Breaking the Wall

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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: 226.43 Year: 2189.51
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: 1116.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Five Fingers 2 Miles: 80.40Bare Feet Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 55.75Nap Time: 5.50Total Sleep Time: 61.25
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. I kept reminding myself the entire week not to miss the Stake Priesthood Meeting at 7:00 AM. And sure enough I completely forgot about it. I woke up at 7:55, and then remembered. So I got dressed ASAP and was able to catch the last 30 minutes of it.

Night Sleep Time: 9.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 9.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran 10.1 with Jeff in around 1:16:45 or so if I remember right. Did explosions. We were supposed to do a fat mile. But right before it we were talking about the track races in Europe, Bekele, and how he can run 63 second laps back to back in a 10 K. So both of us were a bit too excited for the fat mile, and only the first half of it has a semblance of fat. The quarters were 87, 84, 82, and 77 for the total time of 5:30. Seeing we've blown the fat aspect already Jeff decided to sprint the last 100 to catch the 5:30 guy, and I joined him. So we ended up with the last 100 in 17. But I have to say that 82 quarter felt very good. I was focusing on engaging the right glut and it seemed to help.

The we took Benjamin for his Regionals DNS redemption one mile time trial on the Provo River Trail.  He did well. I guess the right pace would be 6:08, or 23 per 1/16, and it ended up being a good guess. He ran 6:07.7 - a new PR by 7 seconds. Splits: 91, 92, 94, 90. His last 1/16 was 21 seconds. He is on the verge of breaking 6:00. I told Benjamin he reached a significant point in his improvement because he is now fast enough for me to count his mile time trial as marathon pace. One day we will be laughing about him counting my mile time trial as his marathon pace, I hope, and not because I get slower. I can just see that day - Dad, good job, give me five, come on, you can do it, get right there and slap my hand...

I do not get too excited about success at 10 years of age, though, except with the perspective of progression. Now is the time to lay a solid foundation of health, work ethic, and mental toughness for success in adulthood.

P.M. Went to the Provo Canyon. 0.7 with Joseph, 0.5 of it in 5:49. 2 with Jenny and Julia in 19:14.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Tempo run with Jeff. Warmed up 1.37, then started. The plan was normal tempo for the first 6.5 then Jeff runs the last mile as fast as he can while I try to hang on as long as I can, then once I cannot keep contact, tempo in to the finish.

Our first quarter was sluggish, 93, after that we got into a good rhythm. We ran 1.25 out then back, then the Fast Running Blog 5 Miler course. First 2.5 in 14:52, 29:23 at 5 miles. First 5 miles my HR was very low - did not crack 145. Normally I would expect it to be visiting the 150 range at that point. Then the pace got a little quicker, and I also started getting nervous about the last mile. That seemed to help. HR climbed first to 148 and then crossed over 150, and the pace felt easier and easier even though it was gradually getting faster. Our next mile was 5:46, and then we did a half in 2:51, 5:42 pace with the last 100 in 20 (5:20 pace). 

And then Jeff hit the gas. Fortunately not too hard. He was nice enough to do the first 200 in 37. This bought me some distance. Next 200 not so nice, 36, so 73 at the quarter. Not bad for the uphill, and I am still alive. At 500 it started to hurt. I made it to 600 hanging on to dear life, and 680 meters into the pickup I lost contact. Made it to 700 (or 7/16th, more accurately) in 2:09, and then eased off. Legs felt like I had just been carrying a car on my shoulders. Ran the next 100 in 23, so 2:32 at the half. Not bad. Next quarter felt a little better, ran 88, then another 200 in 44, and was able to pick it up to 41 in the last 200. So 5:25 for the last mile, 43:25.0 for 7.5. 2:29 for the 0.5 from 100 before mile to go, not bad, sub-5:00 average for 0.5 mile. Happy to run 5:25 with this kind of pacing at the end of a tempo. HR maxed out at 166.

Jeff closed with a 4:59 mile to finish the tempo in 42:59. We ran a cool down, and then I ran another 2 miles with Benjamin in 17:23.

HR maxing out at 166 instead of 172 combined with the "I have a car on my shoulders" feeling combined with a relative ease of breathing tell me the limiting factor is leg power. One more argument for one leg hops.

