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: 291.02 Year: 1935.71
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: 805.63
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 with Ted in the morning. His son James joined us for the first 3 miles. Had a very sluggish start, and I was the initiator of it - I was actually dragging behind Ted and James on the first quarter which we did in 2:25. Took us a while before we started breaking 8:00. Got to the turnaround (5.02) in 39:13. Eventually sped up to 7:15, and then 6:40 at the end. Finished 10.04 in 1:14:47. Dropped Ted off, then added another 2 miles, first in 6:42, second in 6:32. Total time for 12.04 was 1:28:01.

Ran 2.5 by myself in the evening in 17:59. Then ran with the kids. 2 miles with Benjamin, Jenny, and Jacob in the stroller. Put Jenny in the stroller at 1.5. Finished 2 miles in 16:28. Ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:25. Total of 5 miles. 

 During our Family Home Evening we read a funny scripture in Acts 19:13-16:

 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

 On a day like this I noticed I consume about 300 grams of honey in addition to regular meals.

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

The Big Workout in the morning. Ran with Ted, Jeff, and Ted's son James. Started slow as usual, then gradually warmed up. James turned around at 3 miles. We gradually picked it up to about 7:00 pace. Hit the turnaround point (5.02) in 38:32. Started the tempo run at the 2.5 turnaround of the standard 5 mile tempo (about 6.2 into the run, 46:38 time wise). The plan was to go 7.5 and hold 5:40 pace, faster if possible, slower if not feeling good.

Splits: 5:38 - 5:37 (11:15) - turnaround (2.5) in 14:05 (2:50) - 5:42 (16:57, 2:52) - 5:33 (22:30, dropped Jeff off at 4) - 5:37 (28:07, 2.5 in 14:02) - 5:37 ( 33:44, Jeff rejoined for the last 2 miles) - 5:36 (39:20) - last 0.5 in 2:42, total time 42:02, last 2.5 in 13:55, last 5 in 27:57, last 2 miles in 11:03, last mile in 5:30, last quarter in 1:18, and last 200 in 37. Incidentally, the last 10 K was 34:49 (from calculations, there was no mark), which is the fastest non-downhill 10 K I've run this year so far anywhere, in training or a race.

The pace felt easy at first, and then become a bit harder later on, after about 1.5. Then it did not become any harder. Having Jeff around certainly helped. I particularly enjoyed his company on the last 200 meters, if one can use the term enjoyable in reference to running anaerobically at the end of a 7.5 mile tempo and with over 13.5 miles on the odometer already. But it felt so good to just finally be able to tuck behind him and kind of coast. Before that, we ran mostly side by side.

Finished the 15.04 with the total time of 1:39:48.

Overall, the workout shows that I am recovering from the marathon through/in spite of the high mileage. On Thursday I did the 5 mile tempo only 3 seconds faster than the last 5 miles of this run, and that was with only a 2.5 warm up. On this run I was also alone for 1.5 miles, and even when running with Jeff, because the pace is hard on him as well, I cannot tuck in behind him for too long when I need a break. With Nick I get more drafting.

In the evening, started with 1.25 in 9:50 pushing a stroller with Jacob, Joseph, and some misc items for playing at the park, and Benjamin and Jenny alongside on their bikes. Got to the park, a little bit of badminton with Sarah, then took Julia for 0.5 in 5:22. Then took Benjamin and Jenny. We ran the first mile in 8:33, dropped Jenny off, then Benjamin went for a chase of the 8:00 guy. He got him - 7:22 last mile, 15:55 for two miles. On the way back, ran 1.25 with the stroller loaded the same way, and Benjamin and Jenny alongside on their bikes. Total of 5 miles with Benjamin's help averaging sub-8:00.

Afterwards, was very hungry, eating everything in sight for a while.

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

Early morning run with Ted at 5:00 am - 10.04 in 1:14:33. James joined us for the first three miles. We got him through his 2 mile tempo at sub-7:00 pace using the locomotive sandwich method - Ted was the pace setter locomotive, and I ran behind creating the threat of a trailing locomotive that will run you over if you slow down. Few 12 year old boys will get up that early to run period, and even fewer would be able to run sub-7:00 for two miles. We also barely missed a skunk.

In the evening first ran 1.52 with Jenny running, Benjamin on a bike, and Jacob and Joseph in the stroller to the swing in 13:40. Then met Sarah and Julia at the swing, left Benjamin and Jenny with them, and ran 3.5 in 25:00 with Jacob and Joseph in the stroller. Then ran 2.02 in 16:19 with Benjamin running, and Jacob and Julia in the stroller. Julia ran 0.5 with Sarah earlier, then rode in the stroller the rest of the way to the swing. Total of 7.04 in 54:59, with more than half done with the kids, and all of it with the double stroller.

