Breaking the Wall

Striders Winter Series 10 Miler

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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
Race: Striders Winter Series 10 Miler (9.86 Miles) 00:59:02, Place overall: 6
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Winter Series Striders 10 miler, 59:01.8, 6th place. To to a mistake by the race director in laying out the course the morning of the race, we ended up cutting off a certain distance that was 0.14 according to my Garmin 305. But in the end it does not matter, as we all ran the same race, and the course was so hilly that the time is meaningful only in comparison with other people in the race.

My cold started getting better the day before. However, I was still not quite healthy. As Ted and I drove up to the race, I decided I would pace Chad for the first three miles, if I felt healthy enough. Then take off if I felt good, or just hang on and finish the race if not. When I got to the race I remembered that Chad was not running. I convinced Steve Ashbaker to hang around with me for the first three miles. He agreed, figuring a slower start could do him some good.

We went through the first uphill mile in 5:54. It felt easy. Too easy. Ted caught us and told us to speed up. Joe Wilson was way out front, followed by Paul Petersen and Bob Thompson a distance behind. I was in a group with Steve, Ken Richardson, Ted, and Albert Wint.

Second mile was downhill. We pushed a bit harder, and got a good split - 5:11. Only 10 seconds behind Paul and Bob. The pace felt good. I even thought of making a move to catch them, but decided it would not be a good idea for a couple of reasons. I was not fully healthy, and I know that in that condition the early miles for me feel a lot easier. And the hills were coming up.

The wrong turn happened some place during the third mile. For the record, the split at mile marker three was 17:05, which was long. The race director guessed that one, it was not at the certified location. By that time I was with Ken and Steve. Shortly after, the climb started, and I fell behind. Running up the hills I decided to pay attention to two things - first the feeling, and second the heart rate to catch possible errors of perception, and also for the purpose of gaining experience and understanding. I figured as long as those hills were, I needed to stay right at my anaerobic threshold for best results. If the competition is pulling away, do not worry about it. They are stronger on the hill, and there is not much I can do about it now. The time to worry about it was before the race. All I can do by pretending I am as strong as them on the hill is lose it half way through the hill, not be able to go fast on the downhill, and end up further behind. Otherwise, with proper pacing, I might even be able to catch them on the downhill.

Official mile 4 (3.86 on the GPS), 21:44. Steve and Ken are within sight, Bob and Paul are out of sight. Hills are getting nastier and there seems to be no end of them. 28:07 at the official mile 5, 6:23 mile. Now the official mile markers are actually separated by exactly one mile since we are back on the certified course. The next mile has a nasty climb, I saw one quarter in 1:57 on the GPS, and otherwise were comparably slow. However, there was a downhill stretch towards the end which saved the mile split somewhat - 34:58 at "mile 6", 6:51. I closed a bit of a gap on Ken on that stretch. I wished it were longer.

Now the infamous 10 K hill. Paul called it the stairway to the place for those who sin and do not repent for a good reason. I am hitting 1:50-1:55 quarters, and Ken is not gaining much distance on me, and I can still see Steve, and he is not separating from us either, at least not by very much. Interestingly enough, as I kept the effort at my perception of anaerobic threshold my heart rate dropped from 162 in the early sections of the hill to 158 later on. I have seen this before running up Squaw Peak. The heart rate starts to drop towards the end of the hill. The hill has to be fairly long, though, so that you cannot get through it with a surge of effort. And it needs to be steep, about 6-7%. The way I feel the threshold is by the feedback from the quad. Right around there it starts feeling a bit sour, that is the best I can describe that feeling. On a flat or slightly downhill sections I get that feeling at around the heart rate of 161-163 if I am well rested and having a good day. On a bad day, I might get it at 157. It is that feeling that keeps me from going faster in a tempo run or a 15 K/10 mile/ half-marathon.

What is interesting is that in the past, I used to go by breathing to determine the correct pace for the half-marathon. Now it is not the breathing that limits me any more, it is that feeling of muscular fatigue in the quad. I suppose going up a steep hill for a while overworks the quad, and it starts quitting, which drives the heart rate down.

The hill keeps going up and up. I am starting to believe there is no end to it. Finally, we reach a point where I see no roads above us. That is a good sign, the hill is over. A short downhill stretch at the top give a bit of a saving grace for the mile split. 42:07 at the 7 mile marker, 7:09 for the mile.

Now the downhill. Here the mind is playing tricks on me, I knew it would. My heart rate goes down to 155 for a second. I push it a bit, now 157. Starting to get into a good rhythm. Now 160. Next mile in 5:24, starting to close a bit on Ken. Headwind is not helping. Next mile, less steep down in 5:32. Ken now is only 3 seconds ahead. I decided I'd do my best to pass him. But I think he decided he'd do his best to not get passed.

Nasty climb on the last mile. He pulls ahead, then comes back a bit. The climb is over. Now he shifts gears faster than me and is gone for good. I am pressing as hard as I can, but I just cannot shift my gears that fast. Right as I am approaching the finish chute my heart rate is only 161. And I am thinking kick, kick, get him! 59:01.8, last mile in 5:59, Ken is 13 seconds ahead, Steve  37 seconds ahead.

Short cool down to not make the cold worse, then the Zmei Gorynovich treatment after that (a clove of garlic). Zmei Gorynovich is a three headed flying fire-breathing serpent in  Russian fairy tales. My mom calls me Zmei Gorynovich whenever I eat a lot of garlic.

Overall, I thinking although the cold was a factor, mostly it was the hills that killed me. Nothing new. The hips and the spine need to be fixed. I am happy I was able to run somewhat decent under the circumstances. I am looking forward to the half-marathon, which is mostly downhill. 

Ran some more with the kids in the afternoon.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Chad on Mon, Mar 12, 2007 at 10:18:17

You had a great race, Sasha. I wish I could have been out there to hang with you in the first few miles. I'm sure I would have suffered mightily as a result--but it would most certainly have improved my performance.

From wheakory on Tue, Mar 13, 2007 at 10:26:02

Nice race Sasha, your speed and endurance is credited to your great dedication. Hills are tough sometimes you feel your at a great pace going uphill and then your quads start to fatigue and slow you down a


What our your marathon plans this year?

Thank you for you comments on my site. I'm really trying to do everything I can in my training to break 3 hours


do take Sunday's off, because my spirituality is more important than my running (basically what you stated). Our running abilities only come from God, and having fatih through him allows us to achieve what God wants us to achieve.

One of my favorite scriptures I try to live by and my family

Galatians 5:25 “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Mar 15, 2007 at 13:07:45


My marathon plans are Ogden, DesNews, Top of Utah, St. George, and then the Trials if I make it.

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