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
Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 74.40
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-05-15 07:45:49
Workout Totals: Distance10.520Time1:21:31.20Pace7:44.94
Usual day, usual runs.
Leg 1:Distance10.000Time1:16:31.60Pace7:39.16
With Benjamin.
Leg 2:Distance0.520Time4:59.60Pace9:36.15
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 10.52
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-05-16 08:31:41
Workout Totals: Distance11.848Time1:36:24.00Pace8:08.18
We did shortened easy runs in the morning and ran in the track meet in the evening.

In the morning Benjamin and I did 0.5 pickup where I told him to just put in a half marathon effort without looking at the watch. This gave us 2:36 for 0.5 down the canyon. Overall we did 8 miles in the morning.

In the evening, Benjamin, myself, Joseph, and Jacob ran 3200, Jenny, Julia, William, and Stephen ran 800.



Jenny 2:52.68 (splits 85, 87) - new PR
Julia 2:59.73 (splits 87, 92) - official track PR
William 3:03.75 (splits 89, 94) - not sure why the second lap was so weak
Stephen 3:19.73 (new PR, splits 1:37, 1:42)


Benjamin 9:53.79 (4:58/4:55)
Myself 11:10.73 (5:21/5:49)
Joseph 11:51.10 (5:58/5:53)
Jacob 12:02.03 (5:59/6:03)

Benjamin's performance showed me that we are on the right track. The correct way to train him is to make sure he gets to run his base distance not stop, and the workout should be a long tempo right now. Something to remember after his mission, although his body will change over two years and we might need to do some adjustments.

As far as I am concerned, I felt OK through the first 4 laps (78,78,82,82), then manageable in the 5 lap (83), and then I felt like I was terribly out of oxygen in the last 3 laps (89,90,87). Is that from travelling to sea level and not re-acclimating? Sure felt like very similar to how I felt for the first month when I came to Utah for the first time.

It is interesting that Joseph, Jacob, and Benjamin did not have such problems. Maybe the difference is that unlike me they grew up at altitude.

In any case, this experience told me I need to increase my iron and liquid intake, throw in some extra pickups to get more out of my base runs, and try to sneak in some additional mileage.
Leg 1:Distance6.500Time49:58.60Pace7:41.32
With Benjamin with a pickup in the middle.
Split 1:Distance3.720Time29:16.30Pace7:52.12
Split 2:Distance0.500Time2:36.40Pace5:12.80
Split 3:Distance2.280Time18:05.90Pace7:56.27
Leg 2:Distance1.000Time8:15.40Pace8:15.40
With William.
Leg 3:Distance0.500Time3:41.80Pace7:23.60
Leg 4:Distance1.000Time8:13.90Pace8:13.90
Track meet warm-up.
Leg 5:Distance1.988Time12:02.00Pace6:03.18
3200 - everybody's splits.
Split 1:Distance1.988Time11:10.40Pace5:37.22
My time.
Split 2:Distance0.000Time0:40.40Pace0:00.00
Split 3:Distance0.000Time0:11.20Pace0:00.00
Leg 6:Distance0.340Time2:40.30Pace7:51.47
To the car and back.
Leg 7:Distance0.000Time3:19.30Pace0:00.00
William and Stephen - 800.
Split 1:Distance0.000Time3:03.40Pace0:00.00
Split 2:Distance0.000Time0:15.90Pace0:00.00
Leg 8:Distance0.000Time2:59.10Pace0:00.00
Jenny and Julia 800.
Split 1:Distance0.000Time2:52.50Pace0:00.00
Split 2:Distance0.000Time0:06.60Pace0:00.00
Leg 9:Distance0.520Time5:13.60Pace10:03.08
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 11.85
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-05-17 09:09:51
Workout Totals: Distance13.960Time1:51:59.00Pace8:01.30
Total of almost 14 for me today. 10 in the morning, 3.4 in the afternoon with William to get the car from the car shop, and 0.52 late in the evening with Matthew. Usual distances for the kids.
Leg 1:Distance5.000Time38:16.90Pace7:39.38
I think this was with Benjamin.
Leg 2:Distance2.040Time17:30.70Pace8:35.05
With Stephen - do not remember if Benjamin ran this one with me.
Leg 3:Distance3.000Time22:01.70Pace7:20.57
Do not remember if I ran this alone or with Benjamin - I think I ran this alone, and he went with Joseph and Jacob.
Leg 4:Distance3.400Time29:21.10Pace8:37.97
With William.
Leg 5:Distance0.520Time4:48.60Pace9:15.00
With Matthew.

