Breaking the Wall

Provo River Half-Marathon

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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:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 225.16 Year: 225.16
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Neon Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1359.62
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Ran with George and Danny in the morning. We went on the trails. Danny had served a mission in Russia, so I figure he could use some Russian instruction while we run to keep his Russian up. Right in the middle of that instruction I was so engrossed in explaining the intricacies of the Russian usage that I was not paying attention to the footing, and naturally took a spill. This is not the first time, so thanks to the wealth of my falling experience I got away with just small scrapes on the hands and one on the left knee.

Dropped George and Danny off, and ran some more along the Slate Canyon Loop. With a quarter to go I noticed that if I ran 1:29 I would get 15:00. While in the middle of that quarter, I realized that this would put me whole 50 seconds behind Stuart's record. I was feeling good, still had some miles to go, and remembered my easy pace splits in the early part of the loop, so I figured I'd just keep going at a tempo pace until my time for the loop becomes faster than Stuart's record. This gave me a mile in 5:43 (with the first quarter uphill in 1:29), and the loop time of 13:57. In the process I realized that Stuart's record is pretty good - it took some hard work to catch it.

Ran some more with the kids. Then in the evening Benjamin wanted to do sprints, so we went to our magic hill. This gave me my goal of 15 miles for the day (a bit more, actually).

Did bench press, narrow grip, 3 sets of 3 with 100 pounds.

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Did two runs today. First one early in the morning before going to the temple. The goal was to cover 10 miles in the minimum amount of time with the minimum possible effort. Two conflicting goals. To meet them, the course had to be flat, and I had to start right from my house. This meant a mile out, and then a mile back five times. Started out at slower than 8:00, then eventually sped up to about 7:10-7:15 pace. Did not feel like going any faster. It might have had something to do with the low quality of sleep last night - Jacob had a fever, and kept waking up. Sarah nursed him all night. Fortunately he nurses very well, and that makes him happy.

Finally got bored with the slow pace, and also got curious about how a faster pace would feel. Ran 0.75 in 4:19. Then with 0.75 to go, I saw that I could break 1:11:00 for the whole run if I did the last 0.75 in under 4:13. So I got going. First quarter in 1:27, no wonder it felt so easy. Then pressed a little harder on the gas pedal - 1:24, and a bit more on the last one - 1:21 - 4:12 for the stretch.

In the evening first ran with the kids. Then put Jenny and Joseph in the stroller, and went to do the remainder of the miles. I discover that Jenny is a great training partner. Her stories entertain me well enough to compensate for the extra 44 pounds of weight. She kept talking non-stop, which might be a bit annoying in the house, but is wonderful during a run.

Ran the Slate Canyon Loop in 15:33. Interestingly enough, on the flat sections I was going about the same pace (7:10) as I did earlier this morning, and it felt the same in spite of pushing 70 pounds of kid weight + the stroller itself. I guess having had a nap in the afternoon made quite a bit of a difference.

After the loop, added another 1.5 miles. Got curious on the last quarter how fast I would go at a tempo effort. Picked it up to an aggressive marathon pace. Got 1:30 for the quarter.

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Tempo run on the Provo River Trail by Geneva road this morning. Again 2.5 out, 2.5 back. The course looks flat, but I've wondered about that since I've noticed doing mile repeats that the first mile out is always 5 seconds faster than the same mile back. Sure enough, there is a 25 feet elevation drop on the first mile, which makes 25 feet climb (0.5% grade) on the last. Otherwise, it is indeed flat.

Ran it in 28:26.3, 6 seconds faster than Monday. However, unlike Monday, I was feeling lazy and sleepy from the very start through the first half. After that, I was just tired.

The splits were 5:39 - 5:40 - 5:45 (with a U-turn) - 5:43 - 5:39. First half 14:10, second 14:16. Felt strong. but stuck in the 5:40 gear.

During the cooldown saw Steve Roberts and Dan Hinckley. They were doing a fartlek. Ran a bit with them - about 0.1 mile, hit a 100 in 16.

Came home and ran with the kids.

Still had 4 miles left for the evening. Took Jenny and Joseph in the stroller. I think I've figured out the meaning of Thing 1 and Thing 2 in The Cat in The Hat. Julia is Thing 1 and Joseph is Thing 2. You have to catch them with a net! I suppose I could be The Cat In The Hat when I come to somebody's house with them. Anyway, Sarah (The Fast Running Mommy) is very happy when I take one or both of them.

Decided to do some power work while I had a chance. Warm-up, then two 100 meter bounds (no stroller for the bounds). Covered 100 m in 43 steps. Looks like the legs are still a bit weak from the marathon - this should be 41 - 42 steps normally. This is consisent with what I've been seening in tempo runs.

Then jogged some more, and did 4x60 meters uphill (3% grade) with the stroller (70 pounds of kid weight) and ankle weights. 14.5 - 13.8 - 14.1 - 13.9. Jenny and Joseph had a lot of fun.

