Breaking the Wall

August 08, 2020

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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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10 miles in 1:18:28, first 7 with Jeff. Ran a tempo mile in 5:29 just because - the legs felt a bit feisty and I decided to give them a shake.

Discussed a new economic concept I have thought of. Perhaps it is not new, just plain common sense, but I do not see it discussed very often. They talk about inflation, price index, GDP, (un)employment rate, etc, but I find those measurements rather removed from real life. Example - we say that creating new jobs is good, but removing jobs is bad. By that definition, if one could completely automate the production of life necessities and conveniences that would be bad because a lot of jobs would be lost. We are producing and buying from each other a lot of gimmicky junk, this raises our GDP. If increased GDP is what we are after, producing more junk is good. When we try to spend less time producing the gimmicky junk and more time with our families, GDP goes down, so that is bad.

So I wanted to have a different set of metrics and came up with this rough idea:

Each individual at any point in his life contributes and withdraws economic value. E.g when he eats he withdraws. When he produces food he contributes. When he helps somebody in some way he contributes. He may get paid for his contribution, he may not. He might have to pay to withdraw or he might not. We create a withdrawal-contribution model by assigning a value to every action. Granted, you can debate the values, but I believe you tried hard enough you could create a reasonable model. We already do it with money, and it works more or less OK, at least enough to keep us doing things for each other even when we do not feel like it. But we could do much better if all we are doing is a mathematical analysis - e.g we can assign a teacher much higher contribution value than a tobacco sales exec, and we do not have to pass any laws in the Congress, raise taxes, or mess with the free market otherwise.

Throughout an individual's life, the deposits and withdrawals add up to a net total. The key to our survival and progress is to have the net total of the whole population as high as possible. Definitely a non-negative, ideally highly positive. To make that happen, we need to maximize the net total of each individual. Some will have to be negative. E.g someone is born with a handicap. Others will be highly positive - e.g a scientist that invents a process for feeding millions off a small portion of land. We want to help each individual arrive at the end of his life with a positive balance.

We are born with a negative balance already - our parents had to sacrifice just for the pregnancy alone. As children we continue to accrue the negative. Then hopefully we eventually get to the point where we are starting to deposit more than we withdraw, and begin to eat away the negative balance. At some point it hopefully becomes positive, hopefully positive enough to where when we get old and need care, we have enough positive to still stay positive all the way through.

The cause of the current economic crisis could be explained in traditional economic terms and complex discussion of cash flow, assets, borrowing, etc, but I believe it is much simpler. As a society we have been withdrawing more than we have been contributing. Again, referencing the thoughts above, not necessarily just the money, but rather in terms of true value which correlates with money maybe 50-70%. For a while we were OK because the previous generation has build a positive balance of value. But now that we've squandered some of it things are starting to get a bit tougher. The solution is to start contribution more and withdrawing less.

So with that vision in mind our education should be reformed. Right now we have a system when a lot of people do not reach the level of a positive economic existence until they are 30, and I would guess net zero is often not reached until 45. While education is very important, we need to do something to help people become productive contributors while they are being educated. Less pure academic learning and more learning on the job in other words. In my area (computer programming), for example, most jobs require a BS degree. Yet every good programmer I've ever known acquired most of his skill either on the job or hacking on his own. If he went to school at all he did so to prove that he was good more than to become good. Classroom instruction would not hurt, but political issues aside, if somebody asked me to train a good programmer, I would spend 10% of the time instructing him, and 90% of the time throwing him in the water to see if he would learn to swim. While learning how to swim he could produce something useful and end his education with a positive net value balance.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:41, Jenny ran the first 1.5 in 13:08. Julia was sick, so no run for her.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
From allie on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 23:23:53

these are very interesting thoughts. brilliant.

From Matt on Sat, Nov 22, 2008 at 01:16:02

Holy crude Sasha, I just sat down and read your logs for the week. You never stop buddy. Is the programming just not keeping you busy enough lately. You remind me of a lot of me econ buddies from the Y. My wife always gets driven crazy by me over thinking at my best, the way you seem too nonstop. Simple question though. For the race predictor or just in general how much time would you subtract per mile for a 1000 feet in elevation. I am running in the Northwest this next week and I have developed an estimate internally based off of past experience and I am just wondering your thoughts on the matter.

From Rob R on Sat, Nov 22, 2008 at 01:22:49

Hi Sasha -

Read you economics piece, and appreciated the thought and care that went into creating it.

One comment on your idea, is that co-op education provides the kind of opportunity for on-the-job training that you discuss.

It is most often accompanied by a salary, increasing the "withdrawl" that an individual makes, even while the product of their work increases their "deposit" to society.

I'm attaching a link to wikipedia where an alternate to GDP is discussed.

This works on the tennant that we add the positive aspects of economic activity, and subtract the negative aspect of economic activity, to come to some indicator of where we stand as a society.

i.e. the Exxon Valdez spill generated millions of dollars in clean-up related charges that were positive to Alaska's GDP (equipment rentals, hotel stays, meals), but negatively impacted tourism, wildlife, habitat in and around Prince William Sound. We need to look at both sides of the equation.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 21:19:26

Matt - the programming is going well. Sometimes compilation/test suite runs take a long time.

Try this calculator:

Of course, take it with a grain of salt. When you first descend to a lower elevation you often cannot get your legs going at the right pace for a while.

RobR - thanks for the info.

From Matt on Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 14:56:45

Sasha thanks a million for the link. I have been playing around with it and it is awesome.

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