Breaking the Wall

November 19, 2019

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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: 118.81 Year: 3380.28
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1576.28
Neon Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 33.72
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Brief report, details when I have time. Leg 22 of Del Sol in 17:30, GPS measured at 3.37, 5:11.57 avg. pace. Then later leg 34 (GPS measured 6.17) in 33:58, 5:30.31 avg, severe nervous system fatigue in the last 3 miles - no surprise, though, since I got zero sleep and the leg was at 9:45 AM. Our team won by almost 42 minutes though, with the average pace of 5:38.34, which would have been good enough to make top 5 in Hood to Coast.

Now more details. Van 1 ran very well, featuring Logan's 4:55 average over 7 downhill miles which alone increased the gap by 4 minutes. Adam received the baton about 17:30 ahead of the Running Shop and attacked his leg with the typical Adam fury. Ted did very well on his leg, and handed to Kory, who ran ahead of schedule as well. Then it was my turn.

I was angry for two reasons. I was upset about the mishaps on my first leg and wanted to redeem myself. And I knew that the only way I could run half way decent at 4:45 AM after not sleeping all night would be by getting productively angry. I have a hard time with that. I have no problem getting emotionally upset, but I do have a difficulty becoming upset in a way that gives me a sustained increase in muscular power output. So I tried to get as mad I as I could about what happened earlier in hopes of channeling the energy into running performance, and it did work to an extent. I ran 4:50 pace on the downhill portion (about 3%), and then once it flattened out I slowed down to around 5:20. 17:30 for the leg, gapped Jason by 10 seconds, was happy with the effort.

Jeff ran strong on his leg, then handed off to Steve. Steve was running angry as well, and beat his predicted pace. We increased the gap to 21:56 before handing off to Van 2.

By that time we had passed most of the teams that started earlier which I was happy about for two reasons. No traffic jam to worry about near Saguaro Lake, and the pristinely clean port-a-potties up ahead.

Van 2 was mostly on schedule, although the fatigue began to take its toll on some runners, and they were a minute or two off on their legs, but I was expecting that. Paul's spreadsheet does not account for the sleep deprivation fatigue, so you should always add 10-20 seconds a mile on the third set of legs. Nick and Logan did not skip a beat though, and were right on schedule. I suppose some runners handle the relay sleep situation better than others, we need to make a note of that and give them longer legs at the end in the future.

Adam was wound up for his third leg. He ran great up the hill and was still ahead of schedule on the Ragnar of Del Sol in spite of being on the third leg. We asked Van 2 to stay around to time the gap, and I became very concerned when I saw them drive by 24 minutes into Adam's leg. Then I realized that due to the dynamics of the race, it was more likely that they just got tired of waiting and took off.

Ted got a decent time on his leg, then Kory survived his. He was struggling with neural fatigue, but still ran decent, and handed off to me. My leg was a steady 1% grade downhill, 6.1 miles of it. The temperatures got up to over 70 F, but that was not a big problem. The heat did not bother me very much. I ran the first mile in 5:13, followed by 5:18. A bit slower than the projected 5:11 pace, but still acceptable. My teammates sang me BINGO, controlled the lights at the intersections, and handed me water. Sarah and Lybi came to cheer as well with all of the kids.

The real trouble started on the third mile. The neural fatigue was reaching the levels above my ability to fight it. I ran a 5:32, followed by 5:38, and a 5:44. What a joke! This is on a downhill at near sea-level altitude. This reminded me of the important role that the nervous system plays at speeds 5:20 or faster. If it gives out, it does not matter how fit you are, you are going to be stuck around 5:40 pace. I mustered all of my strength and managed a 5:34 mile, plus a semblance of a kick for the remaining 0.17 to finish in 33:58, 46 seconds slower than Jason even though he had lost some time at a light. I am sure glad my teammates brought the baton far ahead enough to where this did not really matter.

Jeff ran very well, and even had a little experience with a couple of dogs, then handed off to Steve. We did our best to control the lights and direct Steve to make sure he did not get lost, as his leg had a lot of turns, and was not properly marked in some places. At the end we all jumped out of the van and finished with Steve. In spite of our big lead he pressed hard to the very end and made all of us work to keep up. 17:04:37 at the finish, a win by 41:58 over the Running Shop, and 1:45:24 over Google.

Immediately afterwards we all went to James and Lybi's house for lunch. We downloaded my route of leg 10 from Adam's GPS, researched it, identified the location where my cell phone was dropped, entered the coordinates into my GPS, got directions to it from Google maps (it was a 61 mile drive one way), and I went geo-caching. I had never geo-cached before like this - a night with no sleep, three legs of a relay in the meantime, no nap, and straight down to business to find something I actually needed very much as opposed to something useless in regular geo-caching. The treasure hunt was successful. My Garmin led me right to my cell phone. Wonders of technology!

P.M. 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny, and 0.5 more with Jeff Shadley and Benjamin. Went to the awards ceremony. It was a bit of a bummer. The results got messed up, and we got nothing more than a set batons, while Google got a treadmill for winning the corporate division. Our 5:38 per mile average and an outright win by quite a margin unfortunately did not get a fair amount of attention in the announcements. At least we got some publicity from passing a multitude of teams and actively recruiting people for the blog at every opportunity. Google got to see the power of the Fast Running Blog in action. And I wonder what we would do with the treadmill if there was one for us anyway.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 1.50
From Paul Petersen on Wed, Mar 05, 2008 at 18:36:23

Traditionally relays all have terrible prizes. They certainly are not "money" races, but are designed more for recreational runners and "just having fun." I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

If you had won a treadmill? Easy - sell it and put it in the "future relay expense fund". That would be one way to get a "free" trip out to Hood to Coast.

From JeffC on Thu, Mar 06, 2008 at 11:41:18

Thanks for the great report Sasha. I enjoyed all the details and hunt for the cell phone. The details gave me some insight on what to exptect in an upcoming relay (Wasatch Back) for myself and a group of guys in my Stake from Vegas. Great job by the whole group and again, great report!

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