Then parked the stroller, and did 2x60 up in 10.7 - 10.9, one down in 9.4, and then one up in 10.7.

Some interesting observations - not much speed-up after dropping the weight, and even after changing the direction. This is also consistent with the 5:40 pattern in the tempo run. My intuition tells me I need some downhill work.

I still have no idea why this happens to me, but running uphill for a long time makes me slow. There has to be a way around it, though.

Did bench press also. 3 sets of 3 with 100 pounds, narrow grip.

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Easy run with George in the morning. Decided to measure the trail course with the wheel. We've already measured it with Steve's GPS, but it lost the signal a couple of times down the road, so I was not sure how reliable the measurement was. The wheel measurement of the stretch out was 3.68. The GPS showed 3.66. Of course, I am not sure how accurate the wheel measurement was either - the wheel kept bouncing and shaking on the rocks as I ran with it. But at least using two different methods gave very similar results.

Dropped off George, jogged a bit more. Got bored, ran 0.5 in 2:49. Had a hard time getting going.

Did 4x100 with ankle weights - 19.7 - 19.6 - 18.8 - 18.3.

Then ran with the kids. In the evening jogged some more with Jennifer and Joseph in the stroller. Jennifer told me a lot of stories again.

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Speedwork in the Provo Canyon in the morning. Warmed up. Found somebody to run with - his name is Kevin. His is training for his first marathon.

Did 4x100 strides near Canyon Glen Park - 2 down and 2 up. Then 12x400 down with 200 jog. Averaged 70.7. Last two were 69.5 and 68.3. Felt lazy - this is to be expected at the end of a 90 mile week shortly after a marathon with a difficult recovery. Also was holding back a bit in anticipation of a 2 mile tempo afterwards.

Lots of joggers on the trail. Got some interesting comments during one recovery jog - people are surprised to see me run so slow. Hey, guys, hold your horses - the next interval is coming up.

Ran back to the start of the tempo. Found another partner to run with - his name is Craig, he has run several marathons, and teaches grade school in Orem. Had a good chat with him.

Back at the Canyon Glen Park, and now the 2 mile tempo down. The goal was to run 10:40. I felt like Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon - give the minimum required. Actually, they would not even do that, so I suppose I did a bit better. But I did have a bit of their attitude in the run. So if I saw a 1:21 split I would speed up, but if I saw a 1:19 I'd back off. Hit the first mile in 5:21, then next 0.5 in 2:41, and the last 0.5 in 2:38. This gave me the desired 10:40 right on.

Again the abundance of joggers supplied some interesting comments. With about 30 meters to go I passed three girls that were probably going around 8:00 or so. One of them said something to the effect that seeing me pass them made her feel bad. However, right after she said it I stopped. Then she said she was glad to see me stop because this did not make her feel so bad. I've heard comments like that before, interstingly enough mostly from women. It does make me wonder why seeing a man run fast makes them feel bad. First, men and women race in separate divisions, and for good reason. Second, one should be happy for others when they run well instead of feeling jealous. Maybe second should really be first.

Came home, ran with the kids. In the evening did bench press, narrow grip, 3 sets of 3 with 100 pounds. Jogged some more with various combinations of kids in the double stroller. Total of 15 miles for the day.

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Repeated the Saturday's workout today. 4x100 strides. 12x400 downhill (1% grade) in the Provo Canyon with 200 recovery. Averaged 69.2, last in 67.0. Then jogged back up, and did a 2 mile tempo run. Went through the first mile in 5:18, then got complacent. 8:01 at 1.5, time to get going. Picked it up and finished in 10:39. Overall, felt siginficantly stronger in the quarters, but only slightly stronger in the tempo run. Very possible that I was able to push myself more in the quarters, and thus was more tired before the tempo run.

Jogged some more in the evening with Benjamin and Joseph in the stroller. Benjamin got out with 0.5 to go, so I had to run the least 0.5 in 3:30 with him.

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A fairly lonely run this morning. Circled around the house in hopes of finding somebody to run with. Finally did run into Raymond at the end, and jogged with a bit. Then ran with the kids. Total of 10 miles for the morning run.

In the evening took Jenny and Joseph in the stroller. Did a warmup. Then a strength test - 2x100 meters in bounds. Covered the distance in 41 steps. It was 43 on Thursday, and I did feel more power in each step today.

Then Benjamin and his friend Paul joined us, and we jogged to the Slate Canyon hill. Did 4x60 uphill with Jenny and Joseph in the stroller, and racing Benjamin. Forgot to bring the ankle weights, and perhaps that was good - otherwise Benjamin would have destroyed me. 12.5 - 12.5 - 12.6 - 12.4. Barely passed Benjamin with 10-20 meters to go on all of them. Felt strong.

Then jogged to Provost, looped around a bit while the kids played, and then played soccer with Benjamin.

Later in the evening did bench press, narrow grip, 3 sets of 3 with 100 pounds.

