Breaking the Wall

Provo New Year Run

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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
Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 82.43
Night Sleep Time: 57.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 57.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to Church. Our home teachers came for a visit. We had a good time.

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 miles in 1:24:06. First 5 with Daniel. Still slippery, but there are a few clear patches. Did sprints there. Finally broke 8:30 average for this run. Progress...

P.M. Measured the 5 K course with the help of Benjamin and Jenny for the race on the 31st, and also for the tempo runs. It is a very good out and back flat course mostly on Boat Harbor Drive, which is a paved farm road that does get frequently plowed but does not have much traffic.

Ran 2.05 on the course with Benjamin and Jenny in 18:26.

Later, 1 mile with Julia in 11:46.

Had friends over and had Family Home Evening with them. 12 children, 4 adults, oldest child was 10. Managed it just fine, no behavior problems. Nobody had to do push-ups, squats, or go to the corner. In fact, even no verbal warnings.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Daniel, Mary Ann, Michelle, and Tyler S. Non-English language fluency of the group: Icelandic, French, Spanish, and Russian.

The workout was 3x5 K on the Provo New Year Run course that I measured yesterday. Lots of recovery in between due to the need for VPBs and the closest opportunity about 600 meters away from the workout headquarters (start/finish of the repeat). Only Michelle managed to do the workout in its entirety.

First one was 18:58. Mary Ann stayed with us through the first mile, Tyler made it to 2 miles, but finished OK in 19:08. Perfect even split by half.

Second was 18:47. Negative split by one second.

Third - 18:43 with a negative split of one second. We hit the first mile in 6:00. Then Michelle was struggling so I eased off the pressure. With a mile to go I challenged her to break 6:00 in the last mile. She did a steady 91 second quarter pace for the next three quarters. Then I accelerated, opened a gap, and challenged her to give me five. She did it quicker than I thought, and  I realized I had to accelerate quickly to make sure she kept the momentum after she had caught up. We hit 3 miles in 18:09, I figured Michelle would have a kick, so I accelerated pretty hard and got ready to play the give me five, but Michelle stayed right on my tail the entire time. Our last quarter was 84, and our last 0.107 was 34 seconds, 5:18 pace. What's odd is when I tried to go 6:00 (90 quarter) with about 1 K to go I was opening a gap so I had to ease off to 91, but Michelle was able to shift gears and run as fast as sub-5:20 when it came time to kick. Which makes me think she should be able to do this workout at 5:45 pace after some aerobic, neurological, and psychological conditioning.

I figure given the conditions and how I felt the workout was marathon pace effort for me. At least even in shorts and warm weather I am happy when I can break 19:00 in the last 5 K of a marathon.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 17:46, Jenny ran 1.5 in 13:27. Julia did not run - not feeling well. Getting better, but we decided to give her a day off just to be sure.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 16.32
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Race: Provo New Year Run (3.107 Miles) 00:17:03, Place overall: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 8 miles in 1:03:51. Broke 8:00 average! The trail is much better. Ran the first 3 with Daniel and Mary Ann.

P.M. Ran Mary Ann's 5K. We had a bigger crowd. 17 people in the 5 K and 8 in the kids race. First, Joseph took 4th overall and won the age division in the 200 with a new PR - 59 seconds. Then we ran the 5 K.

Since it was I who measured  the course, I had the comfort of knowing it was accurate. With the exception of a little bit of back support from Adam in the first 200 meters I ran the race alone. The road conditions were good, no slippage. It was cold, around 30 degrees, and there was a little bit of wind, which was head most of the first half, and tail most of the second. My splits were 5:24 - 5:38 - 5:30 with a kick in 31. First half in 8:29, second in 8:34. Last quarter in 78. Total time 17:03. Wanted to break 17:00, but lacked the juice. Legs did not feel a whole lot of power. Not a surprise - I was expecting it.  I ran long and brisk the day before, and had not done any 5 K speed for several weeks. So I was happy that it was at least a low-17:00 on an honest out-and-back course, and that I managed a not too positive of a split.

Daniel was second with 18:37, then Chauncy 18:48, and Adam Rogia in 19:06. Adam has lost some weight (I did not have a clue he had 15 lb that he could lose, but I guess it was well hidden), and this is a major improvement for him.

