Breaking the Wall

Magna Classic 5 K

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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: 0.00 Year: 916.90
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: 1679.47
Race: Magna Classic 5 K (3.107 Miles) 00:15:44, Place overall: 7
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Magna 5 K, 15:44, 7th place. Tough field at the start - Trever Ball, Teren Jameson, Dennis Simonaitis, Nick McCoombs, and Steve Ashbaker looked like trouble at the start. In addition to that, a breakthrough race for Albert Wint. He actually did look like trouble too - I told him I noticed he had lost some weight. Consistent training makes a big difference. He has always been going out with the leaders and then losing it after a mile big time. Today he did not lose it. Good job Albert!

My goal for the race was to see what I could do in a 5 K off a routine post-marathon recovery/start of easing back into high mileage. I knew there was a good chance of running a bit slower, and feeling stale and tired on the last mile, and that chance materialized. Nevertheless, the finish was not too bad.

At the gun Teren and Trever blasted out like sprinters and went to run their own race. They each came thinking they could coast through it in 14:40 for some easy money. Tough luck. They had to race each other, as neither was willing to coast for an easy second. They ended up getting some good times - 14:10 for Teren and 14:13 for Trever.

The course is 1.8 miles of very good downhill that starts out steep then gradually reduces, then about a mile of 0.5-1 % grade up, followed by 100 meters of a sharp drop, then a very slight down, maybe 0.3% to the finish. We did get some headwind in the first 2 miles, although not as much as last year. With the headwind it is hard to tell how much it is affecting you. I've done many interval workouts going on the same stretch back and forth, and there were days with no noticeable wind when one direction was nevertheless being noticeably favored. Other times, there appeared to be a significant headwind that should have been favoring one direction, but there did not seem to be much of a difference. I think what happens is that you could have a steady 5 mph wind that you do not notice, and it will affect you more than occasional 3 second gusts of 15 mph that you will notice.

In any case, for today we were sufficiently lucky to have enough runners that have recently run at sea-level to determine that this course today was probably equivalent to a perfectly flat sea-level 5 K run in ideal conditions. Dennis ran 14:55 in Carlsbad, and 15:12 today. Trever had a recent 10,000 performance on the track at sea level of 28:55, and ran 14:13 today. Giving Dennis 17 second bonus for the lack of crowd support on a Saturday morning in Magna, UT at 8:00 AM, I think it would be fair to say this was like Carlsbad, with the downhill in the end compensating for the altitude and the headwind.

Dennis, Albert, Steve, Nick, and I were together for about 0.5 mile, then Dennis took off. I told Steve to go with him, but he did not. I think he should have, this would have saved him from Nick's furious kick on the last quarter. The rest of us stayed together until 2 miles. First mile in 4:36 ( really steep), second in 4:59 (less steep). After two miles I was done running that pace. Not sure exactly what happened - I felt like if I slowed down I could go forever, but I could not go any faster even for just a mile. The marathon probably pitched in some to this, the lack of taper and medium high mileage this week did too. What perplexes me is why the fatigue manifests itself this way - instead of finding yourself unable to run fast from the gun, you find yourself unable to hold the pace instead. My theory on that - when the nervous system is tired, once you reach a certain lactate level it just shuts down. When it's fresh and snappy you will just push through it.

Steve, Nick, and Albert pulled away. I tried to hang in there and not quit mentally. Running through the last mile I actually felt strong in a way, like I could run that pace forever, but just not any faster. I saw Albert get dropped with around 0.4 to go. I thought maybe I could catch him, but he was too strong, I was just maintaining the distance at best. The third mile was 5:36, the kick in 32 seconds and change. The actual finish time was 15:43.6, but with the USATF rounding rules it becomes officially 15:44. 15:12 for Dennis, 15:15 for Nick, 15:21 for Steve (new course PR for him by 14 seconds, the old was set without running a marathon a week before), 15:31 for Albert.

Chad had a great race with a new PR of 16:16, improvement of 24 seconds over the same course a year ago. McKenzie Snyder, 13 years old, ran 17:56 finishing 4th in the womens in a tough field - the female winner was Devra Vierkant with the time of 16:22, which is a new course record by 28 seconds. Teren's wife Emily set a Utah record, I believe, in the mothers of a 3 months old or younger division with the time of 18:16. Her best time ever is 16:09 on the track. Ted's son James met his goal of breaking 20:00 finishing in 36th place with the time of 19:45.

This race had only 70 people but 37 of them (52%), broke 20 minutes! Prize money went 5 deep for open, and 3 deep for the masters. Think about the significance of this. This shows how much Demetrio Cabanillas, who is the race director of this race, cares about helping athletes improve. He does not have much to give money-wise, but he gives what he can. His award ceremony is particularly inspiring. Nothing fancy, just a group of runners gathered around a tree in a park. For each runner that earned an award he lists their most important accomplishments if he happens to know them and most of the time he does.  He knows what is happening in the local running community very well. I would like to publicly thank him for his contribution to the sport.

Did a long cooldown afterwards. Also ran with the kids when I came home. 81 miles for this week. I think I'll keep it at 80 for another week and then see how I am feeling.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Paul Petersen on Sat, May 26, 2007 at 17:58:26

Nice work out there Sasha.

From James on Sat, May 26, 2007 at 18:45:18

Nice race, especially a week out from Ogden! I ran that course when I was about 15 or 16 years old, but it used to be in September right before St. George. I always wanted to run Demetrio's 10k but he doesn't have it anymore. I know that they are pretty darn fast courses.

From Maria on Sun, May 27, 2007 at 07:15:17

This is a very good performance after Ogden a week before, probably close to your PR for the course. I'm amazed how you, Steve and I think, Bill Cobler too, can just turn around a week after a marathon and crank out fast 5Ks!

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