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Had an interesting night last night. For some reason, could not go into a deep sleep for a while. Felt like it had something to do with running in the heat in the afternoon. Finally got up, ate a snack of fruit, bread, honey, and EmergenC drink, and laid down. Then went into power mode sleep - dremt about sleeping for 18 hours. When I woke up, most of the symptoms of heat exposure appeared to have been gone.

In the morning, jogged 8 miles starting out at 8:00 pace, and finishing at around 7:00.

Then went to the temple, came back, ran with the kids. Later in the afternoon took Benjamin and Jenny to the soccer practice. Julia went along for the ride. Parked the stroller at the soccer field and cruised around getting the rest of the miles in at about 7:30 pace. It was hot, about 85 degrees. Total of 15 miles for the day.

Benjamin scored two goals during the practice play. I think his coordination has improved quite a bit relative to his peers since last year. Last year he was about average in handling the ball, but his endurance permitted him to be all over the field in the midst of action. This time it seems like it is not just the endurance any more. I am very happy with this development. I have plenty of endurance, but very little explosive strength and coordination. In order to be a world-class marathoner, endurance is not enough - you have to have the speed to maintain to begin with. No matter how much endurance you've got, you cannot run 26 4:50 miles if 4:50 is all you can do all out. So if Benjamin can have my endurance, and unlike myself right now a very good speed to go along, we will see some good results.

This also raises an interesting question. My speed/explosive strength has never been exceptional, but it went from better than average at the age of 11 (60 meters in 9.6), to below average at the age of 17 (200 meters in 27.5). I hope that somewhere deep down there is an untapped speed potential that perhaps I will be able to unlock if I press the right buttons.

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Went to the Provo River Trail by Geneva Road to check my condition. Planned a 5 mile tempo run starting out at 5:30 pace to see how long I'd be able to hold it, and what will happen afterwards.

Warmed up 2 miles. Then started the tempo towards the Utah Lake. Flat course. Splits by the quarter - 1:22 - 1:23 - 1:24 - 1:24 (5:32) - 1:25 - 1:25 - 1:27 - 1:27 (5:44) - 1:29. After 1:29 I figured there was something seriously wrong, and decided to stop. Jogged some more, did 4x100 strides. Then went home, and ran some more with the kids.

I've had similar experiences before, but not so drastic, where 5:30 pace feels easy on the first mile, and then deteriorates to 5:55 in a mile, while the effort feels the same, and other than slow splits, nothing really appears to be out of the ordinary. Actually, it has been this bad before once - Thanksgiving 4 miler in 2005.

One could blame it on the legs being tired from the mileage and the marathon, but I think this is only a part of the story. When it is just the legs, what happens is that I cannot start at a good pace, but whatever pace I start at I keep. Besides, it takes quite a bit of beating to get my legs to go 5:55, and the legs did not feel tired.

In exercise physiology, when they have excluded the muscle itself as the limiting factor of performance, they blame it on the central nervous system fatigue. This is quite possible.

Right before the Thanksgiving 4 miler, I ran with every one of my kids in their races first before starting mine. With the oldest child being 6, and the number of kids being 4, this did cause quite a bit of load on the central nervous system. And did did show in the race - my splits were 5:10 - 5:19 - 5:51 - 5:26. I would have called the third mile long had I not run most of it earlier during the first lap, and had it not been marked by the quarters. Something just quit for 5 minutes, and I am quite certain it was not the muscles or the heart.

Perhaps the experience today is a blessing in disguise. In the past, I used to pray before a workout that I would be able to reach a particular time goal. But recently I decided to pray so that the workout will be for my benefit to help me reach my long term goals. Perhaps this drastic slowdown is an answer to my prayer highlighting a limitation that I have been neglecting somewhat. I keep working on my speed, muscle strength, heart, glycogen stores , but if the brain cannot give enough spark, all that work does not help very much. Now assuming that the problem is indeed what I think it is how do you get the brain/central nervous system to be more robust?

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Had some good rest yesterday. Went to the USA Track and Field Meeting. Got to visit with Demetrio Cabanillas, Bill Cobler, Ericksons, Eric Peterson, and a few others. This was good for the mind, as my work lately has been quite boring. I am in the middle of re-writing a fairly messy piece of code for a client that computes a large number of sales statistics for a hotel reservation system. That alone would cause a severe central nervous system fatigue!

In any case, today I wanted to measure what that rest, both physical and mental did for me. So I went to the same spot as yesterday, and ran the same course. Since I am running in the Provo River Half-Marathon tomorrow, I decided to keep the tempo down to 2.5. This would give me enough of an idea of what is going on as most of the problems happen between miles 1 and 2 for me. Again, the goal was to maintain 5:30 pace for as long as possible.

Warmed up, did 4x100 with ankle weights 19.0 - 18.8 - 18.8 - 18.8.

Quarter splits for the tempo run - 1:21 - 1:19 - 1:21 - 1:22 (5:23) - 1:23 - 1:23 - 1:25 - 1:25 (5:36) - 1:25 - 1:25 (13:49.9 for 2.5). Much better than yesterday, but still not quite there. However, the rest did me some good.

