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:

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Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 0.00 Year: 948.94
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 640.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 450.37
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Brown Crocs 4 Lifetime Miles: 1334.06
Amoji 1 Lifetime Miles: 732.60
Amoji 2 Lifetime Miles: 436.69
Amoji 3 Lifetime Miles: 380.67
Lopsie Sports Sandals Lifetime Miles: 818.02
Lopsie Sports Sandals 2 Lifetime Miles: 637.27
Iprome Garden Clogs Lifetime Miles: 346.18
Beslip Garden Clogs Lifetime Miles: 488.26
Joybees 1 Lifetime Miles: 1035.60
Madctoc Clogs Lifetime Miles: 698.29
Blue Crocs Lifetime Miles: 1164.32
Kimisant Black Clogs Lifetime Miles: 720.62
Black Crocs 2023 Lifetime Miles: 1312.70
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Gold Crocs 2 Miles: 75.75
Night Sleep Time: 45.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 45.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church as usual. Some people do not see the point of going to church every Sunday and learning essentially the same thing, something they have heard before many times. A runner should know better than that. We run the same course almost every single day, and that is what gives us our fitness. It works the same in church. We learn the doctrine of Christ and partake of the Sacrament. That gives us our faith.

Back a while ago before I joined the LDS church I considered the idea of developing faith rather odd. After all, things are either true or they are not, and if they are true you believe it, otherwise you do not.  Since then I learned that faith is more that just believing things that are not so believable. There is power behind true faith. I have experienced it. It was the faith that has allowed me to transition from a poor Russian student that could bare

Thus increasing your ability to recognize what is true through your spiritual senses and believe and act on it as if you could see it is of vital importance. In fact, that is the whole reason we have come to Earth. That is why you do not see God in plain sight. If you could be aware of His existence without having to exercise your faith, that would defeat the purpose of living.

The lesson in Sunday school today was on the organization of the Priesthood. The lesson in the Elder's Quorum was on Elder Bednar's talk in the last General Conference on inspiration by the Holy Ghost. Our new bishopric and their wives spoke in Sacrament on various subjects.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Usual 12.5. Did 3 with Benjamin, 2 with Jenny and Julia, 1 with Joseph, and 0.5 with Jacob. Ran the last 3 miles in 17:44  focusing on not triggering the buzzer.

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

A.M. 15.5 total. Did a 5 mile tempo on the Fast Running Blog course at the start. The goal was to run without making the buzzer go off. I struggled - the legs felt dead, and I had a hard time maintaining good form. Nevertheless, I just ran at whatever pace I could manage without tripping the alarm too much or tensing too much. I noticed that the two correlate - if I can relax, the alarm quiets down, if I try to force a faster pace and tense up, the alarm goes off. So I did 5:55 - 5:51 - 5:47 - 5:50 - 5:51 - total of 29:14. Did 3 with Benjamin, 2 with Jenny and Julia, 1 with Joseph, and 0.5 with Jacob.

Gold Crocs 2 Miles: 15.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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A.M. I had one of the oddest running experiences today. The negative odd is not that odd, as confusion exists in multiple combination, so to find more confusion is easy. It was positively odd, for which I was thankful as order is scarce.

Based on my past experiences I knew that for me several days in a row of at least 3 miles at sub-6:00 pace result in progressively increasing fatigue and deteriorated performance. So based on that, and the results of the tempo run yesterday, I was expecting to be in a condition where maintaining 5:50 pace would be difficult, the leg would feel dead, etc. So the logic would dictate that I should rest. But I was still curious what would happen, as there was something different this time. In all of those runs, while I was unable to go faster, the pace did not feel like it was knocking me out as much as before. So intuitively I felt there was some value in picking up the pace because I was receiving and responding to the continuous feedback on my form from my Running Form Coach, and I felt that I needed to go at least a couple of miles for the learning to take place, and the pace needed to be sub-6:00. Additionally, during the easy part of the run, which included 3 miles with Benjamin, 2 with Jenny and Julia, 1 with Joseph, and 0.5 with Jacob, my legs felt unusually springy.

