Breaking the Wall

St. George Painters 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:

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Miles:This week: 24.00 Month: 0.00 Year: 333.17
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 640.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 450.37
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Brown Crocs 4 Lifetime Miles: 1334.06
Amoji 1 Lifetime Miles: 732.60
Amoji 2 Lifetime Miles: 436.69
Amoji 3 Lifetime Miles: 380.67
Lopsie Sports Sandals Lifetime Miles: 818.02
Lopsie Sports Sandals 2 Lifetime Miles: 637.27
Iprome Garden Clogs Lifetime Miles: 346.18
Beslip Garden Clogs Lifetime Miles: 488.26
Joybees 1 Lifetime Miles: 1035.60
Madctoc Clogs Lifetime Miles: 698.29
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 15.63Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 16.63
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Since church now starts at 11, slept without the alarm, figured I'd be awake long before it is time to get ready naturally. Woke up around 6:00 - 6:20. Home teaching visits after church took a bit longer than I expected, but they were good and I was able to get a nap in late afternoon anyway.

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 the first 8.02 (we missed the turnaround by a bit) with Jeff and Ted. Well, actually a good part of it was without them as I had 3 VPBs and then took forever to catch up due to slippery conditions. The last stop was with about 0.8 to go, and then I started booking it because I wanted to catch them before they got to my house. With about 600 to go it was finally dry enough to go 5:20 pace. With about 150 to go an SUV passed me, and then tried to pass Ted and Jeff, but could not get around them. So I passed the SUV back. It always feels good when you can pass a car running. Then I passed Ted and Jeff as well, and just kept going to time my last quarter, which was 1:20. Last 0.75 was 4:17. Then we ran to the snow field and did stride measurements. All of us had even length strides off either foot this time. Jeff went home after that, Ted ran to 10.02 with me. Then I added 5 more. Towards the end started feeling like a tempo, so I did pickups on dry section. Timed a 200 in 39 down 1% grade, and then ran the last quarter, which had some icy spots, in 1:23. Total time for 15.02 was 1:47:17.

Did the magic hip stretches.

P.M. 1 mile with Julia to the ice sculpture and back in 10:31, 1.5 with Jenny in 13:25, 2 with Benjamin in 17:57 - his foot was hurting, and 0.7 in 4:50 by myself. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.12Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.12
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Slept in and missed Ted. Ran alone. 15.1 in 1:47:43. It was 23 degrees. The road was good at first, could go 7:00 pace, then it got slippery and I slowed down to 8:00. Picked it towards the end. Ran from the DI bridge to my house (1.5) in 8:40. It was a mix of marathon pace and threshold, depending on the road conditions. Sometimes 5:20, sometimes 6:20.

P.M. Ran 1 mile with Julia in 10:16, then 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:08. Cross-country skied in the Hobble Creek Canyon - 3 miles. Then ran to the church and back twice. First time to teach the ESL class, second time to retrieve the forgotten hat - total of 0.5 miles. Ran out of necessity, as it was cold. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 8 F at the start. 10.1 with Ted in 1:19:05. Ted helped me jump-start Zhu afterwards. Zhu had not been driven in a while, so the battery lost the charge. We had to drive VanGoGo through the front yard which was covered with snow to get to Zhu. Zhu was parked in the other unpaved and not shoveled driveway, and it was not possible to push it out from there on the road. Fortunately VanGoGo has a 4-wheel drive. The jump start was the biggest event of the morning.

P.M. Ran 1 mile with Jenny and Julia in 10:26. Jenny had a cough so she ran shorter and slower. Then drove VanGoGo to Jiffy Lube for the oil change and other scheduled maintenance. Ran home with Benjamin, 2.25 in 20:04. Then ran back to get VanGoGo in 16:56. Drove it to the parking lot on Geneva Road. Ran 0.5 to check out the trail to see if you could cross-country ski on it. Looked good. Cross-country skied on the 0.625 stretch out and back twice, 2.5 miles in 19:29, 7:47.6 avg. I did stop the watch on the turnarounds, as those take quite a while on skis. The trail is mildly rolling, and had hard-packed snow with a a couple of asphalt patches that you could avoid by skiing through the snow on the side, only a small loss of momentum. I tried to skate, but there was not enough glide in the skis for that, and pushing off with both arms did not work well either. So I just did a regular running-like stride. Nevertheless, averaging out my time, this is 14:31.7 for 3 K which is a 2 minute PR. Of course, the old PR was set at the age of 11.8, but on a well groomed course, and at low elevation (Moscow, Russia). On the other hand, I suspect the skis I have now (even though I got them for $20 from Paul) are quite a bit better than the wooden skis I had then.