Again, the same pattern, except at higher speeds - 5:23 felt right, and then something quit. However, it did not quit so bad - I was still going 5:40 steady.

Let's see what happens tomorrow in the race.

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Race: Provo River Half-Marathon (13.11 Miles) 01:14:00, Place overall: 1
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Provo River Half-Marathon 1:14:00, first place.

This was Curt Catmull's race, which means a lot of expected and unexpected adventure. I was running the timing system as usual. Stayed up until midnight setting it up at the finish. With the latest problems I've been experiencing in tempo runs, and with the lack of sleep on top of that, I knew better than to expect a fast time. However, winning the race was a reasonable goal.

Curt by some miracle managed to bus 1500+ people up to the start of the race in the South Fork of the Provo Canyon, and start the race on time. Unfortunately, this was too much on time. I barely got out of the bushes, and started making my way through the crowd to the starting line when he sounded the horn. He does not sleep at all for two days before his races, so being a little jumpy is natural for him I suppose.

I started my watch with about 1 second delay, and began to make progress through the congestion of runners without much success. Then I thought of something - use the siren. As I howled like an ambulance to the best of my ability, people started stepping aside to let me pass. It took me only 30 seconds or so before the traffic was thin enough to not need the siren any more. By about half-mile I was finally in the lead.

Mile splits - 5:33 (steep down, crowd interference) - 11:02 (5:29) - 16:11 (5:09, steep down) - 27:26 (5 miles) - 33:08 (5:42, part uphill) - 39:17 (6:09, mostly uphill) - 44:44 (5:27) - 50:18 (5:34) - 55:52 ( 5:34) - 1:07:08 (12 miles). Then it took me 6:51 to get to the end, which is a bit too long. The course has been changed. I think in the past it was about 45 seconds short, and now it has become about 30 seconds long. I remember always getting some incredibly fast split on the last 1.1 in the past.

The entire race I was feeling just like I did in my tempo runs. Not really feeling tired, but something is blocking me. Tried to deal with it using an artificially high turnover. There was nothing I could do about power, which gives you stride length - that was involuntarily capped. However, I did have some control over the stride frequency and moved my feet as quickly as I could possibly put up with. This drove me nuts, but at least I could go fast enough to be in the lead.

After the turnaround (about 6.8) on the old highway I saw Ron Greenwood was about 45 seconds behind, and began to be concerned. He has a lot of potential. If he had been training, he could easily close it. So I ran scared from that point on to keep him off. I was never really sure I had it until I got to the credit union drive-through, and saw I had about a minute lead.

The course change was rather interesting. We ran through a drive-through of the Utah Community Credit Union. Maybe next time UCCU should offer a cash prize to the runner that reaches the drive-through first, and hand it to him right there.

As I approached the finish, I heard the very familiar "go Daddy!". Wow, this is quite a surprise. This was quite an effort for Sarah to get our five children ages 7 through 3 weeks ready that early in the morning all by herself, and get them to the race. She also brought a video camera to tape me. I appreciate her efforts very much.

My watch said 1:13:59. However, I added a second to that for the official time since I started a bit late. Ron was second with 1:14:56, and then Chad Derum with 1:15:29 - new PR.

The race was over, however, I was done only with the first half of the full marathon for the day. I still had to time the rest of the runners, and scan 1500+ bar codes. Recruited a couple of volunteers to help me (one of them, Ken Cushing, had just run the race in 1:24), and we went to work. Finally done.

Went home, got the results published on, ran with the kids in the afternoon. Went on a date with Sarah, then did bench press at night, usual deal, 100 pounds, narrow grip, 3 sets of 3.

I am still amazed at how Curt manages to bring that many people together on such a shoe string budget. The whole race has been for a number of years held together mostly by Curt's enthusiasm.

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Went to the Provo Canyon as usual. Decided to do a 3 mile tempo run downhill to evaluate my condition. Jogged a mile, then did 4x100 with ankle weights - up 19.8, down 18.3, down 17.50, up 19.3. Jogged two miles up to Nunn's park.

Now the tempo run. Mile splits - 5:20 - 5:25 - 5:27, 16:12 total. Same old story - start losing power after 1.5. However, not too bad today. Sarah came with me and videotaped me at mile 2.

Decided to take it easy today. Came home ran with the kids, then in the afternoon jogged to their soccer practice - only 10.5 miles today. Need to get some thorough rest before the Great Salt Lake half, both physical and mental.

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Took it easy today. Ran 8 miles with Steve Hillam and George in the morning. Then ran with the kids. Bench press in the evening. Usual workout - narrow grip, 3 sets of 3, 100 pounds. Started taking Dr. Christopher's Adrenal Formula - 3 pills 3 times a day in an attempt to help with the inability to hold the usual half-marathon pace for more than 1.5 miles problem.

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Another easy day. Trying to rebuild the nervous system. I think the legs are strong, but the nervous system is just too tired from everything and cannot drive them hard. However, running miles puts a stress not only on your legs and heart, but also on the nervous system. When you do not run, the legs and the heart can rest, but the nervous system might not get a chance.

