Breaking the Wall

Draper 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:

Russian champion tries Crocs, commits to racing a marathon in them

Nikolay Chavkin in the video below did 3x1000, first two in Adidas carbon-fiber models, the last one in Crocs. Surprised by the result (2:52, 2:52, 2:50) with the fastest interval done in Crocs, he committed to racing a marathon in Crocs if the video gets 42K likes and 195 comments (for 42 km 195 m, the marathon distance). Nikolay's current marathon PR is 2:14:00. The video was created by a Russian sporting goods store chain. Their moto is "more sports - brighter life", which we think is wonderful, and also deserves a Like. If you want to see a fast marathon in Crocs, go to the video and click the Like button. And make sure to share it with your friends.

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 0.00 Year: 2298.64
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: 1237.96
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Easy 10.04 according to the protocol. I read on today that you are a real runner if you combine the words "easy" and "10 mile run" in the same phrase. Seriously speaking, I think the key to a successful marathon is making your aerobic/recovery run no less than 10 miles daily. The second run can be shorter, but there should not be a day without at least one continuous (aside from brief bathroom/water stops) 10 mile run. One should of course not try to jump into this without proper preparation.

Went through the first half in 35:47. On the way back, sped up to 6:40 - 6:45 pace. Was religious about keeping HR below 130, perhaps too religious. With 1.25 shifted gears into threshold. Ran the last 1.25 according to the GPS, which I think is a bit short based on the splits, closer to 2000 meters (1.24) in 6:52. This felt good in spite of warmer conditions and a less than terrain - bumpy trail in parts, lots of dips under a bridge and climbing back up, lots of turns, and about a quarter mile of straight uphill at 0.5% grade. Total time for 10.04 was 1:08:18.

For the second run, since I am tapering, just ran with the kids. 0.5 with Julia, then 2 miles with Benjamin and Jenny. First mile was 9:39, then on the second the fire breathing dragon Jenny picked it up - we ran it in 8:04.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Ran with Jeff and Scott in the morning. Did a warm-up, 4x100 17.3 - 17.1 - 16.8 -16.6, then a fast mile. The goal was to run around 5:00 pace and then kick a bit at the end if there was anything to kick with. This was supposed to be a practice run to figure out how fast to run the first mile in Draper Days. Jeff's best 1600 is 4:34 in practice in racing flats in college. Scott's best 1600 is 4:24 in high school. My best high school 1500 (!) is 4:26 - in spikes. The fastest mile I've ever run on a course I would consider comparable to the track is 4:42 - Provo Canyon, from the Timpangos Park to the mouth of the Canyon, 0.5% downhill, but a bit rolling and with a headwind. Before doing that, I trained for two months with a middle distance focus. Jeff is 25, Scott is 23, I am 34. I've been running 90-100 mile weeks for the last two months with the emphasis on the marathon. What would you expect to happen in a fast mile with three of us running it?

This mile was on a course that I would consider at least 2 seconds slower than the track. There is no apparent elevation change, but there are a couple of sharp turns, and  slight barely noticeable rises and drops. We started at the mile mark of the standard 5 mile tempo and finished at the 2 mile mark.

Scott set the pace in the first 200 (more precisely 0.125) - 34. Too fast, and I felt it. Then we eased off closer to the target pace. 70 at the quarter, 2:24 at the half (74),  3:37 at 0.75 (73). Scott started pushing the pace, and I was somewhat happy to go with him. So we got into a bit of a duel and dropped Jeff. Next 200 in 35, followed by the last one in 34. Scott lost some steam with 100 to go, so I pulled away just holding a steady pace. This gave me 69 for the last quarter, and 4:46.6 for the mile. HR maxed out at 173. Scott finished in 4:47, Jeff got 4:48.

While I've run this fast before, I've never felt that good after running this type of effort. When I ran my 4:42 mile, it took a good 3-4 minutes of jogging before my breathing returned to normal. My legs were like led for the rest of the workout. It felt like a good all out mile. My splits were 68 - 70 - 72 - 72, as opposed to 70 - 74 - 73 - 69, which also is a sign of a lesser exertion in the latter run.

