Breaking the Wall

Week starting Oct 23, 2011

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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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 2 Miles: 93.00
Night Sleep Time: 40.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 40.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. We had a lesson on the law of chastity in Sunday school. A very basic subject, one of the Ten Commandments, and also taught at a higher level in the Sermon on the Mount. But, as evidenced by the commercial success of various enterprises that promote unchaste behavior, apparently this commandment is not well understood. Even in the Utah County. If it was, many DVD rentals would go out of business with the selection they offer.

Interestingly enough, the lesson in the deacon's quorum was on avoiding temptation. Then the talks in the Sacrament meeting discussed teaching the Gospel in the family. One sister told about how the experience she had with reading the scriptures and the family home evening growing up. She said she enjoyed it. It was a memorable experience for her. She asked her mother why it did not happen more often. The answer was: "Because you, kids, hated it." What I learned from this is that the kids may express negative thoughts at times, but we must have the faith to persist in the course that was given us by the Lord through His prophets. They will later appreciate it.

Interestingly enough, I do not recall our kids ever complaining about either the family scripture study or the family home evening. In fact, the oldest three - Benjamin, Jenny, and Julia in addition read the scriptures on their own without a reminder. Joseph and Jacob do a supervised personal study with a parent or an older sibling helping them find their place and helping them with the difficult words if needed.

I do not know if it is just that we got very good kids, or maybe it has something to do with the environment and upbringing. We never miss. We will postpone or cancel whatever needs to be postponed or canceled, we will do it in the most inconvenient circumstances if needed, but it will happen. We believe that if a certain form of entertainment is not appropriate for a child it is not appropriate for the adults either. We do not have any video games and the like in the home. We home school, which mean that our children spend more time with the parents. Our kids are expected to work in some way, and there is always plenty of opportunity. We eat at least one meal a day together. They never eat junk food and never watch dumb TV shows. In fact, we do not even have a cable TV subscription. Ironically, the only time we wish we did is during the General Conference, but radio does the trick.

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

A.M. Ran with Neal Ferrin. We did a 2.5 tempo on my "obstacle" course. It went quite well - we ended up with 13:40.9, 5:28 pace done very consistently. It was good to run with somebody. After the tempo I ran 5 with Benjamin. Jenny did 1.5, Julia 2, Jacob 0.5, Joseph 1. I ended up with a total of 12.

P.M. 2 miles.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 14.00
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 the kids. Benjamin did 5. Jenny and Julia 1. Joseph 1. Jacob 0.5. I ran some more to make the total 12. Ran the last 2 miles quicker, wanted to be done with it, and also wanted to practice economical running. The time for the last 2 miles was 11:32, 5:46 average pace.

P.M. 3 miles with Sarah in 26:14.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 15.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran 0.75 in about 3:46. I had 2:29 at 0.5, but then ran into some adventures. Had to yell at two groups of teenagers to get out of the way as they were blocking the trail, and lost concentration. On top of that, missed my finish mark.Then came home, and ran with the kids. Ran with 0.5 with Jenny, Julia, and Jacob did 0.5. Ran 1 with Joseph. 6 with Benjamin. Taught him some Russian. We learned the phrase "Ещё немного, ещё чуть-чуть.", which means - "just a little bit left, just a tiny bit". I grew up with it. It was used to teach Russian kids to endure in a sport.You would often hear it during a track meet.

Come to think of it, it is much more effective for preparing world-class athletes than today's: "Everyone is a winner!" It is not the overhyped  excitement that wins, it is the quiet perseverance.

Total of 12 miles.

P.M. Total of 3.5. Part of it was 1 mile run with the scouts. I was amazed at how many of them could not handle the virtual pregnancy 5 K pace for even a mile. Sarah ran a 5 K in 34:37 while 8 months pregnant, and she is not a natural athlete. When we first got married and she tried to run with me I thought she had some kind of a heart condition. So I figure it is fair to call anybody under 40 years old who cannot beat that time "virtually pregnant". Hmm...a  high incidence of virtual teenage pregnancy among boys. Not good.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 15.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 12 miles total. 5 of it with Benjamin. Ran with the other kids as well. Jenny and Julia did 1.5. Joseph did 1. Jacob 0.5.

P.M. Chess tournament. Had a good day, won both games. Interestingly enough, in both the opponents lost their queen on a blunder. Rating got up to 1565, the highest ever. Benjamin lost against an 1800+ guy, then won against a 1400. The game that he won was quite dramatic. Benjamin was one move away from getting mated, but he found a combination that sacrificed the rook, but eventually won the queen eliminating the threat of mate and winning the game.

