Breaking the Wall

Minuteman 5 K

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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:

Russian champion tries Crocs, commits to racing a marathon in them

Nikolay Chavkin in the video below did 3x1000, first two in Adidas carbon-fiber models, the last one in Crocs. Surprised by the result (2:52, 2:52, 2:50) with the fastest interval done in Crocs, he committed to racing a marathon in Crocs if the video gets 42K likes and 195 comments (for 42 km 195 m, the marathon distance). Nikolay's current marathon PR is 2:14:00. The video was created by a Russian sporting goods store chain. Their moto is "more sports - brighter life", which we think is wonderful, and also deserves a Like. If you want to see a fast marathon in Crocs, go to the video and click the Like button. And make sure to share it with your friends.

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 226.43 Year: 2189.51
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 2191.97
Brown Crocs 4 Lifetime Miles: 1116.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 236.42Nap Time: 6.83Total Sleep Time: 243.25
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10 miles in 1:18:49. Jeff ran with me all the way. Daniel came to borrow the bike, and rode with us for a little bit to test the tire before taking off. Benjamin rode with us to a nice part of the trail, then ran 2 miles in 15:28 with 0.5625 in 3:32 (this was supposed to be 0.5, but we missed the mark and went 1/16 of a mile further). About 0.6 into the run we found Matt and he joined us.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:57, 1.5 with Jenny in 13:13, and 1 more with no running kids in 8:02. Pushed the double stroller, first with Jacob and Joseph, then traded Jacob for Julia. Benjamin rode along on his bike during Julia's and Jenny's runs. Jenny almost got bit by a German shepherd that got out of the gate and was roaming the street attacking the passers-by. It sniffed her but then got scared of something and ran away. 

Five Fingers - 864.05 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
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Race: Minuteman 5 K (3.107 Miles) 00:17:07, Place overall: 15
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Minuteman 5 K 17:07, 15h place. Same course as the new Draper Days.

Warmed up with Seth and Jeff. At the start was not feeling super-energetic. Part of the problem was warm weather, but only a part. I could blame it on the post-marathon fatigue, but there was not that much of it. Maybe the combination of reduced mileage, the marathon itself, and the tight calf issue brought on the slump. Something was not right, I suppose we will find out if this is just a post marathon slump or something more serious.

First mile was OK, 5:04. 2 seconds slower than Draper Days. I brought the HRM this time. HR climbed up to 168. I was running with Dennis at this point with a whole bunch of guys led by Teren ahead of us. And I knew they were not coming back. I did not feel like I was breathing too hard, but legs started feeling a bit shaky.

On the second mile the legs started to give out, and I backed off. HR dropped to 165-166. Neal Gassmann passed me. I tried to latch on, and was able too, HR climbed to 168, but then the legs started feeling too weak to hold the pace, and I backed off. Danny Oliva passed me, again the same story as with Neal - was able to follow a bit, then legs feel weak, cannot do it. 9:49 at 3 K, 10:33 at 2 miles, 14 seconds slower than Draper Days.

4 K 13:23, now 25 seconds slower than Draper Days. Not good. HR hovers around 166-168. Managed to push it to 172 on the hill. Steve Ashbaker passed me shortly after the hill. Made it to the finish in 17:06.3 on my watch, 17:07 officially. 39 seconds slower than Draper Days!

Jeff ran great - third place with 15:31 in that company, only 17 seconds behind Teren. Seth was second with 15:30 (officially, mistimed, though, his time should have been 15:27), Teren won with 15:14. Alexander Tomas was fourth with 15:33. Some other times that I remember:

Dennis 16:01, Josh Steffen 16:16, Neal Gassmann 16:20, Augustus Grey 16:21, Thatcher 16:48, Steve 16:57.

Ran a long cool down starting out with Jeff, Seth, and Teren, then Jeff turned around early due to time constraints, Seth stopped earlier as well.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:38, 2 with Benjamin in 16:51 with Jenny running the first 1.5 in 12:59 with us.

T4 Racer - 358.06 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 10.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Did not sleep well because my skin was itching. It does not like the sun. It actually has been itching for a while. But I was able to stay in bed. This time I woke up at 5:10 and did not feel like I'd be able to fall asleep soon enough to get anything out of it, so I decided to just get up.

Started with Jeff, James, and Benjamin on a bike. At 2 miles hid Benjamin's bike in the bushes and he ran with us. We ended up running 2 fastest continuous miles for the day with him - 14:21 with the splits of 7:18 and 7:03. Matt joined us shortly after Benjamin started running and ran to the end of his run.

Benjamin got back on his bike and we took him and James home, so that was 6 miles. Then I wanted to measure Jeff tugging power against mine. So we got out the harness and tried running in opposite directions. Jeff was a clear winner in the running motion - I was steadily moving backwards. Then we tried facing each other and play a tug-of-war with no arms, squatting down and pushing the harness with our backs. In that motion Jeff was a little bit stronger, but not as much as in the running motion.

Then we went for another 6 miles, and Benjamin wanted to ride along with us, so we took him as well. We were discussing the results of the test. They were rather interesting. We measured my leg extension to be better than Jeff's in the absolute value earlier (although it was a little bit worse relative to body weight). Yet in the running motion Jeff was clearly stronger, not just in proportion to his body weight, but in the absolute power of the pull. To add to this, in 2003 I increased my hamstring curl max by 50%, and the leg extension by 10%, yet the increase in individual muscle group strengths did not make any difference in an all out 100 sprint. So this led to the contemplation of the need to be able to use the muscles together, that there might be some kind of limit not related to individual muscle strength that you could hit when you have to use several muscle groups. We started talking about the kangaroo, how its preferred way of motion is hopping, and began to wonder exactly how inefficient humans are at moving this way.

So we did a kangaroo hop for 100 meters. The results were interesting. Jeff was a much better kangaroo. He hopped it in 33 seconds, while it took me 49! However, my HR got up to 140, which (over 49 seconds) suggests I was probably putting in an equivalent of maybe 5:30 running effort. We did not have an HRM on Jeff, but subjectively he said he really felt the pain of the effort. Our next experiment was the bound - cover 100 meters in the least number of steps. Jeff bounded 100 meters in 46 steps and it took him 20 seconds. I took fewer steps (44), but it took me 21.5 seconds. We did one more experiment - 100 m sprint on one leg. Jeff did it in 25 seconds, I did it in 28.

This gave us some food for thought. One legged hop was consistent with our all out sprint difference. The bound results were consistent with what we've seen in the past, although we still do not understand why I can bound further than Jeff while he outdoes me by quite a bit in every other strength measurement prorated for body weight that we have tried so far. Perhaps the leg length? But at the same time, I've performed on par in the past with people my height in a bound that would outsprint me by quite a margin (24.5 200 for the peer group vs 27.5 for me). And I am not that much taller than Jeff anyway (5'8 vs 5'10). So we still have this bound mystery to solve.

The difference between the kangaroo and the one legged jump was interesting. Both of us were faster on one leg than on two. Probably because the other leg was making a good contribution with a swing, which was more than what it could have contributed in the power when forced to be on the ground at the same time. One question that remains unanswered is why I did such a bad kangaroo job. One thing I can try is see if I can improve it with training, and when improved if it will have an effect on the all out speed.

