Breaking the Wall

Salt Lake City Half

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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
Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 42.10Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10Saucony Type A Miles: 20.50
Night Sleep Time: 55.25Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 55.25
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church.

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

A.M. Ran with Jeff, Daniel, and Mary Ann. Today was the VPB day of the year. It began with a dream I had about running with a large group and trying to find a good VPB spot. Then about 0.8 miles into the run I had to stop. Again half a mile later. While catching the group I had to stop again. This reminded me of a misconfigured Apache web server error message when you go to a non-existent URL.  "Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request." It tries to find the file, does not find it, then it tries to serve the error page but it cannot find the error page either.

So finally I got going, ran 0.75 in 4:05 and caught the group. Only to stop 200 meters later. This time I decided to be smarter and run fast in increments to avoid shaking things up. Caught the group in about half a mile,  and then stopped a quarter later, finally for the last time.

Then it was Jeff's turn. He found a geo-cache during his stop. No need for a GPS, VPB does it. Now, combining the two acronyms and geocaching, true story, one time I lost a cell phone during a VPB and used a GPS to find it.

Total time for 10.1 was 1:16:50.

And, of course, we could not do without a picture. A few days ago we ran out of toilet paper, so Benjamin and I ran to get it with Jacob in the stroller:


P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:47. Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:06. 2 with Benjamin in 16:41.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff, Daniel, Mary Ann, and her friend Cindy. Cindy ran 2 miles with us and turned around. Jeff and I ran a mild version of The Interval. He got it easy because he is tapering for the marathon. I figured I should take it easy as well because of yesterday's stomach problems, and a feeling in the body that too much stress would not be good for it. But I felt I could handle a little bit. Mary Ann was excused from The Interval altogether due to leg tightness and the residual fatigue from Saturday.

The plan was  to run 1.25 starting  at 80 per quarter and gradually speeding up after 1000. That is, for Jeff. For me, try to hang on with him to failure, then finish with a measure of dignity. So we did 80 - 78 - 77 - then on this quarter I lost contact with Jeff but still did 73, and then struggled through the last one in 78, but was still happy with the result - 6:26.0.  Jeff finished in 6:16.

We jogged back a bit to Daniel and Mary Ann, joined them, then chased down a girl ahead of us, and she joined us. Her name was Kristy. She ran with us for a few miles. I like tests, and meeting a new person provided an opportunity for one. So I asked her how old she thought I was and how many children she thought I had. At first she was surprised that I had children, but even with that hint, she gave the correct age of 28 and the correct number of children (2) for year 2001. Then we recounted Jeff's incident of being asked to home coming by a high school girl. Running can help you stay young.

Dropped Jeff off at 8.1 miles then ran 2 more with Daniel and Mary Ann. Total distance was 10.1.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:16. Julia ran the first 1.5 miles in 13:45. 2 with Benjamin in 15:27. He ran the last mile in 6:36.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. What an eventful week! Monday was the VPB day. Tuesday was the Meet New People day. Today was the Police Day. Ben Crozier called at 6:48 AM to report that he got pulled over by a state trooper and he was not sure if he was going to be able to make it to run with us. I called him back half an hour later and he did not answer his cell phone. We assumed he got arrested and so we went without him.

Ran with Cindy, Jeff, Mary Ann, Daniel, and Matt. Cindy turned around at 2 miles. Then we all turned around at 3 because Jeff was gonig only 6. I did a quarter in 82  post-VPB. Dropped Jeff off at 6 and called Ben again because I wanted to know how big his ticket was. Turned out his car got impounded for expired registration, and the trooper left him on the road in the rain in shorts. So he ran to the Provo City Office building and tried to plead his case. Needless to say unsuccessfully. So we told him to run from there to our house while Daniel, Mary Ann and I went for another 2 miles. I did explosive sprints.

