Breaking the Wall

Week starting Jul 29, 2012

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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
Green Crocs 4 Miles: 81.10
Night Sleep Time: 47.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 47.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church as usual. The Sacrament talks were on the Atonement of Christ. Then we had a lesson on Alma 32, which talks about faith. I have some thoughts about faith. When we teach a child to do something that he struggles to have the initiative to start or finish we may sometimes use a reward. At first the reward has to be immediate. As the child matures, the reward can wait longer and longer. Eventually he does what we've been trying to teach him with no external reward as he recognizes the intrinsic value of what he is doing. That is what God does with us in matters of faith. For example, when we first begin to pay tithing we may receive dramatic blessings such as extra money appearing out of some unexpected source to take care of an urgent problem. I suppose the Lord knows this commandment is difficult, as such blessings seem to continue for a long time after you first begin to pay it. But then as your understanding of the law increases, you no longer need to rely on the external physical reward. You do things that are natural in the Celestial Kingdom naturally as they appear self-evident. You are more confident than ever that something good will come out of it either now or sometime in the future, either in this life or the next, and likely more than one thing, but that is now why you do it - you just do it. The question of "what did I get out of obedience?" becomes irrelevant, in fact rather silly. You realize that it is neither possible nor necessary to scientifically itemize each blessing and tie it to some specific act of obedience. Rather you acknowledge that exercising your faith and obeying always puts you in a strong position  from which you are eventually able to draw a multitude of blessings.

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

A.M. Took Jenny, Julia, and Joseph, and Jacob for Julia's 800 meter time trial at Orem High. Jacob was supposed to do his best to hang on, Jenny and Joseph were supposed to sit back until 200 to go, then kick. Things went more or less as planned. We did the first 200 in 50, then 54 (1:44), then 53, which gave us 2:37 at 600. Jenny closed with 46 - 3:23, Joseph - 47 - 3:24, Julia - 49 (3:26), which is her new 800 meter record. Jacob fell back after the first 200 or so, but kept a good pace, and finished in 3:33 which is a 1 second PR. I was quite happy with as he proved that he can be left without supervision and still run well. This is quite an accomplishment for a 6 year old.

Did a cool down, Jenny and Julia ran home, I drove Joseph and Jacob back, then Benjamin and I ran a mile with Joseph, and 5 more by ourselves. So Joseph ended up with 2 mile, Jenny and Julia 2, Jacob - 1. I added some more to make the total 12.


P.M. Jenny ran 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 2 with Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, and 4 lb dumbbells. 7 with Benjamin. Added 3 more miles with the last 1.5 uphill in 8:28. Total of 12 for me. 

P.M. We went to the ultrasound. Jacob told us that he used to think that the Ultrasound was some kind of a holiday. Indeed, throughout his life we've had ultrasounds almost as frequently as his birthday. It turned out to be a boy. We are going to name him Matthew. Everything looked good and we are expecting him around Christmas.

Benjamin ran 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Did a mile time trial with Benjamin. The plan was to bridge the gap between his current track PR of 5:17 and the 5:00 barrier. To a great extent this was a psychological barrier. He had run 3:45 for 1200 already. But it is one thing to run 75s when you get to 600, you start to hurt, but you know you have only a lap and a half left, and to get to 600, hurt the same, and know that you have two laps and a half left. For Benjamin this is still a big deal mentally as he is only 13 years old. 

So I paced him through the first lap 76. Sensing a weakness, I eased off to 77. On the third lap he was supposed to take over. This was a trick to get him to focus better - the pain should feel less in the second lap when you are thinking about taking over in the third, and then in the third you feel responsible for the pace. But for some reason he did not take over. I assumed it was because he was struggling, and eased off to 80. I must admit I did not mind easing off to 80, as the earlier 76, 77 did not feel that comfortable. In the last lap Benjamin had a surprise for me. He took over and hit a 200 in 38. That was good. But then he kicked and ran the last 200 in 35. I could barely keep up. In fact, I tried to pass him in the home stretch but could not, and ended up a notch behind. So we ended up with 5:08.8, which is his new track PR. This was the full mile, not just 1600, so our lap splits do not add up. His last 1500 was 4:47.

