Breaking the Wall

Earn Your Turkey 4 Miler

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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
Airwalk Clogs Miles: 45.65Saucony Type A Miles: 7.85
Night Sleep Time: 55.50Nap Time: 6.00Total Sleep Time: 61.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. Felt better. The fever was gone. Sarah questioned if I was healthy enough to go home teaching after church. To prove myself I took my temperature, and it was 97.0 F. To prove myself further I put on an HRM to measure resting heart rate. At first it was showing 75 or so, which would have meant I was sick. But I know what resting HR of 75 feels like, and I was 100% sure it was not 75. So I counted it manually and it was 52! Then I figured the problem was the contacts were too dry. After wetting them sufficiently I started getting readings that were consistent with the manual count and the way I felt. HR fluctuated between 47 and 57, and spent most of the time in 50-52 range. Which is my normal healthy range.

Moral of the story - know when to question your instruments.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Even though I was feeling better, I knew my immune system was still weak. 10 miles is no big deal to me normally, but it does borrow some against the immune system, and if starts out low, it could put it on the verge of bankruptcy, so to speak. So I ran only 6 with Jeff in 44:35. Then when we finished Sarah was getting out for her last mile, and she talked me into running it with her. I talked Jeff into running the first 0.5 before he would speed up to his normal pace. Sarah and Jeff were occupied with a conversation about making carob cakes, and that allowed Jeff to trick her into running the first half in 4:36 instead of the promised 5:15. Then on the way back I bribed Sarah to keep the fast pace with the promise of prompt help with the laundry immediately after. So we ended up with a more normal 9:18 mile instead of the desired 10:30 which I thought was too slow to begin with.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 15:48. He demonstrated signs of being alive. After the warm-up mile in 8:57 we ran a hard 0.5 in 2:52 with the splits of 85,87. This actually happens to be Benjamin's PR for the half. I was very pleased to see that because lately he's not been able to keep 6:00 for longer than 600 meters on a good day.

Then 350 meters later after getting his description of the effort I wanted to see how much he had left in the tank and told him to run the last quarter as close to 90 as possible with the idea that if he was totally blowing up I'd stop him early. He ran a 91, and I was very pleased with that as well. This gives us hopes for a sub-6:00 mile in the Thanksgiving race, which has a realistic shot of winning. Last year 6:10 won (Jacob Blackburn), but this year if Aiden Troutner shows up and runs a normal race the winning time would be around 5:45, maybe even sub-5:40. Joshua Blackburn would probably run it a little under 6:00, which I think Benjamin could match if he has as good of a day as he did today.

What I find peculiar, though, is the great fluctuations in endurance from day to day. I wonder if it is somehow related to the hormones participating in the maturation process.

0.5 with Julia and Joseph in 4:50.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 9.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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A.M. Woke up from a dream with the hope it was more than just a dream. In the dream I was told that if I got normal flexibility in my thoracic spine I would run a 2:10 marathon. I was also told the chance of success was 5%. When I heard 5% I remember feeling very happy because 5% is significantly above zero, and even thinking that even if the fix was not quite 100% I could still be in the range of 2:12 which still is 7 minutes faster than the Trial's Qualifier. But the chances would naturally improve now that the fix did not have to be quite so perfect.

There was a reason I had that dream. I have been working on the thoracic flexibility in the last week. Looking back at 2007, I am wondering if the reason I had the breakthrough was not the mileage after all, but the improved thoracic flexibility from the spinal correction treatment/exercises.Back then I undertook a full course of Pettibon treatment, which involved thoracic flexibility work among many other things.

I single out thoracic flexibility at the point for a number of reasons. First, that was the stiffest area of the spine during the Pettibon evaluations and treatment. In fact, the cervical curve did not improve until we were able to loosen the thoracic grip. Second, thoracic stiffness causes the center of gravity to move backwards making running more energy demanding. Third, that is where Jeff sees the stiffness when we run.

So I'll keep working on it and we'll let the time tell if there is any merit to the idea.

Jeff slept in, so I ran alone. 6 miles in 41:57. Passed Sarah with about 0.43 to go, then turned around, ran back to her, ended up with 6.25 miles.Then she took Jenny on a run for 2 miles.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph and Benjamin in 5:11. 1 more with Julia and Benjamin in 9:21.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 7.75
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
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A.M. Ran 6.1 with Jeff in 45:12. Jenny ran 1.5 with Sarah.

