Breaking the Wall

January 25, 2021

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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: 266.81 Year: 266.81
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Neon Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1438.17
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 13.6. Did a workout with Benjamin and Dave Taylor. The plan was the same 3 mile tempo with the splits of 5:30 - 5:23 - 5:15. We did the usual warm-up of 5.3 miles, which perhaps was too long for Benjamin, but I figured it would be good for him since he'll be running a half marathon.

Benjamin and I ran in front for the first two miles, while Dave sat back. Our first quarter was too slow - 86, but that was OK for this run since its purpose is to turn up the heat gradually. Then we did 80, 83, and 80 - a bit unsteady, my fault, arriving at the mile in 5:29. Then 82, 81, 81, 80 - 5:24 for the next mile, and 10:53 at 2 miles. Benjamin groaned in a whiny manner at around 1.75. I know very well what that groan means, and I told him to man up. But apparently he was caught by surprise by the gradual pace increase, and it mentally fried him like the proverbial frog frequently mentioned in church lessons on temptation - if you turn up the heat quickly the frog jumps, but if you turn it up slowly it does not know when to jump. So when Dave turned up the heat even more after 2 miles, that delivered the final punch - Benjamin completely lost confidence and stopped. I followed Dave, but he was too fast for me - my quarter was 77, his was more like 75-76. However, over the next quarter he slowed down and I was holding even, and then I started to gradually creep up on him, but was not closing much. But in the last quarter he was out of juice, so I was able to catch him and pass him with 200 to go. My total time was 16:04, last mile in 5:11, he got 16:05, last mile in 5:12.

Benjamin stood for about 20-30 seconds, regained his senses, and started running again. He actually still managed 16:56 even with that mental breakdown stop. Such mental breakdowns do happen at an age that is much older than 14, and in races at a very high level. Gordon Pirie got broken like this in the epic duel against Vladimir Kutz in the 10,000 meter race in the 1956 Olympics. This is the very well known part. The less known part is that the Soviet officials asked Kutz after the race what he would have done had Pirie remained with him in the final surge. His answer was as honest as it gets, and is quite shocking given the circumstance - "I would have dropped out." Kutz was running at his physical and psychological limit as well.

I enjoy the moments when my children run well, but the moments when they experience trouble are in some way particularly special. I appreciate the chance to be with them to teach them resilience when things do not go well. Long-term those moments are more important for their development than when everything goes as planned. Because in life things often do not go as planned, and you need to deal with unexpected problems. So Benjamin and I had a good talk. He wanted to know why he broke down like this. I explained to him that there were several factors. Physically there was some fatigue from the 1500 meter race on Saturday. There was still perhaps some fatigue from the 10 mile run a week ago. On top of that, there was a 5.3 mile warm-up which was about 2/3 of his usual daily mileage. But there was also a psychological aspect. He started the run expecting 5:30 pace to be easy. After running 5 miles uphill at a slow pace it was not. As he thought about having to speed up from that he began to panic. As the fatigue increased and the pace increased he panicked even more. On top of that Dave had more juice that he was expecting. Finally it all came together, and broke him mentally. I explained to him that things like that have happened to Ryan Hall, and are actually quite common among world-class athletes. We developed a plan to move to a new level of psychological strength where he would have resilience against this turn of events. Part of the plan is to repeat the workout next Tuesday.

With Dave everything was perfect except that he started his kick one quarter too soon, and also perhaps too hard. I would have thought that two slower, but still quite fast miles would even out his adrenal throttle control, but he still managed to repeat the microcosm of his usual half-marathon pacing in the last mile of the tempo. Next time we will repeat this with kick starting with 0.75 to go.

When we got back I did 1 with William, and 2 with Joseph and Jacob. Jenny and Julia ran 2 on their own.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 13.60
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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