Breaking the Wall

December 01, 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: 304.65 Year: 3606.17
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: 806.96
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ogden marathon. 2:30:03, second place, course PR. I am very happy with this time, as well as the place. It seemed like the odds were against me, but I was able to beat them. Ogden marathon has an elevation drop of 900 feet, and on surface looks like a fast course. It is not as fast as it appears. The course record is only 2:29:01 set by Joe Wilson in 2005, and there is a good reason for it. The first 8 miles is a gentle drop, then rolling hills up to 18. The race starts at 5400 feet, but drops only to 4900 by mile 17. Then a short abrupt drop right before 18, that evens out. Another abrupt drop after 20 for the next 2 miles, more gradual in the next 2, and then essentially flat on the last 2. See Paul's course map for details. Of all the courses in Utah, I believe it is the most DNF-inviting. A runner thinks he is going to get an amazing time because of the elevation drop. Everything goes well for the first 5 miles, then he is a little off-pace in the next 3, and then he has 10 miles of absolute mile split horror to endure as he battles the rolling hills at about 5000 feet elevation. The subsequent downhill helps a bit, but there is not enough of it to make up time, and the legs are usually not fresh enough to really get some solid speed. At the start, in addition to myself we had the following contenders I expected to be in the lead pack: Joe Wilson, PR of 2:21 in Austin, last year's winner of Ogden and St. George, first American in Salt Lake and DesNews Marathons last year, and name a race in Utah that he has not run and won. Beat me in Moab half by three and a half minutes. Mike Kirk, PR of 2:23, winner of St. George in 2004. Beat me in Moab half by over a minute, and in the Salt Lake Track Club 15 K by 44 seconds. Nate Long, PR of 2:34, winner of Top of Utah last year, his first and only marathon. Not a fast PR, but he beat me in that race. Ran a 50:21 15 K on a less than ideal course this year. Steve Ashbaker, beat me twice last year setting a 1:07 half PR (Hobblecreek, fast course), while I set mine. This was probably equivalent to a 1:10 sea-level. He also beat me in the Top of Utah marathon last year setting his PR of 2:36. Granted I did not have a good race then, but still this is a psychological advantage. His recent workouts indicated that he was capable of running a 2:30 in Ogden. Mine predicted only 2:33 if I had a good race. However, his probability of having a bad race statistically is much higher than mine, but when he has a good one, better watch out. The gun went off, and the pack of five formed just like I expected. We were coasting on a gentle downhill at a relaxed 5:40 pace. At mile 3 Steve got a little antsy and opened up a lead. I gave him a verbal warning, but he did not listen. Pretty soon Mike Kirk made a mild effort to go after him. I saw an opportunity. Catch Steve, then trade leads with him, maybe Mike will join, and get away from Joe and Nate while they are goofing around. So I executed the plan. Steve and I have trained together and practiced 1 minute lead trade-off extensively. So as soon as I caught him, we started our maneuver. Mike caught us, and we invited him to participate. He agreed. So we worked like a clock. The pace picked to the 5:30 range, and felt good. We made our way to 8 miles where the downhill ended, and made a turn towards Eden. What a name for a place on a marathon course around the half-mark! At thirteen you are in Eden, and then around 20 you feel like you will meet Adam and Eve pretty soon. Joe and Nate caught up to us. I invited them to join in our lead trade off. Joe wanted to do a mile at a time, but it did not work, because we already had our structure going. At around 13 I remarked that we had a pack of 5 good runners but the money was only 3 deep. We hit the half in 1:13:42. Good pace. At 14 I took my turn to lead, but at the end of my minute nobody volunteered to take over. So I kind of on accident started a break away. The more I thought about it as I climbed the hill, the more the break-away made sense to me. So I went for it full blast. To my surprise, Joe did not try to cover it. Ok, no problem. I opened up a good lead, and then Joe and Mike finally started a pursuit. I hit 20 miles in 1:53:44, and was very happy. Finally by 21 Mike caught me alone without Joe. Being caught is not the best thing, but I was happy because I got caught by a teammate rather than Joe or Nate. Mike and I both run for Wasatch Running, a running shoe store in Sandy owned by Glen Gerner. So I saw the race now more of Wasatch Running vs. Weber State Alumni/Ogden boys than me vs. everybody else. By that time, I felt ok, but not exceptionally well. I asked Mike if he wanted to go or work with me. He said he wanted to work together. So we did. He gave me an update on what was going on behind. He dropped Joe at 20, but Joe was dangerously close. So Mike suggested we should put on some distance on Joe. We hit a downhill mile in 5:32, and another in 5:25. I was absolutely amazed at this pace that late in the race even on a downhill. However, I was running at my limit. Right before 23 I backed off and told Mike to go. He opened up a bit of a distance, and ended up 34 seconds ahead with 2:29:29, second fastest time in the history of the race. Mine was third fastest. After the interviews, I ran back to mile 24 to meet Eric. We ran together and he got 3:47:44. In the evening, ran 1.5 miles with Benjamin. Total of 32.5 miles for the day. A very long day.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Paul Petersen on Sat, May 06, 2006 at 22:42:53

Sasha, great job! I told you that track 5k meant nothing! Sounds like you guys had a great pack...wish I could have been there. When did Nate and Steve drop? I'm really surprised about Nate; he wansn't even breathing hard during the NUTS half marathon, and I fully expected him to be under 2:30...

By the way, Ogden's total drop is almost 1150 feet. This is about 100 feet more than Top of Utah. We've disagreed on this in the past, but I still think that Ogden's speed is similar to TOU's, if not slightly faster. One other thing is that most people are in better shape in September than in early May.

Regardless, that's a great time on that course. I expect you under 2:30 at Salt Lake City Marathon!

