Breaking the Wall

Week starting May 21, 2006

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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: 16.05 Year: 1637.99
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: 14.04
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Decided to try Paul's magic ladder today. Went to the Provo Canyon. Usual warm-up routine including a mile with ankle weights. Then the workout - all downhill at about 1% grade or so. Jogged 200 meters back for recovery between all intervals except 400 between the 1000s to get a bit more rest, and to end up in a more convenient place on the trail. There was a moderate tailwind. Last 200 was actually a slight uphill, and last 400 probably half up and half down. Others did not have siginficant uphill sections. 200 (34.5) - 400 (67.9) - 600 (1:45.3) - 800 (2:22.8) - 1000 (3:01.1) - 1000 (2:59.6) - 800 (2:23.8) - 600 (1:47.3) - 400 (69.5) - 200 (31.4). It definitely felt anaerobic, but not the extreme anaerobic experience, not quite like racing a mile. However, I have to say that compared to a 4:48 pace, 4:56 feels like a jog. Ran with Benjamin and Jennifer when I got back. Then put on ankle weights, and went to see a local client. Stayed at the office all day, but did my always on the run. Total of 13 miles for the day. This Saturday I am running in Magna 5 K. Mike Kirk is running in it too. The course is very fast. The net elevation drop is about 1.2% I believe. However, the first half is a very high quality downhill on 8400 W - you can really get a good bang for your buck there. Afterwars it is a slight up, then a very quick abrupt down at about 2.5 miles, and then a very subtle down to the end. I strongly recommend everyone who can possibly get there to run it. The course has been properly measured, it is on the circuit, prize money goes 5-deep, so you will see some good competition. I also have it on my predictor, and it is one of the better-analyzed races, so you will be able to estimate your current condition very accurately. The race starts at 8:00 AM around 41st South and 84th West in Magna. You can fill out a form online at For more info, call Demetrio at 288-9555.

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Ran with Eric and George in the morning. George had already run some, so we dropped him off early. Did a "bio break" acceleration at marathon pace. Then took Eric on his tempo run. He set a record for the Slate Canyon Loop (2.11) (14:28). Dropped him off, put on ankle weights, did 45s slow/15s fast for a mile in 6:57. Cheated and started the fast part early (with 100 to go) to be sub-7:00. Last 100 in 18 seconds.

Took off ankle weights, and ran a tempo Slate Canyon loop in 12:25. The pace felt abnormally good even on the uphill section until I hit some headwind. Afterwards, even after I turned and there was no noticable headwind, the pace stopped feeling abnormally good.

This led me to some thinking. I've had two races this year in which I underperformed relative to competition - Moab half-marathon, and the BYU Robison Invitational 5000 meters. Both had signficant headwind. Of course, you should expect to run slower with headwind, but I slowed down more than the peer group of consistent runners I am tracking. There is clearly a weakness. I do not have any reliable historical data of running into a headwind for myself, so I cannot tell at this point if this problem has been around for a while, or if it something new. My current working theory is that the weakness is in my ability to regain rhythm after a break when fatigue sets in - I have noticed it could take me as long as half a mile to get back to normal speed when I am fatigued after a 180 turn. Sometimes it happens when I am even not that fatigued. This could have something to do with my threshold being very close to my VO2 Max. One thing I know is that takes a lot of mental focus for me to run even a quarter at my threshold pace. I remember feeling very confused about how to run in both of those high wind races.

Later in the morning ran 2 miles with Benjamin and Jennifer. They both are going to race in the Harrington Memorial 5 K in American Fork on the Memorial Day (May 29). This will be Jennifer's first 5 K. Initially, I did not want her to run it, but she has my genes - a persistent red head. With Sarah being pregnant and Jennifer's "monster" speed, Jennifer's participation gave us a challenge to find her a pacer since I'll be tied up with Bejamin. Fortunately, George agreed.

