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

A.M. The kids were going to run in the state championship, so they had a taper. William did 0.5, Jacob 0.5, Jenny, Julia, and Joseph 1, and Benjamin 3. I figured since I was not going to get a good long run tomorrow, I'd do something today. The plan was to go 15 - first 7.5 easy up the canyon, then hard on the way back. It was raining hard, but I figured with 48 F I'd be OK in a long sleeved shirt and shorts. This turned out to be a big mistake, the biggest clothing mistake I have ever made in 28 years of running, and a humbling experience. The first 7.5 miles were nothing out of the ordinary. I felt a little cold in the first mile, then got used to it. The wind was blowing into the canyon, so my face and chest were protected, and I was going a decent pace - around 6:50 with a jogging effort. This did give me concerns about coming back as it revealed that the wind was rather strong, and that combined with the rain would make things uncomfortable once I turned around. But little did I know what was coming.

I turned around, hit 5:36 pace for about 200 meters, then was greeted by a gust of headwind. No big deal, slowed down to about 6:00, deal with it. Maintained a slight sub-6:00 as I was being pounded by the rain and occasional hail. Things got to the point where my legs started feeling numb, but I kept turning them over and still maintaining a little under 6:00. However, once I came out of the canyon a strange thing began to happen. All of a sudden the pace slowed to 6:20, although I felt that my legs were moving fast. Then a little after 13 miles into the run and a little over 5.5 into the fast portion while still a little less than 2 miles away from the house I started feeling like I could not run at all. I stopped and was feeling faint, so I laid down. I began to wonder if I was going to die right there from hypothermia. Now that I am writing this in retrospect this sounds like a rather improbable event. I had not been out for that long, and I had been moving, the fainting probably came from trying to run sub-6:00 into a headwind and cold rain while in a state of mild hypothermia already, so the body was saying - hey, you cannot do that. But at the time I seriously thought that the time might have come for me to go to the other side of the veil.

This was a good test of faith. It is one thing to bear your testimony about eternal life in a church meeting, but the question is if you are going to feel the same way when you actually experience what you perceive could end your life on Earth, and the threat looks real. One time in a BYU class the teacher asked for a volunteer to release a heavy led ball suspended on a chain and stand and wait for it to come back. According to the laws of physics the ball will not come back higher than where you released it, so no damage to your face is going to happen and there is nothing to fear. Having studied physics extensively I felt that I understood that law quite well, so I volunteered. However, when I saw the ball coming at me, I completely forgot about this law, and all I could think about was that it was going to hit me, so I blinked. This time, I did better, I think. There was no fear, no panic. I felt the assurance that everything would be alright even if I did not survive this as far as the mortal survival is concerned.

Laying down made me feel a little better, although I was still not feeling the greatest. I realized that if I chose to remain on the ground I would be there for a long time before anybody noticed. So I told myself to get up and start running. I needed to make to the closed warmest place, which happened to be a nearby printing business only about a quarter mile a way. Fortunately I was able to run, and got there before anything bad happened again. The office staff was very helpful. They got me warm, and I was able to call Sarah to come and pick me up. My jaw was shaking for about 20 minutes or so. Once I got warm, everything was fine, except I was not going to try to risk it and finish the run. So I ended up with about 13.2 or so miles, 5.5 of it tempo.

I think something like this happened to Logan in the 2008 trials, and I believe to Curtis Moore as well in 2004. Not sure why this happened to me today, never happened before under similar, or even worse conditions. Perhaps with age my ability to stay warm in cold conditions has declined. Regardless, I know now that I need to dress up when it is cold, and avoid doing long runs in those conditions. This will be an adjustment as I am used to ignoring the weather and going through with the workout that I planned, but it is good to be forced to learn new things and do things in new ways - often it makes you discover better ways. 



Green Crocs 4 Miles: 13.30
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From Ken Bess on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 17:19:30 from

That sounds like one heck of a run. I'm glad you made it home ok.

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