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

Another Big Workout. I wonder now if 20x400 can be effective because time-wise it is a Big Workout, with the warm-up and cool-down it lasts forever. That is not what I did this morning, though.

A big group today - Ted, Nick, Jeff, James, and Breanna. Ran the first quarter in 2:08, and I knew that I was going to have a good workout. Now this may sound rather humorous. Most runners in my bracket, and even as far as a minute per mile slower at threshold, would not think so from such a measurement. But this week I have been hitting 2:25 on the first quarter without fail, and it felt hard. Now 2:08 felt easy. Of course, this has nothing to do with the aerobic fitness - my HRM has not been working, but I am fairly certain my HR was at 100 or below. It is all about the neural drive, and for some reason my body has been chosing to inhibit it to the extreme during the warm-up stage. So I was excited to see the change.

We quickly progressed into about 7:10 pace. I was very happy to see that Breanna was still conversational. Just in June she was racing Heart of Holladay 5 K at that pace. Looks like she is getting over whatever it was that inhibited her endurance. Breanna and James turned around at 3 miles. We ran to the turnaround (5.02), hit it in 37:08, and then got back to the start of the tempo workout (2.5 mark/turnaround of the Provo River 5 Mile Tempo , about 6.2 into the run) in 45:14.

The workout was 3 - 2 -1 with 0.5 brisk jog in between to make it more of a fartlek that repetitions. Ted paced us through the first quarter of the 3 in 1:20, and continued to run easy after that. We took turns every quarter, and the pace was all over - the fastest quarter in the middle was 1:18 while the slowest was 1:25, and I believe we hit everything in between at least once. This made it lean away from the steady tempo towards a fartlek within a fartlek. First mile was 5:26, then 5:23, and the last was 5:27 for the total time of 16:16. There was a 180 turn at 2.5 which cost us probably around 3 seconds total.

Nick was running out of time, so he ran to his car after the end of the 3. Jeff and I jogged the next 0.5 in 3:57 (first 100 in 35), and then started the 2 mile tempo. Jeff took the lead on the first quarter and did it in 1:22, then I took then next 0.5 a little faster, then it was Jeff's turn, but he was struggling, so I moved up again after 200. Hit the mile in 5:27. At the point my face started developing a grimace, but I could still hold the pace even being up front. Jeff fell back maybe a second, but then pulled up with 0.5 to go, and helped with the pace quite a bit. We had a 180 turn at 1.5 mark. Finished the repetition in 10:51, last mile in 5:24.

Jogged the next 0.5 in 4:00 (first 100 in 36). I had to make a pit stop in the middle, so this made the recovery a bit longer than 4 minutes. Then went for the mile. Did it in 5:15 with the quarters of 79 - 80 - 80 - 76. Last 200 was 36. The third quarter was uphill (0.5%), the last one rolling. Jeff did well on this one, although he was hurting quite a bit after the first quarter. I think he is starting to get into really good shape for the marathon if he can be so lively with 12 miles on the odometer, 5 of them being a fairly brutal tempo.

Ran to the house, 1:39:12 for 15.04.

In the evening it was hot - 90 degrees. Had to run earlier to make it to some Church meetings/activities during the nicer part of the evening. Ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:36, then 2.5 in 19:47. Found a friend on the trail - his name is Ken Montgomery. He ran with me after 1.25. Then ran with Benjamin and Jenny. First mile in 8:40, then put Jenny in the stroller, Benjamin ran the next mile in 7:38, total for 2 was 16:18.

Noticed an increase in the neural drive. Feeling more energetic, more interested in pushing the pace, the legs feel snappier. 

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

Ran with Ted, James, and Breanna in the morning on Sasha House 10 Miler. Breanna and James turned around at 3.5. Our pace gradually progressed to 7:10 in the middle, and then 6:40 towards the end to catch the 1:15 guy. Finished 10.04 in 1:14:50.  Checked on the state of affairs at home to see Sarah needed me to take anybody for the remaining 2 mile, she did not, so I ran 2 more miles by myself, the first in 6:29, the second in 6:11. Felt very good, at 6:11 pace the stride felt sprinty, but the effort was still very much in the easy range. I knew that it meant something, just was not quite sure what. Definitely an improvement in the neural drive, the race the next day would show if it also meant an actual increase in fitness.

It was hot in the evening, probably around 85-90 (St. George runners would call this nice and cool). Felt properly motivated for the conditions, but otherwise I would call this lazy. Ran 2.5 in 18:26 by myself, then took Benjamin, Jenny, and the stroller, a mile with both in 9:00, then put Jenny in the stroller, and did the last mile with Benjamin in 8:08 (17:08 for 2 miles). Then ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:09.  Total of 5 miles for the run.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Provo River Half Marathon (13.1 Miles) 01:09:38, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Provo River Half Marathon - 1:09:38, 2nd place.

