Breaking the Wall

Week starting Oct 28, 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. The Uneventful Half-Marathon. I think that is what I am going to call this run. It is supposed to be as uneventful as possible to avoid overtraining. Ted joined me. Lots of leaves on the ground. Ran a fairly steady pace from the start. Did 8x100 strides in the middle. Total time was 1:34:41, 7:13:33 avg.

P.M. Ran with the kids. Adam joined me as well. 1.05 with Julia in 10:17, 1.5 with Jenny in 13:52, 2 with Benjamin in 15:49, and then another 0.5 without a running kid in 3:55. Pushed Jacob in the single stroller the entire time.

I just had a thought. Maybe I should invite more people to participate in the Uneventful Half-Marathon. I do it every Monday and Friday at 6:30 AM. 339 N 1120 W, Provo, UT. RSVP so we won't start it without you. Anybody who feels like running a half somewhere in the 1:30-1:37 range is welcome to join. Good chance for a flat honest Sasha-certified course PR. Free entry. Pacers provided. If you bribe the Fast Running Mommy, maybe even a special breakfast will be served at the end. 

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

A.M. Eventful Big Workout. Big Workouts are always eventful. Ran at 5:05 AM with Ted. Warmed up 6.22 in 45:12, 7:16.01 avg. Lots of leaves on the ground between the 1.5 and 2.5 marks of the Provo River 5 Mile Tempo. Dark the entire way, but warm, around 50 degrees. Wore shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

Then ran 7.5 tempo. Traded quarters with Ted for the first 2.5. This made it go by fast. The split was 14:18. Afterwards Ted had some hip and general fatigue issues and backed off to a brisk jog. On the way back first took my time to get going after the turnaround (5:46 mile) , then did OK on the 0.5 without the leaves (5:36 pace), then slowed down on the leaves (5:42). This gave me 14:16 for the next 2.5.

Another 180, and back at the leaves. Hard to get going on them and in the dark. Next mile in 5:46. Then the leaves were gone, and I was able to pick it up. 5:38 pace for the next 0.5, and then ran the last uphill mile in 5:29 with the last quarter in 1:20. This gave me 14:04 for the last 2.5, and 42:38 for 7.5, 5:41.07 avg.

Cooled down 1.38 in 10:40, 7:43.77 avg. Total time for 15.1 was 1:38:30, 6:31.39 avg.

Have been reading the transcripts of the General Conference in the last few days. There were a couple of talks that had some great messages for runners:

Raising the Bar

One evening as I returned home from work, I found Lee practicing his jumping. I asked, “How high is the bar?”

He said, “Five feet, eight inches.”

“Why that height?”

He answered, “You must clear that height to qualify for the state track meet.”

“How are you doing?” I asked.

“I can clear it every time. I haven’t missed.”

My reply: “Let’s raise the bar and see how well you do then.”

He replied, “Then I might miss.”

I queried, “If you don’t raise the bar, how will you ever know your potential?”

I heard that talk right after getting back from St. George. It really spoke to me particularly at that time. I missed the bar, but was comforted with the thought that raising the bar high enough to find out your potential means you might do your best and still miss it.

Do It Now

Many of us want the simple way—the process that will not require serious work and sacrifice. Well, I once thought I found it. Driving in the back of a verdant valley above the city of Honolulu, I looked up, and there it was—Easy Street! As I was dreaming of the life-changing benefits of my discovery, I took out my camera to record the blissful moment. As I looked through the viewfinder, however, my focus literally and figuratively became clear. A large yellow sign returned me to reality—Easy Street was a dead end!

P.M. Easy 6.05. First 1.05 with Julia in 10:11. Then 1.5 with Jenny in 14:04. Then 0.5 with Benjamin in 5:07. His feet were hurting, so we cut the run short. Sounds scary, like the symptoms of PF, but I think he has actually had this before when his feet were growing and outgrew his shoes. Then added another 3 miles in 20:27. 

