Breaking the Wall

Top of Utah 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: 225.16 Year: 225.16
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
White Crocs 2 Miles: 17.81
Night Sleep Time: 13.50Nap Time: 3.00Total Sleep Time: 16.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church.

Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 9.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2015-08-17 07:18:45
Workout Totals: Distance12.110Time1:36:02.60Pace7:55.85
Usual day, except Stephen did another mile time trial, this time at Provo High. A bit slower this time, 8:34. We will try again on Thursday - the goal is to see if he can improve his 8:29 record before he turns 5.
Leg 1:Distance4.000Time31:05.70Pace7:46.43
With Jenny, Joseph, and Jacob. Julia ran the first 1.5.
Leg 2:Distance0.110Time1:03.80Pace9:40.00
Stephen's warm-up.
Leg 3:Distance1.000Time8:34.40Pace8:34.40
Stephen's mile time trial at Provo High. Benjamin, Jacob, and William helped.
Leg 4:Distance7.000Time55:18.70Pace7:54.10
With Benjamin.

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

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2015-08-18 07:27:07
Workout Totals: Distance12.030Time1:30:15.30Pace7:30.15
Did a workout with Benjamin. 4 mile tempo down the canyon on the usual course. I ran 22:25 (5:28,5:38,5:42,5:37). Felt like my heart was not pumping quite right, I think this means I need more sleep. Benjamin had a great run, got a course PR of 20:15 (5:05,5:05,5:06,4:59).

Kids ran their usual distances supervised by Jenny.
Leg 1:Distance1.030Time8:28.50Pace8:13.69
Warm-up with Benjamin.
Leg 2:Distance4.000Time22:25.30Pace5:36.32
Tempo run.
Leg 3:Distance2.000Time19:30.90Pace9:45.45
Cool-down with Benjamin and Sarah.
Leg 4:Distance5.000Time39:50.60Pace7:58.12
More distances - first 1.5 with Benjamin, then I ran further to get the car while he ran home.

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

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2015-08-19 07:18:16
Workout Totals: Distance12.080Time1:38:12.50Pace8:07.79
Usual run. Kids ran usual distances - except Benjamin ran only 8 to taper for the half marathon.
Leg 1:Distance4.000Time31:39.90Pace7:54.98
With Joseph, Jacob, and Jenny. Julia did the first 1.5, then turned around.
Leg 2:Distance1.080Time9:28.20Pace8:46.11
Leg 3:Distance1.000Time9:11.30Pace9:11.30
Leg 4:Distance6.000Time47:53.10Pace7:58.85

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

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2015-08-20 08:28:20
Workout Totals: Distance9.972Time1:17:55.40Pace7:48.85
Today was the day of time trials. Stephen attempted to get his mile record one more time before turning 5. He had a mental failure - not uncommon for his age after two laps (2:02,2:11), slowed down, the started crying and stopped. However, with Jamba Juice on the line he agreed to redeem himself by running a fast 800. I gave him the target of 4:10 as the redemption qualifier, but he surprised me with a 3:57.3 (1:57,2:00). Then I knew his mile failure was mostly mental.

Joseph and Jacob also ran 800 time trials, and both got records. Joseph ran 2:39.4 (37,40,42,40) - I paced him. Benjamin paced Jacob to 2:43.4 (37,40 high, 44, 42). I think the starting pace was too fast for Jacob, and the effort threw him into a minor anxiety attack, which made him lose a couple of seconds in all.

Benjamin did 8, I did 10 total today. Otherwise everybody did their usual distances.
Leg 1:Distance0.150Time2:01.50Pace13:30.00
Stephen's warm-up.
Leg 2:Distance0.700Time5:56.30Pace8:29.00
Stephen's failed mile time trial.
Leg 3:Distance0.498Time2:43.40Pace5:28.11
Joseph and Jacob's 800 time trial.
Split 1:Distance0.498Time2:39.40Pace5:20.08
Split 2:Distance0.000Time0:04.00Pace0:00.00
Leg 4:Distance0.498Time3:57.30Pace7:56.51
Stephen's 800 redemption.
Leg 5:Distance0.130Time1:11.90Pace9:13.08
A brief jog.
Leg 6:Distance0.496Time3:58.00Pace7:59.84
Two laps with Benjamin while waiting for Jacob to find his watch.
Leg 7:Distance1.000Time8:48.20Pace8:48.20
With William, Joseph, Jacob, and Benjamin.
Leg 8:Distance1.500Time12:03.70Pace8:02.47
With Benjamin, Joseph, and Jacob.
Leg 9:Distance5.000Time37:15.10Pace7:27.02
More distance. Benjamin did the first 1.5 with me. I did a pickup in the canyon for 0.75.
Split 1:Distance2.610Time20:45.80Pace7:57.32
Split 2:Distance0.750Time4:01.00Pace5:21.33
Split 3:Distance1.640Time12:28.30Pace7:36.28