Got up at 5:45 this morning and went for a 6 mile run. Decided to have some fun, and break the monotony with a 2.11 tempo on the Slate Canyon loop. This would also give me a chance to test if the recovery is happening. I set two goals - break 12:00, and not slow down at the end. 2.11 with a 0.5 hill with the average grade of 5% is long enough to find the problems.

Splits by quarter - 1:24 - 1:22 - 1:21 - 1:33 (3% grade) - then no marks or missed marks, last quarter at 1.5% grade in 1:22. The uphill pace was a little slower than what it should have been, but I did not feel tired going uphill. Not sure if this was because it was too early in the morning to push hard, or if this is a sign of residual fatigue.

Ran with Peter Williams (a neighbor) on the cooldown. In the afternoon ran with the kids.

Did 3x3 of the Adrenal Formula.

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Found a new training partner - Ted Leblow. He is a 2:28 marathoner, but is currently trying to get into shape after a deployment in Iraq. We went to the Provo Canyon. I ran my standard 3 mile tempo downhill for a tune-up for Great Salt Lake Half this Saturday. He did the first 0.5, then backed off to a slower pace.

Saw some improvement - reached my goal of being under 16:00 and not losing speed on the second half. Mile splits were 5:18 - 5:21 - 5:19. The first quarter, which is always slow due to the short but steep uphill section in the middle was 1:23. Other than that, there were no quarters slower than 1:21. However, I did not feel quite right. The pace felt hard.

On the positive side, I finally felt like my heart had to work, and I was breathing. In short, I progressed from dragging and slowing down to just dragging. I am happy with that. So far I am looking at about 1:13 in Great Salt Lake Half if I were to race today. Hopefully the additional rest will make it better.

Came home and ran with the kids. Afterwards, we went to see the Kennecott Copper Mine. Kids had fun. Joseph showed off his great running ability. I was impressed, and did not mind having to chase him. Somebody commented about the exercise I was getting. Hmm... you call that exercise?

In the evening lifted weights, bench press, narrow grip. Started out with 100 pounds. Felt easy, did 6 repetitions. Then made it 105 and did 6 more. The last one was hard, barely made it.

Did 3x3 of Dr. Christopher's Adrenal Formula.

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Easy run. Ran with Ted and Steve Hillam near my house. Ted's son James joined us for about 1.5 miles. We looped around, hit the trail for a little bit.

Afterwards, 4x100 with ankle weights 19.7 - 19.4 - 18.3 - 18.1, then took them off and did two more in 17.7 and 17.3.

Then ran with the kids. Shortly after Benjamin had finished his run, we saw the BYU team approaching. Benjamin, of course, could not miss the opportunity to run with the big boys. We ran a quarter in 1:45. Benjamin could have gone longer, but I figured he's already done his run, and he would still have to run back as the double stroller was already full with Julia and Joseph.

This was quite a sight to watch. Some of the BYU runners have very long legs, about the size of Benjamin. Otherwise, he looks and runs just like them. He was very excited to feel a part of the big boys.

What is interesting is that Benjamin is only 4 feet tall, his turnover is only about 200 steps per minute at 7:00 pace. The BYU guys were probably turning over at about 175-180. So his stride length is surprisingly long relative to his height.

Did an always on the run mile in the evening. I stopped doing them for a while, but tonight after some rest I was finally feeling sedentary enough to require a break. Could not help but try some race pace running - did a quarter in 1:23. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I expect it is going to be a very tough race - every inch of ground on the competition will cost serious blood.

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Race: Great Salt Lake Half Marathon (13.23 Miles) 01:14:45, Place overall: 5, Place in age division: 1
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Great Salt Lake Half Marathon, 1:14:45, 5th place. Long course again, although not as long as last year. The race director started it at the wrong fire hydrant. At least there was some effort made to start it at the right location. The three GPSs I've polled reported 13.23, 13.24, and 13.26 respectively for the length of the course. It took me 24 seconds to get to the correct fire hydrant. I think it would be fair to say the course was at least 24 seconds long. Although I am still not where I ought to be, this performance shows a signficant improvement from last week - I ran only a few seconds slower (adjusting for the course length mess-up) without the 1000 feet of elevation drop. My performance in the Provo River Half last week would amount to probably 1:16:00 or slower on this version of the course.

Ran the first three miles with Nick McCombs, Dennis Simonaitis, and Joe Wilson. The mile marks were all messed up, but according to Dennis' GPS we were going 5:19 pace. I was not breathing hard, but something was not working, so I had to back off to about 5:30-5:35 pace or so (guess). Then around 5 miles I got caught by Leon Gallegos. This was a surprise - I talked to him afterwards, and found out he has been doing some serious mileage (100-110 a week), which gave him this breakthrough. I ran with him for about another mile, then let him go with the idea to catch him later. But he was strong, and I was not, so he kept gradually moving away.

