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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 92.60Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 6.00
Night Sleep Time: 51.50Nap Time: 3.00Total Sleep Time: 54.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. The talks and lessons naturally focused around Mother's Day. Afterwards the children put on a mother's day celebration for Sarah. They sent me and her on a date of sorts - they set up a table outside and made us lunch for two.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. Benjamin did 2.5 (easy before AP Physics), William 0.5, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph and Jacob 2. I did a pickup for 2.25 in 13:04- 5:48 pace - over the rollers to catch up to Sarah, then ran with her. She did a total of 3. With Benjamin getting a bunch of AP tests at once instead of one every two months or so I remembered a Russian joke back from the Soviet days:

A man dies. He has lived a sinful life and is condemned to hell. However he is offered a choice - the socialist hell or the capitalist hell. He inquires of the difference and is told that in both hells he will have 30 nails pounded into his back every month. The difference is that in the capitalist hell he gets one every day, while in the socialist hell he gets all 30 at the end of the month.

After some thinking I realized also that Benjamin was subjected to a form of cruel and unusual punishment on Saturday having to run 3000 alone on the track in Park City at 6770 feet at 1:30 pm with the sun shining bright and clear above him and the air temperature of 75F - not a lot after 6 PM when sunlight is indirect, but earlier in the day it is not pleasant . Well, I knew that, but I had not quite thought it through and had not felt the depth of it. But it was good, because it pushed him to the limit psychologically, and revealed some things about his aerobic conditioning that would not have been so apparent otherwise. And he did run 10:10 and now has a respectable and official 3000 meter time.

P.M. Benjamin ran 1 back from the AP test. Later in the eventing he and I went for an easy 4.5. Both of us were having stomach problems, but we each had a different mode of issue. He was throwing up small amounts of liquid, while I had diarrhea. He felt worse than I did as my emissions were more effective. We remembered Bob Kempainen in the 96 Olympic Trials. It is rather symbolic that the KemPAINen has PAIN in it. My kids know this story (throwing up while running 4:55 pace at the end of a marathon), as well as the one about Lasse Viren falling but still winning the Olympic 10,000 in 1972 with a world record, as well as they know the one about the wolf and the three little pigs, and others of the kind - and you can guess why.  Sometimes they struggle when they run, and when they are younger, they complain. When they are older, they just recall those stories and draw strength from them.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 16.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 13.6. Ran with Dave Taylor. We did the 3 mile tempo from Nunn's Park to the mouth of the canyon. The purpose was to evaluate what's up with Dave's fast starts. So I told him to just start like he would in a half-marathon, and then we'll see what happens. The deal was that if he was going sub-5:00 I would slow him down, but otherwise we'll just let the pace he chose stand. In the first 100 meters the pace was sub-5:00, which resulted in a warning, and a slightly slower pace afterwards. We got to the first mile in 5:09. I tucked behind him hanging on for dear life and wondering what would happen if he kept it all the way. On one hand the prospect of breaking 15:30 sounded exciting. On the other hand, the pain of was was not so. I felt that if I could just find the right spot behind him that minimized air resistance I could perhaps run around 15:30 today, but I would need that magic spot.

At the start of the second mile the pace eased to 5:20, and finally became manageable. After 2000 it dropped off to 5:28, but I was in no hurry to step up and help with the pace because I wanted to rest from that 5:09. Our split at 1.5 was 7:51. That quarter in 82 gave me enough of a break, though, that I felt ready to step up and pull Dave for the rest of the tempo at 5:20 if needed. I made an effort to shift gears and get back to 5:20, but I saw that Dave was dropping back, so I corrected to around 5:30-5:35, which I did not mind too much. We hit 2 miles in 10:37 (5:28), then 13:23 at 2.5, and 16:09.9 at the finish with the last mile in 5:32.

Dave and I had opposite experiences in this run. He felt the first mile was easy and then it got progressively harder. I felt that the first mile was hard, and then it got progressively easier. My partial explanation of that is that he has been running only 40 miles a week so his aerobic conditioning is lacking. So he runs the right pace from the gun, but he just cannot hold it. We will work on fixing that, though. Our next workout will be even 5:20 pace for all three miles. In between, I recommended that Dave should run 8 miles a day at an easy pace.

We ran the cool-down to our house, and then I ran with some of the kids. Jacob did 1, Joseph 3, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Benjamin 8, William 1.

After I ate breakfast and got the kids going on their math practice, my body asked for a nap, and I obliged. Felt much better after a nap.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 13.60
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12.5. Did a workout with Benjamin. The purpose was to evaluate his aerobic conditioning, and to develop it. We did 10 miles from the house into the canyon, and then back alternating fast and slow miles. The target for fast was around 6:00, for slow no slower than 8:00. We started with a slow mile. Our fast mile splits were - 5:59 (up a small grade into headwind), 5:53 (up, less headwind), 5:50 (down), 5:54 (down), 5:50 (up to the house). The slowest recovery mile was 7:45. Total time for 10 was 1:08:13. This workout is difficult psychologically because you think you are resting, but in truth you are not quite resting. The first fast two miles took a lot of out of Benjamin and strained me as well because of the headwind and the uphill. However, I recovered faster - that is one difference between us. He can drop me in a 3 mile tempo, but because of the difference in aerobic development I recover almost instantaneously after a near maximum effort that, as my mother likes to say, makes me "see Paris", while Benjamin is not quite there yet, and needs more recovery even from a very much sub-maximal effort.

