Breaking the Wall

Week starting Dec 16, 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: 107.61 Year: 107.61
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: 1276.97
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. 15.1 with Ted at 6:30 AM with minor events. The road had more dry patches, so we took advantage of them. Ted's shin was hurting, so we did not get as much tempo running in as the dry road would have permitted, but that was OK - Monday is not a tempo day anyway, plus I am happy to just build base for the next few weeks. Total time 1:41:46, 6:44.37 avg, last 13.1 in 1:26:03, 6:34.12 avg. Tempo running was done around 5:40-6:00 pace.

I posted my Digital X-Ray Image Dilemma on the forum. Any thoughts are appreciated.

P.M. 1.05 with Julia in 11:26, 1.5 with Jenny in 14:38, 2 with Benjamin in 15:47 ( he showed the 8:00 who's the boss with a 7:12 closing mile), then 0.7 by myself in 4:38. For our Family Home Evening activity we went around the neighborhood to pass around presents and to Christmas carol. When we were done, Benjamin and Julia wanted to run home, so we ran 0.15.

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

A.M. The morning started with a dream about being stuck in some Russian town on the Black Sea, an hour until the flight back to America, and driving our Ford Escort 93 Wagon to the airport. All of a sudden, the engine light goes on, the temperature indicator goes way into the hot range, and the car refused to go more than 20 mph. I began to calculate how much the airline was going to charge me as a consequence of missing the flight. Then I started trying to figure out how I was going to get to the airport period. Then I found a very simple short cut to my home in Provo - wake up. I have very many blessings in my life. Not that I am plagued by nightmares, in fact, things are never particularly bad in my dreams, but I always feel happy when I wake up - reality is beating the dreams quite often.

Ted came this morning and reported 29 degrees outside. I figured the roads would be clear enough for a tempo. Then I looked for my fast pants, and could not find them. I did not want to run in the slow ones, they are too heavy. Spent about 30 minutes looking for them. Finally said, forget it, and put on two pairs of shorts, three long-sleeved shirts, a pair of racing flats, a pair of gloves, and a bank robber hood. What a combination! The idea was to keep the upper body warm, and transfer some of that to the exposed legs. It worked! I was warm the entire time.

Ran the warm-up 6.22 in 45:18. With the freedom of shorts, racing flats, and decent traction, the horses were neighing, and the legs were singing BINGO and were interested in a Swahili lesson. Ted was not feeling as feisty with his hip tightness and decided to take it easy, so I ran alone. Warmed up the first 2.5 in 14:21, 180 turn on ice was interesting, but otherwise the road was very decent except for occasional patches of snow and ice. Picked up the pace on the second 2.5 - 13:57, 28:18 at 5 miles. Decided to try to not be slower on the last 2.5, and was moving along at a steady 5:34 pace building a bit of a cushion for the 0.5-1% rise at the start of the last mile and the snow and ice on the last 100 meters. Ted, in the meantime, timed his turnaround so that I would be catching him on the last mile. With a quarter to go, I entered the greyhound-rabbit gravity zone, and there was nothing I could do. Some magic force started pulling me towards him against my will. This would be fine, except that force was coming from my legs, and he started running 5:20 pace to make me work. Last quarter was 1:17 in spite the snow and ice on the last 100, which made the last mile 5:25, and the last 2.5 13:48, last 5 27:45, and total time of 42:06, 5:36.8 avg, unintentionally and unexpectedly only 14 seconds slower than course PR in spite of the colder temperatures and slippage.

Felt that relaxing the quad, pulling up the foot with the hamstring, and using hip adductors to bring hips closer together helped with the form, and allowed me to run faster.

Ran 1.38 cool down, total time for 15.1 was 1:38:29, 6:31.32 avg.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 15:54 0.7 by myself in 4:51, 1.05 with Julia in 10:48, 1.5 with Jenny in 14:25. Time to put another plug for the Training Review Requests Board. I used to be able to follow everybody's training almost daily when the blog was small, but now as big as it is I cannot keep up any more. Plus, we now have a lot of others who are knowledgeable and willing to review your training. One of the expectations we have of the racing team members is that they will regularly help other runners with training advice. If you post on the board, you will get their attention.

