Breaking the Wall

Great Salt Lake 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: 88.07 Year: 2386.98
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: 1257.89
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

course {Sasha House 10 Miler} with Ted in the morning. James joined us for the first 3, then ran back.  I made a bathroom stop, and then caught up, so my time was faster than Ted's - 1:12:32. Then added another 2 miles in 13:00, making the total time 1:25:32.

Ran at 8 pm in the evening. First 2.5 in 17:11, then 0.5 with Julia in 5:23, then 1.5 with Jenny and Benjamin running, and Jacob in the double stroller in 13:19. Jenny almost spoiled somebody's date. There was a young couple in front of us, he was running and she was riding a bike. Jenny was gradually pulling up to them, he apparently heard us and made a surge, but it did not last. The fire breathing dragon Jenny started to close again, and almost passed them, but ran out of road - her run was over. Then put Jenny in the stroller, and ran the remaining 0.5 with Benjamin in 3:56 which gave us 17:15 total for the 2 miles.

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: Big Workout. Warmed up with Ted and James (James turned around at 3). 38:57 at 5.02, 47:29 at the standard start of the Big Workout (2.5 turnaround of Provo River 5 Mile Tempo). After a good race at the Provo River Half I did some calculations and realized my chance of winning prize money at Great Salt Lake is sufficiently greater than 0 to merit a mini-taper. Plus a faster time could act as a confidence booster going into St. George, and a back-off week is a nice pre-caution against overtraining. So the plan was to do something mild of the Big Workout, skip one altogether on Thursday replacing it with an easy 10 in the morning, and then easy 10 Friday + only 2.5 with the kids in the evening.

I thought 8x1000 at 5:20 pace with 400 recovery at 8:00 pace + a short tempo to the house at the end would do the job, so that is what I did. 1000s were actually 5/8 of a mile, which is about 5 meters longer, and 400s were actually quarters, which is about 2 meters longer. The workout is outlined in the chart below:

Interval time
Recovery time after (first 100)
Recovery time after (quarter)
Missed 1000 mark, and went to 0.75

Had 180 turn right after the intverval, lost 3 seconds.


Ran 0.5 to use the credit from 0.75 first interval since I would have had to do 180 in the middle of the interval otherwise. First 100 was slow in the recovery because I had to do a 180 immediately after the interval.
Ran 0.75 because there was no mark at 1000.
Ran 0.5 to use the credit from 0.75 earlier. Launched into the final tempo immediately after the standard recovery.

Then ran 1.83 tempo home in 10:56 which is 5:58 pace average. I was actually going steady 5:52 on the good sections of the trail, but I had to cross Geneva Road, go under a couple of bridges, run uphill (0.5%) for a quarter mile, and deal with a few standard minor annoyances. This gave me 44:07 en route for 7.5 (5:53 average), which I consider a decent time for a fartlek, and a total time of 1:39:36 for 15.04.

A little bit of bragging - I have filled out the chart above entirely by memory. I actually never use the split function of Garmin, only look at it, then calculate and remember the split. I can do it because a running time to me is more than just a number. It has a life, maybe even some color, feelings to go with it, maybe I remember somebody who ran that time on some distance, etc.

P.M. 95 degrees. Ran to Benjamin's soccer practice. First mile, Benjamin and Jenny running, Julia in the double stroller, 9:18. Then ran with Jenny and Julia in the stroller and Benjamin on foot to Grandview, this gave him a total of 2.07 in 19:15. Then ran with Julia, 0.5 in 6:09 on grass, watched the rest of Benjamin's practice, Sarah came for the kids, and I ran 2.56 on the way home in 19:02.

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

Sasha House 10 Miler at 5:00 AM with Ted in 1:18:52. Ted was tired, so we took it very easy.

P.M. 1.25 in 9:38 to the park with a stroller, Jacob and Joseph in it, and Benjamin and Jenny on their bikes. A little bit of badminton with Sarah. Then 2 miles on my own in 13:39. Then 0.5 with Julia in 4:57. Then a mile with Benjamin and Jenny in 8:41, dropped Jenny off, one more mile with Benjamin in 7:38 (16:19 for two miles). Then 1.25 back home with Jacob in the double stroller, and Benjamin and Jenny on their bikes in 8:14, last quarter in 1:24 to catch Jenny who was leaving me in the dust while I was running easy. There was no hope of catching Benjamin, at least not with the double stroller and Jacob in it.

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

Sasha House 10 Miler with Ted in the morning. James joined us for the first 3. Started out slow as usual, but fairly quickly eased into 7:20-7:30 pace. At 4 miles I asked Ted if he wanted to chase down the 7:00 mile guy, and about a mile later he tacitly consented as I picked up the pace. We hit the turnaround in 37:02. On the way back, I felt some turbo engine power in my legs, but to keep it on the easy side for the race on Saturday, and to keep Ted alive I tried to not exceed 6:25.  Running your training partners into the ground should be done only in moderation. We ended up with 1:09:34, 32:32 for the last 5.02.

In the afternoon, ran with Benjamin and Julia in the single stroller to Benjamin's soccer practice (2.07 in 17:45), then helped the coach there, on the way back ran 1.5 with Jenny in 13:07, then put her in the stroller, and we beat Benjamin's time for that stretch , which The Toy measured now at 2.10, quite possible as I did not start from the same place - the time was 17:36. Then added another mile in 7:30.