This race race was supposed to be just a glorified tempo run. I had run 91 miles in the 5 days prior with no day less than 17 miles total, and two Big Workouts. However, I ended up with a non-Hobblecreek trusted length half-marathon PR, as well as the course PR, even faster than any time I've run it from 2003-2005 when it was about 40 seconds to 1 minute shorter. I did run the Provo River Half in 2002 in 1:09:45 on a course that somehow lost about 0.5 mile and did not have the uphill section on the old highway, and I was still able to beat that time today. So in short, I've never run a half marathon faster than my time today on any course I would consider being of the accurate length except Hobblecreek, which is an entirely different animal.

At the start I found Dave Holt and asked him if he would trade leads with me every quarter. I figured he was in shape to run about 1:12 on a good day, and 1:13 on a not so good day, but he has been starting out a bit faster in his races and he would not mind doing it today especially if he gets to draft half the time, so hopefully if we bring him alive to the old highway hill, then I would not be alone on that tough section. After that, if he cannot go, then I could just press really hard and maybe catch the 1:11 guy by the finish.

But, as it often happens, things do not quite turn out as you expected in a race. Early on, I noticed that I was feeling better than I expected and was going faster, which would have been bad news for the old Dave, but we had a different Dave today. He was doing the pace I wanted to go during his lead shifts of his own free will. To make things more interesting, Mike Dudley happened to be in the race, and caught up to us around 2 miles. I asked him if he wanted to participate in sharing the lead, and he agreed. So we went like that taking turns every quarter for most of the race from that point.

We hit the 3.23 mark at Vivian in 16:23, 5:04 average . This is actually my PR for that section by 5 seconds, with the earlier being set in a workout where Steve Ashbaker and I did it trading leads and 3.23 was all we were doing, not a half marathon.

From Vivian to the bridge at Nuns (around 5.5) we were a bit slower than 5:20 on the flat section, and then around 5:10-5:15 on the downhill. Then on the uphill on the old highway we ran a bit under 6:00 (going by the GPS), and then around 5:10 pace on the way down.

Hit the official 10 mile mark of the race around 52:30, which I believe was accurate. This is very good - I raced the Provo River 10 miler in June in 54:13 which is identical to this 10 miler with the exception that you have and out and back on the old highway (with about a mile uphill into a headwind, and then back down) in the half marathon instead of a nice gradual 0.5% down 2 mile stretch in the 10 miler, and the 10 miler has an additional 15 second stretch across the bridge. So probably this 10 mile split is about 30 seconds slower than the 10 miler race.

We were going about 5:20 pace down my standard stretch from Nuns to the mouth of the canyon early on. At about 10.5 Mike cranked up the gears, Dave fell back, I tried to hang in there with Mike. He dropped me shortly before 11. I hit 15:55 for my standard 3 mile tempo.

Held 5:20 pace for a bit longer, up to the press building ( 11.7), then we turned, instead of a gentle 0.5% down we now started hitting minor rises and no elevation drop, so slowed down to around 5:30-5:35 going off my GPS. Mike won with 1:09:03, I got 1:09:38, Dave got 1:10:06 - 39 seconds faster than his Bryce Canyon time!

Then ran back with Dave to find the Fast Running Mommy. Dave turned around after a couple of miles. I found Sarah at around 9.8 mark, and then ran back with her. She finished in 2:08:21, but she took a couple of long bathroom stops (I told her I'd teach her how to make them fast, but she said no thanks) which she estimates cost her about 6 minutes. With the warm-up, total of 20.25 for the whole run.

In the evening ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:15, then the run to the swing with Benjamin and Jenny trading places on the bike, and Jacob and Joseph in the double stroller - Jenny 1.52 in 13:53, then Benjamin 2.02 in 15:48. Afterwards, a mile in 7:08 without the stroller or kids. I am happy to have the need to specify that mile was without the kids. Benjamin could have kept up with me for sure, and Jenny possibly could too with some extra motivation.

Life time record for the mileage in a week. Previous high was 111.92 earlier this year. I do not think of 116 as high any more. With my recovery routine this feels like routine training, like I am not running the mileage just to prove a point. Based on the feedback from my body I feel this is the optimum healthy training volume for where I am at. I do not feel tired, in fact without the memory and the record of everything I did this week I would not be able to tell. Legs are not sore at all, and I am not feeling any unusual fatigue, in fact, rather energized compared to normal.

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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