Breaking the Wall

Earn Your Turkey 4 Miler

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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: 202.42 Year: 3453.86
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: 231.94
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 2 Miles: 77.50
Night Sleep Time: 37.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 37.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. We had our Stake Conference. One quote that impressed me from one of the talks. "Our father taught us - everything you see me do you can do, and everything you hear me say you can say."

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. 12 miles total. 5 with Benjamin. Jenny and Julia did 3. I ran part of it with them, then added extra and caught up with a tempo mile in 5:35. 1 with Joseph, 0.5 with Jacob.  

P.M. 2 miles.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 14.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 12 miles. Did a pickup for 0.5 in 2:40. Ran 5 with Benjamin. Jenny and Julia ran 3 with Sarah. Joseph did 1, Jacob 0.5.

P.M. 2 miles

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

A.M. Total of 12. 5 with Benjamin. Joseph did 1. Jenny and Julia ran 3 with Sarah. Jacob did not run - recovering from a fever last night. I learned some Turkish from a runner I met and ran with that is from Turkey.  I also met another runner who told me his girlfriend was getting off her mission today. I told him she needed to find her new companion without delay and shared with him the story of how I proposed to Sarah a few hours after returning from my mission. He liked it. I did two pickups. One was random and lasted 0.4 at about 5:20 pace. The other was more formal and was exactly 0.5 in 2:35. It felt good and I had hopes of doing well in the Thanksgiving race.

P.M. We had an adventure. William got a febrile seizure. We called 911. They came and gave him buterol treatment. He recovered, but we still were up with him on and off through the night. Did not get to bed until 12:00 am, and then had sleep interruptions. 

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Race: Earn Your Turkey 4 Miler (4 Miles) 00:21:58, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Earn Your Turkey 4 mile - 21:58.4, 3rd place. 

We had our share of adventures leading up to the race. Last night I got maybe 5 hours of sleep. Some people can run well off that. I could when I was younger, but over the last 5 years I've become sensitive to such things. Maybe it's been more than 5 years. But I figured all I had to do is not get beat my somebody between 35 and 39 who was too slow to make top 5, or just plain make top 5 to earn my turkey. This race is generous with turkeys. First place in the age division plus top 5 overall get it. Plus there are kids races for every age group, plus a prize for the largest immediate family, largest extended family, youngest participant, and oldest participant. We do well in the youngest participant and largest immediate family.

William threw a surprise last night with his seizure and the 911 visit. So we were not sure what to do. Sarah considered staying home with him, but we ended up asking a friend to help us with the little kids and particularly William at the race. It did help that she was an EMT by profession. If something bad started happening to William she would know what to do. I gave William a blessing, and after that even had the nerve to ask the Lord to make William healthy enough to run his 400 meter race. The prayer ended up partially answered. His fever was gone by the morning and he was acting more or less normal, but he refused to run. Maybe I should have been more specific in my prayer as I did not say anything about him being willing, which is very important for a 3 year old.

So we ended up all running, except William.

I warmed up almost 2 miles, then the race started. Somehow when you've had some kind of a challenge and you are not able to run at 100% sometimes your deficiencies are compensated by weak competition. As far as I am concerned, today they were overcompensated, even though I finished only 3rd. I would have preferred a pack over a higher place as long as I got the turkey of course.

I started out following Derek Moody, and we worked our way out of the crowd of early fast starters, but then I saw Brandon Hebbert move into the lead. I hesitated if I should follow Derek or Brandon. I knew from the warmup that the entire stretch on Center street had fairly strong headwind, definitely not something I would want to face from the front or alone. I decided to take a chance and go with Brandon. I paid for it later. He started speeding up. I could not even make it to the turn with him (1 mile mark) and ended up picking up a share of headwind after a couple of minutes of running at a pretty intense effort. The first mile was officially 5:15 going off the mile marker.  5:08 for Brandon.