P.M. 1.5 with Jenny and Julia in 13:38. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:58.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.00Bare Feet Miles: 2.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.1 with Jeff in 1:14:25. Did explosions and two fat miles - first in 5:45, second in 5:40. Caught up to Mark Robison, BYU head track coach, and ran with him for a little bit before starting our last fat mile. He was going a decent pace for his age - a bit sub-8:00.

P.M.  Of all things, did something that may sound a bit out of character for me. I spent the afternoon messing around with Wii Remote. But it was in character. I did not all of a sudden turn into a videogame bum. In fact, I only needed the remote, that's all. The reason for my interest was that I found out it had a hackable built-in Bluetooth-capable accelerometer. The hacking was a success - I got it to talk to Nokia 770 and was able to gather some acceleration data while running holding both. The cool thing about it that if you found a way to attach it to the foot, or even to the body is a stationary position where it would not bounce, tilt, or slide around too much, you could pick up ground contact time, air time, and stride frequency. From which you can extrapolate running pace as well after calibration. Then the next step is to get a PDA Watch with Bluetooth, hack it so it will run Linux, and you've got your own magic running watch that could potentially tell you all kinds of stuff about your form. Wii Remote is a bit too clumsy, and too expensive (I borrowed this one from a friend),  especially if you wanted to have two of them, one on each foot. So I ordered a Wireless Playchuck from Amazon for $25 (including shipping) for more experiments. Maybe in a year or two we will have more cheap Bluetooth accelerometers small enough to be attached to the foot. But for now, I'll have to setting for this.

In theory, of course, I could just run with Nokia 770, but it has two problems. One, it is too big. And two, the screen is not designed for outdoor use. So I am eying M600 wrist cell phone  for the watch unless I can find something cheaper. I do need to figure out how to put Linux on it. But I do not need to worry about it yet, as Benjamin's Nokia 770 is good enough for development purposes.

Ran 2 with Jenny in 19:08. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:15. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:53.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. Decided to modify our quarters workout by stringing most of them together and running them a little slower. In other words, 74 second pace to failure or to 1.25.  Based on how I felt on Tuesday I thought I could break my Five Finger PR in the mile (4:58) without too much blood. Plus I wanted to have the confidence of being able to run a sub-5:00 flat mile, something I have not done in a while. And for a bonus I wanted to go through the mile sub-5:00 and then keep going at a respectable pace for a little bit, even if it was just for a quarter.

So Jeff paced me. I told him to be nice. He is learning. It is a benefit to him. Because if he learns to be nice to me over a short distance, he will also learn to be nice to himself over a distance three times as long. Jeff was exceptionally nice and paced it near perfect. 74 - 73.5 - 74.5 - 74 - 75. The last one was not Jeff's fault, I was struggling with the pace. So I reached my goals - 4:56 mile split (new Five Finger PR), and then another quarter in 75 past that. New flat 1.25 PR of 6:11.5, Five Fingers or not. HR maxed out at 170, but dropped to 168 near the end. Another indicator of muscular strength problem. But better than before.

It felt good to go through the mile in 4:56 and not quite feel like I was racing the mile. In fact, I was comfortable enough to think that if I pushed the right buttons, I could hold this pace for a while, maybe even as long as a 10 K. Which still does not break 30:00, but it does break 31:00. Of course, there is a big difference between thinking that at the mile, and thinking that further along. I was not thinking that anymore 300 meters later, that is how fast you go downhill when leg power fails. But cardio was OK, surprise, surprise. The good news I can run 5:00 pace at HR of 168. The bad news I cannot hold HR of 168 for very long.

We jogged another couple of miles and then to give me more misery for the day ran a quarter in 68.4. I was happy with it because I felt strong and it was evenly split. In spite of the hard 1.25 interval earlier I was not fading in the last 100. Jeff suggested more misery for me - another quarter 200 meters later, but I declined using the excuse that we needed to hurry to get him to work, and another fast quarter would require a whole lot of recovery.

We cooled down averaging around 7:00 in the last 3 miles. Total of 10.1. Then I ran 2 more miles with Benjamin pushing William in 17:25.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:45. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:50. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:49.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.1 with Jeff in 1:12:18. Dragging the first 5 miles. Saw ROTC cadets, they ran with us a bit. Then a little faster because Jeff was late for work. Still dragging. But the body responded when called upon. Did 2 fat miles - 5:43, and 5:44. Also did explosions.