Then we ran into a lady on the trail that was doing 8x800 with 1 minute rest at about 3:05-3:15 range. Her names was Cherri Erickson. So we paced her over a few of those. She has 3 children, used to run for BYU, and graduated in 1994.


1.05 with Julia in 10:23, 2.1 with Jenny in 18:45, another mile with no running kids. Pushed Jacob and Joseph the entire time.

Five Fingers - 880.20 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.17Nap Time: 0.83Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Tyler and Jeff. Tyler ran our warm-up, 2.5 out, then 1.125 back to the start of the tempo. Then he went on back to the house, and we ran the Gerry Lindgren style tempo. The plan was to start out at 5:00 and hold it until I could not. Then run the best pace I was capable of to the end.

Rather unconventional, but it makes sense to me. You will not learn to be comfortable at 5:00 pace by running tempos at 5:20-5:30. At least I won't - I've tried for years. There is a hard barrier around 5:20 where I lack something that cannot be overcome with pure aerobic training. Nor will you learn by running mile repeats at 5:00 pace. Those essentially are mini-mile races. All I've gotten out of those is that I learn to be comfortable running 5:00 pace for exactly one mile. Then in a race as short as a 5 K (flat), I get to the mile in 5:00 feeling good, I might be able to go another quarter at that pace, and then I am done.

So I wanted to try something new. Ask the body - why can't you run 5:00 pace forever, and make it ponder the issue for 5 miles of pain. This would also provide a chance for lots of measurements and observations.

We had one false start - 100 meters into the run I realized that my watch had not started. So we called it a stride, and went back to start for real.

Jeff was feeling sleepy and took me through the first quarter in 78 according to his watch. I did not look. We sped up on the second to 74 according to Jeff, but my watch said 2:31. Next quarter was 76, and then my legs started to give out. I made an honest effort to keep the pace, but was falling behind. Maybe subconscious fear of really leaving it all there in the first mile vs kind of when I had 4 more to go. I could only do 81, which gave us a 5:08 mile on my watch. What is interesting is that HR only got up to 164 at the point of failure.

The subsequent quarters were 86,86,87,85 for a 5:44 mile. HR dropped to 159-160. Better than I expected. I had concerns that I'd be running slower than 6:00 for a while to recover.

Things began to improve in the third mile to my surprise. HR went up to 163, and I started hitting 84 quarters consistently. We hit 2.5 in 13:42 (2:50 for 0.5), and then 16:30 at the 3 mile mark (5:38). I made a mental note that I'd be a second or two faster than my 5 K race time on Saturday at the 5 K mark.

I managed another mile in 5:38. HR started to hit 165-166. With Jeff challenging me to give him five I managed 5:35 in the last mile, HR climbing to 170. Total time was 27:43.4, 5:32.68 average.

We ran a cool down after that to make the total 12.17.

Some analysis - the whole run felt like I was running uphill. I was concerned after being unable to run 5:00 pace as early as 0.75 into the run that things were really going to go downhill, but was pleasantly surprised when they did not. The result provided some evidence in support of the heat sensitivity theory to explain a set of recent sub-par 5 K performances. I was pleased to see HR getting as high as it did in the second half of the run and staying there. It was high for the pace, though, but this is to be expected. Running anaerobically early on produced some oxygen debt (although not much, from VO2 Max data my max RER is only 1.06 vs more normal 1.10-1.15), and so it would be reasonable to expect that the heart would be pumping harder to clean it up the rest of the run. But it is good to actually see that my heart can work into those ranges for a sustained period rather than just theorize that it can because it used to be able to when I was less fit. I wonder if the Gerry Lindgren tempo might be about the only way I can give my heart a workout until the neural drive/strength issues are fixed.

In spite of the Gerry Lindgren maneuver, and the fact that the second half is naturally about 7-10 seconds slower than the first due to the terrain, the splits were 13:42/14:01.

This run also has resolved my concerned that I might have gone into a slump similar to the one after DesNews 2006. Back then I struggled to run 28:26 on the same course starting normally with plans to negative split, and those issues continued for over a month.

P.M. 1.05 with Julia in 9:50, 2.1 with Benjamin in 16:52, Jenny joined for the first 1.6 in 13:10, and one more with no running kids. Pushed Julia and Jacob for all of the run except the initial part with Julia running.

T4 Racer - 370.23 miles

Five Fingers - 884.30 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.25Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Jeff messed up setting his alarm clock and did not make it. Tyler for some reason was not there either. So I ran solo for 10.1 miles. Opened with a 2:28 quarter and a 9:03 mile. Then was able to speed up to 8:00. I say "was able" but I really mean "was able while running naturally". My rule is to never force the pace during an aerobic run. Whatever the body chooses without pressure is the right pace. Towards the end of the run I worked up my way to a little slower than 7:00. With a mile to go I had a thought that I should be thankful for my ability to run sub-7:00 pace on a whim. A lot of people cannot race an all out mile like this. So as a token of gratitude, and in behalf of all those who cannot go sub-7:00 in spite of their best efforts, I decided to run the last mile under 7 minutes, and finished with a 6:52, 1:17:55 for 10.1.

P.M. 1.5 pushing Julia and Jacob, 1 with Julia running and Jacob in the stroller in 9:10, 0.5 more pushing both, then 2.1 in 17:40 with Benjamin and Jenny running and Jacob and Julia in the stroller. Need to teach Julia to ride a bike, then I'll be able to take all of my children at once for a run (until William is born at least).

Five Fingers - 899.50 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 6.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and James. James turned around after 3 miles. Then Jeff and I did 5x10 seconds all out for me, a nice stride for Jeff, with 5 minute rest. Total time for 12.1 was 1:35:59.

I gave Jeff a history test that he passed in spite of his young age. The question was - which East European communist regime went down violently? For me, of course, this was not just a history question. I anxiously watched, read, and listened as those regimes went down wondering how far away we were from losing the communist grip over the Soviet Union itself. It directly affected my life, so of course I remember, just like most Americans living today will remember September 11th, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Probably even more.

So anyway, Jeff passed the test. I wonder how many bloggers will without the help of Google and other references. So post if you did or did not know the correct answer before looking it up. To check if you are right, or to find out if you have no clue to begin with, click here.

Also, I took a look at the Deseret Book catalog I found lying on a table. It had an interesting collection of books. How to Raise a Strong-Willed Child. Strangling Your Husband Is Not an Option. How Do I Change My Husband? And the best - Parenting Breakthrough with a picture of a kid cleaning a toilet on the front cover.

P.M. 1.25 with Julia in 12:55, 2 with Benjamin in 16:09 with the last 0.5 in 3:08. Jenny joined us for the first 1.5 in 13:01. Another 1.25 alone.

Five Fingers - 916.1 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 8.25
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Talked to Curt last night and realized we were in big trouble. The course of the Provo River Half would be impossible to follow correctly in the last 3 miles, and barring a disaster or an unexpected super-runner appearance, Jeff would be acting as the "lead vehicle". So he needed to know the course. So we had Curt show us the course this morning (the last 3 "loopy" miles), and then we ran that section again to make sure we knew it. On the second try without Curt we managed to miss a turn and it took us a minute before we realized it.

