Breaking the Wall

Phoenix 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: 188.26 Year: 188.26
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
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Camouflage Crocs 1 Miles: 57.97
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church.

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

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-02-20 08:37:19
Workout Totals: Distance10.540Time1:23:26.10Pace7:54.96
Leg 1:Distance0.500Time4:23.90Pace8:47.80
With Matthew.
Leg 2:Distance3.000Time24:05.50Pace8:01.83
With Benjamin, William, and Jacob.
Leg 3:Distance1.000Time7:19.10Pace7:19.10
With Benjamin and Jacob.
Leg 4:Distance4.000Time31:54.90Pace7:58.73
With Benjamin and Joseph.
Leg 5:Distance2.040Time15:42.70Pace7:42.11
With Benjamin.

Camouflage Crocs 1 Miles: 10.54
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-02-21 13:48:07
Workout Totals: Distance11.180Time1:25:30.70Pace7:38.92
Did a workout with Benjamin alternating quarters down the canyon for 3 miles. We had a major headwind, so the times were very slow. I ran 18:35 for the whole distance, Benjamin got 16:09. Usual distances for the kids, expect I think Jenny ran reduced mileage due to school load.
Leg 1:Distance5.400Time41:25.00Pace7:40.19
Leg 2:Distance3.000Time18:35.50Pace6:11.83
Alternating quarters workout.
Split 1:Distance0.250Time1:23.40Pace5:33.60
Split 2:Distance0.250Time1:37.60Pace6:30.40
Split 3:Distance0.250Time1:26.40Pace5:45.60
Split 4:Distance0.250Time1:39.60Pace6:38.40
Split 5:Distance0.250Time1:20.80Pace5:23.20
Split 6:Distance0.250Time1:40.30Pace6:41.20
Split 7:Distance0.250Time1:25.50Pace5:42.00
Split 8:Distance0.250Time1:41.10Pace6:44.40
Split 9:Distance0.250Time1:30.20Pace6:00.80
Split 10:Distance0.250Time1:41.80Pace6:47.20
Split 11:Distance0.250Time1:27.70Pace5:50.80
Split 12:Distance0.125Time0:56.60Pace7:32.80
Split 13:Distance0.125Time0:44.50Pace5:56.00
Leg 3:Distance2.280Time20:54.40Pace9:10.18
Leg 4:Distance0.500Time4:35.80Pace9:11.60
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 1 Miles: 11.18
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-02-22 08:43:26
Workout Totals: Distance8.500Time1:11:16.80Pace8:23.15
The wind from yesterday brought the snow, so in some places we did not have good traction today. 8.5 total for me, 8 for Benjamin, usual distances for the kids. Tapering for the Phoenix half.
Leg 1:Distance3.000Time26:52.50Pace8:57.50
With Benjamin, Jacob, and William.
Leg 2:Distance1.000Time7:52.90Pace7:52.90
With Benjamin and Jacob.
Leg 3:Distance4.000Time31:13.50Pace7:48.38
With Benjamin and Joseph.
Leg 4:Distance0.500Time5:17.90Pace10:35.80
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 1 Miles: 8.50
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-02-23 08:52:57
Workout Totals: Distance6.540Time53:58.40Pace8:15.17
6.5 total for me, 6 for Benjamin, usual distances for the kids, tapering for the Phoenix half.
Leg 1:Distance4.000Time30:57.90Pace7:44.48
With Benjamin and Jacob.
Leg 2:Distance2.040Time18:18.10Pace8:58.28
With Benjamin and Stephen.
Leg 3:Distance0.500Time4:42.40Pace9:24.80
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 1 Miles: 6.54
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-02-24 08:46:39
Workout Totals: Distance5.250Time43:20.90Pace8:15.41
5 total for me, 4.5 for Benjamin. Usual distances for the kids except Jenny due to school load. Flew to Phoenix from Provo.
Leg 1:Distance1.250Time9:20.30Pace7:28.24
With Benjamin, Jacob, William, and Stephen. They ran 1 mile in 8:46. Stephen dropped his glove, I ran back to fetch it, so a bit more distance and faster.
Leg 2:Distance3.000Time25:11.10Pace8:23.70
With Benjamin, Jacob, and William.
Leg 3:Distance0.500Time4:49.30Pace9:38.60
With Matthew.
Leg 4:Distance0.500Time4:00.20Pace8:00.40
Running on the road to Phoenix.