P.M. 1 with Benjamin in 8:56. Julia and Joseph did not run as they were both on the verge of getting sick, and we did not want to take any chances before the race tomorrow. Same for me, actually. That is why I've been running only 6 miles + whatever from the kids this week. My health is still not 100%.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 7.10
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Race: Earn Your Turkey 4 Miler (4 Miles) 00:23:05, Place overall: 17
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Today was the turkey hunt day for our family.  We all ran in the Earn Your Turkey race. Sarah and I ran 4 miles, Benjamin and Jenny did 1 mile, Julia 800 meters, Joseph and Jacob 400, and William 100.

We use this race to motivate our children to train. It awards turkeys to the top 5 finishers in the 4 miler + age division winners for all races. Thus the children have a chance to bring some turkeys home. There are very few races that allow the children to earn something real rather than just a ribbon or a trophy for their efforts. When we announce that the dinner was earned by a little child he feels very special, but more important, he learns to believe that he has the ability to provide for a family.

Opportunities like that are rather sparse, though. Children are expected to just have fun, which is silently defined as a non-productive entertainment. It cannot be something real or else it is no longer fun.  Is it then a surprise that children do not grow up feeling a responsibility to provide, and we find many 20+ year old adults still living with their parents?

If it was not for the children's experience, to set an example for them, I would not have showed up at the starting line. I've had issues with the foot that made my training less optimal, and then as if that was not enough I got sick at the end of the last week. I knew I was going to run poorly. But I always tell my children to run their best even if the day is bad, and that best appears to be pathetic. Always be humble enough to take what your body is willing to give you regardless of how slow it is.

From the start I tried to run with Ted, and somewhat was able to hang on. First mile was 5:28. It felt like 5:10. I hoped it would be 5:20. Second mile was 5:36. I was pleased with is somewhat, except that it took all of my energy. It did not feel like it would, but fevers have a tendency to literally fry your neural drive for up to three weeks after they are gone. This one, of course, was no different. After 2 miles I had no juice. I hopelessly lost contact with Ted, and death marched my way through a 6:07 mile. Jeff likes to say "Ouch" at this point of a story. In the last mile I tried to pick it up, but there was not much I could do. I managed a 5:53 mile. As if running slower than 23:00 and getting beat by a master recovering from a knee surgery was not embarrassing enough, Amber Andrews went by me in the last 200 meters as if I were standing still (well, "as if" should be removed as I was standing still, 86 second quarter in the kick is standing still). So now I have the dubious honor of not only having been chicked by Cheryl Harper, but also by her daughter.

Nevertheless, there was a reward for the embarrassment. No, they did not give turkeys to the runner who embarrassed himself the most. But it just turned out that every male between 35 and 39 ran even slower than I did, so I ended up with a turkey. I was happy that even in my out of commission state I was able to contribute to the turkey hunt.

Amber finished in 23:02, Ted got 22:45. The race was won in 19:35 by Cameron Levins , with the second place 19:39 by Danny Moody. Our Tyler Cannon was third with 20:46.

After the race was over, Ted and I ran back and met Sarah. We ran with her to the finish. Her time was 34:51 by my watch. Actually my time was 23:04 by my watch, but it is officially 23:05 due to a start confusion. They said there would be a whistle and then the gun. However, some people started with the whistle. I started with the gun.

Then our 13-month-old William marched through 100 meters in 3:38. He cried the entire way. He liked walking in practice, but racing is different. It would have gone better if the race started when he wanted to start, but that is the nature of racing. The race starts when the race director starts it. William will learn this in years to come. For his efforts he earned the youngest participant prize - a turkey. William, the turkey hunting baby!

Then Joseph won the 3-4 year old 400 in 1:44. I paced him through that. They allow you to hold the kids hand in those races but you are not allowed to drag. Dragging is defined as being in front of the kid. Holding a hand for a kid can be a huge advantage if you've practiced it, and we have. So Joseph can fly holding my hand without me being in front of him. I think it is very valuable for kids to train with a fit adult holding their hand until their brain matures enough to hold a steady pace. The hand teaches them rhythm, and also helps them improve their economy because they realize that they can coast at a fraction of an effort if they just do not fight the fast pace, but go with it.

Jacob did not have a very good day. He fell a few times, then walked a few times. Benjamin was pacing him since I was with Joseph, and he was not used to it. He still finished in around 3:25. He will do better next year.

