Breaking the Wall

Provo City Half

Previous WeekRecent EntriesHomeJoin Fast Running Blog Community!PredictorHealthy RecipesSasha Pachev's RacesFind BlogsMileage BoardTop Ten Excuses for Missing a RunTop Ten Training MistakesDiscussion ForumRace Reports Send A Private MessageMonth ViewYear View
Graph View
Next Week
15% off for Fast Running Blog members at St. George Running Center!


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:

Click to donate
to Ukraine's Armed Forces
Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 0.00 Year: 948.94
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
Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 20.10Saucony Type A Miles: 30.45
Night Sleep Time: 30.25Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 30.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. Spoke in the Sacrament meeting on missionary work. This gave me a chance to notice that  speaking at the pulpit is a lot easier than taking care of the kids. 6:00 pace feels like a break after 5:00.

Ate a lot of mashed potatoes for dinner. Have noticed in the past that I feel an infux of energy from mashed potatoes when training hard. Makes sense. Starch is very easy to absorb, and it is not sweet, so it is easy to eat a lot of it.

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

A.M. Ran with Daniel, Mary Ann, and Jeff. It was slippery, so we ran slow. 1:22:17 for 10.1. There were a couple of dry stretches, did explosions there.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 19:41. Julia ran the first 1.5 in 15:03. 2 miles in 16:39 with Benjamin.

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

A.M. Ran with Jeff, Daniel, and Mary Ann. We did our usual Tuesday magic, except with a new twist. An interval of unknown length. For the first 1.25 Jeff and I act as Mary Ann's treadmill trying to hit 5:20 pace on the dot. If she falls behind, she is off the treadmill. Then this time Jeff's target was 4:48 pace to failure after that instead of 4:40. For me, try to stay with Jeff to failure.

We did 1.25 in 6:40 with near perfect pacing. The only quarter split that was off was 0.5, we were 1 second ahead. Otherwise, I checked the split at every 1/16th mark and we never varied by more than 1 second. Mary Ann fell off the treadmill at 0.75, but still finished 1.25 in 6:46.

Then Jeff was my treadmill. We did the next quarter in 73, and I fell off 100 meters later finishing 1.5625 miles in 8:12. Jeff, being the fastest, did not have a virtual pacing treadmill. He did  three 74 quarters after that. Amazing. He can hold 78s at the end of a 20 miler for 3 miles, but cannot hold 73s even for a mile after running 5:20 pace for as little as 1.25. Yet he can hold 70s for 1 mile without a 1.25 tempo prior to it. Next thing we'll try is 5:20 pace for 1.25 then 0.5 all out.

Then Mary Ann caught up to me, and we could not find Jeff for a while. When we finally did, I quoted a scripture out of the Book of Mormon: " speedy was the flight of Kishkumen that no man could overtake him" (Helaman 1:10).

Then Mary Ann said she felt she wanted to run fast. So we paced her through a mile in 5:57, and then later she still was not done, so we ran the last 0.75 in 4:29.

Total distance was 11.35.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 17:48, Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:26, last 0.5 in 3:55, almost half mile PR for her. Then 2 with Benjamin in 17:28.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.1 alone easy early in the morning in 1:19:39. Did explosions.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:41. Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:11. Then 2 with Benjamin in 15:48.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 6.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.75
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran a little later in the morning because Jeff and Kimia went to the temple on an early assignment. Ran with Jeff and Mary Ann. Benjamin and Jenny joined us on bikes for a part of it. Sarah was supposed to pick them up fairly early, but due to a miscommunication  they ended up staying with us longer, and we also ended up running longer, total of 12.75.

We warmed up 2.62, then Jeff and I did The Interval. I think I'll call it that for lack of a better name. I am starting to think that perhaps doing several aerobically targed intervals is a waste of distance. I will argue that the aerobic system is not fully engaged for about the first 5 minutes of the interval if the rest is more than a 200 meter jog. Here is why. I will use an example for simplicity of illustration. Suppose I am to run a mile interval in 5:10 at a steady pace. At the start my HR is around 100. After the first quarter it is maybe 150. At half mile it will climb to 160. Then close to the end of the interval it may get up to 165. If I keep going it will stabilize around 168.

So my aerobic requirements to sustain 5:10 pace require an HR of 168. It means, in other words, that in order to run 5:10 I need at least as much energy as my heart can give at that rate. So if I run 5:10 pace at a lower heart rate, then I need to make up for the balance of energy that is not coming from the heart. By definition that is anaerobic energy. I could actually care less if it is aerobic or anaerobic after all. I should be using different terms. Sustainable and unsustainable. For the first five minutes of any interval I will be practicing using unsustainable energy.

So I need to keep it longer. And if I stop, then I will have to waste another 5 minutes of the next interval in the unsustainable energy development zone. That is 5 minutes of high intensity running that stresses out the nervous system without developing long race specific sustainable energy adaptations. So then just run all of it at once.