I knew there was trouble brewing behind me, and just tried to run relaxed to the end, and hold the trouble off. The course does not have many turns, so it is not easy to check on the pursuers. At one point I saw a figure in a dark shirt. That looked like Tim Stringfellow. I did not like it, he has a powerful kick. However, this is a half-marathon, and although I am half-dead, I can still run my marathon race pace. So next time I had a chance to check, which was with about a mile to go, there was no dark figure. It changed colors. Now the figure was green. Steve Ashbaker.

We drove up together. And we are good friends. But this is a race, and the end of it. So time for nasty tricks. I need to make him not want to catch me. We are climbing up the hill. Run up strong to discourage him. Then on the downhill, a hard surge, give it all I've got, forget there is another half-mile to go, just do all I can to make him give up. Then a mental trick - surge until a certain time in the race (1:14:10). A little rest, now maximum surge until 1:15:00 or until the race is over. Saved by the finish line.

Nick McCombs won with 1:10:06, then Dennis - 1:10:07, Joe 1:12:07, Leon 1:13:19. Steve was 6th with 1:15:02, Mark Jolley 7th with 1:15:39, and Tim Stringfellow 8th with 1:16 something.

Afterwards, jogged back, paced Braiden, then jogged back again, paced a guy whose name is Brad, if I remember right.

Drove back with Steve. He was nice and did not kill me for the nasty tricks I did to him. Ran with the kids. In the evening, bench press, 105 pounds, narrow grip 3 sets of 3.

Still taking Adrenal Formula 3x3 a day.

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Ran with Ted again in the morning in the Provo Canyon. Warmed up to the Nunns park. Then the standard 3 mile tempo down to the bridge in 15:53. An improvement over Thursday by 5 seconds. Mile splits - 5:17 - 5:20 - 5:16. On the last mile let is slide a bit on the next to last quarter (1:22), but then got mad and hit the last quarter in 74.

Overall, the feeling was that 5:20 pace was reasonably comfortable, but an attempt to go faster would produce a familiar toxic feeling in the body. I have always believed the toxic feeling comes from the lactic acid build up, but now I am wondering if this is something else. I remember feeling this at slower speeds at times towards the end of a half-marathon or a marathon when somebody passes me, and I am determined to stay with him or die. So I speed up, run for about a minute at a faster pace, but not necessarily fast enough to make me breath very hard or get the heart rate up to the lactic threshold levels, and boom, the toxic feeling comes, and there is nothing I can do, except slow down. Once I slow down, things are back to normal, other than the fact that my competitor is gone for good. The feeling does correlate with lower blood sugar levels somewhat, at least it is more likely to appear towards the end of a long race.

Ted finish the tempo run in 17:25. That is an improvement by almost a minute for him.

Afterwards, 5x400 on the flatter section of the trail (0.5% net drop, rolling) with 200 recovery. 69.6 - 69.7 - 71.8 - 71.0 - 67.2.

In the afternoon ran with the kids. Benjamin wanted to run in the Payson Onion Days 5 K. I told him he had to qualify. The qualifying standard was to run his half mile with the first quarter in 1:45, and the last one in 1:40. He did 1:44 - 1:39 with the last 100 in 22. This gave him a half-mile PR of 3:23. So he qualified with flying colors.

Afterwards took Benjamin and Jennifer to their soccer practice. Ran around enough to get the total for the day up to 15 miles. Then helped the coach, and played a practice game.

Finalized my plans for the upcoming Saturday. Glen wanted us to shine the store uniform in Park City, where he now lives. So I am doing a half-marathon leg of the relay. Bob Thompson is doing the other half. We are racing another team from the store - Mike Kirk/Darrell Phippen.

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Easy run with Ted in the morning. Afterwards 4x100 with ankle weights (19.6-19.7 - 18.6 - 18.3), and 2x100 without (17.7 - 17.1).

In the afternoon ran with the kids, and jogged to church and back to enter the Elder's Quorum Hometeaching report.

Also did bench press, 3x3 with 105 pounds, narrow grip. Still taking the Adrenal Formula.

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Easy run with Ted in the morning. He was nice enough to come at 5:30 am to run with me, and with the military precision he was at least 5 minutes early. We did a little pickup in the middle and hit the Slate Canyon Loop (2.11) in 14:05. Saw the Stake leadership out running - Pres. Phillips, and Bishop Smith. Our bishop also runs, as well as the bishop of the 5th ward. Great to see them setting an example for everyone else.

Dropped Ted off, and found another Church leader out for a run - Steve Braiton from the High Counsil. Ran with him a little bit. He wanted to know what 5:30 pace feels like, so we did a couple of pickups at that pace.

In the afternoon ran with the kids, and also jogged a bit during Benjamin's soccer game. They won 4:0 again against a team from North Provo. I told Benjamin, however, not to get too excited as they will soon be playing against the West Provo teams, which have a lot of Mexican kids.

Got an offer from a chiropractic, Dr Jeff Jex, for a free exam, and went with Sarah. He found a few things that are of interest. The lung capacity was 5.0 L. There was some range of motion imbalance in the neck. And, the most interesting, the knee reflex was very weak.