So I decided to start the tempo, and if it was obvious that I was more fatigued that yesterday, discontinue it as soon as possible. I planned to start it exactly 3 miles away from my house on the way to the Provo Canyon, but the plan was sabotaged by the flooding under the University Parkway bridge. So I decided to just start it at the closest mark and go until I ran into construction on I-15 which would give me a little over 2 miles. To my surprise I went through the first mile in 5:41 on a less than ideal setup (two sharp 90 turns, bumpy trail, going under the bridges) and it felt easy. The next one was 5:35 on a slight downhill, but still with a couple of bridges. I was almost at the construction point but I felt good enough to want to go further, which is a good sign. It means that there is a solid reserve of energy. You first reach the point of not wanting to run more at the target pace, then not being able to do so quite a bit later.

I decided to do a 180 and run backwards. This would be a real test of fitness. Third mile, 180 turn, bridges, net uphill. If there was fatigue, it would definitely show. I managed a 5:41 on that mile, pushing some, but without a superhuman exertion, which gave me 16:57 for the 3 miles. During the entire run the buzzer was more silent than usual, mostly fussing only when I hit the bumpy portions of the trail.

During the cooldown I ran into Jerry Henley. We had a good talk. He saw me during the end of my tempo and observed that my form was smoother than normal. This was another interesting coincidence, as back in 2002 he mentioned that I would not be able to run 2:25 on the Ogden course without a fluidity fix to my form. I have pondered his comment since quite frequently. He was dead right. I have not been able to run 2:25 on the Ogden course. The best my form could give me was 2:30:02, and that was backed up by some serious endurance. Also, this is the first time I've run into Jerry during a run in probably at least 5 years, if not more, and for it to happen right at the time when I would want him, and I mean him in particular, to look at my form is perhaps more than just a coincidence. 

So what did the trick? Running Form Coach instruction finally caught up? The fitness is finally there, and a better form is a part of it? I have been messing around trying to understand the cause of my imbalance, and this morning just intuitively tied my legs together at the knees and tried to walk. It felt like the imbalance went away, so I stood and walked around like that while I read the scriptures and got ready for the run. Could that have stretched something? Who knows what did it, but at least I can say the combination works, so do the combination, do not mess with the magic recipe.

Gold Crocs 2 Miles: 13.75
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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A.M. More interesting "coincidences". I put that in quotes because I do not believe in coincidences. God allows circumstances to occur, and none will without His permission. We may not understand the reason, or be able to figure out the pattern, but the pattern is still there, and exists for a reason. He plans and sets up things in subtle ways so the pattern is not obvious, and it requires faith to discern it. Being mortal, I do not yet have enough faith to know all things, but I do have enough to observe the easy patterns that speak to me loudly.

So just right after my breakthrough run yesterday Jeff called me up and said he would be in town for a couple of days. This gave me a chance to test my fitness today. Given the results of my run yesterday, and counting in possible fatigue, I rather optimistically told Jeff to pace me for 16:30 on my standard 3 mile out-and-back tempo course. So he opened with two 81 quarters, and then sped up to 79, 78, 78. The pace felt easier than I anticipated, but still too hard for me to make it to the finish with a 180 turn in the middle and some uphill on the way back. So I told him to back off. After that it was 81, 82, 82.5, 83.5, 84, 84, high 79 to give us 16:13.9 for the run. Quite a bit better than I expected. To put things in perspective, my weekly progression had been 17:16, 17:05, 16:57, 16:52, 16:45 - very small improvement increments. All of a sudden, instead of 5-9 seconds, it is 31 in just one week! Having Jeff around did help a lot, but at the same time, mid-run 78s almost entirely canceled the benefits. I did not tell him to back off earlier because I wanted to dare the devil and see if I could live through a tempo with a few 78s (5:12 pace) thrown in the middle of it. I did for the most part. Mile splits were 5:19 - 5:23.5 - 5:31 . The buzzer was set to a lower tolerance, so it was going off more than yesterday, but I was able to keep it quiet on and off.

Did 3 with Benjamin, 2 with Jenny and Julia, 1 with Joseph and 0.5 with Jacob. Total of 13.5.

Gold Crocs 2 Miles: 13.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and the kids. Total of 12.5. Benjamin ran 3 showed off his speed with a 70.1 quarter. Jenny and Julia ran 2. Joseph did 1, and Jacob ran 0.5.  Jeff and I did a "fat" mile in 5:32. It felt very good.

On the chess front, after last night's tournament my rating is 1403 and Benjamin's is 1280. I estimate that mine is worth about a 17:30 5 K now.  What is interesting is that even though mine is higher, the three times that Benjamin and I faced each other in a tournament he won. When we play "friendly" games, our score is about even - he wins half the time, I win half the time, and we hardly ever draw.

