Breaking the Wall

November 25, 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: 232.17 Year: 3533.69
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: 734.48
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ran the standard 5 mile tempo this morning. Did not realize I would feel the consequences of the stomach problems yesterday. I was able to eat simple foods and drink liquids, but I was not nearly as hungry as I should have been. It did show in the tempo run. First mile in 5:30, things are going well. Next 0.5 in 2:44, now I am a second ahead of the 5:30 guy. HR gets up to 160 like it should. Then the next quarter in 1:23 followed by 1:24, HR dropping. Maybe just lost the focus. Pressed harder, HR stuck at 158, next two quarters 1:24 and 1:26, 13:51 at the turn-around. Now something is definitely wrong, but I can still hang in there and run a bit under 28:00, I thought. Next quarter in 1:27, that is actually not too bad for the 180 turn recovery, but then the next two are trouble - 1:25 with HR dropping down to 156 in spite of the increased mental effort (5:42 for the mile), followed by 1:27. OK, odd problem, this usually happens around mile 15 in the marathon except it does not feel the same way because the muscles are feeling tired and the joints start to hurt, but this time the muscles and joints are just fine, but there is still very little glycogen in the legs. I've had this experience a couple of times before. Last year, shortly before DesNews marathon after three weeks of no less than 15 miles a day with at least 6 at sub-6:00 pace this happened in a 10 mile tempo run. And in October of 2004 I tried a tempo run after getting a similar ingestion bug and not eating very much for a day.

Next two quarters in 1:30, HR goes down to 152. But it feels hard, I am putting out my top tempo muscular effort. If I did not look at the watch, I would have said I was still running at 5:30 pace! Then 1:28, 4th mile in 5:55. Next quarter uphill in 1:31 followed by 1:30. With 600 to go I started feeling stronger and was I able to pick it up to 5:30 pace again. HR got up to 160, and I ran the last 600 in 2:03 at a steady pace. 28:27 for the whole run, 5:49 for the last mile. The weirdest tempo run I've had in a while. I thought of cutting it short a few times, but decided to finish it for scientific as well as mental purposes.

The cool down was also unusual. A tempo run would normally put my HR even at the cooldown pace (8:00 mile) to at least 127. Today HR stayed at 118. I considered cutting the mileage today given the upcoming 30 K on Saturday and the glycogen depletion caused by the stomach problems on top of high mileage, but decided to stick with the program. Cooled down until I was at 13 miles for the run. Came home, and still was not hungry, bad sign. Drank some raspberry tea, that got things going. Was able to eat three normal size meals afterwards, and now feeling hungry as I am typing this.

I did much better than Sarah in the stomach area, though. She was throwing up last night. So were Joseph and Jacob. Benjamin did not throw up, but was not able to eat much.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. Then went to the USATF meeting after dinner with Benjamin and Jenny. Benjamin gave me our mile splits as we drove, a new way to entertain an 8 year old (as well as a 34 year old) while driving.

I have always been curious about the negative feedback mechanisms that kick in once the muscular glycogen is low. I know that some people have them more developed than others. I remember in the Top of Utah Marathon 2005 at mile 17 I was running low on fuel. The pack made a surge, and Demetrio Cabanillas Jr not only went with them but he actually was a very active participant in that surge. Had they told me the race ended at 18 I would not have been able to stay with them. Then he came back to me at 21 even though I had already slowed down to a 7:00 mile premature cool down. He obviously had a lot less glycogen left at 17, but he did not have my negative feedback mechanisms to stop him in the surge. I often start my marathons aggressively, and hardly ever run an even or negative split. It is not uncommon for me to hit a half in a time that would be under a minute slower than I would have raced it all out. However, I do not recall running slower than 7:10 pace at the end of a marathon in the last 6 years. I think my negative feedback when glycogen is low is very strong, perhaps maybe even so strong that it inhibits my shorter races. But it saves my rear end when I make bad pacing decisions in the marathon.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Mike Salkowski on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 22:57:28

Sorry to hear about the stomach distress. If half the family is throwing up and you're having your own stomach problems, it's no wonder your heart rate was a bit off.

I've had similar problems with glycogen depletion, and your theory on negative feedback mechanisms is interesting.

Thanks for the half marathon suggestions. While Chicago would be great, I'll probably just end up at Twin Cities.

From Lybi on Sat, Apr 28, 2007 at 00:52:46

Hey Sasha-thanks for the feedback.

Okay. I gotta get this out... BINGO!!!??? I get neural fatigue just thinking about that song for longer than 10 seconds. (He he) However, you are the elite runner. Therefore I will try it. *Whimper*

Hey, what did you think about the flexibility thing? I was thinking about your back and remembering when I was in gymnastics as a teenager. When we were doing high kicks, it was considered a form break and a point deduction if our backs rounded out. The cure for this was working on our flexibility--especially the splits.

I am also thinking about piano. There are two major muscle groups that control the individual fingers. One raises a finger up, the other pushes down.

One huge key to playing fast is to make sure that both muscles are not engaged at the same time. They fight against each other like gas and brake. If flexibility is an issue in your normal running stride, it would be like having the brakes on (just a little) all the time. It takes very little time to fix and might have a huge positive impact on speed.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, May 02, 2007 at 16:45:02

Flexibility is a thought, although things a bit tricky. When I was 11, I had a basketball coach that gave us a lot of flexibility work. I was able to do a sideways split after his drills. At the same time, my 60 meter sprint improved from 11.3 and looking like a ostrich according to my classmates to 9.7 and no comments from anybody including the running coach. Not sure if the improvement necessarily correlated with the increased flexibility, increased explosive strength and coordination may have played a role. As I recall it, my ability to beat up a pesky classmate had also improved, and I remember scoring more goals in soccer too.

Since then I have tried different stretching programs on several occasions with no noticeable improvement in running performance on any distance. My lower spine does have a sideways curve, I think that has something to do with losing the normal curve on hip flexion.

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