Breaking the Wall

Rangar Wasatch Back Relay

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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


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Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 12.00 Year: 1930.97
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: 567.20
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Standard 10.04 + untimed bathroom detour in the morning. Ran a bit faster than 7:00, threw in a tempo on the standard 2.5 stretch coming back. On the tempo felt sluggish, the pace did not feel strenuous, but I did not feel like going faster than 5:45 on the first mile. Then something got into me and I started getting excited, after the first mile in 5:45, I did a quarter in 1:25, followed by a 1:23. Decided to break 5:30 on the last mile figuring I was almost going the right pace already. Next uphill quarter in 1:23, followed by another partially uphill in 1:23. With 0.5 to go saw that I had a remote shot of catching the 14:00 guy. Next quarter in 1:22. Then saw that with a 1:19 quarter I could catch him. The legs responded to the challenge, ran a 1:17, got 13:58, and 5:25 for the last mile. For me this is very significant, I often cannot kick more than a second or two above pace.

I was particularly happy about the last 100 in 18 seconds, I think that is the best tempo run kick time this year so far. I felt I was able to power through the foot-stuck-to-the-ground phase better. I have been struggling with this problem since my teenage years - the foot lingers on the ground probably an extra 0.05 of a second, and it seems like there is nothing I can do about it. This is probably why my sprint falls short of my ten-fold jump by so much.

Finished the run in 1:06:16. Ran with the kids as soon as I got home. Then in the evening for our Monday night Family Home Evening activity we threw a tennis ball. Julia did 4 meters, Jenny 6 meters, Benjamin 14 meters, same as his softball throw, that answered my question about how the two compare for an 8 year old kid, Sarah threw 19 meters, and I did 29. Now here is the odd part:

At the age of 11 I could only throw 20 meters. My male classmates threw 30 on average, and the best of them threw 40. It bothered me that I was so far behind. During the summer I went to our school's stadium and practiced time and again, but with no improvement, stuck at 20 meters. Then something happened a couple of months later. With no practice I was throwing 30. My 60 meter sprint improved from 11.3 to 9.7. My fighting ability improved, which at least at that time in a Soviet school was a very important skill for a boy. And I won the school 500 meter race in 1:45, which gave me the encouragement to sign up at the Znamenskiye track school.

So figuring that now I that I was bigger, I should be able to throw a bit better than what I did at 12, I was expecting it to be 35-40 meters. After a number of tries, and finally getting a reasonably decent technique, which a thrower would probably laugh at, but I doubt was any worse than my 12 year old one, I was right there at my 12 year old result.

Ran about 0.3 chasing Benjamin home, and then went for a very leisurely 3 mile run, about 7:50 pace. Met another runner. His name is Jeff McMclallan. He is planning to join me on Thursday.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Ran Provo River 5 Mile Tempo with Nick McCombs. The plan was to go out at marathon pace, and if we (mostly I) felt good, speed up to my threshold. Splits by 0.5 - 2:52 - 2:47 (5:39) - 2:50 - 2:49 (5:39) - 2:50 (14:08) - 2:42 (5:32) - 2:47 - 2:46 (5:32) - 2:44 (0.5% grade up on the first 0.3) - 2:41 (1:22,1:19) (5:25) - total time 27:47, last 2.5 in 13:39, this is a repeat of the best time of the season, except it was done earlier at threshold effort all the way with the splits of 13:50 - 13:57.

Afterwards, 4x200 with 200 recovery. We picked a bad stretch, the second half of it had a noticeable rise, about 0.3%, maybe even 0.5%. 34.9 - 33.3 - around 33 - missed the mark - 32.6.

Total of 10.7 for the run. 5:39 felt relaxing, 5:32 felt comfortably hard, 5:28 uphill and afterwards felt uncomfortably hard, and 5:16 on the last quarter felt closer to a near death experience but not quite there yet.