Gold Crocs 2 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Got up earlier than normal to get the run done before the General Conference. Jeff was still in town and ran with me. I was feeling fatigued from the hard week and the reduced sleep, but still decided to run the 10 mile tempo for the first time since last fall. It was rather odd. We started out very slow, both us were asleep, in 94 for the first quarter. Then 89, 84, 81 (5:48) and I told Jeff to back off because I was not ready for that pace for the whole 10 yet. He pulled me until 7.5, then took off and ran the last 2.5 in 12:49 - 5:07 pace.

My time was 57:58 with the splits of 5:48 - 5:43 - 5:44 - 5:42 - 5:59 - 5:41 - 5:40 - 5:52 - 5:58 - 5:51. Once Jeff took off I struggled. However, I was still happy to be under 58:00 in my first 10 mile tempo in a long time.

Total distance was 20.5. We ran 3 with Benjamin, 2 with Jenny and Julia, 1 with Joseph, and 0.5 with Jacob. Then listened to the first session of the General Conference. Most memorable for me were the talks by Elder Perry on the Sabbath day, and President Eyring on doing good. The idea of "Have I done any good in the world today" is very simple but at the same time very powerful.

P.M. Listened to the afternoon session of the Conference. I always look forward to the statistical report because numbers speak to me. So this year we got 14,131,467 members,  120,528 children of record, and 272,814 convert baptisms. Children of record means the number of children for whom the Church created a record, which usually happens when they are blessed, but can happen at a later time as well, for example, if the parents join the Church or become active when the child is 4 years old. But mostly that number is indicative of the birth rate in the Church, which would be about 8.52 per thousand per year if we do the division. This number is rather low, US birth rate is 13.83. However, we need to account for the inactivity rates in the Church. 14 million is the number of members that are on record. About 50% or possibly more of them are not active, and those who are not will not register the birth of their children with the Church. So the actual birth rate is higher.

 This is, however, a better number than reported in 2001 when we had 81,450 increase in the children of record vs 11,068,861 members, which gives the virtual birth rate of only 7.35 per thousand, but still a far cry from what our parents' generation did - according to the numbers from 1983 report with only 5,165,000 members we managed to have added 124,000 children of record, which gives the virtual birth rate of 24.01 per thousand! The causes of the drop can come from two sources - either those who are active members of the Church are not having as many children, or the activity rate has dropped. I believe we have both factors significantly at play. But I wonder what would happen if we could restore the same level of commitment both in terms of Church activity and having the children to the 1983 levels. That would be 339,264  new children of record. We could almost send all of our missionaries home (although of course we would not do that) and still have the same rate of growth in the Church! Those would be  wonderful results, and we can achieve them. If our parents could do it, so can we.

A non-mathematical person often objects to the above argument that it is just numbers. It is more than numbers. The worth of souls is great the sight of God, and even though He works with infinity He does care how many of His children in our world return to His presence. The more the better.

I also liked the talk by Elder Oaks about desire. I thought how it applied to runners. The desire to achieve can rise above lower level desires, and what a great feeling that is when it does. But it should be kept in balance and not attempt to rise above the higher level desires, but rather to be in harmony with them and provide support.

Elder Oaks also addressed one of the root causes of our underperforming virtual birth rate. Young men not taking initiative to get married and raise a family. 

Benjamin and I went to the Priesthood session in the evening. It was his first one. Our ward gave us the tickets to go to the Conference Center. We heard some talks about athletes. One from Elder Anderson on Super-Sid, an LDS New Zealand rugby player who postponed his career to go on a mission, came back, regained shape, and became a rugby legend for the next 11 seasons. He refused to play or practice on Sunday, which could have been a problem, but with faith it was resolved. He was so good that the schedules were changed to accommodate that.

Elder Snow mentioned the sub-4:00 mile and Roger Banister. This subject comes up once every three years in a General Conference. I believe it does so for a reason. The Lord does not want us to create artificial limits, but rather see with an eye of faith. It was good for Benjamin to hear that talk right in the Conference Center because not so long ago the sub-6:00 mile became a similar barrier for him, and he had to use his faith to overcome it. Shortly after that, I have observed an overall increase in faith in him.

And of course, the single young men of age got another beating, a pretty good one I thought to follow up on the one from Elder Oaks, this time from the Prophet himself. President Monson spoke about getting married again.

Gold Crocs 2 Miles: 20.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Gold Crocs 2 Miles: 75.75
Night Sleep Time: 45.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 45.00
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