Breaking the Wall

July 11, 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: 51.55 Year: 2011.51
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: 881.43
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Saw Dr. Jex. He took an X-ray of my lower back in the running position with the knee lifted up. I wanted him to check if I lose the lumbar curve when I lift up my knee. Sure enough, I do, it goes down from 35 degrees to 13. This explains why I do not lift up my knees very much. However, it is not yet clear what the root cause of this would be, or how we should go about fixing it. He also gave me a special cylinder for mid-back exercises.

Then went to the Provo Canyon for some serious painful work. Started with a warm-up followed by a prayer asking for the courage and humility to accept the pain. Then 5x400 alternating down and up. 70.6 down - 76.7 up - 70.1 down - 75.8 up - 69.1 down. I think that was close to still air.

Then a jog up to Nunn's Park, and the standard 3 mile tempo down in 15:53. Splits - 5:21 - 5:16 - 5:16. The head wind has picked up, but it was not as bad as last week, I think. Regardless, this is the fastest time of the year. It was quite painful, but I was holding the pace. The last two miles felt like a very long quarter. I think taking the headwind into account, this is probably worth 2:26:30 in St. George.

Then a jog back to the place of quarters. The place of pain that leads to success. Again, the same 5x400. The head wind now got stronger and it showed in the splits. 72.2 down - 75.0 up - 71.9 down - 74.8 up - 66.3 down. Pushed hard on the last one, but I think if there was somebody to push me it could have been faster.

2.7 mile cool down. Total of 15.2 for the workout. Came home, the weight was down to 141lb, this means I need to eat and drink a lot.

Then I thought about all the things I had to do. I remembered a comment made by one Russian coach who coached high school runners. "Those teachers, they just do not get it. The guy has just finished a 20 K run, and they expect something from him. He cannot do it, he is as if had just  had 100 grams of vodka!"  The fatigue of a workout has an interesting effect on you. I think it is very good. It helps you lay aside the matters that are not important and pay more attention to the things that really matter. In the New Testament there is a story of Mary and Martha. Mary is listening to Christ, while Martha is busy serving guests. Martha gets upset because Mary is not helping her, yet Christ says that Mary has chosen the better part. Sometimes we fill up our lives with stuff, mostly not that important in the eternal scheme of things, and forget to take the time to choose the better part. I think the fatigue of a workout, combined with the experience of overcoming pain prior, has a tendency to take us from the Martha territory into Mary's territory and take the time to choose the better part.

Ran with the kids in the evening. Total of 17.1 miles for the day.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From sarah on Wed, Apr 25, 2007 at 00:21:47

I love you

From wheakory on Wed, Apr 25, 2007 at 00:52:37

Well put Sasha. We need to be spiritually minded and not carnally minded, and living and walking in the spirit.

Nice workout! These are the types of workouts I need to do to obtain peak performance.

From Ryan Woods on Wed, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:04:30

I don't disagree. A month off would no doubt take care of the plantar but my situation won't allow that. I live in Central Florida and by June it's just not possible to run longer than 6 miles. It's grueling, oppressing, and the most miserable 6 miles that will ever be run as well. I can't take a month off now then follow it up with 2 moths off in the summer. So I currently find my self in the pattern I'm in. Luckily things are working well for me right now and I'm starting to get fit again without upsetting the plantar balance. As for the regular run pace, I've been checking my pulse recently because I want to get the pool work and aquajogging in the same cardio level as the running. I've yet to get a pulse over 140 on a regular run. 6min pace is in my comfort zone. I've run that pace for all runs for almost a decade now. It's just not going to change.

From Lybi on Thu, Apr 26, 2007 at 00:40:39

Hey Sasha--What an impressive run! Interesting view on the fatigue of running. I see how running is about spiritual progression to you.

I really want to leave feedback about your back, however I feel a little awkward about it since I am such a beginner and you are a pro, but here goes . . . In short: I think that your ability to maintain your lumbar curve when you raise your legs would be much increased if you worked on your flexibility.

After I had my last baby, I went to the chiropractor because my lumbar curve had become exaggerated. He told me I need to stengthen my abs, hamstrings, and quads. Apparently they are the ones that support the lumbar curve. I know that these muscle groups must be like iron after what you put them through, so maybe they are over doing their jobs? Tight tendons/ligaments? would make it worse.

Question: can you touch your toes with your knees straight?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 12:31:56

Lybi - thanks for the ideas. My quads are very strong, hamstrings are above average, and abs are about average. I can touch my toes after a warm-up and with difficulty. I do have a number of tight tendons and ligaments. However, all the stretching and strengthening I've tried in the past had no effect on my running speed, even over 100 meters all out.

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