Breaking the Wall

St. George 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:

Russian champion tries Crocs, commits to racing a marathon in them

Nikolay Chavkin in the video below did 3x1000, first two in Adidas carbon-fiber models, the last one in Crocs. Surprised by the result (2:52, 2:52, 2:50) with the fastest interval done in Crocs, he committed to racing a marathon in Crocs if the video gets 42K likes and 195 comments (for 42 km 195 m, the marathon distance). Nikolay's current marathon PR is 2:14:00. The video was created by a Russian sporting goods store chain. Their moto is "more sports - brighter life", which we think is wonderful, and also deserves a Like. If you want to see a fast marathon in Crocs, go to the video and click the Like button. And make sure to share it with your friends.

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 100.09 Year: 3033.01
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Brown Crocs 4 Lifetime Miles: 1334.06
Amoji 1 Lifetime Miles: 130.19
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

Ran the standard tempo 3 miler down the Provo Canyon in 15:35. Mile splits - 5:10 - 5:16 - 5:09. On the positive side, no quarters slower than 1:19, and all 1:19 quarters felt fairly comfortable. On the negative side, 1:18 quarters felt a lot more painful, and the last one in 1:15 did not feel good at all. This predicts about 2:25-2:26 in St. George given good conditions, but I have another week to get my spine into a better shape, which in theory could happen any day. So there is still some hope for a qualifier (2:22:00) in St. George, but if not, the spine will get beat into good shape eventually, I hope, and then the Trials qualifier would not have to be done in St. George. I hope to see the real Sasha come out of hiding in some near future day.

Afterwards, 5x400 down with 200 recovery. 69.3 - 71.2 - 69.4 - 68.9 - 67.5. I knew there was something up with the second one, as it felt too aerobic. Sure enough, the clock testified that it was not because I gained fitness. On the last two, I focused on bringing my hips forwards to avoid the bucket sitting, and my lower back somewhat cooperated. I felt the best on the last one, not counting the 71.2, where my mind was still half way into the tempo run.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. Also took Benjamin to the track to check his sprint speed. 19.4 in 100 meters, same as before.

We got an offer on our house tonight, and we accepted. Now we will move on to make an offer on the house we like near the Provo River Trail.

Bench press in the evening - 3x[5x105lb].

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

Got up at 4:45 am to run with Ted. 4.5 hours of sleep. Last night the offer and our acceptance of it brought way too much excitement into the house. Need to make up on sleep in the upcoming days.

Ran easy sleepy pace for 4 miles. Then decided to chase the 7:30 mile guy. He had only 2 miles to go and we were 1:05 behind. Sped up to 7:00 pace. Then I remembered that I was supposed to run a tempo mile at marathon race pace. That helped with the chase. We ran the mile in 5:40 and finished in 43:47, leaving the 7:30 guy in the dust. He said it was not fair that we went by him so fast, and built such a huge lead in a little over half a mile.

The start felt hard, but then it felt easier and easier as we went on. The whole mile was done at an even pace.

Got a training toy/tool from Wasatch Running using my in-store credit - Garmin 305. Learning to use it.

Ran with the kids. Benjamin pushed my heart rate to 145 as sped up to 6:40 pace, and I was pushing Jenny and Joseph in the stroller.

The blog has picked up some traffic thanks to the increased number of bloggers. We are having days with 1300-1400 page impressions a day. The advertising revenues are going up - still not much to pay me a salary to work on the blog full time ($2-$3 a day), but better than before, and it does add up.

Got some good ideas from Chad and Zack Case on improvements to the blog. My next project is to implement the race reports feature - you will be able to mark an entry as a race report, and it will be published in a special section.

In the mean time - if you want to help the site get more traffic - some ideas - include your blog web address in your e-mail signature, be more prolific in your entries as the time allows, mention people and places by name as much as you can and as is appropriate (this will give us more hits from Google searches), and invite your running partners to blog along with you if they are not doing it already. Soon enough you might end up with a free full-time coach/blog programmer, and maybe even more than one. Our revenues per page will increase dramatically once we hit 1 million a month. Right now we are headed for about 30,000-35,000 a month.

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

Ran with the kids in the afternoon, and the some more afterwards near my house. Tapering for St. George. Tried out The Toy (Garmin 305). Very accurate. At least when properly charged - compared it against my "holy" marks, and it is right on. It showed 2.12 instead of 2.11 for the Slate Canyon Loop, but that course is very bad for a GPS with the hills.

Ran a tempo mile in 5:40 again. Felt good, very relaxed. HR hovered around 147 for most of it, got up to 153 when I pushed it a bit and was probably going around 5:35.

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

Set my alarm clock way to 4:45 on accident. It went off, and surprisingly I could not go back to sleep. So I got up, read the scriptures, did the Pettibon exercises, and then added a new feature to the blog. You can now mark an entry as a race report, and enter some race parameters in separate fields. Will work on making the race report listing next. In the mean time, you can start marking your entries in the past as race reports and filling in the details.

Also, did some infrastructure changes to make it easier to separate the application logic from the HTML (installed and configured the Smarty template engine). Wow, we are getting fancy.

Afterwards, went for an easy run. Warmed up, then ran a tempo mile in 5:37. The Toy (aka Garmin 305) was off by a second, and said it was 5:36. I had it on auto-lap every quarter, and it was getting them very accurately being almost in perfect agreement with my wheel measurements. Very impressive. I think I'll keep that setting in St. George - I would love to get my quarter splits in a marathon.

The Toy showed HR of 153-155 with the max of 158. I am very impressed with the HR reliability of The Toy so far - no bad readings yet. It was warmer today when I ran. Yesterday it rained. I felt very good on the tempo mile.

Ran with Julia in the afternoon, and with the rest of the kids, including our neighbor kids Abby and Hannah in the evening. It rained pretty hard, and I got thoroughly wet. But it was a warm rain, and it felt more like a nice shower.

Got our third donation to the Fast Running Blog fund from PayPal. So far two unnamed donors (in case they want to remain anonymous - do you guys want to be named on the donor page?), and three donations totalling $40. Wow, we are growing. I have restructured my business a bit to be able to have more time to develop FBR, so hopefully we will see more features this month.

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

Easy run this morning. Ran a tempo mile in 5:43. Also ran with the kids, then drove to St. George. The pace was 0:51 per mile, while the heart rate stayed around 65. Not bad.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Race: St. George Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:25:32, Place overall: 8, Place in age division: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

St. George Marathon - quick update. 2:25:32, 8th place. First half 1:12:40, second 1:12:52. James Lander won with 2:18:24. Steve Frisone second in 2:21:56.

More to follow later.

Now the details. Stayed overnight at Dustin's in-laws cabin in Pine Valley with Dustin, Bill (Wild Bull), and Steve Hooper. Got to the start, warmed up. Lined up at the start.

Wore the Training Toy (Garmin 305) with HRM. Auto-split every quarter. As I predicted, the field was full trouble. Soon a pack of 5 formed - James Lander (2:21:06 PR in Chicago 2005 until today), Steve Frisone (2:24:31 St. George 2004), Dave Danly (debut, 29 minute 10 K runner), and Keven Stover (2:24:32 Austin 2006). We hit a couple of miles a bit under 5:30, and then as we started going downhill the pace picked up to about 5:15. 5 miles in 26:53. The pace felt comfortable, HR was around 153. Approaching Veyo the grade got a bit steeper with the miles in 5:09 and 5:14. 7 miles in 37:16.

Now the fun part starts. Next quarter in 1:19, still down. Then 1:24 slightly up, HR climbs to 159. 1:28 even more up, HR at 163. Dave Danly pushed a bit, and I went with him knowing I needed a bit of a buffer from the other runners as we approached the section with the 7% grade climb. Although my legs are strong, biomechanically I have a disadvantage relative to other runners as the grade gets steeper, while at the same time I approach a more normal running form on a steep downhill grade while other runners start suffering from the pounding.

Now I am feeling strained. HR hits 166. Working too hard. I eased off. Next quarter in 1:46 which gives me 5:57 for the Veyo mile. James and Steve went by, and I did not feel like I could latch on.

Next quarter in 1:39 with HR of 165. We are still not out of the woods. One more in 1:29 HR dropping to 162, now a litte better.

Kevin caught me, and I latched on right behind him. Next mile in 5:48. 10 miles in 54:47 (5:42), not bad for the climb, HR staying around 160, Kevin is pulling me. Another mile in 5:56, followed by 5:36, now the grade eased off. HR dropping to 156. Next mile in 5:26, to get 1:11:45 at 13, HR hovering between 153 and 156. I believe the half mark was in the wrong place. The Toy always beeped no more than 5 seconds away from any mile marker, so I am fairly confident about my 13 mile split. Yet at the half mark the clock said 1:12:40, while it should have been more like 1:12:20-1:12:25. Come to think of it, I actually remember the last year having the same problem - took way too long to get to the half mark from 13 miles.

Next mile in 5:26 going slightly down. And now we are headed for fun. The Snow Canyon downhill dash/ if you havent' practiced downhill running quad bash. Next mile in 5:11 (1:22:22 at 15). HR stays around 154.

Now Charles Wallace has caught us. I latched on behind him and pulled away from Kevin. However, towards the end of the downhill, I was a bit low on fuel, and backed off the pace. Kevin passed me.

As hard as I tried to avoid the bathroom problem, here it comes - all the downhill running shook things up. So I made a very efficient stop hitting a 1:27 quarter without stopping my watch.

Mike Vick passed me as if I were standing. He was having a great race. There goes the prize for first from the Utah County, if they are giving one this year. I still have not gotten mine from the last year, and heard no announcements that they were planning to continue the tradition.

Handled the climb between 18 an 19 OK with the slowest quarter in 1:31, HR at 156. Too low for the climb, shows that I am a bit out of fuel, but not too bad. 19th mile in 5:57, 1:50:25 according to the Toy, and 1:50:29 officially at 20 miles, the 20th mile in 5:31, HR at 152.

PR is still possible, but difficult. I'll need to run a low 34 minute last 10 K.

Next mile in 5:23, downhill. Neal Gassman passed me, and he was doing great. From 21 to 22 in 5:44, mostly down, but about a quarter of up, which made it slow. 23rd mile in 5:30, down, not too bad, HR at 153.

Next mile in 5:37. It was mostly down, but caught a flat portion as we turned the corner on the Diagonal. Next mile in 5:46, a slight down with about a quarter of up. A few turns. I do not like the change in the course. The old way you went down all the way and it did not break your rhythm. Then it was flat for the last mile, which you could also run with good rhythm. Now the turns and the changes in the terrain make you shift gears at the point in the race where you really are not fit to do it.

5:56 from 25 to 26, essentially flat, a couple of turns. 1:15 from 26 to the finish. 2:25:32, 8th place, missed PR by 45 seconds, but happy with the performance. 5th marathon of the year with the slowest 2:35:20 as a training run.

James Lander 2:18:25, Steve Frisone 2:21:55 (congratulations on qualifying), Dave Danly 2:22:04 (good work for a debut, but it sure hurts watching the clock tick for the last 4 seconds), Mike Vick 2:23:24 (exceptional debut), Charles Wallace 2:23:54 (congrats on a PR), Neal Gassman 2:24:01 (what a breakthrough, but it is about time), Kevin Stover 2:24:08 (good effort).

Congratulations to Randy McDermott (2:28:55), Dave Weiler (2:28:59), Clyde (2:36:12), Chad (2:37:52), Jed Burton (2:38:02), Bill Cobler (2:38:32), Dustin (2:46:13), Andy (3:06:00), Steve Hillam (3:10:23, BQ) and Kerry (3:31:49 BQ) on setting their PRs.

Ran with the kids in the evening, over 28 miles for the day.

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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