Camouflage Crocs 1 Miles: 5.25
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Phoenix Half Marathon (13.109 Miles) 01:16:06, Place overall: 23, Place in age division: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-02-25 06:01:31
Workout Totals: Distance15.962Time1:38:26.00Pace6:10.00
Phoenix Half, 1:16:06 (1:16:07 on my watch), 23rd overall, 3rd master, $50.

Ben Bruce won with 1:04:33, then Mike Hardy 1:05:07, Riley Cook 1:05:11 - breakthrough races for both of them.

Unfortunately I got double-chicked - Belainesh Gebre won the women's with 1:15:12, and Janet Bawcom ran 1:15:25. They both pulled away from me in the first mile. I did not try to go with them as I was not certain of my fitness. This was a good decision I think as I felt my pacing was just right.

This is the second time in my running career that I got chicked and won money. I suppose old age comes with some benefits.

Benjamin struggled today but ran an OK time of 1:10:51 finishing 9th. The conditions were ideal.

Both Benjamin and I had a lot of trouble sleeping the night before. Somehow, though, I was able to have a good race, but he felt the fatigue. I would have expected it to be the other way around given that he is 18 and I am 43. I was happy with his first 3 miles (5:10, 5:14, 5:17) and last 2.109 - 11:06 which is 5:15 pace. He felt cardio struggle after 3 miles, then he decided to take Gatorade around 6, this gave him stomach distress forcing him to slow down to 5:40, but this gave his heart a break and he was able to speed up to 5:15 over the last 2 miles.

My performance literally came out of a hat. A month ago I struggled through an 18:07 5 K - maybe adjusting for the weather we could call it 17:47, adjusting for the altitude maybe 17:27. Today I averaged 18:02 5 K pace through the half, the closing 5 K was 18:05, and there was one in the middle in about 17:39. I suppose the difference came from long tempo runs and other speed sessions - my mileage has stayed the same. I also did not feel the caving of the legs as the race progressed like I did in the Monumental Half in November, and when I finished they were in pretty good shape. I think the difference came from including fast running uphill over fairly long stretches - 2-2.5 miles in the workouts. Another possible contributor is cross-country skiing - I did it only twice before the race, but one thing I am considering as a possibility is that an hour long session resets my muscle activation patterns, and then when running I strengthen different muscles.
Leg 1:Distance1.413Time11:18.10Pace7:59.90
Leg 2:Distance13.109Time1:16:07.60Pace5:48.43
The race.
Split 1:Distance1.000Time5:46.90Pace5:46.90
With Brett Bernacchi
Split 2:Distance1.000Time5:46.80Pace5:46.80
Took the initiative to catch up to and latch on to a runner that I could not identify.
Split 3:Distance1.000Time5:42.90Pace5:42.90
My mystery runner sped up, I felt good enough to follow, Brett (eventual master's winner) right behind me.
Split 4:Distance1.000Time5:43.30Pace5:43.30
Split 5:Distance1.000Time5:37.20Pace5:37.20
This is getting too fast but if I back off I'll be left alone and I do not run well alone. I saw a runner (Matt Limbert) in front that was coming to us, and figured he was going just the right pace for me. So I caught a ride to Matt.
Split 6:Distance1.000Time5:48.10Pace5:48.10
Got right behind Matt, Brett and the other runner kept moving.
Split 7:Distance1.000Time5:53.40Pace5:53.40
With Matt.
Split 8:Distance1.000Time5:51.20Pace5:51.20
With Matt.
Split 9:Distance1.000Time5:52.40Pace5:52.40
With Matt. Feeling good.
Split 10:Distance1.000Time6:00.70Pace6:00.70
Somehow both of us lost focus here.
Split 11:Distance1.000Time5:53.00Pace5:53.00
Time to make up. Brian Valentini passed us. I think if Matt tried to latch on, I would have gone, but I felt that trying to go with Brian would be a mistake possibly leaving me alone for half a mile after a mile.
Split 12:Distance1.000Time5:49.80Pace5:49.80
Matt is speeding up, but I am able to respond.
Split 13:Distance1.109Time6:21.90Pace5:44.36
I stayed with Matt all the way up to about 100 meters to go, and then I just did not have the speed.
Leg 3:Distance1.440Time11:00.30Pace7:38.54
Cool-down + errands + airport running, some with Benjamin.

Camouflage Crocs 1 Miles: 15.96
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Camouflage Crocs 1 Miles: 57.97
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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