In any case, I decided to plot out the map - check out Provo River Half 2008. Rather approximate, but reasonable. To avoid a complete disaster I had to code up a couple of features in the Course Tool. The USGS service was down, so I found a new elevation data service called Eathtools.Org which is not as accurate (only 90 meter segments), but at least it is up. So now we have a failover - first try USGS for 3 seconds, if nothing comes back or nothing good comes back, then try Earthtools. In the process I made an oops and incorrectly resolved the missing elevations in a number of existing courses, including a part of the Provo River Half that I was making. To fix this I needed a new feature - Re-lookup Elevations. Coded that up. Then figured a Save button that returns you to the course editing would be nice, since this was essentially a freebee after reworking the code. Then the elevation profile from the low resolution of Earthtools was just terrible and the supposed ups and downs extended the distance by a good 0.6 of a mile compared to the crazy grade adjusted distance. So I figured before I make this map public the crazy grade adjustment needed to happen first. So I coded up adjusting the crazy grade permanently as well. With all said and done the course now shows as 13.27 miles, which is very reasonable considering that I was not 100% sure on the start, the trail in some places is very difficult to follow from aerial view, and Google Maps probably do have a measure of geo-coding drift. Expecting lots of comments from Paul on the subject.

After running the "loopy"section, Jeff and I ran more on the trail to make the total of 12 miles. In the process I did the hyena workout - once every 5 minutes you pretend for 10 seconds that a hyena is out to get out and run as fast as you can to get away. Did that 5 times. Coming back down the Provo Canyon we tried some race pace strides. First we ran a quarter in 82, and then a while later in 74.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:20, 2 with Benjamin in 15:25 with Jenny running 1.5 in 11:54, and 1 more alone in 7:40. Pushed Jacob.

Five Fingers - 932.1 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Race: Provo River Half Marathon (13.1 Miles) 01:12:14, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Quick report, details to follow when I have more time. Provo River Half 1:12:14, 3rd place. Jeff won with 1:08:55, Dave Holt was second with 1:09:56. Barely held off Adam Wende (4th), and Chad (5th). Walter was 6th, so that's at least 1-6 FRB parade.

Struggled with neural fatigue pretty much from the gun, but as it usually goes with this problem, things kept getting worse as the race progressed until they just could not get any worse. I was able to run with Dave for the first 2.5 miles, then ran alone the rest of the way until Adam came up to within 10 seconds of me around 10.8. Then my first thought was I don't care if he passes me, then I told myself to do my best, figured that if I could just bluff 5:30 pace for half a mile, that will play a trick on both the neural fatigue and Adam, and then I'll be safe. The operation was successful.

More details. No trouble felt in the warm up, actually maybe a bit feisty. Noticed that the mind was not quite there on the bus - had a hard time connecting words into sentences. From the gun the pace felt a bit fast, but sustainable. First mile was 4:57, then 10:00 at 2 miles (by the official mile marker). Dave and I tried to hang with Jeff, but backed off after about 0.5 or so. Noticed that I was not breathing very hard, but felt unmotivated to breathe harder. Nevertheless decided to stick with Dave. Made it to about 2.5, then I was supposed to take a quarter, but could not pass Dave to do the job. Then I just could not hold the pace, not even for another quarter if they had told me the race ended right there. So I backed off.

Dave and Jeff gradually kept disappearing into the distance. The uphill on the highway actually did not feel too bad. Hit the official mile 5 in 26:11, then 32:02 at 6 miles. Started experiencing an urgent need for a VPB, but there were no good bushes on the highway. Then shortly before mile 7 I grabbed some leaves off a tree on the run, and shortly after jumped into a conveniently located bush. Because there were so many people on the trail, I could not do my patented technique, so I lost about 10-12 seconds instead of the usual 5. The quarter was 1:35, and the ones that followed were in the 1:22-1:25 range.

Hit the official marker 10 in 54:21. Saw Iain Hunter running in the opposite direction. Was stuck at around 5:35-5:40 pace. Was not breathing very hard, but could not go any faster. We made a turn at 5200 N and I noticed that Adam was about 10 seconds behind with Chad about the same distance behind him. My first thought was that I do not care. The race already went down the toilet. I just want to get to the finish and ensure a deeper blogger sweep, and I do not care about which order we come in. Then I told myself that this was a bad attitude, and I needed to fight it out to the finish no matter how poorly the race was going. Then a thought I occurred to me. Although I was neurally fatigued, if I gave it all for 0.5 mile I could run 5:30 pace. Adam and Chad would not have the cardio and the glycogen storage to run 5:30 pace on the flat at this point. So that would give me another 10 seconds on them at least. Then I could jog at 6:00 pace for a bit, recover, and maybe even kick at 5:30 pace, and that should be enough to hold them off. So I just focused on that 0.5, and it worked.

My GPS showed 13.20 for the distance. That may be right, may be not. Who cares anyway? It is a new downhill course. We have to figure out what its worth empirically in any case. My conservative guess is a minute slower than Bryce Canyon, and three minutes faster than Striders Half with the headwind this year. Probably about the same, no more than 30 seconds faster if at all compared to the 2006 and 2007 versions.

No cool down after the race, had to hurry to make it to a temple wedding of our friend.

For those who do not know what neural fatigue is all about. It is when your body can go faster, except the brain or the nervous system is malfunctioning and in spite of your most noble efforts does not produce or deliver the signals that are strong enough to get the muscles to perform at their potential. The symptoms are that your breathing becomes more comfortable, your heart rate drops, but the legs are in slow motion, they start feeling unbearably heavy when you try to push the pace, and your normal race pace very quickly becomes so impossible that you cannot do it for another quarter mile even if you did not have to go any further. This is one of the days when you can run a 5 K at a slower pace than you normally race a half marathon. Yet you can still finish the race at a slower speed wondering the entire time why you cannot go faster when nothing hurts. This is a very frustrating experience and it is very easy to get depressed and mentally quit. The sad part is that if you just kick back and coast to the finish you run only 5 seconds per mile slower than when you are giving everything you've got, when normally this much difference in effort would give you 20 seconds per mile.

To prevent it you need to sleep well, eat proper amounts of carbs, avoid stress, and not speed on your base runs. Sometimes it happens anyway even if you do everything right. Many people never have to worry about it because their cardio/glycogen storage will hit a limit first before they reach the limits of their neural drive even on a bad day.

On the positive side, the neural fatigue this year was much milder than two years ago when I ran 1:14:00 on the same quality of the course. I believe it was also less severe than during Minuteman 5 K. At least I was running 5:50 up a slight grade at the end of a half marathon instead of at the end of a 5 K, and I could do several sub-5:40 miles down 1% grade after running 7 instead of only one after running one. And I could will myself into running 5:30 pace down a slight grade for half a mile, something I do not think I would have pulled off in the same place at the end of Minuteman. So things are getting better.

As to the cause of the neural fatigue, there are two suspects. A popular opinion suspect is DesNews, but I question it. Last year there was no neural fatigue (I surprised myself with 1:09:40) even though every muscle of my body hurt for three days after DesNews. This year in DesNews it was just the cramped calf. The rest of the muscles had not experienced noticeable damage because I ran too slow. However, it is a possibility that the pain in the calf lasting for 2.5 hours caused some brain damage.

