Breaking the Wall

Heart of Holladay 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:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 103.30 Year: 1747.58
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: 595.71
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Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Easy run with Ted in the morning. 10.04 in 1:09:33. Started out at 7:30 pace, and eventually sped up to 6:20 on the last couple of miles. Then ran with Benjamin and Jenny. A little later with Julia.

Ran to the water park and back in the evening. We played at the water park. 

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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ran the warm-up with Ted from my house. Lots of runners on the trail today and yesterday, a lot more than usual. Thanks to the blog I have an idea why - it is the start of the 18 week training program for St. George. It is my hope that we can do enough education and motivation through the blog that there will not be a significant increase in the number of runners at that particular time period in the near future. One's training patterns should not have to drastically change just because a marathon is 18 weeks a way. I find the mentality of cram training particularly annoying. I often get asked which race I am training for when people find out about how I train. I have been perplexed about that question for a while. I think only now am I beginning to realize the significance of the question. It comes from the mentality of not training most of the time and then taking a plan out of a popular running magazine a few weeks before a race and trying to follow it.

This is like creating a farming plan that begins shortly before the harvest time. Weeds is about all you can harvest that way. Can that mentality ever be broken? Rather than training one magic race we should train to be fit, and when we are, find a race to prove it.

After the warm-up 5x400 on the Provo River Trail with 200 very slow recovery alternating directions at the standard location (1 mile marker of the standard tempo run, which starts at Geneva Road and goes towards the Utah Lake). 74.1 - 73.3 - 71.8 - 72.3 - 69.5. Had a hard time getting started, but felt strong on the last one. Actually was not trying to run it in 69. Again, the splits show that the direction towards the Lake is about 0.5 faster.

Jogged a mile back to Geneva road, and ran the 3 mile tempo. I had two conflicting goals - to run faster with every mile, and to keep the last two miles under 5:30. The conflict was that on that road the second mile under 5:30 would make the third one under 5:30 a challenge for me. Splits by quarter - 1:23 - 1:23 - 1:21 - 1:21 (5:28) - 1:21 - 1:20 - 1:21 - 1:22 (5:24) - 1:22 - 1:22 (13:36 at the turnaround) - 1:23 (from a 180 turn) - 1:18 (5:25), total time 16:17.6. Third mile was hard, but I managed to hold on.

Jogged another mile back to the standard location and did the same 5x400 again. 73.3 - 73.8 - 72.0 - 72.7 - 68.4. Pushed hard on the last one.

Then ran the cool down with Ted. It was not much of a cool down. Ted was chasing the 6:30 guy. I decided not to ruin the party. We averaged 6:24 pace for the last 2.36 miles, and finished the quarter in 1:30.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. 


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Ran at 4:45 AM with Ted. His foot was hurting bad, he turned around after going about 0.6 with me. I was sleepy as usual, but not record sleepy. The punishment of a handwritten dictation has been helping me get to bed on time. Without Ted's help I managed 7:40 pace in the first 4 miles. It was raining, and the rain was cold. That finally woke me up enough to where I wanted the run to be over more than I wanted the comfort and relaxation of a slow pace. So I started speeding up and hit the turnaround (5.02 miles) in 37:38. I've considered catching the 1:10:00 guy, but that would have meant 6:24 average on the way back, and I did not want to go that fast. Then it started hailing. This made me pick it up a bit. I realized that I was going 6:24 pace anyway and decided to keep it. HR at first hovered around 131, then got up to 134. Towards the end I picked it up a bit more to make sure I got the 1:10:00 guy and hit the headwind, this brought HR up to 139. Finished the run (10.04) in 1:09:50. The pace felt quite easy, it was a nice compromise between a recovery run and getting out of the cold fast.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon and a little bit more on my own to reach the goal of 15 total for the day. Benjamin impressed me on his run. We ran the first mile in 8:20. Then he sped up to a bit sub-8:00. With 0.4 to go he told me the pace felt like a jog. I gave him a challenge to catch the 8:00 mile guy. He had 20 seconds to close. His last two quarters were 1:48 and 1:43 with the last mile in 7:31, and the total time of 15:51.