So from about 0.8 to 3 I ran in no man's land. I was not feeling too good, but I felt good enough to maintain a slower pace. It seems that the lack of sleep in combination with the training I've been doing lately affected my ability to endure intense pain for periods of 10 minutes and longer, but if I could just reduce it a bit, I am OK, and can last a while. So I coasted in frustration. Mile 2 was 5:36 (10:51), and I am willing to believe that both mile 1 and mile 2 markers were placed correctly. However, I believe the mile marker 3 was misplaced. I timed myself at 16:31 at mile marker 1 when we passed it again, and at 16:50 at the official mile marker three. In the past, when those markers were right, or at least produced reasonable splits, mile markers 1 and 3 were within 5 seconds of running of each other. So it would be accurate to estimate my mile split for the third mile as 5:40. Around that time Derek caught up to me, and I was able to latch on, for which I am thankful, because that is what got me under 22:00. He pulled me for about three quarters of a mile. We meandered through the crowd of the runners that we lapped. I've run this race since 1997, and only in the recent years do I recall a problem with the traffic in that spot.  That would have had to be about 12:00 pace crowd that we were hitting. In the past it used to be not so thick. What is going on?

I could follow Derek when we were running straight, but I had difficulties when we encountered obstacles. Finally, I've lost concentration enough to where he dropped me. Then he started his kick, and I did not have much left. Nevertheless those three quarters that I was able to survive behind him helped me run 5:28 last mile (estimate) and finish in 21:59 by my watch and 21:58.4 officially, which gave me a turkey for making top 5. Derek finished in 21:48, Brandon won with 20:06. He really turned it on in the last 2 miles as he had only about 30 seconds on me shortly before mile 2, so he must have done around 4:55 pace in the last two miles.

I  ran back to Sarah and paced her to the finish. This gave me about 1.5 miles. Sarah was running against serious lack of sleep because she had slept maybe only 2 hours. Nevertheless, she toughed it out and pulled off a respectable time of 33:13.

Then it was time for the kids races. First Stephen - 100 meters. He is 15 months and just barely learned to walk. Those races are exciting because you never know what your kid is going to do. Benjamin was actually our worst back in the day, and a string of DNS's,  DNF's, and extremely slow times until he turned 4 when he won his first race. Even then he threw a fit mid-race when two girls dropped him. But he still won the boy's race in spite of being double-chicked. But once he turned 5 he became a tough competitor and never had issues of this kind since in races. Now he does not even have them in training anymore aside from occasional grumbling but then he remembers what he read in the Book of Mormon or General Conference lately about the traits of Laman and Lemuel and repents quickly. Stephen did quite well. Sarah and I walked by his side and held his hands. All the kids except William, who sat in the stroller, eventually joined us. So we were walking together as a family united in our mission to take Stephen to the finish. He cried for a little bit, then realized it was useless or maybe felt the warmth of our support, and calmed down. There was a special feeling of unity when we all walked like this.  He finished in 2:42 by my watch, 2:40 officially. And he was not last in spite of being the youngest participant. Being the youngest, he won the turkey prize.

Then it was William's turn, but he was in no mood to run. Perhaps it was good, as he may have been still experiencing the remnants of his fever last night. So he ended up scoring a DNS. At least he was healthy enough to come to the race and he will have a chance to do better in the coming years.

Then it was time for Jacob and Joseph's race. It presented a challenge for the pacers. Normally I would have sent Benjamin to run with Jacob and would have stayed with Joseph myself. But Benjamin's race started at almost the same time. So I had to get creative, instructed Joseph on where he should be, paced Jacob in the first 200 meters, then sped up, caught up to Joseph, and paced him to the end. The race is 800 meters combined both 5-6 and 7-8 age divisions. Figuring it would take around 3:30 to win I told Joseph to hit the first quarter in 1:43. He did it in 1:38, which was OK even though he paid for it in the second half. At that point he was sharing the overall lead with Ammon Blackburn who is 7. With 300 to go Ammon made a move which Joseph could not cover. I told Joseph to keep believing that he could catch him. Joseph did his best. Ammon finished in 3:23 by my watch, 3:27 officially. Joseph got 3:28 by my watch, 3:30 officially. Joseph ended up winning a turkey as he won the 5-6 age division.