Another theory is itching skin. My skin has been itching pretty bad over the last couple of weeks, and it has interfered with the quality of my sleep. Two years ago when the neural fatigue was worse, the skin itched pretty bad as well and my sleep suffered. It affects not only sleep. It puts me on alert during the day, so towards the end I have been somewhat irritable. Our kids have been doing a lot of push-ups, squats, and household jobs for various rule violations. All well deserved, they have been taught and warned multiple times, but I normally do not notice that much.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:48, then 2 with Benjamin in 16:20 with Jenny running the first 1.5 in 12:33. It started raining and we got soaked.

T4 Racer - 385.13 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Julia surprised us today. She read most of her talk in Primary without help. We are very excited - she is on the verge of reading.

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. Jeff is in California, so I ran alone. 12.1 in 1:27:57. Did my standard hyena sprints.

A.M - 2. Ran to the Provo City Center to try out some equipment with Adam. Found the leg press machine somewhat useful for my purposes. My goal is to find something that will produce the maximum degree of muscle recruitment. Ran back. Total of 2.2 miles.

P.M. Costco Relay. 1.08 with Julia in 10:36, 3.42 with Benjamin in 29:08. Jenny joined for the first 1.56 in 13:48. 

Five Fingers - 950.9 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Michelle, and Josse. Matt joined us after a mile. The original plan was for Michelle to run the standard 5 mile tempo at 6:00 pace, while I towed Josse trying to stay with Michelle until she dropped us, then keep towing until Michelle had a gap of about 100 meters, then drop the harness, catch up to Michelle as fast as possible, and pace her from that point. Josse was not feeling good, and decided to just jog. So I just paced Michelle, which was OK as I could tell I was still feeing the neural fatigue.

We hit the first mile in 5:57, and during that mile I was really glad I was not towing Josse - I could feel the signs of neural fatigue in my stride and in the overall feeling. I was thinking, I am glad she cannot run low 5:50s, and it was not "I am too lazy to run 5:50s this hour of the day", not a sleeping lion annoyed that his sleep was disturbed, it felt like the start of the Provo Half - I really do not want to race today, I like my bed better than running. Michelle's HR was around 173-175 towards the end of the mile.

On the second mile Michelle started losing steam, but she was consistent - 4 quarters in 1:31, 6:04. HR about the same. We hit the turnaround in 15:04. I waited as long as I could to start the Give Me Five (TM), but I figured after a 180 Michelle needed to be woken up. 6:07 for the next mile. Her HR dropped to as low as 171 on a 1:32 quarter.

Over the last two miles Michelle tried to pick up the pace, but she did not have much juice. Nevertheless, she was steady. Her next mile was 6:08, and she closed with a 6:05 to finish in 30:21. Her last 200 was 41 seconds, though, and I had to work to keep up. Her HR was very interesting during the kick. She was able to get it up to 178, but then it dropped to 176, although I did not feel any let up in the pace. Not sure what that means. Might be normal - to accelerate is harder than just to maintain. Which implies that when you are kicking you should explode for 5 seconds with every bit of energy you've got, and then coast to the finish, and you can coast pretty far.

Also, the highest I've seen her HR is 180, yet she has been able to maintain 173 for 5 miles. That is 96%. I wonder if this ability is a sign that the cardio is stronger than the nervous system, which could mean that either the cardio is very strong, or the nervous system is very weak.

Ran some more with Michelle, Josse, and Matt, total of 13 miles for this morning.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:51, 2 with Benjamin in 17:14 with Jenny running 1.5 in 13:10.

T4 Racer - 398.14 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.25Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Gerry Lindgren tempo. Interesting results.

Again, this tempo is done like this - go out hard at your dream pace until you can't. Then run the rest of it at your best pace in that condition.

Warmed up, did some strides to be ready for the 5:00 pace. First mile: 75,77,79,82 - 5:13. Legs started caving on the second(!) quarter. HR never went above 164. The breathing was the hardest in the first quarter. Hmm... - last week I managed a 5:08. Am I holding back, or am I in worse condition?

Second mile: 85,86,86,87 - 5:44. Same as last week for the total, but 87 at the end is a bad sign. HR drops to around 160.

Third mile: 90,90,92,91 - 6:03. 13:57 at 2.5. HR drops to 153(!) Michelle is going to chick me if I run like this for the second half. Emily is going to chick me for the whole tempo. I am trying every trick I know to go faster with absolutely zero results even though I am barely breathing. It feels like the end of a marathon. Some food for thought.

Fourth mile: 92,91,90,90 - 6:03. HR had sporadic spikes to 155 in the last two quarters. Interesting.

Last mile: 91 (up a slight grade), 88, 86, 83 - 5:48, and 28:51 for the tempo. 14:54 for the last 2.5. Emily did not chick me, got to enjoy small success! And I put a whopping 23 second gap on Michelle's second half yesterday. And I outkicked her in the last 200 by a whopping 1 second (40). For sure I thought earlier that she was going to beat me on that segment today. Something interesting happened in this mile. With 1 K to go all of a sudden I started running faster. No heroic effort. The earlier miles when I could not break 6:00 for the life of me were a lot more heroic. But all of a sudden I started breathing like I would in a tempo, HR went up to 160 and I started running 5:44 pace feeling like I could go further.

Jogged some more to make the total 12 miles.

Plenty of food for thought. Clearly a case of neural fatigue. But also an interesting twist. We are deal with some odd resource here. Neural fatigue is just underscoring the importance of that resource, makes it come out more in plain view. Today it got exhausted in a bit over a minute of running at 5:00 pace to where I could not hold that pace anymore. It continued to get exhausted at a pace as slow as 5:44 to the point of not being able to run sub-6:00. Running slower than 6:00 partially replenished it to the point of being able to run 5:44 again, and that replenishment was very sudden. It is not blood lactate levels - if it was, HR would have stayed high to clean up, and the breathing would not have calmed down. Fluctuating blood sugar is a reasonable possibility, but if it was, I should have felt weak and fuzzy headed during the slump, and I did not. There were absolutely no symptoms other than I could not go sub-6:00 no matter how hard I tried. And it felt just like the end of St. Jude last year, and Salt Lake, and Ogden this year. I know I need to go faster, I feel good, the head works, the legs are not sore, I know every second could cost a few hundred bucks, and for the life of me I cannot go faster.

So what is that mysterious resource? My first thought was something in the brain. How do you find out for sure? My first thought was I need a brain scan machine to measure me every day, and see what is different between good days and bad days. But who is going to give me a brain scan machine along with the necessary expertise? That is wishful thinking. Come on, think of something more simple.

After some thought, I had an idea. In the absence of equipment we use the infamous Sasha Science. Question number of one - once we know it is section X in the brain, what are we going to do to fix it? Well, we are going to try a number of different things and measure how they affect that section X. Can we measure how that section X is doing without a brain scan machine? Sure. Gerry Lindgren tempo with the HRM tells us everything we need to know. Only one problem. Gerry Lindgren tempo is a rather invasive measurement. I can do it only twice a week at most. However, here is an idea. Do a whole bunch of those tempos. Always make a prediction for the split at the mile, and the finish time for the whole tempo after the first quarter based on how I feel. Keep doing that until I start getting it right. Once I perfect the skill I will only need to run one quarter in 75 to know what would have happened in the whole tempo. I can run one 75 second quarter every day! So that gives me the benefits of daily monitoring with a brain scan machine without having to pay a cent for it. The beautiful thing is that if I am completely off the target, and it is not in the brain, or if it is but the modern day science has no way of measuring it, the method still works! Columbus thought to the end of his life that he had found a new way to India, but that did not change the consequences of his discovery - thanks to him we are now here in America. Inspired pursuit even with factual errors beats being exactly true to the fact but treading in your own tracks with no inspiration. I can try different things, measure the results, quickly, and hopefully find something that works.

