Breaking the Wall

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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
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 80.00
Night Sleep Time: 47.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 48.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. It was a Fast and Testimony meeting. Benjamin bore his testimony. Public speaking is not one of his talents, but he knows the Gospel is true, and it drives him to overcome his natural fear of public speaking. It was quite a treat to watch it. He progressed a long way from the time he was 12 when he got up one time, his face was pale, he did not say anything, and immediately sat down.

And that is the beauty of the Gospel - when we know it is true our fears do not matter, we are able to find the power over them.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Easy 12 total. Mostly with the kids. Benjamin did 8.5, Jenny 4, Julia 2, Joseph and Jacob 2, William 0.5.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Sarah could not sleep, so figuring that since she cannot sleep anyway she may just as well run I suggested a midnight run. We ran 2 miles. It woke me up enough that I did not feel like going to sleep for some time, so I did what I would normally do later in the morning - read the scriptures. Then after some time I finally fell asleep. Then ran 10 more in the morning with the kids. Benjamin did 8.5, William 0.5, Jacob 1, Joseph 2, Jenny 3, Julia 2.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 4.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 4.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. All with the kids. Benjamin did 8.5, Jenny 4, Julia 2, Joseph and Jacob 2, William 0.5. I did a 3 mile tempo run down the canyon with Benjamin on my usual course from Nunns to the mouth of the canyon. It was a historic run. Benjamin gapped me in a tempo run at the end for the first time while I ran well. He also pulled me when I was struggling. I suppose it was time for the son to give back to the father. A special moment.

Our target was 16:00 or 5:20 pace. The plan was for me to pull Benjamin until the last half mile, then he would take the lead and push if he felt good. We opened with 82 quarter on a slow part, then once we hit the nice downhill I pushed a bit to make up the loss, and we hit the mile in 5:16. Then we did 79, 79, 81. Seeing the drop in the pace and not feeling strong enough to fix the problem, I asked Benjamin to help me. He moved forward and I sat on him for the rest of the run. Our next quarter was 82 (he took over in the middle and being caught by surprise was a bit cautious), giving us 10:37 (5:21) at 2 miles. Drafting made things easier for me, so 81 was quite comfortable, but I decided I will not do anything about it until the 5:20 guy catches us. So we did 81, 81, and now the 5:20 guy was just a second behind. So I told Benjamin to hit the gas, which he did and we ran the next to last quarter in 79. Then we pushed at the end. In the last 100 meters Benjamin shifted gears into the range that I found inaccessible. So he ended up finishing in around 15:54.3, while I got 15:55.0.

I was happy with my result, especially given the lack of sleep and the heart skipping beats during the tempo, which I think did contribute to my weakness in the last 1.25 miles. But the legs were strong from the leg press exercises, so they made up for the deficit somewhat. But I was much happier with Benjamin's.  Prior to this I had never been schooled by a 14-year-old over 3 miles in any condition, definitely not in my current condition for sure.

With the good news we got bad one, of course. Just as I was getting excited about Benjamin's abilities, I learned that it was against the rules for him to run in high school meets unless he affiliated himself with a high school team. If I went back to my old Russian habits, I would have had a few special words to say about that, in Russian for strong effect, as Russians are the masters of swearing,  but when I was baptized I made a covenant to avoid this form of expression. So I will try to express my feelings in a more mature way.

People ask me why I would not just sign Benjamin up to run for Orem High or some other eligible school. I have nothing against Orem High or other hard working and not very well compensated high school coaches, some of whom are on this blog. But I do have an issue with the whole system. I believe home schooling is a superior way of education. The key predictor in the future success of a child is parental involvement, which tends to lack when the child spends countless hours away from the parents. Yet for one reason or another home schooling tends to be marginalized in our society. You have to work extra hard to prove that you are legitimate. The UHSAA rules regarding home school athletes is case in point.

Aside from that, I worked hard to make sure that Benjamin got the best chance to develop his running talent. I have sacrificed my own training and my own professional development to make it happen. When he races well, I do not want the average result peruser  to assume that his performance is a result of our high school system. Not because I want the credit, but because I want the truth to be known. I want people to know what it takes to run fast and do it. And that, I believe, starts not with the school, but with the family.

