Breaking the Wall

Utah Valley 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: 103.30 Year: 1747.58
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 2191.97
Brown Crocs 4 Lifetime Miles: 595.71
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 71.74
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest, went to church.

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 - 2017-06-05 08:14:10
Workout Totals: Distance10.520Time1:17:55.70Pace7:24.46
Paced Julia through a workout - 2 miles in a fartlek on the hilly ward course, then 1 more mile down on that same course. Paced Stephen on that same course - he got 15:35.9 in spite of the fall at the end. Very even splits, nothing slower than 2:04 which was on the worst part of the course. Then finished the run with Joseph, Jacob, and William - they did their usual 0.25 pickups at the end, except this time Joseph and Jacob joined William for his.

Then ran that same course myself. It was tough - I think the 20 mile run on Saturday + fast Sunday gave me a good glycogen dump. I barely broke 12:00.

Jenny did 6, I think, with a tempo pickup at the end.
Leg 1:Distance0.500Time4:23.10Pace8:46.20
Leg 2:Distance2.000Time14:27.50Pace7:13.75
Pace Julia through a 2 mile fartlek on the hills.
Leg 3:Distance1.000Time7:04.40Pace7:04.40
Paced Julia for a mostly downhill mile.
Leg 4:Distance0.500Time5:07.10Pace10:14.20
Cool-down with Julia.
Leg 5:Distance2.000Time15:35.90Pace7:47.95
Paced Stephen with Joseph, Jacob, and William helping.
Leg 6:Distance1.000Time7:32.70Pace7:32.70
With William, Joseph, and Jacob - 0.25 pickup at the end.
Split 1:Distance0.750Time6:03.60Pace8:04.80
Split 2:Distance0.250Time1:29.10Pace5:56.40
Leg 7:Distance1.000Time7:19.50Pace7:19.50
With Joseph and Jacob, 0.25 fast at the end.
Split 1:Distance0.750Time5:58.10Pace7:57.47
Split 2:Distance0.250Time1:21.40Pace5:25.60
Leg 8:Distance2.000Time11:57.30Pace5:58.65
2 mile tempo on the ward course - hills.
Leg 9:Distance0.520Time4:28.20Pace8:35.77
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 10.52
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 - 2017-06-06 08:08:00
Workout Totals: Distance11.040Time1:22:08.80Pace7:26.45
Paced Sarah through her 2 mile tempo in 16:05, then ran back and ran that same course myself in 11:01. Sarah lost a few seconds on trying to avoid a collision with a biker.

Usual distances for the kids.

I felt sluggish at the start of my tempo, but was able to find a rhythm. Much better than yesterday.
Leg 1:Distance0.970Time8:25.30Pace8:40.93
Warm-up - part with Sarah.
Leg 2:Distance2.000Time16:05.10Pace8:02.55
Paced Sarah through 2 miles down the canyon.
Leg 3:Distance2.000Time15:37.50Pace7:48.75
Back on the same stretch - easy pace.
Leg 4:Distance2.000Time11:01.50Pace5:30.75
Tempo down the same stretch.
Leg 5:Distance3.030Time22:51.20Pace7:32.54
Cool-down back to the car.
Leg 6:Distance1.040Time8:08.20Pace7:49.42
At the park.
Split 1:Distance0.520Time4:35.30Pace8:49.42
With Matthew.
Split 2:Distance0.520Time3:32.90Pace6:49.42

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 11.04
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 - 2017-06-07 08:29:28
Workout Totals: Distance11.140Time1:25:57.40Pace7:42.96
Usual runs with the kids with pickups for 0.25 with Joseph, Jacob, William, and Julia. Usual runs for everybody. Did 0.5 pickup uphill at the end in 2:53.
Leg 1:Distance2.040Time17:35.20Pace8:37.25
With William and Stephen.
Leg 2:Distance1.000Time7:51.90Pace7:51.90
With William - 0.25 pickup.
Split 1:Distance0.750Time6:23.10Pace8:30.80
Split 2:Distance0.250Time1:28.80Pace5:55.20
Leg 3:Distance0.570Time3:54.80Pace6:51.93
Met Julia and ran a fast 0.25 with her.
Split 1:Distance0.320Time2:28.30Pace7:43.44
Split 2:Distance0.250Time1:26.50Pace5:46.00
Leg 4:Distance4.000Time31:08.30Pace7:47.08
With Joseph and Jacob - fast 0.25 at the end.
Split 1:Distance3.750Time29:47.90Pace7:56.77
Split 2:Distance0.250Time1:20.40Pace5:21.60
Leg 5:Distance3.010Time20:46.30Pace6:54.05
Alone - pickup for 0.5 uphill.
Split 1:Distance2.510Time17:52.60Pace7:07.33
Split 2:Distance0.500Time2:53.70Pace5:47.40
Leg 6:Distance0.520Time4:40.90Pace9:00.19
With Matthew at the park.

