Breaking the Wall

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:

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Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 0.00 Year: 870.94
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
Blue Crocs Lifetime Miles: 1164.32
Kimisant Black Clogs Lifetime Miles: 720.62
Black Crocs 2023 Lifetime Miles: 1312.70
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

A.M. Ran Sasha House 10 Miler with Ted, Jeff, and Adam. Saw the Fast Running Mommy, came then came back to her with Ted after we were done. She was going pretty fast, ended up doing 44:43 for 5 miles. I did not even recognize her form from a distance. Then Ted wanted to run a bit more for a round number, so we did. Ended up with 13 miles in 1:38:12.

P.M. 0.5 with Julia in 4:45, then 1.5 with Jenny and Benjamin running, and Jacob in the double stroller in 13:26, then put Jenny in the stroller as well, and ran 3:25 (actually a bit faster, but Benjamin did run that time) for the last 0.5. This gave Benjamin 16:51 for 2 miles. Then ran 2.5 by myself and without the stroller in 16:31. Legs felt snappy and energetic. 

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

A.M. The Big Workout (threshold version). Warmed up with Ted and Adam. Had a bush stop, then caught up. Hit a 1:27 quarter, and that felt like more like brisk easy rather than marathon pace. The warm-up was the standard 6.2, and the time was 46:38.

The workout consisted of 2.5 - 2 and 1.5 tempo intervals with full recovery (slow 0.5 jog). Two reasons for odd distances - to try something new, and to avoid 180 turns. The plan was to try to manage 5:20 pace on all of them, or as close as possible.

Ran the first 2.5 from the lake to Geneva road in 13:21.4. Fairly even splits, hit a couple of 1:21 quarters on the uphill section, and one more 1:21 after that, I think that one is still slightly uphill, because it is always slow. Kicked at the finish a bit to make up, did 1:19. Otherwise a fairly steady set of 1:20 quarters. The last mile of it was tough, but no surprise. I ran it in 5:22, and effort-wise this is about 5:15 flat.

The 2 miler was from the 0.5 mark of the Provo River 5 Mile Tempo to the turnaround.
The slight steady downhill on the second quarter got me into a nice rhythm and I was able to run relaxed all the way through. Got 10:37.6. Fairly even splits, a little faster on the first mile (5:18) because of the nice downhill quarter. When I say relaxed, it was not a jog, but I was able to relax while running hard, so that made the pace sustainable. This reminds me of the class on how to handle labor that Sarah and I attended before Benjamin was born (after that, she did not need a class). Turns out, the same principle applies during labor as when running hard - learn to relax while in pain. I think it applies to any form of pain.

The 1.5 interval was from the 2/3 mile mark of the tempo course to 0.5/4.5. The first mile of it was essentially flat, and the last 0.5 was a slight uphill, steady in the first quarter, and rolling in the second. That same nice downhill that helped me relax would now be a nice uphill at the end of the last interval. Nice! Hit the first mile in 5:20, again with the focus on relaxing while running hard. Then slipped up a bit on the next quarter even though I increase the effort in advance in hopes of avoiding it - 1:21. Saw The Fast Running Mommy. I knew she wanted a kiss, but all I could manage was the Brezhnev-style hand-wave. Picked it up on the next quarter to catch the 5:20 guy. Ran the last quarter in 1:16, this gave me 7:57.1 for the interval.

Ran back to the Fast Running Mommy, gave her a full-blown kiss, and finished the run with her. Total of 16 miles.

P.M Ran 2.05 in 16:55 with Benjamin to his soccer game. Pushed Jacob and Joseph in the stroller. Added 0.5 in 3:59 during the game. Benjamin's team won 3-0. Ran 1.5 back with Jenny pushing Julia in the double stroller in 12:48, and then finished the remainder of the distance with both of them in the stroller. Got 17:58 for 2.18. Then ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:12.