Then we came back, dropped off Daniel, and picked up Ben. Ben warmed up 0.5, ran a 3 mile tempo in 22:00, then cooled down 0.5. I ran with him. Mary Ann turned around a mile into it to make it 10. I ended up with 12 for the run. Afterwards I gave Ben a ride home.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 19:27. Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:42. 2 with Benjamin in 16:55.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Daniel, Jeff, and Mary Ann. We got some snow. The trail had a few fallen branches and trees. Jeff did only 4 because he is running the marathon. Daniel and Mary Ann did 8. I ran 10. Total time was 1:25:41.

P.M. Went to SLC with the family to pick up the race packet, go to the Church Art and History Musium, and visit the NPS store. Ran about 0.5 retrieving the car from a remote parking spot. Later ran 2 with Benjamin in 16:41, and 2 with Jenny in 18:41. Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:30.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.00
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. 8 with Daniel in 1:05:03, then 2 more with Benjamin in 15:31.

P.M. 2 with Jenny, Julia ran the first 1.5. Do not remember the times, but it was around 9:30 pace average.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Race: Salt Lake City Half (13.11 Miles) 01:11:23, Place overall: 6
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. SLC Half, 1:11:23, 6th place.

Ran a warm-up with Jeff. Ran into Julie Thomas. Found out she has 6 kids now. So that raises the fertility rate of the top 3 in St. George last year to 3 children per woman (assuming Christina does not have children),  which is 1.1 higher than the national rate, and 0.8 higher than the Utah rate. To make Julie's accomplishment more remarkable, she raced St. George with her baby being only 6 months old. 150 years ago tough women crossed the plains while bearing children. 150 years later their equally tough descendants run fast marathons in between bearing children.

The plan was to hang out with Jeff, Seth, and the Kenyans regardless of the pace, and then do the best I could once the marathon and the half split. So I was up for a surprise. I could be running a survival race, or a negative split race, or anything in between. And in all honesty I did not care, when there is no chance for prize money I am happy to be a participating spectator and do not mind running a minute slower by running somebody else's race.

Today, however, being a participating spectator helped me run better. Details to follow, mile by mile:

Mile 1: 5:21. Teren and Alexander Thomas in the lead of the half far ahead, Nate Hornok trying to hang on with them, James Moore (Fiddy) out there between them and us. I am with the lead pack of marathoners which includes Jeff, Seth, evenutal winner Joseph Mutinda (2:13:19 PR on March 1, 2009), Moses Kororia (28:05 10 K, 1:01:49 half in Nairobi, 2:12:04 PR in Dallas in 2006, since then not so hot in the marathon (2:15-2:17), which I suppose why he was here instead of Country Music), and Ezekiel Ruto, the Top of Utah winner of last year. BJ Cristenson, who was supposedly out of shape (is he ever really in shape?) and told us he was going to run 1:15, and Jason Shoenfield. I believe we saw Fritz there for a little bit as well. Others in the pack I did not recongize.

This mile was downhill, but even still it felt so easy that even with the downhill adjustment I questioned its length. However, there was a red mark on the road, and Seth's Garmin beeped right there. So I was willing to believe it was right.

Mile 2 - 5:33 (10:54). A little down and about the same amount up. Felt harder, believable, but still not straining myself.

Mile 3 - 5:23 (16:17). Downhill. Felt too easy, like I was slacking. Started feeling antsy to go, but decided to stay true to the original plan.

Mile 4 - 5:15 (21:32). Downhill. This was the most educational mile of the race. I pulled alongside Moses and a thought occurred to me to try to follow his rhythm stride for stride. I tried and succeeded, it felt right, and the pace started to feel a lot easier. I have had those experiences before, and consider them significant. They do not happen very often. It is possible to borrow somebody's better rhythm. You need to be going the right pace, and you need to have the right rhythm instructor. Two requirements - he needs to have a good rhythm period, and that rhythm also must be within the optimal range for your body type. Chances of it happening are very rare, but I've raced enough to have it happen. So far the following runners in addition to Moses have been able to feed me the rhythm: Craig Lawson, Nick McCombs, and  Hobbie Call. Now that I am thinking of this I could possibly add Mike Dudley and Lewis Jones. There may have been more cases when I was not aware. I'll discuss the concept of rhythm on the forum later.

