Breaking the Wall

March 28, 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: 105.07 Year: 744.57
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. 10.1 alone in 1:09:58. Yes, I like to beat the 1:10 guy when it is close. The sleep and a day of rest yesterday seemed to help. Felt energized from the start. Decided to measure the depth of it. Ran 1 K in 3:22 over a fairly thick layer of leaves in the middle.

Ran 200 with Jacob in 1:44. 

For some odd reason I got interested in the demographics of Denmark. I think if I had the patience to deal with the academic bureaucracy and our cost of living relative to income had not been so high I might have even become a sociologist. But I am somewhat satisfied with programming for a living and studying sociology as an amateur. In any case, I found this link:

And the following statements:

The last 30 years of the 20th century showed a far-reaching change in the demographical characteristics of the Danish population. The decline in fertility accelerated from 1967, and the lowest level so far was reached in 1983 when the average number of children born per woman was 1.4.

As c. 2.1 births per woman are necessary to avoid a fall in the size of the population, fertility rates are thus below the level needed for reproduction. Corresponding declines have been noted in most western European countries, in North America, Australia and Japan.


It has become more difficult for both practical and financial reasons to have many children...

As a father of 6, I can sure tell you about financial difficulty. I make quite a bit more than the average, and we still have to pinch every penny to live without debt.

The big question I have is why in the world has it become so difficult for a family to have the needed 2.1 children to maintain the population size when we have experienced such huge advances in technology and can do just about everything a lot more efficiently that we used to. With everything we have now the average family should be able to afford 10.5 children, not 2.1. Something somewhere has gone fundamentally wrong, something somewhere is being dumped into a huge black hole.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:52, 2 with Benjamin in 17:00, Jenny ran the first 1.5 in 13:14. Jacob wanted to do a double today so we did another 200 in 1:58.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From Jason McK on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 12:18:25

I suppose the huge black hole may be referred to as government waste. For instance: The IRS spends 1/3 of the money collected in income taxes to do the collecting... Would the company you work for even be in business if 1/3 of the revenue went to collecting the revenue? Just one example.

Another might be the Administration of welfare. It could obviously be more effective if it were administered the way the LDS church does it allowing the budget to cover more peoples necessities and less encouragement to work less...

From Lybi on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 15:46:18

Interesting observation. I think the reason that it is "so expensive" to raise children these days is because of the extraordinary jump in comfort related luxuries that are now considered necessities. If you look back 100 years ago, people raised children in situations that would now be considerred dire poverty, but was quite normal for the day. I.e. no washer/dryer/dishwasher/TV/cable/computer/airconditioning etc etc. We are getting more and more dependent on high tech labor-saving items, but it is not without cost. We end up having to work all the time to pay for all of it, as if it were completely necessary for our survival. (Not that I have room to talk--I am the one with a mopping ROBOT, for goodness sakes.) But anyway, a good book that addresses this issue (and very thought provoking) is "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn.

From Lybi on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 16:08:04

Even our homes are much larger and much more complex to build and maintain. I remember reading life stories of my ancestors, and they'd just go out and build a house with some neighbors. It wasn't one of these "buy a palace and pay for it for the next 30 years" deal that it is today. Also, they used to grow, gather, or slaughter much of their own food, instead of paying for stuff that has been grown, inspected, packaged, and shipped from Chile so we can still get it at any time of year. I could go on and on...temperature control...mobility beyond the wildest imagination of our ancestors (cars, flights, cruises?), digital EVERYTHING. Also land is more expensive. It is VERY expensive to raise a family in Japan (which is a very affluent and educated country). Mortgages are commonly set to last 4 generations there. I wonder if it is in these more affluent countries, like Denmark, The US, and Japan, that raising children is seen as so expensive, while in poorer countries where the standard of living is lower, having more children is seen as an economic blessing because they can help with the work of growing food and caring for animals, etc.