Since Jennifer had never run more than 1.5 miles at once before, I was a little concerned about her ability to run a 5 K, and decided to give her a practice 2 mile run today. She did a lot better than I expected. Her assignment was to run the first mile in 10:00, and then try to accelerate on the second mile if she felt good. She ran the first one in 9:33, and the second in 8:49, with the last 400 in 2:00, and last 200 in 56. With the ankle weights, and pushing Julia in the stroller, I started feeling something during her kick myself.

Wore the ankle weights the whole day, and did always on the run. Total of 13.2 miles for the day.

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Difficult day today, but managed to fit in the miles. The speed workout had to be done early as usual. Just wanted to do 2x0.75 miles near my house on very mild rolling hills at 5 K pace. However, for some reason, I can never run fast on that road. It does not seem like it rolls that much, and I have measured the distance several times to make sure it is accurate.

Figured it would help to do a couple of quarters at that effort first to warm up, as early as it was. Did them in 79, and 77. Then a 0.75 in 3:53, and the next one in 3:52. Then I di d not feel quite done yet, and did 2x0.5 in 2:35.5, and 2:35.1. Jogged some more to make it 9 miles for the whole run.

Legs felt a little funny after wearing ankle weights for two days in a row. Decided to give them a break today.

Then went to the temple, and then straight to see a client in American Fork. Got home after 6pm, did my always on the run mile with ankle weights (finally!), ate dinner, then ran with Benjamin and Jennifer. Dropped them off, did some more running with a double stroller and Julia and Joseph in it. 7:00 pace felt good with it in street clothes (T-shirt and long pants), good sign. The stroller has new unpunctured and properly inflated tires, which makes a big difference. Wondered what my threshold pace would be with it, and picked it up a bit on a quarter to feel it. 1:29, 5:56 pace. About 6 months ago, I tried a 5 K pace effort with the same stroller, but flat tires, and a slightly higher weight (Jennifer and Julia) and could only get 6:30 pace. I am in better shape now, but maybe 5 seconds per mile or so.

Some improvement on the dream front. Seemed like a big one - I was in the lead of the Boston marathon with nobody around me. However, after I've thought about it for a while, I realized it was only a weak attempt of the mind to get to where it is supposed to be. The race looked more like a smaller marathon. There was no police escort, the crowd was too small for Boston, there were no sub-5:00 splits, and the pace felt way too slow and easy, more like 5:40. So the mind was saying "win Boston", but not doing "win Boston". It got directions to shape up to believe I could run fast, but it attempted a shortcut to execute or rather circumvent those directions.

I am now beginning to understand the experience I had before Richmond 2003 marathon. I prayed to know what to do, and felt the impression to go out with Elly Rono until the pace felt so fast that I did not think I'd be able to finish a marathon if I continued any further. I did exactly that - fortunately, Elly took a while to warm up. We did 5:39, 5:24, and then 5:20 up a slight grade. I backed off in the middle of the 4th mile, stayed at 5:30 pace up to mile 15, PRed on a flat half marathon (1:12:09), and then gradually eased into a premature cooldown to finish in 2:31:45 taking 7th. I am now understanding the importance of that exercise. Sometimes (maybe always?) your mind needs to make a breakthrough before your body does. You need to have "dream" races where you go out with somebody out of your league, and hang in there until you puke to get your mind to want to be there. Then somehow your mind starts sending constant signals to your body to change, and if it does so for long enough, and you back it up with proper training and recovery, the physical change eventually happens.

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Another crazy day. I have way too many clients now, and am trying to figure out a way to have other programmers help me. This is a challenge - I have very little experience managing other people. But this could be a good thing - once I get the hang of it, I hopefully will be able to train more while the business mostly takes care of itself. However, in order to get there, I need to get really good at delegating, or quite the opposite will happen.

Starting to taper for Magna. Only 10 miles today. Ran a bit with Eric and George on the foothills, and then did some tune-up speed. 0.5 miles in front the house in 2:33.6, and then a quarter in 1:17.5 trying to get a better feel for my 5 K pace. It feels weird - I want to relax and run 5:20-5:25 pace, which would feel a lot more comfortable. Hopefully having competition in the race will help me wake up and bring myself to put up with the 5 K pain.

