Breaking the Wall

Striders 5K

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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:

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Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 220.24 Year: 560.35
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Black Crocs 2023 Lifetime Miles: 1312.70
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

Easy run with Ted at our usual time - 4:45 AM. Met him on the trail.  We ran at about 7:10-7:20 pace most of the way. We split at 8.5. On the way back not being in chat mode any more I sped up to 6:30 pace without trying to run harder. The form felt very good. However, when it gets better I start to remember what it is supposed to feel like, and it drives me nuts. I wish I could do some measurements to see if what my intuition tells me is right. I feel my center of gravity tends to fall closer to the heel, too far back. So my choices are to either bring the foot unnaturally back to avoid landing in front of the center of gravity which does not give me full power on the push, or to land ahead of the center of gravity (overstride), which makes the quad do extra pulling forward - also inefficient. The ultimate solution is to fix the spine.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. 

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

Ran with Ted at 4:45 AM.  The weather was warmer. In preparation for the upcoming Striders 5 K we modified our usual workout. The trail was mostly clear. A mile in 5:20, then 0.5 jog, then another mile in 5:19. Then some more easy running, and 2.5 on the way back at marathon pace effort in 14:31. The form felt better. 5:20 pace felt too slow for 5 K, but too fast for 10 K. Not bad for the dark, 20 F, and 1.5 layers of clothes + inversion.

Ran with the kids in the evening. 

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

Easy run with Ted at our usual time. In preparation for the Striders 5 K did some strides (very appropriate). Hit a few 200 meter stretches between 36 and 38 seconds, and a few unmeasured stretches on the trail. All in the dark. 1.5 layers of clothes, inversion. The form felt very good on the accelerations. I would say normally I need a couple of months of 400 meter repetitions to get it to feel that good. I wonder if all those 400s are for me is a fancy way of stretching and strengthening the back. There have been days when I felt I could run a better tempo after 12x400 than before.

Saw the profile of the course. Not fast at all, good hill workout, though. 6% grade up for 0.5 mile is going to be fun. Anything sub-17 will be good.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. Managed to sneak in some coding and work on a feature to notify people posting comments of a reply if they have a Fast Running Blog and identified it in the URL field. Almost done, need to test it before I make it live, but it will probably have to wait until tomorrow. After that, long awaited GPX course upload and time prediction.

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

Tune up for the upcoming Striders 5 K. Ran with Ted. Sleep-in day - ran at 5:30 AM. First time in the last two months, I believe, that we had a morning run with temperatures above freezing. Weather report said 36F right before we left. No inversion I could notice. Only 1 layer of clothes - tights and long-sleeved T-Shirt. 

After a 2.34 mile warm-up ran 1.5 at a conservative 5 K effort. The goal was to break 8:00 without cheating by taking advantage of a shorter distance and accumulating extra oxygen debt. Ran even pace , splits by 0.5 - 2:39 - 2:38 (5:17) - 2:39 (7:56). Felt strong, but also felt that the limits were not too far away. It felt like I was running a 10 K sticking my nose in the midst of things. Ted was not feeling good, so I ran this part alone. The form felt good, or I should say on the better side. It is never good in the sense of being where it ought to be.

I felt that by working the abdominal muscles I could push the air out more vigorously. That is a good sign. The need to push it out more vigorously at that pace  is perhaps not that good of a sign, and points to poor running economy. Nevertheless, you do what you can to push your VO2 up. Then when the
proper economy is restored, that extra VO2 capability will have a chance to shine.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. Ran an errand to our bishop's house later in the evening. Total of  13 miles for the day. 

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

Easy run with Ted this morning at our usual time. Ted ran only 6 - a small, possibly a non-running  foot injury. After dropping him off, did 4x400 on the trail at a more aggressive 5 K pace - all between 77 and 78. Caught the 7:30 guy at the end. Wore the heart rate monitor. It showed that I was asleep - average HR of 118.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon.

Went to see Dr. Jex. My progress had stalled earlier as indicated by the measurements - 20 degree neck curvature and 9 mm forward head tilt - no improvement in over two months after a quick improvement in the first four. I did point out to him that we were going nowhere if we continued to do the same thing. So he came up with a couple of tests to troubleshoot the problem. Turned out that if I wore the shoulder weights on the right shoulder with 8 pounds on the front side and 2 pounds on the back side + Pettibon shoulder strap + the head weights, my neck curvature improves to 35 degrees - the highest we have ever seen it under any conditions by far. In other words, somehow the muscles in the shoulder region restrict the neck. And, according to the Pettibon teachings, whatever improvement you can get on a stress test can be eventually achieved without external means if you can train the muscles to hold that position.

To fix that I will be wearing the shoulder weights along with my head weights now. I did this today - it was quite a sight. The kids really enjoyed it. I've got to take a picture of that - I look like an English knight ready for the battle.

I am excited about this discovery. 35 degrees is within the range of normal. This means, if Pettibon is right, I have a good shot at developing an athletic neck, which is the key to developing an athletic spine everywhere else. Now I feel, after 6 months of somewhat of a windmill fight, we are getting somewhere.

Striders 5K tomorrow. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Race: Striders 5K (3.107 Miles) 00:17:06, Place overall: 7, Place in age division: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Striders 5 K. Drove up to Ogden with Ted. Checked out the first mile of the course in the warmup. Paul's profile was correct. Did some strides. Felt good.

The starting line was full of trouble: Corbin Talley, Bob Thompson, Joe Wilson, Leon (Lion) Gallegos, Steve Ashbaker, Paul Petersen, and a few others. I told Ted earlier this race for me was more of an experimental nature. The goals were:

  • To see how well I could run a 5 K with my current training - mild mileage, mild sporadic tempos, and overall focus on keeping it hard enough not to lose fitness, but mild enough to let the spinal improvements happen.
  • Measure my max heart rate.
  • See how well I do on hills of different grades at VO2 Max effort
  • Be there to grab good circuit points and prize money in case nobody showed up or I had an exceptional race.
  • Grab one circuit point for participation in case I got pushed down low enough to end up dropping this race from the circuit.
  • Be able to add this race to the predictor.
  • Learn enough about the course to evaluate the performance of other runners and offer them meaningful advice.
  • Have fun racing the competition.

The pack was thick going out. Usual contenders. By the mile, Bob, Joe, Corbin, and Leon were in the lead, Paul a bit behind them, then Steve and another runner (need to look up his name) that used to run for Weber State a bit ahead of me. First mile in 5:27, HR at 170. Not bad for the grade. Leon started fading, passed him. 2 K in 7:03. The Weber State runner took it easy on the up, I did not want to take it that easy, passed him. Caught Steve on the down, but then could not stay with him on the immediate up. The Weber State runner passed me. Towards the end of the 0.5 uphill at 6.7% grade near 1.5 I averaged HR of 173 for the quarter, and maxed out at 175. I am thankful for having The Toy to record it. At that point I would not have been able to read it due to fuzzy vision from the effort.

2 miles in 11:18 (5:51). 4 K in 13:54. Finished in 17:05.9 in 7th place. Ahead of me - Corbin won with 16:25, then Bob 16:34, Paul 16:36 (nice breakthrough/comeback), Joe 16:50,Steve 16:53 (good performance, PR equivalent), Weber State graduate 17:00. 5 Fast Running Blogger in the top 10, I am happy about that - Chad finished 10th in 17:55. Three more between 10 and 20 - Ted (ArmyRunner), Scott Browning (NGU Siren), and Cody.

Afterwards, Bill Cobler took us for a cooldown on the 10 K course. It is going to be even hillier than the 5 K one.

Ran with Benjamin in the afternoon.

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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