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 16:43:32

Well fortunately in the industrialized world big families are few and far between. The world can't sustain such rapid population growth. There is no way, especially in a world of consumer hungry individuals that people can take take take with regards to resources without consequences. Look at India and China. They are just now at the point of industrialization that we were at about 50 years ago. Wait until they become "tech savvy". It will be all heck broken loose.

I think the good thing is that there are a lot more young people opting not to have kids or only have 1 or 2 kids here in the U.S. which affords others the ability to plan to have as many kids as they choose. I know that personally I wouldn't want any more than two kids, especially when cost of living is so expensive. Unless youre a minister and can get a house paid for you, it is impossible to buy a house and have a big family. That is, until the government decides to pay people based on how hard they work. Often hard workign people have lower paying jobs than the big corp execs. It's not how hard you work. In this capitalist democracy it's all about who you know. That's something I've realized in the last couple years.

Case in point: in industrialized countries you cannot afford to provide adequately for your children unless you have something working in your favor to make the big bucks. (i.e. I will have a Master's degree - 6 yrs of college full time and 45k in debt; and yet I will make maybe $40,000 a year to do the most important job in the world - educate tomorrow's generation and effectively raise kids)

From Jason McK on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 16:46:05

While I agree with Lybi, that we have way more than ever, the reason I mention the government as the "huge black hole" is because, as Sasha points out, with all the advances in technology and efficiencies, we should be able to do more, cheaper. We do more, but it isn't cheaper to live. We could get rid of all the luxuries, then we could raise more kids, but we wouldn't have the technologies and efficiencies to enjoy the things we enjoy. If 1/3 of my income weren't spent on taxes (income, sales, property, gas, Fica) I could do more. Of course, take this with a grain of salt, I'd rather pay everything that I pay in taxes than live in a different country where I wouldn't have all the blessings that I have here.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:14:05


Maybe if you are a lawyer it is about who you know. I will not say much about that sector of the economy or others with which I am not familiar. But I can tell you that if you are a computer programmer it is about how well you do what you do. Probably the same for a lot of other professions where you produce something tangible that has to work but you cannot make work merely by means of persuasion.

Regarding children. You need 2.1 average births per woman for to avoid population decline. That means those who can have children should aim for at least three, because some people will never marry, others cannot have children at all, others physically can have only one or two, and not every time you try to have a child you succeed even if the woman gets pregnant - she can miscarry or have a still born. If that does not happen, people currently in their 20s will not have much fun in their 60s, and especially 70s.

Thus, a country that has set itself up to make it difficult for the average couple to have three children is headed for some serious problems in the next 50 years, and if the situation is not corrected, eventual extinction.

From Lybi on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:27:20

Well, Howling Commando, you've triggered my BS-o-meter. You seem to be laboring under the delusion (which is commonly held) that if someone in the United States chooses to have only one child, and provide them with more Disneyland vacations and a roomier house, (instead of having several children and putting them in bunkbeds etc.) that somehow that will benefit somebody struggling to eat in Angola. Resources has nothing to do with the number of people. One extremely spoiled person takes up MUCH more resources than several people living modestly. Say someone does have a lot of extra money lying around (and they also have a small family). Is this going to prompt them to mail their extra money to a foreign country? No. They will use it to buy a boathouse, or a boat, or a $80,000 car etc. etc. Children in large families learn to share and also to conserve resources. You must remember that just having more kids does not guarantee that your income will go up. So large families learn to economize--and it is something that we need more people to learn, if we are to have enough resources for everyone. You know what causes most of the starvation on the planet? War. Refugees. Wars caused by greed and people who never learned to consider the needs of others.

Also, I will tell you why teachers are so unfortunately underpaid. It is obviously not because the job they do it unimportant. It is simple economics. There are many people who would rather teach, because it is fulfilling and so important to the future than to do a job that pays well but is yucky, such as plumbing. So the supply of teachers is a little higher than the demand. That keeps the "price" of teachers low. Unfortunate, but true, and you can't blame it on who you know.