So we did The Interval. A little different today. I wanted to measure how fast Jeff could run half a mile off 5:20 pace. We did 1.25 in 6:40 evenly paced, no more than 1 second off at any point. Having a mark every 100 meters really helps. Benjamin rode along with us for that part. Then Jeff just floored it and I tried to hang on. I fell back a bit before the quarter and finished it in 66 seconds, 7:46 for 1.5. I was happy with that. Jeff finished the last half mile in 2:10. I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely some food for thought.

I jogged until Benjamin caught up to me, then I felt very good after 200 meters of jogging, so to reduce Jeff's wait I picked up in the next 200 and ran it in 41 seconds. We ran a long and adventurous cool down, ran into Adam in the process, borrowed his cell phone, eventually reached Sarah, and she picked up Benjamin and Jenny, then we ran home.

More thoughts on The Interval. The original purpose was to teach Jeff to run his dream 5 K pace starting immediately with a high HR. But I think it has a pleasant side effect. You are running 5:20 pace thinking all the time that it is going to get faster. So subconsciously you try to conserve. But the triangle marks on the trail force you to keep the pace regardless. So you have only one choice - learn to run it more economically. I wonder if that is what happened to us, now 5:20 pace is easy enough for Jeff to run a half mile in 2:10, and for me to run a quarter in 66 after 1.25. If so, this idea deserves quite a bit of attention. The number one reason to do tempo runs is to learn to run economically at race pace. We do not do those for aerobic development. They are too short. The focus is neurological adaptations.

So maybe something like this for a tempo run. A mile and a quarter half-marathon pace, then a quarter really fast, then a quarter at marathon pace to recover, then back to half marathon pace for a mile, another quarter hard, then a quarter at marathon pace to recover, then keep repeating the cycle until you cannot do the hard quarter more than 5 seconds faster than the half-marathon pace. This way you learn to be economical at long race paces, get some speed in the legs, learn to surge, and learn to kick. It needs to be continuous, though. Jogging in between is good for a top-end leg power workout, but not for building long race stamina.

A 200 meter jog in between long intervals in essence is a lip service to the gods of interval training,  or another words an attempt to sit on two chairs at once. It will work for building 5 K and longer race stamina better than a longer jog, but the most effective is to do one long interval with strategically varying pace, the pace never being slower than marathon race pace.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:46, Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:14. 2 with Benjamin in 17:41.

Saucony Type A Miles: 12.75
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff, Mary Ann, Matt, and Ben Crozier. Needless to say we had live entertainment the entire run. Matt went his own way at around 6.25, dropped Ben and Mary Ann off at 7.75, then Jeff and I finished 10. With a quarter to go I saw that 6:00 would give me 1:20:00, so we ran that and finished in 1:20:00.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:54, Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:18, then 2 with Benjamin in 17:12.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Add Comment
Race: Provo City Half (13.11 Miles) 01:15:29, Place overall: 5
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Provo City Half, 1:15:29, 5th place.

Warmed up 3.3 to the race, some of it with Seth Wold. He was running the 5 K, but that did not make things much easier in the half.

Coming into the race I expected to have very minimal chances for prize money. On one hand I am still not 100% recovered from the ear infection. On the other hand the economic decline is pushing more runners to race for money, so the races are more competitive.

Some race directors use the phrase "a chance to win" in reference to prize money. I just have to take a jab at that, too tempting to pass it by. Read my lips, there is no chance unless you are very very fit. And once you are, it is not a chance, it is a certainty. The race is 95% decided before it starts. This should be obvious, but many people still do not quite get it.

When a runner is perpetually out of shape, he once in a while experiences "miraculous" breakthroughs, gets 10-20 minute PRs, and beats people that he could never beat. Because of those experiences he thinks he might have a chance. But a consistent runner knows better, or at least should know better. If you've seen no signs of better fitness in training, it is very unlikely that they will magically appear in a race. If they do, usually no miracle happened. The runner or his coach just do not quite know how to read the training.

I say "usually" because I believe Moroni 7:35 "...has the day of miracles ceased?" Miracles do happen today. I have seen a few. But they do not happen on a whim. God has to have a purpose to make it happen. We have to have the faith to back up the purpose. We have to understand the purpose and be sufficiently humble in asking for it. When it comes to running, it would serve us well to understand the natural laws behind running fast and follow them first before asking for a miracle that will allow us to run faster than what we have currently earned through training. Even when the result fits with His plan, God rarely intervenes with His powers until we have exhausted our abilities.

