Breaking the Wall

Ogden 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
Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 20.20Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 34.30Saucony Type A Miles: 24.80
Night Sleep Time: 55.30Nap Time: 3.00Total Sleep Time: 58.30
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. Actually twice. First time to the Spanish branch, then to my ward afterwards. Took a nap in the afternoon.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 10.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff, Ted, Colby, and Daniel. Ted, Colby and Daniel turned around 3 miles into it. Did explosive sprints. Also, two fat miles, not continuously. First one in 5:59, second (the last one of the run) in 6:06. Total time for 10.1 was 1:17:48. Felt sluggish as expected. According to my adrenal failure theory today was a good time to do those fat miles. Low adrenaline from a hard Saturday, so when you push two days later you are using more fat. Not too hard, though, because when you push, you push the adrenal glands as well, so you do not want to push them too much.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 19:22, Julia ran first 1.5 with us in 14:41. 2 with Benjamin in 17:26. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:52.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Daniel. Daniel turned around at 3 miles. We had a sluggish start. Had some interesting discussions. Different ways to measure the height of a building with the help of a barometer. The most entertaining is to commit a crime inside the building using the barometer and then request during trial that the height of the building be read. Then discussed the role of overstimulated adrenal glands on the immune system, and moved on to computers.

I did explosive sprints. Then we did two fat miles. First one in 5:59, and second (uphill and with the bridges) in 6:09. Total time for 10.1 was 1:17:41.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:50. 1.5 with Jenny and Julia in 15:05.

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. Ran with Jeff, Ted, and Colby. Ted and Colby turned around at 3. Jeff and I ran 10.1 in 1:18:12. Did two fat miles. First in 6:08, and second in 5:59. Also did explosions. Also 2 with Benjamin in 15:53. He closed with a 1:33 quarter.

A.M-2: 1.5 with Jenny and Julia in 14:38.

P.M. Went to the Ogden Treehouse Musium, and then on to Roy Highschool to see Billy Mills. Had some adventures. Our tire ripped about a mile away from the Ogden exit. However, the Lord was with us and we did not have an accident. Not only that, it ripped, but did not pop. So we were able to drive to the Treehouse and then I took the van to Firestone to get a new tire. Checkmated the Palm Pilot while waiting for the tire to be replaced, came back in time, picked them up, and we drove to Roy Elementary instead of Roy High. Somehow I got this wrong. Did not find Billy Mills at the elementary, so then eventually figured out we needed to go to Roy High. My report on his presentation is at,1033.0.html


Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran 10.1 with Jeff in 1:17:03. Did explosions. Then we did two fat miles. The first one started dipping into carbs quite a bit. We started with a 91 quarter, then ran 87, 84, and 83. 84 and 83 were definitely not that fat. But it felt good, I felt the stride was nice and relaxed, felt full of energy, did not want to stop. So that gave us a 5:45 mile. We did the second mile in 5:57.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:54, 2 with Jenny in 20:12. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 15:20.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.10
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. Started with Ted, Colby, and Jeff. Ted and Colby turned around 3 miles into it. Did explosions. Two fat miles. First in 5:56, second in 6:05. A change in the respiratory rate at 6:00 pace. Down to 15 from 17 breaths for 100 meters. Total time was 1:17:03 for 10.1.

Took HR a couple of minutes after finishing the run. The last two quarters were 89 and 88, so around 5:55 pace. Interesting difference vs Jeff. My HR went down to 78, while Jeff's was still at 111. I was at 1.62 of my resting HR, while he was still at 2.05 of his resting HR. We estimated that mine dropped by 48% in the same amount of time that his dropped by only 36%. His HR at that pace was about 20 bpm higher than mine, even though the pace was easier for him in almost every regard - percentage of max HR, respiratory rate, muscular effort, willingness/ability to talk, ability to accelerate off that pace, etc. The only questionable aspect is sustainability. I might be able to sustain that pace for longer due to larger fuel reserves. But fuel aspect aside, the pace was easier for Jeff in every way. Nevertheless, I was recovering a whole lot faster.

Shortly afterwards 2 miles with Benjamin in 17:33, and 2 with Jenny in 18:58. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:23.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 14.10
Night Sleep Time: 7.30Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.30
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Race: Ogden Half Marathon (13.11 Miles) 01:12:08, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ogden Half, 1:12:08, 2nd place.

