Breaking the Wall

Wedding Bell's 5 K Relay

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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: 12.00 Year: 1930.97
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: 567.20
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 3 Miles: 83.70
Night Sleep Time: 48.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 48.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church as usual. The Sacrament Meeting talks were on reverence. For Father's Day we had a couple that raised nine children speak. It was good to hear from them, to get a perspective of somebody who made it this far. At times Sarah and I feel a little lonely in a sense (although we are in Utah and you would think we would not) - most people we know that have seven or more children are from the older generation and their children are gone. We actually know quite a few in that category. But we know only a handful of families that have seven or more in the house, and that is largely due to Sarah's efforts to network with other families that home school. I have often wondered why it is so. While the reasons are complex, one of them is that even though we have had great advances in technology and productivity, somehow we digressed from being able to more or less comfortably support a family of 5 or more children on one income to struggling to support a family of  2 children. Two incomes do not help much in increasing the number of children you can support - you are playing soccer without a goalie. While you can score more goals you get scored on much more than the little extra your goalie in the field can help you achieve.

Here is some insight. I talked to a car mechanic a few days ago that started working straight out of high school back in 1975. He was getting paid $10/h. According to his memory, a starter home at that time could be bought for $10K, and a clerk at a grocery store made about $3.75/h.  In 2000 the car shop where he worked was charging $50/h for labor, and he saw $16 of it. By now the numbers are $92 and $18. So the where is that extra money going? Not into the pockets of the car shop owners, that is not possible in a free market economy. You cannot almost double your prices unless your competitors are somehow handicapped and are not able to be profitable at a lower price than yours.

According to those rough numbers, the clerk at a grocery store today makes roughly double of 1975 salary, so does the car mechanic. But you will not buy a starter home even for the four times of the home price of 1975.

Another example, not cost of living related, unless you like to race a lot, but still very illustrative, is the cost of organizing a race and the exponentially rising race entry fees. Gone are the days when you could run a 10 K for 3$ with no shirt. The new generation of runners demands "the experience", which costs money. Ironically, the money a lot of them cannot afford to pay, but they do not realize it until they see their credit card bill, but by then it is too late. 

What happened? My explanation is that we have lost the common sense, our values have shifted, we have cursed ourselves, and are stuck in a vicious cycle of spending the money on "that which is of no worth" and our labor on "that which cannot satisfy". The way to get out is to begin to simplify, and be willing to defy what we perceive as the norm in that. Then maybe we have some hope. 


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

A.M. Ran 8 with Ariel. Then ran with the kids. Did a mile time trial on the track with Joseph. We had the ambitious target of 6:50, but we fell short by 4.8 seconds, which was still a PR and solidified Joseph's hold on the sub-7:00 barrier. The splits were 1:43, 1:45, 1:42, 1:42 and 2 seconds for the extra 9.34 meters. So 6:54.8. Benjamin at his age had a PR of 7:12.

Then ran with Jacob, Joseph, Jenny, and Julia. Jacob did 1, Joseph ended up with a total of 2.25, Jenny did 1, and Julia did 2. I ran 14 miles total.

P.M. 0.7 with Benjamin, Joseph, and Jacob. 0.3 with William.

Green Crocs 3 Miles: 15.00
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. Ran 2 with Jenny, then took her to the girls camp drop-off, and did a mile time trial with Benjamin. The target was 5:10 and we hoped for 75, 78, 80, 75 + 2 seconds for 9.34. However, we miscalculated somewhere. Benjamin did not have that level of fitness today likely due to not being completely recovered from his wilderness survival trip. After the first lap in 75 he struggled both physically and mentally and it was followed with 82, 85, 85 + 2 seconds, total time 5:29.8. Still his second fastest mile ever, and the fastest on the track. We did have some wind blowing from the canyon as well, which seemed to be stronger than average. At least I noticed the difference between the home and the back stretch in the first lap, and overall that 75 felt quite hard, in a way I was relieved that Benjamin could not do it because it meant I did not have to. Other laps were too slow to feel the pain and I was too busy yelling at Benjamin trying to help him learn how to deal with a situation when the pace you thought you could do ends up being faster than what you can actually do.

Then I ran with the other children, and some more myself. Benjamin ended up with 6 miles total, Julia and Joseph did 2, Jacob 1. I did a couple of pickups - a quarter in 80 that should be fast because the first half of it is more or less flat, but the second is downhill, but it never is - need to find out why. Then 0.75 that should be dog slow because the first half of it is up a slight grade and into a headwind, then a 180 and you run back, but again that one is never as slow as you would expect - I ran it in 4:05 with a moderately hard effort that might have given me maybe 3:55 if I did it down the canyon.

Total of 12.3 miles for me. 

P.M. 0.7 with Benjamin, Joseph, and Jacob. 0.3 with William. 

Green Crocs 3 Miles: 13.30
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. Started with Jeremy and Ariel. Warmed up 2.2 miles, then did my test tempo - 3 miles up the Provo Canyon from the mouth to Nunn's Park. The purpose of the test was to measure the effectiveness of my latest work on improving the spinal elasticity. My suspicion is that in the last year it began to deteriorate in response to the overload resulting from the recently discovered L-4 defect which I have had since birth. So in other words, it has always been bad, but lately it has gotten worse. The problem manifests itself in poor uphill performance, and particularly when there is a headwind. I attempted to address the problem by increasing calcium intake, and doing weight exercises to strengthen the hip extensors and the lower back. My reasoning is that if what I am doing is effective, I will see a major improvement in the uphill/headwind performance, but only a relatively minor improvement in neutral or aided running (flat, downhill, or tailwind).