From Brent of BS Rools on Sun, May 07, 2006 at 08:12:01

Sasha, I agree on your assessment of the course. Also, in past years, until you hit Ogden Canyon, they did not force you on the right side of the road. It would be interesting to see how the course was measured. Also, the bottom of my feet were sore after the race, pitted asphalt. This course seems like it could be a PR course and leads runners to go out to fast hoping to recover on the downhill Ogden caynon. In the last 9 miles of the course, one runner passed me, I passed about a dozen. Congrads again, I really enjoy reading your telling of the race. B of BS Rools out.

From Maria on Sun, May 07, 2006 at 12:16:48

Hi Sasha!

First of all, congratulations on a great time on what looks to be not the easiest of courses. Just as with your result, I'm equally impressed with the fact that you still had energy and presence of mind to run back on the course and help your friend finish. That's extra 4.5 mi. or running! I could barely walk after all my marathons, I couldn't imagine running even one more step.

I found your blog through the 'net, and I was struck by the similarities in our background. I, too, was born and raised in Moscow and started running about the same time you did, in '83 (although I'm 5 years older than you). It is possible we even ran in the same meets! Where did you train in Moscow? There were only few big sport schools at that time. I trained at "Spartak", brothers Znamensky's stadium. Were you always a distance runner? I ran sprints up to 400m, but after graduating from college and getting married I stopped. I moved to the US also at about the same time you did, in '91. Now I run anything from 5K to marathons (although I haven't run a marathon since Boston 2001).

On another note, I noticed that in your family of blogs there isn't even one woman's blog (at least not public)! I think that maybe I need to fix that by starting my own :). Thank you for providing a shared forum - there are many online logs out there, but few offer blogging capabilities where others can leave comments, unless you build your own blog. I would love others' input on my training!


From Dallen on Sun, May 07, 2006 at 15:00:38

Nice run. Regardless of how hard the course is I would say that 2:30 is impressive.

From Zack on Sun, May 07, 2006 at 18:12:40


Congratulations on a great race. 3rd fastest time ever recorded on that course WOW! Great Run

From d-enz on Sun, May 07, 2006 at 22:16:21

Great job on the marathon! I really enjoyed reading your experience of the race, it helps motivate me when I see other people having success with their running. We had a pretty good time at the Hurricane Half yesterday, the St. George Running Club went 5th (Clyde), 6th (myself), and 13th (Bill) Steve didn't run still having IT band issues. We were talking and we have to find a time to come up and do a few runs with you guys up there in Provo over the summer. Any thoughts on what I need to do to run under 3 hours this fall at St. George or sooner at a different marathon?

From Kerry on Mon, May 08, 2006 at 10:50:00

Congratulations on a great race. Thanks for posting all the details. It was fun to read about what goes on among the front runners.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, May 08, 2006 at 12:44:12


Read Mike Kirk's side of the story for details on what happened to Nate and Steve. I talked to Steve afterwards - he said he was having some stomach problems, was slowing down, and did not think it was worth it, so he dropped out at 17.5. I think he missed a good shot at $275 - Joe took 44 minutes to cover the last 10 K. Nate had a cold, it seemed - he was blowing his nose at the start, and I think it had an effect on him. His breathing sounded strained even at 5:40 pace, he never took initiative on pace, and never talked. Joe's breathing did not sound that great either, but he did talk.

No Salt Lake Marathon for me - I need 5 K speed for the circuit, and I also really did not like that B-52 concert last year - I caught only a part of it, and the part I caught consisted of 4 F words in a row. It is reasonable to estimate that there would have been at least 16 instances of that in the entire concert. So that group should be called F-16 instead! I will however run DesNews , Top of Utah, and St. George.

Maria - I did train at the Znamenskiye school with Nicholay Grigoriyevich Volkov. I have always been a distance runner. Who was your coach? Did you go to the camp in Vyazniki in 1985 or 86? If yes, do you remember the little red-headed boy that had the world records in every event memorized? I am that boy.

Dustin - I am going to write a comment in your blog on breaking 3 hours.

From Jed Burton on Mon, May 08, 2006 at 13:38:44


It was great to meet you this weekend at the race. Congrats on a well-run race and thanks for introducing me to your site. I'm looking forward to seeing you at the remaining marathons this year, and I'll be spending a lot of time on your site until then.


From Maria on Mon, May 08, 2006 at 14:21:34

Sasha - I can't believe we trained at the same school!! What are the chances of that?! I remember Nikolay Grigoryevich Volkov vaugely, the name definitely rings a bell. I trained with Adelina Ivanovna Gornostayeva first 4 years (in a heptathlon group), and then, after she retired, with Boris Petrovich Gavrilov and Irina Litovchenko (she is now training some national team athletes in 800m, I saw her name on the IAAF site). I was concentrating on 400m last couple of years, and now, thinking back I believe I should have moved up to 800/1500/5000. I didn't have enough speed for sprint events, but maybe I would have done better developing my endurance while keeping whatever speed I had. I did go to the training camp in Vyazniki, but in '84, so I missed you by a year. I couldn't go in '85 because that's when I graduated from school and was busy with college entrance exams. Your picture here doesn't show your hair clearly, but then we have one more thing in common - I also have red hair.

From Steve Hooper on Mon, May 08, 2006 at 14:28:24

Sasha, Great job! You did a nice job explaining what happened in the race. I almost felt like I was there. Also, way to go with the 5:32, 5:25 splits at the end of the race. When you can run those splits at the end of a marathon you know all your hard work has payed off. Congrats!

From MikeBro on Wed, May 10, 2006 at 10:05:01

Sasha--great race and wonderful report! Do you ever go down to sea level and run a flat marathon? Would be interesting to see how much faster you'd be. And ditto on the numerous congrats!

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