Ran with Benjamin and Jennifer, and did a little bit of always on the run in between work. Benjamin is in great shape - I had him do 0.5 at what felt like an aggressive 5 K pace, and he hit 3:45 running hard but well in control. This is very good - he did this alone. In competition, he really sees red and is literally on fire. He really likes to be able to say "this guy with legs almost as tall as I was right next to me, but I put on a Benjamin surge and dropped him for good".

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More tapering for Magna. Jogged two Slate Canyon loops with Eric, then did some tune-up speed. Did a couple of accelerations at 5 K pace to accomodate for the "bio break". First, measured anaerobic threshold by feel. Hit the control 0.5 in 2:42.5, and it felt very very good. I do not recall 5:25 pace feeling that good on that section ever before. Then did a probe for a 5 K pace on the same stretch. 0.5 in 2:32.6, and it felt aggressive - I had to concentrate hard to make it happen. Now this could explain why it is so hard for me to push the 5 K pace - anaerobic threshold is so close, and so inviting, like a soft warm bed at the end of a hard day. What is the solution? Probably not to worry about it, and just keep doing what brings the threshold up. I do not mind developing Alberto Salazar syndrome at all - 57 seconds on a quarter, 4:01 mile, and 13:20 5 K. A slowdown of only 7 seconds per quarter from 400 m sprint to 5 K pace. If I did that, I'd be running my 5 K in 13:51. I do not really need a true 5 K speed development, I am just concerned that the lack of 5 K speed creates a barrier for the threshold. The question is how to avoid this being a barrier, and it is an open question right now. Ran a mile with ankle weights. Later in the morning ran with Benjamin and Jennifer. Jogged a mile with Joseph and Julia in the stroller in the evening. Salt Lake Marathon has put its half-marathon and 5 K back on the circuit. I definitely do not need another marathon at this point, especially in hot conditions. I figured I did not want to run the half either for a number of reasons. However, 5 K sounds good - gives me some 5 K practice, plus hopefully good circuit points with everybody now spread around among three races. So I decided to do it. The Salt Lake Marathon web site says: Not ready to run a marathon? Then get involved in the race by joining thousands of other runners and walkers in the 5K!. Well, that will officially be my reason...

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Magna 5K. 15:35, 5th place. Headwind on the downhill stretch made the times slow. Teren Jameson won with 14:45, then Joe Wilson 15:14, Dennis Simonaitis 15:16, and Corbin Talley 15:24. I barely escaped the jaws of a lion trying to eat me for lunch and take my precious $20 of prize money away from me - Nate Hornock was 6th with 15:40.

With the headwind on the first 1.7 or so downhill stretch, the plan was clear. Hang in with the non-Teren big boys until I puke. Then if Nate, Mike Kirk, or Steve Ashbaker are around, trade leads with them.

Teren took off very fast, there was a pack of curious runners that I suppose just wanted to see for a couple of minutes what it feels like to run in the lead pack, then as it usually happens, the position got settled according to the level of fitness. Teren battling the wind on his own, then Joe, Corbin, Dennis, and myself trying to catch a ride. It started hurting right away, but I decided to run with them until it would become physically impossible.

Joe felt good and broke away. I stayed with Dennis and Corbin. Mile 1 in 4:40. Around 1.5 we reeled Joe in, and he joined us. Mile 2 in 5:01. I am still with the big boys, and the bigger boy (Teren) is still visible enough to take his splits. Then about 11 minutes into the race the lions began to roar as they prepared to divide their lunch. I set a goal to hang with them until 12 minutes into the race. At 11:47 it became physically impossible for me to stay with them and I got dropped.

Then I tried to survive. 3 miles in 15:06 ( 5:25), and I heard loud breathing behind me. This has to be Nate, and it means trouble. He has a kick. At first I thought let him have $20, but then I said no way and gave it all I had like an antelope fleeing from a lion to safety. I made it!

Ran a bit more, then ran with Benjamin and Jennifer at home, then a little more with Julia and Joseph in the stroller. 15 miles for the day.

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