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

A.M. Almost uneventful 10.1 in 1:16:31. The events were that we ran at 5:00 AM, it was warmer (36 degrees), and it rained the entire time. We discussed why Ryan Hall beats me at the rate of about 45 seconds a mile on every distance from 400 m to the marathon. The fact that the gap does not change shows that we have equal propensity to distance running. We are about the same height and weight - I am 5'10 and weigh 145. His height and weight have been reported as both 5'10 and 140lb, and 6'0 and 142 lb. We train about the same, aside from the fact that he might be putting in another 20-30 miles a week, and would run everything 45 seconds a mile faster. The differences in training, if there are any of significance should not account for more than 5 seconds a mile difference.

My guess as the most probable cause - the difference is in some very difficult to change anatomical structure. I do feel like I stumble every time I land on my right foot, and never really feel or look like I am running smooth. He looks like a rolling wheel.

I do have the guts to propose that it is normal for a light boned male with a good heart, a propensity to distance running (slow-twitch dominance), no structural flaws, no health disorders, and proper training to run 2:12 marathon or faster. We think 2:12 is a big deal, but as a percentage of the world record, this is only like 10.37 in 100 meters. OTQ standard "B" is 10.28, which is equivalent to 2:10:56 marathon as a percentage of the world record. The standard is designed to gather a field of 32 participants. The reason we do not have 32 people sub-2:11 in the US is that while it is common to find light boned slow-twitch people with a good heart, it is more difficult to find such people that would also be free from running-impairing structural flaws. And out of those, we need to find those who are willing to consistently run 120 miles a week for several years. Thus sub-2:11 becomes a very big deal.

So the marathon, due to its demands on the training discipline, reduces the level of competition, and thus allows people with structural flaws to gain some status. Somebody who would have been stuck at 11.35 100 meters had he been a sprinter of equivalent "natural ability" (again using world record percentage for comparison), can run 2:25:00 ideal record-eligible marathon equivalent and make a local newspaper a couple of times a year, and even win some cash. I know that, it is great, or at least better than nothing, but I do not want to stop there. My interest is now in correcting the structural flaws. What structural flaws create an impairment in running? Which ones of them can be corrected, and how?

Why am I so interested in it? Marathon is one of the most honest sports - compared to others, your success is greatly a function of how hard you are willing to work. But not greatly enough. I want to make it more honest, make it so that work means more. If we can find a way to correct at least some of the currently "incurable" structural flaws that make you a slow runner, we would make it harder for the guys with talent but less than optimal work ethics to win. We will see better role models in the winners. It will be very good for us.

P.M. Jenny and Julia ran with Sarah. I ran 1.05 with Joseph in the stroller in 8:21, then 2 with Benjamin in 16:27 pushing Joseph, then 4 by myself in 27:57. At 9:00 PM  Benjamin started doing entering his data in the blog, and Jared, who came for a sleepover,  remembered that he had not yet run. So I took him out for 1.05 in 9:41.

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

A.M. A very eventful morning. Ted came in at 6:20 and announced the arrival of a heat wave - 38 degrees! We ran in shorts. Did our usual 15.1 course with a 10 x 1 minute on/1 minute off fartlek. The on pace varied, started slow then progressed to around 5:28, then eventually progressed into 5:12, and on the last one we actually ran 5:04 pace - I mistakingly told Ted 5:12, though. The recoveries were around 7:10 pace. The main discussion topic was whether Salazar was really as slow in shorter distances as the legend has it (57 quarter), and whether he reached his true potential in the marathon (2:08). The consensus was that the legend probably stems from his inability to run the last 400 of the 12 under 57, and that he would have run 2:05 in Berlin with pacers. Total time was 1:45:26, 6:58.94 avg.

