Breaking the Wall

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

Ran 6 miles with Clyde in the morning. We did a mile in 5:26, felt good. Later started feeling the symptoms of a sinus infection. Attacked it with Dr. Christopher's Sinus Formula, it was effective. However, it reduced my appetite, which is a big minus when tapering. Nevertheless, I did not try to force the food intake beyond the natural levels dictated by hunger figuring it would go to waste anyway.

Was concerned about running the marathon with a sinus infection. Then I sat down for my daily mini-piano practice (I try to do 10-15 minutes a day), and learned the right hand of Come Come Ye Saints. As I played it several times and contemplated the words, and the context in which they were written and often sung, as well as the final stage of the route of the Pioneers, which is the course of the marathon tomorrow, I realized that the early Saints had to deal with much more than a sinus infection, and many of them made it to the finish. I also felt thankful for those pioneers, and the pioneers in general. Most the good things we have in life and often take for granted would not be available had it not been for the sacrifice of some pioneer. With that perspective, my sinus infection was not a matter of concern any more. Maybe I will run a bit slower, but I can still run a decent race even with a bit of a challenge to overcome. In fact, having a bit of a health challenge on top of a tough course makes it a more realistic experience in the context of the celebration.

Ran with the kids in the evening, this added 1.5 miles. Then headed over to Chad's house to stay with him overnight.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Deseret News Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:32:54, Place overall: 3
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Deseret News Marathon, 2:32:54, 3rd overall ($500), 1st from Utah ($500), total of $1000, finally a race with some good financial luck. I have not had very much of it this year. In Ogden, I ran a race that deserved $500-$1000 pay off, but the field was crowded, somebody had to miss the money, and being a bit less fit than the competition gave me that lot. Similar stories in shorter races - crowded field, this is a qualifying year, and the Fast Running Blog has been helping crowd the field as well. Nevertheless, I would much rather see/help create a strong field, and wait for/encourage the race directors/sponsors to make the purse match it than rake in all the money racing against a weak field.

Stayed with Chad the night before. Got to see his wife Heather and his little son Jack. Had a nice visit with Paul and James there. Had a runny stomach during the night, got up a few times. On the way to the race was concerned about that. Why? A marathon is a long way to go. Little things tend to escalate. Malfunctioning stomach means the carbo-replenishment will not go in as well. This often leads to an early bonk. Nevertheless, figured if I run conservatively, I could offset the stomach glitch, as well as the effects of the sinus infection the day before, and still run a decent race.

Weather conditions were good. Cloudy skies, no extreme temperatures.

Got to the start, usual routine, then the gun went off. Bill Cobler went into the lead. I stayed with Steve Olsen, Walter Brown, Jon Ndambuki, and Paul Rugut. We coasted at around 5:20 pace on the steep sections. Then Ndambuki and Rugut decided to take a potty break. I picked up the effort (not the pace, as the drop grade decreased), and ended up running alone. Ndambuki and Rugut wasted no time bridging the gap and caught me pretty quick. At around the same time (near mile 4) we went past Bill Cobler. I saw that the Kenyans were slowing a bit, and caught up to them. We ran together until mile 6. 6 miles in 32:43. HR was very reasonable on that section. Down 7% it hovered around 140, then it was around 155 as it flattened out.

Then they started pressing up the Little Mountain. I decided to keep my heart rate around 160 on the climb, and if I could keep up with them at that effort, go, otherwise, just let them take off. They were going significantly faster than what I could manage comfortably with the effort appropriate for the marathon. I ran the 7th mile in 6:25, and they put about a 20-30 second lead on me, this is up a 3-4% grade. On the 8th mile my runny stomach gave me some problems, and I had to make a quick bathroom stop. No big deal, lost no more than a few seconds on it. Got over the Little Mountain, 45:18 at 8 miles. Just trying to run relaxed.

Hit the little uphill subdivision loop. The Kenyans now had about a 2:00 lead. Saw somebody who I at first mistook for an early started, should have paid better attention to his form, it was Peter Vail (I think). He was maybe 40 seconds behind. He was surprised to see me, and made a comment to the effect of, what? you're third? I did not understand the meaning of the comment at first.