So for now the plan is to stick to road races, USATF events, and next year he should be ready to run respectable collegiate times, and we should be able to put him in collegiate meets which tend to not have affiliation requirements.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. Benjamin did 8.5, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph and Jacob 2, William 0.5. Joseph and Jacob did a mile time trial at Orem High Track with me, Benjamin and Jenny assisting. Learning from the experience last week where Joseph was content to run ahead of Jacob the slowest possible so that he still could feel he was winning we changed the arrangement. Benjamin, Jenny, and Jacob started 20 seconds ahead of me and Joseph.  This produced much better results for Joseph, and still another PR for Jacob.

Splits: Joseph: 1:39, 1:40, 1:40, 1:36 for the last lap total time 6:38.1 - new PR by 14 seconds, the balance goes to the extra 9.34 meters.

Jacob: 1:45, 1:47, 1:45, 1:43 - 7:02 - new PR by 2 seconds, the balance goes to the extra 9.34 meters as well.

Joseph caught Jacob on the last lap and ended up about 4 seconds ahead. Jenny joined Joseph once he caught up and ended up with 6:58 for her mile.

Jacob now holds the family 6 and under record. Joseph technically does not yet hold 8 and under family record, but he is going to get it. Benjamin ran 6:32 shortly before turning 9, and Joseph has 9 months before that happens. Benjamin barely broke 7:00 at Joseph's current age.

I realized that Jacob has another unique family record. Fastest time in the mile while still having all of the baby teeth in place. Benjamin had the misfortune of losing his first baby tooth at the age of 5, so we are looking at around 9:00 - 8:20 level performance. We have not yet figured out exactly when his first baby tooth fell out. Joseph's fell out at the age of early 7 when his mile PR was only 7:53. But Jacob has already run 7:02, and if he can hold on to his baby teeth for another week or so and the weather cooperates, he has a good shot of becoming a sub-7:00 miler with all of his baby teeth still in place!

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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A.M. Easy run - 12 miles. Most with the kids, but I got 5 on my own at 7:00 pace. Benjamin and Julia were at grandma and grandpa's house. Benjamin ran 8, Julia did 3. Jenny did 4, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. I did a short pickup uphill by the house for 0.51 in 2:49.5, so about 5:30 pace.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.00
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A.M. Today was my last run as a young man. I am turning 40 tomorrow and will become a master. Started the run late today due to the ward cleanup that did not finish until after 10:30 AM. But it was actually good because it was raining earlier, but then it stopped. So I did 3 with Joseph and Jenny, then 1 with Jacob, 2 with Sarah, and 0.5 with William. Benjamin did 8 and Julia did 2 at grandparent's house. After I was done with the slow portion of the run I decided to do something that I have not felt I was ready for in a long time but it seemed to just be falling into my plate given a relatively slow pace in the first 6.5 and the need to finish the run in some reasonable time. Well, the pace was not that slow - Jenny and Joseph averaged under 8:20 on a hilly course , Jacob ran 8:00 pace on the same hilly course, Sarah averaged sub-10:00 and so did William. But it still justified an extra effort in the remaining 13.5 of the long run. So I decided to run 6.75 out from the house into the Provo Canyon, and then back. This not a happy course for a tempo run for sure, and the distance was long. So I said fight for sub-6:00 average, but realize it might not happen and do not get depressed if so.

Fortunately, I somehow managed to dip under 6:00 average finishing the run in 1:20:58. My split for my 3 mile Provo Canyon course going up was 18:02. At the turnaround my time was 40;53. With that I was getting quite encouraged about gapping the 6:00 guy by a minute on the way back, but I forgot about two things. One, it was 1 pm already, and the wind had turned around becoming an odd cross wind which was friendlier when you ran up than  when you ran down. Two, running 6:00 pace up the canyon took some juice out of me. So coming back I was running sub-6:00, but only marginally. The 3 mile stretch down was only 17:41. Nevertheless, it was enough to build enough gap before the final half mile uphill that I did not lose it all, and ended up 2 seconds ahead of my virtual nemesis.

I am quite encouraged by this run. Whenever I can hold sub-6:00 for 13 or longer at the end of a 20 miler even on a flat course with no wind, that is a big positive, but it is particularly positive when there is no net elevation drop, there is a lot of climbing, and we add head wind into the picture. I attribute the success to my recent discovery of vertical leg press which I have been doing faithfully 3 times a week.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 20.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 80.00
Night Sleep Time: 47.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 48.00
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