Breaking the Wall

Remebering Mark The Great

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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: 61.00 Year: 2277.53
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: 277.76
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Five Fingers 2 Miles: 70.40Bare Feet Miles: 16.50
Night Sleep Time: 52.95Nap Time: 4.00Total Sleep Time: 56.95
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.1 with Jeff in 1:17:40. We actually did not start out too slow, and caught the 8:00 guy within 2 miles. But then we did not go any faster except for my explosions and the mile that was supposed to be fat. Only half of it was. Jeff with bikers is like a dog with cats. He has the instinct, he absolutely cannot control it. So we start out our fat mile like we were supposed too, maybe a little quick, but acceptable - 85, 86 nicely on pace for 5:41. And then up ahead just like last week we see that same guy on a tricycle. So Jeff's horses start neighing and we do a 200 in 41. Then they start neighing louder and we run the next 200 in 37 and blow by the tricycle. And then Jeff cannot slow down, so we run the next quarter in 77 - 5:26 for the mile. Very nice, 5:04 pace for the last 600.  I think I heard Jeff barking - ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff as we chased the guy :-)

Then we ran 2 more with Benjamin in 15:58. I gave him a challenge to catch the 8:00 guy in the last quarter with about 350 to go, and he successfully met it in spite of grumbing for about 50 meters - last quarter in 93. So we got some more running at marathon race pace.

Then did one leg sprints. 64 feet. right - 6.2, left 6.5, right - 6.1, left 6.4, right - 5.9, left 6.3. Good to see the gap is reducing.

Then 2 with Jenny in 19:36, Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:50.

On the positive side of things my left Five Finger is starting to develop a hole in the sole. That is a good sign because it is not as far behind the right hole as it was in the other pair. So it appears the stride is becoming more balanced, even though I still wear out the right one quicker than the left.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:22.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. We did a 3.62 warm-up, and I needed it to be that long since we had a early start (5:30 AM) due to Jeff being called into work early. The warm-up was also brisk. After dragging through the first mile in 8:20 (which is actually moving by our standards), we sped up to sub-7:00. We needed to do this because yesterday was a laundry day, and I had a hard time finding my clothes in the morning.

The workout was originally planned to be alternating quarters of 83 and 77 until I felt it was too hard, then jog and repeat trying to get as much mileage in as possible in this manner with as few stops as possible. However, due to the lack of time we altered it. 83/77 until I felt it was too hard, then tempo to the finish with accelerating by feel. My feel, that is, not Jeff's. 

So we did 83.5 - 77.5 - 82 - 76 (5:19) - 84 - 76 - 84.5 - 74.5 (5:19, 10:38). At this point I was tired, so we started the recovery. I was amazed at how slow we went and how hard it felt after a 74.5 quarter. We did 96-94 and it felt like we were going maybe 87. 13:48 at the turnaround, wow, half a mile ago we were ahead of the 5:20 guy, now we are behind the 5:30! Then 91 - 89 (6:09,16:47) - 89 - 89 - 87 - 87  (5:52,22:39) - 86 - 82 - 85 - 76 (5:29). Total time was 28:08.4, 5:37.7 average.

HR maxed out at 167. However during the last quarter it was only 163. During recovery it quickly dropped to 145 between 2 and 2.5 (6:20 pace), then rose to 152 when the pace got up to 5:56. Normally it would be 135 at 6:20 pace, and 147 at 5:56. I interpret this as follows. There was some anaerobic build-up from the first 2 miles, most of it got cleaned up between 2 and 2.5, and all of it was gone before the last quarter. At least the heart was not being asked to work harder than normal for the pace.

I started breathing with thirst for air about 1.5 into the workout, so I interpret that as VO2 being higher, but the failure did not happen until the muscles felt tense in the 74.5 quarter.  They were also tense after the workout for a while.

We jogged briskly to the finish of 10 miles, total time was 1:05:32. Then 2 more with Benjamin in 17:16. A quarter in 82 in the middle, plus last 100 in 19.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 19:26. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:30. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:54. That is a record for him. He is getting into shape fast.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.00Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. Not that Jeff is boring to run with, but we could use more company than just each other.We did have some today. Rich Borget joined us about 6 miles into our run until the finish. I did explosions. Then we ran the fat mile in 5:48. No tricycle guy today. Rich was about a second back.  Total time for 10.1 was 1:17:40. Two more with Benjamin in 17:16, I think.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:51. Julia ran 1.5 in 14:20 with us. Then 0.5 with Joseph and Benjamin in 5:06.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. He was taking it easy, I did quarters. First one was around 74, I messed up and did not start the watch until 200 into it. But the last 200 was 37. Then 71.0, 70.0, 71.5, 71.7. 200 meter jog in between. Did not feel quite right in the last two quarters, legs were heavy, the effort was hard in the last 100, HR got up to 166 instead of 163. Possibly the jog in between was too brisk - I was trying to make sure Jeff would get to work on time. Also the footing on those stretching was rather rough, too many twigs and other stuff that has fallen off the trees, so I may have not been as efficient due to Five Finger holes. Then 2 miles later did the last quarter in 68.5. Jeff paced me this time, that helped. But also HR was only 163 and I felt more like myself. The footing was better.

Then after jogging for 0.75 we ran a "fat" mile, after the quarters it was not fat at all, but we ran it anyway in 5:43.6. Again no tricycle to get Jeff excited. But I had to tell him to hit the brakes after the first 100 at 5:20 pace. The pace varied, but HR was normal for the pace. Then we jogged briskly to the finish, total time 1:12:13, Jeff made it to work on time.

