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: 304.65 Year: 3606.17
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: 806.96
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 20.10Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 50.20
Night Sleep Time: 58.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 58.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. Looked at our missionary board. We have 10 full-time missionaries in the field from our stake. What is interesting is that three come from one family, and three more come from our Spanish branch. I cannot help but think it means something, but I cannot quite figure out what this means. Church average is about 20 per stake.

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. 10.1 mostly alone in 1:15:01. Caught up to Yvonne,  an old friend of ours from our BYU ward 12 years ago, slowed down to chat, we ran to our house so she could see Sarah and the kids. 

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:19, 2 with Benjamin in 17:15, Jenny ran the first 1.5 in 13:16 with us. Julia rode along for part of it on a bike.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10
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. Total of 10 miles. Ran the warm-up with Dustin and Derek. Then they turned around and ran back. I went a bit further, and then ran my 2.5 mile tempo.

Total time: 13:43.9

Course: From Utah Lake to Geneva Road.

Splits by quarter: 81, 82, 82, 82, 82, 82, 83, 83, 84, 82

Subjective: Probably the most even I've ever run this adjusted for the terrain. However, for the life of me could not go any faster. Felt that my power was coming from what I would describe as a compact stride.

This made me think of a Russian math joke. First, some definitions. A set is considered closed if every sequence in that set that converges to a limit contains that limit. A set is considered bounded, well, if it has boundaries specific to the nature of the beast. In a one-dimensional space (a line of real numbers) the boundaries would be a lower bound number and an upper bound number. In a two-dimensional space (XY plane) the boundaries would be a rectangle. In 3-D a rectangular parallelepiped. Speaking of the parallelepiped. In my informal polling, I discovered that most Americans do not know what it is. In Russia, this geometric object is sufficiently familiar to the general public that it is mentioned in a popular song. But we have digressed.   A set is called compact if it is both  closed and bounded. Now the joke.

A mathematician says to his girlfriend - "you are so compact". She asks what that means. "Well, you are so closed and bounded".

In running I would describe stride compactness as the amount of control you feel over your legs. The metaphor I like to use is if somebody stuck a pen in between your toes you'd be able to write small letters legibly  with your foot. The control over your legs and feet allows you to generate maximum push-off power with minimum effort.

Well, I felt while hitting the 82s that I was able to maintain some semblance of compactness in my stride. After that I began to lose it. I still managed to maintain the pace (adjusted for the terrain, the last mile had a small uphill), but it took a lot of effort.

I think next week I willl replace this tempo with 10x200.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:03, 2 with Benjamin in 16:35, Jenny ran the first 1.5 in 12:44.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Jeff must have slept in this morning. So I ran alone for a while.

Quiz: What are my chances of meeting a Russian speaking running partner at 6:00 AM in Provo on a December morning?

Answer: You might think they are pretty dismal. Provo is a small town in the depth's of a supposedly ignorant, non-diverse, narrow minded, prejudiced, bigotted, and you name it, state of Utah which somehow managed to place 5th among all of the states in a recent national health survey. Number one rating on low smoking rate, and number one on low cancer deaths. Only number three on low binge drinking, Latter-Day Saints need to do a better job on home teaching, activation, missionary work, and opening their mouth in general when they know they should even though the world might think they should not. Number three on low cardiovascular deaths. Not dismal, but we can do better than that. Need to do a better job  following the principles of the Word of Wisdom rather than just the letter. 4th place on low infant mortality. Not bad considering that our women have more children than anywhere else in the nation and that they push the envelope and will have a child against the odds more often than anywhere else. But with healthy diet and exercise we might be able to do even better and be number one.

7th place on the low prevalence of obesity. Good bye the myth that LDS people are fatter than the rest of the country. But they are still fat. 22.4 % with the BMI of more than 30. That means a guy my height (5-10) weighing over 208 lb. And no, we cannot blame this on those outside of the church :-)

8th place on low poor mental health days. Good bye the myth that LDS women with everything they have to do are any more depressed than the rest of the nation. But more sunshine in the soul would not hurt. We can be number one.

One place where we got unfairly hit in my opinion is the number of primary care doctors per person (45th), and the public health spending per person (32nd). Doesn't the scripture say the whole need no physician? The healthier we get, the fewer doctors we need, and the less money we need to spend on health care.

We also got slammed on the geographic disparity (45th) which measures how equal the counties are on the health parameters. I'll blame that on the fact that smoking and binge drinking are much higher in the Salt Lake County than in the Utah County and rural areas.

You can see the data at

Well, this morning the Russian speaking partner chances ended up being 100% (if something already happened, the chances are 100%, if it did not, then just 0%). Half way through the run I met Scott Hillman.

