Breaking the Wall

Ogden 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: 107.61 Year: 107.61
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: 1276.97
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 45.17Nap Time: 3.50Total Sleep Time: 48.67
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Took it very easy today. Tried to move as slow as possible and do as little as possible. Stayed awake in church, enjoyed the talks and the lessons in Sunday school. Took a nap in the afternoon. Went from 143 lb at the end of my run yesterday to 152 lb at night, and my stomach did not feel exceptionally full.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 10.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10 miles in 1:15:55 with Jeff. Hyrum joined us for the first 3 in 24:39. Actually my time was a bit faster as I did a VPB and did not stop my watch at around 2.5. After two more VPBs and some minor sweating my weight went down to 146 lb at the end of my run from 152 lb last night. It was rather wet and chilly this morning. The positive way to interpret the weight change is that I do not need a fuel belt.

Finally taper time, and I am looking forward to it but not too much anticipation, which is a good sign. I suspect one week is the optimum taper length for me. We'll find out in Ogden.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:23, 2 with Benjamin in 16:51, Jenny joined us for the first 1.5 in 13:09.

T4 Racer -  37.7 miles.


Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Hyrum, Jeff, and Josse. Hyrum turned around after 1.5. Paced Josse through a 2 mile tempo in 12:53. My time was actually faster as I had a VPB stop. Took me about 0.4 to catch up, timed 600 meters in 1:59. Total time for 7 miles was 55:27 minus Tvpb .

P.M-1. Did some tests at BYU with Jeff with the help of Iain Hunter on the force plates. Still analyzing the results. Ran 0.75 from the car to the lab and back.

P.M-2. 1 mile with Julia in 10:25, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 12:37. Joseph set a 100 meter PR of 34.7. 

T4 Racer - 47.95 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 6 miles with Jeff in 47:55 - Tvpb, Hyrum joined us for the first 3 in 24:17 with the last mile in 7:07, his mile PR since he started running again.

T4 Racer - 53.95 miles.

P.M. It was the afternoon of PRs for the girls. On Saturday I bought some honey sticks at Good Earth. Over the week I've been marketing them to Jenny and Julia explaining that they could be had if they ran fast. For Julia the standard was a mile under 9:00 and for Jenny under 8:00. Those times were slower than their PRs but I figured they needed some motivated practice in pushing themselves. Benjamin does it naturally, I actually have to hold him back a lot.

Finally Jenny succumbed to my marketing efforts and decided that today was going to be a prize run. We warmed up the first 0.5 in 4:27, then she went to the bathroom at the park and we started the fast portion. I did not expect her to break the record, but she ran the first quarter on pace - 1:51. I told her she could get the record and and that there will be additional bonuses. So she ran the next quarter in 1:48 followed by 1:53 and 1:47 for the total of 7:19 - a PR by 11 seconds.

Julia heard about Jenny's rewards and wanted some as well. Knowing the rules she asked if she could do a prize run too. She started out very fast - 26 at 100, 54 at 200, 1:24 at 300 and 1:55 at the quarter. I was holding her back figuring let her run fast while she is motivated as she might have a fit later on. Sure enough she did. When Benjamin was her age he understood math very well, he knew what the splits meant, if he was on pace or not, etc. Julia is a bit behind the Pachev curve in this area. At 5 years and 7 months her reading is at the level of Bob Books and her math is at the level of adding numbers less than 20. Benjamin and Jenny could read anything on their own at that age, although Jenny's math was at about Julia's level. However, Julia is a very emotional creature and can get upset a lot more easily. So she did not understand that we were going to the second four-triangle mark before the turnaround. She thought we were going to turn around at the first and when we did not she went into utter panic.

It took me about a quarter mile to convince her that if she just coasted she could still get her record along with the prize, during which we slowed down to 2:18, which gave us 4:13 at the turnaround. To Julia's credit, very few 5 year olds would be running  9:12 pace in her emotional state at the time. She calmed down and finally believed me that she could still get the record. Her next quarter was 2:10, and her last one was 2:06. Her mile time was 8:29, a new record by 12 seconds. Fitness wise she did have a sub-8:00 in her. She could talk on the second half, asked me several times if we were on pace, and made a comment about people walking on the trail. The first thing she wanted to do afterwards is draw a picture of us running on the trail, which she did while we were driving back.

Benjamin ran with Jenny, and then finished the last 0.5 of his run with me in 3:13, which gave him 15:00 for 2 miles.

My Five Fingers have arrived (St. George Running Center now has them), and I did the run in them. I like them very much.

Five Fingers - 3 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. I greeted Jeff with: "Hi, I am Sasha the Duck" this morning as I came out the door wearing my Five Fingers. 3 with Jeff and Hyrum in 25:37, then dropped Hyrum off and finished 6 in 45:44, last mile at marathon pace trying to be honest in 5:40.