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

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2015-08-21 07:27:28
Workout Totals: Distance8.731Time1:10:35.80Pace8:05.14
Taper today. 8.5 for me, 6.5 for Benjamin. Other kids ran their usual distances. Benjamin and I ran from the car shop after dropping off our 93 Ford Escort Wagon. Looks like we will be selling it for parts - it drives, passed safety and emissions, but has a costly to fix fuel leak plus a few other leaks. $400 OBO if interested.
Leg 1:Distance4.000Time31:28.20Pace7:52.05
With Joseph, Jacob, and Jenny. Julia did the first 1.5, then turned around. She has been struggling with piriformis pain the entire week.
Leg 2:Distance3.503Time29:22.40Pace8:23.11
With Benjamin from the car shop to Orem High. Did a pickup on a known 0.273 mile stretch of the Orem Earn Your Turkey Run.
Split 1:Distance1.120Time10:00.60Pace8:56.25
Split 2:Distance0.273Time1:25.80Pace5:14.29
Split 3:Distance2.110Time17:56.00Pace8:29.95
Leg 3:Distance0.248Time1:08.20Pace4:35.00
Calibration 400 on the track. Benjamin was surprised we ended up with 68 - I told him to not look at his watch and just run. He thought we was running around 5:00 pace.
Leg 4:Distance0.980Time8:37.00Pace8:47.55
Cool-down with Benjamin.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Top of Utah Half Marathon (13.109 Miles) 01:15:01, Place overall: 11, Place in age division: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2015-08-22 06:21:50
Workout Totals: Distance17.809Time1:55:50.70Pace6:30.29
Top of Utah Half, 1:15:01 officially, 1:15:04 by my watch, 11th place overall, 1st master, $100.

Benjamin ran 1:10:42 officially, 1:10:45 by his watch, 7th overall.

New father + son record, officially 2:25:43.

Benjamin went out too hard, 5:09 pace for the first 6 miles, then paid for it, but ended up with a respectable finish, although still falling short of the driver's license qualifier. Perhaps not that big of a deal because the car he would be driving is not safe to drive right now (Ford Escort Wagon 93), and it will take a while before we even have a car he can drive. But we have plans to try again in the Huntsville Half in a month.

Top finishers, official times - Riley 1:06:03, Jason Holt 1:07:15, Mike Hardy 1:07:44, Ben Van Beekum 1:08:40, Fritz 1:08:47, Nate Krah 1:10:00, Benjamin 1:10:42, Ken Richardson 1:11:27, Eric Strand 1:11:33, Jon Hesslop 1:11:38, me 1:15:01, Joseph Howell 1:15:16, Dennis 1:15:40, Albert 1:16:01.

In the masters, Dennis was second with 1:15:40, then Craig Green 1:16:31, and Mark Payne 1:18:16.

While I was praying last night a thought came to me - the entire time you've raced you've seen goals as obligations instead of opportunities. If you learned to see them as opportunities you would run better. So I tried that in the race today, and I think it gave me 20 seconds or so. The other 40 came from strategic naps last week. Overall I ran 53 seconds faster than in the UVM half, I think UVM with no headwind at the very least is not slower than TOU Half, so I think I got a much better performance today than in UVM half. Something to be thankful for when you are a master.

Thinking of a goal as an opportunity is a nice idea, but how do you practically make it happen? Goals and challenges usually land upon your lap in the form of an obligation. Today at mile two I saw Mark was in contact with me. I am starting to think - this guy is worth cash, I must do something to drop him.

Overall the thought process is negative. I feel the pressure and it eats me away, makes it hard to run, makes me surge beyond my fitness, drains my adrenaline. So I started telling myself - you do not have to do anything unnatural, race him as if he were only 39, just run - good turnover, good breathing. Think of it as a chance to beat a younger runner, but if you do not, no big deal, he is younger.