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

A.M. Ran with Ted on Sasha House 10 Miler at 5:00 AM. 10.04 in 1:15:54. Felt fresh and energetic for the 5:00 AM run, but Ted could not be tricked into going faster. I felt I had horses neighing in my head, but I figured I'd let them neigh tomorrow. Looks like I am headed for over 500 miles this month, a life time high, but I am starting to feel undertrained. Better than overtrained, plus, it would be difficult to find the time for more miles without undermining the recovery routine, which, I learned from experience, is something you absolutely do not mess with once you are over 90/week so I'll stay at 120/week for now.

P.M. Ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:09. Then did a relay game of sorts with Benjamin and Jenny. First Jenny ran 1.52 in 13:21 while Benjamin rode a bike, and I pushed  an empty single stroller. Then Jenny rode the  bike, while Benjamin  and I ran, again with me pushing the empty stroller.  Our goal was to beat the 8:00 mile guy, and I guess Benjamin was determined to  do it in such a way that I would not have to go sub-8:00 on my leg. He hit the first mile in 7:14, and the next quarter in 1:43. I figured he was on pace to break his mile PR of 6:48 on the last mile and it was well with his capability, so I challenged him to do it. He hit the next two quarters in 1:42, then made a 180 turn and kicked in 1:36. This gave him a new mile PR of 6:43 at the end of a 2 mile run which was also a new PR - 13:57. Then we put Jenny in the stroller, and Benjamin on a bike and ran 3.02 miles home. The total time was 49:29 and we left the 8:00 guy in the dust.

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

A.M. The Big Workout. I had planned it just for Jeff figuring if I make the whole run and the tempo long enough, do some intimidation talk about how miserable the last few miles of a marathon feel, and then invite him to set the pace, he'll make it slow enough for me to relax and enjoy it and I'll have an excuse to run a bit slower. Additionally, for some reason I did not feel like taking a nap yesterday, and also developed a bit of a respiratory irritation that frequently happens to me. It starts from the right eye (the only one I see well out of) getting overworked, then somehow translates into some irritation in the throat, and sometimes I get a full-blown cold out of it. So I wanted to take it easy. However, it turned out that Jeff had to work this morning.

So I ran the warm-up with Ted and Adam. To the 2.5 tempo course turnaround, and then back a mile to the 1.5 mark - 4.83 in 39:14. Turned around again and started the 12.21 tempo run. Felt lazy and conservative on the first mile - 5:56. Then from there 6:53 to the Sasha House 10 Miler turnaround (1.19). Back in 6:53. Next 2.5 in 14:19. Still feeling conservative, but the horses are starting to neigh. Turned around, 2.5 in 14:03, another turnaround, next 2.5 in 14:07. Beat the 5:40 guy for the 7.5 stretch by 1 second. Saw the Fast Running Mommy three times with all the turnarounds, did my best job of waving. I think I do it better at 5:40 pace than at 5:20. Then ran the remaining 1.33 in 7:48, lost steam a bit on the rolling hills and the turns, then picked it back up once I hit the flat part. This gave me the total for the 12.21 tempo of 1:09:59, 57:10 for the last 10.02, and 1:49:13 for 17.04. This comes out to 5:44 average for the tempo, and 6:25 average for the whole run.

Took a long nap afterwards to recover.

P.M. Ran 0.5 with Julia in 4:56, then 2.05 with Benjamin to soccer practice and Jenny in the single stroller in 17:55, then 1.5 with Jenny in 12:24 and added some more to make the total 2.65 in 20:52. Jenny is in really good shape right now, I think if she puts her   mind to it she can crack 25:00 in the Onion Days 5 K. Benjamin should be able to do a low 21:00 and make Alexander Berry work. We are still short of one pacer for them, will try to recruit Jeff or Adam tomorrow.

