 15.1 was 1:38:12, 6:30.2 avg.

P.M. Busy afternoon. Got my run in, though. Drove Zhu to Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed. Ran from there 0.8 in 5:20 (6:40 pace) to Jenny's tumbling recital. Afterwards ran 1.74 to the house with Jenny in 15:32. Then took a single stroller, Julia and Benjamin to retrieve Zhu. Julia ran just the first mile in 10:14. Benjamin ran all the way. He said after the first quarter that he had one horse neighing. Then in the next quarter mile his number of neighing horses gradually increased from 1 to 7. I told him to hold his horses until Julia was in the stroller. Once she was done, Benjamin let his horses loose gradually increasing the pace from 8:00 to around 6:40 at the end. Total time for 2.25 was 19:24.

Afterwards we drove to Murdock Travel where I tried in vain to redeem my gift certificates from St. George. I was not particularly impressed with the agents ability to find the best price on a flight. After I had told him I was interested in the best price, he found a flight for $485 SLC to Memphis and back. I had already done my homework, and knew this was not the best price even adding the travel agency overhead into the sum, and I also knew which airline did. I gave him some tips. He was able to find a flight for $385. However, they could not redeem the certificates right away because they were too old, so they were going to wait to call St. George City to see if they would still pay for them. This is something I do not understand. Murdock Travel is a sponsor of the race. Why should St. George City be paying for the certificates? Do they mean to say that they get the publicity without paying a buck, and then attempt to make a profit off the top finishers on top of it?

Added another 0.3 running errands between the church and home. 

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

A.M. Easy 10.1 at 5:10 AM alone. Dark the whole run. Started out at 9:00 pace. Quickly progressed to a bit sub-7:00. With 1 K to go decided to catch the 1:10:00 guy. Let one horse out of the barn, that got me up to 6:25 pace. With a quarter to go let another horse out, that got me going at 5:50 pace. Total time was 1:09:53.

Battled with Murdock Travel about the certificates. The root of the problem is that I am trying to defeat their scheme to profit off top runners. They gave me $50 certificate in 2004, $100 in 2005, and $100 in 2006. I lost the one from 2003, now I do not miss it as much, and I got booted out of top 10 this year just barely, so nothing from this year. They give you those token certificates that are in essence worth nothing if used one at a time. You can beat their price by more than the value of any one certificate by shopping on the Internet. I am fairly certain they did not intend those certificates to be used this way. So they are saying that normally those certificates are valid for only a year. But mine did not have an expiration date, so I was piling them up until I could use them all at once.

You think getting a reward for running fast is just a matter of running fast. No way! You have to call people and bug them. Almost like the Salt Lake Marathon.

Yes, and if I ever win St. George, instead of a trip to Japan I'll ask for a trip to Springfield, Missouri or Huntsville, Alabama.

It really bothers me when I place in a race, open the award package, and find a discount coupon, or some other deal that requires you to spend money. It is not so much that I want that product for free, a lot of times I do not want that product at all, even if they paid me to use it. Here is what bothers me - you've worked hard, you've trained, you've pushed yourself in that race, you've sacrificed to reach a certain level of performance only to find out that the best that business could do to recongize your work is to try to make a little bit less profit off you that they would off their regular customer.  

P.M. 1.75 with Jenny in 17:11. Then 2 with Benjamin in 16:47. Then 1.05 with Julia and Jacob in the single stroller in 10:30. Then 3.6 without running kids, but with Jacob in the stroller in 28:22 (7:53 avg). The pace varied depending on who I was running with. First I caught up to a guy named Brian. He was going about 9:00 pace, but I did not mind, figured I'd run with him for a bit and chat. Turns out he likes the trail so much he comes down all the way from Alpine to run here. Then I turned around at Geneva Road, and headed back. Ran about 0.05 and saw Daniel Allen, our new blogger. Turned around and figured I'd add a little bit with him. We were going around 7:20-7:30 pace. Then with 0.5 to go I turned to go home, and he continued on the trail. Total of 8.4 for the run.