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:29:50

We will never have extinction. But I believe we need to have a reduction in population at least in industrialized countries. We already have 7 billion people on the world, and if you look at how fast the population in the world has grown:

1900 - 1.6 billion

1950 - 2.5 billion

1975 - 4 billion

2000 - 6.5 billion

The facts don't lie. There are too many people in the world today. And we as humans have not done a very good job taking care of the kids that ARE being born. Why don't we take care of the individuals already on the planet before worrying about increasing the population at a faster rate.

As for being paid for how hard you work.. it IS who you know. Computers are a different story. I have a cousin who works not that hard and gets 85,000 a year doing a job that's not all that hard. Now what gives the government the right to require a Master's degree of me to be a teacher, and then expect me to stick around doing a job that is thankless (both by the students and their parents) for 40,000 a year? Sure I will get a pension and my cousin won't, but it is hardly enough to survive on. Thankfully I will have a wife who will work and we will together MAYBE make as much money as you alone, but the world today is very skewed towards rewarding capitalist and technology sectors, not the sectors that run the country. I.e. Without the food service industry, without the everyday grocery store workers, and without teachers and educators, the men and women making the 100,000 salaries wouldn't have the education or the people skills necessary to secure those jobs. If you ask me, it is time for change! We have to fix what we have. And if we can do that while holding the world population steady or at least halt the growth, we will be the better for it.

Too many kids are starving in teh streets, or homeless, or come from broken homes. We don't need more children, we need to help those we already have.

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:34:17

Lybi, unlike your misconception I don't operate under the "AFFLUENZA" epidemic that so many OTHER AMERICANS do. I drive the same car that I've had sine 2001. I don't shop at the mall but more than once a year. I wear handme downs. I don't buy "the newest gadgets" and why? Because I know I don't need them. I'm talking about a problem that exists worldwide. There are too many people that live outside their means and yet still fail to provide for their children. Sure I am all for big families so long as your values aren't skewed. My mom was one of 10 kids and I am one of 4, so is EMma. We are used to big families.

However, I still feel success in a capitalist driven country like the states isn't how hard you work. There are people that work plenty hard but have 0 connections. Thus they will have a tough time advancing. I have friends that went to interviews where they were GIVEN the questions ahead of time! And they knew the people and hmm.. bingo bango they got the job and otehrs didn't. Now if I had been one of those other people I'd be pretty PO'ed if I found out the circumstances of that compromised interview. It is definitely skewed though that it is all about connections. Unfortunately that's how it works in the US. You can only succeed based on how much support y ou have and how many people you know.

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:36:34

Oh and Lybi I'm not talking about people on this blog because most of the people here have their heads on straight. I am referring to the living outside your means that has come to govern the lives of many Americans and thus contributed to the stupid credit crisis we are in now. It sickens me that people think they should buy stuff just because they "can" or because their neighbor has it. If you haven't read it, pick up the book "AFFLUENZA" by DeGraff.. it's an eye opener.

From Lybi on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:38:56

I think that the reason there are so many more people alive today than a hundred years ago is not because people are having more and more babies, it is because more and more of them are surviving to adulthood, Benn. In animals populations, whenever populations grow too fast or too rapidly, there is commonly a plague that comes and reduces the population greatly (food shortage leads to starvation too, I am sure). So actually what you are arguing for is that we should let more of our babies die.

People's "needs" expand to meet their resources. I.e. a family of 3 that earns $100,000 a year will take as much resources (all of it) as a family of 10 that earns $100,000.

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:44:26

I definitely see you there. But what I think people have failed to realize is that the world has been governed by a survival of the fittest method since the beginning of time until very recently (i.e. the last 100 years). Thus, when there were no cures for polio or small pox, etc people died. That was the reality. So, as life expectancy increases, birthrate should decrease in the industrialized countries. Else there won't be a world worth living in! Unless you own 100 acres out in the middle of no where and are self sufficient. The world is headed down a very ugly path. Maybe the mayans had it right with their 2012 prophecy haha

From Lybi on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:46:08

Personally, I think that we are in for a really bad epidemic of some kind relatively soon. Get your flu shot!