Ran with the kids in the evening, and added some more. VanGoGo has been fussy getting started, so I took it to Computune to make sure it does not let the team down at the Wasatch Back Relay.

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New training partner this morning. Yes, I managed to talk somebody into running with me at 4:45 AM. His name is Brent Larsen. He is returning to running after a long break. So we took it very easy, 5.03 in 43:36. Then I added another 4.99 and ended up with 10.02 in 1:19:44. Felt glycogen depleted, afterwards was eating honey sandwiches like crazy. No signs of the simple sugar roller coaster with that much honey. I take this as an indicator of very low glycogen levels.

Ran again in the evening. First 0.5 with Julia, then 2 mile with Jenny and Benjamin, Jenny ran the first mile, and then rode back in the stroller. Found Nick McCombs on the trail, he joined us. Benjamin decided to show off his speed, and ran the last mile in 7:07 to catch the 8:00 guy progressively increasing the pace. His last two quarters were 1:45 and 1:40. I counted his turnover at 7:00 pace - only 200! You would think a little kid would have to turn over a lot quicker to run this pace, but his stride is very wide at high speeds.

Then followed Nick almost all the way to BYU, and came back. Tomorrow I am officially starting my one day training program for Wasatch Back Relay! 

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First day of my special one day program to prepare for the Wasatch Back Relay. For those without sense of humor or understanding of the context. I am trying to poke fun at the popular trend to follow cram-style training plans to prepare for races. Aside from the fact that preparation for a long race cannot happen within a short period of time, the magic plan is not what does the job. If you are currently running 20 miles a week or less, if you can threw those plans a way, and just gradually increased the mileage based on how you feel week after week training as frequently as possible (ideally 6 days a week if the time allows) at a comfortable pace, you would get much better results. However, one-sentence plans are not marketable, therefore they are not given in popular running publications.

Ran with Nick McCombs and Jeff McClellan. We did a very leisurely warm-up, and then 6x400 with 400 recovery on the standard 400 meter stretch going towards the lake, which is a faster direction. Either direction is slower than the track because whichever way you go, there are small rises and drops, probably 1 seconds slower than the track towards the lake, and 1.5 slower the other way.

Splits - 72.4 - 68.9 - 69.1 - 68.9 - 67.4 - 64.0. The first one felt hard. The second felt harder. The third felt more relaxed, the fourth more like the third. The fifth felt just like the fourth even though it was faster. And the last one felt the best. Since Nick and Jeff have more speed, I let them do the work and drafted behind them. Then with 200 to go I wanted to pick it up, but there was not enough room on the trail and I was too lazy to do maneuvers to pass them, so I just told them to speed up. I did not feel like I was pushing the limits of my speed until the last 100, and I did not feel the lactic bear attack at all, rather I felt limited by my ability to turnover period when I did feel the limit.

Something magic happened to me from running with Nick and Jeff. At first, I was feeling slow, having them around almost did not make a difference. But then as the workout progressed I felt like I started to learn how to pull my foot off the ground quicker, and all of a sudden the fast pace started feeling a lot more bearable. I remembered a workout I did back in 2001 with the BYU track team. After a 1600 in 4:51, then 800 in 2:23, and 400 in 66 - all with full rest, I tucked myself into a pack to run the last 400 repetition. To my surprise, I ran a PR of 60 seconds, and it did not feel like a 100% all out 400, it felt more like just another repeat! It seems almost like the faster guys set the rhythm, and under the right conditions (not always by all means, this happens under special conditions) I can respond to it and somehow temporarily override my neurological issues with the foot stuck to the ground. This gives me an idea - if I could just keep those fast guys around me for long enough, and get them to cooperate to do the right type of workouts with me, that may fix the problem altogether.

Total of 7.7 for the workout.

Ran with the kids in the evening, total of 2.64. Wasatch Back Relay tomorrow. Nick and I will be on opposing teams - I am on MarathonGIS, and he is on the BYU team. I am running leg 1, he is on leg 10, gets the privilege of Ragnar. He will be racing Clyde on our team.

