Breaking the Wall

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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: 304.65 Year: 3606.17
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: 806.96
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Ran in the Provo Canyon this morning. Warm-up a mile with a couple of strides, a mile with ankle weights, then jogged up to the Canyon Glen Park. Started 5 mile tempo run there, 2.5 down, then 2.5 back up. The goal was to go 5 miles at an aggressive marathon pace. Frequent running at race pace prior to the race helps me relax and feel confident when I am actually racing.

Moderate tailwind for the first 2.5 miles. 5:33 - 5:28. Then a half in 2:47 with 13:48 at the turnaround. Feeling very good. When the mind turns off, the pace is 1:24 per quarter. When it engages, it becomes 1:21-1:22. This probably means the true marathon pace is 1:25 per quarter (5:40 per mile) on that grade (1 %) and with this tailwind. Turned around, now moderate headwind instead of a moderate tailwind. Hard to shift gears after the 180 turnaround, and the wind is not helping at all. I hit a quarter in 1:33, then finally was able ease into a slightly sub-6:00 pace. Next half in 3:02 (5:49 mile), then 5:55, and the last mile in 5:53. Total time 28:38. Quads cramped up a bit on the climb towards the end. Cooled down back to the car. Total of 10.5 for the workout.

During the day, ran with Benjamin and Jennifer, and a little bit on my own. Total mileage 13 for the day. Taper time for Ogden.

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Jogged three Slate Canyon Loop laps with Eric in the morning. Accelerated at marathon race pace before the end of the second one, and put on the ankle weights for the third. Eric asked me how fast I could run a mile with the ankle weights. I like precise answers. So I accelerated for 200 meters at what felt to me like a mile race pace and timed it - got 41.7. So I figure 5:30 is possible. Maybe I should try the whole mile for fun some time after Ogden. I feel the ankle weights are adjusting and aligning my bones in a better way, and stretching out my ligaments, so I'll keep wearing them every day for a mile this week. Ran with Benjamin and Jennifer in the late morning. It was another record day. Hit the warm-up half in 4:45. Then Jennifer said: Daddy, the pace is too slow! and hit the next quarter in 1:56. She accelerated to 1:46 on the last one with the last 100 in 24. Benjamin decided to show class, and pull away by a second on the last 100. 8:27 for Jennifer's mile, and 3:42 for the last half! She was not done afterwards, and wanted to go on a cooldown with me and Benjamin. Benjamin wanted to time his 100 meter sprint. He did it in 19.1, a new record for him. That meant I had to do a 19.1 100 meters with a double stroller and Julia with Joseph in it. I actually fell behind a bit on the first half, but then caught up, and was able to coast. Later in the afternoon Benjamin wanted to do a 200 meter sprint. He was tired by then, but still managed a record - 44.8. So that gave me 200 meters at marathon pace in addition. In the evening jogged about a mile with Julia and Joseph in the stroller. Total of 9 miles for the day. Benjamin has made his first web program. It splits a given number into a product of prime numbers. He gets very excited when somebody comes to that page and tries it out. Feel free to do so, and leave a comment in his blog.

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4 miles in the morning with a mile with ankle weights, a 1 mile tempo in 5:38, then a jog, and a half-mile tempo in 2:48. This is my way to deal with pre-race anxiety - run a little bit at race pace, and this puts my mind at ease. Any kind of anxiety is bad during taper, especially when you are playing the short taper game. Adrenaline interferes with the storage of glycogen, so if you worry too much and sleep too little in the week before the race, you will not run a good marathon.

During the day did some light jogging with a 200 m stride at marathon pace, and ran with Benjamin and Jennifer.

Today was supposed to be an easy day for Jennifer, and a hard one for Benjamin. Benjamin went to the dentist earlier, and appeared to be a bit weak afterwards. So we decided he would run an easy half-mile with Jennifer, and jog a bit more afterwards if he felt good. However, after running a quarter in 2:29, he apparently found some extra energy and decided to run fast. Jennifer took off after him. So much for an easy run. He at first opened up a bit of a lead, but then Jennifer caught up and tried to pass him. In the process, she accidently pushed him, and he threw a fit and stopped. Jennifer kept going, and I was not going to stop and let Benjamin ruin his little sister's quarter record. So in about 10 seconds his fit was over, but it was too late - he could not catch Jennifer, who ran 1:43. Benjamin still finished the quarter in a decent time of 1:51, but for the first time in his life he technically lost to his little sister. Afterwards we had a talk, and he really did not want to end the day on that note. So we left Jennifer at home, and ran back to the quarter mark for him to try again with the goal to beat Jennifer's time. He ran much better once he learned his lesson that having a fit results in losing. This time it was 1:39.

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Easy run in the morning with Eric. Did some marathon tempo pickups, and ran a mile with ankle weights. Did a stride and hit 200 in 39.7.

In the afteroon ran with Benjamin and Jennifer to the park on Center street. Dropped them off there with Sarah, and ran back. Total of 6 miles for the day.

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Did an easy run in the morning with marathon tempo pick-ups. Hit a mile in 5:42, and then a half in 2:50. Did a mile with ankle weights with a 100 m stride in 21.