I did really enjoy being able to just put my skis in the van, drive, take them out, put them on, then take them off, put them back in the van, and drive straight home. In Moscow I had to drag the skis down 4 flights of stairs, then walk with them 0.1 miles to the bus stop, wait 20 minutes for the bus, ride the cold bus for 30 minutes often standing up and holding the skis the whole way, then walk some more from the bus stop. Then repeat everything backwards when done, except now sweaty.

Added another .25 to teach the ESL class at the church and back. Again had to run because it was cold. Teaching ESL can be a lot of fun, especially in settings when you are not allowed to use the student's native language. My student was having a hard time with the Z sound, they do not have it in Spanish. After a demonstration that did not seem to work I finally decided to explain how to say it - do it like a bee, bzzzz, not like a snake - sssss. Turned out she did not know what a bee was or a snake for that matter. So I showed her the snake, explained about different types of snakes with hand demonstrations and snake noises, she got that one. The bee was harder. I explained how bees make honey, she did not know what honey was. I explained that a bear likes to eat honey, and showed her the bear. Still not much progress. Then I decided to cheat a bit, knowing that the Spanish words for insect and flower sound very similar to those in English, and explained that bees are insects that land on flowers and then make honey, which is sweet stuff that you can put on bread. That worked. Then we got the Z sound down.

Did the magic stretches later in the evening.

Night Sleep Time: 0.11Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.11
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ted came in and announced that it was 3 F outside. I put on some extra clothes. Then Jeff came. We started with 3 laps around the block (1.05) with only one purpose in mind - for me to avoid a VPB stop. It turned out to be a wise decision as my body lived up to the statistical patterns of the past. Afterwards we ran 4 out and 4 back. The conversation, appropriately for the weather, turned to the Russian history of the 20th century. The weather and the discussion reminded me of the places where one of my grandfathers died, and the other spent 18 years before being released by Khruschev's decree after Stalin's death. Among other things, I recalled the story of how my grandmother went to see Stalin's dead body twice to be 100% sure he was really dead before she felt free to speak her mind.

Afterwards, added 2.1 around the block with Ted, this time to help him avoid a VPB. Then 4 more on the trail by myself. Total of 15.15 in 1:57:17.

Julia had read all of her Bob books. So Sarah made her some more books with stories about a fat pig and a bad pig. Then Benjamin decided to join the fun, and on his own wrote and illustrated a book titled The Slow Runner. The story reads as follows:

The slow runner was slow. The slow runner lost a race. The slow runner was sad. The fast runner came. The fast runner trained the slow runner. The slow runner won a race. The slow runner was not slow. The End.

P.M. 1 mile with Jenny and Julia in 11:38 - both had a sore throat. 2 with Benjamin in 17:27 - his foot is doing better. 2 more by myself in 13:59.

Magic stretches. 

Night Sleep Time: 0.13Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.13
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Ted. Very slippery. We invented a new term "to get grandpa-ed", or "to get grandped". It means a guy who has grandchildren is beating you in a race. Ted has plans to enter the grandpa division around the age of 44. My plan is to do it at 48. During the discussion I also set a goal to run a sub-3:00 marathon as a great-grandpa, which could happen when I am around 70.

Met Adam with about 2 miles to go, he joined us. Turned out he had fulfilled the scripture earlier in his run: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). The interesting coincidence is that right before the run I had read 2 Nephi 2. Dropped Ted off at 10.1, ran another mile with Adam and 4 more on my own. The last 5 miles were exceptionally slippery, I went 9:00 pace in a lot of spots and lost ground to the 8:00 guy, but then gained some back once I got out on drier ground. 1:59:48 for 15.1.

P.M. 1 mile with Jenny and Julia in 10:49, 2 miles with Benjamin in 16:44, drive to St. George, then 2.05 in 13:43 with 0.5 in 2:45 pickup to feel race pace.

Night Sleep Time: 0.13Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.13
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Race: St. George Painters Half Marathon (12.95 Miles) 01:10:29, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Raced Painters Half in 1:10:29, third place after Logan Fielding (1:08:57) and Nick McCombs (1:09:00). The course measured 12.91 on my GPS, 12.92 on Logan's and 12.95 on Ted's. Ted's never measures long. So for now we'll call it 12.95, given the fact that the start was about 0.15 further ahead of where Steve Hooper and other St. George guys thought it should have been. Details to follow later.

