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: 90.98 Year: 2713.79
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1576.28
Neon Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 22.05
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 4 Miles: 83.50
Night Sleep Time: 39.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 40.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. It was a Fast Sunday, so we had a Fast and Testimony Meeting. Then a lesson on the Fall of Adam in Sunday School, and a lesson on President Monson's message in the Ensign "The Savior's Call To Serve".

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

A.M. Ran 7 with Benjamin, 2 alone, 2 with Jenny, Julia, and Joseph, and 1 more with Jenny and Jacob. Carried dumbbells in the last mile. Total of 12. Did a pickup for 600 in 1:56 down the canyon to catch up to Benjamin after a VPB.

P.M. 0.4 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.40
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. Repeated Saturday's 3 mile tempo to see if I would get better results without the 5 miles with dumbbells the day before. I did. The splits were 5:11, 5:18, 5:17, last quarter in 76, only one quarter slower than 80 (the first one in the last mile), and the total time of 15:46.3, which is my fastest time of the year. In the first mile I felt like I was holding back some and would be able to speed up in the second or third mile. But later on I felt I did not have another gear, not running alone at least. To a certain extent the feeling mirrored my Saturday experience, except I ran faster in every mile, slowed down less in the second, and my splits were dot on the . On Friday I tripped and thought that I had just bruised my arm, but later I realized I had bruised something in the rib cage as well, and have had a small difficulty breathing in all the way. I still felt it today. I suppose once that is healed I can measure what effect it had if any by doing this tempo run again.

Total distance was 12.6 including 2 miles with the dumbbells.  Jenny did 3, Julia 2, Joseph and Jacob 1. Benjamin was at the scout camp, was supposed to run 7.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 13.10
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Today is the 20th anniversary of my baptism. When I was 12 years old I used to run a lot around a group of lakes in a park in Moscow. It was an interesting coincidence that 7 years later at the age of 19 I was baptized in one of those lakes. I cannot possibly describe the difference this change of direction 20 years ago has brought into my life. There are many things to mention, but here is one. Growing up I have overheard many people predict that I would never marry. They had their reasons, but they were looking at things through the eyes of the world, and not through the eyes of faith. In spite of a good measure of social awkwardness, or perhaps turning that weakness into strength, I was married within 3 months after returning from an LDS mission, and now after almost 16 years we are expecting our 8th child.

Did a time trial with Julia and Jacob for 800 meters on the track. Joseph assisted with Jacob's time trial. The target for Jacob was to start out in 50 seconds for the first 200 and then hang on to dear life. Jacob ran the splits of 49, 53, 51 and 52 to finish in 3:25.6, which is a PR by 8 seconds, and the first time under 3:30. This gives us high hopes for the win in the Thanksgiving 800 as the course record for the times I've timed it is 3:28 and was set by Joseph last year. I would, however, feel more comfortable if he entered the race with a sub-3:15 PR, which he will probably have by Thanksgiving.

Joseph ended up running 3:23. He was running in front. He forgot how fast Jacob was and thought that he could just comfortably coast through the whole deal. I had to prod him several times to speed up as Jacob several times almost ran into him. 

Then I paced Julia. Her target was also to go out at 50 seconds per 200 pace but it was more of a keep your head above water rather than a dream pace. Her splits were 47, 51, 51, 47 - total time 3:16.6 which is a 10 second PR. I was quite happy with that. This was a good step for her to get closer to breaking the 7:00 mile. At least it gives her the confidence that she can get to half-way on pace with good 10+ second margin from an all out 800.

We ran a cool-down, so the total mileage was 1 for Jacob, 2 and for Julia and Joseph. Then we went home and I ran 3 with Jenny. Benjamin was supposed to run 7 at the Scout Camp.

I ran 7 more to make the total 12 miles. 

P.M. William asked me if he could get a watch. I told him he had to break 2:15 in the 400 on the track without holding my hand. This was quite a challenge as his best is 2:21 with the hand, and he had not yet run the full 400 without holding a hand. But I knew that he needed to achieve this milestone if he had any hopes of winning the Thanksgiving 400 meter race (3-4 age division).  He agreed, so I took all of the kids that were home to the track. William ran 2:25 with the splits of 33, 35, and then 1:17 for the last 200. He was running OK in the first 200, but then lost focus, it was not a matter of fitness. This was good progress, but he had not reached the goal that he had the fitness to reach. So I explained to him that he needed to try again. He almost got it in the second try. His first 100 was 29, then 34. I thought he had it in the bag, but then he tripped and took his time to get up. He still finished in 2:27, but he will have to try again to get the watch. 