Then around mile 4 I see Dennis. My first thought - he would not be here if he was not fit to run 1:14 low. You are not fit to run 1:14 low. He is 53 years old and he is going to beat you. Again negative. I told myself - forget for a moment he is 53. Focus on the fact that he has run a 2:14 marathon. Imagine this race is happening 10 years ago. You would have seen this as a big positive to be in contact with him at 4 miles and to be feeling as good as you are now.

Then I see Graig Green. My thoughts - he has been beating you by almost a minute in the 5 Ks. He beat you last time you raced him in the half. You are catching him because he does not want to run fast downhill. When it flattens out he will drop you. Negative again.

I consciously tried to turn it around - if that is indeed true, then he will pull you to a faster time and help you secure a solid second in the masters. And if not, you get $100 for the master's win.

Details of the race below.
Leg 1:Distance2.200Time18:29.10Pace8:24.14
Warm-up with Benjamin and Albert - a little more alone.

A funny incident during warm-up. We were lined up near the secret bathroom in the park. There was a swing nearby. All of a sudden two ladies get it and start swinging. Benjamin and I were having a conversation in Russian in the meantime. Then one of them asks us to take a picture. We did not react immediately, so she asks us if we even speak English. That got my attention, and I took their picture. Then we start talking and she tells us her son is on a mission in Russia - in the Vladivostok Mission. Then after the race I was doing the cool-down going backwards and she recongized me as "the Russian guy". So I turned around and paced her for about the last 2 K. She ended up running a PR of 1:52:45 and finished 5th in the 50-54 age division. Then I gave her some ideas on what she can do to break 4:00 in St. George and get a Boston Qualifier.
Leg 2:Distance13.109Time1:15:04.70Pace5:43.63
The race, splits below.
Split 1:Distance3.000Time16:55.10Pace5:38.37
The first three miles were 5:33, 5:44, 5:39.
Split 2:Distance1.000Time5:41.30Pace5:41.30
At this point, in a pack with Albert, Dennis, and Craig Green. Prayed for help to run 3 awesome miles, exactly in those words.
Split 3:Distance1.000Time5:28.00Pace5:28.00
Awesome mile 1. Dennis dropped back here, I think.
Split 4:Distance1.000Time5:29.80Pace5:29.80
Awesome mile 2, I think Graig dropped back around here.
Split 5:Distance1.000Time5:33.80Pace5:33.80
Awesome mile 3. Still with Albert. My thoughts in the prayer for the "awesome miles" was to help me keep up with the pace and not get dropped. I was not thinking that they would be awesome enough to be left alone just with Albert.
Split 6:Distance1.000Time5:46.10Pace5:46.10
This mile was not awesome, but the three "awesome" earlier miles wore out Albert and I was left alone. The pace slowed down.
Split 7:Distance1.000Time5:49.80Pace5:49.80
Hanging on, trying to think positive.
Split 8:Distance1.000Time5:53.30Pace5:53.30
Trying to think "opportunity" vs "obligation". Wishing for Taylor Monson or somebody like him to come like he did last year, but nobody came.
Split 9:Distance1.000Time6:02.40Pace6:02.40
This mile has some uphill, but last year with Taylor's help I was able to run it in 5:44. Not feeling too bad, just cannot shift gears alone.
Split 10:Distance1.000Time6:09.70Pace6:09.70
Saw the chase pack behind me during a turn, and that got me going. Said to myself - if they are going to catch me, they'd better run 5:50 on this uphill mile, and if they do, they deserve to catch me, otherwise no. 5 seconds faster than last year.
Split 11:Distance1.000Time5:44.20Pace5:44.20
Pushed hard, a second faster than last year.
Split 12:Distance0.109Time0:31.20Pace4:46.24
Also a second faster than last year. Not sure if this is really 0.109.
Leg 3:Distance2.500Time22:16.90Pace8:54.76
Cool-down. Part with Benjamin, part alone, part pacing Jodi the mother of the missionary in Vladivostok (and four more boys).

White Crocs 2 Miles: 17.81
Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
White Crocs 2 Miles: 17.81
Night Sleep Time: 13.50Nap Time: 3.00Total Sleep Time: 16.50
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