More details. Around 30 degrees at the start but it kept getting warmer. I called out for Mr. Little Bad Legs to identify himself. He did not hear me. Then Ted noticed his legs and pointed him out to me. About 1 minute into the race I found myself right next to him, we talked, and it was discovered that it was indeed Glen Tucker as Steve suspected. But I think the name Little Bad Legs is now going to stick. I love those 5:30 pace introductions. Incidentally, that is how I met Paul Petersen as well.

We started at a brisk but comfortable pace trading quarters. In addition to myself, Nick, Logan, Dave, Little Bad Legs, and Karl Wilcock, a talented high schooler that needs to run more miles, were in the pack. This was a perfect picture moment - four FRB team members in uniform in the lead pack with police escort.

Karl looked a bit scared, so we did not make him take his quarters. Everybody else did their turn up front religiously. We went through the first mile in 5:35, followed by a 5:31. Then we hit the downhill, and picked it up - 5:19. It flattened out, but Nick pressed the pace, and we ran a 5:24. Somewhere around there we lost Karl. Then Nick put some serious pressure up the little hill, he climbed it as if that hill was not there. This lost Little Bad Legs, and made Dave show some signs of struggle. I started hurting as well, but acted normal in response to pace changes.

Now we were on some rolling hills in the neighborhood, and Nick was pressing the pace relentlessly. 5:25 on the next mile which was uphill. That hurt. Now downhill. We are moving. Next mile in 5:11. Dave fell back a bit, Nick gapped me and Logan. I told Logan to go with Nick if he felt confident he could keep up, otherwise hang around with me for a while and trade quarters so we would not both end up in no man's land. He felt good enough to go with Nick.

As we hit the bridge coming off the downhill and charging hard, the 90 degree turn on an icy surface did wonders. Nick went down then quickly got up like a hockey player, Logan did exactly the same, Dave and I saw it and eased off enough to avoid their fate. Then Dave suggested we should close the gap. I told him it was a bad idea. That was all I had the breath for then, but here is the reason. In a half marathon you should almost never forcefully close the gap. There are a few exceptions - e.g if you think the competitor had just made a move he would not be able to sustain, or if you are approaching a section with strong headwind, or if you are within a mile and a half of the finish. In distances up to 10 K it is all about how bad you can hurt. In a half marathon, it is the opposite. Any pain that is past anaerobic threshold pain makes you run eventually slower, you pay for it.

So Dave and I traded quarters for another mile, then Dave fell back. We hit the Bloomington loop. It did not seem to have one flat spot - you were on a constant roller-coaster. I focused on running steady and naturally. Even though Dave was only a few seconds behind, I felt confident about my position due to the laws of nature. I knew that as long as I hit around 5:30 flat equivalent I was safe. There is something about half-marathons. Things rarely get better between 8 and the finish, and they definitely do not get better if you fall behind.

Hit 10 miles in 54:12 (by GPS, course mile markers were fairly consistently 0.15 short), so 26:59 for 5 miles, was quite happy with that. By that time I was also fairly certain that the course would be short. This made me lose focus a bit. I was not excited about running a fast time any more because I knew it would be about a minute fast. So from then on I was just coasting, just running naturally and not trying to fall asleep. Slowed down to about 5:35 pace once we got back on the trail. I think that section had a mild grade because going the other way the same effort gave me 5:20, and I did not feel I had lost that much steam. Lots of runners coming in the other direction, many of them were cheering. That was nice. However, dodging them was an interesting exercise in eye-leg coordination. I remembered a story my mission companion once told me about how while he worked as an EMT his boss made him drive an ambulance at 90mph on the wrong side of the freeway.

Finally made it to the finish, safe in 3rd place, but Dave made a heroic effort and closed the gap to 9 seconds.

Still had some miles left for the workout, decided to use them wisely. Ran back, paced every blogger I could find. Messed up a couple of times, and mistook two fast blonds for Marcie. She would have beaten them on a good day, but I did not realize she was struggling. So I paced two Marcie-looking runners for a while, and only afterwards realized that they were taller than 5-1! But on the bright side of things they got to see the blog commercial.

Total of 20.25 for the run.

P.M. 1.1 with Jenny and Julia in 11:09, then 2.2 with Benjamin in 17:15 in St. George on the 0.55 loop near Steve's house.

Night Sleep Time: 0.13Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.13
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Night Sleep Time: 15.63Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 16.63
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