Breaking the Wall

December 12, 2019

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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: 3555.51
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: 33.72
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. A very eventful morning. It started at 12:10 AM. Jacob was teething, and refused to sleep. So I took him downstairs and worked. After a bit over 1 hour he was done crying and fell asleep. Then I was too wound up to sleep, so I read the scriptures. Finally laid down and fell asleep. Another event was forgetting it was Thursday, and that Michelle was going to join us at 6:00 AM. So I arranged with Ted earlier to run at 6:30 AM. Michelle, of course, was on time. So she had some time for a nice warm-up.

We decided we would run fast when we could. I had an unplanned tempo pick-up for about a quarter due to a VPB stop, and then the road was clear, so Michelle kicked into gear and that extended the tempo to 0.5. Then we ran 2.1 stretch in 13:04 with a slightly negative split and a 180 in the middle. The road was mostly clear. On the last mile, I challenged Michelle to break 6:20 knowing that two things would happen. It would be easy and doable, so she would succeed. She would not think it is easy, so she'd kick seriously into gear, and after the first quarter or half at a good pace, she would feel up to a raised bar. It worked out as planned. She hit a quarter in 1:29, the bar was raised to catch the 6:00 girl, then 1:31, then Ted pulled ahead a bit to do his standard Ted-rabbit thing, and we ran 1:28, and 1:27 with a college kick on the last 60 meters at a pace that felt like 5:20. This gave me 1:19:30 for 11.61.

Then it was time for more miles to finish the 15.1. After not sleeping, and not having anybody around to push the pace, I was perfectly happy to trot along at 7:20-7:30 pace wishing for the run to be over, and looking forward to a breakfast and a good nap. Then I met Tyler. He said he was planning to do a 4 mile tempo and invited me to join. Even though at that point I wanted little else other than breakfast followed by bed in that order, I remembered a principle. When you are invited to do something out of your comfort zone, do it! Many times while serving a mission there was a door I did not want to knock on for one reason or another. And I learned that those doors had a very high probability of having somebody who was very interested behind them. So I decided that I'd always knock those doors, on a mission and afterwards. An invitation to do something hard is often an opportunity for a blessing of some kind.

Since there was no good 4 mile stretch anywhere on the trail, we decided to do 6x1000 (actually 0.625 going off the magic triangles to be more precise) on the dry stretch between the Union Pacific and 800 N bridges. It has a fairly steady about 1% grade. To get the tempo effects we kept the rest very short, about 40 seconds, barely enough to lose the momentum, turn around and jog back to the start. There were a couple of snow patches. I did not like them. They broke the rhythm, and at that point, rhythm was very important.

The times were: 3:31 (up) - 3:24 (down) - 3:33 (up) - 3:24 (down) - 3:32 (up) - 3:22 (down). This was good training for the third leg of Del Sol. I was doing OK on fuel, but the neural drive was seriously lacking, as you would expect.

Ended up with 19.23 miles for the run.

P.M. VanGoGo had a coolant leak. Took it to Computune. The manager, Todd, knows his cars like a good shepherd knows his sheep. At least for VanGoGo, he could probably recite 90% of its maintenance history without looking at the record. Turned out the problem was a bad radiator. We are going to get it fixed.

VanGoGo is a GMC Safari 95 van. It got its name partially from Kip Kangogo. Interestingly enough they have actually had a brief meeting on one occasion in the Slate Canyon. We even wrote a song about naming VanGoGo (we name our cars as you can tell):

When Zhu got too crowded we needed a van.
So we bought a Safari to drive our small clan.
When we pressed the gas pedal, it made Zhu seem slow.
So we thought that maybe it could be VanGo.
But then we remembered that Van Gogh was weird.
We thought of his paintings, and the dreadful lost ear.
We thought of a runner, a Kenyan we know.
With this inspiration we said: "VanGoGo!"

It now up to 191K miles. Second engine, third transmission (we did two of those, but one was fortunately under warranty). When we get another kid, it will be time for an upgrade to GMC Savannah. But until then I want to see how far VanGoGo can go.

Ran back with Benjamin and Jenny, 2.25 in 20:12. Benjamin was complaining that Jenny would not let him catch the 9:00 guy. Then Jenny got into a good rhythm on the last mile, closed with a 1:57 quarter, and beat the 9:00 guy by 3 seconds.

Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From MichelleL on Thu, Jan 03, 2008 at 21:03:33

Good job accepting the challenge for some speed at the end. I think it will help you in Del Sol and also as a marathon workout--seeing what you can do when you are tired.

Thanks so much for letting me run with you this morning and for coaching me through a nice tough workout. The last mile challenge was tough since I was already pooped but was a confidence booster!

So what's your goal for Painters? I can already guess and answer -- I will run by feel, go out fast and try to hang on. That's the typical Sasha strategy, right? Correct me if needed.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jan 03, 2008 at 21:07:54

Yes, pretty much. Even better - I'll develop the strategy as the race develops.

From Christi on Fri, Jan 04, 2008 at 11:28:52

Hi Sasha! I wanted to see if I could post an announcement? I want to get a head count of how many people would like to gather Friday Jan. 18th in St. George for a Painter's pre-race party. I am looking into places that we can have a pre-race pasta party and I need to know how many people we'll have. I have a place we can use, but it only holds 40. Anyway- I don't know how to post news/ announcements. Can you do it for me or show me how? Thanks so much!!

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Jan 04, 2008 at 12:05:29


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