Breaking the Wall

Murray Fun Days 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:

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Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 60.05 Year: 1638.67
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: 53.25Nap Time: 3.77Total Sleep Time: 57.02
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Caught up on sleep. Went to church. Took a nap. In the evening we went to the patriotic fireside at the Marriott Center. When we got there, there were no seats for all of us except at the very top. This actually made things nice for keeping the kids from getting too wild as there was a platform they could stretch themselves on.

As I sat there and looked at a row of American flags at the bottom a thought came to me. It has been a recurring thought in the last 15 years. It comes to me when I look above my day to day labor and am able to see a bigger perspective. America has been blessed in many ways more than any other nations. The reason God allows us to live in America is that he wants us to serve. The scriptures not only confirm it but also add a stern warning:

For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.

Ether 2:10 in the Book of Mormon. 

It is dangerous to lose the mindset of service anywhere, but it appears from the scriptures, and I feel it in my heart, that the dangers of doing so in America are much greater than anywhere else. Our country will be strong as long as we reach out to others and are not fazed by the sacrifices it may require.

Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 10.00
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A.M. Ran with Jeff and Daniel. Jeff was a lab rat today. He is such a nice rat, always agrees to participate in experiments and measurements. I put my HRM on him and watched his HR at different speeds. It was a lot of fun. At 8:00 pace he was roughly around 130. He wanted to see what happens when he held his breath. His HR did not go up at all, but he just could not keep running while holding his breath. Then I suggested that he should sing. With the Independence Day approaching he sang the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner at 8:00 pace. His HR maxed out at 144. Then he remembered that in his PE class he could get his HR from standing (around 75-80) to 160 in 50 meters of sprinting. I wondered if he really could. So at first he sprinted from 8:00 pace, but the problem was that he went so fast I could not keep up and he moved out of the HRM reception range. Noting that mistake I gave him the watch, and next time we tried from a resting start. We tried to wait for his HR to drop to 85, but there were too many mosquitoes. Daniel and I jogged around, while Jeff stood and sacrificed in the name of science. However, the mosquitoes kept him agitated enough that his HR would not drop below 100. So we decided that was as good as it was going to get and he busted out sprinting. After 15 seconds he was able to get his HR to 159.

Then we decided to measure his HR at 7:00 pace. It was around 150. Afterwards we tried at 5:50 pace. It got up to 172. We dropped Daniel off, and decided to try at 5:20 pace. Well, Jeff was too feisty to run 5:20 and started out at 5:00 pace. So we ran a mile in 4:58. Jeff's HR got up to 187. This was the fastest mile I've ever run wearing Five Fingers. I liked that mile a lot better than the one we did a couple of weeks ago in 4:55 because it did not have a 70 second quarter in the middle. The pacing was perfectly even. We estimate that Jeff's max HR is around 190-192.

Dropped Jeff off after 13 and ran 2 more. Total of 15 miles in 1:54:56.

P.M. Home to Costco relay. 1.06 with Julia in 11:13, 1.55 with Jenny in 13:43, and 2.77 with Benjamin in 22:04.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
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A.M. Ran with Jeff. The run at first was uneventful. Then we stopped for a VPB and got eaten by mosquitoes. Then we ran into Luz and she joined us. I noticed she was going about 8:05 pace while chatting, but I did not say anything at first waiting for a strategic location. Then about 300 meters away from the mile mark from where I started timing her I told her the pace and challenged her to break 8:00 for the mile. She easily met the challenge finishing the last 200 in 51 up a slight grade (6:48 pace) and hitting a 7:50 split for the mile. Afterwards she chose 8:40 pace and maintained it conversationally all the way to our house. She and Sarah continued on from there, while Jeff and I ran around the block. Jeff stopped at 13.25, I woke up Julia, then did two more laps, and then ran with her for the last 1.05 in 10:38. Total time for 15 miles was 2:01:10.

P.M. 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 12:57, then 0.5 more with Benjamin in 3:33. After the first easy 0.5 we played the leapfrog game. Ran 3 more with Jacob and Joseph in the stroller in 21:54, total time for 5 miles was 38:24.

Five Fingers - 585.74 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.25Nap Time: 0.67Total Sleep Time: 7.92
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A.M. Jeff had to work late last night so only Josse showed up this morning. Ran 10.1 uneventfully in 1:25:13.

P.M. 7 in hot conditions in 55:39, 3 of it with Adam. Then 1 with Julia in 11:15, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:16, and another 0.5 with Benjamin in 3:45, 17:01 for 2 miles.  Five Fingers crossed the 600 mile boundary, 100 miles over the salesman limit.

Five Fingers - 605.84 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 6.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.75
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A.M. Ran with Jeff and Adam. Adam was the lab rat today, wore the HRM. His HR at 8:00 pace was 160. Oddly high, but he is conversational at that pace, and his resting HR is fairly high as well - 52. However, still Jeff's resting HR is about the same, and his HR does not get that high when he is as conversational as Adam.