Paced Benjamin after I finished. He ran 22:41. I think the cold tricked him into going slower because once I got to him he was able to speed up to a 1:36 quarter at the end. Then took Jenny with me and we went to pace Maurine. Maurine ran a PR of 27:54. Then ran another mile with Jenny and Chauncy, and one more with Julia. Julia's time was 10:16.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 15.11
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 5 with Daniel and Mary Ann in 40:06, 2 with Benjamin in 17:45, and 4 alone in 30:54. Did sprints on dry sections, about 0.5 total.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 11:43, 1.5 with Jenny in 13:12.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 11.00
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. 5 with Daniel, Mary Ann, and little James (Ted's son), then on the second loop we picked up Angela Wagner about 0.3 into it, and James turned around at 5.5. So I finished the 10 with Mary Ann and Angela. Total time for 10 was 1:23:11. Did quick bursts of speed (30 meters or so) throughout the run on dry stretches.

Decided to try an experiment. Some background. From my training and performances I am suspecting that my limiting factor is the failure of the brain to recruit an adequate percentage of the muscle fibers. Some evidence for that - strong evidence: improvements in 400 and 200 workouts  coincide with improvements in the 10+ mile tempo runs, frequent failure to increase speed above pace at the end of a tempo run for as little as 50 meters,  esoteric workouts required to get muscle soreness in any degree, no soreness or fatigue after a perceived all-out race effort. Weaker evidence - poor performance in sprints - best 100 meters 13.9. A frequent argument I hear about my poor performance in sprints is that it is because of the lack of the slow twitch fibers. That is correct, and it does explain the failure to run 11.0 in 100 meters. But it does not explain the failure to break 13.0. Numerous examples of world class and even collegiate distance runners suggest that when the fibers recruit properly, a slow-twitch dominant male should be able to run 100 meters under 13.0.

 As a side note, I wish we had more published science dedicated to the matter above. We tell a guy - you are slow in a sprint because you are slow-twitch, that's OK, you can be good in the marathon, because that's where you need slow-twitch. So he starts running mega-mileage hoping to be good in a marathon. And he is OK, he runs 2:40, 2:30, maybe even 2:20. But he is still not that good. He cannot even break the womens world record. Why? Because we forgot to tell him that slow-twitch fibers are no good in any race unless you can recruit them. And in all honesty we do not have a clue how to improve recruitment by more than a small margin. But not many people care to find out because few people appreciate the significance of muscle fiber recruitment in a long race.

So in this search of better fiber recruitment the goal is to find something I can do daily to advance the cause. What the science does know is that exercises that recruit the maximum percentage of fibers can help improve the ability of the brain to recruit the fibers. I have tried some of that before. The challenge is what I've tried before cannot be done daily. I know that doing 4x100 all out two days in a row gives me neural fatigue. So here is a thought. Perhaps 15 seconds at maximum effort is too much for my weak brain. What about 3-5 seconds instead? Random sprints of 20-30 meters focusing on maximum acceleration during daily runs. Good time to do it because now it is about the only kind of speed you can do on the trail. We'll see what happens.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 17:49, Jenny ran 1.5 with us in 13:22. Julia was sick, did not run.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff, James, Mary Ann, Daniel, and Angela. Ran to the Boat Harbor 5 K course. Paced Angela and Mary Ann. The road was very slippery, but there was enough traction to go at a reasonable pace - maybe 20 seconds per mile slower than normal. Angela was doing a 15 minute tempo. Mary Ann was running the 5 K. Mary Ann fell back after about 0.3, Jeff and I stayed with Angela. Her first mile was 5:58. On the second mile the head wind picked up. Jeff and I did what we could to block it, but we are only that big. Second mile was 6:06. 15:00 into the tempo we stopped, briefly talked with Angela, and then ran back to meet Mary Ann and paced her to the end of the 5 K. Her time was 20:20.

I told Jeff if we lived in Ethiopia we could get paid for pacing fast women in their workouts. Of course, the supply and demand would make it difficult. There are only that many fast women that are fast enough to be able to pay, and there are a lot of capable and willing men.

Ran back to the house with the girls, then added another 11.5 with Jeff. The trail was very slippery at first, then got a bit better as the sun came out. Total time for 20 miles was 2:43:24. That was a very long run time-wise, but I started feeling energized towards the end.

P.M. Mary Ann came to our house, and ran with the kids while I worked on her computer. Julia ran a mile in 12:00, Benjamin did 2 in 17:54.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 20.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 82.43
Night Sleep Time: 57.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 57.00
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