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 11.14
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 - 2017-06-08 08:28:18
Workout Totals: Distance10.560Time1:25:17.60Pace8:04.62
Drove with Jenny to the airport early in the morning and picked up Polina Carlson. Hyrum asked us if she could stay with us for the UVM Half. She will be here until Tuesday. Usual runs, usual distances for the kids, easy pace.
Leg 1:Distance2.040Time17:32.00Pace8:35.69
With William and Stephen - I think.
Leg 2:Distance1.000Time8:13.70Pace8:13.70
Do not remember - I think this was with William.
Leg 3:Distance4.000Time32:54.60Pace8:13.65
With Joseph and Jacob.
Leg 4:Distance3.000Time21:50.50Pace7:16.83
Leg 5:Distance0.520Time4:46.80Pace9:11.54
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 10.56
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 - 2017-06-09 08:03:22
Workout Totals: Distance7.920Time1:27:57.40Pace11:06.34
A bit of a taper for the UV Half tomorrow. Paced Sarah through 2 miles down the canyon in 15:55 - her first time under 16:00 in this workout. Then spoke at the expo, then drove the kids to the USATF Utah track championship. The conditions were the worst I have ever seen - Corner Canyon track is very windy - we were getting 20 mph, and the starting time of 5 pm made it so the race was run in 98F. I told the kids the goal was to finish (in one piece) :-) They did:

Joseph 11:51
Jacob 12:10
Jenny 12:51
Julia 13:58

Joseph won 11-12 competitively, Jenny and Julia won their divisions via absence of competitors. I wonder if you are the only entrant and you DNF if you would still be considered a winner :-)

On the positive side of things, the winners got cool USATF Champion shirts.
Leg 1:Distance1.000Time9:22.40Pace9:22.40
Warm-up with Sarah.
Leg 2:Distance2.000Time15:55.60Pace7:57.80
Paced Sarah through a 2 mile tempo down the canyon.
Leg 3:Distance4.400Time31:41.50Pace7:12.16
More distance afterwards.
Leg 4:Distance0.000Time13:59.00Pace0:00.00
Timed Jenny and Julia - 3000.
Split 1:Distance0.000Time12:53.70Pace0:00.00
Split 2:Distance0.000Time1:05.30Pace0:00.00
Leg 5:Distance0.000Time12:10.90Pace0:00.00
Timed Joseph and Jacob - 3000.
Split 1:Distance0.000Time11:51.80Pace0:00.00
Split 2:Distance0.000Time0:19.10Pace0:00.00
Leg 6:Distance0.520Time4:48.00Pace9:13.85
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 7.92
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Utah Valley Half Marathon (13.109 Miles) 01:15:04, Place overall: 11, Place in age division: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-06-10 05:29:18
Workout Totals: Distance20.558Time2:17:28.60Pace6:41.24
Utah Valley Half, 1:15:04, 11th overall, really 3rd master, but got 2nd master award because Scott Keate finished 5th overall - $100.

Another race "out of a hat" this year. Apparently my little tweaks - sweet potatoes for lunch, almost daily 2 mile tempos, and additional jogging after Matthew's runs have done me some good. This is a course PR for me (though I should add that when I was younger I was running the full and split faster in the first half - though never in the second), and almost master's PR - missed it by 22 seconds. Well, I do not count my 1:08:59 at Big Cottonwood Half as a PR of any kind. I think 2000 feet of elevation drop for the half - even at altitude - falls under the Russian saying С горы и свинья рысак - "A pig can go as fast as a race horse on a downhill".

My original plan was to run with Polina for some time and then see what happens. She told me she wanted to attack the course record of 1:13:32. The plan was clearly ambitious as she had never raced at altitude before, but it was not impossible given that her half PR was 1:13:35 in Fontana (aided course), though it does fall into the Big Cottonwood category, however she had 1:14:49 in Virginia Beach (record-eligible course) to her credit as well. So I looked at the splits Benjamin and I had when I paced him 4 years ago, adjusted them a bit, and came up with a schedule that would give her a chance for the record if she had a strong finish (5:30 pace for the last few miles). We hit the first two miles right on the dot in 5:35/5:36. Then the altitude got to her, and did so big time. But in spite of the trouble, she survived enough to finish second in 1:18:51. She got passed by Samantha Diaz from Wyoming at around mile 9 who ended up with 1:17:00 barely missing the $250 bonus due to not being right at the starting line when the gun went off.

