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: 188.26 Year: 188.26
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: 1359.62
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

Went to the Provo Canyon as usual. Decided to do a 3 mile tempo run downhill to evaluate my condition. Jogged a mile, then did 4x100 with ankle weights - up 19.8, down 18.3, down 17.50, up 19.3. Jogged two miles up to Nunn's park.

Now the tempo run. Mile splits - 5:20 - 5:25 - 5:27, 16:12 total. Same old story - start losing power after 1.5. However, not too bad today. Sarah came with me and videotaped me at mile 2.

Decided to take it easy today. Came home ran with the kids, then in the afternoon jogged to their soccer practice - only 10.5 miles today. Need to get some thorough rest before the Great Salt Lake half, both physical and mental.

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

Took it easy today. Ran 8 miles with Steve Hillam and George in the morning. Then ran with the kids. Bench press in the evening. Usual workout - narrow grip, 3 sets of 3, 100 pounds. Started taking Dr. Christopher's Adrenal Formula - 3 pills 3 times a day in an attempt to help with the inability to hold the usual half-marathon pace for more than 1.5 miles problem.

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

Another easy day. Trying to rebuild the nervous system. I think the legs are strong, but the nervous system is just too tired from everything and cannot drive them hard. However, running miles puts a stress not only on your legs and heart, but also on the nervous system. When you do not run, the legs and the heart can rest, but the nervous system might not get a chance.

Got up at 5:45 this morning and went for a 6 mile run. Decided to have some fun, and break the monotony with a 2.11 tempo on the Slate Canyon loop. This would also give me a chance to test if the recovery is happening. I set two goals - break 12:00, and not slow down at the end. 2.11 with a 0.5 hill with the average grade of 5% is long enough to find the problems.

Splits by quarter - 1:24 - 1:22 - 1:21 - 1:33 (3% grade) - then no marks or missed marks, last quarter at 1.5% grade in 1:22. The uphill pace was a little slower than what it should have been, but I did not feel tired going uphill. Not sure if this was because it was too early in the morning to push hard, or if this is a sign of residual fatigue.

Ran with Peter Williams (a neighbor) on the cooldown. In the afternoon ran with the kids.

Did 3x3 of the Adrenal Formula.

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

Found a new training partner - Ted Leblow. He is a 2:28 marathoner, but is currently trying to get into shape after a deployment in Iraq. We went to the Provo Canyon. I ran my standard 3 mile tempo downhill for a tune-up for Great Salt Lake Half this Saturday. He did the first 0.5, then backed off to a slower pace.

Saw some improvement - reached my goal of being under 16:00 and not losing speed on the second half. Mile splits were 5:18 - 5:21 - 5:19. The first quarter, which is always slow due to the short but steep uphill section in the middle was 1:23. Other than that, there were no quarters slower than 1:21. However, I did not feel quite right. The pace felt hard.

On the positive side, I finally felt like my heart had to work, and I was breathing. In short, I progressed from dragging and slowing down to just dragging. I am happy with that. So far I am looking at about 1:13 in Great Salt Lake Half if I were to race today. Hopefully the additional rest will make it better.

Came home and ran with the kids. Afterwards, we went to see the Kennecott Copper Mine. Kids had fun. Joseph showed off his great running ability. I was impressed, and did not mind having to chase him. Somebody commented about the exercise I was getting. Hmm... you call that exercise?

In the evening lifted weights, bench press, narrow grip. Started out with 100 pounds. Felt easy, did 6 repetitions. Then made it 105 and did 6 more. The last one was hard, barely made it.

Did 3x3 of Dr. Christopher's Adrenal Formula.

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

Easy run. Ran with Ted and Steve Hillam near my house. Ted's son James joined us for about 1.5 miles. We looped around, hit the trail for a little bit.

Afterwards, 4x100 with ankle weights 19.7 - 19.4 - 18.3 - 18.1, then took them off and did two more in 17.7 and 17.3.