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Went with Ted to the Provo Canyon. Warmed up with him, then did 6x1 mile with 200 m jog rest. Alternated down and up. Started 1.25 miles away from the 3 mile tempo finish. The goal was to get a good cardio/muscle workout for anaerobic threshold. Assuming the nervous system is currently the holdback, I cannot push it hard enough in a regular tempo run. So breaking it up should help then.

Splits - down 5:12.4 up 5:39.7 down 5:11.8 up 5:41.2 down 5:12.6 up 5:35.6. At the start of the last one I saw an older man on a bike and asked him to pace me. The pacing helped.

We talked some afterwards. Turns out he was a 4:30 miler in his younger years. He told me I looked like a 400 meter runner. I've actually heard that observation before. I think the strength is there in the legs to run a good 400, but the coordination and the neural drive is not. I was actually a pretty good middle-distance runner as a kid - 3:03.8 in 1000 meters a month before turning 13. However, the best I've ever done on that distance is 2:49 at the age of 18. I suppose I'd be able to do about the same now. But based on my 13 year old performance, I should be running at least 2:35. Something went out of whack in the way of speed between 13 and 18, and stayed that way.

In the evening ran with the kids. Benjamin was sick, but wanted to watch Jenny and Abby run from the stroller. Afterwards, I took him for a Daddy half-mile in the stroller. I promised him I'd break 3:30 for him. Well, with 200 to go I saw that 6:00 pace would break his record of 3:23. So I picked it up, and hit the last 200 in 40 - 3:18 for the half mile. Felt strong. Proper tire inflation makes a lot of difference when pushing a loaded double-stroller.

Afterwards, ran to church again to finish the hometeaching stats entry.

Also, did the bench press, 3 sets of 3, narrow grip, 105 pounds.

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Mini-taper for the Park City Relay. Easy run with Eric and George on the trail in the morning. Then ran with the kids in the evening.

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Race: Park City Relay (13.11 Miles) 01:17:35, Place overall: 2
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Park City Relay. Ran the second half in 1:17:35 minus however long it took me to get over a fence. Our team got second place in 2:37:29.

Bob Thompson unfortunately had a hamstring problem at mile 8 and had to stop. Mike Kirk was running with him, stopped, tried to help him get going for a minute. Then went on. In the mean time, Adam from the Wasatch Atheletics team (just moved here from St. Louis) kept on going, and handed off to Leon Gallegos at 1:18:41. Mike came announcing the change of plans as he was running in, so I got going at 1:19:54 in hopes of catching Leon.

The course was not fast at all. Start at about 6650 feet according to gmap-pedometer, and about 6450 according to the official race elevation map (Let hope Paul can get this straight for us). 4 miles of climb to 7041 according to the official map, and 7058 according to gmap-pedometer. The last half-mile of the climb gets brutal, probably 4% grade (any comments on that Paul?), then a decent at some extremely steep grade that makes you break, then a more gentle descent for a few miles, then rolling hills to the finish. Probably about 30-40% on dirt. As if this was not enough, a closed gate on the course to keep the cows out with a sign asking the passer-bys to keep it closed.

I believe some of the mile markers were accurate, at least the ones that were painted on the road. Others were off. In the beginning I was going about 6:00-6:05 pace, if we are to believe the painted marks. The steep uphill mile was 6:48. Once I got to the top, I started getting a side ache, the type I have gotten before from running hard at a higher elevation. So I took it fairly easy coming down. Hit a few 5:40 miles. 40:47 with a 10 K to go. It started to look like I could even dip a bit under 1:16 if I managed to keep the pace. However, now I was on dirt, and the downhill ended. Now it was just dirt, and 6500 feet of elevation. And no sign of Leon. Oh, well, just hang in there.

As if that was not enough, another obstacle. A closed gate to keep the cattle and the runners out. As I approached it, I realized that with the stress of being in a hurry, it could take me as long as a whole minute or maybe even two to figure out how to open it. My hand dexterity is not very good at all - way below average for a man. And even worse after running 9 miles hard at this elevation. So I looked around to see if there was some kind of a hole. No hole, just barbed wire. However, the gate looked like I could fairly easily climb over it, so I did. Probably lost 20-25 seconds of time + rhythm.

Finally made it to the finish area. Saw my mother, and waved at her - she is visiting us from Russia, and was willing to get up at 5:00 am to see a race.

Leon ran a great time of 1:13:29. This is absolutely amazing on this course. What a breakthrough! In the beginning of the year I was beating him in 5 Ks by over 30 seconds. Then he closed it to 3 seconds in Draper Days 5 K. Then he beat me by a minute and a half in the half marathon last week. Now he beat me by as much as 4 minutes just a week later, and I do not think that my performance today was any worse than last week comparatively with the adjustments for the course. He is going to be a very tough competitor in the Top of Utah marathon.

Jed Burton won the marathon with 2:50:08. Bill Cobler was second with 2:55:30. Went for a cool-down with Bill afterwards.