10 miles in 56:40, 13 miles in 1:13:16 (this gives me about 1:13:52 half), 15 in 1:24:12. Then to my surprise I heard steps behind me. Peter Vail was gaining on me. I did not like that, but I did not know what to do either. Then I noticed he was not gaining as quickly on the downhill sections as he was on the flat ones. I also remembered that he struggled quite a bit with the downhill in 2004. So I started surging on the downhills.

Clyde joined me soon after 15 miles. I kept doing my downhill surges, and it worked. First I increased the gap to a minute, and then there was no sight of Peter (or whoever that was). Felt strong 15 through 20, and thought that for sure I would run no slower than 2:30 with some seconds, and maybe even a bit under 2:30. Hit 20 miles in 1:53:42, and it is all downhill from there, and with a cloud cover to make things easier. However, my downhill surges combined with not being in the best health combined with a less than normal taper (only one week of 60 vs 80-51 the year before) started to take its toll. I slowed down to 6:20-6:30 pace and did not feel like I could go any faster. The legs felt beat up, and I felt a little weak (although not terribly). Not feeling a threat from behind, and knowing that the Kenyans had a mile lead and not slowing down was also a factor. So I coasted to the finish at that pace. The last 2 miles seemed to take forever, but not too bad.

For some reason there were several timing mats at the end separated by quite a bit of distance. I assume one set was for the 10 K, while the other set for the marathon. Not sure which one was which. So I made sure to keep running until I've crossed all of them, and timed myself on the last one. Based on that, my finish time was 2:32:54 with the last 10 K in 39:12.

Ndambuki won with 2:22:24, Rugut was second about a minute behind. Steve Olsen was 4th with a low 2:44, Bill Cobler 5th with a low 2:48, and Walter Brown struggled big time on the last 2 miles, but still managed a 2:51 finish. Carol Cabanillas won the womens with 2:53. She hoped for a trials qualifier, so she is probably disappointed. However, I am sure she does not mind a $2507 paycheck. 

Legs were sore afterwards, but I think not as sore as last year, which would be good. We'll see tonight and tomorrow.

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Legs, mainly quads were to sore to run productively this morning, although I could have forced it, and a year ago actually did when they hurt worse. This time I decided to wait until the evening. In the evening, they were slightly better. I ran a mile in 9:17 with Jenny and pushing Jacob in the stroller. The pain was bearable, but I still felt running more would not have been productive, so I decided to do some biking instead. So I rode my standard 10.04 course. 28:07 on the way out, but I made a few stops and did not stop the watch, 22:33 on the way back. My bike has some issues with gears, the frame is too short for me, and it is a 30lb mountain bike. It also took me about 8.5 miles to figure out that if you stand up and pedal really hard for a bit, then you can sit down and just coast, and you end up going a lot faster with the same effort. So I was going about 4:20-4:30 pace most of the way. At the end, once I figured out the trick, I hit the last quarter that had 2 90 degree turns in 62. So I figure two miles of biking is about a mile of running, so I'll count this ride as 5 miles.

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Legs still sore this morning, so I biked my 10.04 course. For a change, took off the Jones counter and wore tights instead of my regular street pants the night before. This made quite a bit of a difference. I rode the course in 39:05. First half in 19:12, second in 19:53. That includes a number of slow downs due to sharp turns, getting through a construction zone, and going around pedestrians on the trail. When there were no obstacles, I was going 3:30 mile pace (around 17mph) fairly comfortably. This is on a 30lb mountain bike that is not in great condition - the main problem is that the frame is too short and the saddle does not get up high enough. The chain is also rubbing some against the gear shifting lever and on top of that you cannot go into the highest gears, but on that trail I did not feel the need - the position of the seat relative to the pedals would not allow me to put forth enough power for a higher gear anyway. However, when I got up, I finally started feeling right, except there was no seat underneath me. And, of course, no clips.