I did a post-VPB acceleration which gave me some tempo running. Then we did 2x400 with essentially full rest. First one was 81.9. Adam's HR made it to 175. On the second one we got 85.6, and Adam's HR maxed out at 177. This is odd again. Based on Adam's conversational inclinations 8:00 for him is no harder than 6:40 for me. At 6:40 my HR is around 130. When I run a hard quarter (67) I max out at around 160. So 23% increase. Adam could only manage a 10% increase and it was not like he did not try. After two quarters in spite of a low HR increase he felt very fatigued.

We decided to measure his max HR. While Adam stopped to stretch a guy ran by us that knew who I was but I did not recognize him. He greeted me in Russian and demonstrated a reasonable degree of fluency in the follow-up comment. Provo-Orem area is very unusual. Right off the bat I could think of 4 guys in the area fluent in Russian that can do no worse than finish within 1 minute behind me in a 5 K. Not that my 5 K abilities are that great, but only a small percentage of the population would make the 1 minute back or faster cut off. So to find at least 4 Russian speakers in a population of about 200,000 that meet the requirement is remarkable.

On the max HR test Adam was supposed to run 7:00 pace for a mile and then floor it in the next quarter. He only made it to the mile in 6:59. His HR maxed out at 180 and he was not able to continue. This is just plain odd and wrong. Why in the world can his HR not go above 180 when he gives it all, while he is very comfortable and conversational at 160? Some kind of chronic nervous system fatigue. And it also comes on so suddenly. You cannot write it off as the lack of aerobic fitness. Adam has been running consistently enough to where stuff like this should not kill him.

Nervous system fatigue is an intriguing subject. One could argue that you always slow down due to nervous system fatigue. The slow down always happens because the brain is unable to override the negative feedback from the body. We call it cardio fatigue when the heart so weak that it produces too much negative feedback. We call it muscular fatigue when the acidity of the muscles is the driver of the negative feedback. But what about if the negative feedback is coming from somewhere else, or the brain is oversensitive to it? How do you deal with it? One naive solution is speedwork. Desensitize it. It does solve the problem when we are dealing just with an oversensitive brain. But there is another aspect. What if the brain does not have the drive to sustain a level of activity for a long period of time? Not sure if there is a physiology term for it, but I would call it neural endurance. The ability to fire BAM-BAM-BAM signals for a long time. From what I've observed, anaerobic speed work will desensitize the brain in three weeks and then will not do it any more (you can puke to death in your workouts with no results after that) but it does nothing to improve the BAM-BAM-BAM ability. In fact, done too much too often it reduces the neural endurance because the brain/nervous system can take only so much agitation. Even brisk aerobic runs (20 - 40 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace) done daily produce too much agitation and cut my BAM-BAM-BAM ability.

I wonder if the BAM-BAM-BAM ability accounts for 90% of the Quality X. How about that for scientific terminology? When you can feel it but do not know what it is called, invent a term. That is how all the scientific terms were invented to begin with anyway, except they have more scientific sounding names because the papers had to be published.

Cool down with Adam, finished 13 with Jeff, ran a mile alone, and another with Julia in 10:05. Total of 15.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 17:01 with Jenny running the first 1.5 with us in 12:47. 3 more after that, total time 39:51 for 5 miles.

Five Fingers - 625.84 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.60Total Sleep Time: 8.10
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Race: Murray Fun Days 5 K (3.107 Miles) 00:16:42, Place overall: 6
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A.M. Ran Murray Fun Days 5 K in 16:42, 6th place.

My plan from the start was to go out hard and see what happens. The warm temperatures made it difficult. I have a weird body. I can run well dehydrated but my heat sensors are very sensitive. This makes me quite a bit better than competition average in a survival race (hot marathon) because I am still fine when others start having cramps, stomach problems, etc, but worse than competition average in a hot 5 K because the heat shuts me down and I cannot get going.

There was too much trouble at the start to name. Right now in a 5 K any decent high schooler is trouble for me.

Ran the first mile as hard as I could, but 5:14 was all I had in me. It was uphill and into a slight headwind, but still I hoped to see 5:08. But we were out in the sun and the air just felt too hot. By then I was with Brian Summers and a guy from Montana whose first name I have forgotten but his last name I Michels I believe. Seth and Teren in the lead, they hit the mile in 4:53, and Alexander Thomas about 10 seconds back ahead of us.

Lost contact with the Montana runner and Brian on the 180 turn. Tried to push to regain it, breathing is OK, legs do not respond. Tried to get going on the downhill coming back, not much success, but closed the gap on Brian. The Montana runner had dropped Brian by that time. Caught up to Brian by 2 miles. 10:36. Wow. Only 5:22 for all this work on a downhill. One mitigating circumstance was 180 in the middle. That and the heat. No problem, life goes on. Just keep racing.