Total of 10 miles in 1:21:33. Too early and too much talking in Russian.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin and Jenny in 17:27, 1 with Julia in 9:50.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Derek and MaryAnn. For the sake of protecting MaryAnn's privacy will not mention her last name. Yeah, right :-) If you are a female, and you can hit a 70 second quarter in a workout, do not do it after you've robbed a bank. This will most certainly lead to a positive identification.

So we did a warm-up, then a speed workout on the trail. 2x400 69.3 - 69.8 with 200 recovery. MaryAnn was about a second back on the first, and ran 72 on the second. Then 8x200 with 200 recovery for all except the last. 32.9 - 33.1 - 32.8 - 33.1 - 32.8 - 33.3 - 31.6 - 31.4. Derek was feeling tight so he skipped the 200s. MaryAnn did them in around 34. On the 5th one I told her to back off and coast so she'd be recovered enough to give me trouble in the next two. On the 6th I had her run with me until she could not then coast to the finish. She made it to about 130 meters. But the holy fear of being chicked made me go 1.3 seconds faster.

On the last one we took 400 rest to make MaryAnn faster. She was able to stay with me for the whole interval and finished maybe only a step or two behind. Again the holy fear of being chicked played a role. I ran 1.7 seconds faster than the fastest previous time in that direction.

And I discovered something. The mechanism of running faster. I reach my top power and MaryAnn is still with me. I need to drop her, but I do not have any more raw power left. In fact, it feels like I am not going to be able to sustain the power I am exerting right now. But I do not want to get chicked. Amazingly, I am able to find another gear. Not through more power, but by using that power more efficiently. I have tried to find that gear on all the previous repetitions telling myself, come on, go faster, she is only a few steps behind you, you'll get chicked, etc. But it did not work. Deep down I knew she was far enough behind, and there was nothing I could consciously do about it. The fear had to be real for it work.

Cooled down, total distance for the run was 10.1.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:50 - Joseph rode in the stroller and ran portions. 2 with Benjamin in 17:04, Jenny ran 1.5 in 13:16 with us.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10 miles alone in 1:11:34. It was cold, so we got some inversion/air pollution. Could tell that Utah ranks only 25th on the lack of air pollution. My plan on improving that. Get as many people as you can running regularly, and especially during winter. If we can do a good job, it could get the public thinking about what we can do to improve our furnaces, and eventually we will have a solution.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:39, 2 with Benjamin in 16:44, Jenny ran 1.5 in 12:44.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. We did a 2 mile warm-up, ran our standard 15 mile tempo, and then 3.1 for a cool down. Total of 20.1 miles.

Tempo - total time 1:26:52.0. New  course record by 18 seconds.

Splits by mile: 5:51 - 5:50 - 5:52 - 5:49 - 5:54 - 5:46 - 5:49 - 5:47 - 5:52 - 5:48 - 5:46 - 5:45 - 5:43 - 5:45 - 5:35.

By 2.5 segment: 14:39 - 14:37 - 14:30 - 14:32 - 14:24 - 14:10

By 5 mile segment: 29:16 - 29:02 - 28:34

By half: 43:46 - 43:06

Analysis: The plan was to go 5:50 pace without major speeding even if I felt good for the first 10 miles, and then do the best I can after that. Jeff was under the constraint of not being allowed to drop me. The reason was to make sure Jeff would not run himself into the ground. He still has a discrepancy between fuel storage/muscle resilience and a neural drive favoring the neural drive, or in more plain terms he can run hard for 15 miles but he pays for it for a week afterward. 

6:00 pace felt hard from the gun, but then I got warmed up. We did quite a bit of surging into the 86 quarter zone, then overcorrecting to an 89 or sometimes even 90, then repeating the cycle. Which I think was not necessarily bad since it happens a lot in tactical races and it is good to be ready for it.

Part of the reason we surged so much I think was that 5:50 pace felt not much harder than 5:40, but 6:00 felt much more relaxing. So once we'd realize we earned some relaxation points instead of taking a short nap (an 88 quarter), we would go to a spa (90 quarter), and then it was time to pay the bills.

The good news is that as the run progressed the pace did not feel harder. I did not have to draft behind Jeff through most of the run except a couple of surges and the last 0.5 which we did in 2:44 (83,81).

Had to do a VPB stop at mile 7.

Compared to the previous course PR which I set drafting behind Nick for 12.5 miles, we trailed that schedule the entire time and did not pass virtual me until the last mile. However, it was Abraham sacrificing the ram caught in the thicket - virtual me ran 15:12 for the last 2.5 so even though we were still behind at 14, we ended up 18 seconds ahead at the finish.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 15:56, Jenny ran the first 1.5 in 12:34. Benjamin was excited about playing with Jared, so he ran 6:44 pace in the last 0.5 to get the run finished quicker. 1 with Julia in 9:47.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 20.10
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 20.10Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 50.20
Night Sleep Time: 58.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 58.50
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