Benjamin won the "mile" race officially in 6:10, another turkey. We strongly suspect that the course was long because it did not start in the same place as last year. Also because he beat second place by 39 seconds. Jenny and Julia have been struggling lately. Jenny has been going through a growth spurt which caused muscle soreness. Additionally she had an upset stomach this morning. Julia has had problems with anemia. We just recently found it that is what it was. So their training and fitness was less than ideal, but they still ran OK. Jenny got 7:59, Julia got 9:15.

Even though William had a DNS, they allowed us to count him in the largest immediate family contest. We won with 9 people in the race thus earning a turkey plus some extras. Additionally we won two turkeys in the random drawing. So we ended up with a total of 7 turkeys. Luckily, only one of them came in the real form. The other 6 were certificates. That is good because our fridge is small, and can barely hold the one real turkey that we got in the freezer.

Afterwards Benjamin and I ran a long cool-down. I ended up with a total of 13.5 miles. Benjamin ended up with a total of 5.

P.M. 2 miles. Did the last one in 5:56 as I was curious how fast pace would feel at the end of the day. It felt hard, harder than even 5:42 last Saturday at the end of the day. I did start out with a 93 quarter because I did not start running fast right away, but still after that it was 89, 87, 87, and  those 87s felt like 83s last Saturday. I suppose the combination of the lack of sleep and the fatigue from the race did the magic.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 15.50
Night Sleep Time: 5.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 5.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. Jenny and Julia did 3, which I did 3.5 running ahead, adding distances, and then catching up. The catch-up mile was 5:30 and it felt very good. 5 with Benjamin. 1 with Joseph. Jacob had a cough, did not run.

P.M. 2.5 miles.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 14.50
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. Total of 20.5. Started with 0.5 with Jacob. Jenny and Julia did 3 with Sarah. Benjamin had a cold, did not run. After Jacob's run I did my 20 mile course to Bridal Veil and back with some pickups throughout the run. Started with a mile at 0.5  in 5:55 up a small grade and with obstacles. Then at 3 did a mile in 5:44. This one had less adversity, but I would still consider it anti-aided. At about 6.5 did 2 up the Provo Canyon in 11:58. It felt harder than it should have. Then at 10.5 did 3 down the Provo Canyon on my standard tempo stretch. Based on how hard the earlier miles felt I thought it would be difficult to be under 17:00 (5:40 average). I wondered if I would even get that after the first quarter in 90. But then I got going and hit 5:38, 5:34, 5:30, which gave me 16:42. I wanted to run the last 4 hard and started on it. 6:00 pace was a struggle. After doing a mile in 6:15 I was concerned that I might be doing more damage than good if I kept pressing and stopped the tempo 2.5 into the interval while still 1.5 away from the house. After a quarter of jogging, however, I reconsidered and decided to give it an honest push in the last mile. I was very sluggish through the "obstacle" quarter in 96, but then was able to shift gears  and did 87, 87. Before the run I weighed 144.4 in winter clothes. After 140.4. Adjusting to my normal weighing standard I think this would convert to around 143.8 and 139.8. So there went 4 lb in the run. Not much sweating - the temperatures started in the 20s and were in the low 30s at the end of the run.

The crash was interesting. It was not really a crash after all, I think. I was just so mentally exhausted from running alone in the cold for 20 miles, working hard for a good portion of it,  and possibly also from our adventures with sick children and the race on Thursday, that I just did not have the mental energy to battle various course obstacles (tunnels, turns, bridges) on the trail. The last three quarters showed I still had something physically. But I think one thing we do not realise is how much mental energy it takes to keep accelerating back to pace after minor setbacks, and when the physical goes down, the mental goes down with it as well perhaps at a higher rate. So what would be only a minor annoyance when you are fresh becomes a 10-15 seconds per mile knockdown when fatigued.

P.M.  1 mile with Joseph.

Green Crocs 2 Miles: 21.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 2 Miles: 77.50
Night Sleep Time: 37.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 37.00
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