One challenge with Five Fingers is getting each toe in its own compartment. But I suppose eventually this becomes natural. I really like having the toes like that when running. And unlike Crocs there is no cushioning in the heel at all, so you have to do a better job of finding inner sources of cushioning.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:49. 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:00, another 0.5 with Benjamin to finish 2 in 16:58.

Went to Sarah's ultrasound for the baby. It is a boy. Sarah is due on October 24th. We are going to name the boy William (Bill, Willie Billie Boy).

Five Fingers - 9 miles.

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

A.M. Hyrum did not make it this morning. He called later and I gave him a motivational talk over the phone. Let's hope it results in a run later today. He said I should be coaching cross-country. I'd be glad to if I could do it with no red tape. Good luck :-) Just the thought of having to deal with a school district makes me quake and tremble. I have very little tolerance for paper work. One time I told a potential client that was going to pay very well I would have nothing to do with them because they sent me 6 documents to sign. They cut it down to 3 which put it at the boundary of the barely acceptable. When I was interviewing for my first job at Novell they had me talk with five people, one at a time. I already had two offers. After five interviews there was no offer, no idea what kind of offer it was going to be if I was going to get one, and they handed me a four page application form. I started filling it out, but after a couple of minutes just said forget it, put it in the trash and took another offer.

Maybe if some coach wanted an informal assistant, I could help.

Ran 3 miles with Jeff and Benjamin in 25:13, then 3.13 more with Jeff. Total time was 49:12.

P.M. 1 with Jenny and Julia. Julia finished in 9:43, Jenny was around 9:30 as she pulled ahead. Then another 0.5 in 4:12 with Jenny.

Drove to Ogden, picked up the packet, went to the party at Logan's house. We discussed the plan, then drove to Michelle's in-laws house in Perry and stayed with them.

Five Fingers -  16.63 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.67Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.67
Race: Ogden Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:32:28, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ogden Marathon, 2:32:28, 2nd place. Fast Running Blog sweep of 8 places in the top 10 in the men's plus 2nd place in the women's (Michelle). Not perfect score but getting there. Did some FRB recruiting to fix that. Stay tuned for updates...

The morning started at 4:00 AM with a short scripture study, then I followed Michelle in my car to the bus pick-up. On the bus sat next to an older runner named Ryan. We had a good talk.

The temperatures were quite comfortable at the start, which was a bad sign of things to come as that meant it would be too warm later on. It was nice seeing a crowd of uniformed bloggers. I took advantage of every opportunity that turned up to promote the blog. When none turned up I would create one. "Hey guy, how are you? Do you want to get faster? Go to our site - FastRunningBlog.Com!"

Examined the competition, found Ken Pliska and Seth Wold, invited them to run with us. Pretty soon Seth, Logan, Clyde, and I separated from everybody else. During the first mile we had a guy with us whose name I forgot, I think it was Ken, (I hope he finds this post and reminds me) that was targeting 2:40. After we found out his background and his goal we recommended to him to ease off and join the 2:40 pace group (Ogden Marathon race directors did not know that they had one, courtesy of the Fast Running Blog :-)).

I love those first couple of miles of a marathon. Time for introductions and chit-chat. But it ended too soon. Clyde and Logan were a bit edgy, and Seth was playing along. As it would turn out that pace was just right for him. I noticed Clyde was struggling and suggested this could possibly be a bad sign that our pace is too fast. My thinking was that a pace that is too fast for either myself, Logan, or Clyde could easily be too fast for all three, except the other two might feel too excited to notice it. Clyde said he was OK. I said : "OK for the half, OK for 15, OK for 20, or OK for 26?". Clyde said: "we will see at the end".

In the beginning we agreed that we may try a joint effort for Paul's course record (2:26:24) as there were rumors about a possible bonus, and if we were going to do it, the honest way is that all three of us try. Otherwise, the one that does not will have an unfair advantage at the end. So even though the pace started feeling too fast, I decided to go along with it for a couple of miles. At around 4 it really started not feeling right. I wish I could have sat down right there with Clyde and Logan and presented my reasoning for backing off, and to convince them to back off with me, but I did not have the time. I just said that it was too fast and I needed to ease off.

The mile markers were messed up in the early miles due to the last minute course adjustments, but I think by 5 miles they were correct. My 5 mile split was 27:41, with Clyde, Logan, and Seth a bit a head. When I eased off, I think they did as well after a while, and also with them being ahead I felt some pressure to keep a faster pace as I did not want to lose contact in case we started getting gusts of head wind.

Finally Clyde came to grips with the idea that the pace was too fast and let Seth and Logan go. That was nice because now I could work with him better. At first I tried to do trading leads, but it did not work. Clyde's mind works better when he is up front. This was fine with me, I like drafting.