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

A.M. Ran with Jeff at 6:40 AM. Medium workout. Warmed up 4.12 in 30:40 (7:27 pace). Then 5 mile tempo. The goals were to work on the threshold, not grimacing when the pace feels hard, and the ability to negative split. I believe the last two are related.

The weather was warmer. Still close to freezing, but a bit warmer, maybe 40-45 degrees. The leaves were mostly gone from the ground, and there was more light as we ran a bit later. I warmed up in shorts, long-sleeved shirt, and a jacket. Then it was warm enough to take off the jacket for the tempo run.

Jeff is still recovering from injuries, and just ran easy today.

Started at the Utah Lake gate so the first half would be uphill. Ran the first mile cautiously in 5:37. Not much meaningful feedback from the body, felt like just about anything could happen. Felt stronger on the second mile, did not slow down on the uphill section, got 5:35. At that point I knew I'd be able to run at least a few seconds faster than last week. However, I did not particularly care about the time, I was more focused on the negative split practice and teaching myself not to grimace.

Next 0.5 in 2:49 - this is a rough section, I think it is disguised uphill, it is always slow. Made a 180 turn, 14:01 for the first 2.5. Next quarter was 1:26 (recovering from 180), followed by 1:23. This gave me 5:38 for the next mile, and 16:50 for 3. Then with the help of small downhill for about a quarter mile got going. Next mile in 5:25, followed by 5:19 with the last two quarters in 1:19, and 1:18. Total time was 27:34, last 0.5 in 13:33, actual negative split of 28 seconds, profile adjusted negative split of 21 seconds. Avg pace was 5:30.8.

Cooled down with Jeff - 3.88 in 27:16, 7:01.65 avg. Total time for 13 miles was 1:25:30, avg. pace of 6:34.62

P.M. Good news - Murdock Travel called me and said they would accept the certificates. So I got a ticket to Memphis and back for $139 after applying $250 worth of certificates. I did learn my lesson though, and had the right flight picked out. The moral of the story - if you are ever given fixed value certificate that you have to use via a travel agent, go on the Internet, find the best flight, then go to the agent and tell him you want to use that flight.

Ted stopped by my house in the middle of his run to tell me about James' 5:31 mile - new course record for his age. Then we took Benjamin on foot and Jenny in the stroller and ran on the trail to Ted's car. 2.52 in 19:43, 7:49.44 average. Then back with Jenny running 1.5 of it, and Benjamin in the stroller all the time. Jenny's time was 13:24. Some guy passed us on Jenny's last quarter. She was going a bit sub-8:00, and that guy moved away from us pretty quick. I thought I could possibly catch him once Jenny was in the stroller. She took too long to get in, but I tried nevertheless. So I hit a quarter in 1:31 with a double stroller and Benjamin and Jenny in it (over 100 lb kid weight total) down 1% grade. I was entertained by how the kids discussed the pace from the stroller:

Jenny: I think we are going 7:00.

Benjamin: No, if it was 7:00 I'd be able to keep this for a while. This looks like I might be able to hang in for a quarter, but no more than that.

I was able to close a bit, but ran out of road - the guy must have been going around 6:40. It was time to turn. Once it flattened out, I slowed down to a 1:36 quarter. This felt like marathon race pace, maybe like 1:24 - 1:25 quarter without the stroller. Total time for 2.52 on the way back was 19:47, 7:51.03 avg.

Then ran 1.05 with Julia around the block in 10:58, 10:26.67 avg.

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

A.M. Ran with Ted at around 6:20 AM. We did an easy half (13.11) in 1:36:58, avg. 7:23.78. 8 100 meter strides in the middle, all around 18 seconds. With 0.3 decided to measure Ted's HR at faster speeds. Ran the last quarter in 1:18. Ted's HR got up to 176. This felt odd. On one hand I felt like I was working, but on the other hand I felt relaxed. Hard to tell in a third of a mile what kind of effort it was.

