Breaking the Wall

Provo City Half

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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: 266.81 Year: 266.81
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: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1438.17
Race: Provo City Half (13.11 Miles) 01:15:29, Place overall: 5
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Provo City Half, 1:15:29, 5th place.

Warmed up 3.3 to the race, some of it with Seth Wold. He was running the 5 K, but that did not make things much easier in the half.

Coming into the race I expected to have very minimal chances for prize money. On one hand I am still not 100% recovered from the ear infection. On the other hand the economic decline is pushing more runners to race for money, so the races are more competitive.

Some race directors use the phrase "a chance to win" in reference to prize money. I just have to take a jab at that, too tempting to pass it by. Read my lips, there is no chance unless you are very very fit. And once you are, it is not a chance, it is a certainty. The race is 95% decided before it starts. This should be obvious, but many people still do not quite get it.

When a runner is perpetually out of shape, he once in a while experiences "miraculous" breakthroughs, gets 10-20 minute PRs, and beats people that he could never beat. Because of those experiences he thinks he might have a chance. But a consistent runner knows better, or at least should know better. If you've seen no signs of better fitness in training, it is very unlikely that they will magically appear in a race. If they do, usually no miracle happened. The runner or his coach just do not quite know how to read the training.

I say "usually" because I believe Moroni 7:35 "...has the day of miracles ceased?" Miracles do happen today. I have seen a few. But they do not happen on a whim. God has to have a purpose to make it happen. We have to have the faith to back up the purpose. We have to understand the purpose and be sufficiently humble in asking for it. When it comes to running, it would serve us well to understand the natural laws behind running fast and follow them first before asking for a miracle that will allow us to run faster than what we have currently earned through training. Even when the result fits with His plan, God rarely intervenes with His powers until we have exhausted our abilities.

So at the start we had Jeff, Nick, and Shin, plus there was a rumor of Mike Vick, so I was not wrong in my expectations. They say there is more than one way to skin a cat. Today I was going to be the cat to be skinned, and I had a choice on the method. I could run evenly paced, run 1:14, and get nothing. Or I could go out hard until failure, then coast in, run 1:15, and still get nothing. I chose the latter because I wanted a better view of the leaders.

The weather was not great, but could have been worse. My slowest mile was 6:02 into a headwind. Not sure how this compares with last year. Headwind is very deceptive. Hard gusts are fairly harmless compared to a fairly mild but steady blowing. Direct headwind is much worse than cross-wind, but it is hard to tell which one you are getting and when. The only way to judge the conditions is empirically by comparing performances, but we do have a curve ball there. Jeff is in better shape and ran tactically, Nick has not run a long race in a while, Shin ran a marathon 2 weeks ago, Mike has not run a long race in a while, and started late in this race, who knows what kind of shape I am in, and Mary Ann is in better shape.  The only thing I can say that the conditions did not make the race faster.

Iain Hunter came to be a volunteer rabbit for the first few miles. The first mile marker came in 5:00, and the consensus was that it was short. Iain's GPS said 5:09, Mary Ann's GPS said the mile marker was 7 seconds too short. I can believe 5:07-5:09 based on the effort. 2 miles came in 10:22, and the marker was painted on the road, so I believe it. At that point, we had Iain pacing, then Nick, Jeff, and Shin. I thought the finish order would be Jeff, Nick, Shin, and me. I was not aware that Mike was actually in the race.

12:00 into the race my legs started getting tired even though my breathing was fine, the realization of the misery of running hard 10 miles after racing a 5 K began to enter my mind, and I decided 10:22 for 2 miles was good for today. So I backed off. So did Iain. I asked him to pace me, and he did. 3 miles in 15:59, 15:53 for the leaders. They backed off as well as the headwind began to pick up.

At this point I was done with the speed portion of my workout and now I had three purposes of running further: a) flash the blog shirt at the finish b) get in a long tempo and c) retrieve my clothes that were in Seth's car.

Iain bailed out at 4 miles (22:41), then I coasted through a mile in 5:59 into a headwind, 27:40 at 4. Then 5.5 the rumor of Mike materialized. Turned out he had started late. I decided one more interval would be good to do my legs in. So I followed him. He was going about 5:20 into a headwind. I made it with him to 6 miles in 33:21 and my legs said, no, time for a break. So I slowed down to 6:00. Mike just kept going. At this point I knew the correct finish order: Jeff, Nick, Mike, Shin, then me. Poor Shin, I thought, hard race, no money. But he is OK, he owns a company in Orem, he can handle that.

The rest of the race was rather uneventful. I did a 6:02 mile into a strong headwind, and after that ran slightly sub-6:00. Tried to pick up at the end, but the legs were tired from the "intervals" earlier.

Jeff gave Nick a surprise in the last mile. Surprise for Nick, that is, but we already knew that Jeff had that surprise in him from his training. 5:03 turning it on only about a quarter into it. 20 second gap in less than one mile. Jeff, as humble as he is, asked me if that mile was maybe short. I told him, no, the marks were painted, I ran it in 5:51, Nick ran it around 5:20, it was correct.