Of course, there is no free lunch. It might take a long time to develop a sense that is keen enough to know what's up from just one quarter. But at least it is worth a shot.

T4 Racer  - 410.13 miles. 

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:45, 2 with Benjamin in 16:40 with Jenny joining us for 1.5 in 12:53, and one more mile alone.

Five Fingers - 954.9 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran the first 6 miles with James, the rest (6 more) alone. Total time for 12 was 1:29:21. Had to stop for a VPB, told James to go ahead. Then caught up to him. During the catch-up decided to practice 5:00 pace. Ran a quarter in 76, and then another 100 in 20 with no stopping. It felt unsustainable. Not sure if better or worse than yesterday, but I was not going to try to find out. I'll wait until Saturday.

The idea now is to focus on 5:00 pace. I must be able to hold it on my 5 mile tempo to have any dreams of an OTQ. Sure, I'll only need to run 5:18, and at sea level, but it would need to be on a rolling course for 26 miles, and likely on a less than perfect day. So I figure at the very least I need to be able to transition from 5:00 being a near-sprint to a brisk tempo pace. I am figuring the cardio is there to support it, but something, some component X (neural drive?) is missing. Some day I have more of it than others, but never enough. Perhaps the days when I have less are most meaningful for study - the problem is more apparent, and hopefully this will inspire a solution.

P.M. 2.05 with Benjamin and Jenny to Benjamin's soccer practice in 18:49. Pushed Julia in the stroller. 1 on grass with Julia in 10:38. 2.17 back in 16:54 pushing Jacob. 

Five Fingers - 968.12 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 12.1 alone in 1:29:09. Did a neural strength evaluation/sense development interval. Was planning to run 400 if feeling really bad, 500 otherwise. Got to 500 and was feeling good enough that I wanted to run a bit more. So did 600 in 1:52, that is 5:00 pace. It felt a lot more sustainable than yesterday or the day before. Official guess on what would have happened in the Gerry Lindgren 5 mile tempo - 5:04 for the first mile, and 27:30 for the whole thing.

P.M. 1.1 alone, 0.5 with Benjamin in 3:09, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 11:47, 1 with Julia in 9:54. Julia run was particularly interesting. She was dragging along at about 10:30 pace when we saw a couple running. I challenged her to catch them. She said no. I said how about for a fruit snack. She said no. How about if you get to play GCompris (an educational computer game)? Still no. How about if I read you a book? She said no, but I'll do it for all three. So we struck a deal, and she whizzed by them, then eased off just enough to keep them at bay to the end of her run.

Five Fingers - 984.32 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Interesting workout today. Total of 21 miles with two tempos. One after a short warmup, the other towards the end. The first being the Gerry Lindgren kind, the second end of the marathon kind.

Warmup - 2.62 miles in 20:50.

Gerry Lindgren tempo: First quarter in 76. Official prediction - 5:10 for the mile, 27:50 for 5 miles. Subsequent quarters: 76, 79, 82 - 5:13 at the mile, 3 seconds off the prediction on the slow side. HR peaked at 163 around 0.6 then dropped to 160 by the end of the mile. The first half mile felt more sustainable, but then I could not sustain it.

Second mile: 83, 84, 86, 86 - 5:39. HR at 159-160.

Third mile: 86, 86 (13:44 at the turnaround), 87, 86 - 5:45. HR drops to 157. Not for the lack of trying, though.

Mile 4: 87, 84, 87, 87 - 5:45. I decided to try something new. Attempt a surge to see to what extent this overrides neural fatigue. Could do it for a quarter, but could not sustain it. On the positive side, I was back to pre-surge pace post-surge. So perhaps this is a good strategy - I just bought myself a couple of seconds for free. HR climbed to 160 during the surge, then went back to 158 afterwards.

Mile 5: 86, 85, 84, 81 - 5:36. Was able to get HR above 160, and to as high as 166 on the last quarter. Total time was 27:58, last 2.5 in 14:14. Much better than on Wednesday.

Jogged 6.5 miles in 51:41. Met Larry Lawrence and Marie Gluhn (Hodson), ran with them for most of it. Larry back in his youth was fast - 3:58 mile. Then did another 5 mile tempo. I did not plan to make it 5, it kind of happened on accident. I only wanted to go 3, but then realized I started it too early, so I figured I'd go more. Then it also took me forever to get up to speed on those twists and turns, and the bridges, so I needed to go the whole 5 to hit a sub-6:00 average. Ran 29:58, last mile in 5:51. It got warmer, but not too bad. Cooled down 1.38 miles - total of 21 for the run.

Observations - not a whole lot of difference between the last 3 miles of the Gerry Lindgren portion, and the end of the run portion except for some fuzzy head. So in other words, it appears so far that I can simulate the end of the marathon minus the fuzzy head by running hard in the first mile and not stopping, just tempoing through. With proper focus I can run through the fuzzy head as fast as 5:30-5:40 pace on a good day. Fuzzy head in and of itself does not cause the slow down, there is something else that is involved, and I can get that something else to show its ugly head in the Gerry Lindgren tempo. So I will call that a small victory - I know how to make the dragon stick his head out. Now I just need a sword to chop it off.

P.M. Went to Michelle's house to watch the womens Olympics marathon. Turned out we were the only ones there. Ran there with the kids. 1 mile with Julia in 10:34, then 1.5 with Jenny in 12:40, and another 0.5 with Benjamin to make the total time for 2 miles 16:39. Kids did very well at a higher elevation and with the hills (6000 feet).

T4 Racer - 431.13 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Day of rest.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 11.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with James, Daniel, and Derek Taylor. Daniel went 3 miles, James 6, Derek around 8. Afterwards ran 1 with Julia in 9:42, and 2 with Benjamin in 16:22. Jenny joined for 1.5 in 12:48. Pushed Jacob during Benjamin's and Jenny's run.

P.M. Pushed Jacob and Joseph for 5 miles. 40:57.  Five Fingers are celebrating their first 1 K miles. Still in good condition - just one small hole under the right big toe. I wonder if I should just wear them down to the holes, gradually get used to the surface, and then just run barefoot period.

Five Fingers - 1000.97 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Derek. Did the Gerry Lindgren 5 mile tempo. Derek just started after reduced mileage, so he is being caution. So he just did the first and the last mile with me. We also found Matt and he joined us for a portion.

Mile 1: 75, 77, 75, 82 - 5:09. Forgot to make the prediction after the first quarter. Derek pulled away after the first 0.6 and finished it in 4:58. Matt made it to 0.5, I think. HR peaked at 161(!) and I lost steam without being able to push it any higher on this mile. I wonder if I would get better results if I did 78,78, then hold 75/76 until failure, if I'd be able to do more of those this way. Should try this next time, which will be in a week.