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 17:50:35

Flu shots make you weaker. I have been sick twice in my life and one was chicken pox as a 4 year old. Getting a flu shot just makes you weaker. Unless you are under the age of 5, or very old or a new mom you dont need the flu shot. Too many people overuse it just like Penicillin, that's why there are more strains of it each year and hence, more resistance. One day there will be a superbug that will wipe off the population kind of like the plague. It will be interesting.

From Jason McK on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 18:15:24

Howling Commando - You apparently realize that we live in a capitalistic society that rewards people for who they know, not what they know. Regardless of whether or not I agree with your statements, it is also apparent that you would rather complain about this fact still choosing a thankless profession (forced by the government to get a master's degree) than choose a different profession. Your choice also has to do with the system. You could live somewhere else where they value grocery store workers and teachers more, but I don't know if that country/system exists. Anyone can work in the grocery store (I did when I was 18) and anyone can be hired as a teacher (my neighbor is now teaching math full-time and has no teaching credential, as well as my mom substitute taught for years with 1 semester of post-high school education, and my friends dad after he was laid off - no credentials) even though teachers will tell you that they can't. However, the more people available to teach, the more requirements there are for teachers - depends on the area. If you want to be rewarded for the amount of work you do you could try the following professions:



Engineer (many types)

Real Estate Agent (not very rewarding right now)



Lawn Mower

Piece Rate Assembler

Mom and Pop Shop

Newspaper Delivery Person


If you want to have the government decide wages based on importance, and teachers are darn near #1, more people will become teachers and there will be a shortage of everything else.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 18:21:00


I agree with you that our society has skewed values. We pay movie stars, football players, lawyers, doctors, certain business executives, and others way too much, and pay farmers, plumbers, truck drivers, and teachers way too little.

However, it is important to distinguish between "hard work" and "skillful work". One example. Sarah takes 2 minutes to peel the potatoes. It has taken me as long as 20 minutes. I worked 10 times as long, had to focus harder than her relative to my top capacity, and the end result was a job of worse quality. If both of us peeled potatoes for a living, I would have a hard time convincing my employer that I should get paid 10 times as much to do a worse job. One time I tried to fix a plumbing problem. After 8 hours of work it was still not fixed. We called a plumber. He fixed it in 10 minutes.

On the other hand, when it comes down to computers, I have a chance to make a living because I can program much better than the average Joe, and many things we do today are computer-dependent. I do not have to work very hard to produce significantly more value than I could if I had to do construction or farming, for example. I am thankful that I've been able to find an area that pays where I also have a talent.

Regarding world population. You have correctly observed that it is growing. It will continue to grow. And we can handle it if we humble ourselves before God. He has given us plenty of resources. We just need to have His wisdom so we'll know how to use them.

The reality is, however, that any nation that believes in having a reduced number of children will become outnumbered by nations that don't. In a democracy outnumbered means outvoted. In a militarized society outnumbered often means outgunned. In the book of Exodus we read about how the Egyptians got concerned about Hebrews multiplying too fast. As wicked and corrupt as they were, they still understood a natural law that appears to evade many in the Western culture today - it is bad to be outnumbered.

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 18:26:51

"and anyone can be hired as a teacher (my neighbor is now teaching math full-time and has no teaching credential, as well as my mom substitute taught for years with 1 semester of post-high school education, and my friends dad after he was laid off - no credentials) even though teachers will tell you that they can't. "

That is why kids' education in the west is not up to par with the Ivy League credentials of the east. Well I know I will still make more money here in the Northeast. I should be able to get 40k out of school, whereas if I taught in your state I'd only be able to get about 26k. So Yeah I agree that anyone out there can teach if they don't need credentials, and maybe that's why they lag behind with the NCLB Act of 2002. Who knows. All I know is that I try way too hard and still find it impossible to even be able to afford gas money. All this while I have to pay 45k for a degree.

