Breaking the Wall

Top of Utah 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: 149.44 Year: 1460.80
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 120.59
Brown Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 1509.03
Brown Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 987.95
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Race: Top of Utah Marathon (26.219 Miles) 02:41:34, Place overall: 7, Place in age division: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2016-09-17 05:27:26
Workout Totals: Distance26.820Time2:47:27.90Pace6:14.64
Top of Utah Marathon, 2:41:34, 7th overall, 1st master, $300.

This was my 18th time running the race - I have run it every single year. This year was different because Benjamin was running it as well. We followed our plan - to run together to mile 15, after which he would to ahead to see what he could do. He managed to do quite well - 2:35:45 finishing 4th ($400) in spite of getting lost around mile 23 and adding 0.24 miles which would have taken him around 1:30 at that point. I mapped it out: course{Benjamin's TOU detour}.

Top Finishers:

Brett Hales 2:23:55
Jason Holt 2:29:17
Ken Richardson 2:29:55
Our "ultramarathoner" Benjamin - 2:35:45
Jesse Dunn 2:37:46
Kyle Petersen 2:38:18

When I finished the first thing I did was to find Benjamin and ask him if he ran 2:37 as that is what I wrote on the form, and that is what I thought he would have run based on the splits. I was pleasantly surprised to hear his actual time especially given the detour (initially he told me he lost about 1 minute), and was even happier after I measured it on the Course Tool. So really no wall somehow. I suppose it goes to show that speed overprovisioning works. If you have good overall health and just get fast enough in the half and you pace yourself for a slower full, you could trick the wall - even if you are only 17, you are running only 65 miles a week, and you have previously run 20 miles only twice.
Leg 1:Distance0.600Time5:54.50Pace9:50.83
Leg 2:Distance26.220Time2:41:33.40Pace6:09.69
The race.
Split 1:Distance1.000Time5:43.60Pace5:43.60
With Benjamin, Jake, and Kyle Petersen. Brett Hales, Jesse Dunn, Ken Richardson, and Jason Holt went ahead hitting the mile in around 5:38 or so.
Split 2:Distance1.000Time5:47.40Pace5:47.40
Split 3:Distance1.000Time5:40.50Pace5:40.50
I think around here Kyle dropped back.
Split 4:Distance1.000Time5:42.70Pace5:42.70
Split 5:Distance1.000Time5:53.30Pace5:53.30
Benjamin told me that he thought the pace was too fast. It did not feel too fast to me, but I knew it was as I had no indicators of being able to run anywhere near 2:30, and it was not likely that I was that fit. I suspected it was not too fast for Benjamin, but I decided to back off anyway just in case.
Split 6:Distance1.000Time5:59.00Pace5:59.00
The course flattens out a bit here. Kyle Petersen caught up, I wanted to go with him, Benjamin did not, so we did not.
Split 7:Distance1.000Time6:08.50Pace6:08.50
This mile is at 5200 elevation and actually has no net drop. Plus I think we got too cautious.
Split 8:Distance1.000Time5:53.50Pace5:53.50
Got our bottles, drank them for 2 minutes as planned. The course starts going downhill here.
Split 9:Distance1.000Time5:54.50Pace5:54.50
For some reason around here the pace started feeling hard for me - although still sustainable.
Split 10:Distance1.000Time5:54.80Pace5:54.80
More or less same as 9.
Split 11:Distance1.000Time5:58.20Pace5:58.20
Slower here for some reason.
Split 12:Distance1.000Time5:47.60Pace5:47.60
We got some tailwind.
Split 13:Distance1.000Time6:03.20Pace6:03.20
Benjamin took a VPB. I kept running easing off a bit to make it easy for him to catch up. He was delayed by about 15 seconds and closed it fast. Hopefully not too fast.
Split 14:Distance1.000Time5:55.60Pace5:55.60
Got into a groove. At least Benjamin did. For me the pace felt hard, but I had to get Benjamin to 15 in the promised time (1:28), so I kept pushing.
Split 15:Distance1.000Time5:55.10Pace5:55.10
Last mile with Benjamin. As soon as we hit the 15 marker I sent him on his way.
Split 16:Distance1.000Time6:07.60Pace6:07.60
Eased off, losing the drive, getting concerned.
Split 17:Distance1.000Time6:16.80Pace6:16.80
Got even more concerned.
Split 18:Distance1.000Time6:25.00Pace6:25.00
Got the bottle, drank some pickle juice, and some dextrose + EmergenC.
Split 19:Distance1.000Time6:26.80Pace6:26.80
This was encouraging as this mile was uphill. I was surprised.
Split 20:Distance1.000Time6:48.60Pace6:48.60
Thought maybe I was just starting to run out of fuel early, so grabbed some Gatorade for extra fuel, but it seems like it made it worse - this mile should have been at least under 6:30 if I had run it with the same quality as the one before.
Split 21:Distance1.000Time6:24.90Pace6:24.90
This is a downhill mile. Adjusting for the grade probably equivalent in quality to the one before. At his point I was thinking 2:43.
Split 22:Distance1.000Time6:46.80Pace6:46.80
This one was better than I expected from the earlier splits - slight uphill.
Split 23:Distance1.000Time6:43.40Pace6:43.40
Now expected. Realizing that I would be running closer to 2:42 now.
Split 24:Distance1.000Time6:27.00Pace6:27.00
Decent, now downhill.
Split 25:Distance1.000Time6:50.10Pace6:50.10
Uphill, decent. Actually felt quite strong, just could not shift gears.
Split 26:Distance1.050Time6:54.60Pace6:34.86
Long mile - mile marker 26 was misplaced, but I knew about it. Still it would have been nice for it to have been in the right place. I actually pulled out Demetrio's certification document from the USATF website and it says the correct location of mile 26 is the east side of the driveway of 281 E 200 S. The official marker is somewhere on 300 E at maybe 180 S or so.
Split 27:Distance0.170Time1:04.30Pace6:18.24

Khaki Crocs 1 Miles: 26.82
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Fritz on Sat, Sep 17, 2016 at 20:06:57 from

Nice job Sasha. Benjamin also ran a great race. I can't imagine there are many teenagers running 2:35s. He always runs tough.

From fiddy on Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 08:11:59 from

Amazing first marathon.

From Steve on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 22:42:53 from

Edging out Jesse Dunn is an accomplishment.

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