Breaking the Wall

Top of Utah 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: 112.39 Year: 1403.52
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
Red Crocs Miles: 65.25Saucony Type A Miles: 4.98
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 - 2017-09-11 08:19:31
Workout Totals: Distance11.040Time1:22:15.00Pace7:27.01
Total of 11. Kids ran mostly on their own because I had a company meeting to get to. Later in the day I did another mile with a fast uphill quarter at the end. I wanted to get another data point.

Lately I have been struggling with upper range speed. Anything faster than 5:35 down the canyon (which I consider to be a flat sea-level equivalent) has been putting me over the edge in an odd way. I am not really breathing that hard, legs are not sore, just cannot move for the life of me. Putting two and two together I figure the problem is in the adrenal glands. What do I do about it? If I run less and/or slower I lose the endurance. If I continue to work on the endurance, I hit a hard barrier and cannot really work on it anyway.

So that leads me to the next option. Some dietary changes and some supplement. Now we are in the area of black magic. I do not eat any junk food, and already consume a good amount of fruit and vegetables with moderate amounts of meat. So it is not as simple as just stop eating things you very well know you should not be, and start eating what you should. We are in the area of fine tuning. Supplement-wise, there are a lot of supplements that promise miracles, and some of them do when applied in the right combination with the diet, training, and rest. In 2003 I stumbled on that combination which allowed me to recover from a slump of 2002 and improve from 2:33:20 (2001) to 2:27:46 on the same course (TOU) in spite of being 2 years older and now taking care of one more kid going from 2 to 3. But now I am in a different type of body that responds to different things, so I need to find something different.
Leg 1:Distance1.000Time8:24.00Pace8:24.00
With Matthew, Jacob, William, and Stephen.
Leg 2:Distance9.040Time1:06:55.70Pace7:24.21
Split 1:Distance4.395Time33:21.70Pace7:35.45
Split 2:Distance0.125Time0:45.10Pace6:00.80
Split 3:Distance4.270Time31:25.30Pace7:21.52
Split 4:Distance0.250Time1:23.60Pace5:34.40
Leg 3:Distance1.000Time6:55.30Pace6:55.30
A short run with a fast uphill quarter at the end to help me understand what is going on.
Split 1:Distance0.750Time5:35.10Pace7:26.80
Split 2:Distance0.250Time1:20.20Pace5:20.80

Red Crocs Miles: 11.04
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-09-12 08:12:08
Workout Totals: Distance14.018Time1:46:41.10Pace7:36.63
Last workout before the Top of Utah. Did 10 with a 3 mile tempo down the Canyon in the AM and paced Joseph (sort of) in the cross-country 3 K in the PM. Struggled in the 3 miler, but I was expecting it: 16:37(5:30,5:31,5:36). The 3 K (11:41) felt better than I was expecting. I though after the morning run I would have to run pretty close to all out just to keep up. But I was able to run with Joseph just fine - though it took me a good half mile to weave through the crowd of kids to catch up. Once I did I slowed down for him, and he was responding for a while. But then I accidentally dropped him somewhere around 2 K. When I realized that he lost contact, I decided to just keep going at the pace I was going to be a moving target for him in the kick. But he never closed the gap and finished in 12:03 21.8 seconds behind. Jacob got 12:25, Jenny 13:26, Julia 14:56. The course was slow and also possibly long.

Then I paced Matthew in the second heat to 18:36 3K. Unfortunately the second heat got messed up due to too many people taking wrong turns, so they cancelled its results. The trouble is that Bicentenial Park is too small, but the city really does not have a better option right now due to the construction at Kiwani's.
Leg 1:Distance5.020Time38:16.50Pace7:37.47
Leg 2:Distance3.000Time16:37.10Pace5:32.37
Tempo run.
Leg 3:Distance2.020Time16:08.00Pace7:59.21
Cool-down - most of it with Joseph.
Leg 4:Distance0.250Time2:06.90Pace8:27.60
Short warm-up before cross-country 3 K.
Leg 5:Distance1.864Time14:56.50Pace8:00.95
Cross-country race.
Split 1:Distance1.864Time11:41.30Pace6:16.23
My time.
Split 2:Distance0.000Time0:21.80Pace0:00.00
Split 3:Distance0.000Time0:22.00Pace0:00.00
Split 4:Distance0.000Time1:01.30Pace0:00.00
Split 5:Distance0.000Time1:30.10Pace0:00.00
Split 6:Distance0.000Time0:00.00Pace0:00.00
Leg 6:Distance1.864Time18:36.10Pace9:58.77
Paced Matthew in the 3 K cross-country.

Saucony Type A Miles: 4.98Red Crocs Miles: 9.04
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 - 2017-09-13 09:00:27
Workout Totals: Distance6.000Time47:47.70Pace7:57.95
Tapering. 6 total for me. Jacob did 4, Joseph 5, William 3, Stephen 2, Matthew 1.
Leg 1:Distance1.000Time8:40.40Pace8:40.40
With Matthew, Jacob, William, and Stephen.
Leg 2:Distance5.000Time39:07.30Pace7:49.46
With Joseph.

Red Crocs Miles: 6.00
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 - 2017-09-14 08:28:34
Workout Totals: Distance6.000Time46:06.80Pace7:41.13
Taper for me, Joseph, Jacob, William, and Julia. Usual distances for other kids.
Leg 1:Distance1.000Time8:40.40Pace8:40.40
With Matthew, Jacob, William, and Stephen.
Leg 2:Distance1.000Time7:40.60Pace7:40.60
With Jacob, William, and Stephen.
Leg 3:Distance4.000Time29:45.80Pace7:26.45
Part with Jacob, part alone.

