Breaking the Wall

January 17, 2021

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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: 146.77 Year: 146.77
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: 1276.97
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Start of the ease-off week before TOU. It is funny how you start to think of a week that ends with an all-out marathon as an easy week. The mini-taper before the marathon more than compensates for the actual effort of the marathon itself.

Ran on the Provo River Trail with Ted. He came to my house warmed up, and dragged me through the first quarter in 2:01. This was a bad idea, that made me warm-up sooner, and I started initiating sub-7:00 pace earlier than he wanted. At first I thought no noticeable effects from Alta Peruvian, but then I noticed the quads feeling a bit tender when going under the bridges. However, last year it hurt a lot worse. Ran 12.15 in 1:25:59.

The purpose of TOU - test how much my recent Big Workouts and mileage have done for my fuel storage. Go out hard, if Hobbie and anybody else (rumor has it Ezekiel Ruto is running it) runs slower than my threshold on the first half, go with them. As soon as it becomes unsustainable, back off, and try to maintain sub-6:00 or whatever feels good. Run myself out of glycogen, and then see how fast I can run on fats. This will accomplish two things - a Really Big Bonk Workout that my body hopefully will respond to by refueling aggressively, get an idea for proper pacing in St George as well as proper disaster management plan, and ... who knows, if a miracle happens, maybe there will be no bonk, and I'll get an accidental Trials qualifier. Sounds crazy, but I am not afraid to do it after my post-Great Salt Lake cool down adventure. I know I can comfortably maintain 7:10-7:20 on a flat course with a cross-wind in 70 degree weather with no fueling or water for at least 13 miles after racing an all-out half at the end of a 112 mile week. In TOU I will be fresher (I hope), there will be no cross wind on the last half (I hope), it will be cooler (I hope), I will run the first half a bit slower than all out (I hope), the last half is still a slight downhill, and there will be fuel and water.

Just discovered a great post in Paul's blog. He thinks only three people have read it. Let's prove him wrong.

P.M. 0.5 with Benjamin, Jenny, and Julia all running, 4:51. Dropped Julia off, 13:21 split at 1.5, dropped Jenny off, 16:45 split at 2 (Benjamin hit 3:24 for the last 0.5). Then played badminton with Benjamin and my mom for a bit at the park, got eaten by mosquitoes, then continued the run. Benjamin admonished me to catch the 8:00 guy. I was happy to exceed his expectations finishing the  5 mile run in 37:07.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From wheakory on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 14:28:30

You mentioned depleting your glycogen and running on fats, will you not take any gels during the race? I've read where it is a good idea to teach your body to run on fats when your glycogen is depleted. This is what most of the elite marathoners do.

From what I've read it's an advantage if you can each your body to run on the interfat muscle and not rely on the glycogen.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 14:46:16

Kory - I will take Powerade, as much as I can possibly process. I do not want to teach my body to run on fats during the race, it could cost me anywhere from $250 to $1000 depending on the competition. I am just curious to see how well it can do on fats, but at the same time I have a secret hope to never find out in spite of running a really fast first half.

From ashman on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 14:55:57

There is no conclusive evidence that you can "teach" your body to run on fats. It's all dependent on how high your aerobic maximum pace is. This determines the proportion of fat and glycogen that is used. There are some other minor factors also which I did not mention but really from what science and experience has shown me aerobic power is mainly the key.

From wheakory on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 14:57:10

It's really a good strategy to try, because on a good day where everything is clicking you may have one of those days where your at a peak performance, and feel you could run forever. You just never know. I generally take gels on miles 11 and 18 and drink water during a marathon, and some marathon's that's enough, and some I've felt like the last couple miles I'm running on fat.

I really hope you can nail this marathon and qualify... you've earned it.

From Jon on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 15:09:48

What is your threshold pace for the first half?

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 15:14:28

Probably 5:15 - 5:20 depending on which way the wind is blowing.

From Superfly on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 22:43:54


I've read you race report from last year at STGM. But do you have you mile splits handy for any of the last three or four years? I would really like to check them out and put together a race plan for myself.

From adam on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 23:12:59

sasha, check out the news story today about the 11 year old kid who bit the intruder trying to attack him. His quote is would be good to remember for your strategy. I will be out early tomorrow, around 5:30ish. What time are you all heading out?

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 23:27:32

Steve - I think you are on to something. I've had no luck trying to improve my last 6 miles of a marathon by simulating a bonk. However, I noticed that the pace I slow down when I completely bonk is the brisk pace of my easy run, which I believe metabolically would be the fat threshold (glycogen utilization next to nothing), and is a function of aerobic conditioning.

Adam - Jeff and I are meeting at 6:00 AM at my house, we will warm up about 3 miles, then run 5 in about 28:00. I think you should try to run with us for as long as you can on the way out (see if you can make it to the mile), and then the same on the way back.

Clyde - I do not have the pacing mile by mile, but I would not worry about it. Go out with the standard B pack. This will be a mind-breakthrough experience you really really need that will later if not that very day lead to actual performance breakthroughs. I've had a couple of those, and I can tell you now that without them I would have never achieved my current level.

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