Breaking the Wall

SLC Track Club Winter Series 10 K

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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: 291.02 Year: 1935.71
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: 805.63
Race: SLC Track Club Winter Series 10 K (6.214 Miles) 00:32:59, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Raced SLC Track Club Winter Series 10 K in 32:59.6, 3rd place after Aleksander Thomas (31:46.5) and BJ Christensen (32:22.7).

Brought Benjamin and Jenny with me to the race. We picked up Steve Ashbaker on the way as well. Warmed up with Steve and Adam 2 miles. The weather was close to ideal, about as ideal as you can expect it in February - about 34 degrees, 8mph cross-wind which I thought at first was going to be neutral, but it ended up overall favoring the second half.

Benjamin and Jenny were both in the race with the following compensation package from Daddy:

Benjamin (age 8)

  • Appearance fee - $2
  • Bonus for finishing the race - $2
  • Quality time bonus - $1/minute for the gap on the 50:00 guy
  • Competitive bonus - $0.10 for each defeated male competitor, $0.05 for each female

Jenny (age 7)

  • Appearance fee - $2
  • Bonus for finishing the race - $2
  • Quality time bonus - $1/minute for the gap on the 1:00:00 girl
  • Competitive bonus - $0.20 for each defeated male competitor, $0.10 for each female

I knew that given my focus on base and virtually no speed work aside from a few races and tempo pickups, my threshold pace would be very high and would feel very comfortable, but I would not have very much room above it both in the dimension of how much faster I could go, and in how long I could stay there. So the plan was to run threshold pace to 4 miles, and then if I felt good, go into the 10 K race pace misery zone and try to make up some time. I figured the threshold was somewhere around 5:20.

Steve and I worked together from the start. In the first mile there were a couple of guys with us, but they fell back shortly before the mile mark. First mile in 5:20, second in 5:20 as well. 2.5 K in 8:18, 3 K in 9:57, 4 K in 13:18. BJ and Aleksander were around 5:05, and it did appear that Aleksander was pressing the pace while BJ was just hanging on hoping for the best.

Felt some unfriendly wind, but it was not a killer, especially when trading leads. On the third mile the wind picked up, or maybe we just changed the direction a bit to make it more unfriendly. We slowed down to 5:29. I think we slowed down more than we should have, though, because I felt a bit of an easement in the effort. Shortly before the mile marker 3 I moved up and pressed the pace a bit.

16:44 at the 5 K mark. The 5:20 guy is ahead, not good. Oh well, hopefully he would not put too much distance on us. Thinking maybe 33:25 is possible with a strong last mile and if we do not lose focus in the next 2. 20:05 at 6 K, 21:32 at 4 miles. That is an improvement - 5:23 mile with a 180 in the middle. I was encouraged. Saw Benjamin around 19:10 into the race, and Jenny around 20:37. Not enough oxygen to figure out how fast they were going, especially now that Steve started to press the pace and take me right into that 10 K misery zone. However, still enough oxygen to calculate that the 5:20 had 12 seconds on us. That is better, we lost only 3 seconds, and the next mile would have no headwind (hopefully), and no 180 turn.

22:40 with 2 miles to go. 7 K in 23:25. That was 1 K in 3:20, a bit faster than 5:22 pace. Lost some ground on the 5:20 guy, but looks like were are not going to lose any more, Steve is pressing the pace pretty hard trying to lose me. I am experiencing what one could call tepid comfort, like you are sitting in a bathtub, the water keeps getting colder, but the room is even colder than the water so you try to stay in the bathtub for as long as you can. In this case, Steve's back was the bathtub, and he was trying to lower the temperature of the water as much as possible.

7.5 K in 24:59. We are still behind the 5:20 guy, but we are now 1 whole second ahead of the 3:20/km guy, very encouraging! And we closed 5 seconds + gained one in just 500 meters!

5 miles in 26:48. That is progress. The 5:20 guy has only 8 seconds on us. We ran the last mile in 5:16. 1 mile to go - 27:55. I add 5:20 to that, this gives me 33:15 and brings a smile to my face. I know that barring a major disaster I have a 5:20 mile in me with the help of a kick, and 33:15 would give me a 24 second 10 K PR for a non-aided course. But Steve is not happy with that, he keeps pressing. I see Saltair in the distance and it keeps getting bigger fast. I like that.

32:02 at 6 miles. We just ran a 5:14 mile, and we are headed for a very low-33:00. I was just about to open my mouth to share the good news with Steve, but three things precluded me: a) I was out of breath b) it was time to kick c) I realized that there was a remote chance of dipping under 33:00.

So, time to kick. I do not like that. The bathtub was still quite comfortable even though the water kept getting colder and colder. Very appropriately, I had the frozen Great Salt Lake in my view. A kick is like jumping from a lukewarm bathtub into a frozen lake. Steve shifted gears, I am still there, the water got colder, but I am still in the bathtub. If I am going to do my best today, I need to get out of the bathtub. So I reluctantly move alongside Steve with about 250 to go positioning myself for the final dash. My instincts tell me now is the time to strike.