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 with Ted and Jeff at 5:00 AM. Started out slow, and it felt right. Then I woke up at 2.5 and one horse neighed. Ted and Jeff were still asleep, so the horse went to the barn. Then at at 4.2 two horses neighed. Went back to the barn. Then three horses at 8, back to the barn again. Total time 1:15:43, 7:29.8 avg. This felt too slow for that long, I can handle as slow as 12:00 for a mile or two, but once the distance increases my slow pace tolerance starts to decrease. Slow is OK, though - high mileage, better err on the slow side that on the fast, and we had a good conversation. Discussed cross country races, airplane guidance systems, airline pilot work schedule and pay structure, career choices and then cross country races again.

P.M. A mile with Benjamin in 8:33. We found a new bigger size pair of shoes for him that was hiding somewhere in the house, and his feet felt better. Then 1.05 with Julia in 9:07. That is a new record for her, and converts to 8:41 mile. She also did it with a progressively negative split with the 0.35 laps around the block in 3:12, 3:04, and 2:55. This indicates that she could be in contention for the win in the Thanksgiving race 800 meters in the 5-6 age division. She has her work cut out being barely 5 and racing girls who could potentially be almost 7. Last year Jenny won with 3:51, and Rachael Blackburn was second with 4:21. Rachael, however, was only 5. Julia on a good day could possibly go sub-4, which might be enough to win. She does know very well that she needs to run focused, or the turkey will run away.

Ran another 1.5 with Jenny in 13:51. Then another 4.5 by myself in 31:19, 6:57.56 avg. Pushed Jacob in the single stroller on all the segments of the evening run except the one with Benjamin.

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

A.M. Big workout with Ted. Ran at 6:10 AM. Colder, 35 degrees. Wore a jacket over long-sleeved, and shorts. Lots of leaves on the ground. Warmed up the first 6.22 in 46:31, 7:28.71 avg. Still dark, but the sun was about to rise. Started the tempo at the trail gate by the Utah Lake. Traded leads every quarter. First mile in 5:39. Battled the dark, the cold, and the leaves on the ground, so I was not expecting much. Felt good. Next 0.5 in 2:47, almost no leaves. Ted dropped back after 1.5. Next mile was a slight up, and more leaves. Got 5:39, 14:05 at the turnaround.

Had a hard time kicking into gear after the turnaround. Too cold, too many leaves. On top of that, saw our "farmer" on a bike with "Bingo". There is a guy on the trail that is always there, he always rides a bike, looks like a farmer, and has a mutt-like dog with him. We asked him the dog's name once. It was Leah. But I call it Bingo anyway. Anyway the farmer and Bingo appeared out of nowhere, and did not have enough time to react to get out of the way. To make things worse, Bingo is interested in runners. So I had to swerve into a ditch to get around them. The mile split was 5:33, slight down on the last .

After the Bingo swerve, I gradually recovered and started kicking into gear. Next 0.5 in 2:45. Was not looking forward to the last mile, it was full of leaves, although not as bad as on Tuesday, and the sun had already come out which made it easier to run fast. Managed to finally kick into gear and hit the last mile in 5:20 with the splits of 2:42 and 2:38. Total time was 27:43 with the last 2.5 in 13:38, total avg of 5:32.6.

Waited for Ted at the end, then we cooled down for 3.88 in 28:44, 7:24.33 pace. Total time for 15.1 in 1:42:58, 6:49.14 avg.

Found an interesting study on garlic and testosterone. The reason I checked was that I noticed some positive signs of increased testosterone level - quicker recovery after hard workouts is the one I am willing to publicly mention. The only thing I did different that I can recollect is suck on a piece of garlic two-three times a day for 10 minutes or more as an attempt to reduce the chances of getting sick. Sure enough, turns out some Japanese scientists have researched the subject on rats.