1:10:38 for Jeff, new course record, $350 cash plus a watch of supposedly high value, but in practice difficult to sell, maybe that is why it is being given as a prize, the jewelry store gets some advertising in exchange for unwanted merchandise. Plus a dinner for two for the course record, an impromptu bonus from the race director. Not bad for running the race tactically as proven in the last mile. Then Nick 1:10:58 ($100), Mike 1:12:04($50) gun time, who knows what would have happened had he started on time, but starting on time is part of the race rules. Then Shin 1:13:00 ($0), and me 1:15:29 ($0).

1:19:51 for Mary Ann, new course record by almost 2 minutes, she lived up to her last name again pouring a shower of hammers on her competition and winning the race by almost 12 minutes.

Both Jeff and Mary Ann PR'ed in the cash department winning more than they ever have in one race, and both needed that PR in this economy.

Even though I got outclassed from the money, I feel happy because Jeff and Mary Ann did so well. This year I am learning how to be equally happy about the success of my training partners as if it were my own.

We hurried to get Jeff's award, then found Seth, got my clothes out of his car, then cooled down 1.3 to my house barely in time for the General Conference.

P.M. Busy afternoon and evening, went to the Conference Center to do the backup for the Russian translation. Then Priesthood session in the evening. So kids ran around the block, Benjamin 2.1 in 15:42, Jenny ran 2 miles with Sarah,  Julia 1.05 miles.

Saucony Type A Miles: 17.70
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From maurine/tarzan on Mon, Apr 06, 2009 at 15:20:05 from

Enjoyed the race write-up Sasha! Question for you - you run so hard every day during the week. Do you ever taper for races such as these?

From TylerS on Mon, Apr 06, 2009 at 15:44:18 from

Nice race report Sasha! Sounds like you are coaching some winners! I use to go and help translate for General Conference in Icelandic but I think they found some newer missionaries to take over! Good job on the race. Was Mike late for the start or was he hanging back trying not to be seen?

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Apr 06, 2009 at 15:46:52 from


Half-marathons are not worth tapering for. Tapering will give me maybe 30 seconds in the half, but overtime will cost me a couple of minutes in the marathons. 30 seconds rarely saves the day in the half, but 2 minutes in the marathon often make a differences of a few hundred dollars. For somebody faster, the difference is even bigger. Two minutes in the marathon could be worth several thousand dollars.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Apr 06, 2009 at 18:10:02 from

He miscalculated and was not ready to start when the gun went off. No runner in his right mind would hang back on a windy day.

From air darkhorse on Mon, Apr 06, 2009 at 18:11:12 from

Sasha, You are to say the least a bit outspoken on this entry. Yes, you are are correct in most of your assumptions. But guess what? I race because I want to race. Running is a joy, not just a bunch of training over time conducted on the same route and same time every day applied with cold rigid formulas and methods all the time. In response to your other assertion, I don't expect miracles either but on the other hand if they come it's because God has shown his favor and grace. And we don't earn grace, it is given to us freely as a gift. By the way, I have never beaten someone who I could not achieve victory over again. I understand that you are not happy about the decision I chose on Saturday. But I love the sport too much to walk away from it in order to prove a point just because I can't get a comp.

If the comp issue was so important to you why did you still choose to race? Answer that..

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Apr 06, 2009 at 23:14:39 from

Steve - I had a comp, the race was next to my house, and I was planning a long run anyway. If I did not have a comp I would not have run. I love the sport, but I can race the guys I know for free, all it takes a couple of phone calls to get together. And I do not have the Las Vegas mindset to pay for a chance to win money. I do not pay for a chance.

From adamr on Tue, Apr 07, 2009 at 16:22:11 from

Mike and a few other runners, including myself, were still warming up when the cannon fired. There were more than a few of us that missed the start and were wondering what was happening. I definitely thought it was weird when Mike passed me around the 1 mile marker (meaning his first mile was probably high 5:50s-6min clock time...I don't remember if he passed me right before or after the marker...though probably more like 5:15-20 or faster running).

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Apr 07, 2009 at 16:36:35 from


Thanks for the info. That makes sense.

From Mary Ann Schauerhame on Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 01:09:21 from

Instead of impromptu dinner for two I took a whole box of fruit home and Denny came to my fun run the next week and took pictures for 2 hours for me in the rain just to be nice! What great race directors for!

That's nice Sasha that you are enjoying our success, unselfishly! Thanks for your nice compliments!

Steve, You probably don't need this advice, but I feel like telling you some as if I were giving myself advice on this. Don't feel pressured by anyone's suggestions. You do what you feel is right and what will make you happy. It's okay to disagree and it doesn't matter if someone or even everyone thinks your actions are immoral or unethical or whatever if you feel that your actions are right for you. I understand how you feel though, how it bothers you to be pressured and judged. I feel the same way in these circumstances. Seeing your response helped me see more clearly how I should react in the same situations. Don't worry about the arm of flesh or what people who aren't prophets tell you. We're all equals, no one is better than each other, we don't have to answer to anyone except our bosses at work, if we have them, our church leaders, and our spouses if we have them, and even then, the Lord has the final say. We're really all just kids on this planet without the immediate supervision of a parent. Have confidence that your opinion and feelings are just as valid and important as anyone else's, no matter how educated, prestigious, famous, powerful or intimidating they may seem.

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