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 13.96
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-05-18 08:02:29
Workout Totals: Distance11.200Time1:28:26.80Pace7:53.82
Back in 2003-2004 I served some jail time... Well not really. I was called to serve as a branch clerk in the Slate Canyon Juvenile Detention Center in our church. This gave me a chance to spend some time with the youth in detention and learn some things I would not have learned otherwise. I tried to get the youth to run - not from the facility, but on the premises, and had a moderate measure of success. One of the youth there by the name of Randy enjoyed running quite a bit and was good at it.

After the media-covered Benjamin's Crocs appearance at the Mini Indy 500 Randy remembered me and reached out. He has been running for the last 4 years and has finished a marathon (Utah Valley last year) in 3:30 with the opening split of 1:28 for the first half followed by some GI issues afterwards. I invited him to join us for a run. He ran 8 miles with me and Benjamin today with Jacob joining us for the first 5. We did an evaluation 1.5 tempo down the canyon. We pulled him at 6:00 pace - he held it quite well until 1 mile, then started faltering a bit, but then kicked and ended up with 8:56.

Otherwise we had usual runs with usual distances.
Leg 1:Distance1.300Time11:00.30Pace8:27.92
With Jacob, Benjamin, and Randy.
Leg 2:Distance1.500Time8:56.10Pace5:57.40
Tempo with Jacob, Benjamin, and Randy.
Leg 3:Distance1.760Time14:50.90Pace8:26.19
To the house with the same crew.
Leg 4:Distance3.600Time29:42.90Pace8:15.25
Jacob did the first 0.5 with us, the rest just with Benjamin and Randy back to the car.
Leg 5:Distance2.000Time15:37.10Pace7:48.55
With Benjamin.
Leg 6:Distance1.040Time8:19.50Pace8:00.29
First lap (0.52) with Matthew, second alone - trying to sneak in a mini aerobic stimulus - I used to call those things "always on the run" miles.
Split 1:Distance0.520Time4:44.20Pace9:06.54
Split 2:Distance0.520Time3:35.30Pace6:54.04

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 11.20
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-05-19 08:27:02
Workout Totals: Distance14.260Time1:50:58.10Pace7:46.91
Benjamin did 6 today - mini-taper for Ogden. Otherwise usual distances for everybody.
Leg 1:Distance2.040Time17:07.70Pace8:23.77
With Stephen.
Leg 2:Distance3.000Time24:01.90Pace8:00.63
I think this might have been with William.
Leg 3:Distance3.000Time23:56.20Pace7:58.73
Do not remember who this was with.
Leg 4:Distance5.000Time35:53.50Pace7:10.70
Leg 5:Distance1.220Time9:58.80Pace8:10.82
At the park - first 0.52 with Matthew, the rest alone.
Split 1:Distance0.520Time4:42.20Pace9:02.69
Split 2:Distance0.700Time5:16.60Pace7:32.29

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 14.26
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2017-05-20 06:23:25
Workout Totals: Distance12.610Time1:31:00.30Pace7:13.01
Today was a crazy day. Benjamin raced the Ogden Half. Official results 1:10:47, 2nd overall, but there is a story to go with it. The Standard Examineer should have told it (I did write them an e-mail), but since they did not I will tell it right here.

Even though Benjamin gained some publicity after Mini Indy 500, the result really was not that great. You could argue the wind cost him a minute, or more generously a minute and a half, but even with that we get around 1:10:30 which is still a good minute off his record-eligible course PR. The blow up in the last 4 miles was not very encouraging. So something was clearing wrong, but what was it, and how do we fix it? My working theory was that he needed a better aerobic stimulus, which we tried. But he was leaving on a mission and it would be nice to have another data point before he left. Unfortunately the best race in terms of competition left before his departure was the Ogden Half.