We ran some more miles, including 2 with Joseph. Jacob did 1, Julia and Jenny 2. Benjamin ended up with 6. I did a total of 12.3. 

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.80
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Benjamin and I paced Jeremy in a 3 mile time trial down the Provo Canyon. Yes, Benjamin can pace adults now. The plan was to hit 6:00 average, and it worked out quite well. We did 5:58, 5:57, 5:55, total of 17:50.9. This gave Benjamin 9.3 total. I ran 2 more with Joseph. Jacob ran 1 with Jenny and Julia, who added a mile and ended up with 2. I did a pickup for 0.5 in 2:44 uphill near the house. 

P.M. William ran 0.5 with Julia. Benjamin and I went to the chess tournament. Both of us had a very good result. Both of us played 2 games each, and won both of them. Benjamin scored a win against a player rated 1996, just 4 points below the Expert class, which I consider to be equivalent to about 2:30 marathon. Both of us upgraded our ratings to the highest we've ever had, Benjamin - 1630, and 1604 for me, which puts us in Class B. There was something special for me to reach this landmark on the same day with my 13 year old son. I am happy to be the 39-year-old dog that still keeps learning new tricks. Not too many dads have been able to progress alongside with their children like this. Once they get caught up, they get left in the dust. I think what is different for us is that we play online correspondence games together analyzing the moves, and debating the strategy. So as the combination of maturing and having had better training at an earlier age begins to pull Benjamin ahead of me, he is teaching me in the process, so I progress as well. Maybe he will do this for me in running as well. Regardless, it is a wonderful thing to be able to work together with your children like this.

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.30
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Another time trial day. Ran to the Orem High track with Jenny, Benjamin, and Joseph. First, Benjamin and I paced Jenny and Joseph through an 800 meter time trial. Jenny got 3:08.3 with the splits of 96, 92. Joseph got 3:12.1 with the splits of 97, 95. Both got a PR, but the negative split shows that they both could run it faster, they just need to learn to not be afraid of a faster start. Then Benjamin and I raced each other in the 200. Benjamin edged me at the finish with 29.1 vs 29.3 for me. This was my fastest 200 in over a year, though, so I am happy I can still do 29.3. Then we ran back to the house, and Benjamin and I added 4 more miles to make it total of 7 for him. Julia ran 1 with Jacob, and 1 more herself - 2 total. I ran 5 more with the 4lb dumbbells. I am sensing when I run that I could possibly be smoother if my arms and shoulders did some magic to stabilize the torso. A normal runner does not need that, but given my L-4 defect, I need extra stability in odd places. Thus an experiment to see if running with the dumbbells will do anything other than just make me tired. Total of 12 miles for the day.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Did 12 with Chad, then 7 with Benjamin, total of 19. Chad and I did an interesting tempo run on my 3 mile Provo Canyon Course going down. He started 1:00 ahead of me, then I was trying to catch him, and he was trying to not let me catch him. I went through the first mile in 5:13, and thought I was feeling good. Then I started feeling a little weak, but I still did a 79 quarter, 6:32 at 1.25. Then I felt even weaker, and slowed down to around 81-82 seconds per quarter pace. My second mile was 5:24. My next three quarters were 81, 82, 82. 82 did not feel too miserable actually, but I just could not go any faster. Then I saw Chad in the last quarter and was able to shift gears some to run 77, but it was too late. He finished 7 seconds ahead of me in 16:51, which is a very good time for him, and suggests that with proper marathon endurance he should be running Ogden/DesNews/Utah Valley type of course around 2:42. I got 15:59, which is not too terrible, but the splits suggested there was a problem. Based on how I felt after 5:13, this should have been something like 5:20, 5:18 afterwards - not 5:24, 5:22.  Not sure what to make of it. This could be due to the fatigue from running 5 miles with dumbbells the day before, or could be some other form of fatigue.

Jenny, Julia, and Joseph ran 2, Jacob did 1.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 


Green Crocs 4 Miles: 19.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 4 Miles: 81.10
Night Sleep Time: 47.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 47.00
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