Stephen was in a bad mood, but we decided to see what he could do for 100 meters. Normally the result for a 23 month old in that condition is DNF at best, otherwise DNS. However, somehow Jenny and Julia managed to dance in front of him making a lot of noise and he got through 100 in 46, which is his new record. I think right now he could crack 40 in better mood or with more bad mood fix practice. He needs to be in the low 30s to win the Thanksgiving 100 (0-2 age division).

Then Joseph, Jacob, and Julia wanted to do timed sprints.  First Julia raced Joseph. Joseph won, but his time got messed up. Julia got 19.6. Then I ran with them individually. Joseph got 19.0, Julia got 19.8. Then I ran with Jacob - he surprised me with 20.1. That is really good speed for a 6 year old! Maybe not that great for a sprinter, but definitely good for a distance runner. Then Joseph wanted to run 200. We did it in 39.8, which is his new record.

I ended up with about a mile total of running. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 13.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with the kids. Jenny and Joseph did 3, Julia and Jacob 1. I added 9 more. Total of 12. Carried dumbbells for 1.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 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. Ran with the kids. Jenny did 3, Joseph and Julia 2, Jacob 1. Benjamin still at the Scout Camp, ran 6. I added 8 more to make the total 12. Did a pickup for 1.5 in 7:54.5 down the canyon, felt good.

P.M. 0.5 with William. 

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Race: Provo River Half Marathon (13.11 Miles) 01:14:48, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran the Provo River Half marathon in 1:14:48, 2nd place. Jacob Buhler won with 1:07:15.

I was hoping to run 1:11:30 based on my recent workouts and DesNews performance, but there was a problem I did not full appreciate the impact of. 8 days ago I fell and hurt my rib cage. I got up immediately, and shortly after ran a 200 with Benjamin in 29.3. The next day I ran my 3 mile course in 15:59, followed by 15:46 on Tuesday. So I thought this rib cage problem was no big deal. However today during the race it was giving me trouble. I opened with a 5:16 (according to Curt's mark, which I think was accurate), then it was 5:21. At this point I did feel restricted in breathing, but I did not yet need to breathe at super high volume yet, so it was somewhat tolerable. Then in the next two miles I gradually began to get more and more bothered by this problem. It was like Chinese water torture. It does not seem like a big deal, but one drop at a time you get to the point where it becomes unbearable. And I just did not have it in me today to push through it for the entire distance. So I settled on a compromise pace of about 5:45 and coasted/plodded to the finish. I managed to find some markers on the old highway that were placed every 100 meters, and timed what I believe was a mile in 6:27 going up into a headwind, which I thought was not too terrible for the day. On the way down I timed it as well, but I forgot what it was - something along the lines of 5:40. If it was close to 5:00 or under I would have remembered, but a 5:40 downhill/tailwind mile was not worth trying to remember precisely, I suppose, especially while I was dealing with the pain. Interestingly enough, on miles with less downhill I was still running around that pace - I think part of the problem was that the downhill was causing a lot of rib cage jarring, so it added the extra pain to take away from the advantage of the downhill.

I timed my 3 mile tempo stretch, which on the race course maps to from about 9 to about 12. I ran that stretch in 17:14 with the splits of 5:40, 5:47, 5:47. My "official" 10 mile split was 57:01, which I remembered from the past years was at an accurate location. At that point I was not happy because I realized that a 17:00 5 K, which is under 5:30 pace would give me only 1:14 low, and it would take some painful work to stay above 1:15 barrier. Nevertheless, I made an effort to stay positive, and just do the best that I could under the circumstances. 

So I made my way to the finish, saw that I was cutting it close to not cracking 1:15 and sprinted just to be sure to stay on the right side of the 1:15:00 guy. I was rather surprised at the response I got out of my legs for the kick in the last 70 meters or so, but I suppose I should not have been surprised as they in all honesty have been vacationing all along as they could not get enough oxygen to work at top capacity. And oxygen is not needed for a 70 meter sprint.

Afterwards I cooled down with Mike Epperson and Tony Vakaafi to make the total of 20 miles.

Overall, I think this race was a good learning experience. Had everything been normal, I would have run a faster time, but I would not have learned about the importance of proper lung function in longer races. Of course, I knew that if your lungs were restricted you would not run 100%. But what I did not know is the difference in which it affects a longer race like a half marathon vs just 3 miles.  

Jenny ran 3, Julia and Joseph 2, Jacob 1.  

P.M. 0.5 with William. He ran a quarter in 2:19 down the Provo Canyon. Benjamin ran 7.5.  

Green Crocs 4 Miles: 20.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 4 Miles: 83.50
Night Sleep Time: 39.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 40.50
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