In the evening ran with Benjamin and Jennifer, and then drove with Eric to Ogden. We stayed with George's brother John overnight. Had a bit of an adventure finding his house, and attempted to break into somebody else's in the meantime with a similar address.

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Ogden marathon. 2:30:03, second place, course PR. I am very happy with this time, as well as the place. It seemed like the odds were against me, but I was able to beat them. Ogden marathon has an elevation drop of 900 feet, and on surface looks like a fast course. It is not as fast as it appears. The course record is only 2:29:01 set by Joe Wilson in 2005, and there is a good reason for it. The first 8 miles is a gentle drop, then rolling hills up to 18. The race starts at 5400 feet, but drops only to 4900 by mile 17. Then a short abrupt drop right before 18, that evens out. Another abrupt drop after 20 for the next 2 miles, more gradual in the next 2, and then essentially flat on the last 2. See Paul's course map for details. Of all the courses in Utah, I believe it is the most DNF-inviting. A runner thinks he is going to get an amazing time because of the elevation drop. Everything goes well for the first 5 miles, then he is a little off-pace in the next 3, and then he has 10 miles of absolute mile split horror to endure as he battles the rolling hills at about 5000 feet elevation. The subsequent downhill helps a bit, but there is not enough of it to make up time, and the legs are usually not fresh enough to really get some solid speed. At the start, in addition to myself we had the following contenders I expected to be in the lead pack: Joe Wilson, PR of 2:21 in Austin, last year's winner of Ogden and St. George, first American in Salt Lake and DesNews Marathons last year, and name a race in Utah that he has not run and won. Beat me in Moab half by three and a half minutes. Mike Kirk, PR of 2:23, winner of St. George in 2004. Beat me in Moab half by over a minute, and in the Salt Lake Track Club 15 K by 44 seconds. Nate Long, PR of 2:34, winner of Top of Utah last year, his first and only marathon. Not a fast PR, but he beat me in that race. Ran a 50:21 15 K on a less than ideal course this year. Steve Ashbaker, beat me twice last year setting a 1:07 half PR (Hobblecreek, fast course), while I set mine. This was probably equivalent to a 1:10 sea-level. He also beat me in the Top of Utah marathon last year setting his PR of 2:36. Granted I did not have a good race then, but still this is a psychological advantage. His recent workouts indicated that he was capable of running a 2:30 in Ogden. Mine predicted only 2:33 if I had a good race. However, his probability of having a bad race statistically is much higher than mine, but when he has a good one, better watch out. The gun went off, and the pack of five formed just like I expected. We were coasting on a gentle downhill at a relaxed 5:40 pace. At mile 3 Steve got a little antsy and opened up a lead. I gave him a verbal warning, but he did not listen. Pretty soon Mike Kirk made a mild effort to go after him. I saw an opportunity. Catch Steve, then trade leads with him, maybe Mike will join, and get away from Joe and Nate while they are goofing around. So I executed the plan. Steve and I have trained together and practiced 1 minute lead trade-off extensively. So as soon as I caught him, we started our maneuver. Mike caught us, and we invited him to participate. He agreed. So we worked like a clock. The pace picked to the 5:30 range, and felt good. We made our way to 8 miles where the downhill ended, and made a turn towards Eden. What a name for a place on a marathon course around the half-mark! At thirteen you are in Eden, and then around 20 you feel like you will meet Adam and Eve pretty soon. Joe and Nate caught up to us. I invited them to join in our lead trade off. Joe wanted to do a mile at a time, but it did not work, because we already had our structure going. At around 13 I remarked that we had a pack of 5 good runners but the money was only 3 deep. We hit the half in 1:13:42. Good pace. At 14 I took my turn to lead, but at the end of my minute nobody volunteered to take over. So I kind of on accident started a break away. The more I thought about it as I climbed the hill, the more the break-away made sense to me. So I went for it full blast. To my surprise, Joe did not try to cover it. Ok, no problem. I opened up a good lead, and then Joe and Mike finally started a pursuit. I hit 20 miles in 1:53:44, and was very happy. Finally by 21 Mike caught me alone without Joe. Being caught is not the best thing, but I was happy because I got caught by a teammate rather than Joe or Nate. Mike and I both run for Wasatch Running, a running shoe store in Sandy owned by Glen Gerner. So I saw the race now more of Wasatch Running vs. Weber State Alumni/Ogden boys than me vs. everybody else. By that time, I felt ok, but not exceptionally well. I asked Mike if he wanted to go or work with me. He said he wanted to work together. So we did. He gave me an update on what was going on behind. He dropped Joe at 20, but Joe was dangerously close. So Mike suggested we should put on some distance on Joe. We hit a downhill mile in 5:32, and another in 5:25. I was absolutely amazed at this pace that late in the race even on a downhill. However, I was running at my limit. Right before 23 I backed off and told Mike to go. He opened up a bit of a distance, and ended up 34 seconds ahead with 2:29:29, second fastest time in the history of the race. Mine was third fastest. After the interviews, I ran back to mile 24 to meet Eric. We ran together and he got 3:47:44. In the evening, ran 1.5 miles with Benjamin. Total of 32.5 miles for the day. A very long day.

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