In the tempo run I managed to do 18:09 with the splits of 5:57, 6:06, 6:06. As far as I could tell, there was a headwind which did not bother me as much, and no tailwind. At least I felt it going up, and felt no adversity on the way back. That was a big positive. On Saturday I did 5:59, 6:15, 6:15, which was an improvement over 5:51, 6:16. 6:32 two weeks prior. I felt like my leg turnover was better and it was being facilitated by a bouncier step as it is difficult to move your legs quickly when your landing is like plop-plop (think of running on a surfaces that is too soft, you cannot get good leg turnover). So I am 6 seconds per mile away from qualifying to race seriously again.

 Did a total of 10.7, then ran with the kids. Jenny was at the camp ( but she did get 2 miles in there), Julia and Joseph did 2, Jacob did 1. Benjamin ran 6. I ended up with a total of 12.7.

P.M. 0.7 with Benjamin, 0.3 with William. 

Green Crocs 3 Miles: 13.70
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. Ran with Ariel. First did 5x400 down the canyon in 73.6, 72.7, 72.3, 71.8, 70.8 with 100 meter recovery which was around 33 seconds between the first two, and then I decided to jog a bit slower so I could hit faster times in the interval and it was around 40 seconds. Then I did 2 more pacing Ariel with a long recovery in 79.8 and 76.4. Then ran with the kids. Joseph, and Julia ran 2. Jenny ran 2 at the camp. Jacob did 1. Benjamin 6. I ended up with 14 miles for the run.

P.M. 0.7 with Benjamin, 0.3 with William. 

Green Crocs 3 Miles: 15.00
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. 8 with Ariel, then ran with the kids. Joseph and Julia did 2. Jacob did 1. Benjamin 6. Jenny ran at the camp. I had a total of 13.7 miles.

P.M. 0.7 with Benjamin. We did a relay practice at the track. William ran 0.25. Joseph did a total of 0.5. Jacob about 0.25. Benjamin hit a quarter in 73 for fun. I did a quarter with Joseph in 1:38, plus so more, so we'll call it 1 mile total for the PM.

Green Crocs 3 Miles: 14.70
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Race: Wedding Bell's 5 K Relay (3.107 Miles) 00:17:45, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Allie and James decided to prepare for their wedding by putting on a race as if the wedding itself was not enough of a hassle already. They came up with a great idea - race 5000 meters on the track with a team of up to 25 runners each running a multiple of 200 meter segments with the runners being allowed to run multiple non-consecutive legs. This created a rare opportunity for our entire family to participate. We split it like this: starting with Stephen (22 months old, 200 meters), then William (3 years, 200), Sarah (the mother of the running children 3 months pregnant with her eighth, 200), Jacob (5 years old, 200), Joseph (7, 200), Julia (9, 200), Jenny (11, 200), after than I alternated with Benjamin (13 years old) every 400 meters with me running 5 of those, and Benjamin 4. 

Stephen was the reason we were able to break 18:00. In practice his best time was 1:56. But on race day he pulled off 1:41. Of course he put us in the last place, and we got lapped by Jake's team for the first time at that point - Devra running 200 meters followed by Kevin's quarter was 1:41 as well. But they were much older than 22 months, and they were out of diapers, so they had a good reason for being a lap ahead.

William ran the second leg in around 1:12, passed one team ending our last place problem, and handed off to Sarah. At that point, I was in charge of Stephen, and Benjamin was in charge of William who started crying because Sarah left without him (both he and Stephen did not cry during their legs, and only William cried afterwards), and we had to hand them off to Sarah once she finished her leg so we could do ours. So those logistical challenges prevented me from taking the splits.  However, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Julia, and Jenny put in a good effort and I recall getting the baton 1400 meters into the race at 6:46 from Jenny.

 Jake got the baton at around the same time a bit behind me, except they were 2200 meters into the race. He passed me after the first 50 meters or so. Thinking that he will run some longer distance at maybe 4:40 per mile pace or so I started following him. Then when I saw that the first 200 meters was around 30 seconds and now starting to feel the pain of the pace I realized the problem. Jake was running a shorter distance. I had just run the first half of my leg at my near PR 400 meter pace. I had 4 more after that with only a little over a minute rest. So I backed off and coasted, but it was too late. The proverbial anaerobic bear had jumped out of the steeple chase pit and was already riding on my back.

The rest of the race was a blur for me. I would run my leg, hand off to Benjamin, then try to regain consciousness while Joseph was asking me questions which I lacked the presence of mind to answer, once I did become conscious again I would see Benjamin half way through his leg and get ready for the next one. I tried to keep track of the splits, but it was not very successful. I think I do recall hitting one quarter in 71. We were going back and forth with the Jake's team now, with us sometimes being "ahead", or rather behind by less than two laps, and sometimes them being ahead by a bit more than two laps. They ended up ahead of us by a bit more than two laps finishing in 15:11.

I really was feeling it in my last leg. My legs felt like lead and refused to move. I was really glad the race was over when we finished in 17:45. So Benjamin and I managed to run the last 3600 in  10:59, which is 73.2 per lap average. We passed all the other teams except Jake's and ended up finishing second. Jake's team was gracious enough to donate to us their $100 prize for the win, for which we are very thankful.

Afterwards, I ran some more with the kids, and more at home with Sarah following me on a bike. I ended up with a total of 12 miles, Benjamin did a total of 6, Jenny ran about 0.5 - her legs were hurting, Julia and Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.12. 

This was a good experience in working together as a family towards a common goal with the strong supporting the weak, and the weakest link in the chain working hard to improve its strength. I feel good about being able to say that our entire family with this age distribution, number of children, pregnant mother, and the requirement for each member to participate for at least 200 meters was able to average 5:42.8 per mile over 5000 meters. 

Green Crocs 3 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 5.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 5.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Green Crocs 3 Miles: 83.70
Night Sleep Time: 48.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 48.50
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