Breaking the Wall

SLC Track Club Winter Series 10 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:

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Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 220.24 Year: 560.35
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 640.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 450.37
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Brown Crocs 4 Lifetime Miles: 1334.06
Amoji 1 Lifetime Miles: 732.60
Amoji 2 Lifetime Miles: 436.69
Amoji 3 Lifetime Miles: 380.67
Lopsie Sports Sandals Lifetime Miles: 818.02
Lopsie Sports Sandals 2 Lifetime Miles: 637.27
Iprome Garden Clogs Lifetime Miles: 346.18
Beslip Garden Clogs Lifetime Miles: 488.26
Joybees 1 Lifetime Miles: 1035.60
Madctoc Clogs Lifetime Miles: 698.29
Blue Crocs Lifetime Miles: 1164.32
Kimisant Black Clogs Lifetime Miles: 720.62
Black Crocs 2023 Lifetime Miles: 1312.70
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 26.00Nap Time: 0.01Total Sleep Time: 26.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Got good sleep. Went to church. No nap in the afternoon - was busy with home teaching. Decided to study Bulgarian. Figured it sounds very odd to Bulgarians that a guy with my last name would not be fluent. Like a guy with the last name of Williams not being able to speak English. Sarah joined me. Due to our Russian background we were able to read and understand a lot right away. We read a general conference talk. I kept a version of the same talk open in separate tabs in Firefox in English and in Spanish. I would not have even bothered with the English version, but the Spanish translation omitted a phrase with the Bulgarian version retained. Otherwise, with the help of Spanish, I could understand everything in the Bulgarian version, but Russian and Bulgarian are different enough that I would definitely not have been able to understand it without my cheat sheet.

To me Bulgarian sounded like something spoken by a very drunk Russian. To Sarah it sounded like just like some advanced Russian that she had not yet learned.

Night Sleep Time: 10.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 10.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Another morning of chasing Ded Moroz. We got some new snow. It was slick, but not too bad. First 2 miles were very slow (17:36), after that we were fairly consistently sub-8:00, and even low 7:00 in some really good places. Ran 10.1 with Jeff in 1:19:07, then added 5 more. Total time for 15.1 was 1:59:03.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:24, 1 with Julia in 11:08, 1.75 with Jenny in 17:14, another 0.35 alone in 2:42.

Night Sleep Time: 0.13Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.13
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Slippery roads but not as bad as in the last few days. 1.75 with Sarah in 19:36, then 14.2 alone on the trail in 1:45:47, 7:26.97 average. Much better than the recent Ded Moroz chases.

Got a punching bag yesterday. A little family history about a punching bag. My great-uncle, whose name incidentally is Sasha Pachev as well, lived in a small village near Sukhumi, a town in Abkhazia on the shore of the Black Sea. He had a son. When he went to school at the age of 7 he was getting beat up by older kids. Uncle Sasha solved the problem by getting him a punching bag. Soon enough his son was not getting beat up anymore.

We do have a different purpose for the punching bag, though. I want to see if hitting it might activate my arm muscles, which I hope in turn will result in the improvements in the nervous system in general. It is good for Benjamin as well as he happens to be exceptionally feisty some days.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:44. Jenny joined for the first 1.5 in 13:12. 1 with Julia in 10:48. We saw the BYU team. Somehow all those good looking young men got Julia, who is only 5, thinking about dating. She said to me: "Daddy, what did you do when you were a teenager?" I replied that  I ran. She clarified: "No, that is not what I mean. What kind of girls liked you?"  

Then we went to the Hobble Creek Canyon. The kids were sledding, and I cross-country skied 3 miles. The road was very rough the entire way, however there were a couple of good spots in the parking lot and around it, which gave me a chance to discover that I could skate at a good speed with my new poles. The entire time I did not realize that my old poles were too short. So I never got a good push off from the arms. I just thought my arms were too weak. With the new poles I could skate up a 3% grade and feel strong, while with the old ones I felt like I was going to stall even on a 1% down. I think now I am beginning to understand why I beat everybody in my school, and even in my district, but then got beat by some ridiculous amount in the Moscow championship. In the school and in the district everybody was skiing on whatever they happened to have. In the city championship I was racing serious skiers that had proper gear.

One day I should go to Soldier Hollow and see what I can do a well-groomed course with my new poles.

Ran random errands for 0.4 miles. Afterwards we went to vote. We spent 2 hours in line. Our friends watched our kids. We considered going home to avoid the socks/hand-written Russian dictation punishment for missing the bed-time curfew, but figured that fulfilling our civic duty was a noble exception. We ended up being only 5 minutes late.

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

A.M. Easy 10.1 with Jeff at 5:10 AM in 1:14:19. Ded Moroz was ahead of us in the first 2 miles, but then the road cleared up, and we woke up on top of it, so we caught him quickly and left him in the dust.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:51. She was wondering if we'd see the BYU team on the trail again, but we did not. Then took VanGoGo to Computune to check the power steering system and the coolant leak (another one), and ran from there with Benjamin and Jenny. 2.25 in 19:55. Jenny thoroughly beat the 9:00 girl with Benjamin's encouragement closing the last mile in 8:28. Then 5 more by myself in 36:56. Some slippage on the trail, but a lot less compared to my recent Ded Moroz adventures. A random errand - 0.25 later in the evening.