Ran a cool-down - total of 8.2 for the run. Then in the afternoon ran 0.25 to find Joseph - he escaped again. The kids were sick today with a stomach flu, all except Jenny. So she and I ran a mile in the evening.

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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Easy 8 miles in the morning with a short tempo in the middle. Originally wanted to do just a mile. Then I thought I'd be too far away from home when I ended the tempo, and this would tempt me to race the 7:00 mile guy for the entire cooldown. So I decided to make it 2.5 - this would put me ahead of the 7:00 mile guy, and would cut my cooldown to 1.34, on which I would not have to break 7:00 mile pace to beat the 7:00 mile guy. Also, even though it takes more effort, sometimes I feel more at peace with the ground moving at 5:40 pace, and today was the day.

So after running a bit over 4 miles, I started the tempo. Was a bit sluggish at first, first quarter in 1:29. Then settled into a nice 5:40 pace, and coasted. Felt tempted to beat the 5:40 guy, but decided to focus on maintaining a very honest marathon pace, and keeping HR in check. It maxed out at 156. Total time for the run was 14:12.

Finished 8 miles in 55:51 still showing the 7:00 mile guy who's the boss.

Ran with the kids in the evening. Total of 2.5 for the evening run.

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

Ran with Scott and Jeff this morning. Easy run with a 1.5 mile tempo. Ran 1.5 in 8:12. The intention was go the marathon pace, and some of it felt like marathon pace, but some was too aggressive for that category, more of a surge during a marathon. Kicked with 100 to go with Scott's help in 17, that brought the average under 5:30 pace. With about 200 to go Jeff almost got bitten by a dog on a leash that was longer than the dog's power of self-control, so he swerved to avoid it, I in turn swerved to avoid him with a maneuver that was more appropriate for basketball than distance running, but we all recovered graciously. I find that with three guys running a fast pace on that trail things sometimes get interesting. I can just imagine the BYU cross country team running a tempo. Finished 8 miles in 54:59.

Ran 0.5 with Julia in the afternoon. Everybody else was sick. Discovered the lack of zip lock bags during clean-up after dinner. Put Jacob and Joseph in the stroller, and ran to Reams and back, this was 0.9. 

Was supposed to pick up Nick at the airport today, but he was not able to get on a flight. He'll try again tomorrow. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Final taper day before Draper Days 5 K. I am also running the Deseret News Marathon, and am tapering for that as well for several reasons:

  • I need an excuse to back off the mileage
  • If the standard three Kenyans all run 2:27 this year, 1 minute could be worth $2000. Of course, if all the Kenyans that finish run 2:22 or faster, and there are no dark horses running under 2:35, the taper is a waste of training. But I would rather err on the safe side.
  • Having fresh legs would not hurt the recovery - this one is debatable. One could argue that you can push the fresh legs much harder, and make it much harder to recover. But I think if you avoid the temptation, fresh legs recover faster from the same stress than the tired ones.
  • It gives me a chance to run a good 5 K right before it without wasting a week of training on the taper.

So today I ran alone. Jogged 3.5 miles out, then turned around and ran a 1 mile pick-up. First 0.75 at marathon pace, then the last 0.25 at 5 K pace. Ended up doing 1:25, 1:23, 1:23, 1:14. On the last quarter, had a hard time catching that 5 K pain feeling, so I thought I was going slower, about 1:17-1:18 maybe. So I was very pleased with 1:14. This gave me 5:25 for the mile. Finished 7 miles in 48:39.

Ran with Julia in the afternoon (0.5), then took Benjamin out for a health test - he said he was feeling more normal. He failed it - 0.25 in 2:44 and it felt hard, lack of energy, etc. Brought the stroller along just in case I would need it, and ended up using it to bring him back. So he is still too sick to race and will not be running Draper Days tomorrow. It is a miracle that I have not yet gotten sick - everyone else in our family has already. I count my blessings and pray that they will continue.

Added the Mileage Board. Feedback is welcome, and very much encouraged.