Would anybody familiar with biking venture to predict how fast I might be able to go on a nice road bike with everything in proper condition? And what rank this would earn me in a bike race. Ted suggested at one point that my quads might be better suited for biking than running, and in theory that could be a reasonable idea - in running you are pretty much stuck with your biomechanics, while in biking there are a lot of things you can change - the size of the bike, gears, etc, so if you have raw power, it should be easier to find a way to use it. But theory is very different from practice.

 Ran 0.5 with Julia in the afternoon, and then 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in the evening. The leg pain is gradually going away, but is still making me run funny. But at least I feel like screaming only half the regular volume. You can see why the prize money at DesNews attracts so little competition relative to other marathons. My legs are not even sore after any other marathon, and this one brings me to this!

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy run with Jeff and Adam - 10.04 course. Legs still sore, although a lot less. Could not break 8:00 pace for a while. Got to the turnaround in 41:01. On the way back started edging up on the 8:00 guy. Finally around 7.5 accidentally accelerated to 7:00 pace, and then the legs were too sore to slow down. Picked it up on the last quarter, ran it in 1:28. 1:17:51 for the run.

Ran with the kids in the evening, total 2.5 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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And should we die before our journey's through, happy day all is well. We then our free from toil and sorrow too, with the just we shall dwell...

My legs were still sore today, but not as sore as yesterday. I could walk down the stairs without the urge to scream. My intuition told me they will not get any worse from running 15 miles with a 5 mile tempo in the middle. I thought it would give me a nice "big workout" (term borrowed from Tinman). I think he is on to something with that. Best marathoners train in a number of different ways. But one thing in common is that they frequently run for 90+ minutes at once. It could be Zatopek's 40x400, or it could be Viren's 50 mile jog around a big lake, or it could be something more conventional - 20 miles with 10 hard at the end. There is a common theme around my good marathons - frequent and properly balanced runs of 90 minutes or more.

So I ran with Jeff to the end of my 10.04 course, then back to the start of the 5 mile tempo. It started to get warm. My legs were feeling the pain. Jeff noticed that my stride was shorter than his. Normally it is longer. I did not have my normal quad power, so I had to compensate with higher turnover. Nevertheless, we managed about 7:00 average for the first 8.7 miles of our run. I had second thoughts about the tempo, but figured I could slow down to whatever I needed to be able to finish it, and whatever I got would be a benchmark of my current level of recovery.

Splits by the mile - 5:51 - 5:47 (11:38) - turnaround 14:33 (2:55) - 3 miles 17:25 (2:52, 5:47) - 5:47 (23:12) - 5:46 (28:58). Jeff was running strong around 3, and I thought he might drop me, but then he ran out of gas and fell back a bit on the last mile. The run fell tough. I think there were several things that made it so:

  • pain in the quads - every step hurt, not much, like a mosquito bite maybe, but this makes it hard to concentrate
  • loss of power in the quads - this a big deal for me. I have thought about this issue for a while. My opinion is that one's ability to balance the quad and the hamstring well is a function of the condition of the lower back. A more biomechanically talented runner (minority of the runners) will have the lower back in proper balance and will use quads and hamstrings in a more effective proportion. A less  biomechanically talented runner (majority of the runners) will have issues in the lower back that will force him to rely on the quads more. Thus he will  never negative or even -split a marathon without  running below his potential because even though he may have the fuel reserves left in the second half, his quads are partially disabled due to the cumulative pounding impact in the first half, quads being the primary shock absorber, and he cannot do much without them. Whereas the other type of runner does not suffer as much from the loss of quad power because his hamstrings are better utilized, and they are not a major shock absorber, so if they have the fuel in the second half, they can go.
  • heat
  • having run 8.7 miles earlier
  • lack of glycogen from the marathon 4 days ago

So I was pleased with the run. Finished the rest barely fast enough to keep the 6:40 guy off our backs - 1:39:41 for 15.04.

Ran with the kids in the evening - total of 2.5.

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