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: 232.17 Year: 3533.69
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: 734.48
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 71.00Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 15.00
Night Sleep Time: 48.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 49.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. We had a Fast and Testimony meeting. William decided to bear his testimony, and he actually managed to do it on his own, sort of. He started on his own, then lost track of his thoughts, and Sarah helped him finish it.

In the afternoon I took an hour nap. Then I used Street View to familiarize myself with Eugene. Then we had the missionaries over for dinner. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. First 5 with the stroller and Matthew in it. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 4, Julia 2, Jacob 2, Joseph 3. The air felt warm and humid. I started the run at 147.0 lb and finished at 142.0 lb.  I should start a new weight loss program - lose 5 pounds in one run!

Benjamin got his AP scores today. 5 on Calculus BC, 4 on Computer Science, 4 on Chemistry, and 4 on Physics C: Mechanics. This gives him credit for Math 112, Math 113, Computer Science 142, Chemistry 105, and Physics 121 at BYU. So we are going to apply for the winter semester.

I was particularly happy with his score in Chemistry. For me this is a vindication of our home schooling approach. The big question is - can a child student being only 14 years old exceed the parent teacher? He did not have to exceed my knowledge to get good scores in other subjects. But in Chemistry he did and he succeeded. This proves to me that you can successfully home school in subjects you do not have the expert knowledge of. The key is teaching the child how to learn - instead of teaching the facts you need to teach initiative, confidence, proactive problem solving, and other good qualities in that department. If the learner quality X has been developed, he will learn the necessary facts and techniques on his own.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 5.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. Did a workout with the kids. First Benjamin and I ran 2000. Logan joined us for the last 1200. The purpose was to practice the pace for the Eugene track meet this Saturday. I paced Benjamin through the first two laps in 76 and 77. Then he took over and settled into 80s. I was happy that he did not settle into something slower. Then in the last 100 he and Logan kicked, but I could not respond. So Benjamin got 6:31.6, I got 6:33.1. Based on that I predicted 9:40-9:45 in Oregon if he runs alone, 9:30-9:35 if he has a pack to run with.

Then we did what was supposed to be 800 for Andrew, and 500 for Joseph and Jacob. It ended up being 800 for Joseph because he did not realize he was supposed to stop at the 800. So Andrew ran 800 in 2:58.1 even splitting, Joseph in 3:05.8 with the first lap in 89, Jacob did 500 in 2:00. 

Pushed Mathew in the stroller for 5 miles.

P.M. 3 miles. 

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 15.00Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 5.00
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. Took Jenny to the track. We did 300 in 59.1. Benjamin, Logan and Andrew joined us. Andrew fell back a little not realizing he was going only 300. Total of 12 miles. Benjamin did 5, Jenny 3, Julia 2,  Jacob 2, William 0.5. I did a pickup down the canyon for 1300 meters in 4:14.

P.M. 2 miles with Joseph. 

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 14.00
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. 12 miles total. Benjamin did 5, Jenny 3, Julia 2, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. I did a pickup for 1300 meters down the canyon in 4:13.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 5.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Drove to Eugene from Orem. Went through Winnemucca, NV. Took us 14.5 hours with all the stops. Got in some running on the road, and the rest once we got to Eugene. Total of 8 miles. Benjamin did 3, Jenny and Julia 1, Joseph 1, Jacob 1, William 0.3. Once in Eugene I found a track and decided to calibrate my sense of pace. My natural mind-drifting pace was around 6:40. I did a pickup for a quarter in 74. It felt like the Provo Canyon going down.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 8.00
Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

The kids ran in the Track City Classic youth track meet in Eugene, OR. First Benjamin ran the 3000 meters. Benjamin came with a goal of breaking Josh Rohatinsky's record in the 13-14 year old division of 9:49.10 set in Cedar City in 1996. Now this is the official record. Josh remembers running 9:21 in Florida at some point, but I could not find any official record of that, nor could anybody in the Utah USATF. Does not matter that much anyway - 9:49 could have been easily taken down by Conner Mantz and a few others. It is just that fast 14 year old kids in Utah for one reason or another do not race in the USATF-sanctioned meets. In any case, a relatively weak record was handed to us, and we jumped at the chance to break it. With the help of oxygen, cooler temperatures, and national-level competition Benjamin succeeded this time with some measure of vengeance running 9:35.32.

I stood at the finish, so I got his 200 split and then every lap after that. I timed his first 200 at 33.7 but it was more like 34.3 because of my delayed reaction and the time delay for the sound to travel around 140 or so meters from the 3000 start to where I was standing. The gun did not emit visible smoke - I perfer the smoking guns for such starts because you can start your watch when you see the smoke avoiding the sound delay.Then his laps were 77.1, 76.8, 80.5, 79.3, 78.8, 76.6, and 72.0 for the kick.

He lost contact with the lead pack after the first 200, but that was good - they were pushing it too fast. The announcer called out the leader split of 70 for the first lap. Benjamin saw 73 on his watch. After 600 I told him to regain the contact. Fortunately he trusted me. Before the race he was having a little bit of a confidence issue. Last year the race was won in 9:07. This instilled some holy fear into him and he kept asking me what they would open in and what he should do. I told him to expect the opening lap of 70 followed by some settling into pace at around 73-74 if we had the runners capable of 9:07 - 70 too fast, but then once they settle, make contact with the back of the pack that is going for 9:07 if there is one and sit on them till the "standard bearer fainteth". However, this time it was different - at 600 I knew there was no 9:07 pack. Benjamin easily regained the contact over the next lap and reached 1000 in 3:08.2. However, I was not paying attention to the overall split very much - I just knew that if he kept his laps under 80 the fast start and the kick combined would bring him under the record.