Night Sleep Time: 0.11Nap Time: 0.01Total Sleep Time: 0.12
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran alone. Uneventful 15.2 in 1:46:13, 6:59.28 avg. The roads were decent, although still quite a bit of snow and ice. But they were decent enough to average sub-7:00. One of those rare special times lately.

P.M. Eventful afternoon. Logistical problem. Tasks: take kids for their runs, take them to the library, retrieve VanGoGo from the car shop, get some running in, and go cross-country skiing. Solution: put the skis and boots in Zhu, take the kids to the library on foot via a scenic route. Sarah picked up Julia at 1.12 mark (12:10). We then continued on to the library with Benjamin and Jenny reaching it in 21:03 (2.03 miles). I continued to Computune (3.05 in 28:29), turned out they found nothing wrong with power-steering, and they could not reproduce the noise that bothered us. I demonstrated the noise, they will be diagnosing it tomorrow. Took VanGoGo to the library, left it there for Sarah, now she had a way of taking them back home, took Zhu to the Provo Canyon, skied 2.5 miles in 27:29, the conditions were not good, either deep snow, or hardly any snow, cannot push off well with the poles.

Also ran a short errand (0.25 miles) later.

Night Sleep Time: 0.13Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.13
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. More snow today. He is getting married in a couple of weeks. As we were talking about it, we noticed that somebody drew a heart on the snow. How appropriate! Dropped Jeff off at 10.1 (1:19:16), and ran some more. Ran into a guy named Drew and joined him. Then we found Tyler, and he joined us. Drew then continued to BYU, and Tyler and I ran to my house. About 15.3 in 2:00:55.

P.M. A warmer evening. Some snow melted. 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny  in 13:00 pushing Jacob in the double stroller. Then 1 mile with Julia in 10:16, and 2.5 alone in 18:03. The last 2.5 were somewhat of a steeplechase without the hurdles, but with a water pit nevertheless. Landed in a big deep puddle of water under the bridges 4 times.

Night Sleep Time: 0.13Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.13
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Race: SLC Track Club Winter Series 10 K (6.214 Miles) 00:32:59, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Raced SLC Track Club Winter Series 10 K in 32:59.6, 3rd place after Aleksander Thomas (31:46.5) and BJ Christensen (32:22.7).

Brought Benjamin and Jenny with me to the race. We picked up Steve Ashbaker on the way as well. Warmed up with Steve and Adam 2 miles. The weather was close to ideal, about as ideal as you can expect it in February - about 34 degrees, 8mph cross-wind which I thought at first was going to be neutral, but it ended up overall favoring the second half.

Benjamin and Jenny were both in the race with the following compensation package from Daddy:

Benjamin (age 8)

  • Appearance fee - $2
  • Bonus for finishing the race - $2
  • Quality time bonus - $1/minute for the gap on the 50:00 guy
  • Competitive bonus - $0.10 for each defeated male competitor, $0.05 for each female

Jenny (age 7)

  • Appearance fee - $2
  • Bonus for finishing the race - $2
  • Quality time bonus - $1/minute for the gap on the 1:00:00 girl
  • Competitive bonus - $0.20 for each defeated male competitor, $0.10 for each female

I knew that given my focus on base and virtually no speed work aside from a few races and tempo pickups, my threshold pace would be very high and would feel very comfortable, but I would not have very much room above it both in the dimension of how much faster I could go, and in how long I could stay there. So the plan was to run threshold pace to 4 miles, and then if I felt good, go into the 10 K race pace misery zone and try to make up some time. I figured the threshold was somewhere around 5:20.

Steve and I worked together from the start. In the first mile there were a couple of guys with us, but they fell back shortly before the mile mark. First mile in 5:20, second in 5:20 as well. 2.5 K in 8:18, 3 K in 9:57, 4 K in 13:18. BJ and Aleksander were around 5:05, and it did appear that Aleksander was pressing the pace while BJ was just hanging on hoping for the best.

Felt some unfriendly wind, but it was not a killer, especially when trading leads. On the third mile the wind picked up, or maybe we just changed the direction a bit to make it more unfriendly. We slowed down to 5:29. I think we slowed down more than we should have, though, because I felt a bit of an easement in the effort. Shortly before the mile marker 3 I moved up and pressed the pace a bit.

16:44 at the 5 K mark. The 5:20 guy is ahead, not good. Oh well, hopefully he would not put too much distance on us. Thinking maybe 33:25 is possible with a strong last mile and if we do not lose focus in the next 2. 20:05 at 6 K, 21:32 at 4 miles. That is an improvement - 5:23 mile with a 180 in the middle. I was encouraged. Saw Benjamin around 19:10 into the race, and Jenny around 20:37. Not enough oxygen to figure out how fast they were going, especially now that Steve started to press the pace and take me right into that 10 K misery zone. However, still enough oxygen to calculate that the 5:20 had 12 seconds on us. That is better, we lost only 3 seconds, and the next mile would have no headwind (hopefully), and no 180 turn.