P.M. Sarah's tempo run. Dropped Julia off at a neighbor's house. Ran a warmup of  1.5 with Benjamin on a bike, Jenny on foot, and Jacob and Joseph in the stroller. Afterwards, Benjamin and Jenny traded places. Missed the turnaround point as it was covered with leaves, and ended up running  extra .03, so  ran 2.03 in 16:11. Than converts to 15:56 for 2 miles. Sarah was doing fine until it got dark enough for the leaves to start to confuse her. Then put Benjamin on a bike, Jenny ran home with Sarah, and we went the Daddy pace, ran 1.5 in 11:07. Got Julia, we ran 1.05 in 11:20 in the dark.

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

A.M. The Uneventful Half-Marathon with Ted at 6:30 AM. Ran the first quarter at 8:40 pace, then fairly quickly progressed to slightly sub-7:00. Did 8 strides that were supposed to be 100 each, but a few ended up being a bit longer because we kept running past the mark. Went faster on the last 2, around 15.5 - 16.0. Around 11 miles finally caught the 7:00 guy. Practiced whole body relaxation during the run. With about 2 miles to go Ted started to push the pace, we got into 6:10-6:20 range. It felt hard for a quarter, then it felt easy, and I was wound up, so I started pushing it a bit myself. We ran the last mile in 5:58, first half at 6:04 pace, and second at 5:52. It felt easy enough to where I was not sure if I should call it easy or marathon pace. I decided finally to call it marathon pace - better err on the conservative side. Our total time was 1:30:13, 6:52.89 avg.

P.M. A mile with Benjamin in 8:44, then 1.05 with Julia in 11:19, 1.5 with Jenny in 14:56, and 1.5 by myself in 10:20. 

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

A.M. Ironically, or maybe symbolically, ended up doing my run pretty much exactly as the Trial's were progressing. As much fun as Paul, Sean, and Logan were having at the Trials, I just realized that I was perfectly happy to experience it vicariously by reading their blogs, and run my sea-level record eligible course race in Memphis later with more time for recovery and preparation, less expensive trip, and a realistic chance to recover the costs. The knowledge that although I did not make it, the blog was still well represented at the Trials gave me a sense of peace, satisfaction, and accomplished purpose.

Had a big day in front of me, so I figured since I was not going to get much recovery, should take it easy. Decided to do a mile easy/mile at marathon pace fartlek for 20 miles on my standard course from my house to Bridal Veil and back. Yes, I know calling a 20 mile fartlek with half of it at marathon pace easy may sound funny, but doing a fartlek like this is a lot easier than straight 10 with the last 5 brisk, and then the last 10 hard with no breaks in between.

Most of the run was done in the dark. The easy miles varied between 7:10 and 7:35. The fast miles were: 6:00 (rolling up, two tunnels), 5:48 (a quarter down, the rest slight up), 5:54 (slight up, slippery bridge, VPB stop, could not find anything else, so used fir tree needles for TP), 5:56 (now into the canyon, more uphill, headwind), 6:20 (even more uphill and stiff headwind), 5:38 (down, tail wind), 5:35 (down), 5:36 (less down), 5:45 (rolling down, six turns, two tunnels, icy bridge), 5:35 (rolling, slight down, one tunnel, five turns). Total time was 2:11:57, 6:35.85 avg.

Came home and jumped on the web to find out what happened at the Trials. Thanks to Adam, found the best coverage on the Fast Running Blog message forum. The results need to be pondered. Great performances marred by a tragedy. Was surprised to see the report of Ryan Shay's death. Have some thoughts on what happened that I will share on the forum later.

Then went to the State Youth Cross-Country meet. Benjamin lost his shoe during the race at around 1200 meters, but still finished in one shoe in 9th place, top scorer for Team Provo, with the time of 14:37.5. No surprises in his race, Eli won with 11:56, Alexander Berry second about 40 seconds behind. Ted's son James won the Midgets with 11:26 holding off second place by 3 seconds.

P.M. Ran 1.05 with Jenny and Julia in 11:14, then another 0.5 with Jenny in 4:29, then 3.55 by myself. Pushed Jacob in the stroller the entire run.

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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