2 with Benjamin in 15:57.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:22. Julia ran the first 1.5 with us in 13:56. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:10.

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. Ran with Jeff and Rich Borget. 10.1 in 1:13:32, I think. Did explosions. Ran a fat mile in 5:50. Rich was with us, but fell behind in the last quarter and finished in 5:56. Then 2 more with Benjamin in 16:45.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 19:24. Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:30. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:22.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.70Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.70
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Race: Remebering Mark The Great (3.107 Miles) 00:17:00, Place overall: 4
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Timed Remembering Mark The Great 5 K Race. Ran it as well. 17:00, 4th place.

Susan asked me to put up the race on the featured section on the blog, and agreed to comply with the rules. I volunteered to measure and mark the course. Then she found out 26.2 was not going to time the race, nor would anybody else, so I volunteered to time it as well. There was a problem, though, as my little hack I made for my race could not handle day of race registration. But I figured I wanted it to do it at some point anyway, so why not now for a good cause? So I spent most of my spare time in the last two weeks hacking away, and by last night had a timing system that could do on the spot registrations through a web browser via WiFi LAN, scan barcodes using my Flic Microvision scanner via Bluetooth,  edit the timing and the scans on the spot, and display live results through a web brower via WiFi LAN as well.

Nice system, but a couple of problems. With the coding finished only yesterday it had quirks. Fortunately not too many, and with a programmer on hand to deal with them it was usuable. Unfortunately Susan put a good chunk of data into RunnerCard program, and it crashed on her last night right before it was time to import the data into my hack. Fortunately Susan's husband Jared and I were able to recover that data and import it right before the race started. Unfortunately this left me no time for warmup before the race. So I had a glorious 0.3 or so mile warmup. But that was not that big of a deal because I learned that with a stress-sensitive nervous system when I am in charge of timing, my race goes down the toilet anyway, so it was going to be a practice of surviving neural fatigue.

At the start I told myself to be conservative, but still was not thinking straight and went through the mile in 5:11. That was idiotic! Would have been perfect off 8 hours of sleep, no stress, and a 3 mile warmup. Under the actual circumstances the right pace should have been 5:22, but I was too confused to find it. So I had an idea of what was going to happen next, and I was not surprised.

Leg power failure/neural fatigue. Here it comes. Now this is getting interesting. Jeff and Spencer Hansen were way ahead, I was still picking off high schoolers that were falling off Holden Adams and Garth Hatch (I think) pack, but I was not gaining on the pack. So I am essentially running with high schoolers and would like a high schooler to the finish as well. But for a very different reason. Neural fatigue in many ways behaves like a lack of aerobic fitness. You start out at a certain pace that you think you can maintain, and then you fade. The difference is that with neural fatigue you cannot surge at all and you have no kick. If the problem is aerobic you can make surges up to a minute, and you have a kick. And the HR patterns are different as well - in the neural cause HR peaks around 1.2 miles into the 5 K race and then drops some. In the aerobic case, it keeps drifting upward all the way to the finish until you start to vomit or dry heave.

So at the beginning of the second mile I moved into 5th place. 1.5 in 7:58 (2:47). Not good, but expected. Not as bad as it could have been. At least I am still doing 5:35 pace. 2 miles in 10:46 (2:48, 5:35). Expected. Caught up to Garth (I think that's who it was, tall guy with an interesting looking back kick, kind of Mike Evans style). He picked it up, and pulled me until I almost caught up to Holden. Then Holden heard us coming and hit the gas, as Garth dropped back very quickly. That's what I am talking about when I say neural fatigue/vs not enough oxygen. You can surge. I was actually expecting him to surge pretty hard, or at least have the ability, and he did not disappoint me.

Now when aerobically unconditioned, surging comes at a high price. Oxygen debt makes you vomit/dry heave, and Holden started doing that about a minute into his surge to prove my point. So I was able to gain on him and get within a second. However, slowing down allowed him to pay some of his debt off, and now he was able to run fast enough to hold me off. 16:25 at 3 miles (5:39), and 35 seconds (5:27 pace) for the "kick".

So I would have called this a textbook race at least for myself and the runners around me. Nothing out of the ordinary happened that did not have a good explanation.  Jeff ran a great race, though. End of 90 mile week, 10 mile warm-up, 16 miles the day before, and he runs 4:57 - 4:58 - 5:02 - 0:29 most of it alone on a loop course.

Handled the race timing afterwards, discovered a couple of system bugs, of course, worked around them. The most annoying part was that wireless reading from the scanner was dog slow. I was not noticing it with 20 bibs, but it got very painful with 400. At first I thought it was the interference from all the gadgets, but now I am inclined to think it is a bug. Need to investigate. Also a process glitch, not computer system related - did not account for the fact that some of the barcodes may not be scannable. So that created a bit of a mess, but we eventually worked around it. I have thought of a great solution for this for the future. Use Nokia 770 Tablet along with the scanner, and have it transmit everything to the laptop over WiFi, then you can enter unscannable barcodes manually without having to touch the keyboard on the laptop that is being used for timing. This also eliminates the need for the laptop to talk to the scanner at all, so you can be scanning further away from it.

Afterwards ran the course twice with Jeff in 46:58, and then ran some more to make the total of 10.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:30, 2 with Jenny in 18:11. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:06. Then 0.5 with Joseph in 5:13.


Five Fingers 2 Miles: 10.00Bare Feet Miles: 4.50
Night Sleep Time: 6.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Five Fingers 2 Miles: 70.40Bare Feet Miles: 16.50
Night Sleep Time: 52.95Nap Time: 4.00Total Sleep Time: 56.95
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