22:40 with 2 miles to go. 7 K in 23:25. That was 1 K in 3:20, a bit faster than 5:22 pace. Lost some ground on the 5:20 guy, but looks like were are not going to lose any more, Steve is pressing the pace pretty hard trying to lose me. I am experiencing what one could call tepid comfort, like you are sitting in a bathtub, the water keeps getting colder, but the room is even colder than the water so you try to stay in the bathtub for as long as you can. In this case, Steve's back was the bathtub, and he was trying to lower the temperature of the water as much as possible.

7.5 K in 24:59. We are still behind the 5:20 guy, but we are now 1 whole second ahead of the 3:20/km guy, very encouraging! And we closed 5 seconds + gained one in just 500 meters!

5 miles in 26:48. That is progress. The 5:20 guy has only 8 seconds on us. We ran the last mile in 5:16. 1 mile to go - 27:55. I add 5:20 to that, this gives me 33:15 and brings a smile to my face. I know that barring a major disaster I have a 5:20 mile in me with the help of a kick, and 33:15 would give me a 24 second 10 K PR for a non-aided course. But Steve is not happy with that, he keeps pressing. I see Saltair in the distance and it keeps getting bigger fast. I like that.

32:02 at 6 miles. We just ran a 5:14 mile, and we are headed for a very low-33:00. I was just about to open my mouth to share the good news with Steve, but three things precluded me: a) I was out of breath b) it was time to kick c) I realized that there was a remote chance of dipping under 33:00.

So, time to kick. I do not like that. The bathtub was still quite comfortable even though the water kept getting colder and colder. Very appropriately, I had the frozen Great Salt Lake in my view. A kick is like jumping from a lukewarm bathtub into a frozen lake. Steve shifted gears, I am still there, the water got colder, but I am still in the bathtub. If I am going to do my best today, I need to get out of the bathtub. So I reluctantly move alongside Steve with about 250 to go positioning myself for the final dash. My instincts tell me now is the time to strike.

Out of the bathtub! I floored it for about 50 meters knowing that once you get up to speed you can run off the momentum for a while even if the anaerobic bear jumps on your back. Steve did not respond. I am approaching the clock. It says 32:52, 32:53... I was already satisfied with the race, and felt like just coasting to the finish, but somewhere deep inside me there came an urge to break 33:00. It worked against my will. I felt the finish line pulling me towards it, except my legs had to do the work to accomplish the pull. I leaned forward right as a crossed the finish line to make sure I would get every fraction of a second available to me. 32:59.6 official time, a 40 second PR for a non-aided course. 57.6 from 6 miles to the finish, that is a 67 second quarter speed! This is a 4 second PR for the 10 K kick! Last mile in 5:04, last 2 miles in 10:19, last 3 K in 9:34, and last 5 K in 16:15! PR for the last mile of a race 5 K or longer with the exception of Alta, PR for the last 5 K of a 10 K I think even if you count the last 5 K of Magna. And all of that from pretty much pure base!

Steve had a great race as well finishing in 33:02.0 with a new 50 second non-aided course PR.

Immediately after we finished we ran back to meet Benjamin and Jenny. Steve paced Benjamin while I paced Jenny. Benjamin finished in 45:38.8 with the splits of 22:27 - 23:11, 58th place out of 230 finishers, and earned a total of $21.80. Jenny finished in 53:06.4, 111th place, having chicked 67 out 141 men. I hope getting chicked by a 7 year old girl running her first 10 K would give them a reason to get on the Fast Running Blog and start training better. Jenny did a negative split of 26:50 - 26:16 with the last mile in 8:01. She earned $29.49.

Note that Benjamin runs only 2 miles a day, while Jenny runs only 1.5. But they do it 6 days a week. No longer runs. Their longest training run is when our cars needs attention and we run 2.25 from or to the car shop. And this fortunately does not happen often enough to have any lasting training effect. Nevertheless, with this kind of training they are able to not just finish a 10 K but race it and hold their own in the closing miles. What this tells me is that the frequency of the runs plays a very important role in building endurance, and a decent level of endurance can be built when the frequency is good even if the length is lacking.

FRB had a decent showing, with Adam Wende taking 5th place in 34:33.0, James Barnes 9th in 36:08.0, Terry Bean 11th overall and winning the masters in 37:46.4, and Tom Lee running not only a huge 10 K PR, but beating his possibly short course 5 K PR time from last summer doubled by 12 seconds with 38:39.7, 16th overall and 2nd master. A number of other runners set PRs and won or placed high their age divisions.

P.M. Ran 11.7 miles in 1:27:35, met a runner named Austin, a BYU student, ran with him for a while. Also ran a mile with Julia in 11:18 later in the evening.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 26.00Nap Time: 0.01Total Sleep Time: 26.00
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