Breaking the Wall

November 29, 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: 244.22 Year: 3545.74
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: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 734.48
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Derek. Did the Gerry Lindgren 5 mile tempo. Derek just started after reduced mileage, so he is being caution. So he just did the first and the last mile with me. We also found Matt and he joined us for a portion.

Mile 1: 75, 77, 75, 82 - 5:09. Forgot to make the prediction after the first quarter. Derek pulled away after the first 0.6 and finished it in 4:58. Matt made it to 0.5, I think. HR peaked at 161(!) and I lost steam without being able to push it any higher on this mile. I wonder if I would get better results if I did 78,78, then hold 75/76 until failure, if I'd be able to do more of those this way. Should try this next time, which will be in a week.

Mile 2: 87, 86, 86, 86 - 5:45. Legs feel heavy, cannot go any faster, but HR drops to 156(!). This is a joke. Shouldn't it go up to 165 at least to clean up the lactic acid? Am I weird, or maybe this is normal? We should try this on Jeff when he gets back. If anybody wants to try the experiment as well, please go ahead. Protocol - go to the track or well-measured flat road segment, warm up, then run your dream pace that is much faster than what you have been able to sustain even in a 5 K recently until failure, then run the best pace to the finish of 5 miles. Record quarter splits along with HR patterns. If you live near Provo, I'll be happy to lend you my HRM and run alongside (if I can).

Mile 3: 86, 86, 88, 86 - 5:46. 13:46 at the turnaround. HR at 157.

Mile 4: 88, 86, 86, 86 - 5:46. HR at 158.

Mile 5: Derek joined me and stayed with me. 86, 86, 84, 82 - 5:38. 28:04.1 for the run. Last 2.5 in 14:18. Managed to get HR to 161 in the kick.

Almost exact carbon copy of Saturday run with minor variations. With Derek's help I pushed the 3rd quarter of the first mile, which gave me a faster first mile. But then the fatigue was greater and I ended up running 6 seconds slower for the whole run. HR, however, was lower. Part of it was the difference in the temperature. It was warmer on Saturday. But not that much warmer. And I should be able to sustain my HR above 161 in any weather.

Too early to make any serious conclusions, but the emerging pattern appears very interesting. Pushing the pace harder in the first mile so far has produced a lower(!) HR in the remaining 4 miles, not just a slower pace.

Ran a cool down with Derek, then 2 with Benjamin in 15:29, and 1 with Julia in 9:29. Julia set a 0.5 PR over the second half - 4:11. Total of 15.8 for the run.

P.M. 1.5 with Jenny in 13:18. 

T4 Racer - 446.93 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From camilla on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 01:51:44

Sasha! Thanks so much for the advice on how to start out training for the half marathon. I have been doing well and reading your blog makes me think that someday I will be a fast runner too. Let me know what I should do next to keep up on the half if you could? You are so great! Thanks again and good job on your times!

From Robert on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 10:37:11

Hello. Have you been doing any kind of resting heart rate tests or tracking when you awaken in the morning? Sounds like you might have what cyclist and ironman triathletes call being "heart tired". Not a lot of studies have been done on this, but some think it might have something to do with the body protecting itself from damage. An injury or governor of sorts, but in the engine room. It's considered a form of overtraining, but goes under the radar since most think a higher heart rate is linked to overtraining. True, but it's the resting heart rate that needs to be scruntinized. Tracking your resting heart rate over periods of time including the off season can provide some clues. Although doing that now might not help because you might already be in a OT state. However, there are all kinds of clinic tests that can be conducted for a nice fee of course. Just my 2 cents worth.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 11:59:10


I'll take a look at your blog and will leave some specific suggestions there.


My resting HR has been a steady 48 ever since I turned 16. I checked it a couple of days ago, and it was at 48.

From Robert on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 16:33:34

Are you checking your resting rate first thing in the morning before getting out of bed? What happens to your resting rate at 30 sec, 60 sec, and 90 sec after standing out of bed? You should see a mostly consistent heart rate (10 beat tolerance). Similar to an orthostatic heart rate test. Google it if you want, but it's just one piece of information. There are a lot of qualitative factors to consider as well. For example, my wife and kids are a good qualitative test for me. If I'm moody and irritable then they let me know and then I know something is out of whack. Later.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 16:49:28

I am not that technical about checking the heart rate in the morning. I figure if it can stay at 48 for 30 seconds in a steady rhythm it is good enough to decide it is normal. Also, I've had lots of good runs when it measured a little high (55-57), and plenty of bad runs when it was its usual 48. So I do not put too much weight on it.

What I've noticed is that my running HR is mostly affected by the air temperature, hydration level, and how fast I am running. In other words, on a bad day I will hit the usual HR for the pace I am going, I just would not be able to go any faster. The only exception to that is if I have a fever, in which case it is consistently higher at all paces.

From Robert on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 18:04:32

Well, if you are ambitous enough you can always run bi-weekly time trials. If you are 10 bpm below your typical max time trial heart rate (everything else held constant) then you have to consider OT depending on other indicators.

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