One we turned into the valley, on the 9th mile all of a sudden 6:00 pace became a chore. Then I knew it was getting warm enough to make a difference. This was going to be a survival race. Those are both good and bad for me. The splits are depressing, and the projected finish time is disappointing. I do not like slow pace when racing, well, who does? On the positive side, however, I am very good at survival games, this gives me an edge over the competition.

56:03 at 10 miles, 1:14:45 at the half. I started moaning to keep the momentum and just because it felt right. Sorry Clyde. Learn to moan with those that moan :-) We did a 6:10 mile from 12 to 13 and it felt too good all of a sudden. So I figured it was time to put the pedal down. With a few moans I was able to accelerate and thought I was going at least 5:45. Good luck, 5:53 on a mildly downhill mile. OK, it must be hot. Clyde is falling back pretty quick, and nobody is coming up from behind or is even close.

Moaned my way up the hill, tried to get into a good rhythm afterwards, but still cannot break 5:50. That's OK, just focus on good rhythm, good form, glide along, stay in the money position, don't try too hard to upgrade it, let it come naturally if it is supposed to happen today. 1:26:34 at 15 miles.

Got past the dam, still feeling strong, but it is not showing in the mile splits. But at least they are all under 6:00, and I am even hitting 5:40s on some downhill miles. Passing half-marathoners and scaring them with my moaning. 1:55:45 at 20 miles.

Getting different reports on the gap with the leaders, figuring it is 2-3 minutes. Not much additional info. I want to know if it is 2 or 3. Finally at 24 Josh Steffen, who was on the course, yells at me that Logan is only 30 seconds ahead. I caught up to him in what seemed like forever, and asked him what was wrong. He felt good enough to run with me and answer that his legs were cramped up, but then had to stop and massage them. This happened to me in my first marathon.

Having moved into 2nd cheered my spirits, but I still did not feel secure. Based on how well Logan ran when he was actually running, he could possibly find an extra gear that would allow him to block the pain signals and start running sub-6:00 pace. And somebody like Ken Pliska or one of the bloggers having a miracle race could all of a sudden come from behind.

I was able to keep my miles under 6:00 until 24, then had a 6:04, and a 6:10 in spite of trying to pick it up. I did not feel bad but I guess being out in the open sun on the last mile did not help. Kicked in 1:15 for the last 385 yards, and ended up with 2:32:28 in second place behind Seth Wold who finished in 2:27:43 in his first marathon. Logan came in third holding off Clyde who was 4th. Then Jeff Shadley, Chad, Kory, then Ben VanBeekam created a hole in the blogger dominance which we hope to fix soon, rumor has it that he has been learning and has entered the "almost thou persuadest me" state, after that Cody, Walter, Jon and the Lost Sheep Bill Cobler, a picture with him holding a Lost Sheep sign is on its way.

After the finish three ladies one at a time insisted on giving me the finisher medal. I said, no thanks, I think I had to do it three times for each of the ladies. They could not understand why I did not want a finisher medal. I hope some of the readers will. Suppose you could sing well enough to be paid to do it. How would you like to get a medal every time you sang on key? While singing on key is a feat for a lot of people, myself very particularly included as those who have heard me sing would testify, and  the ability to do so is a gift from God which should not be taken for granted, nevertheless for a decent singer this is a basic element of performance, not a stellar accomplishment. For a number of obvious reasons he would not want to pile up token awards of this kind and put them up on display for his friends to see.

So it is with finishing a marathon. To get a finisher medal all you need to do is get to the finish under 6 hours. In some marathons you can be even slower. For some people such a goal is not trivial. It takes a lot of preparation and focus. Others would be able to do it with ease and with no prior preparation. I believe that if you would able to run a sub-6:00 marathon comfortably even you did not train at all or very sporadically you should not take a finisher medal. God gave you a gift and He expects you to do more with it than just finish a marathon. At least that is what I decided to do for myself. For as long as my health makes it so that just to finish before the course closes is not a challenge I will not be taking finisher medals anymore.

As far as the reward for running a race is concerned when the budget of the race does not permit the race director to reward my performance with cash, a mention of my time in the race results means more to me than any kind of a trophy or a medal. In the context of the competition it speaks for itself, and does justice to what I've done that day. That is all I need as far as recognition is concerned.

T4 Racer - 81.17 miles.

P.M. 3 miles with the kids. 1 with Jenny and Julia in 10:10. Jenny pulled ahead a bit - her time was 10:05. Then 0.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 4:09. This gave Jenny 14:14 for 1.5. Then 1.5 more with Benjamin to finish his 2 miles in 15:56.

Five Fingers - 19.63 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 45.17Nap Time: 3.50Total Sleep Time: 48.67
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