So at the start we had Jeff, Nick, and Shin, plus there was a rumor of Mike Vick, so I was not wrong in my expectations. They say there is more than one way to skin a cat. Today I was going to be the cat to be skinned, and I had a choice on the method. I could run evenly paced, run 1:14, and get nothing. Or I could go out hard until failure, then coast in, run 1:15, and still get nothing. I chose the latter because I wanted a better view of the leaders.

The weather was not great, but could have been worse. My slowest mile was 6:02 into a headwind. Not sure how this compares with last year. Headwind is very deceptive. Hard gusts are fairly harmless compared to a fairly mild but steady blowing. Direct headwind is much worse than cross-wind, but it is hard to tell which one you are getting and when. The only way to judge the conditions is empirically by comparing performances, but we do have a curve ball there. Jeff is in better shape and ran tactically, Nick has not run a long race in a while, Shin ran a marathon 2 weeks ago, Mike has not run a long race in a while, and started late in this race, who knows what kind of shape I am in, and Mary Ann is in better shape.  The only thing I can say that the conditions did not make the race faster.

Iain Hunter came to be a volunteer rabbit for the first few miles. The first mile marker came in 5:00, and the consensus was that it was short. Iain's GPS said 5:09, Mary Ann's GPS said the mile marker was 7 seconds too short. I can believe 5:07-5:09 based on the effort. 2 miles came in 10:22, and the marker was painted on the road, so I believe it. At that point, we had Iain pacing, then Nick, Jeff, and Shin. I thought the finish order would be Jeff, Nick, Shin, and me. I was not aware that Mike was actually in the race.

12:00 into the race my legs started getting tired even though my breathing was fine, the realization of the misery of running hard 10 miles after racing a 5 K began to enter my mind, and I decided 10:22 for 2 miles was good for today. So I backed off. So did Iain. I asked him to pace me, and he did. 3 miles in 15:59, 15:53 for the leaders. They backed off as well as the headwind began to pick up.

At this point I was done with the speed portion of my workout and now I had three purposes of running further: a) flash the blog shirt at the finish b) get in a long tempo and c) retrieve my clothes that were in Seth's car.

Iain bailed out at 4 miles (22:41), then I coasted through a mile in 5:59 into a headwind, 27:40 at 4. Then 5.5 the rumor of Mike materialized. Turned out he had started late. I decided one more interval would be good to do my legs in. So I followed him. He was going about 5:20 into a headwind. I made it with him to 6 miles in 33:21 and my legs said, no, time for a break. So I slowed down to 6:00. Mike just kept going. At this point I knew the correct finish order: Jeff, Nick, Mike, Shin, then me. Poor Shin, I thought, hard race, no money. But he is OK, he owns a company in Orem, he can handle that.

The rest of the race was rather uneventful. I did a 6:02 mile into a strong headwind, and after that ran slightly sub-6:00. Tried to pick up at the end, but the legs were tired from the "intervals" earlier.

Jeff gave Nick a surprise in the last mile. Surprise for Nick, that is, but we already knew that Jeff had that surprise in him from his training. 5:03 turning it on only about a quarter into it. 20 second gap in less than one mile. Jeff, as humble as he is, asked me if that mile was maybe short. I told him, no, the marks were painted, I ran it in 5:51, Nick ran it around 5:20, it was correct.

1:10:38 for Jeff, new course record, $350 cash plus a watch of supposedly high value, but in practice difficult to sell, maybe that is why it is being given as a prize, the jewelry store gets some advertising in exchange for unwanted merchandise. Plus a dinner for two for the course record, an impromptu bonus from the race director. Not bad for running the race tactically as proven in the last mile. Then Nick 1:10:58 ($100), Mike 1:12:04($50) gun time, who knows what would have happened had he started on time, but starting on time is part of the race rules. Then Shin 1:13:00 ($0), and me 1:15:29 ($0).

1:19:51 for Mary Ann, new course record by almost 2 minutes, she lived up to her last name again pouring a shower of hammers on her competition and winning the race by almost 12 minutes.

Both Jeff and Mary Ann PR'ed in the cash department winning more than they ever have in one race, and both needed that PR in this economy.

Even though I got outclassed from the money, I feel happy because Jeff and Mary Ann did so well. This year I am learning how to be equally happy about the success of my training partners as if it were my own.

We hurried to get Jeff's award, then found Seth, got my clothes out of his car, then cooled down 1.3 to my house barely in time for the General Conference.

P.M. Busy afternoon and evening, went to the Conference Center to do the backup for the Russian translation. Then Priesthood session in the evening. So kids ran around the block, Benjamin 2.1 in 15:42, Jenny ran 2 miles with Sarah,  Julia 1.05 miles.

Saucony Type A Miles: 17.70
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 20.10Saucony Type A Miles: 30.45
Night Sleep Time: 30.25Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 30.75
Debt Reduction Calculator
Featured Announcements
Lone Faithfuls
(need a comment):
Recent Comments: