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
Bare Feet Miles: 30.58Water Clogs Miles: 7.86Saucony Type A Miles: 27.40
Night Sleep Time: 54.50Nap Time: 2.50Total Sleep Time: 57.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Started the day by soaking the feet in the Provo River. Good way to study the scriptures. Palm Pilot makes it easier - you do not have to worry too much about getting it wet. Scripture study by the river is a bit out of character for me - aside from running I am a very much an indoor creature. But in Russian they say "The need will force you" as well as "Hunger is not an aunt" which both mean the same thing. I want to have a shot at a decent race in St. George.

On the side note I just realized that I accidentally memorized all of the names of the sons of Jacob (or The Twelve Tribes of Israel) including the names of their mothers.  It just happened naturally on my third round through the Old Testament. I noticed that tendency about myself. Give me something to memorize and I am below average. But allow me enough time to be around the subject matter and I memorize a lot of things without trying. That is how I remember a whole lot of running times and splits.

During our sacrament meeting today a member of the High Council who is from Guatemala and is still not confident with his English expressed a concern to the bishopric that he might have language difficulties giving his talk. Somewhat in jest they told him he could switch to Spanish if he ever stumbled. He asked them to find out how many people in the audience could speak Spanish. They did. About half of the ward raised their hands. He ended up giving his talk in English with no problems, though.

In the evening soaked my feet again in the Provo River.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Benjamin at Grandview. Benjamin ran 2 with us in 16:24. Then we sped up. Jeff was done after my 15th lap. I had another 11 to go. Gradually picked up the pace. Ran the last 9 laps (3.09) in 18:33 (6:00 average). Was not really trying to run fast, it just happened. Considered going even faster, but decided not to to avoid unnecessary stress. The form felt smooth. The foot did not hurt on cold grass. Total time was 1:11:13 for 10.04.

Afterwards soaked my feet in the Provo River. Benjamin estimated the speed of the current in the meantime with the help of a stick that he threw in the river. It turned out to be 3km/h.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:56. Supervised the girls during their runs on a bike. Jenny did 2 in 19:24. Julia 14:41 for 1.5. Soaked the feet in the Provo River again as Sarah and I read the scriptures. Very appropriately we read 3 Nephi 8 and 9 where it talks about a vapor of darkness during the time between Christ's death and resurrection. It was dark by then, although not quite that dark.

Bare Feet Miles: 10.04Water Clogs Miles: 0.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff at Grandview. 26 laps (10.04) in 1:16:49. The foot fussed in the first 2 miles or so, but then the cold grass calmed it down. I exercised caution for most of the run and was moving pretty slow, but in the last lap was tempted by the 1:17 guy (there is always some guy to beat) and picked it up to 6:00 pace in the last 0.3.

Soaked the feet in the Provo River afterwards.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:57. Supervised the kids on a bike. Jenny ran 2 in 19:30. Julia 1.5 in 13:48. Benjamin 2 in 16:48. Soaked the feet in the river as Sarah and I read the scriptures. It was 3 Nephi 10 this time.

Bare Feet Miles: 10.04Water Clogs Miles: 0.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Today I was glad to have an excuse to run only 6 (tapering). It was raining. Not too bad, but it has not been raining lately so I got spoiled. The cold rain made it nice for my foot, though. It fussed for the first couple of miles, and then I felt absolutely nothing. I think if the weather repeats itself in St. George from last year it would help me in the cause of placing higher, although I hope not with the time. If it did help with the time it would mean that the foot would fuss so much on a normal day that the slow down from the cold, rain, and headwind would be less than from the foot.

Ran the total of 6.179 (16 laps around Grandview) in 44:30. Last lap in 2:13 (5:44 pace). No soaking in the river. I figured the feet got plenty of soaking from the rain already. 

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:49. Supervised the kids on a bike. Benjamin ran 2 in 16:38, Jenny in 19:24, Julia 1.5 in 14:16. Soaked the feet in the river as Sarah and I read 3 Nephi 11.

Bare Feet Miles: 6.18Water Clogs Miles: 0.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.50Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff at Grandview. The grass was cold. I realized that after the first two laps and put on the Clogs. After 10 more laps the sun came up so I decided to test the grass again to see if it was warmer. It seemed so at first, but my feet froze quickly again. I dropped Jeff off with 2 laps to go and picked it up to beat the 3:00 per lap guy (7:46 pace). Ran both laps in 2:17 - 5:55 pace. Felt strong, but the grass was cold and slippery. The coldness of the grass helped me work on reducing the ground contact time to the absolute minimum. Figured the feet got their share of an ice bath already, so did not soak them in the river.

Total time for 6.18 was 47:40.

P.M. Supervised the Benjamin and Jenny on a bike. They ran 2 miles in 17:47. Julia and Joseph ran at Grandview during Benjamin's soccer game. Ran with them on grass. Julia ran 2 miles in around 20 minutes.  I timed her 5 laps (1.93) in 19:33, but she ran more, closer to 2 miles. Joseph ran 2 laps (0.77) in 7:47.

Bare Feet Miles: 4.32Water Clogs Miles: 3.86
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 2 with Benjamin at Grandview in 16:03. Jenny ran 2 in 19:07. Julia ran 1.54 in 14:15.

P.M. Drove to St. George with everybody. 4:53 from the house to the expo. Good time for a GNG van (three fueling stops + lunch + bathroom trips/diaper changes for all of the kids). Then 5 minute run with Joseph, the pace was decent, will call it 0.5.

Water Clogs Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Race: St. George Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:34:08, Place overall: 13
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

St. George Marathon, 2:34:08, 13th place.  First half "officially" 1:16:27, really more like 1:16:17 (13 mile split was 1:15:37), second half really around 1:17:51. The foot fussed from the start, fussed more after Veyo, and really did not like the Snow Canyon decent. I considered a DNF around 9-10, but figured the DNF bus was too slow, and the foot would take a month to heal whether I finished or not. Was able to calm the foot down some by pouring water on it at aid stations and finish more or less OK. Details on Monday.

Jeff finally ran a decent marathon and got second after Iain Hunter in 2:22:01. Second half in 1:08.

Finally, the details. I did not want to go to the race due to the foot problems. But I had a few reasons to go. St. George would give me a travel stipend of $150 if I came. I needed to renew my sub-2:30 status, and it would have been possible if the foot cooperated sufficiently. There was a chance of a top 10 finish which gives you a travel stipend for the next year. Jeff needed somebody to take his bottles to the expo by 5 pm, and his work did not allow him to leave in time. Sarah and the kids wanted to go on a trip. Kory prayed for me to run well, and did so in faith.

We stayed at Mike Warren's office. He owns a propane wholesale company. We liked that office a lot. In fact, Jacob did not want to go back home. Half way through the drive home he was saying he wanted to go back to the office.

Brigham Young used to say that you should pray as if everything depended on the Lord, but then work as if everything depended on you. So I said a prayer the night before and then did some work in the morning soaking the foot in cold water one last time before the race. That would give me some breathing room for the first few miles.

We often pray to ask the Lord to remove the consequences of our foolishness. While the Atonement of Christ pays for our sins on conditions of repentance, we are responsible for paying our credit card bill. If we are late, we are also responsible for the late fees, and interest. The Lord will not pay our credit card bill. He will, however, help us find a job and teach us to live within our means so that we can do it ourselves.

In an attempt to find a breakthrough I borrowed against my body by not only running in Five Fingers on pavement, but also doing one-leg hops and hill sprints. I thought I was just using the savings and I had enough. I was wrong. Without realizing it I used the money I did not have, and now it was the time to pay back with interest plus late fees. The Lord was not going to remove the consequences of my mistakes until I had paid the price. If He did I would not learn what I needed to learn.

Saw a lot of friends at the start. Warmed up with Jeff, Steve Hooper, and his wife Kendra. Then the race started.

From the start Iain Hunter took off with Jose Martinez. Jeff and Seth formed a chase pack. I was not too anxious to join them, but eventually did. Warned Dallen and Walter that the pace was too fast. Then figured I needed to make disclaimer that my sense of pace could be messed up. It was not, not in the first mile. We did it in 5:35 and that felt right. The foot was fussing already, and that worried me. But it was not yet altering the form too bad, and I felt comfortable running in the chase pack. Jose came back to us quickly.

Second mile was 5:55 (uphill). Third in 5:29 (downhill started). Seth made a move to go after Iain. At this point I realized that the pace would get faster soon, and I was right. The pack strung out. I found a sweet spot at the tail end right behind Satoru Shimomura from Japan and sat on him until Veyo. Noticed he was conservative on the downhill and aggressive on flat/up. We hit 5 miles in 27:58, 6 in 33:23 and 7 in 38:48. HR was 152-153 on the down, but Saturo would bring it up to 157 on uphill and flat seconds. Jeff Huxhold from Reno caught up to us and joined us shortly before Veyo. The foot did not do too bad on this section. I felt I could maintain good form in spite of the pain.

Then we started the Veyo climb. I fell back. First taking it easy on purpose, but then I realized I was not taking it easy at all. HR hit 160. The quads felt strained. The foot started fussing and when the climb was over I felt I was limping a bit. The form was not good anymore. The Veyo mile was 6:22, the one after that 6:10. During the Dameron Valley climb the foot kept getting worse and the form was deteriorating. I was not able to break 6:00 in any of the miles until 11.

At this point I knew that 2:30 was not happening, and even 2:40 was in serious question. When things start going bad around 10 they only get worse as the race progresses. I considered a DNF. I thought of my family and friends praying for me to run well, and thought it would be a shame to not even try. I thought of the $150 stipend waiting at the end. I also thought that the foot would need a month to heal regardless of whether I finished or not. I thought about the doctrine of enduring to the end and the spiritual benefits of enduring adversity. But what gave me the final push to keep going was the realization that if I waited for the DNF bus I would not make it to the finish before 12:00 pm. That would make Sarah worry excessively and I would miss the first session of the General Conference. In trouble with the Lord and your wife at the same time. That is much worse than foot pain for 16 miles!

In spite of running slowly I got passed only once before the half mark. A collegiate-looking runner with good form passed me very quickly. I think his name was Jason Griffiths. Had a decent mile from 12 to 13 in 5:45.  Reached 13 miles in 1:15:37. The half split was 1:16:28 where the clock was, but it was in the wrong spot, about 10 seconds ahead. Maybe even more than that.

Greg Harris passed me shortly after the half mark. At this time I also passed Dave Holt who was jogging waiting for his brother James to catch up after he had decided he did not want to suffer the all pain to run only 2:35. I find it rather interesting that even though James ran 2:47 Dave had to stop at mile 19 and wait for him after all of the jogging. I guess he could not quite jog as in "jog" with all of the adrenaline from the race.

The next two miles were bad. I could not use the downhill very well. Mile 15 which I normally run in 5:10 was 5:45. I became very concerned. Still 11 miles to go. Will my foot make it with all of the downhill? Then I thought of a trick. Pour water on the foot at aid stations. Sometimes it was Gatorade. Who cares, just get as much moisture on the sock as I can. I wished for the last year's weather. 1:27:22 at 15 miles.

Around 15 Walter caught up to me. Walter was too fast to latch on, but he brought me a gift - Ryan Ripley from Oklahoma. With the downhill grade reduced to about 2% and some cooling on the foot I was able to latch on to Ryan.  The grade stayed reasonable for a while and after about a mile I realized that Ryan was going too slow. I passed him, and thought for a moment that I could catch Walter. But then Winchester hill started followed by a steep decent. My foot could not do it, either up or down. I could run decent on between flat and 2% down but fell apart on anything out of that range.

1:57:13 at 20 miles. The good news is that I am not having any fuel issues and still plodding along at around 6:00 pace. So I will probably break 2:40, and maybe even 2:35. That is better than nothing even if I do get passed by a troop in the last miles.

With some water on the foot I was able to speed up to about 5:30 in the next downhill mile. That was exciting. At 22 I passed the smooth runner who I thought to be Jason Griffiths. He asked me what pace we were on - I told him we were headed for about 2:33. I did not have the time to explain that somebody who got there who was not dying was headed for 2:33. But he was still disappointed.

2:08:38 at 22. 2:14:31 at 23. Still sub-6:00. In the 24th mile got passed by Jose Martinez. The downhill was too steep - could not latch on. I think 2:26:38 at 25. Made a mental note that I just passed myself at the Top of Utah two weeks ago. 2:32:49 at 26. Not a whole lot left for the kick.

Done! 2:21:03 for Iain, 2:22:01 for Jeff, then Seth 2:25:52, Pepi 2:25:58 (new PR), Satoru 2:26:10, Chan Ye Woo 2:26:28, Fritz 2:26:46 (new PR), Jeff Huxhold 2:28:19, Greg 2:30:39, Justin Park 2:31:01 (new PR, I think),  Walter 2:31:43, and Jose 2:33:20.

P.M. Drove back. Listened to General Conference. The foot was bad. Could barely walk when fueling up. The kids ran with Sarah. Benjamin ran 2.1 in 14:33 around the block. Jenny did 2.1 untimed. Julia ran 1.75 untimed. Joseph ran 0.5.


Saucony Type A Miles: 27.40
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Bare Feet Miles: 30.58Water Clogs Miles: 7.86Saucony Type A Miles: 27.40
Night Sleep Time: 54.50Nap Time: 2.50Total Sleep Time: 57.00
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