Ate a lot at dinner - three full plates of buckwheat. It felt like the food was being digested the moment I swallowed it. Last time I remember eating like that was back in 1985 when I was 12 at the Znamenskiye track school summer camp in Vyazniki about 200 miles east of Moscow. It was not uncommon for us to train three times a day, and I would go with Oleg Kuleshov who was 16 at that time on his morning runs. We would go about 7.5 miles, and one time we clocked a kilometer on the highway, it was 3:57. So come breakfast time, I was hungry. The cooks called me "the boy that eats a lot".

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Ted was still taking it easy for his foot injury this morning. So I ran alone. Felt sluggish in the warm-up. Ran the first quarter in 2:10 and it felt just right. After 2.4 warm-up ran the progression tempo on the standard 5 mile tempo course. The goal was to start at marathon pace and keep speeding up every mile.

The first quarter did not go so well - 1:29. I figured the body was asleep and pressed harder. Next one in 1:26. I kept the pressure steady and hit 1:24 and 1:23 on the next two. First mile in 5:42. I must have awoken in the last two quarters, I figured, and now needed to ease off a bit on the pressure to keep the pace correct. Did 1:24 - 1:25 - 1:24 - 1:24 for 5:37 on the second mile. Did another quarter in 1:24, then hit some headwind and also used a bit of caution prior to the 180 turn at 2.5. This gave me a 1:26 quarter with 14:09 at the turnaround.

Pressed harder immediately after 180 turn to get into the rhythm quickly. Next two quarters 1:24 and 1:22, 16:55 at 3 miles, third mile in 5:36, still on target for increasing the speed with every mile, even with the 180 turn. Eased off a bit on the pressure, 1:22 was too fast. Next mile consisted of 1:23 - 1:24 - 1:24 - 1:22, total of 5:33. I think the wind played a factor, hurting on the 1:24s and helping on the 1:22.

Now I felt I had the goal in the bag. 5:33 felt hard, but still easy enough to where I could pull off a faster mile even with the uphill. The uphill quarter in 1:24, followed by a 1:23. With half a mile to go I started pressing. Possibly hit some small headwind, next quarter was only 1:23, and it should have been faster. Either that or I was just warn out from the earlier effort. Seeing that, I pressed even harder on the last quarter, and this time watched the pace carefully every 100 meters to make sure I was not slacking. Hit every 100 in 20 seconds, last quarter in 1:20, last mile in 5:30, got my goal, and as a bonus, broke 28:00 with 27:58, and set a new season record for the 2.5 stretch coming back - 13:49.

Cooled down for the total of 10.15 for the run. Ran 0.5 with Julia in the afternoon. She is getting faster on her aerobic runs, we did 5:28 this time.

Ran with Benjamin and Jenny right before dinner. Benjamin is tapering for Heart of Holladay 5 K, so we went only 1.5 and ran it in 13:51 (Benjamin took off on the last quarter and ran 13:42). Afterwards ran another 3.5 with Jacob in the stroller in 24:45 on the trail to Macey's and back. On the way up was going 7:15, on the way back 6:40 with only a slightly higher effort just from getting into the rhythm as the run progressed. The difference between 0.5% grade up and 0.5% down is greatly increased when pushing the stroller.

Untapering for the Heart of Holladay. This will be the most untapered 5 K I have ever run, but this time I have different goals.

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Ted is still nursing his foot. So I ran alone today. Ended up going a bit longer than planned in the morning. There was some police investigation on the Provo River Trail, and a portion of it was blocked. So I had to take a detour that added a mile. Maintained a slightly sub-7:00 pace. HR was very good - hovered between 122 and 125, and reached 126-128 on the uphill sections. The pace felt like true recovery, did not have to mentally strain to do it. Ran a mile at the end fast, around 6:00 pace, HR hit 142.

