Breaking the Wall

Provo River 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: 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
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Gold Crocs 1 Miles: 67.75
Night Sleep Time: 43.50Nap Time: 5.00Total Sleep Time: 48.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. We had a fast and testimony meeting. The lesson in Sunday school was on the Word of Wisdom. I taught it. At the end a thought came to me that I shared with the class, and I believe it is worth being mentioned here. I said, to run and not be weary is good, but to know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet is better. The Word of Wisdom is a principle in the LDS religion that teaches us to take good care of our bodies. Part of that is staying away from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, caffeinated tea, and harmful drugs. We also believe in eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains, while eating meat in moderation (yes we do, even if you might find it hard to believe if you go to a typical LDS activity). We also believe in a lifestyle that involves going to bed early and arising early (again, might be hard to believe that we do if you look at your typical BYU student schedule, but it is in the Doctrine and Covenants 88, and it was specifically mentioned in the lesson manual), as well as regular exercise. Among the blessings promised for obedience to the Word of Wisdom is "run and not be weary" and "treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures".  In particular, one of those hidden treasures is to be able to recognize and see plainly that the Lord has called a prophet in the last days, just like he did in the times of the Bible.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. 2 with Jenny in 15:56, 8 alone in 57:59, 2 more with Benjamin in 15:02, last mile in 6:26.

P.M. 0.5 with Jacob, Joseph, and Benjamin.

Gold Crocs 1 Miles: 12.50
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. Tempo run with Daniel. Did 2.5 in 13:41. Splits were 83, 82, 82, 81 (5:28), 82, 83, 83, 84 (5:32, 11:00), 81, 80. Daniel had not gotten enough sleep, so he was really struggling. He made it to about 0.75 with me, then coasted in with 14:17. Total of 12 miles including 2 with Benjamin. Jenny and Julia ran 2. Then Jenny took Jacob for 0.5.

P.M. Benjamin ran 0.5 with Joseph.


Gold Crocs 1 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10 in 1:13:43. Jenny and Julia ran 2, including 0.5 with Jacob.

P.M. Benjamin ran 0.5 with Joseph, then 2.1 with me rollerblading alongside in 16:11 in the rain.

Gold Crocs 1 Miles: 10.00
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. Ran with Daniel, and we found Mike Taylor on the trail and ran with him. Mike was Jeff McClellan's teammate in high school. Did a mile pickup to feel half marathon pace for Saturday. Did splits of 82, 81, 84 (under the bridge), and then shifted gears and ran 74, total of 5:21. Added 2 with Benjamin. Jenny and Julia ran 2. Jenny took Jacob for 0.5, and Benjamin ran 0.5 with Joseph.


Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Mike. Did a 500 in 1:44 (post-VPB), got home with 8.25 on the odometer. Then added 2 with Benjamin in 15:07 with the last mile in 6:19 and the splits of 1:41, 1:37, 1:33, 1:28. I finally got Benjamin to overcome a mental block with this workout where you start at a brisk pace and then keep getting faster with every quarter. Jenny and Julia ran 2. Jenny took Jacob for 0.5.

P.M. Took a nap in preparation for the race tomorrow. My new job (I now work for Percona) does allow me to work on the blog as much anymore, so do not be surprised if I am slow to respond sometimes, but I still work from home, and can squeeze in a nap when I really have to. It has been a great blessing to find this job when my main client ran out of money and dropped my consulting services.

Benjamin took Joseph for 0.5. I rollerbladed.

Gold Crocs 1 Miles: 10.25
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
Race: Provo River Half Marathon (13.11 Miles) 01:12:03, Place overall: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Provo River Half Marathon, 1:12:03, 1st place.

They say mice can play when the cat is away. The cat (Jeff)  is in Las Vegas, so the mice got to play.

I figured the time on this course is rather meaningless, plus in the absence of a good pack it would not be good anyway, so I ran more or less tactically, more for place than for time. Plus I had never won a race wearing Crocs, and figured who knows, maybe I'll get a sponsorship from it, that would be rather interesting. Not that I cannot afford a pair of foam shoes for $10 once a month, but they might offer more, like paying to travel, who knows. Even if not, winning a fairly large half marathon in Crocs is a good story in and of itself.

From the start, Walter went with me. I did not have plans to make an effort to drop him until the course flattened out (around 4 miles), but I noticed he struggled on the mini-uphills, and figured it would make the job easier if I turned up the heat there creating a gap, then he would be softened up by the time we got to the flat part. So I managed to open up about a 10 second gap by mile 2, and from that point on it kept increasing.

However, there was much more serious trouble ahead. Around mile 4 Brian Summers appeared out of nowhere. That was disturbing because he had to go pretty fast to catch up. On the positive side he was breathing pretty hard. On the negative side, we were 4 miles into the race and he was still alive.

I let Brian pass me and sat behind him. We were on the trail with the triangle marks. The pace on the downhill according to Curt's marks was a steady 5:07, and I believe it could have well been right. On the trail it fluctuated between 5:20 and 5:40 according to the marks. I did not want it to be 5:40 as it would give whoever was chasing a chance to catch up. So when Brian slowed down I would make a feeble attempt to pass him. Feeble so that I would not waste energy and so he would believe he could hold me off. I noticed he likes to lead. That is OK because I like to draft. But I want the pace fast. So I communicated to him that I wanted the pace to be faster by attempting to pass him.

When we turned the corner to start the climb up the old highway I saw more trouble. Justin Park closing on us. That is trouble because he came out of nowhere as well. Not surprising with our erratic pace, though. I made an effort to pass Brian up on the hill to keep the pace fast a couple of times to get away from Justin. He responded. I was glad he did because if he had not I would have had to run uphill into a headwind alone.

When we got to the end of the hill and turned around, I was quite well rested, about as well rested as I could be after 7.5 miles, and turned up the heat. I was expecting Brian to respond and live to mile 10, and then I hoped to win the battle off fuel knowing that he blew up in a marathon badly a couple of months ago, and would likely be soft after 10 miles. But he did not go, he was too worn out from running uphill covering me from the wind.

In about a mile I gapped Brian by about 20 seconds, and Justin had not caught up to him, so I figured as long as I kept my quarters not slower than 84 (5:36 pace) I would be safe. I tried to motivate myself to run a more honest race and go faster, but it was difficult. I was running sort of scared, but not as scared as I should have been. Sometimes too much knowledge is not good. I knew the limits of my competition, and it was not good for my pace.

I got to the finish without problems. Sarah was kind enough to get up early in the morning in spite of being only a couple of weeks away from giving birth and be there to take a picture. I will post it when I get around to transferring it from the camera.

Brian came it around 1:13:30, Justin was about 10 seconds back, Walter was around 1:14:00. Michelle won the womens with a course record in 1:17:38 (I think). Saw Rob finish, he got 1:19:04 or about. That is a PR in the half for him. Went back and paced Stuart (the lost sheep), and then ran some more miles to make it 20 for the morning.

Update: the picture is here. Note that the clock shows the wrong time, it was started 1 minute before the actual start of the race.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:47. 0.5 with Jacob, Joseph, and Benjamin. Jacob and I hung back with 4:55, Benjamin and Joseph ran 4:26.  Jenny and Julia ran 2 in the AM.

Gold Crocs 1 Miles: 23.00
Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Gold Crocs 1 Miles: 67.75
Night Sleep Time: 43.50Nap Time: 5.00Total Sleep Time: 48.50
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