Out of the bathtub! I floored it for about 50 meters knowing that once you get up to speed you can run off the momentum for a while even if the anaerobic bear jumps on your back. Steve did not respond. I am approaching the clock. It says 32:52, 32:53... I was already satisfied with the race, and felt like just coasting to the finish, but somewhere deep inside me there came an urge to break 33:00. It worked against my will. I felt the finish line pulling me towards it, except my legs had to do the work to accomplish the pull. I leaned forward right as a crossed the finish line to make sure I would get every fraction of a second available to me. 32:59.6 official time, a 40 second PR for a non-aided course. 57.6 from 6 miles to the finish, that is a 67 second quarter speed! This is a 4 second PR for the 10 K kick! Last mile in 5:04, last 2 miles in 10:19, last 3 K in 9:34, and last 5 K in 16:15! PR for the last mile of a race 5 K or longer with the exception of Alta, PR for the last 5 K of a 10 K I think even if you count the last 5 K of Magna. And all of that from pretty much pure base!

Steve had a great race as well finishing in 33:02.0 with a new 50 second non-aided course PR.

Immediately after we finished we ran back to meet Benjamin and Jenny. Steve paced Benjamin while I paced Jenny. Benjamin finished in 45:38.8 with the splits of 22:27 - 23:11, 58th place out of 230 finishers, and earned a total of $21.80. Jenny finished in 53:06.4, 111th place, having chicked 67 out 141 men. I hope getting chicked by a 7 year old girl running her first 10 K would give them a reason to get on the Fast Running Blog and start training better. Jenny did a negative split of 26:50 - 26:16 with the last mile in 8:01. She earned $29.49.

Note that Benjamin runs only 2 miles a day, while Jenny runs only 1.5. But they do it 6 days a week. No longer runs. Their longest training run is when our cars needs attention and we run 2.25 from or to the car shop. And this fortunately does not happen often enough to have any lasting training effect. Nevertheless, with this kind of training they are able to not just finish a 10 K but race it and hold their own in the closing miles. What this tells me is that the frequency of the runs plays a very important role in building endurance, and a decent level of endurance can be built when the frequency is good even if the length is lacking.

FRB had a decent showing, with Adam Wende taking 5th place in 34:33.0, James Barnes 9th in 36:08.0, Terry Bean 11th overall and winning the masters in 37:46.4, and Tom Lee running not only a huge 10 K PR, but beating his possibly short course 5 K PR time from last summer doubled by 12 seconds with 38:39.7, 16th overall and 2nd master. A number of other runners set PRs and won or placed high their age divisions.

P.M. Ran 11.7 miles in 1:27:35, met a runner named Austin, a BYU student, ran with him for a while. Also ran a mile with Julia in 11:18 later in the evening.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
From Kim on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 14:18:50

Sasha, that was such a great play by play, I felt like I was there watching you! Oohhh...I was there watching you! But I feel like I was watching you the whole way with that great race report!

For those of you who aren't aware, we have a picture of that great kick he is talking about on Tom's race report. (, check it out!

From Jon on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 14:22:10

You definitely win the prize for most words per mile in a race report...

From Jody on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 14:32:39

Great race!! Way to PR! It was great to meet you on Saturday!

From Lybi on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 14:37:01

What an exciting race report! I was almost holding my breath at the end. Very good news, Sasha! This is quite a break through for a mid-winter race to be so fast. Congratulations! Can't wait to see what this coming year has in store for you.

From Tom on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 14:45:16

Great race Sasha! I didn't realize when I talked to you after the race this was a PR. Also congrats on finding the massive kick at the end. I really like the bathtub analogy. I'm wondering if I've ever really gotten out of the tub yet in a race. I'll think I'll be thinking about that late in my next race.

Great that Kim took that picture of you and Steve right during "the kick". I think the grimace on your face says it all. Steve had a great race too, as far as the picture I hope he doesn't feel like one of those NBA players who end up in the poster with the superstar dunking on his head!

From Jon on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 14:53:27

Nice race, too. I have to chuckle that you track PR's for 10k kicks and for last mile and 5k's of races. Keep up the good work and you can hopefully set more PR's this year.

From jtshad on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 15:01:52

Smoking race and a great PR. You are running very well, Sasha, keep it up. I look foward to seeing you in action at the Del Sol!

From Paul Petersen on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 15:35:10

Great job! Impressive due to lack of any speedwork, but perhaps not too surprising. Tinman often writes that the greater the proportion of slow-twitch muscles, the less helpful speedwork is. Thus, a guy like yourself may thrive most off of pure high mileage.

From Tyler on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 16:43:22

Awesome race! Loved the bathtub analogy. I'm sure it will be going through my head during my next race.

From George on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 20:32:10

Nice job. Good indicator of things to come.

From Brent on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 20:36:24

Shasha, breath taking report, 100 commando points for the 10K PR and 50 for the 5K PR and another 100 for third place. 500 points for the wincing and sheer guts. We have all learned from you running advice, your race report should be required reading for mental toughness.

Stay Cool, Tough as Nails, B of BS Rools out

From saamijeff on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 21:17:46

Above comment says it better than I ever could. Great report.

From Shauna on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 21:32:32

Great job! I loved your report and the bathtub analogy.

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