Breaking the Wall

February 26, 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: 155.37 Year: 492.80
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
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Easy run with Ted in the morning. Dragged my feet along through 10 miles in 1:16:24, felt sleepy, avg. HR 113. We did run really early - 5:00 AM. Ran with the kids in the afternoon plus some more. The hamstrings felt a lot better.

Now some pictures from the Ogden Marathon with comments. First, this one:

Steve Ashbaker is finishing ahead of Joe Wilson. I have known Steve for 8 years. We've had many conversations. Steve has had a lot of struggles. I believe aside from Steve himself there is not anybody there who can truly appreciate better than me the significance of the event that this photo captures. Thus I feel responsible to provide a bit of background to help other appreciate it as Steve is too modest to do it himself.

Steve always wanted badly to be in the Joe-class, doubted that he could, and agonized over his inability to be there for years. Now here it comes! The seemingly impossible happened, and there was even a photographer to capture it. Joe runs the best marathon he's ever run in Utah in my opinion. Not timewise, but quality wise. Ogden course it not fast, and it was hot. I believe the only other time he ran a better race was his 2:21 in Austin in 2003. Joe ran for Weber State and rocked the boat. Steve was as far away from running at college age as one could be. And now as Steve turns 36 thinking a few months ago that he does not have much of a running future we fastforward through a few months of thorough training to see the dream come true: Joe gives it all, runs one of his best races, and yet Steve pulls away from him.

Now another picture that Ted pointed out to me - some food for thought:

You see myself next to Steve Ashbaker and Mike Dudley. The interesting part here is the size of my quads next to two runners that eventually beat me in that race. As Ted said, this definitely explains why I get no soreness in the quads. I cannot complain about that, but the mystery is how in the world they got so big. The obvious answer is this is a peculiarity of my running form. I do not do any weight lifting or special strength work with my legs other than running. I do not even run uphill very much. But I guess that is enough. I do not have to run uphill. I take uphill with me wherever I go. I suppose my form makes me work as if I were running uphill even when it is flat. Can I fix it? Yes I can. I do not quite see the end or exactly how, but I have faith that eventually I will. Faith is to believe in things which are not seen but are true. We have seen some things already that were not seen at first and were very easy to question, but proved to be true. I need to be patient and wait for my time. I've had one breakthrough already a few years ago which happened just like that - through faith. There is another one coming.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Cody on Thu, May 24, 2007 at 00:35:41

I agree Sasha. You are due a breakthru very soon. You are racing better and better as the year progresses.

By the way, nice Quads. Those are impressive!

From sarah on Thu, May 24, 2007 at 00:39:46

I've always like his quads myself but I actually married him for his red hair...and he's given me two red headed children so far...not bad...

From Michelle on Thu, May 24, 2007 at 10:14:12

Thanks for the comments, I am very greatfull for any tips I can get. As for the one regaurding my husband. I will rember that. If he ever were to get serious about runnning, like consistantly 2-3 days a week it would be no contest anyway. But nice to have him along occasionaly for a little motivation!

From Dave Holt on Thu, May 24, 2007 at 12:02:35

Sasha - Thanks for the inside look into those marathon photos. Steve looks SO different than I ever imagined, and your quads... I now worship them! We have all taken very different routes to getting where we are at and where we want to go in running and life, and your story about Steve reminded me (a college walk-on/walk-off - when I couldn't hack it) that through persistence and dedication like your's, Steve's, Paul's, Clyde's and so many others that I admire on the blog, I can get there too.

From James on Thu, May 24, 2007 at 14:12:06

It is funny how we all come in different sizes and shapes and yet can have similar abilities, or vice versa. I am the exact height and weight as Michael Johnson (not as ripped though)but not even close to the same abilities. I guess that being different is what gives us our strengths. I think that your quads are mostly from genetics not necessarily your different running form. I liked the pictures!

From Maria on Thu, May 24, 2007 at 16:24:52

It's very interesting to look at your picture, Sasha! I noticed that your form and mine look similar in that we both seem to "sit in the bucket" at least a little (check out my new picture from Rotterdam). My pic was taken in the last 100m while I tried to kick, so definitely beyond tired, in pain, etc., but I think this is how I run all the time.

Interestingly, both of our backs are messed up, and we both have big quads, although I'm not sure whether, as James noted, it is more genetic or acquired. I used to think I developed big quads from sprint training, but now I'm not sure. Food for thought, but I do believe spinal problems are very detrimental to form.

From wheakory on Thu, May 24, 2007 at 18:34:47

Nice pictures. I never get sore in my quads either after a marathon. Maybe I have hope at getting better at 36. Very nice information you truly are a great friend to a lot of people.

From wheakory on Thu, May 24, 2007 at 19:02:30

I also wanted to mention, putting your faith and abilities in God's hand your going to break out big soon like you want.

From Sasha Pachev on Sat, May 26, 2007 at 19:12:57

Maria - yes, I noticed the similarity in our quads as well as the form. In fact, I was going to point it out, but you beat me to it. I hope someday to find a group of experts (or at least one to start) to work with to develop a solid science of what exactly in the spinal structure, limb length, attachment points, etc affects running performance and exactly how.

From Diddy on Thu, May 31, 2007 at 15:35:58

Your quads look bigger for 2 reasons....

You're shorter and you're actually landing on the leg that looks bigger, causing it to flex, whereas the other two men are relaxed.

Your quads may still be bigger, but not by nearly as much as they appear to be in this picture. You need a picture of all of you in the same position

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