Breaking the Wall

January 27, 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: 252.01 Year: 252.01
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: 1353.22
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran 12 miles with Chad. Had to cut it short due to Benjamin's 1500 meter race in the USATF regional championship. We did a mini-workout. First 1 mile up the Provo Canyon starting from the little bridge over the Provo River at the mouth near the power plant. The goal was to break 6:00. We did it in 5:47.7. Then on the way back our favorite 3 mile tempo run with the target of 5:40 - 5:33 - 5:25. We ended up with 5:39 - 5:32 - 5:30 - 16:41. Chad struggled in the last mile. I think the fact that it was late into the run on top of running a hard mile uphill earlier played a factor. 

Then Chad ran 8 more while I got dressed and took Benjamin to his race. Chad showed up later as well to watch. We hoped Benjamin would run under 4:29.36 taking the state record in the 13-14 age division, but he did not have it in him. He apparently was still suffering the effects of post-half marathon fatigue and the cold. 

The conditions were as good as they could be. Hardly any wind (by UVU track standards that is), not too warm. Still early in the day - sunlight not too direct. Good competition - they put all youth 13 and older in one heat. Benjamin went through the first lap in 72.2. By the end of it he moved into second place in the heat with the first being a boy in an older age division. He stayed in that position for the rest of the race. His second lap was slow - 74.0, and I knew something was not right. I told Benjamin to do his best to run 2:23 for the first 800. I could tell he was trying, but just did not have it. His next lap was 78, and his last 300 was 56 - official finish time 4:41.23. He still won his age division by 11 seconds - second place was his friend Grant Gardner who ran 4:52. I do not think it would be too bold to assume that this is the first time a USATF Regional race was won in Crocs.

It is good to have races like that. This is a chance to learn resilience. It also allowed us to document the pattern of how Benjamin runs in workouts when his adrenal glands are worn out. He will have another chance at the state record - Utah Summer Games in a week. I do not know if we have enough time to rebuild before then but we will do our best. 

More races to follow this afternoon - Jenny, Julia, Joseph, and Jacob are running the 800.

P.M. 800 meter race for the younger kids in the USATF regionals. Jenny ran a PR of 2:55.23 - her splits were 86/89. Julia ran a decent race as well - 3:12.04 - not quite a PR, but close. Joseph won the 8 and under division with 3:08.99 - this more than 8 seconds off his time trial PR, and 3 seconds off his official race PR, but it not only won, but set a regional meet record. His splits were 92/96. He said he felt like his legs were not moving. Probably still some leftovers from the sickness.

We discovered that Jacob has a mild form of exercise-induced asthma. He has had some trouble breathing in workouts before, but never to the extent that he did after this race. He was wheezing for about 7 minutes after he finished and we were seriously concerned. Our blogger Teena was there and ran to get her inhaler, but he recovered before she got back . He still managed to run 3:21.00 which was good enough for 4th, and was less than 5 seconds off his PR. Apparently the try air in combination with the dust coming off I-15 was too much when combined with race effort - and Jacob can push himself very hard. We are going to take him to the doctor and get an inhaler just in case for things like this.

Later I ran 4.25 with Benjamin. 

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 6.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.50
From steve ash on Sat, Jun 22, 2013 at 18:49:00 from

Very nice! And congratulations to Benjamin. A great time to place and especially at his age.

From Rob Murphy on Sat, Jun 22, 2013 at 18:59:41 from

Have you ever contacted Croc's for a sponsorship? Seriously.

From Matt Schreiber on Sat, Jun 22, 2013 at 19:53:51 from

I think Rob's onto something.. Congrats to Benjamin.

From Dave Taylor on Sat, Jun 22, 2013 at 21:07:30 from

So how did the 800s go? 4:41 is still plenty fast :)

From jeffmc on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 12:57:09 from

A word of caution for Jacob from my experience. Don't use the inhaler too frequently as it is possible to develop a resistance to it (I was using mine every day and that is what happened). My suggestion would be to only use the inhaler before hard efforts when you suspect that problems could arise (air is dry, lots of particulate matter in the air, etc.). Obviously the Dr. will know better than I do, but that is what I would suggest.

