Breaking the Wall

August 14, 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: 88.07 Year: 2386.98
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: 1257.89
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

And should we die before our journey's through, happy day all is well. We then our free from toil and sorrow too, with the just we shall dwell...

My legs were still sore today, but not as sore as yesterday. I could walk down the stairs without the urge to scream. My intuition told me they will not get any worse from running 15 miles with a 5 mile tempo in the middle. I thought it would give me a nice "big workout" (term borrowed from Tinman). I think he is on to something with that. Best marathoners train in a number of different ways. But one thing in common is that they frequently run for 90+ minutes at once. It could be Zatopek's 40x400, or it could be Viren's 50 mile jog around a big lake, or it could be something more conventional - 20 miles with 10 hard at the end. There is a common theme around my good marathons - frequent and properly balanced runs of 90 minutes or more.

So I ran with Jeff to the end of my 10.04 course, then back to the start of the 5 mile tempo. It started to get warm. My legs were feeling the pain. Jeff noticed that my stride was shorter than his. Normally it is longer. I did not have my normal quad power, so I had to compensate with higher turnover. Nevertheless, we managed about 7:00 average for the first 8.7 miles of our run. I had second thoughts about the tempo, but figured I could slow down to whatever I needed to be able to finish it, and whatever I got would be a benchmark of my current level of recovery.

Splits by the mile - 5:51 - 5:47 (11:38) - turnaround 14:33 (2:55) - 3 miles 17:25 (2:52, 5:47) - 5:47 (23:12) - 5:46 (28:58). Jeff was running strong around 3, and I thought he might drop me, but then he ran out of gas and fell back a bit on the last mile. The run fell tough. I think there were several things that made it so:

  • pain in the quads - every step hurt, not much, like a mosquito bite maybe, but this makes it hard to concentrate
  • loss of power in the quads - this a big deal for me. I have thought about this issue for a while. My opinion is that one's ability to balance the quad and the hamstring well is a function of the condition of the lower back. A more biomechanically talented runner (minority of the runners) will have the lower back in proper balance and will use quads and hamstrings in a more effective proportion. A less  biomechanically talented runner (majority of the runners) will have issues in the lower back that will force him to rely on the quads more. Thus he will  never negative or even -split a marathon without  running below his potential because even though he may have the fuel reserves left in the second half, his quads are partially disabled due to the cumulative pounding impact in the first half, quads being the primary shock absorber, and he cannot do much without them. Whereas the other type of runner does not suffer as much from the loss of quad power because his hamstrings are better utilized, and they are not a major shock absorber, so if they have the fuel in the second half, they can go.
  • heat
  • having run 8.7 miles earlier
  • lack of glycogen from the marathon 4 days ago

So I was pleased with the run. Finished the rest barely fast enough to keep the 6:40 guy off our backs - 1:39:41 for 15.04.

Ran with the kids in the evening - total of 2.5.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Clay on Sat, Jul 28, 2007 at 23:44:59

Way to hang in there Sasha, you are amazing...

From wheakory on Sun, Jul 29, 2007 at 01:34:07

Very nice run to finish the week, especially four days from your last marathon, very impressive.

I think the quad theory you talked about is true, because you will see in races where runners will run the downhill well (example Des. News, Pocatello Marathon) then when the flat part of the course comes some runners have relied so much on the quads alone, and maybe not the proper conditioning that they have nothing left when the flat or rolling hills come in the second half of the course. Then there are runner's that just adjust from the downhill to the flat. I think that involves proper conditioning and your lower back theory.

From Brent on Sun, Jul 29, 2007 at 11:20:30

Sasha, you must be an eagle scout, excellent survival skills. Adaptation to the situation at hand. I certainly agree with Wheakory, it is a real challange after the downhill to adjust to the flat.

From James on Sun, Jul 29, 2007 at 17:58:44

Nice run. Wow! You really got beat up from that marathon! Your not one to mention being super sore too often. I am like that after St. George for the better part of a week. I heard that this new Des News course beats you up worse than the old one.

I noticed that you, Bill, and Steve all ran similar times at Des News and Ogden this year, what is your take on that?

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 13:45:47

James - my take on that is that courses are equivalently slow. The elevation drop in DesNews happens in a very performance-destructive way. You drop 3200 feet net, and then on top of that you climb the Little Mountain, then of course you have to drop down, then you have a whole bunch of little climbs that you have to drop down more to compensate. I think it is really hard on the quads if you work them climbing, they tighten up, and then while still tight, you start using them as a shock absorber going down.

I also think that I was mistaken earlier thinking that most damage to the quads happens in the first 4 miles of this race on the 7% down. I took the first 4 very easy compared to last year (5:20 pace vs. 4:45), then ran the rest of the race a only little bit faster and ended up pretty much with the same level of soreness in the end. I think the two most destructive punches are Emmigration Canyon 10 - 15 (Little Mountain and the subdivision detour prime you for this), and the rolling hills of the Wasatch Drive and Foothill (16 - 20). If I were to do it over again, I would run the first 4 miles at about 4:50-5:00 pace, and really ease off on the Little Mountain, the subdivision detour, and all other uphills. Also, make sure the quads are relaxed before starting to push the downhills.

From wheakory on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 14:16:18

Last year when I ran the Des News my calves were sore after the race, and my quads were fine. Like you I took the first four miles a bit slower, and pushed really hard in the end. My calves are really the only part that get sore after a

marathon, so I think I need more strength training in that area of the body. I'm not sure why my quads don't get sore, but I do a lot of downhill running in Pocatello, or maybe I just don't push my legs hard enough.

I would say your absolutely right on the areas of the course that are a punishment on your legs.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 14:35:42

Kory - I think the reason your quads do not get sore is that you do not use them as much due to your form. This is not necessarily bad. Can you have somebody video-tape you and post the video on YouTube?

From wheakory on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 14:47:54

Sure I can have that done. I'd like to do anything to get the maximum ability out of my running to become better/fast.

What about my calves do you think strength training would help in that area? It's not real bad after a marathon. Their maybe sore for a couple hours and then I'm fine. For instance, I ran the Teton Marathon in June and afterwards they were sore, but by two hours they felt fine. I could even walk up and down the stairs without a problem and mowed my lawn that same day after the race.

Thanks for looking into this Sasha.

From wheakory on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 16:50:47

Sure I can have that done. I'd like to do anything to get the maximum ability out of my running to become better/fast.

What about my calves do you think strength training would help in that area? It's not real bad after a marathon. Their maybe sore for a couple hours and then I'm fine. For instance, I ran the Teton Marathon in June and afterwards they were sore, but by two hours they felt fine. I could even walk up and down the stairs without a problem and mowed my lawn that same day after the race.

Thanks for looking into this Sasha.

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