Did one-leg hops on the 64 ft stretch as fast as possible. right: 6.1, left: 6.8, right: 6.0, left:6.8, right: 5.9, left: 6.6. 

Then  2 miles with Benjamin in 15:55. Sarah ran a quarter with us in the middle when we caught her in 2:09. Then we sped up, and she kept sub-9:00 pace for the last 0.5 to the finish.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:51. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:06. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:53.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 20 miles with Jeff. The original plan was 10 easy out to Bridal Veil Falls, then hard back. However, when I saw and felt all the rocks on the University Avenue stretch from Wyview to Wills, I suggested a change of plans. Start at the Will's and run hard for 10 miles, then jog, then maybe run hard at the end if feeling good. That would give us about 5.8 uphill and into a headwind out, and 4.2 downhill with a tailwind back.

So we started out sluggish. The uphill was not too bad, and there was no headwind yet, but we slugged along through the first mile in 6:05, and it did not feel like a jog, not a good sign. The next mile we picked up the effort, but we ran into some obstactles. First, the trail was dug up at the intercection with the Orem Center street, so we had to take a detour that probably cost us 4 seconds, and then the head wind picked up. So that mile was 6:05 as well. Jeff stepped on the gas and I tucked behind as we battled more headwind. With the increased effort the pace became a little under 6:00.

Then as we entered the Provo Canyon the head wind eased off for just a quarter and we were able to see what our effort was worth. We did a quarter in 85, 5:40 pace. Jeff was surprised, I was not. Then we had a mile at around 6:00 average, and then the headwind picked up and the uphill got steeper and we started to see 1:32 quarters. HR was 154. 30:13 at 5 miles.  Right after that the headwind increased more. We ran a 1:39 quarter and passed a couple of nicely equipped bikers as if they were standing still. Finally we reached the turnaround. On the way back we were going first 5:50, then 5:45, then 5:40, and my HR was not breaking 145. We were gradually closing on the 6:00 guy. At 7.5 we were 2 seconds behind (45:02). Then I told Jeff the pace was easy enough for me that he could pick it up. Earlier on the uphill I had to tell him to ease off. So we did the next 0.5 in 2:53, not a whole lot of pick up. Then I said I wanted to break 59:00, so we would have to hit 84 quarters, and then kick. Our next mile was 5:28, followed by the closing mile in 5:14. Those were down 1% grade with tailwind. Total time for 10 was 58:37. HR maxed out at 159.

It was an interesting experience to hit the gas pedal hard when you still have 6 miles to go. Very good for mental conditioning.

When we started jogging I thought I was done with fast running for the day. Then 2 miles later I asked Jeff if he wanted to run the last 2.5 at 6:00 pace. He said just the last mile. So we jogged eventually speeding up to sub-7:00 pace, and then ran the last mile in 5:54. HR got up to only 152 even thought it started to get warm and I had no water or anything for that matter during the whole run. Total time for 20 was 2:14:39.

Even thought I felt decent in the last mile and could have gone longer, when I got into the house I was mentally done. I asked Sarah for some cherries in Russian using diminitive words. Then I remembered that Russians start using diminitives when they are very tired. Diminitives do not exist in English, but for a rough idea, instead of say "cherry" you'd say "cute little cherry". One time I took my friend who was out of shape for a 12.5 mile run. He was a tough guy. When in half decent shape he could take me out for a tempo and make me speak in diminitives afterwards. 11.3 100, 1:57 800, 4:10 1500, and 16:08 5000. He did not train very consistently, thus much faster in shorter distances. His father was from Ghana, but his mother was Russian. Being the only black kid among the Russians he dealt with the challenge by never showing any signs of weakness. His fists were connected to very well coordinated explosive muscle fibers, so nobody dared insult him to his face. Needless to say, he did not use a whole lot of diminitives in his speech. However, after that run he was literally a different person. He was not talking like himself. I had never heard that many diminitives come out of his mouth.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin and Jenny in 17:53. Julia ran the first 0.5 with us in 4:46. She ran a mile in the morning with Sarah.


Five Fingers 2 Miles: 20.00Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Five Fingers 2 Miles: 80.40Bare Feet Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 55.75Nap Time: 5.50Total Sleep Time: 61.25
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