Latest web traffic news - we are now getting about 75,000 page impressions a month with about 9,500 unique visitors. 95% of our visits come from the US, 3% from the UK. Of the US visits, 58% are from Utah (down from 75% a few months ago),  10% from a location Google Analytics could not identify,  5% from Arizona, 4% from Idaho, 3% from Colorado, and 3% from California.

Does anybody have any experience/understanding of the online coaching market? There is a lot of informal coaching happening on our site. However, I have been thinking about adding some kind of a formal arrangement as well. Some questions need to be answered. What should be the qualifications for someone to be a coach? What programs do you offer? How much do you charge?

My goal is to create an environment that allows the sub-elite runners (for male marathoners,  the 2:20-2:30 range) to really focus on running and move up to the next level while helping runners with less talent and experience achieve their full potential. One idea is to have a setup that allows them to work as online coaches. The question is - is the market for formal coaching deep enough for us to tap  into it?

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Race: Draper Days 5 K (3.107 Miles) 00:16:04, Place overall: 6
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Draper Days 5 K, 16:04, 6th place.

Caught a bit of a bug that my kids had, but not too bad. Felt a bit dehydrated during the night, got up a few times to drink, eyes a bit tender and throat a bit scratchy. Was concerned about how that was going to affect the race, but I do not think it was a major factor.

Warmed up with Paul, Cody, and Scott Browning the Siren. Noticed HR was high, probably had to do with 75-80 degrees at the start. Felt sluggish, again probably for the same reason.

Was concerned about the stomach, it felt a bit funny, but probably more from the heat than from the infection. Nevertheless, decided to stick with the plan - follow Paul until I can't, then survive. Figured if this plan produced some vomit, well, this will be the first time I've ever vomited during a race in over 22 years of running. At least I would go away knowing that I've done my best.

The heat was affecting not just me, so we all started slow. After about a quarter, Nick McCombs, Seth Wold (wearing Nick Miller's bib for some odd reason), and Paul started to pull away. This was not a good situation - Paul being dragged ahead by Nick and Seth, this means he'll keep the pressure on trying to catch them or at least keep them within reach. I considered staying back with Neil Gassmann, but figured if I were to have a shot against him, I need to have a safety buffer. If I stay with him, it will amount to signing a verdict of defeat right away. So I went with Paul.

Nick and Seth gapped us by a bit. I made it to the mile - we hit it in 4:40. This is slow for that mile, it is 2% downhill, so at that point I knew this was not going to be a fast race for anybody. After that, I did not have the juice to run with Paul anymore, and backed off. Tried to make the pack not want to catch me, it kind of worked for a while. Josh Steffen pulled up. I hoped he would pass me so I'd tuck in behind him, but he did not, I think he was just happy to draft himself. 2 miles in 10:07 (5:27), second mile is uphill.

Neal Gassmann caught me around 2.25. I tried to latch on, failed, did not have the juice, but had enough juice to separate myself from Josh while trying. At about 2.75 Gray Augustus went by me, again tried to latch on, no luck. However with about 200 to go, I found another gear. Where did it come from? Maybe I was finally rested after 2 miles of 5:27 pace? Caught Gray, tried to pass, but he found another gear. Ended up 1 second behind him, and again, just like last year, 1 second out of money. Only $20, but still. 16:02 on my watch, 16:04 officially.

Nick McCombs won with 15:16, Seth Wold 15:16, Paul 15:23, Neal 15:54, Gray 16:03. Ken Richardson was 7th with 16:10, and Josh Steffen 8th with 16:12. The gaps were correct, pretty much what I expected to see, however, the times were about 20-30 seconds slower than what I anticipated, probably because of the heat. On the positive side, I got beat by 41 seconds by Paul instead of 1:06 (half of what he beat me by in Sandy 10 K), and by 48 seconds by Nick instead of 1:22 - half of the Sandy gap.

Turned around, found Alexander Barry, he made me work with his kick - he got 22:08. Then went back again and found his dad, and paced him to the finish. Ran back to the car.

Afterwards, drove up to downtown to pick up the DesNews packet. Found out I'll be racing Jon Ndambuki, Paul Rugut, Peter Vail, Peter Vail's training partner, and Jared Nyariki.

Ran with the kids in the evening. They are starting to feel better.

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