Mile 2: 87, 86, 86, 86 - 5:45. Legs feel heavy, cannot go any faster, but HR drops to 156(!). This is a joke. Shouldn't it go up to 165 at least to clean up the lactic acid? Am I weird, or maybe this is normal? We should try this on Jeff when he gets back. If anybody wants to try the experiment as well, please go ahead. Protocol - go to the track or well-measured flat road segment, warm up, then run your dream pace that is much faster than what you have been able to sustain even in a 5 K recently until failure, then run the best pace to the finish of 5 miles. Record quarter splits along with HR patterns. If you live near Provo, I'll be happy to lend you my HRM and run alongside (if I can).

Mile 3: 86, 86, 88, 86 - 5:46. 13:46 at the turnaround. HR at 157.

Mile 4: 88, 86, 86, 86 - 5:46. HR at 158.

Mile 5: Derek joined me and stayed with me. 86, 86, 84, 82 - 5:38. 28:04.1 for the run. Last 2.5 in 14:18. Managed to get HR to 161 in the kick.

Almost exact carbon copy of Saturday run with minor variations. With Derek's help I pushed the 3rd quarter of the first mile, which gave me a faster first mile. But then the fatigue was greater and I ended up running 6 seconds slower for the whole run. HR, however, was lower. Part of it was the difference in the temperature. It was warmer on Saturday. But not that much warmer. And I should be able to sustain my HR above 161 in any weather.

Too early to make any serious conclusions, but the emerging pattern appears very interesting. Pushing the pace harder in the first mile so far has produced a lower(!) HR in the remaining 4 miles, not just a slower pace.

Ran a cool down with Derek, then 2 with Benjamin in 15:29, and 1 with Julia in 9:29. Julia set a 0.5 PR over the second half - 4:11. Total of 15.8 for the run.

P.M. 1.5 with Jenny in 13:18. 

T4 Racer - 446.93 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Derek and Matt, then some alone, and 2 with Benjamin in 16:18. Total of 11.5 miles. Julia ran 1 mile with Sarah.

P.M. 5 miles in 39:43, including the first 1.5 with Jenny in 13:25.

Five Fingers - 1017.47 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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A.M. Ran the first 2 miles with Daniel, then he biked. Found Matt on the trail, he joined me for a bit. Ran the rest alone - 12.1 miles in 1:29:54. Then 2 more with Benjamin in 15:27, including a lunch-with-Daddy qualifier 0.5 in 3:04, a bit of a jog to rest, and then picking it up to finish the mile in 6:54.

Last night completely of her own initiative Sarah committed to working on her Russian more seriously. She speaks quite well, has good accent, can say what she needs to, but she does have her struggles. She cannot yet speak with color reordering her words just the right way, remembering to insert zhe and other forms of emphasis in the right places to make it sound natural, picking a more naturally sounding word vs a standard dictionary-recommended translation of what she would have said in English, without the fear of odd word forms that are particularly foreign to an English speaker, without the fear of using long words with several tongue-twister consonants in a row, etc. For the last 11 years she has fought the idea of learning to speak Russian like a native, but now the day has come. We are going to work on it.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:36, then 1.5 with Jenny in 11:55. 

Five Fingers - 1033.77 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Derek, dropped him off, then ran alone, then ran into Justin White and his friend Chris, ran with them a bit, then more alone. Decided to try race pace for 0.5. Hit 2:44 going down about 0.5% grade. Felt good. Carefully listened for the signals of neural fatigue, but heard none. At least over 0.5.

Finished 11 miles, then ran with the kids. First 1 with Julia in 10:30. Then we loaded Julia and Joseph in the double stroller for me to push, and put Jacob in the single stroller for Benjamin to push. After the first 60 meters Benjamin said that Jacob was a lot heavier than he had thought. That sounded suspicious. I checked out the stroller, and sure enough, the break was on. We fixed that, and kept going. Benjamin did better than I thought he would. 12:54 for 1.5. That is 8:36 pace average. The combined weight of Jacob and the stroller was probably closely approaching Benjamin's own weight. Jenny, of course, had to take advantage of the chance to show off and pulled ahead in the last third of a mile finishing in 12:38. I stayed with Benjamin.

Good to know that in case of emergency we could cover a 5 K at 9:00 pace without the aide of a motor with all of the five kids. When William is born, we will need one more seat in the stroller, but hopefully by then Julia will learn to ride a bike.

I have been taking in a lot of Powerade lately, and it has been going in very well, never making me feel like I've had too much. Makes me wonder if the latest neural fatigue struggles were from a very subtle carbodepletion. Or another way to look at that - something happened that increased the brain demands for glucose, and not receiving enough the brain responded by limiting running performance. I've had this happen before. In any case, the practical implication is that the body needs to be fed a lot of carbs.

Five Fingers - 1047.33 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Race: Top of Utah Half Marathon (13.11 Miles) 01:11:13, Place overall: 4
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Top of Utah Half. 1:11:13. 4th place. Got beat by Teren (1:06:38), Seth (1:10:37), and Josh Stefen (1:10:46). Held off Jon (1:11:40), and Paul (1:12:14). Better quality race than two weeks ago in Provo Half. Details to follow...

Now details....

Stayed at Paul's house. Got to see little Seth. Got to race the big Seth as well. How do you get your shirt to finish 46 seconds ahead of you? Let Seth borrow it, of course :-)

Warmed up with Paul. We saw two moose. Paul wondered if the plural of moose was meese. I thought it should be mooses. Turns out both of us were wrong. I did Googled it and found that the correct form is moose. Go figure. I've run TOU every year they've had it (9 times) without ever seeing a moose, and now two at once!

Paul invented a new concept. I think he should patent it. For every bathroom visit prior to the start of a race you get a star. For every stop during the race you lose a star. So at the start this was going to be a two-star race for me.

With the latest neural fatigue problems I did not have firm expectations for the race. I told Paul the night before it could be as fast as 1:09 or as slow as 1:14. I figured the best way to work around the neural fatigue would be to run as unmotivated as possible. I noticed that neural fatigue often kicks in from an overexertion of some kind - a hill, a surge, or a pace that is a tad too brisk held for 10 minutes. It is easy to mistake it for the consequences of getting into oxygen debt, but overtime I learned to distinguish the two. If it is just oxygen debt, you will breathe harder for a minute or two afterwards, back off the pace a bit, recover, and then you are good to go again. Maybe 3 seconds per mile slower than what you would have otherwise. Neural fatigue is a different beast. You step into the red zone, and you are out for the rest of the race. The breathing slows down. The heart rate drops. The pace drops to as much as 20 seconds per mile slower and stays that way to the end. You keep telling yourself - I am feeling good, I am going to pick it up, you think you are picking it up, but the splits show otherwise. You try to kick in the last 50 meters, and you cannot. It is like a bad dream when you try to run away from a robber but your body is paralyzed for no understandable reason.

Mile 1 - 5:27. Running with Josh Stefen. Teren and Seth did 5:19 - they are both jogging. Feeling sluggish.

Mile 2 - 5:17. The downhill got steeper, I picked it up, dropped Josh, started closing on Teren and Seth. Got excited, and pushed harder hoping to catch up to them. Then there is this feeling - you get too excited, the neural fatigue will get you. Do not red line. So I eased off. Teren/Seth did 5:19.

Mile 3 - 5:25. Josh caught up to me, and gapped me a bit. I thought for a while he was gone. Then there was a short steep downhill and I caught up to him. Told myself, ran with him to 4, you can at least do that.

Mile 4 - 5:21. Drafting behind Josh changed from miserable to sustainable, I think I can make it to 5.

