Breaking the Wall

Orem 6th Ward Fun Run

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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: 67.30Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 4.00
Night Sleep Time: 51.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 53.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. We had a dual missionary home coming. One just got back from Romania, the other from Minnesota. The one that returned from Minnesota was actually originally from Ghana. He came to study at BYU, joined the Church, then decided to go on a mission. But he did not have a home ward, so our ward "adopted" him. His situation was quite similar to mine in some way. I got "adopted" by a ward in West Valley half-way through my mission, and my "home coming" was in that ward.     

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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A.M. Ran 14 with Chad. Some of it was with the kids. Benjamin did 8, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 1, William 1.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 14.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 13.6. Did a workout with Benjamin and Dave Taylor. The plan was the same 3 mile tempo with the splits of 5:30 - 5:23 - 5:15. We did the usual warm-up of 5.3 miles, which perhaps was too long for Benjamin, but I figured it would be good for him since he'll be running a half marathon.

Benjamin and I ran in front for the first two miles, while Dave sat back. Our first quarter was too slow - 86, but that was OK for this run since its purpose is to turn up the heat gradually. Then we did 80, 83, and 80 - a bit unsteady, my fault, arriving at the mile in 5:29. Then 82, 81, 81, 80 - 5:24 for the next mile, and 10:53 at 2 miles. Benjamin groaned in a whiny manner at around 1.75. I know very well what that groan means, and I told him to man up. But apparently he was caught by surprise by the gradual pace increase, and it mentally fried him like the proverbial frog frequently mentioned in church lessons on temptation - if you turn up the heat quickly the frog jumps, but if you turn it up slowly it does not know when to jump. So when Dave turned up the heat even more after 2 miles, that delivered the final punch - Benjamin completely lost confidence and stopped. I followed Dave, but he was too fast for me - my quarter was 77, his was more like 75-76. However, over the next quarter he slowed down and I was holding even, and then I started to gradually creep up on him, but was not closing much. But in the last quarter he was out of juice, so I was able to catch him and pass him with 200 to go. My total time was 16:04, last mile in 5:11, he got 16:05, last mile in 5:12.

Benjamin stood for about 20-30 seconds, regained his senses, and started running again. He actually still managed 16:56 even with that mental breakdown stop. Such mental breakdowns do happen at an age that is much older than 14, and in races at a very high level. Gordon Pirie got broken like this in the epic duel against Vladimir Kutz in the 10,000 meter race in the 1956 Olympics. This is the very well known part. The less known part is that the Soviet officials asked Kutz after the race what he would have done had Pirie remained with him in the final surge. His answer was as honest as it gets, and is quite shocking given the circumstance - "I would have dropped out." Kutz was running at his physical and psychological limit as well.

I enjoy the moments when my children run well, but the moments when they experience trouble are in some way particularly special. I appreciate the chance to be with them to teach them resilience when things do not go well. Long-term those moments are more important for their development than when everything goes as planned. Because in life things often do not go as planned, and you need to deal with unexpected problems. So Benjamin and I had a good talk. He wanted to know why he broke down like this. I explained to him that there were several factors. Physically there was some fatigue from the 1500 meter race on Saturday. There was still perhaps some fatigue from the 10 mile run a week ago. On top of that, there was a 5.3 mile warm-up which was about 2/3 of his usual daily mileage. But there was also a psychological aspect. He started the run expecting 5:30 pace to be easy. After running 5 miles uphill at a slow pace it was not. As he thought about having to speed up from that he began to panic. As the fatigue increased and the pace increased he panicked even more. On top of that Dave had more juice that he was expecting. Finally it all came together, and broke him mentally. I explained to him that things like that have happened to Ryan Hall, and are actually quite common among world-class athletes. We developed a plan to move to a new level of psychological strength where he would have resilience against this turn of events. Part of the plan is to repeat the workout next Tuesday.

With Dave everything was perfect except that he started his kick one quarter too soon, and also perhaps too hard. I would have thought that two slower, but still quite fast miles would even out his adrenal throttle control, but he still managed to repeat the microcosm of his usual half-marathon pacing in the last mile of the tempo. Next time we will repeat this with kick starting with 0.75 to go.

When we got back I did 1 with William, and 2 with Joseph and Jacob. Jenny and Julia ran 2 on their own.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 13.60
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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A.M. Total of 12. All with the kids. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 1, William 1. Julia set an unexpected PR on our 3 mile course. She started out a bit quicker than normal hitting the first half in 12:09. When she turned around I challenged her to break 24:00, and maybe even her record of 23:42. She outdid my expectations and ran 11:03 for the second half, so her time was 23:12. it has been a while since she wanted to push in a longer run, so this came as a surprise to me. She has struggled with low iron over the last couple of years which affected her endurance and competitive drive. As I mentioned in my post on Tuesday, I am happy when my children succeed, but I am also thankful that I can be there to help them when they struggle, and I am thankful there are struggles and problems to solve because that is when the real growth comes - for them and for me.