His rating went up a little bit as well, he is now at 1575. I feel like I've proved to some extent that an old dog can still learn new tricks. It was inevitable, of course, that he would pass me in rating at some point, but I am happy that at the age of 38 I can keep up somewhat in the rating progress with my 12-year old son. Chess is a great way for us to connect because it is one thing where we are essentially equal. We play correspondence games online to improve our skills. We do it as a team, and discuss our moves. Sometimes we disagree on what the best move is. When it happens the one arguing against the move takes the side of the opponent and we play it out for a few moves. The proponent of the move must demonstrate that he can deal with attempted refutations. The opponent must find a refutation. There is more than a good chess move that comes out of this process. We are learning critical reasoning and how to disagree in a constructive way and then possibly accept correction so that we both are eventually led to the right answer.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 12.00
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. 12.5 miles total. 5 with Benjamin.Did 4x0.5 workout in the middle. Benjamin did the first repetition with me. I told him to make it to 600, then if he felt like he could run another 200 finish the repeat. We made it to 600 in 1:50. Then Benjamin backed off and finished in 2:32, which is his new record and a symbolic time because I ran 2:32.8 800 on the track at the age of 12 years and about a month. Benjamin is 12 years and 8 months old, so he is older. However, he did this in towards the end of a 5 mile run. Any distance with a significant anaerobic component that  results in a near maximum heart rate at the end is run best when you start with an HR of about 20-25% above resting. In other words, if you stop and let your HR drop, you will race an all out 800 probably good 5 seconds faster if not more even if you are extremely well aerobically developed. So all in all, he is doing OK.

I kept the pace more or less and finished in 2:28. My next repeat was with only 100 meters recovery, so I was feeling it some, but it was not too bad - 2:29.3. The remaining two were with longer recoveries and I got 2:28.3 and 2:28.1. The last one involved some dog dodging. I came to an almost complete stop as a dog lunged in front of me. I do not mind being chased by a dog, but I really do not like it when it jumps right in front of me. So I lost some rhythm, but made up the time anyway as I was a bit upset and gave it a push.

Jenny did 1.5, Julia 2, Joseph 1, and Jacob 0.5.

P.M. 2 miles.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 14.50
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. Usual 20 miler. Benjamin ran the first 2 miles of it with me, then turned back. He ended up doing 5, including 1 mile with Joseph. Jacob did 0.5 with them. Jenny and Julia did 1.5. When I approached the Provo Canyon I realized a race was taking place on the trail. At first I thought it was some small race, but then I remembered that Halloween was approaching, so this must have been the Halloween half marathon. Seeing the spread among the leaders, I figured there were not a lot of people in the race. Turned out I was wrong. There was a huge crowd, and it kept getting bigger and bigger. I saw the 1:30 pacer, that was James Moore, and I think Allie was with him, then 1:40 pacer, then 1:50 pacer, then 2:00, then 2:10. I wondered how I would be able to do my tempo on the way back as the trail was completely blocked by the crowd running somewhere in the 9:00 - 10:00 pace range. I also saw various expressions of idiocy under the guise of a Halloween costume. I was not looking forward to seeing it again on my way back.

My split at 10 miles was 1:11:15 or so.  Then I turned around and started the tempo. My that time I was around the people headed for around 2:15, so for a while the crowd was not too thick, but not for long. As soon as I caught the 2:10 pacers, things became challenging. However, I managed to find a way to deal with the mess and maintain good speed. Most people got out of the way upon request. I had to issue that request every 5-10 seconds. I discovered that a two-syllable exclamation does not interfere with the breathing too bad if you wait to do it until it is time to exhale. Once in a while I had to do a maneuver similar to what we frequently see happening on I-15 during rush hour. I had to step on the dirt only two or three times, and bumped into a runner only once with a few more near misses, but those do not count. Somehow with all of the adventures I pulled off around 5:35 average pace through that section, which lasted around 4 miles, and it did not feel too hard.

Then it was finally over, and I was able to run normally. Not sure what the mile splits were exactly earlier, but I started caring about them only when I got past 6. I did the uphill mile in 5:47, then the next adventure mile in 5:47 again, then one more adventure mile in 5:47, and then I was fed up with it and ran the last mile, which is adventurous as well in 5:38. This gave me 56:31 for the last 10 miles. I was happy to have hit sub-5:40 average again on this course in this workout. At the end I felt strong, no perceived fuel shortage, but at the same time I could not put that strength to use. Nevertheless, I was happy to have felt this way - my weight at the end of the run was a low 141 lb, and I got it up to 147 by the evening. So I must have been quite depleted, and it is good to know that I can run sub-5:40 while at that level of depletion.

P.M. 2 miles

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 22.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 2 Miles: 93.00
Night Sleep Time: 40.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 40.00
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