P.M. Adventure run of sorts. First, our entire family headed out. Benjamin on a bike, Jacob and Joseph in the stroller, everybody else on foot. 300 meters out stopped at our neighbor's house and dropped Jenny and Julia off to play with their friend. Continued on to 1.5 mark which we reached in 15:17. This was the end of Sarah's warm-up. Then I hid the bike in the bushes, and he and I paced Sarah through her 2 mile tempo run in 15:46, 7:49 out on a slight down, and then 7:57 back up. Afterwards, retrieved the bike from the bushes and we continued - Sarah running, Benjamin on a bike. After about 200 meters Sarah remembered that were supposed to get Jenny and Julia at 6:00 pm, and it was already past that. So Benjamin and I picked up the pace. Got Jenny and Julia, and ran with them. Julia finished 1.07 in 10:50 (10:07.48 pace). Jenny added another 0.5 in 4:29, which gave her a total of 1.57 in 15:19.

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

A.M. 20 mile run from my house up to Bridal Veil and back on the trail. Same as last week. Ran with Ted and Jeff. Jeff went only 16 turning around at 8. We started out with a leisurely warm up, then moved into the area of brisk (sub-7:00 and occasionally sub-6:40) after about 3 miles. There was a headwind in the canyon. Nevertheless, 6:40 uphill and into the wind felt relaxing once I warmed into it. I think the wind was gusty. Gusty winds feel bad, but do not slow you down much. Our first 10 miles was 1:10:12.

On the way back we picked it up. I wanted to slack off and go barely sub-6:00. But Ted would not let me. He did one of his quarters in 1:24. Then I was wound up, and did not want to go any slower. So I was doing my quarters in 1:22-1:24 as well. I offered Ted to sit on me, but he was smarter than that knowing that he would not see a quarter slower than 1:24 for a while in that case. So we traded quarters. Next 5 miles in 27:55. Ted started getting tired, and we did the next mile in 5:42. Then on the next mile we ran a slow quarter uphill in 1:30. I started getting concerned that the 5:40 guy might catch us, and picked it up a bit, but Ted did not respond. I was feeling good, and wound up enough to not want to run slower. So I figured I'd just run the last 3 miles alone. Next mile was 5:45, after that, 5:37, 5:35, and 5:30. Last 5 in 28:12, last 10 in 56:07,  5:36.7 average, total time 2:06:19, 6:18.95 avg. No quarters slower than 1:26. I was very happy with that since the last 5 miles have a lot of turns and going down under the bridges and through dark tunnels. Ted held on very well and finished about a minute behind me. In my estimate this shows if he were to start his taper today, he would run St. George somewhere between 2:25 and 2:27.

Felt very strong at the end, much better than a week ago. Afterwards, the legs felt fresh, and there was no serious fatigue. If I did not have the memory of running 20, you could have tricked me into thinking I've just run easy 10. I should be very thankful for this. It has not always been this way. I remember coming home from a 20 miler many times and feeling completely dead. But eventually God has blessed me with the ability and knowledge of what I need to do to recover fast. I've had nothing to complain about in this respect in the last couple of years, but I feel things have progressed beyond that in the last couple of weeks, and especially today. I still do not quite know exactly what I did to make it happen. I am suspecting my latest garlic adventures might have had something to do with it. I have been concerned about the possibility of getting sick, so I have been religiously sucking on garlic like candy a couple times a day in an attempt to kill any hiding germs. I am so glad that Sarah has gotten used to the smell of garlic over 10 years of our marriage.

Went to Benjamin's cross-country meet at Kiwani's park afterwards. He ran 3 K in 14:02 winning pre-Bantums, only 1 second off his PR for that course. Not bad for cold weather and not being tapered. James ran 11:17, a new PR for him.

P.M. Ran 1.05 with Jenny and Julia in 11:05, Julia had a side ache and was struggling. I need to make sure she gets to drink enough during the day. Then 0.5 with Jenny in 4:27. Pushed the double stroller with Jacob. Then 3.5 by myself with Jacob in the single stroller in 26:54 (7:41:14 pace) . Caught up to 3 guys during the last stage of the run on the trail and ran with them for about a mile. As usual (for Provo), discovered a high degree of foreign language fluency. One was fluent in Spanish, another in Portuguese, and the other in Thai - all from serving LDS missions. Speaking of which, we have a lot of language fluency here on the blog, native as well as acquired. I am aware of the following: Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and German. Any others?

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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