Last mile has a small net gain, and is up and down. Starts with a slight up. Brian gapped me shortly after I had caught up. I gradually reeled him in, and was able to attach. Then there was a short steep down. I used that to pass Brian and hopefully discourage him. Did not work, he passed me back and started kicking. Then shortly before mile three another guy from Colorado, his first name was Mike, the last name was either Hutchinson or Huntington, went by me as if I was standing still. We hit the short uphill, it turned out to be less steep than I remembered it. Hit mile 3 in 16:12, 5:36. Not as bad as it could have been.

Turned out Brian miscalculated how far away he was from the finish and started his kick too early. Once his kick was over I was able to pass him back and finish 5 seconds ahead of him. I could hear trouble from behind so I was kicking as hard as I could. I thought it was Brian, but it turned out to be our blogger Kyle Moffet. He finished 1 second behind me.

Times - Teren 15:06, Seth 15:33, Alexander 16:00, Montana runner 16:14, Mike H from Colorado 16:36, me 16:42, Kyle 16:43, Brian 16:48.

Looks like that I was 4th in the circuit, in a 5 K for me that is a steal and a lucky day. It is rather interesting that the best quality 5 K I've run this year was Magna, which was a week after a marathon. I think the two week taper helped me - I ran less than 80 miles the week of the marathon, and after that only 90. Other 5 Ks were run off 120 miles a week. Also I wonder if 120 miles a week affects me more in the summer when it is hot. All this time outside while the heat sensors in the skin keep hearing "slow, slow, slow, it is hot". And then I race, and the same message is still deep under my skin.

Also I am probably feeling it in a 5 K more than in a longer race because you have to run faster.

Ran 7.5 afterwards. Some of it alone, ran 0.5 rabbiting the kids race, a little bit with Teren, and more with Seth.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:34 with Jenny joining us for the first 1.5 in 12:55. Julia ran 1.5 with Sarah. Then took Jenny to the Y. We hiked from the trail head to the bottom of the Y in 22:21. Looked at the view, took some pictures, identified landmarks, and then headed down. Ran parts while going down, about 0.5 or so. The time on the way down was 14:11. The distance measured 0.95 in both directions. The elevation gain is about 1000 feet, so about 20% grade on average. My best time on that stretch running is 11:38.

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

A.M. Ran the same workout as last week - Provo Riverwoods 10 miler twice, first up, then immediate 180 and down. Except this time I had Jeff with me. Seth was going to come, but he stayed up late the night before and called in the morning bailing out.

The goal was again to beat Josse's time of 1:07:02 on the way up, and James' time of 56:42 on the way down. In spite of having raced yesterday Jeff's presence made up for the fatigue and we were able to meet both goals. Not without some suffering on my part though.

We did a brisk warmup averaging probably around 6:50 for the first 5 miles. After that Jeff stretched and we started the tempo portion from around the Bridal Veil Falls area right after the Walking Zone warning sign. I wondered to myself if it was OK to run through it, but did it anyway. About 6:10-6:15 while the grade was 2% then when it flattened out to about 0.5-1% about 5:55 pace with Jeff's initiative. Once we got to the South Fork climb, Jeff threw more fuel into the fire and put me in pain. I had to ask him to back off several times. This was an odd feeling. My HR never went above 155. But I felt like I was racing a 5 K, almost. At the same time, when I asked him to back off I was not thinking so much "we've got another 12 miles of this still ahead", but more "if they told me the finish is at the top and I am done for the day, I do not think I could go any faster". The good news is that I had enough confidence in my endurance to have no fear of bonking at the end.

We did the control 3.23 stretch in 20:42. 6:21 average, 48 seconds faster than last week. I think is my PR for that stretch period, not just in the middle of a 20 miler. If not, it would be awfully close. 1:06:05 first 10 miles, beat Josse's time by 57 seconds. Unchicked myself and very satisfied. Now 10 miles going down.

We hard a hard time shifting gears and goofed through the downhill where we really could have made up some time. Probably from the fatigue of climbing. 17:57 on the control 3.23 stretch, 1 second slower than last week. No problem, though. With Jeff pulling me we'll be OK.

We ran strong through the flatter parts although I did have to ask Jeff to back off a few times and finished the second half of the run in 56:11, 9 seconds faster than last week, and 31 seconds ahead of James. 2:02:16 for 20 miles, 1:44 faster than last week. Actually it is more like 20.14. But who cares, the run is Double the Provo Riverwoods 10 miler however long it may be. With all the climbing and then dropping it is not a normal course anyway.

Went to a show by the Provo Tabernacle with the family afterwards. During a puppet show the performer asked the kids if they knew who had written the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin raised his hand and gave the correct answer - Thomas Jefferson. The performer said - "Wow, they teach well in school nowadays!" Little did he know that Benjamin had always been home schooled.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:10, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:23, 2.5 alone in 18:43.

Five Fingers - 630.84 miles.

T4 Racer - 268.70 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
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Night Sleep Time: 53.25Nap Time: 3.77Total Sleep Time: 57.02
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