Did a lot of miscellaneous  running during the day which included the kids run. Reached my goal of 15 total. Heart of Holladay tomorrow. The goal is to run the second mile faster than the first, and the third one which has an uphill within 20 seconds of the second.

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Race: Heart of Holladay 5 K (3.107 Miles) 00:16:42, Place overall: 7
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Heart of Holladay 5 K, 16:42, 7th place.

By the time I reached the starting line I already had 81 miles on the odometer for the week with no day less than 15 since Monday. I was feeling good, but definitely not tuned to run a fast 5 K. The plan was to make it more of a tempo run than an all-out 5 K. Knowing that I would not be able to make a good workout of just one 5 K, I decided to run the course twice. First time, at about a 10 K effort in the first two miles, followed by a hard last mile if I could squeeze anything out of myself at that point. Second time around at a true threshold.

First time around - in the race. The gun went off, and everybody just blasted out of the blocks like there is no tomorrow. I found myself in about 25th place. It took me a good 200 meters to pass Carre Joyce and Bill Cobler. By the mile I worked my way through the pack into 7th place. Teren Jameson was way ahead of everyone, Dennis was in second, and then there was a pack with Nate Hornok, Matt Harmer, Steve Ashbaker, and Josh Steffen. I considered surging to run with the pack, but figured it would destroy the workout possibly without improving the eventual finishing position in the race. First mile in 5:15. The pack was 5:10.

Tried to pick it up on the second mile but still be in control, the pack opened up another 7 seconds on me, I did the next mile in 5:18. Slower than I hoped, but I felt right. Tried to push hard on the last mile. It has a solid hill for the first half, so it is a slow mile. Did OK, although no miracles - 5:33. Did not catch anybody from the pack, in fact all of them pulled away from me except Josh. Tried to kick, there was not much of a kick - 35 seconds for 0.107.

Teren won with 15:00, then Dennis 15:52, Nate 16:02 (breakthrough race), Matt 16:12 - he wants to hit the Qualifier again this year, Steve 16:24, and Josh 16:29.

Walked through the chute to get my tag torn off, and got out as quickly as I could and ran back to find Benjamin. Found him in the middle of a hot race against Alexander Barry. They were in contention for the win in the 11 and under division. Benjamin ended up 4 seconds behind him with a new PR of 22:29. He ran a very smart race all by himself, and took his own splits with a $6 Walmart watch. First mile in 7:05, then 7:11, the uphill mile in 7:31, and the kick in 41 seconds . Add one more second for the standard USATF round-off. This is the average of 7:15 per mile, and an improvement of 2:42 from the last year.

After the finish, found somebody to keep an eye on Benjamin while I was gone, and headed for the second repetition on the course. Started it 30 minutes from the start of the first 5 K. Felt a bit sluggish and some lactic acid leftovers in the first mile - hit it in 5:40. After that, felt better, second mile in 5:28. At first I set a goal for myself to just not get chicked. I apparently overestimated Carre's winning time - I thought she ran around 17:40, while in fact she ran 17:53. Then I saw Cody cooling down around mile 2, and decided to raise the bar - beat his time instead. Fortunately Cody joined me and I had a chance to ask him what his time was - 17:36 (officially 17:37 with the USATF round-off). Felt very strong on the hill and afterwards. Cody helped me with the pace on the half-mile up the hill. Did the uphill mile in 5:40, only 7 seconds slower than in the race. Kicked in 36 seconds to finish in 17:24.8. I suppose the kick was slightly longer as I veered to the side to avoid going through the finish shoot - some walkers were still finishing.

Did some more distance during the award ceremony. Ran with Jenny and Julia when I got home, and added some more. Total of 16 for the day and 95 for the week.

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