With the help of the Booth family (Chad is on the blog),   was able to conduct the Eden sleep-in operation. I placed my getaway car at the Union station in Ogden, had Chad and his wife Kelli pick me up taking with me the minimum I needed for the night that could be shipped back by the warm-up clothes shipping service, stayed with them overnight, then woke up at 5:45 AM, got dressed, stuffed my possesions in to the drop-off bag, and jogged to the start. Happily missed the 5:00 AM bus.

Warmed up, looked for trouble. There was not much - Alexander Thomas and Albert. Well, Alexander is a whole lot of trouble, but that is just one outclassing runner. No Hobbie, no Teren, no Seth, no Jeff, no Nick, no Mike Vick, no Paul, no Shin, no Nate Hornok, and no out of state guests or collegiate runners in the outclassing division. Of course, no Kenyans. In the beatable class no  BJ,  no Jason, no James (Fiddy), no Fritz, and no Steve. Just Alexander and Albert. So in short, not much trouble, and no wonder. You get what you pay for. LOL, what does that then say about me if I came to run? :-)

Spotted a most peculiar sight. A porta-potty with a sign "V.I.P." on it. You had to pay $300 to get in. And no, unlike St. George, somebody who made top ten the year before, or had the potential to make top ten this year was not welcome to use it. In fact, he was not super-welcome in the race to begin with either. This, of course, led my train of thought to the origin of the term VPB, which was created  for the specific purpose to ridicule the concept of VIP bathrooms at big races. Even though St. George has elite runner bathrooms, and Salt Lake has a secret bathroom that is not advertised to the general public, Ogden was the first marathon in Utah to introduce the concept of VIP!  I immediately visualized a bush with a sign above it, in big letters - V.P.B.!

From the gun I ran without thinking for the first quarter which was a mistake. I followed Albert who followed Alexander, and it felt hard because it was too fast. Then I told myself to be humble and stop having a mental block about letting Albert get ahead.  From that point on I had my head engaged. I let both of them go, and largely ignored them trying to find my own rhythm. I started find it towards the end of the first mile.

5:30 at mile 1. Rolling. 5:13 for Alexander, 5:25 for Albert.

Mile 2 - 6:10 (11:40).  Uphill. I felt good on the hill, started getting a little excited, passed Albert, he latched on, but I did not care. Was surprised how slow that split was, it did not feel that slow. Based on that began to think that perhaps a low 1:13 would be a good goal for today.

Mile 3 - 5:27 (17:07). Slight down.That felt good, although not too good. Upgraded my goal to 1:12:40. Albert is on my tail. Telling myself to relax, think pace him, do not think drop him. Do not worry about dropping him, if he is not fit, he will fall off on his own, if he is fit, he will show it later, when he starts showing signs of strength, ease off, let him pass, and sit on him, have him help me get a faster time. But he sounds like he will not be around after 8.

Mile 4 - 5:24 (22:21) . Slight down. Life is getting better with every mile, and the 5:30 guy is starting to come to me. Albert still around, but struggling.

Mile 5 - 5:20 (27:41). Down. Albert fell back.

Mile 6 - 5:23 (33:04). Down. The pace is starting to feel hard.

Mile 7 - 5:33 (38:37). Less down. Felt hard. The goal is now around 1:12:30.

Mile 8 - 5:20 (42:57). Down. Celebrated catching the 5:30 guy. Wondering if sub-1:12 can happen. Encouraged by the memory of having run 5:23 in the 23rd mile of the marathon in 2006, which would be the 10th mile of the half. Which means there is enough downhill in it to do it.

Mile 9 - 5:25 (48:22). Down. Hoped to put more gap on the 5:30 guy, because I will need it once we hit the trail with all the turns, bumps, and flatting out.

Mile 10 - 5:15 (54:37). Down. Exactly what I was expecting. 23 seconds ahead of the 5:30 guy, can I hold on to that? Goal upgraded to sub 1:12.

Mile 11 - 5:32 (59:09). Less down, turns, bumps, aka micro-hills. Happy I lost only 2 seconds to the 5:30 guy.