Red Crocs Miles: 6.00
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 - 2017-09-15 08:19:07
Workout Totals: Distance6.000Time47:25.20Pace7:54.20
Another day of taper.
Leg 1:Distance1.000Time8:36.60Pace8:36.60
With Matthew, Jacob, William, and Stephen.
Leg 2:Distance1.000Time7:48.40Pace7:48.40
Same group with the exception of Matthew.
Leg 3:Distance4.000Time31:00.20Pace7:45.05
Part with Jacob, part with Sarah, part alone.

Red Crocs Miles: 6.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Race: Top of Utah Marathon (26.219 Miles) 02:46:16, Place overall: 9, Place in age division: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-09-16 05:07:17
Workout Totals: Distance27.168Time2:53:38.60Pace6:23.49
Top of Utah Marathon, 2:46:16, 9th overall, 2nd master, $250.

This was a strange marathon. Coming in I knew something was off from my workouts over the last two weeks and the Layton Classic 10 K. But I hoped that some rest during the taper would take care of it. It did not.

I started out with Nan and Matt Wolpert. The pace felt harder that what it should have, but I could keep it. I decided to hang in there for as long as I could figuring I really did not have much to lose. I ran in front for the first 3 miles, then Nan took over and I never felt like I had the strength to step forward and help with the pace. It would have helped as we had some headwind gusts, but Nan was strong and handled them just fine.

I made it to the half in 1:18:04 and then all of a sudden just did not have any drive to go. I backed off thinking I'll maybe run 6:10-6:15 for 5 miles before I go into the end of the marathon survival. That ended up being wishful thinking. I ran 1 mile in 6:21, and then 6:25-6:30 pace, and then survival.

The entire time somehow I felt the illusion of running well. Without a watch I would have told you that I was running 6:10-6:15. Positive thinking is good, but you need to back it up with physical strength which was lacking today.

Nan and Matt ran very well. Nan got the course record in 2:38:52. Matt won the masters with the master's course record in 2:38:41.

Nate Krah won with 2:27:01.

The official times were messed up by 27 seconds (which should be added to get the correct time). I reported the problem and the timer acknowledged it, but last time I checked they were posted incorrectly.

In the 5K Joseph ran 19:18 (2nd overall), Jacob 19:28 (3rd), William 22:08, Julia 22:51 (1st woman). Not sure why they were so slow - maybe the combination of getting up at 4:30 am, cold morning, and the lack of a good warm-up.

Even though my result today was disappointing, it was a good data point. The problem was clearly not fuel, but rather adrenal fatigue. I know what it is like when it is fuel - you can recover your pace partially by drinking something with sugar. It also does not happen at 13 miles. And in an odd way it was good to feel it for a long time and clearly separated from the fuel struggle to know what it feels like in and of itself.

I re-read my race reports from the past and recalled how it felt to run in the good races as well as in the bad ones. I am now inclined to think that the difference between my better years and my worse years was mainly in the adrenal performance. Which is both encouraging and frustrating. Encouraging because if I did discover a reliable way to train the adrenal performance I could run very well - even now that I am 44. Frustrating because adrenal performance is not easily trainable. There is a predictable way to ruin it - sleep less, eat poorly, have a stressful life, train more. But going the other way - sleep more, eat well, avoid stress, train moderately - does not predictably develop it. It is necessary, but not sufficient. Nevertheless, I believe adrenal performance is still governed by some law that we can learn if we try hard enough. Over the course of the next few years I will do what I can to learn it.
Leg 1:Distance0.950Time7:22.30Pace7:45.58
Leg 2:Distance26.218Time2:46:16.30Pace6:20.51
Split 1:Distance1.000Time6:02.90Pace6:02.90
Split 2:Distance1.000Time5:52.30Pace5:52.30
Split 3:Distance1.000Time5:59.10Pace5:59.10
Split 4:Distance1.000Time5:58.80Pace5:58.80
Split 5:Distance1.000Time6:03.50Pace6:03.50
Split 6:Distance1.000Time6:01.70Pace6:01.70
Split 7:Distance1.000Time6:02.80Pace6:02.80
Split 8:Distance1.000Time5:52.80Pace5:52.80
Split 9:Distance1.000Time5:54.50Pace5:54.50
Split 10:Distance1.000Time5:54.40Pace5:54.40
Split 11:Distance1.000Time5:59.10Pace5:59.10
Split 12:Distance1.000Time5:47.90Pace5:47.90
Split 13:Distance1.000Time5:54.80Pace5:54.80
Split 14:Distance1.000Time6:21.20Pace6:21.20
Split 15:Distance1.000Time6:25.50Pace6:25.50
Split 16:Distance1.000Time6:24.30Pace6:24.30
Split 17:Distance1.000Time6:29.70Pace6:29.70
Split 18:Distance1.000Time6:30.40Pace6:30.40
Split 19:Distance1.000Time6:43.70Pace6:43.70
Split 20:Distance1.000Time7:09.10Pace7:09.10
Split 21:Distance1.000Time6:37.90Pace6:37.90
Split 22:Distance1.000Time7:07.40Pace7:07.40
Split 23:Distance1.000Time7:01.60Pace7:01.60
Split 24:Distance1.000Time6:25.50Pace6:25.50
Split 25:Distance1.000Time7:14.90Pace7:14.90
Split 26:Distance1.000Time6:51.90Pace6:51.90
Split 27:Distance0.218Time1:28.60Pace6:46.42

Red Crocs Miles: 27.17
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Red Crocs Miles: 65.25Saucony Type A Miles: 4.98
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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