P.M. 1.05 with Julia in 11:16, 1.5 with Jenny in 13:25, 2 with Benjamin in 15:14, 0.7 on my own in 4:38. Pushed Jacob for Julia's and Jenny's runs. Benjamin impressed me with his zeal today. I told him run easy, no splits, just go by effort. He said, no I want the splits so I'll know which guy to chase. About 0.5 into the run he decided he wanted to chase the 8:00 guy. He hit the first mile in 8:05, then his subsequent quarters were 1:54, 1:48, 1:45, and 1:42. Got some hailstorm on the last quarter, then I got it in full measure on the remaining 0.7 by myself. I asked Benjamin what kind of effort he was putting in on the last half mile. He said about 5 K race pace. It is quite a sight to watch an 8-year-old cruise (not sprint!) at sub-7:00 pace, never ceases to amaze me even though I get to see it almost daily. We run side by side, he turns over at around 190, I turn over at around 180, so even though he is only 4-3 in height his stride is almost as long as mine, and at 7:00 pace my stride is not short by any means.

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

A.M. Eventful 15.1 with Ted. Was supposed to be uneventful. The events were the end of the heat wave, lots of ice on the ground, and me taking a spectacular spill on black ice under the bridge around 14.3 into the run. Almost made it to the finish without events, almost. This is the best I've had in years. I felt like a figure skater - a lot of interesting movements in the process. It happened so fast, and there was so much movement involved that I do not remember all the details. Got away with a bloody lip and nose. Got up right away. The quarter with the fall was 1:52, and I did not stop my watch in the middle. We were otherwise going 6:40 pace at that point, which perhaps was not a safe running speed on that part of the trail. Total time was 1:49:22.

P.M. 1.05 with Julia in 11:11, 1.5 with Jenny in 13:22, she closed the last quarter in 1:49, 2 with Benjamin in 17:51. I told him to guess his splits every quarter, but I was not going to give him any feedback. He guess all of them within 3 seconds except the ones where there was an ice patch that reduced us to a walk. On that one, he was off by 7 seconds. Added another 0.7 in 4:46.

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

A.M. A fairly eventful long run with a tempo. Ran alone - Ted is out of town. 18 degrees outside, got snowed on in the last 8 miles. Total of 20.25 in 2:13:15, avg. 6:34.81. My original plan was to run my regular 10.1 and add 2 times Provo River 5 Mile Tempo once I got there to make it 20.1. I was also under a time constaint to finish the run in about 2:15 or so for logistical rather than training reasons. I decided to run fast when I could, and do what I can on icy parts. It turned out that most of the trail was icy, and it was bad enough that I hit a couple of 8:15 miles. It became apparent that the run on my original course would take too long. After some thought, and 8:15 pace gave me plenty of oxigen for thinking, I decided the only way I'd be able to finish the run in time is to go back to the house and then run the 0.35 loop around the block 29 times at 6:00 pace or so. That was the only place I could count on being clear for long enough to go that fast short of going to the indoor track, which is about the last thing I would do next to running on a treadmill.

I did manage about a mile of about 5:30-5:35 pace in between icy spots on the trail, which got me to 9.6 mark in 1:11:51, 7:29.06 avg. Then finally I was in the clear, and I ran 0.5 in 3:03 to warm up the engine. Then I was ready to shift into a tempo gear, and once I did I started hitting the 0.35 loops in 2:00 with very little deviations - this is about 5:43 pace. I kept looping around like this as the snow was falling down. At first, traction was decent, but it kept getting progressively worse. Towards the end, there was enough snow to where I slowed down to 2:03 loops, this is about 5:51 pace, but still much better than 8:15 on the trail. Odd feeling - when I tried to pick it up, the effort did not feel any harder, and the pace was not any faster. Finished the 29 loops (10.15) in 58:21, 5:44.93 avg.

Those loops were tedious, but there was one good thing about them. The course was absolutely pancake flat, world record quality, aside from the turns, a couple of gutters, and the snow falling on the ground. Nevertheless it was still good enough that I experienced the power of rhythm. Even though I was at the end of 20 miles, it felt just like a regular 10 mile tempo, holding the pace with much greater ease that I would on rollers. I can now understand better why Haile says there is no course better than Berlin.

P.M. 1.05 with Julia in 10:02, 2 with Benjamin in 17:27, 1.75 with Jenny in 15:27, and 0.35 in 2:30 by myself.

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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