Mile 12 - 5:43 (1:04:52). Flat,  turns. During this mile I was confused. For a while I wondered if I was still on the course. There were a couple of opportunities to turn, but there was no mark telling which way to go. I decided to follow the simple rule of if there is no indication to turn, do not turn, go straight. It worked, I stayed on the course. However, the confusion resulted in a loss of focus, and easing off on the pace a bit. Towards the end of this mile I almost ran into two policemen riding their bikes. I overheard one of them say to the other not to "run into joggers". I was happy that he said that, I needed something that would elicit a strong emotional response. I tried to get angry about it, but could not. I thought to myself, I just went past him going 5:30, and he calls that jogging? Well, maybe if he were Ryan Hall or Haile he would have the right to say that, but how can he call this pace jogging if he himself would struggle to keep it for a quarter? But those were just thoughts, there was no emotional response that I hoped for. 12 miles of hard effort had left my adrenal glands in a mellow condition.

Mile 13 - 5:38 (1:11:30). Flat, turns.    Trying to squeeze something out of myself, but nothing comes out.

Kick - 38 seconds (1:12:08). Most likely either mile 13 mark was in the wrong spot, or the finish line was 5-10 meters off. It should have been at least 36. I did speed up, or at least kept the pace. No emotional response to the crowd cheers, though. The 5:30 guy beat me by 2 seconds.

Alexander Thomas won in 1:10:19, I was expecting him to run 1:06-1:07, at least 1:08, but apparently he decided to jog today. Albert was third with 1:13:26.

A humorous moment at the finish. My official name is Alexander as well. Sasha is a well-recognized Russian nickname for Alexander. So after he and I finished the announcer says - here comes the third place finisher. I bet his name is not Alexander. Hmm, I thought, he is going to have some fun when he finds out it is Albert. He did. The race was won by three Slavic Als. Alexander is from Yugoslavia (I think Serbia or Croatia), and Albert is from the Ukraine.

Afterwards jogged back, paced Jen Jones from Florida who I met at the starting line for a little bit. She told me her best 5 K was 19:50, best marathon 3:12, she ran 90 miles a week, and could race a marathon at 92% of her max HR. An interesting case. I believe it means she is just not able to push her max HR very high for reasons not related to the cardiovascular system itself. Similar to what I have. If I could run a 4:20 mile, I'd be able to hit my true max HR. She ended up with 1:31:32, officially second, but I saw a girl right ahead of her that for some reason was not in the results that should have been second.

Then jogged back to the aid station between miles 21 and 22 of the marathon. On the way up saw Seth, he ended up with a new course records of 2:22:51. He is finally starting to run somewhat near his marathon potential, which I believe to be 2:13 on the Ogden course, and 2:10 in Dubai, assuming his collegiate mile speed is still accessible. Then saw Nick - he ran a decent race as well beating the old course record with 2:26:02. But I think his true potential on that course is around 2:16. Again assuming that the collegiate mile speed has not been permanently lost. No Hobbie in the marathon either. Thinking out loud, if we could find a nice sponsor for Utah Valley, we could have quite a show with the top three under 2:20, and top ten under 2:30, and that without the Kenyans. With the Kenyans, even faster. Ogden has plenty of money to do it, but they choose to spend it on things like a 10 page full color glossy paper pamphlet explaining the pre-race routine times 7000+.

Saw Fritz and Walter before getting to the station as well. Fritz finished in 2:37, Walter in 2:41.

Did some work at the aid station. Tried to spot runners that were visibly out of fuel, and fed them double dozes of Powerade. Was originally going to pace Mike Warren, but he told me not to wait for him if somebody who needed it more asked for it first. Melanie Burnam ran by and asked to be paced, so I went with her. She was running strong and passing a lot of people. I liked that for a couple of reasons. First, I like the people I am pacing to do well. And, I started to get tired, and appreciated that she was getting me to the finish quickly. She ended up finishing fifth with 3:07:36, a new PR, and only 2 minutes out of money. Not bad for a mom with 5 kids and a young baby.

After the race I could feel an odd form of fatigue. I called Sarah, and told her that I finished second in 1:12 in a tone of voice that was more appropriate for reporting 20th place with 1:25. Then in the same tone I told of a number of PRs from the bloggers. So when I got home we decided it would be better if she followed the kids on a bike for their runs. They ran their usual distances.

Saucony Type A Miles: 24.80
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 20.20Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 34.30Saucony Type A Miles: 24.80
Night Sleep Time: 55.30Nap Time: 3.00Total Sleep Time: 58.30
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