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Race: Rangar Wasatch Back Relay (177 Miles) 18:29:29, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day one of Wasatch Back Relay. Ran 5 easy miles with Nick and Brent in the morning.

At the start in Logan it was hot. Our team name was MarathonGIS (Paul's business), and we had a 5:00 pm start with BYU, Weber, Runner's Corner, and 26.2 Running Company. Runner's Corner had Mike Vick, BYU had Derek Taylor, Weber had an 8:38 steeplechaser, and 26.2 Running Company had somebody fast I had no background on. It was hot - 95 degrees. I tried to hang on with them for 0.75, after that they dropped me. They were doing 5:20 pace in spite of the heat and the hills. Some of them were not fit enough to hold it, as it turnout out later. By 2.5, the trailing part of the pack was 53 seconds ahead of me. I was just trying to keep my head above water with a sub-6:00 pace when I was not going uphill. On the uphills I was down to 6:15 pace.

Then everybody expect me took a wrong turn. Mike Vick and the Weber steeplechaser were quick enough to turn around, and by the time we started going uphill from mile 21 of TOU course towards mile 20, they were with me. They were too fast for me to run with, but they were not moving away from me as fast as they were earlier - probably about 20 seconds a mile or so. Derek Taylor (BYU) and the 26.2 guy never caught up, and in fact, according to Cody, I actually increased the gap them on that 1.5 mile stretch. My split for the 5.14 was 30:07, 1:13 slower than the schedule, but adding about 1:40 adjustment for the heat from the Tinman chart,I was actually quite a bit ahead. My stomach felt sick from running hard in the heat, and I raced to the porter potty as soon as I finished, but otherwise I was fine.

On the second leg Jared Rohatinsky (BYU, the brother of Josh, I guess that makes Josh the brother of Jared, some humor for those familiar with the Book of Mormon) passed Dustin, then Dustin passed Joe Bendoski (Runner's Corner, out of shape due to a long break from injuries), then Jared took a wrong turn on a perfectly straight stretch of road, and Dustin being a bit delirious from the heat and the effort just followed him. I've done something like this myself, when you start to hurt the straight road just bugs you, you are looking for any excuse to turn. I did that in TOU 2002. So Dustin ended up running extra 0.9 in the heat which cost us about 6 minutes on this leg, plus some more on his other legs from the extra fatigue. Corbin (Weber) ran great on this leg, and put on a good gap on everybody. Joe Bendoski did not take a wrong turn, so that put him ahead.

Chris Rogers passed the Runner's Corner girl, and the BYU runner who was not feeling well and put on a good 3 minute lead on BYU. We were able to hold BYU off up until leg 8. After that they passed us and were gone.

I discovered that my shorts got ripped up pretty bad, even to the point where I would consider them beyond usability, which has to be very far. I borrowed a spare pair from Dustin. He really saved my rear end, literally!

I got the baton at 11:13 PM at the Snow Basin ski resort near Huntsville. Paul remarked later that when you are starting your night leg your thoughts might be: Why am I running at this late hour, and not in bed with my wife? Those were exactly my thoughts.

I was supposed to average 5:02 pace on this leg. However, this was too aggressive of a prediction. 5:02 on a smooth 4% grade would have been just right. But this leg was full of little break-ups that went uphill for a quarter, and portions that were only 1% followed by steeper parts to make up. You do not go much faster on 7% than you do on 4%. However, you do go much slower on 1% than you do on 4%, and very much slower at 6000+ elevation up a grade even if it is very small. To make things worse, the bread I brought to snack on in between legs had a very hard crust, and I was feeling it. Combined with the dark this made it difficult for me to concentrate and push hard. I ended up doing only 5:24 average on this leg (41:40 for 7.7). I did not feel like I was working very hard, but just could not put it all together and really go. Mike Vick ran this leg a good 4 minutes faster. He should have been no more than 2:30 faster based on the first leg and recent race history. I was only 2 minutes faster than Nate Pollard on it, and this also indicates that I should have run this leg about 1:00-1:30 faster. I noticed I was getting a lot stronger towards the end. I wondered why, then look at the elevation profile - the early miles were at 6500 feet while the later ones were near 5000.

