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: 252.01 Year: 252.01
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1576.28
Neon Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 1353.22
Race: Provo River Half Marathon (13.11 Miles) 01:14:48, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran the Provo River Half marathon in 1:14:48, 2nd place. Jacob Buhler won with 1:07:15.

I was hoping to run 1:11:30 based on my recent workouts and DesNews performance, but there was a problem I did not full appreciate the impact of. 8 days ago I fell and hurt my rib cage. I got up immediately, and shortly after ran a 200 with Benjamin in 29.3. The next day I ran my 3 mile course in 15:59, followed by 15:46 on Tuesday. So I thought this rib cage problem was no big deal. However today during the race it was giving me trouble. I opened with a 5:16 (according to Curt's mark, which I think was accurate), then it was 5:21. At this point I did feel restricted in breathing, but I did not yet need to breathe at super high volume yet, so it was somewhat tolerable. Then in the next two miles I gradually began to get more and more bothered by this problem. It was like Chinese water torture. It does not seem like a big deal, but one drop at a time you get to the point where it becomes unbearable. And I just did not have it in me today to push through it for the entire distance. So I settled on a compromise pace of about 5:45 and coasted/plodded to the finish. I managed to find some markers on the old highway that were placed every 100 meters, and timed what I believe was a mile in 6:27 going up into a headwind, which I thought was not too terrible for the day. On the way down I timed it as well, but I forgot what it was - something along the lines of 5:40. If it was close to 5:00 or under I would have remembered, but a 5:40 downhill/tailwind mile was not worth trying to remember precisely, I suppose, especially while I was dealing with the pain. Interestingly enough, on miles with less downhill I was still running around that pace - I think part of the problem was that the downhill was causing a lot of rib cage jarring, so it added the extra pain to take away from the advantage of the downhill.

I timed my 3 mile tempo stretch, which on the race course maps to from about 9 to about 12. I ran that stretch in 17:14 with the splits of 5:40, 5:47, 5:47. My "official" 10 mile split was 57:01, which I remembered from the past years was at an accurate location. At that point I was not happy because I realized that a 17:00 5 K, which is under 5:30 pace would give me only 1:14 low, and it would take some painful work to stay above 1:15 barrier. Nevertheless, I made an effort to stay positive, and just do the best that I could under the circumstances. 

So I made my way to the finish, saw that I was cutting it close to not cracking 1:15 and sprinted just to be sure to stay on the right side of the 1:15:00 guy. I was rather surprised at the response I got out of my legs for the kick in the last 70 meters or so, but I suppose I should not have been surprised as they in all honesty have been vacationing all along as they could not get enough oxygen to work at top capacity. And oxygen is not needed for a 70 meter sprint.

Afterwards I cooled down with Mike Epperson and Tony Vakaafi to make the total of 20 miles.

Overall, I think this race was a good learning experience. Had everything been normal, I would have run a faster time, but I would not have learned about the importance of proper lung function in longer races. Of course, I knew that if your lungs were restricted you would not run 100%. But what I did not know is the difference in which it affects a longer race like a half marathon vs just 3 miles.  

Jenny ran 3, Julia and Joseph 2, Jacob 1.  

P.M. 0.5 with William. He ran a quarter in 2:19 down the Provo Canyon. Benjamin ran 7.5.  

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 20.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Tmck on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 13:12:56 from

Nice race, way to push through the breathing pain.

From fiddy on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 15:54:26 from

Ah! I cracked a rib this year. It took about 3 weeks until it got better.

From Jake K on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 17:57:26 from

Running hard w/ an injury like that is just impossible. A few years ago I bruised (actually, probably cracked) a few ribs really bad when I crashed while skiing. I could barely jog for 3 weeks it hurt so bad.

So to run 1:14 in that condition, just a few weeks after the marathon... that's pretty good in my book.

From steve ash on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 18:12:19 from

Pretty good for a broken rib or even no broken rib Sasha:)

From Steve on Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 11:01:02 from

Great time under any conditions. For me the half can be the most unpredictable of any race. Just more focus, and anything that hurts that focus affects the race

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