In the evening ran with the kids, and worked out with weights, bench press, 105 pounds, 3x3, narrow grip.

Somehow managed to put in 76 miles this week.

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Ran with Ted in the Provo Canyon this morning. 2 mile warmup, then the standard 3 mile tempo run in 15:44. Mile splits - 5:14 - 5:18 - 5:12. Last quarter in 73. Afterwards, 5x400 alternating down and up - 70.3 down - 77.9 up - 71.8 down - 76.9 up - 68.7 down. The wind was very strange - going down I felt some resistance on the last 100 - probably a cross wind. Then going up I again felt some serious resistance on the last 200. Came home and ran with the kids. In the evening ran during their soccer practice, including 1 mile with Abby. Sarah and I went to see Dr. Jex to see what he discovered in his tests. Both of us have less than ideal neck curvature angle - she had 13 degrees, I had 16. On top of that I had some serious issues in the lower back - the spine bends the wrong way. He is going to do some additional tests to see if the method he uses (Pettibon method) can fix it. The encouraging thing is that Trever Ball has been treated using this method with excellent results. So I am willing to take the risk and give it a try.

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Ran with Ted in the morning over by my house. Afterwards 4x100 with ankle weights - 18.6 - 18.4 - 17.8 -17.6, and 2x100 without 15.9 - 15.8. I did not make a conscious effort to run faster than last week, for some reason it happened naturally. I suppose this is a good sign.

Afterwards ran 1.25 with Sarah. She ran the last mile of it in 12:06, her fastest mile since the birth of Jacob.

In the evening ran with the kids, and did bench press, a set of 5, and then a set of 4 with 105 pounds, narrow grip.

Went to see Dr. Jex for what he calls the stress test. You do some neck stretches, then he does a whole bunch of adjustments, and then puts some weight on your head and X-rays you to measure the neck angle. The measurement under those conditions is supposed to indicate how well you will respond to the Pettibon exercises. Under stress, my angle improved from 16 to 25 degrees, but still not quite the desired 45.

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Ran with Clyde and Ted this morning. Met Clyde in person for the first time. We circled around the neighborhood trying to stay flat. Made a couple of laps around the cemetery. Then Clyde started to push the pace , but I encouraged him to slow down.

Then we decided to go to the Slate Canyon Loop. Clyde started to push the pace again. This time I figured I wanted to see what he would do on the Slate Canyon Loop. Ted hung back, and Clyde and I went at a pace that felt like his marathon race pace to him. He shifted gears big time on the hill, and even after I encourged him to back off a bit, we still hit the uphill stretch in 1:59 (0.29), which I do on my tempo runs at 5:40 pace. With a half-mile to go, I suggested he try his 5 K race pace. We hit the uphill quarter in 1:27, and then the flat one afterwards in 1:24. 13:12 for the Slate Canyon Loop.

Then went back to Ted, and finished the 8.2 or so miles for the morning.

In the afternoon ran with the kids, did always on the run, and ran to Benjamin's soccer game and back. Benjamin's team won 7:0, and he scored. Also ran a mile Abby afterwards and Benjamin and Joseph in the stroller. For clarification, Abby is not our kid, she is our friend's daughter.

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Dropped my mother off at the airport in SLC, and then met up with Mike Kirk at the Steiners Aquatic Center. We warmed up downhill to the Sugar House Park. We went around to familiarize ourselves with the Sugar House Park 5 K course, and verified all the marks against the course map I got from the USATF website.

Then we started the tempo run along the course. We agreed to run at the fastest pace the slower of us could handle, and that the one that felt strong will pull the one that felt weaker. When Mike started pushing it on the early downhill, I thought I'd have to draft pretty soon. However, he eased off enough on the uphill to give me a break.

We hit the 2 mile mark in 3:40 then the first mile in 5:24, and the first lap in 7:15. Then we got to the hill on the second lap around 1.6 miles into the run or so. Mike started struggling, so we slowed down a lot. 2 miles in 11:13 (5:49, 7:33 lap). Afterwards, Mike was able to recover and get going at a good pace again. We hit the 1 mile mark in 13:03 (7:39 lap), 2 laps in 14:56 (7:41 lap), and we were on the downhill and started shifting gears. 16:45 at 3 miles (5:32). Then we had to find the finish, which we did not think to mark better earlier on, and the sun was in our eyes. So we slowed down some, and on top of that, did not take the tangent in fear of missing the finish mark. So we got 17:23 for the 5 K. Both of us were happy with it.

Afterwards, we ran back to the Aquatic Center for a cooldown. I noticed that Mike compared to me likes to push it a bit in the easy running. After running fast, I like to relax and chat.

I left the lights on in my car, so Mike gave me a jump start. Then I followed him to his house, took a shower, chatted a bit, and drove back to Provo.

Did some always on the run miles with a stroller, and ran with the kids. Also lifted weights - benchpress, 105 pounds, narrow grip, a set of 5, then 2 sets of 3.

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