Last night I finished Nikholay Khokhlov's book about his life as a KGB agent, and subsequent defection. There were some valuable lessons in that book. This would be the next book that I will read with Benjamin in Russian. We have been reading "The Story of a Real Man" about a Russian pilot in the Second World War that gets shot down behind the enemy lines, shatters his feet, manages to survive for two weeks crawling through a forest during early spring, then is discovered by Russian villagers that are hiding from the Germans in that forest, eventually recovers, and flies again in combat. The story is based on actual events - the pilot survived the war, actually managed to live past 80 years old and died in 2001. We are progressing through it at snails pace, only a few paragraphs a day, but it has been a great learning experience for Benjamin - his Russian has been improving. He learned some things that I have always taken for granted - for example, that there is a verb in Russian that means "to carry out insurgent operations against occupying enemy force" with all kinds of freely used derivatives that are still found in day-to-day speech even though the war ended almost 70 years ago.

Later we drove to Goblin Valley. Kids had a lot of fun playing on the dirt "goblins". Matthew liked the passing lane on highway 6 because when we got there I would speed up to pass whatever was in front of us. Hitting the bumps in the road at a higher speed helped rock Matthew to sleep. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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A.M. Total of 12. All with the kids. Benjamin did 8, Jenny and Julia 3.5, Joseph and Jacob 2, William did 1 mile in 8:47 holding Benjamin's hand, but still even with a held hand we've never had a 4 year old go under 9:00. Pushed Matthew and Stephen in the stroller for 3 miles.

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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A.M. 12 total. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 3, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 1, William 1. Benjamin and I did a pickup for 0.5 on the 2 mile race course to get a sense of the pace in 2:35.8. This was a slight downhill.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Race: Orem 6th Ward Fun Run (2 Miles) 00:10:55, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Our family ran in the Orem 6th Ward Fun Run today. The course was 2 miles. I was in charge of measuring the course, so I can vouch for its accuracy. It was also marked every quarter mile. The course had certain restrictions - it needed to start and finish at a particular location, and we needed to keep away from major traffic, so with those limitations I could not make it fast - it had some serious hills with grades reaching 6% for stretches 100 meters and longer, and one nasty bump with a 9% grade fortunately only 30 meters long, but quite a rhythm breaker.

We had a family goal to average under 15:00 minutes among me, Sarah, Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, and Jacob. So a 40 year old father, 37 year old mother of eight with a 5 month old baby, a 14 year old boy, 12 year old girl, 10 year old girl, 8 year old boy, and a 6 year old boy trying to average 7:30 per mile pace over 2 miles. For each individual category you can find a runner that can go much faster than the target pace, but the challenge is to have them be in the same immediate family. There are some challenges - by the time all the children have been born and grown enough to run 2 miles at a good pace, can you preserve the father and the mother sufficiently that they will not kill the average? That is what made the challenge fun.

Benjamin and I worked together trading quarters. There was another 14 year old boy named Logan in our ward that followed us, but he made it to about 600 meters. After that we were alone. Our splits were 77 (down), 81 (down), 76 (down with the bump), 80 (down, but feeling that 76 with the bump now) - this brought us to the mile in 5:14. Then after 180, 85 (up, recovering from the broken rhythm of the 180), 88 (this one had 100 meters of 3% grade and 200 of 6% climb), then 84 on a slight up. At this point I was struggling, while Benjamin maintained the pressure. With a quarter to go he dropped me and ran the last quarter on a slight uphill in 78 finishing in 10:49, last mile in 5:35. I had no kick and could only manage another 84 finishing second in 10:55. Logan was third in around 12:55 or so.

Then we ran back to finish with the younger children. Joseph finished 4th overall in 14:33. Jenny was the first woman and 5th overall in 14:45. Then Jacob, 6th overall, 14:51, and Julia 7th overall and the second woman in 14:55.

Then we ran back and found Sarah. She ran with her friend Shelly. Shelly kicked and finished in 17:30. Sarah got 17:35. So this gave us the average of 14:03 - almost a minute faster than our goal!

Then we realized that our 4-year-old William was gone. He was not supposed to start the race, but he saw everybody run, so he just started running. So Benjamin, Jenny, and I went on the course to find him. We did. He was picked up by Jenny's friend Anna, and was walking/running with her and stopping for a drink or to mess around whenever he felt like. We joined them. He ended up covering two miles in 33 minutes. 

Then Benjamin and I ran a cool down, and then I added some more miles throwing in a pickup for 0.5 at 5:55 pace just to test the level of fatigue and made it 15.7 total. 

So Benjamin ended up with a total of 8, Jenny 3, Julia 2.5, Jacob 2.5, Joseph 2.5, and William who knows, but at least 1.5 of running I would guess. 

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 15.70Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 1.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 67.30Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 4.00
Night Sleep Time: 51.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 53.00
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