There are also some research papers out there that have looked into different types of warm ups to avoid problems. Running a bunch of short sprints prior to the main exercise has been shown to help some, but I can't remember specifically what was done. Keeping the airways moist could provide some benefit as well. If you do a search for some articles on pubmed or google scholar you should be able to find out more specifics.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 14:11:57 from

Jeff - thanks for the suggestions. I was about to e-mail you and ask for your advice given your experience with this problem, but you beat me to the punch. My thoughts as well on the frequency. He only gets the symptoms when running at top effort even if the air is unfriendly. So I am thinking give it to him before races and time trials just in case.

Another thought I had - and we actually started on it - is just increase the mileage from alternating 2-1 pattern to 2 every day. My intuition is telling me that higher aerobic capacity can overpower the asthma, or at least alleviate the symptoms. As a proof of concept of sorts Benjamin and I did an experiment yesterday. While running at about 8:15 pace we sang the first four lines of the Star Spangled Banner each taking a turn - figuring this would be a good simulation of a mild asthma attack while running. Benjamin right now is competitive against me in races up to 5 K, then I start to pull away - the difference being in me having much higher aerobic fitness to compensate for my lack of power/efficiency.

I was able to get through the verse sneaking in just one breath more or less naturally. Benjamin had to pause for breath on every third word or so.

I also have some anecdotal evidence from another source. I recall Steve Wilson's account of running in the Austin marathon in 2001 (may be a little off on the year). He ran 2:18. He is a high mileage runner and does suffer from exercise-induced asthma. He reported having an asthma attack around mile 20 and being forced to slow down to 5:40 pace. Once it was over, he sped up to 5:05. I am suspecting that due to his high aerobic base he was able to control the damage and lose only about 20 seconds per mile to his average, and 35 to surging speed as opposed to being reduced to a jog, or having to stop altogether.

Which actually leads to another interesting point. We put emphasis on VO2, but we talk very little about O2 extraction ratio - O2 in vs O2 out. I took a look at my VO2 max test from 2007 the day before TOU to learn more about this. The columns of interest are FEO2 (fraction of O2 in the expired air) and FECO2 (fraction of expired air that is CO2). At the most miserable moment, my expired air was only 4.7% CO2 and O2 as high as 16.17% - you could probably still use this for mouth-to-mouth CPR. At rest I had FEO2 17.63% and FECO2 3.49%. Inhaled air is about 0.03% CO2 and 20.93% O2. So roughly I was using about only 1/5 of the oxygen that I inhaled.

I am going to imagine that a runner with a higher aerobic capacity is better at extracting oxygen from the inhaled air and thus needs less volume going in and out. So should there be an obstruction of some kind, he has more wiggle room to deal with it. Also, since he is taking in less volume, he would be less likely to trigger an asthma attack at the same effort because his breathing pathways will experience less irritation.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 14:20:12 from

Rob - I've contacted Crocs for a sponsorship and received a reply that they did not have any sponsorship vacancies left. I also am aware that their CEO has seen the picture of me winning the Provo River Half in Crocs. However, there was no follow-up. I can only speculate as to the cause. There are two possibilities - one is that with Crocs being a big company they have a problem of the left hand not knowing what the right hand does, and the ball got dropped. The other possibility is that they may just not see me as a good commercial vehicle. I run in a product that costs only $20 and make a big deal about it. I tend to speak my mind regardless of the possible fallout. They probably want somebody that will promote something more expensive and will not share opinions that could stir trouble.

Regardless, I do not miss this sponsorship that much. At this point in my life I can easily afford a $20 shoe twice a year for myself, and once a year for each child.

From jeffmc on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 14:40:29 from

Sasha, mentioning Crocs, I actually had a chance to chat with a researcher that has a contract with the company. I asked if the company had any plans to develop a running shoe, and her reply was that the company had thought about it because they knew of people that ran in Crocs (probably you) but ultimately they decided that they wanted to focus on promoting and designing shoes for leisure rather than running/competition. It is likely that the different focus and goals the company has was part of the reasoning behind the rejection.

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