Mile 5 - 5:14. More downhill, some tailwind, starting to feel good. 26:44 at 5 miles.

Mile 6 - 5:12. Even better. We are now ahead of the 5:20 guy. At the start it looked like averaging 5:30s would be a challenge. Thinking about gapping Josh.

Mile 7 - 5:15. Happy to gap the 5:20 guy some more, will need that for sure later on. Tried to gap Josh as well, but was not successful. Now drafting behind him.

Mile 8 - 5:25. Not enjoying it as much on flatter ground, but the pace feels sustainable.

Mile 9 - 5:21. Cannot complain about that. Don't think the grade has changed, still about 0.5% down, and we are still ahead of the 5:20 guy. Did not expect that so late in the race.

Mile 10 - 5:29. Some headwind, but Josh has wide shoulders. 53:26 at 10 miles.

Mile 11 - 5:46. Uphill started. At first it felt bearable, but the further we go, the harder it gets. I am feeling like I am carrying a bookcase that I am about to drop.

Mile 12 - 5:57. Uphill continues. I cannot hold the bookcase any more, it goes down. I think the bookcase's name was Josh. He is gone, has about 10 seconds on me. I am thinking with the downhill on the last mile I can close the gap.

Mile 13 - 5:39. Legs are just not moving. Here comes the neural fatigue with all of its ugly symptoms. I see Josh putting a gap on me. I see Seth within reachable distances. I am not breathing very hard. The legs do not hurt. Josh is worth some cash and circuit points. Seth is worth some cash and circuit points. I want to catch them and I want it bad. But there is nothing I can do no matter how hard I try.

Last 0.1 - 31 seconds. A desperate attempt at a kick. My watch said 1:11:11. Official time was 1:11:13.

Paced Breanna during the cool down/extra miles. Then went to find Bonnie, but missed her - ran right past her and did not spot her in the crowd. Ended up with 21 miles for the workout.

Interesting how the hill knocked me out. This has happened before. In 2003 St. George I lost contact with the OTQ pack at 9 miles going up a long gradual climb, and never recovered. That same year I was running well in the first 6 miles of the Springfield marathon until we hit a hill about half a mile long. Afterwards I was not myself for the rest of the race. However, I've had good days when a long hill did not bother me in spite of taking it hard. Last year I did fine in the Provo River half, Salt Lake (Emmigration Canyon) half, and Park City Half. This year I did OK on the Avon pass in Wasatch Back.

My theory. The hill increases the amount of neural output. On a bad day this could put me in the red zone of neural fatigue. Something pops in the brain, and it stops working for the rest of the race.

T4 Racer - 467.93 miles.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:50, then 2 with Benjamin, Jenny and Jared in 16:39. Jared had a side ache and fell behind.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest.

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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A.M. Ran with Jeff and Derek. Dropped Derek off, dropped Jeff off. Ran 1 mile in 9:31 with Julia pushing Jacob and Joseph with Benjamin and Jenny riding along on their bikes. Then pushed Jacob and Joseph for another 2 miles. Had an accident. Head-on collision with a bike coming from under a bridge. The stroller did very well, no damage at all. My Walmart watch did not do so well - the strap broke. No other damage otherwise. We count our blessings.

P.M. For our family home evening we decided to do Jenny's birthday present geocaching hunt. Sarah hid it some distance away from the house, got the GPS coordinates, and I ran to the location with Benjamin and Jenny. The distance turned out to be 1.72, which we ran in 15:00, 8:43 average.

We found the present, Sarah picked up Jenny, and I ran back with Benjamin. During the run Sarah called us and told us VanGoGo would not start. I told her to get a jump start from Luz, as they were in right next to her house. We got home in 13:27, 7:49 pace average.  I called Sarah, and she told me the jump start did not help.

So Benjamin and I drove back to rescue her. It was dark, and I could not quite remember where Luz's house was exactly, and had a hard time finding it. So I turned on the GPS and used the stored waypoint location to navigate to it. This was going to be a humorous night, it seemed, and the further developments confirmed the suspicion. I got into VanGoGo to see for myself what was wrong, and it turned out that it was in the neutral gear. Once I moved it in Park it started just fine. To add more humor to the night, Sarah forgot her purse at Luz's house. So we had a good laugh.

Five Fingers - 1063.67 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Derek and Jeff. Then some more by myself, and 2 with Benjamin in 17:26. Total of 14 miles.

P.M. 1 mile with Julia around the soccer field during Benjamin's soccer game. Benjamin's team played much better than last time and won 5-1 against a team that did not appear as weak as the last one. Last time they lost 1-2. The team coaches are very good. In the first game they were kid-disorganized, and combined with the lack of exceptional soccer talent from any of the players this did not produce very impressive results. This time after some work in the practices each player knew his job and did it. I was amazed at the difference, and it showed in the final score.

Ran 1.5 with Jenny later in 13:01. 

Five Fingers - 1077.67 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Started with Jeff and Tyler. Derek was not there for some reason. Tyler had to go to work, so he did not go very far before he turned around. Ran 6 very easy with Jeff. We finished almost 3 minutes behind the 8:00 mile guy. Then ran 6 more alone.

Decided to do a shakeout tempo. Due to my course layout, 3.125 turned out to be a convenient distance. Ran it on the trail as usual. 1.5 out, 1.65 back. Decided to go by feel setting goals as I went along.

Had a hard time getting into a rhythm. First 200 in 44. Then eventually started hitting 83 quarters. 5:35 at the mile. HR at 152. Lost steam, next quarter in 84, and then 85 with a 180. Accelerated after 180, but it was only good enough for another 85. However, got my payback in the next quarter - 82. HR got up to 158. After that I was hitting 82-83 quarters like a clock, but for the life of me could not go any faster. Second mile was 5:36, then 5:30, and 41 for the last 200. I tried to pick it up and bring HR to over 160, but for the life of me could not do it. 16:41 at 3 miles, 17:22 for 3.125, which means I hit the 5 K in 17:16. That is a PR for Five Fingers.

Jogged some more, finished 12 miles in 1:32:07. Amazing how fast the 8:00 mile guy comes to you when you are going 5:30 :-)

Ran another mile with Julia in 9:45.

P.M-1. We bought a van from Canyon Motors in Provo (610 W Center). They specialize in used natural gas vehicles - just perfect for us. We never buy cars on credit, which at least for now means we never buy anything anywhere close to a new car. And we wanted to help alleviate the US demand for foreign oil while saving a bit on gas as well. It is 1996 Dodge Ram B2500 CNG. 72 K miles. Seats 15 passengers. $8402.96 including the sales tax, registration, and other fees. $3K alternative fuel vehicle tax credit. 14-18 mpg at $0.86 a gallon. Right now it is more than twice as cheap to drive as Zhu (our 93 Ford Escort Wagon). And the best thing - I stuck my nose right next to the exhaust pipe while the engine was running, and could smell nothing.

The official name of the new van is FRV - The Fast Running Van.

One drawback is that now we would have to plan our fuel stops thoroughly while traveling. But there are quite a few natural gas stations all over the state. Flying J in Springville, there one in Orem around exit 272, a couple in Salt Lake, one in Ogden, and one even in Logan. Going south, Fillmore, and St. George. We will still keep VanGoGo - 4-wheel drive, spare vehicle in case FRV breaks down, and for trips in remote areas where natural gas may be unavailable. Also for short trips when we do not feel like parking FRV in a tight space, and for Van 2 in relays.