Then it was Julia's turn. I paced her. No holding hands, she is too old for that. She was racing 800 meters in the 7-8 division. Her competition was Rachael Blackburn. Same as two years ago. Rachael is 8, Julia is 7, so that makes it hard for Julia. When Rachael gets a year older, then Julia has free reign in her age division, and Jenny is a year older than Rachael, so we have a double-turkey from Jenny and Julia. Otherwise, Rachael gets the turkey, and her family can use it as they have 10 children.

It was a very exciting race. Everybody started very fast. I held Julia back a bit, but not enough. We went through 200 in 45. But even with this fast of a start there was a group of girls ahead of her. By the quarter the pace slowed considerably. Julia was 1:40 at the turnaround, and she had caught up to the lead pack. She passed them and tried to pull ahead. That dropped everybody except one girl. Then I knew that girl was Rachael.

Around 500 meters Rachael made the patented Blackburn move. I've seen that move before. That is how Rachael's brother Jacob dropped Benjamin in a number of races. Blackburn children do not have a kick, but they make up for it with long surges. Julia lost contact, the gap quickly grew to 4 seconds, and then it pretty much stayed that way to the finish. Rachael got 3:28, Julia 3:33 - a new PR for the distance.

Then it was time for Benjamin and Jenny's race. I asked Tyler to pace Benjamin while I paced Jenny. Benjamin won the 9-10 age division with 6:08, and in fact beat everybody else except one 12 year old boy. Jenny struggled, but still managed 4th place in 9-10 division (girls) with 6:54. She is only 9, though, so she was racing older girls. However, the race was winnable, the winning time was only 6:29, and that could have been within her range. But we have not done enough specific training. Mostly because it is so difficult to convince Jenny to dip into that zone. But after this race, she had a change of perspective, and we made plans to practice running race pace on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

I was particularly happy with Benjamin's win because he has been struggling lately. But apparently our efforts to bring his endurance back were successful.

Then on top of everything we won a dinner (turkey, bag of potatoes, a couple sweet potatoes, and some stuffing) in the largest immediate family content. We were able to do so not so much due to the large size of our family but more so because we were able to get 100% participation.

Additionally, Joseph won a turkey in the raffle. Normally I consider raffles bogus, but this one was different. The prize did not exceed the earned prizes, and with the entry fee of only $6 this was in essence a disguised reward for getting a large family out. It was pretty much guaranteed for a family of 8 due to the laws of probability.  We would have won another turkey as well because they were giving it to the runner who had finished the most marathons, but they said we already had too many turkeys.

Now if they had an award for the most frequently mispelled/misprounounced last name, we would have gotten one. Somehow every one of our children became a Packer instead of Pachev, and the error persisted through all of the announcements in spite of numerous corrections.

Saucony Type A Miles: 7.85
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 8.1 with Tyler in a glorious 1:08:01. Sarah joined us for the last 0.25 and we slowed down a bit, but not a whole lot. We definitely cannot blame our barely sub 8:30 average on her. During the run I was planning a prank on Sarah. I was going to have Tyler play Who's On The Lord's Side on our electric organ when we got back while she was still waking up. She would definitely have noticed that it was not I, and definitely not one of the kids, but she did not know that Tyler was coming. Well, we met her on the trail, so that took the juice out of the prank, but when I told her I had a prank in mind she still wanted me to do it because I do not do pranks that often. So I had her hide, and Tyler played. She was pleasantly surprised.

P.M. 0.5 with Jenny, Joseph, and Benjamin in 5:11. Another 1.5 with Julia, Benjamin, and Jenny in 14:28, so 19:39 for 2 miles.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 9.50
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A.M. 10.2 with Tyler and Jeff in 1:14:30. Felt more energetic. Discovered that Tyler was failing the thoracic flexibility test (lie on the back, knees bent, arms straight, elbows locked, do not arch the back, try to reach the floor behind the head, failure = wrists cannot touch the floor). However, he was passing Jeff's visual evaluation test while running - Jeff said he looked normal. Interesting.

P.M. 1.5 with Julia in 14:05. Joseph ran the first 0.5 with us in 5:06. Jenny ran with Sarah. Benjamin ran 3 miles with Jared.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 11.70
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 10.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Airwalk Clogs Miles: 45.65Saucony Type A Miles: 7.85
Night Sleep Time: 55.50Nap Time: 6.00Total Sleep Time: 61.50
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