Breaking the Wall

April 01, 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: 211.63 Year: 851.13
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: 1679.47
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12.7. Benjamin did another 800 meter time trial. We hoped to do it at the BYU track, but the inside lanes were blocked with barriers. So we went to Orem High instead. It rained earlier so the track was a little wet. However, to my surprise the BYU track was more wet than the Orem High. So perhaps it was good that we went to Orem High after all - even though normally the BYU track is faster - at least I have gotten faster times on it.

We pretty much repeated what we did last time - me starting 300 meters into it - except this time I gave myself a bit of a head start because last time I could accelerate quickly enough and it took me good 50 meters before I started doing my pacing job. However, this time I overshot the other way starting too early. This frustrated Benjamin and he yelled at me telling me he could not catch me. In spite of that mishap he made it to the 400 mark in around 63.7 or so.

I was concerned that this frustration with being behind might have ruined Benjamin's chances for a PR, but he demonstrated resilience. He mentally regrouped, caught up to me and started pushing the pace from behind. I did my best to stay ahead and provided him with a wind shield up to about 550 mark. Then I stepped aside, he passed me, but I tried to stay as much as I could on the side to provide partial wind block and competitive pressure. His 600 split was 1:37.9 or so. I am too paranoid to press buttons to get a split mid-run, but the Fast Running Friend solves the problem for me by displaying the tenths of a second in a font that is large enough to get an idea of what the the split was with that precision. Of course, the big question is the delay between the time you register that you are at the mark, and the time you register the running time, but I think this is accurate to about 0.3 or so.

The 700 split was around 1:54.9. I was able to stay with him up to 30 meters to go or about, and then fell back by a little - maybe 0.5 or so when he turned up the heat in the final surge. He finished in 2:11.4. This is the first overall all-time family record taken by Benjamin. My all-time 800 meter PR is 2:12.0. I suppose we can say that today we had a historic moment in our family - the 14-year-old son ran faster than the dad ever has in his life. 

Another signficant detail is that a year ago his 800 PR was 2:23. When I was 13 I was somewhere in that range - at the age of 12.9 I hit a 2:25 split indoors in a 1000 meter race. However, over the last year he made more improvement than I did in my entire life. I do have an explanation for that - see the X-rays at the links in my profile. I could manage my L-4 defect when stars aligned - I was very light and somehow developed a workaround that allowed me to be somewhat competitive. However, when I hit puberity, that workaround did not work anymore - I was just too heavy to pull it off.

Now our next goal is to get Benjamin to do 4x400 with 400 meter jog first in 64, then 63, 62, 61, and 60. Then we will have a graduation party - another 800 meter time trial. 


Green Crocs 6 Miles: 12.70
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From jtshad on Mon, Nov 04, 2013 at 13:27:14 from

Congrats to Benjamin, those are big shoes to step into or past. He is developing into a very superior athlete. I hope that I can bring Justin along as well using you two as an example of parent/child partnership. Great job, coach.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Nov 06, 2013 at 12:42:31 from

Jeff - thanks for your kind words.

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