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

Sasha House 10 Miler with Ted in the morning in 1:15:34. James joined us for the first 3. I made two pitstops, caught up at around 6:40-7:00 pace the first time, and ran a 600 to catch up the second time in 1:57 with the splits of 41,38,38 (by 200). The good news is that the 38s (5:04 pace) felt like threshold. We'll see what that means tomorrow in the Great Salt Lake half.

In the evening, just ran with the kids. 0.5 with Julia in 5:10, a mile with Benjamin and Jenny running, and Jacob in the double stroller in 9:08, and then one more with Jenny and Jacob in the stroller and Benjamin running in 7:58, this gave Benjamin 17:06 for 2 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Great Salt Lake Half Marathon (13.11 Miles) 01:14:10, Place overall: 6
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Great Salt Lake Half Marathon, 1:14:10, 6th place.

The race was very competitive - Teren Jameson, Patrick Smyth, Paul Petersen, Joe Wilson, Dennis Simonaitis, and Nate Hornok were the big trouble makers. Teren and Patrick took off from the start at sub-5:00 pace, and Paul followed them. I ran with Joe and Dennis. We had Bob Hintze with us for the first mile and a quarter. Joe asked if we thought there would be any road kill. After identifying Pat, I told him extremely unlikely, near impossible.

We went out at a steady, a tiny bit slower than 5:20 pace. The mile markers were the most reliable this year that this race has ever had, and it even started where it was supposed to. This is a big improvement over the last two years. Hit the official 5 mile mark in 27:01, the GPS showed 26:51. I drafted behind Dennis and Joe, that helped a lot. I managed another mile with them. After 6, the pace started to feel a lot harder. It is possible that Dennis picked up the effort trying to hold the pace as we started to get the cross wind. After another quarter mile, I could not hold it, and backed off.

I slowed down to 5:40 pace at first, felt pretty good, like I could rest a couple of quarters, then pick it up to 5:30, but then something strange started happening. I felt I was running strong, but the pace kept getting slower and slower. I started seeing 1:27 quarters, then 1:28, then 1:29. Joe and Dennis opened up a 43 second gap in 2 miles.

Then I began to realize what was happening. We were getting a gradually increasing cross/head wind. It did not feel too bad, but I guess it was having more effect than I thought it would. I slowed down to a 6:01 mile, then 6:06. Then I noticed that Joe and Dennis were not moving away any more. Odd. Then I noticed that Dennis dropped Joe, but I actually started gaining on them a bit. For a while, I started to hope that if I ran strong I might catch up, but they were not that weak, and too far away.

Just like Paul, I now looked forward to going up the hill, an odd feeling in that race. Better uphill than into the wind. Felt really good on the first hill. The second hill was bad, as it was into the wind again - slowed down to a 1:44 quarter. Finished in 1:14:08 (official time) . Joe outleaned Dennis at the end, 1:13:23 for Joe, 1:13:24 for Dennis. Teren was in 1:07:41, Pat was second in 1:08:51, Paul finished third in 1:10:22, and Nate Hornok was 7th with 1:16:59.

Not sure what to think of the results. Being able to run low 5:20s for six flat miles and feel in control is good. Only 45 seconds behind Joe and Dennis is good unless both of them underperformed today. 3:46 behind Paul is bad, unless he over-performed. Based on Draper Days he should have been 3:11 ahead. 6:27 behind Teren is bad unless he did something really amazing, worth a 1:02 on a good sea-level course. Paul should have been 2:55 behind Teren based on Deseret News instead of actual 2:41, so he is actually within range. Dennis, on the other hand, should have been only 51 seconds behind Paul (based on DesNews 10 K) instead of 3:02, and only 3:46 behind Teren instead of actual 5:43. 77% humidity + the wind may have become a separating factor. Some people handled it better than others.

Around 1:23 into the race started a cool-down with Bill Cobler and Paul. At first we were going slower than 8:00. Then Paul turned around. Bill suggested the idea of running all the way back to the start. That would give us a marathon + a quarter or so to the car from the start of the race. I was a bit low on blood sugar, and was not thinking straight, and also feeling adventurous, so I said, yes, let's do it. We sped up to around 7:20-7:30 pace and coasted. Quite a bit of cross-wind. With 4 miles to go, Bill said he'd better back off. I was getting excited about a few things - wanted to qualify for Boston in this odd manner with a 9 minute break after the first half (and including it in the time), wanted to break the time of my first marathon (3:05:51), and just wanted to have the run over with. So I continued alone at about the same pace. Hit the marathon mark in 3:04:07 from the gun of the half marathon (BQ by 6 minutes!), which gives me around 2:55 of actual running time, then continued on to the car.

Interesting observation - at 7:20 pace, it seemed like I was not dipping into blood sugar. The level of lucidness remained the same as the miles progressed, and I did not feel a typical sense of weakness associated with hitting the wall. But I knew I would if I tried to go much faster. And was getting progressively hungrier for food.

Ran with the kids in the evening - 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:22, then another 0.5 with Benjamin and pushing Jenny in the stroller in 3:47, this gave Benjamin 17:09 for 2 miles, and then 0.5 with Julia in 5:14.

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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