Breaking the Wall

July 18, 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: 110.88 Year: 2082.97
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 914.70
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Got a stomach bug. As an interesting coincidence I happened to read Pres. Bensons talk on missionary work from the 1974 General Conference shortly after getting it. This helped me feel thankful for my afflictions. The missionaries in the early days of the Church would have gladly traded a few months of my stomach bug for their illnesses and other forms of adversity.

Dragged myself through 12.5 miles. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 1, Julia and Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5, Sarah 1. At the end of everything I was running with Benjamin and he heard lots of groans. It was just easier to deal with the pain if I groaned. Have not eaten anything today except an apple, and I am still not hungry, although I am feeling weak.

Coded up the battery usage feature in the Fast Running Friend, made version 1.1 release, and got to test it. Some observations:

  • Battery life of Fast Running Friend on MotoACTV with GPS and Bluetooth on is around 2:30 h. So I would have to do some tricks to make it usable for racing a marathon.
  • When the battery drops to 5% the GPS signal first becomes low quality (I got 1:28 per mile pace at the end)  and then the GPS is shut off by somebody outside of the application control (kernel or firmware, I imagine). With the GPS off the battery life is much longer, and it can go at 5% for some time.
  • The current Fast Running Friend distance algorithm needs fixing to deal with a cloudy day and other bogus GPS data. I do need to gather the data to a file to be able to come up with a good one, though, and I really did not want to do it in Java. So I learned how to use JNI with Android build, and started writing a C implementation of periodically flushing my circular GPS data buffer into a file. 
  • I am very pleased that aside from GPS signal and battery issues the Fast Running Friend has been reliable so far. I have tried a few GPS apps on Android before, and every single one of them ended up freezing my phone after about 4-5 miles. I have not debugged but I have an idea why. My phone is a low-end, the cheapest Android I could find with only 160 MB RAM. An app that is not careful with memory allocation will quickly run it out of memory and bring the whole thing to a grinding halt, and it is easy to be sloppy with memory allocation in Java when storing large amounts of data. Well, there is no such thing as freeing memory in Java except running the garbage collector, and it tempts me to use profanity. MotoACTV has 256 MB RAM, so a little better, but still you need to be careful, you cannot just run any app off the shelf and expect good results.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
From Scott Sandberg on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 18:21:41 from

Sasha: I got a chance to try out your app today during my speed workout on the track and it ended up being only .06 different after 8 miles with my friend's Suunto watch. I noticed 2 things during it though: The pace changed every second so it would be nice to have an average pace option, and when I exited the app it kept the GPS on. I don't know if that was something that I did but I couldn't figure out how to turn the GPS off after it. It looks good so far though! I also was running it in the background while using a different stopwatch app so I could record splits during the run, and it didn't slow the watch down at all.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 20:25:08 from

Scott - thanks for trying it out! The GPS not turning off bug has been fixed in version 1.1 which I released this morning. Go ahead and upgrade, the link on the Github page points to the latest version.

Immediate pace is still bogus, just like in any GPS. I will work on fixing that next week. But I need to gather some data first to come up with a good algorithm.

I am glad to hear it performed reasonably on the track as the current algorithm is targeted towards a course that is mostly straight. Do you know what distance you actually ran on the track (from counting laps)? Also, before you started it, did you use the Music button to find the GPS signal?

Split recording is on the TODO list, but not next week - got to make the distance and the immediate pace accurate first when the signal is present and good, and a good guess when it is not.

You appear to be technically minded. Do you program? If not would you be interested in learning? If yes, the Fast Running Friend can be a great opportunity. Not only will you have something that can help you in your running, but participating in an open source project is a fairly sure guarantee of a job that feeds a family quite well in a near future and for a long time.

From Scott Sandberg on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 00:12:03 from

I ran 16 laps on the track but because I had the other stopwatch running I didn't check my mileage until the end of the run. I used the volume down button to start searching for the GPS signal. I have actually looked into programming, but the furthest I've got is creating a HelloWorld program. I would be very interested in learning though, being able to create apps has always sounded interesting to me!

From Rob on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 21:16:59 from

That's great and all, but when is Fastrunningblog app version 1.0 coming out? I guarantee every member would pay at least $5 for that.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 05:07:52 from

There is version 1.1 already.

From Rob on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 08:33:56 from

Not that app, a Smart Phone app that I can use to update my info.

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