From Lybi on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 18:27:45

Sasha--does that apply to kid to adult ratio in the house? Then you and Sarah are toast! He he he. Just kidding. In a tug of war your family could probably take any family on the blog.

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 18:30:08

Sasha - You hit the nail on the head. I see exactly what you are saying. But then I have a question about how can you transmit these values to people that continue to buy outside their means and spend spend spend? How can we send a message? Already so many people strive to set a good example, but what more can you do? And I think with this stupid bailout plan people think that "oh well if I ever do run into trouble I can just get someone to bail me out" ; Why is growing up so troubling? It's like everything when you are a kid is awesome - you're in your protective bubble, then you turn 18 and go to college and the trouble starts :(

From Jason McK on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 18:58:45

Howling Commando - I don't mean any offense, but you say, "All I know is that I try way too hard and still find it impossible to even be able to afford gas money." and you mention the government bail-out and protective bubbles, yet you've indicated that you're voting for Obama because democrats fund education more than republicans - though noble, it also seems self serving, like you want the government to bail you out so you can stay in your protective bubble doing what you want to do and be able to afford gas.

As funding increases for education, all I've seen is administration get larger. In privatized schools, the results are good but the administration is small - seems more effective than increasing funding to public schools.

From Lybi on Tue, Nov 04, 2008 at 20:38:49

Watch it, Jason, nobody's allowed to badger The Howling Greatness...except for me. But while we're on the subject, Benn, what is it that has drawn you to be a history teacher? Is it because you love history and you love teaching? That is noble. It will be like you are paying part of your potential income to have a job that you love. Lots and lots of people have hobbies or interests that are significant drains on their finances, but are a priority because it adds greatly to their enjoyment of life. Personally, I think it is of great value to work in something that I enjoy--i.e. piano teaching, which is not exactly lucrative, but that I love love love. But then, I am so grateful for people like my hubby that do those jobs that need to be done, but are exceedingly tedious (although amazingly enough, he does enjoy it). It's a blessing that we are all different, I guess.

Benn-Do you really think the flu shot makes you weaker? Is it because your immune system would be stronger after fighting off the disease? I'd rather be weak than get the flu. That's my problem.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Nov 05, 2008 at 19:55:43


Values are best taught in the family. Doing so consistently via formal instruction and personal example is the key. Here are some specific things that every LDS family has been asked to do by our leaders:

Family prayer at least twice a day.

Daily family scripture study. We read from the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Weekly church attendance. No skipping.

Weekly family get-together that involves gospel instruction as well as some recreational activities - we call it Family Home Evening, and reserve Monday night for it.

The above mentioned activities help us teach our children basic principles of faith consistently. Faith can be easily lost, especially in the world today, if not consistently taught and practiced. If we succeed in helping our children obtain a personal witness that God lives, Jesus Christ is his Son, Joseph Smith indeed was guided by the Lord to restore the true church after a long period of apostasy, and that our church has prophets today with the same authority as the biblical prophets and apostles such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Peter, or Paul, then the rest flows naturally.

Our prophets have taught us for more than a century to be frugal and to behave in a number of other ways contrary to the de facto standards of the modern society. An individual who knows through the Holy Ghost that the prophets are Lord's representatives on earth will have no problem obeying them in spite of the ridicule and other forms of adversity they might temporarily receive as a result of such obedience. If the basic principles of faith have been taught and the spiritual confirmation has arrived, our children are able to continue in faith and pass it on to their children.

The families that diligently implement the above principles without groping around for some slack and trying to take short cuts see very high success rates. While every spirit that comes to us from heaven has a gift of agency, which means the possibility of choosing to still go astray even if taught perfectly, based on my observations, a diligent effort to live the faith on average results in about 70-80% carry-through into the next generation.

From DanR on Thu, Nov 06, 2008 at 22:51:12

u run more than anyone else on the blog why arent u the fastest

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