End of Day 1.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Race: Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay (177 Miles) 18:29:29, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day 2 of Wasatch Back. Got the baton on leg 25, from Jordanelle Reservoir to Oakley. I expected the leg to be a challenge, I just did not realize how much. Got the baton from James and went for it mumbling BINGO under my breath to get the legs going. First mile was OK, was going at a good sub-6:00 pace. The lack of sleep must have altered my perception. I could have sworn the first mile was downhill, but the elevation profile shows it was a slight up. I could not understand why I was so hard to run so slow. But I was passing people at a good rate. Then I saw a runner that was coming to me at a rate that was slower than average. When I got closer, I realized it was Ron Greenwood. I was a bit surprised, he should not have been coming to me that fast. Then I realized that there was perhaps something about this leg I did not know. I was supposed to run it at 5:56 pace. I was running at 5:56 pace, but there was a big hill coming up, and even without it, I was working pretty hard already. Later I realized that the WBR calculator is way off when there is an uphill of any kind at over 6000 feet. You can run downhill almost the same at a higher altitude, but uphill slows you down a lot more, especially if you do not live at that altitude.

The grade gradually increased, but I did not notice it at first, except the pace started getting slower. I was second guessing myself. What is happening? Why are my legs not moving? Did I overtrain? Am I hitting the wall? I am not feeling like I am out of gas, and I should not be out of gas. What is going on? And why is Ron not passing me back? The pace gradually digressed to 6:20, then 6:40, then 7:00 and then 7:20. At 7:20 the climb now became very obvious, but still did not look bad enough to be running that slow. What I did not take into account is the elevation gain and being at a higher altitude. We started at a tiny bit over 6000 feet and gradually made our way to 6500. Finally by mile 5 the climb was over, and I was going again - hit a downhill quarter in 1:25, followed by another in 1:20, and I felt a lot better.

Finished the 5.57 in 35:28, 2:14 off schedule. After looking at how other runners did on it, it was actually not that bad. Ron was about 2 minutes slower, while Nate Pollard was 3 minutes slower.

Handed off to Dustin, and we continued chugging a lot trying to not get beat too bad by BYU and Weber. Did some more running pacing Cody at the end of his leg, and then ran Steve Olsen's leg (30)
with Paul for his cool down. 

We ended up third after BYU and Weber. We managed a 6:16 average, which I consider to be very good on this course. Last year's version was faster - you started at the Blacksmith Fork Canyon instead of downtown Logan, and  you ran a much nicer version of the Trapper's Loop. That, and the course being 7 miles longer. Even then, with that pace we would have beaten Weber last year. But they learned their lessons and brought a better team. So did BYU. If only BYU learned how to follow the course and plan for their runners arriving on time, they would have done a lot better, though. I think they lost a good total of 30 minutes to logistics. On the bright side of things, Nate Pollard observed a BYU hand-off when one runner finished his leg and the other was not ready for him. The one who finished yelled: Where are you? Nate commented that he was waiting for him to swear, but he did not. I do not know who that runner was, but I am very glad he practiced what he believed at in this frustrating situation. You have not slept much, you've been running hard, you are trying to catch a competitor, you've given it all you've got to do your part, and now your effort is being just wasted. You stand there and just watch it go. If swearing is a part of your vocabulary at all, this would be the time for it to come out. If it does not, this says a lot about your character. Weber may have gotten to the finish line first, but on that particular exchange BYU won in a special way.

Ran a little bit more with Jenny riding a bike in the evening. Felt OK afterward, just tired from the lack of sleep. Legs feel fine.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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