Breaking the Wall

January 29, 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: 252.01 Year: 252.01
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: 1353.22
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10 in 1:18:49. Met Jeff on the trail. We also found a new friend. His name is Brian Brockbank. He ran with us for a few miles. After dropping everybody off did a fun pickup. Decided to run for as long as I felt like at a pace that I enjoyed. It ended up being a mile in 5:37.5. I would have gone further, but it was time to get off the trail, and I did not feel like running a weird distance.

Jenny ran 2.5 with Sarah. 

A.M-2. Did another attempt with Benjamin to break  6:00 in the mile. We thought of some ideas of how to help him overcome the mental block he hits around half way through. We decided if Jenny met him at 0.5 and raced him for a quarter he would certainly make it to 0.75, and then he can smell the barn and kick. So we warmed up 1.2 and started. He was doing great through 500 (1:51), then something happened and he said he had no energy. So we stopped at 600, and jogged back to try again. This time he made it to 600 in 2:14, one second ahead of pace, but then panicked and stopped without any effort to try to hold the pace any further.

Then it was clear. There was something in his brain that was programmed for self-defeat. The moment he realized the success was inevitable he could not handle it. A week ago nobody was waiting for him, and he made it to 1000 2 seconds ahead of pace, then quit without trying to hold on. Yesterday with Jenny waiting for him at 1200 (0.75) he quit at 800 (0.5) while right on pace. We bring Jenny to 800, and now he quits at 600. I asked him why, and he admitted that he realizes he would not quit while racing Jenny, and if he hits 1200 on pace he would not quit at all, and he just cannot handle it.

So to make a dent in his mental block I told him to try again and this time run (given the fatigue from the previous to tries) run as slow as he felt he would need to up to 800, then race Jenny to 1200. So he did 1:35, 1:49, 1:31 - 4:55 racing Jenny. She held on up to about 300.  

So we ended up the whole deal with a total of 3.56 miles. We will try again on Saturday. Hopefully the lessons learned would help us.

P.M. 1.5 with Julia in 13:33. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:38. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:28. 

Water Clogs 3 Miles: 17.81
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
From Dragonvulture on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 23:47:13 from

What time and where do you usually run in the AM?

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 12:54:47 from

Hmm.... Dragonvulture wants to know where and when I run. I wonder for what purpose :-)

We run on the Provo River Trail Tue-Fri at 6:00 AM, Mon and Sat around 7:00-7:30. Do you want to join us?

From Dragonvulture on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 13:11:25 from

If you wouldn't mind having someone else come tag along on occasion. Always looking for people to run with. Where do you start running from?

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 13:18:48 from

Dragonvulture - that would be great. 5:55 AM Friday (tomorrow) at 339 N 1120 W in Provo. Saturday has not yet been decided, probably 7:30 AM.

From ChrisM on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 13:24:13 from

Sasha, do you find your pace is slower when you run that early compared to later on in the day? I notice some difference although not sure how much is down to perceived effort

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 14:45:12 from


The dark slows me down about 10 seconds a mile in race pace workouts, and 30 seconds a mile on an easy run.

From Nevels on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 16:17:15 from

This brings up an interesting question in my mind (somewhat akin to the training at altitude conundrum): Is it sufficient to train at a certain perceived effort, or does one really need to hit certain paces?

My assumption would be a certain mix of the two, but I could also see a benefit to running at the time at which you plan to race, which could be in the early morning or night, partially warranting training at odd times of day. Just a random thought...

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 16:46:50 from

For aerobic development you do not need to be very precise with pace/effort. Just hit it somewhere in the range where it is sustainable for as long as you need to without overloading the nervous system or causing an injury overtime, but at the time fast enough to where it is faster than virtual walking. For me, that is anywhere from 6:40 to 9:00.

For speed workouts it is very different. You need to be a whole lot more precise, but perceived effort still plays a critical role for a runner that knows his body. There are factors that would be impossible to account for mathematically - variations in wind, temperature, humidity, and the fitness on the day of the workout.

From Nevels on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 16:58:36 from

I agree completely, which is one of my arguments against my getting a Garmin (or other GPS/pace tracking device). I've simply often been vexed by the problem of whether early morning workouts were beneficial or detrimental to my training, given that if I performed the same workout in the same environmental conditions, simply later in the day, I would undoubtedly be faster than if it were run early in the morning...

(these are carryover thoughts from early morning high school track workouts and their afternoon counterparts...)

From Dragonvulture on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 17:10:25 from

Sasha, I plan on being there tomorrow morning, look forward to the run.

Nevels, I'm fairly new to running, really started a year ago, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but having the garmin with the heart rate monitor on does help a lot in seeing improvements in aerobic activity. When you see your heart rate not going up as much over time while running the same distance at the same speed, you can easily see where your body is becoming more efficient in your running. There are of course variables to heart rate, diet, hydration, etc., but tracked over time you get a good indication of your actual effort over given distance and you can see when you are slacking off, or when you need to slack off. For instance, my first half I did last August, my heart rate was around 180 for the entire race, which I didn't know at the time, but do now, is probably not the best place to keep your heart rate for that long of a time. I was the guy who got to the end of the race, made it about one foot past the finish and laid on the ground for about 10-15 minutes. I couldn't even make it to the guy cutting the tags off the shoes. Maybe less than a week or two later I ran farther, faster, with much less effort and no long lasting side effects like I had from the race. And I love to connect all the dots from my GPS on google earth.

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