Then ran with the kids. Shortly after Benjamin had finished his run, we saw the BYU team approaching. Benjamin, of course, could not miss the opportunity to run with the big boys. We ran a quarter in 1:45. Benjamin could have gone longer, but I figured he's already done his run, and he would still have to run back as the double stroller was already full with Julia and Joseph.

This was quite a sight to watch. Some of the BYU runners have very long legs, about the size of Benjamin. Otherwise, he looks and runs just like them. He was very excited to feel a part of the big boys.

What is interesting is that Benjamin is only 4 feet tall, his turnover is only about 200 steps per minute at 7:00 pace. The BYU guys were probably turning over at about 175-180. So his stride length is surprisingly long relative to his height.

Did an always on the run mile in the evening. I stopped doing them for a while, but tonight after some rest I was finally feeling sedentary enough to require a break. Could not help but try some race pace running - did a quarter in 1:23. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I expect it is going to be a very tough race - every inch of ground on the competition will cost serious blood.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Race: Great Salt Lake Half Marathon (13.23 Miles) 01:14:45, Place overall: 5, Place in age division: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Great Salt Lake Half Marathon, 1:14:45, 5th place. Long course again, although not as long as last year. The race director started it at the wrong fire hydrant. At least there was some effort made to start it at the right location. The three GPSs I've polled reported 13.23, 13.24, and 13.26 respectively for the length of the course. It took me 24 seconds to get to the correct fire hydrant. I think it would be fair to say the course was at least 24 seconds long. Although I am still not where I ought to be, this performance shows a signficant improvement from last week - I ran only a few seconds slower (adjusting for the course length mess-up) without the 1000 feet of elevation drop. My performance in the Provo River Half last week would amount to probably 1:16:00 or slower on this version of the course.

Ran the first three miles with Nick McCombs, Dennis Simonaitis, and Joe Wilson. The mile marks were all messed up, but according to Dennis' GPS we were going 5:19 pace. I was not breathing hard, but something was not working, so I had to back off to about 5:30-5:35 pace or so (guess). Then around 5 miles I got caught by Leon Gallegos. This was a surprise - I talked to him afterwards, and found out he has been doing some serious mileage (100-110 a week), which gave him this breakthrough. I ran with him for about another mile, then let him go with the idea to catch him later. But he was strong, and I was not, so he kept gradually moving away.

I knew there was trouble brewing behind me, and just tried to run relaxed to the end, and hold the trouble off. The course does not have many turns, so it is not easy to check on the pursuers. At one point I saw a figure in a dark shirt. That looked like Tim Stringfellow. I did not like it, he has a powerful kick. However, this is a half-marathon, and although I am half-dead, I can still run my marathon race pace. So next time I had a chance to check, which was with about a mile to go, there was no dark figure. It changed colors. Now the figure was green. Steve Ashbaker.

We drove up together. And we are good friends. But this is a race, and the end of it. So time for nasty tricks. I need to make him not want to catch me. We are climbing up the hill. Run up strong to discourage him. Then on the downhill, a hard surge, give it all I've got, forget there is another half-mile to go, just do all I can to make him give up. Then a mental trick - surge until a certain time in the race (1:14:10). A little rest, now maximum surge until 1:15:00 or until the race is over. Saved by the finish line.

Nick McCombs won with 1:10:06, then Dennis - 1:10:07, Joe 1:12:07, Leon 1:13:19. Steve was 6th with 1:15:02, Mark Jolley 7th with 1:15:39, and Tim Stringfellow 8th with 1:16 something.

Afterwards, jogged back, paced Braiden, then jogged back again, paced a guy whose name is Brad, if I remember right.

Drove back with Steve. He was nice and did not kill me for the nasty tricks I did to him. Ran with the kids. In the evening, bench press, 105 pounds, narrow grip 3 sets of 3.

Still taking Adrenal Formula 3x3 a day.

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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