Breaking the Wall

January 18, 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: 188.26 Year: 188.26
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: 1359.62
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. We had a great Christmas program. While I sat and listened to the music some thoughts and memories came into my mind that I feel are worth sharing. Last night during dinner we were learning Russian. While explaining the Russian word жук which means beetle, I remembered a funny poem that my mom likes to recite while playing chess in the middle of a violent attack about a capitalist beetle and a worker beetle perishing in the class struggle. This time I decided to look up some information about that poem, and with the help of Google quickly found its full text along with the biography of the author. As soon as I read that the author was born in 1898 and died in 1937 in Leningrad I had a suspicion about the cause of his death, and without reading further to confirm it decided it was time to teach Benjamin a history lesson. I told Benjamin what I knew and asked him to guess the most likely cause of his death. With a few hints he got the answer I was looking for - Stalin's purges. Sure enough, further reading confirmed that my suspicion was correct - arrested on November 19, 1937, executed by firing squad on November 24, 1937 for counter-revolutionary activity and being a part of Trotsky plot, pretty much the exact same "crime" for which both of my grandfathers were sent to labor camps in 1938.

It is quite amazing how the ruling system once established is capable of keeping the people under oppression. My mother and my aunt happily recited "We thank comrade Stalin for our happy childhood" while their fathers were in prison for no other cause than being perceived  as capable enough to present a threat to Stalin's rule and their mothers were scrambling to feed the family while living under constant fear of being arrested themselves for their relationship to the "enemy of the people".

So as I sat and listen to Christmas music the life of my grandfathers was on my mind. First of all, I felt extremely thankful for having been born in 1973, having the ability to learn English, and having a talent for programming computers. Then I wondered what I would do if all of a sudden I found myself in the Soviet Union in 1937. At first I felt completely hopeless. Then a few minutes later I remembered meeting a Russian professor of computer science who taught at Weber State back in 1993. He told a story of his daring miraculous escape from the Soviet Union around that time. He found a place to hide under a train and was able to avoid the Soviet border guard checks as the train crossed the border. He eventually made it to the United States where he later joined the LDS church. A remarkable man in many ways, not the least being old enough to be able to tell this story in 1993, and have a mind capable of adapting enough to teach computer science in English.

Being under that train must have been a very intense moment. If you are discovered, you can count on being executed. But on the other hand, if you have a mind that can learn computer science and stay with its rapid development well enough to still teach it professionally 50 years later in a foreign language, under the Stalin's system you are just as doomed as the man found hiding under a train crossing the border. So he took his chances, and he was blessed for his faith.

Thinking about that made me feel thankful again. I had my set of struggles getting to the United States most of which ironically came from the US government, which was acting like it forgot why it was even allowed to exist in the first place, but I did not have to ride under a train. Now that I see that the Lord has blessed me so much, what I am going to do with it. I hope something good.

As these thoughts went through my mind, I reflected on the mercies of the Lord Jesus Christ and His great power to guide and to lift. I thought about the extent of His love for us. Sure there is a reason to rejoice. For a good portion of my life I lived in fear that some tyrant, some murderer, or some tormentor will somehow make my life difficult or perhaps terminate it. When I acquired faith in Christ, I realized that I did not need to worry about that at all. Evil men can kill the body, but they have no power over the spirit, and it is the condition of the spirit that will matter in the end. And there is only one person who has the final say in where my spirit is going to end up, and it is myself. The only thing that can ruin me in the long run is my sins. God will not judge me for the things I do not choose. What a liberating realization that was.  


Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 10.00
From Rob on Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 07:37:40 from

Nice story about your professor, I actually took some classes from that same professor at Weber State. I never heard that story though.

I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas.

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