Ogden has a well-established reputation for not caring too much about how fast the winner runs. The slogan is - everyone is a winner as long as he pays $100+ entry fee :-) Elites cannot get a comp, prize money is only in the full, the half prize - ironically - this year was $150 towards a pair of shoes at Striders for the top three.

But there was literally nothing else in the state and we were not going to go out of state given that his flight to the Madrid MTC was on Monday and he still needed to finish packing.

We received the usual "Everyone is a winner" response from the race directors, so I eventually paid the odious fee. With Riley's help we found a place to stay in Huntsville. Incidentally Riley's friend Toby Johnhson was Benjamin's mission president's companion when they were both young missionaries around 20 years ago.

I warmed up with Benjamin, then jogged to the mile marker 1 to watch. With the first mile in 5:50 fast time was out of the question, but it was out of the question to begin with. There was only one runner that could have helped with the fast time - Jason Holt, and that is usually not enough - you need a pack.

After the first mile Benjamin sped up hitting 5:40 on the uphill, then something in the 5:25 range for the next 3. Around 5 he separated himself from Jason and started running solid sub-5:20 pace down the canyon. Everything went well up to 9 miles - 6 in 32:30, 9 in 48:17. Then something that we should have expected but unfortunately did not took place - the race got off from the highway to the trail, and the only escort available to the lead runners was a police car which can only drive on the road.

Benjamin has many talents but course navigation is not one of them. So he took a wrong turn twice losing all of his lead. He regained contact with Jason and stayed with him until half mile to go with 1:04:50 split at 12. Around 1:08 into the race Benjamin made a move and dropped Jason again. Coming into the finish chute he had about 5 seconds.

Then another accident occurred. There were two finish chutes. Of course Benjamin chose the wrong one. The race directors accommodated and stretched out the tape for him in the wrong chute. Then somebody yelled that Benjamin was in the wrong chute. He panicked and decided to correct the error by jumping over the dividing barrier. This did not go well - he is not a hurdler - especially after 13 miles of hard running. He sprained his ankle and dropped his glasses. While he was recovering from all of this Jason passed him in the correct chute and won the race by 3 seconds.

We had a discussion afterwards about being more confident in yourself and not listening to stray advice with some references to 1 Nephi 8:28: "And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost."

He took all of this in good spirits, his ankle recovered enough after a blessing and some treatment to run 10 miles Monday morning and make the flight to Madrid, and his glasses did not break. What I was happy about is that he closed strong. Jason ran the last 1.109 at 5:20 pace, Benjamin during the move had to have been quite a bit faster - probably 5:10 at least. He handled getting lost very well - did not allow the discouragement to overtake him.

I discussed the matter with the race director afterwards. She was adamant about not admitting that they did anything wrong telling me that they had well marked signs and nothing like this has ever happened before. I did not question what she said then, but later discovered that Scott Keate got lost on the course a few years ago when he won the race adding a good quarter.

Training-wise I did some jogging during the race, and then when we got home did some more distance in the park by our house with 3 1.04 tempo pickups. Usual distances for the kids.
Leg 1:Distance3.250Time27:36.40Pace8:29.66
Jogging around while Benjamin ran the race.
Split 1:Distance1.700Time12:54.50Pace7:35.59
Split 2:Distance0.000Time2:41.00Pace0:00.00
Split 3:Distance1.550Time12:00.90Pace7:45.10
Leg 2:Distance9.360Time1:03:23.90Pace6:46.40
In the park with 3x1.04 mile pickups.
Split 1:Distance0.520Time4:48.50Pace9:14.81
With Matthew.
Split 2:Distance1.040Time7:23.80Pace7:06.73
Split 3:Distance1.040Time6:05.40Pace5:51.35
Split 4:Distance1.560Time10:48.50Pace6:55.71
Split 5:Distance1.040Time6:01.10Pace5:47.21
Split 6:Distance1.040Time7:29.10Pace7:11.83
Split 7:Distance1.040Time5:59.50Pace5:45.67
Split 8:Distance2.080Time14:48.00Pace7:06.92

Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 12.61
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Camouflage Crocs 2 Miles: 74.40
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
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