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

A.M. Easy run with Ted and Jeff in the morning. We ran the Sasha House 10 Miler with a small variation - on the way back we went through the new tunnel at Geneva, which added 0.04 or so. I made three bathroom stops and then caught up. No sickness, just a lot of traffic. Jeff and Ted were going a bit faster than 8:00, so I did not even bother to shift gears into a tempo pace to catch up and just coasted at 6:40 pace the first two times. The third time I had to pick it up to 6:20 as they were going a bit faster. Then we dropped Ted off at my house, and added another 3.12. So that gave me 1:36:27 for 13.2.

P.M. Steve Ashbaker came down for a run. We first ran 0.5 with Julia in 4:42. Then 1.5 with Jenny running, Benjamin on a bike and Jacob and Joseph in the stroller in 13:03. Then 2 with Benjamin running this time and Jenny on a bike in 16:30. Steve took the stroller with 0.75 to get a feel for it, and Benjamin picked it up to 7:00 pace with 0.5 to go. So Steve experienced the joy of running 7:00 pace with a loaded double stroller with 4 90 degree turns. Then Steve and I went for another 2 miles. Our total time was 14:32, and we did a mini-tempo pickup in the middle running 600 in 2:07 up about 0.5% grade.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Race: Salt Lake Half Marathon (12.96 Miles) 01:10:53, Place overall: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Salt Lake Half Marathon, 1:10:53 (likely short course, not certified, 12.96 on my and Ted's Garmins), 1st place.

Warmed up 2.53 with Ted, Mike Kirk joined us for a bit, really slow, slower than 8:00 average. Saw Neal Gassmann, invited him to participate in our taking leads every quarter plan. Took the first quarter, then called out for Neal to take the second, but he was too far behind, so Mike took it. Then Darrell (or maybe it was Brad, I still get them confused, they look so much alike), who was running the relay, volunteered to take the third. Then I took the fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on up to 52nd.

Course mile markers were somewhat believable, always ahead of the GPS somewhat randomly, but not painted on the road - bad sign, and positioned randomly enough to where based on effort and leg turnover, I was more likely to believe the GPS than the course mile markers. That is bad, I do not put a lot of faith in the GPS. So I'll give my splits by the GPS.

The course starts at the Little Dell Bridge (around 5500 feet) near the East Canyon exit on I-80, goes towards the East/Emigration Canyon junction, a little bit past it, then 180 turn, back to the junction, then up the Little Mountain (about 6300 feet), then down the Emigration Canyon, past the Hogle Zoo and finishes slightly uphill (about 1%grade) near University Marriott (around 5000 feet). So you get a net elevation drop of about 500 feet, but you climb 800 feet in 4 miles first.

First mile was 6:06, followed by 6:33 (steepest uphill), then 6:08 (flatter), 6:14 (up Little Mountain). After that the slowest complete mile was 5:15, the fastest was 4:54, and the rest were spread fairly even in between. No quarters slower than 1:20 until the final uphill, where I saw a 1:26 quarter.

Was not surprised to have finished a bit earlier than 13.11, was actually expecting it. I've seen the times on that course from other runners in the past, did the math as to what kind of shape they were in, then did the math on what time I was going to finish 13.11 in, evaluated the profile of the course, evaluated the gap on the competition in this race (I had a good idea after the turnaround), and figured that if the course were not short we were running a different course then.

Neal Gassmann finished second with 1:12:44. Being a master he was tired from the 100 mile week and the speed workout on Tuesday. Mike Kirk was third with 1:13:47. Ted did a training run in 1:19.

It felt good to run with police escort and nobody else most of the race and through the finish line. This has great psychological benefits. It's been a while since I've done this, I think last time was Top of Utah 2003.

P.M. Ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:10, then 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny. Jenny and I finished together in 13:58, while Benjamin picked it up a bit on the last quarter and ran 13:50. Pushed Jacob and Joseph in the stroller. Then ran to meet the Fast Running Mommy while pushing the stroller with Jacob and Joseph, 2.05 in 14:51. Ran back with Sarah, we stopped at the swing for a bit, rode it, let Joseph ride it, finished with a warm kiss, and continued. I ended up with 36:51 for 4.1. New life time mileage record this week - 121.

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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