Breaking the Wall

January 26, 2020

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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: 252.01 Year: 252.01
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1576.28
Neon Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 1353.22
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-05-20 06:23:25
Workout Totals: Distance12.610Time1:31:00.30Pace7:13.01
Today was a crazy day. Benjamin raced the Ogden Half. Official results 1:10:47, 2nd overall, but there is a story to go with it. The Standard Examineer should have told it (I did write them an e-mail), but since they did not I will tell it right here.

Even though Benjamin gained some publicity after Mini Indy 500, the result really was not that great. You could argue the wind cost him a minute, or more generously a minute and a half, but even with that we get around 1:10:30 which is still a good minute off his record-eligible course PR. The blow up in the last 4 miles was not very encouraging. So something was clearing wrong, but what was it, and how do we fix it? My working theory was that he needed a better aerobic stimulus, which we tried. But he was leaving on a mission and it would be nice to have another data point before he left. Unfortunately the best race in terms of competition left before his departure was the Ogden Half.

Ogden has a well-established reputation for not caring too much about how fast the winner runs. The slogan is - everyone is a winner as long as he pays $100+ entry fee :-) Elites cannot get a comp, prize money is only in the full, the half prize - ironically - this year was $150 towards a pair of shoes at Striders for the top three.

But there was literally nothing else in the state and we were not going to go out of state given that his flight to the Madrid MTC was on Monday and he still needed to finish packing.

We received the usual "Everyone is a winner" response from the race directors, so I eventually paid the odious fee. With Riley's help we found a place to stay in Huntsville. Incidentally Riley's friend Toby Johnhson was Benjamin's mission president's companion when they were both young missionaries around 20 years ago.

I warmed up with Benjamin, then jogged to the mile marker 1 to watch. With the first mile in 5:50 fast time was out of the question, but it was out of the question to begin with. There was only one runner that could have helped with the fast time - Jason Holt, and that is usually not enough - you need a pack.

After the first mile Benjamin sped up hitting 5:40 on the uphill, then something in the 5:25 range for the next 3. Around 5 he separated himself from Jason and started running solid sub-5:20 pace down the canyon. Everything went well up to 9 miles - 6 in 32:30, 9 in 48:17. Then something that we should have expected but unfortunately did not took place - the race got off from the highway to the trail, and the only escort available to the lead runners was a police car which can only drive on the road.

Benjamin has many talents but course navigation is not one of them. So he took a wrong turn twice losing all of his lead. He regained contact with Jason and stayed with him until half mile to go with 1:04:50 split at 12. Around 1:08 into the race Benjamin made a move and dropped Jason again. Coming into the finish chute he had about 5 seconds.

Then another accident occurred. There were two finish chutes. Of course Benjamin chose the wrong one. The race directors accommodated and stretched out the tape for him in the wrong chute. Then somebody yelled that Benjamin was in the wrong chute. He panicked and decided to correct the error by jumping over the dividing barrier. This did not go well - he is not a hurdler - especially after 13 miles of hard running. He sprained his ankle and dropped his glasses. While he was recovering from all of this Jason passed him in the correct chute and won the race by 3 seconds.

We had a discussion afterwards about being more confident in yourself and not listening to stray advice with some references to 1 Nephi 8:28: "And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost."

He took all of this in good spirits, his ankle recovered enough after a blessing and some treatment to run 10 miles Monday morning and make the flight to Madrid, and his glasses did not break. What I was happy about is that he closed strong. Jason ran the last 1.109 at 5:20 pace, Benjamin during the move had to have been quite a bit faster - probably 5:10 at least. He handled getting lost very well - did not allow the discouragement to overtake him.

I discussed the matter with the race director afterwards. She was adamant about not admitting that they did anything wrong telling me that they had well marked signs and nothing like this has ever happened before. I did not question what she said then, but later discovered that Scott Keate got lost on the course a few years ago when he won the race adding a good quarter.

Training-wise I did some jogging during the race, and then when we got home did some more distance in the park by our house with 3 1.04 tempo pickups. Usual distances for the kids.
Leg 1:Distance3.250Time27:36.40Pace8:29.66
Jogging around while Benjamin ran the race.
Split 1:Distance1.700Time12:54.50Pace7:35.59
Split 2:Distance0.000Time2:41.00Pace0:00.00
Split 3:Distance1.550Time12:00.90Pace7:45.10
Leg 2:Distance9.360Time1:03:23.90Pace6:46.40
In the park with 3x1.04 mile pickups.
Split 1:Distance0.520Time4:48.50Pace9:14.81
With Matthew.
Split 2:Distance1.040Time7:23.80Pace7:06.73
Split 3:Distance1.040Time6:05.40Pace5:51.35
Split 4:Distance1.560Time10:48.50Pace6:55.71
Split 5:Distance1.040Time6:01.10Pace5:47.21
Split 6:Distance1.040Time7:29.10Pace7:11.83
Split 7:Distance1.040Time5:59.50Pace5:45.67
Split 8:Distance2.080Time14:48.00Pace7:06.92

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 12.61
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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