The announcer called out the 1200 split at 3:48. When he passed me at 1400 I saw 80.5 and I was not happy with this lap. I told Benjamin to start putting pressure on the leaders to go faster. We did not come all the way to Eugene to play tactical games - we want a fast time, we want the record! At this point what he should have done is hit the gas for 30 meters, take the lead, settle into 77-78 per lap pace and cruise as close to the inside as possible. Instead he applied mild, rather indecisive pressure from behind. This could work in a road race at faster speeds but this was the track, and the speed was too slow. So he ended up running quite a bit on the outside. Nevertheless the pressure worked and the lead pack was knocked out of their comfort zone. Two black coaches standing next to me nodded in approval and commented that it was a very good idea to take the competition out of their comfort zone.

At this point I should say something about the ethnic make up of the youth track crowd. In the sprints you see a lot of blacks - even in Utah. In the distances it is the Latinos. In fact, after this lap the lead pack was cut down to three Latino kids - Gabriel Fendel, Miguel De La Melena, Melecio Gonzales, and Benjamin. The national 14 year old boys record in 3000 of 8:56 is held by Phillip Rocha, who is a Latino as well.  

With two laps to go Benjamin was looking strong. I realized that he could win the race, and I knew what he needed to do. He needed the Lasse Viren kick. He has one. He cannot accelerate in the last 100, but he can put some serious pressure over the last 600-800 meters. He showed that ability as early as 5 years old in his first 5 K. I experienced it myself first hand in the Ward two mile race a few weeks ago when he started grinding me with 800 to go and eventually succeeded. So I yelled at him to show the Lasse Viren. The black coaches laughed and wondered if he knew who Lasse Viren was - after all the young generation might not remember him. I assured them - yes he does - he grew up on bedtime stories about Lasse Viren. In our house this is one name the children hear often. That and Bob Kempainen. Every time they complain during a run they hear a story either about Viren falling down, getting up, and winning the Olympic 10,000 with a world record, or Kempainen doing 4:55 miles at the end of a marathon while throwing up.

Unfortunately Benjamin could not hear me well as the noise of the spectators exceeded my voice volume. So he was a little indecisive in making the move. Part of the problem was the lack of experience in racing on the track against competition. However, by the time they reached the last lap the race was down to him and Gabriel Fundel. The last lap was quick, but not quick enough to neutralize Gabriel's 100 meter kick. He ended up winning with 9:33.83. Benjamin finished second 1.49 seconds behind in 9:35.32. Miguel was third in 9:40.09 - a new PR for him. Six boys went under 10:00.

After the race Benjamin's Crocs became a hot item of discussion. Here is the video of the race:


Then we went home, and returned in the afternoon for the rest of the children to run in the 800. By that time it got warmer, and the wind picked up. Additionally there were more participants in the sprints than the meet directors anticipated, so the 800 start got delayed by about three hours. Joseph ran 3:01.37 finishing 5th. The winner, Miles Jones ran 2:42.61. This was amazing to watch - a 7 year old can actually move that fast! He was not big either. Third place was 2:56.62, and I think that was reachable - Joseph just needs more mental preparation when racing against competition. Jacob who is only 6 held his own against kids of the older age and finished 10th in 3:18.83 out of 11 boys.

Julia ran 3:13.32 finishing 26th out of 28 girls. She does have the disadvantage of having to race in essentially an upper age division this year - she is not yet 11, but they go by the birth year so she is racing against girls that are 11-12 years old. The winner in her division, Kara Smith, ran 2:25.31.

Jenny ran 2:59.39 finishing 24th out of 29 girls. She also has the same birth year issue as Julia. The winner in her division, Lauren Paven ran 2:27.22.

Nobody set 800 PRs today due to the conditions and the start delays, but everyone was close enough that we got a family 4x800 PR for this quartet (Jenny,Julia,Joseph,Jacob) of 12:32.91.

Then we went to the beach in Florence, OR. I joked that if we had Utah and Oregon drivers try their skills in the country (not state) of Georgia where we went on vacations back when I was a little kid, even though both places have mountains and roads going through them the Oregoneans would do better because they get a lot of practice on similar roads. Oregon highways are very narrow and windy. I was surprised that a route from a relatively big city to the nearest beach would be a narrow windy highway where you are lucky to go 55, or at least I did not feel comfortable at much faster than 45 in most places in our big van. The Oregon drivers seemed to be just fine and handled the curves very well. I checked the Oregon highway fatality rate and discovered that it was actually low - 0.8 deaths per 100 million miles driven. Utah is 1.1. Nevada is something around 2.3 even though most of their roads go through the desert and are as straight and open as it gets.

I managed to get in 10 miles of running in between the events. 


Green Crocs 5 Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 71.00Schwinn Double Stroller Miles: 15.00
Night Sleep Time: 48.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 49.50
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