Mile 5 - 5:32 (27:04). Slight uphill. During this mile the half and the full split. I ended up with BJ and Jason. Jason and I contended for the coveted spot right behind BJ. If you've ever seen BJ you would know why. 6'6 tall and a solid frame to support the height. Felt a lot harder. I tried to remember the rhythm I had borrowed from Moses earlier.

Mile 6 - 5:15 (32:19). Appeared flat. Even though BJ pushed the pace, and the mark was painted on the road, I was quite sure the mile was short. I was expecting the next one to be long. Around this time we caught James.

Mile 7 - 5:11 (37:30). Slight downhill. Also painted on the road. I suppose mile 6 was not short after all. That cheered me up quite a bit, which I needed because BJ kept pressing the pace, and I was hanging on for dear life.

Mile 8 - 5:16 (42:46). Slight downhill. Eventful mile. First Jason fell back as BJ kept pressing the pace. I stayed with BJ but quickly got miserable enough to drop back as well. Jason caught me but I was able to latch on. A little bit of downhill relieved my leg strain and I was able to relax and find a good rhythm again.

Mile 9 - 5:21 (48:07). Very slight down if any. Still with Jason, and BJ is not moving away from us. In fact, maybe we even closed a second or two. Feeling a good rhythm.

Mile 10 -  5:34 (53:41). Flat. Jason surged and dropped me. Lost the rhythm, trying to survive. Legs are starting to cave.

Mile 11 - 5:37 (59:18). Slight down. Trying to find the rhythm, legs caving, but still strong in the 5:40 range.

Miles 12 and 13: 11:35, probably around 6:00 for 12 (uphill), and 5:35 for 13 (up for about 0.1 then down). I am basing the breakdown off James' split of 5:59 for mile 12 along with him saying he was keeping the distance neither gaining or falling back. When I realized how far uphill we had to go, I started doing disaster calculations of what time 19:00 for the last 5 K would give me. 1:12:41, still respectable. Fortunately it was not that bad, last 5 K was 17:42, almost as fast as I was racing flat 5 Ks at the beginning of the year, at least in the same minutes. Felt stronger on the uphill than I anticipated I would when I saw it at mile 11. There was a surprise of a different kind. There was a wall of 5 K walkers, that was expected. What I did not expect is a wall of slow moving bikers from the bike tour. Then on the downhill the bikers started passing me back.

Kick: 30 seconds. Was surprised that I had some kick in me.

Finish: Alexander Thomas 1:06:22, Teren  1:07:09, Nate 1:09:15, BJ 1:10:38, Jason 1:10:43, me 1:11:23, James 1:11:37.

Afterwards ran with James back to Jeff. Did not quite make it to Liberty Park before we saw Joseph Mutinda. We stopped immediately and timed him at the spot a little after mile 23. 2:01:23. I figured he was headed for around 2:17 and commented that the economy must be really bad if $2500 with a possibility of not being paid for a year produces 2:17 on this course. Moses Kororia 2:03:05, Seth 2:07:23, Ezekiel Ruto 2:07:55. Finally Jeff 2:13:05. We ran with him back to the end. He was out of fuel badly. He does not run well on fats. So only about 7:30 pace on fats, that is what kills him. When he runs 5:30, there is pleny of leg power, and there is plenty of aerobic support, but he is burning carbs like a semi because his fat base pace is only 7:30. One advantage of bonking in the marathon is that you find out your fat base pace. For a comparison, mine is 7:00. On the positive side, in St. George his fat base pace was 8:15, so there is a substantial improvement.

So Jeff finished in 5th with 2:35:07, $100, first marathon prize money (not counting St. George age division appearance fees), first W-9, first running-related media experience. His interview was hillarious - he showed KSL his check which he said he was in a hurry to cash.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:50, Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:35.

Saucony Type A Miles: 20.50
Night Sleep Time: 6.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 42.10Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10Saucony Type A Miles: 20.50
Night Sleep Time: 55.25Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 55.25
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