Being a used car, FRV still needed some pre-sale fixing, and Sarah did not want to wait for me to finish the paperwork, so I did the paperwork and ran home - 0.7 miles. We should be getting the van today.

P.M-2 : 0.3 running errands, 0.5 with Benjamin in 4:21, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 12:38, total time for 2 miles was 16:59. Had fun running away from dogs. There were 3 dog incidents in the last half mile that resulted in accelerations. I was impressed with Jenny's top end speed. Kenyan kids run away from hyenas, ours have to settle for dogs.

Five Fingers - 1091.67 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Big group today. Started with Jeff, Derek, Jeff's dad Don, Vern, and Michelle. Vern and Don ran 1 mile out, Derek kept on going to BYU at 6 while we turned around. Jeff turned around 8 miles into the run because he only needed 10. Michelle finished all 12 with me - she actually had run some before we even started - she was doing a 22 mile run. Had a VPB stop, then caught the pack afterwards. The quarters were 84 and 80, and I felt more energized than yesterday. At 6 Michelle started her end of long run death march tempo. Her splits were 6:42, 6:33, 6:22, 6:25, 6:27, 6:21. Her last 2 quarters were 94 and 87. I gave her a challenge to push my HR past 140. She reached it with about 1 mile to go for the first time, and then finally in the kick she pushed it as high as 149.

Afterwards ran 2 miles with Benjamin in 15:39 including the lunch out qualifications 0.5 in 3:03, splits of 93 and 90.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:40, and 1.5 with Jenny in 13:13. Played soccer with some Latinos during Benjamin's soccer practice. Also shot basketball hoops.

Five Fingers - 1108.17 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 12.1 in 1:33:00. Started with Jeff, Daniel, Tyler and Don. The group kept getting smaller. Then Derek who had a late start caught up to us. Ran with Jeff and Derek to 10.1, then 2 more mostly alone, but I did meet a runner, I think his name was Ken, ran with him and bit, and invited him to join the blog.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:09, with Jenny joining for the last 1.5 in 11:41. Julia ran with Sarah and Luz earlier in the morning. Then 2 more to the tennis court and back. Played tennis with Benjamin.

Five Fingers - 1224.27 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Derek. We did a 2.62 warmup. Then I did a modified Lindgren tempo. This time I warmed up for 0.5 miles at a slower pace before trying to run 5:00. Derek joined me for the last 2 miles.

Splits: 84, 83, 79 (jumped over a tree), 78 - 5:24 mile, 81, 85, 88, 87 (5:43), 86, 87 (14:01 at the turnaround), 89, 86 (5:47), 86, 84, 85, 86 (5:42), 82, 83, 84 (tree jump), 81 (5:30) - 28:06.2.

HR: climbed to 162 during the attempt at a 5:00 mile, then dropped miserably. Sat around 155 between 1.5 and 3.7. Then with Derek's help got up to 158. In the last mile got up to 160, and hit 166 in the last quarter.

Other observations: When running 5:44-5:48 pace HR was stuck at 155 but the breathing felt very labored. Once Derek joined me and I started running behind him, HR was higher, I was running faster, but the breathing felt a lot less labored. Possible explanation - breathing rate correlates with turnover. Earlier, the ground push-off power (which determines stride length) was reduced for some odd reason, so I had to turn over quicker to run a slower pace. Running behind Derek rebooted the push-off power computer, now I did not have to turn over as quickly.

Jogged with Derek to 10.25, dropped him off, drank a large cup of Powerade, then jogged to 13.62 and ran another 5 mile tempo on the exact same course except this time I did not have to jump over the tree twice.

Felt sluggish and unmotivated during that part, like I was ready to be done with the workout already. Very similar to mile 20 of the marathon. Was not sure what to expect of the tempo.

Splits in the second tempo: 5:48, 5:46, 14:27 at the turnaround, 5:49, 5:49, 5:42 - total time 28:54.7.

HR: Could not bring it over 150 in the first 2 miles. Then it hovered at 152-153 for the next two and a half. Then all of a sudden it shot up to 157 with no change in pace but there was a slight increase in the perception of effort. Was able to push it to 164 in the last quarter which I ran in 82.

Subjective observations: felt sluggish at the start. Had to focus on high turnover to keep the pace. Was able to keep the pace but it required a lot of concentration. When HR increased at 3.5 miles did not feel a significant increase in effort. At 3.25 felt that my ability to concentrate has decreased, and it coincided with a slight let-up on the pace. However, focusing on high turnover allowed me to regain the momentum. Breathing felt controlled, it was rhythmic but not exhaustingly bothersome like in the first tempo after the surge.

Analysis: the increased HR at 3.5 was probably the result of dehydration and rising temperatures - I was over 17 miles into the run, and it was already around 9:00 am. I was actually surprised earlier when I saw that I could maintain sub-5:50 pace with HR below 150 for so long that late into the run.

Ran a cool down of 1.38 miles which gave me 20 miles for the whole run.

I think I've got my marathon second half slow down figured out. Fuel shortage is nothing more that a conspiring catalyst. It is primarily caused by a weak nervous system. I've heard a cop tell me on several occasions that he got tired watching me run. This form of fatigue is somewhat similar to what that cop experiences. When the fuel is low the neural drive goes down. When the nervous system is naturally it may still be enough to maintain the pace. When it is weaker, this causes a problem.

This explains why it is so common for me to let a competitor go between 13 and 16, and even as late as 18 feeling like I could not run even one more mile at that pace, have him gap me enough to be out of sight, but then pass him after 20 miles even though I have slowed down myself. I have plenty of fuel, he has plenty of neural drive. He is running lower than me on fuel, but he can keep the pace because his neural drive is strong. After 13 I have two issues - the neural drive goes down just from the stress on the nervous system itself, plus the fuel runs a bit low which acts as a drive reducing catalyst. No big deal yet for the competitor because his nervous system is strong, he feels good, and knows nothing of his impending doom. I used to be like that when I was running 2:40s. Now, I sense the trouble to the point that I am forced to slow down, I do not have a choice. Then the competitor with his strong nervous system but a less deep gas tank just slams into a wall and cannot break 7:00 while I am still plodding along at 6:00-6:20 pace. This works only for competitors that have not yet built up their gas tank. The moment their gas tank starts working the scenario changes. At 13 all of a sudden I cannot keep their pace. I slow down, they do not. They never run out of fuel and finish ahead.

Now running the second half of TOU with a better than before realization of why I am running slow (and likely why I am getting beat as well) would be quite frustrating. Is there anything I can do about it? That remains to be seen.

T4 Racer - 487.93 miles

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:55, 2 with Benjamin in 16:26, Jenny ran the first 1.5 with us in 12:52.

Five Fingers - 1227.27 miles

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. A miracle happened. I picked up a copy of the Ensign in the afternoon and started reading it. Normally my eyes start getting tired in half an hour of reading anything, I cannot read for more than half an hour straight. Given the way I was feeling around that time I was expecting my eyes  to tire out in 15 minutes. But I read for almost 2 hours and the eyes did not feel tired. I learned a lot. I figure there was something important for me there so the Lord made my eyes strong enough to read it.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 236.42Nap Time: 6.83Total Sleep Time: 243.25
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