So when we finished the second mile repeat he was hurting both physically and emotionally - uphill running into a headwind beats you up in both ways. On the way back he recovered some as we dialed down the effort, and was able to give it a good push in the last uphill mile making me work.

With the better understanding of Benjamin's recovery process we decided it would be better for Benjamin to do a 10 miler at 6:00 pace on my regular 20 miler course on Saturday instead of the Uneventful Provo River Half.

Then I ran 2 with Joseph and Jacob, while Jenny and Julia ran 3. Then I ran 0.5 with William.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12 miles. Took Jenny to the track and we did 800 meter time trial. The goal was to break 3:00 and retake the non-Benjamin non-Daddy family record in the distance which was currently held by Joseph (3:00.4). We started out a little fast - Jenny was a bit edgy, and I had to run faster to take the position in front of her. This resulted in the first 100 in 19 seconds. I realized my mistake and gently took the foot off the gas, but the damage had already been done. To make things more interesting, there were two ladies with a small dog walking around the track. Jenny is a big girl (5'5'' at 12 years old) but has a strong dislike of little dogs. So she swerved into lane 4 or 5 to avoid the dog. With all the excitement we got to the 200 in 41. At this point I just hoped that she would survive, and also that she would not get tripped up by the little dog on the second lap. Fortunately, things worked out and she was able to get her goal.

We hit 400 in 87(46), and got to 600 in  2:13(46). At this point I emphasized the urgency of a strong kick. Jenny gave a good push. We caught up to the dog. I warned Jenny not to swerve this time. The dog went after Jenny. Jenny kicked harder to outrun the dog and finished in 2:57.1 with the last 200 in 44 and the last 400 in 90. This is a PR by 11 seconds. Now she needs to do something like that in an official meet. She needs to run 3:05 to qualify for the meet in Eugine.

Benjamin did 8, Jenny ran a total of 3, Julia did 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 1, William 1.

P.M. We got a new stroller from Amazon. It is a Schwin double-stroller. We paid $215 for it. It is very nice - has suspension, the front wheel swivels, and it is very light. Clearly the strollers have made some improvements in the last 10 years or so. So tonight I tried it out with Matthew in it. Of course, after running the first 600 meters I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom really bad - when I start doing doubles I run into this problem - just cannot clear out my stomach properly before the run. Possibly a side effect of my spinal problem. This resulted in a route change and I barely made it to the house. Total of 3 miles.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 15.00Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 3.00
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, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph and Jacob 2, William 1. I enjoyed watching Joseph and Jacob take it easy as they coasted through the run at slightly faster than 9:00 pace, and then with about 500 to go they decided to get down to business and sped up to around 7:00 and just blasted their way up the hill at the end. So they ended up running 17:19 (Joseph), and 17:22 (Jacob). Jenny ran 4 miles in 32:39 which is her fastest training run time on that course. I am happy to see that 8:00 pace is becoming more natural for her again after her growth spurt. During Julia's run I pushed Stephen and Matthew in the stroller.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 3.00
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. Total of 23 miles in 2:37:39 which is 6:51 average which is on pace for 2:59:43 marathon. Today was a rather unusual run. First, Benjamin and I drove to the park at the start of the Provo City Half Marathon in South Fork, left the car there and ran about 0.5 warm up to the start of my 10 mile tempo course. Then we ran the 10 mile tempo to the house. The purpose of this workout was to help Benjamin remove the fear of running 5:50-6:00 pace for a long time in preparation for the Utah Valley Half. We also wanted to test his capabilities in running long. I was not sure exactly where he stood over such long distances and wanted to see if it would even be wise right now for him to race the half.

Benjamin did better than I expected. He groaned a few times in the early miles as he pondered the reality of running this fast for this long. Then around mile 3 he began to feel more confident and to lose the fear. The pace was quite steady - I tried to hit all quarters in 88. If I saw 89 I sped up, if I saw 87 I took my foot off the gas. Benjamin was keeping the pace up until we hit 9.5. Then the combination of the fatigue from the actual running and the fear of the hills over the last 0.5 leading back to the house ate him alive and he slowed down to 93 going uphill. In the last quarter he rebooted and sped up to 90. We finished in 58:34, 5:51 average. So hopefully he can run around 1:16-1:17 in the Utah Valley Half - we'll see.

Then I ran 3 with Joseph in 26:22. Jenny and Julia did 3, William 1, Jacob 1. I drank some EmergenC mixed with dextrose for energy and headed back to the car. My original plan was to just go a little faster than 8:00, but I felt good and I wanted to be done with the run sooner, so I averaged around 7:10 up the Provo Canyon, and at times was hitting 6:40. I was happy that I felt healthy in the last mile, the heart was working well. That is a good sign for the marathon.

Come to think of it, it is quite remarkable how much easier it is to run a marathon when you slow down even if the pace is ridiculously uneven. On this type of course - no net elevation drop, highest point at 5500 feet, lowest point at 4700 feet or so, I would be quite lucky to break 2:40.  Yet slow me down by 20 minutes, and even though some of that was at 5:51 pace and some at Joseph's pace (8:50) I am quite happy - this is now a normal training run.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 23.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 92.60Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 6.00
Night Sleep Time: 51.50Nap Time: 3.00Total Sleep Time: 54.50
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