Breaking the Wall

July 05, 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: 0.00 Year: 1935.71
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: 805.63
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. I invited Scott Keate to help me qualify for the rights to race again. As I mentioned in earlier entries I decided I would not run another serious race until I am able to run all three miles of my Provo Canyon Uphill Tempo under 6:00. The reasoning was that the failure to do so pointed to a deteriorating spine, which would mean not only terrible uphill and headwind performance, but also reduced ability to hold pace in the second half of the marathon, as if the loss of speed alone was not enough. So I said I am going to do what it takes to reverse the deterioration, and will test it with uphill tempo runs.

Scott did a great job pacing. We went through the first mile in 5:54. I felt good but still apprehensive. I had been able to run it as fast as 5:51 before also feeling good, but then the pace deteriorated quickly. I was taking it a quarter at a time, and was pleased to see the next two quarters both under 90 with 8:51 half way through, and still feeling good. But I was not out of the woods yet, as the hardest part of the course was still ahead. Next two quarters in 2:56, 11:47 at 2 miles, 5:53 mile. Now I just needed to survive for the next half mile. I knew that in the last half mile I could gut it out a little under 3:00, so as long as I did not drop the ball before 2.5 I would make it. The headwind picked up, but Scott upped the effort to compensate, and I felt good enough not to have to ask him to slow down. We did the next 0.5 in 2:55. At this point I knew the last mile would be under 6:00 as well. The pace now felt hard, but I was more in control than I even had been this year so far. To spite the 6:00 guy and to rub it in, Scott upped the pace even more. So much that with about a quarter to go I asked him to back off. In all honesty I could have toughed it out. But I did not have the mental energy to fight another battle at this point as I knew we were smashing the standard already and my mind was already blown away by that. Even with that, our last half mile was 2:50, which gave us 5:45 for the last mile, and 17:32.3 for the 3 miles. 

My reaction to the result can be summarized with the words of a hymn we sing in church "I Stand All Amazed". I cannot believe the Lord was that merciful to me to allow me to have this experience. A progressive negative split on a progressively increasing incline with a progressively increasing headwind. It took a helper that set the pace and blocked the wind. But there is only so much a human helper could do even if he could pull me with a rope. Somehow by some miracle I was able to challenge and kick every stumbling stone. That miracle, I believe, is in the strength work I've been doing on the lower back, and in the increased sleep in the last few days. Although I do have a rational explanation for it, nevertheless I believe the knowledge of what needed to be done came through divine means.

We ran back to the house, picked up Benjamin, ran 6 more with him. After that Scott went home, and I ran 2 more with Jenny, Jacob, and Joseph. Julia had a hurt foot and ran 1 mile. Total of 18.7 for me.

P.M. 0.3 with William. 



Green Crocs 4 Miles: 19.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
From RileyCook on Mon, Jul 02, 2012 at 13:46:19 from

I'm glad to read it was a success. It sounds like Scott did a good job of pacing and it sounds like you really stepped up to the challenge. I hope your training continues to improve.

From Jake K on Thu, Jul 05, 2012 at 11:07:52 from

Very nice Sasha. When we talked about this time trial a few weeks ago I figured you'd be able to get under 18 minutes... but you crushed that mark. Well done.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jul 05, 2012 at 11:35:35 from

Jake - thanks. In light of that, we have a change of plans for this Saturday's workout. Instead of the 3 mile tempo, I'll be doing a 10 mile tempo downhill after a 10 mile warm-up. Scott will be joining me and we will start from my house at 6:00 AM. Would you and Andrea like to join us as well?

From Jake K on Fri, Jul 06, 2012 at 14:39:20 from

Thanks for the invite, but Andrea is unsure of whether she is even running tomorrow, and I'd prefer to keep it on dirt/trails for another weekend or two before I start doing longer runs again.

Good luck w/ the tempo!

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