I asked Polina afterwards if she regretted not just pacing for the win + sub-1:17:00 bonus, she said no. Come to think of it, if 5:35 pace early on caused that much trouble, perhaps Samantha's 5:30 pace towards the end would have done a similar amount of damage, so perhaps the end result would have been the same. Or maybe not, we will never know.

At that point, both Polina and I were drafting behind Glynn Handley.

The pace felt aggressive to me, so I considered falling back and staying with Polina, but decided to take the risk and go with Glynn. The risk ended up being the right decision, as Glynn paced me perfectly to the best time I had in me today.

I felt better than expected on the uphill in the third mile, but it was not good enough to keep up with Glynn. He put a gap of around maybe 5-10 seconds on me. When we crested the hill I had an interesting experience. I prayed to know what to do, and I felt a prompting - do what it takes to catch him, then you will be able to stay with him for a while. I doubted at first - the pace was aggressive to begin with, both in terms of numbers relative to my training and how I felt. I got dropped. Now I need to close the gap. If I do, I would have to run all out and be ready to be done when I catch up.

But in absence of anything else, when we got to the steep downhill I hit the gas pedal. I know I can be aggressive on steep downhills and get away with it. Amazingly Glynn started coming back to me, and by about 4 miles or shortly after I miraculously regained the contact.

After that I ran with Glynn all the way until he dropped me at the last mile. Colin Gill caught up to us around 11, ran with us, and then made a decisive move closing in something like 5:20. What was he doing in the back anyway?

We caught Jacob Kuntz around 12, I was able to drop him with about 0.5 to go after Glynn and Colin had dropped me, but then he started his kick and passed me back.

Top 20 mixed gender:

1 Nicolas Montanez 1:04:29
2 Brett Hales 1:06:33
3 Dylan Marx 1:06:41
4 Travis Fuller 1:06:47
5 Scott Keate 1:09:47
6 Riley Cook 1:10:13
7 Iain Hunter 1:10:32
8 Colin Gill 1:14:29
9 Glynn Hadley 1:14:56
10 Jacob Kuntz 1:14:59
11 Alexander Pachev 1:15:04
12 Samantha Diaz 1:17:00
13 Thom Kuehls 1:18:39
14 Polina Carlson 1:18:51
15 Merrilee Blackham 1:19:25
16 Sylvia Bedford 1:20:10
17 Tanner Rogers 1:21:01
18 Reagan Badger 1:21:16
19 Mark Payne 1:21:25
20 Jeff Gagon 1:22:05

In the afternoon we went to the USATF Utah state championship. Boys ran the 800. It was windy, but not as hot, so the times were while not awesome, at least not of death march quality:

Joseph 2:37
Jacob 2:41
William 2:59
Stephen 3:26

Joseph and Jacob went 1-2, William faced some unusually tough competition and his time got him last place out of 7, Stephen was 2nd out of 2, first place was 3:13.

Leg 1:Distance1.609Time12:52.40Pace8:00.05
Leg 2:Distance13.109Time1:15:03.70Pace5:43.56
Split 1:Distance0.000Time0:00.00Pace0:00.00
Split 2:Distance1.000Time5:35.20Pace5:35.20
Split 3:Distance1.000Time5:35.90Pace5:35.90
Split 4:Distance2.000Time11:39.30Pace5:49.65
Split 5:Distance1.000Time5:22.90Pace5:22.90
Split 6:Distance1.000Time5:38.20Pace5:38.20
Split 7:Distance0.000Time0:00.00Pace0:00.00
Split 8:Distance1.000Time5:44.40Pace5:44.40
Split 9:Distance2.000Time11:32.20Pace5:46.10
Split 10:Distance1.000Time5:44.10Pace5:44.10
Split 11:Distance1.000Time5:52.10Pace5:52.10
Split 12:Distance1.000Time5:51.10Pace5:51.10
Split 13:Distance1.109Time6:28.30Pace5:50.14
Leg 3:Distance4.640Time37:43.30Pace8:07.78
To the house from the finish.
Leg 4:Distance0.600Time5:40.40Pace9:27.33
With Matthew, Sarah, and the gang of boys to the park.
Leg 5:Distance0.600Time6:08.80Pace10:14.67
Back from the park with the same gang.

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 20.56
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 71.74
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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