Breaking the Wall

Utah Valley Marathon

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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: 252.01 Year: 252.01
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
Race: Utah Valley Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:35:45, Place overall: 6
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Utah Valley Marathon, 2:35:42, 6th place.

Quick update. Ahead of me: Seth (2:26:22), Shin (2:27:02), Peter Vail (2:30:00), William Tete (2:30:02), and Jeff McClellan (2:30:47). No Ezekiel, but Peter Vail in decent shape instead, less trouble, but still trouble.  Steve Ashbaker was with us at 10, but then fell back, and then dropped out due to a tight hamstring. Kory was 7th with 2:40:51, Jeff Shadley 8th with 2:41:41.

Ran the race in Five Fingers.  This caused some problems with the chip, hopefully they will not affect the accuracy of the timing. Sarah sewed the chip to my socks the night before, but it started to come off in the 16th mile, so to avoid problems I just ripped it off and carried it in my hand the rest of the way. Aside from the chip problem, the only other side effect was some blistering and a little bit of blood, but I've had that in regular shoes. And they were really stinky afterwards, to quote a scripture from Isaiah 3:24, "instead of a sweet smell there shall be stink".

Now run down mile by mile:

Mile 1 - 5:57. Rolling. A warm up. Seth, William, Shin, Peter, Jeff McClellan, and I all still together.

Mile 2 - 5:33 (11:30). Downhill. Seth, William, Shin and Peter picked it up and pulled away. I timed their mile as 5:04.

Miles 3 and 4 - 11:38 (23:08), 5:49 average. Rolling downward. Steve Ashbaker caught up to us and joined us. We are trading leads. The leaders are gone by by as we have expected. Mile marker 3 was in the wrong place, if we are to believe it, the splits would have been 5:18/6:20, which they were not.

Mile 5 - 6:02 (29:10), uphill, even with the 5:50 guy. Still the same group. HR in the first 5 miles hovered around 150, climbed to 154 on the hill.

Mile 6 - 5:33 (34:43), downhill. Steve was feeling a little edgy, told him to ease off.

Mile 7 - 5:25 (40:08), downhill. Jeff's mile.

Mile 8 - 5:34 (45:42), downhill, I think it was mine.

Mile 9 - 5:36 (51:18), downhill.

Mile 10 - 5:40 (57:00), flatter, but still a slight down. Saw Benjamin and Kimia. Got an update on the leaders, we were about 3:20 behind Shin. Got my cane sugar drink (0.5 liters water with 60 grams of cane sugar and 1.5 grams of sea salt), and took two Gotu Kola pills. I already knew from training that cane sugar works well, but the Gotu Kola pills were an experiment. Gotu Kola is a non-caffeinated herb that energizes the nervous system. I was not sure if I'd be able to swallow those pills at race pace but I did fine. HR hovered around 149-153 in those miles.

Mile 11 - 5:52 (1:02:52). Mild uphill, turns. Steve fell back. HR around 156. Jeff is pressing it a bit. His HR was also higher.

Mile 12 - 5:50 (1:08:42). Mild uphill. Finally finished my bottle. HR around 154-156.

Mile 13 - 5:54 (1:14:36). Mild uphill.

Mile 14 - 5:31 (1:20:07). Partially downhill, but really good downhill, many turns. Half in 1:15:04. Saw Ted at the half. He said Shin was 1:12:04, but I think it was wrong, because Shin would have put a gap on us from 10, but also Shin later told Jeff it was a low 1:11. HR hitting 157-159. Asked the Jeff to back off and bring me alive to 15, then I'd pull him for a mile, then send him off to chase the leaders.

Mile 15 - 5:42 (1:25:49). Technically a slight downhill, but you cannot tell, now on the Provo River Trail, bridges, turns. HR 157. In miles 14 and 15 I killed my race, but I did not care. I knew from the start I would be hopelessly out of money anyway, and figured it would make sense to sacrifice a minute or two, and possibly a place to slightly increase Jeff's chances of being in the money.

Mile 16 - 5:52 (1:31:41). Similar to 15. Took the lead for the last time to give Jeff a small break. There was a mishap during that mile. My chip started to fall off. It was sewed to the sock, but got loose. I stopped for a second to rip it off so I could carry it in my hand then quickly caught up and resumed the lead.

Mile 17 - 5:53 (1:37:34). Similar to 15. Stayed with Jeff in the first quarter, then grabbed the bottle from Benjamin, and eased off to drink it. Took Gotu Kola pills. Jeff pulled away fast. In hindsight, this is where we made a $250 mistake. Jeff should have stayed with me for another 2 miles. But we did not know Jeff's level of fitness with this much precision, and we also did not know that both Peter and William would blow up that bad. Live and learn.

Mile 18 - 5:59 (1:43:33). Flat, turns, went under the bridge. Drinking my bottle slowly. Saw Ted, he offered to take the bottle then give it to me later, but I needed my bottle desperately, so I said no.

Mile 19 - 5:58 (1:49:31). Mild rolling down on the trail. My tempo run course. Anticipating trouble. Finished the bottle.

Mile 20 - 6:19 (1:55:50). Flat, maybe now a slight up. With 6:19 the trouble has come. How much worse is it going to get? Saw Benjamin and Kimia. Got another bottle. Drinking it slowly and carefully to salvage the race.

Mile 21 - 6:32 (2:02:22). Slight up. Not good, still 5 miles to go. HR drops to 144-147 range.

Mile 22 - 6:07 (2:08:29). Slight up, maybe flat. HR climbs to 151-152. So the Gotu Kola is good for something maybe.

Mile 23 - 6:28 (2:14:57). Same as 22. HR drops to 148-149. Not enough Gotu Kola. I was taking two 450 mg pills. Need to try it in power form and mixing it into the drink in higher concentration next time.

Mile 24 - 6:29 (2:22:26). Same as 22. HR occasionally hits 150 but cannot stay there, keeps dropping to 147-148.

Mile 25 - 6:30 (2:28:56). Same as 22. Very similar to 24 in every way. Running off blood sugar, glad I have plenty.

Last 1.218 - that is when things get fuzzy because I am not quite sure of my finish time. I do not not remember my exact finish time. I do remember seeing 2:35:42 on the watch after I finished. I do remember throwing the chip on the mat and then seeing 2:35:47 on my watch. My official time is 2:35:45. So I probably got clocked by the time the chip hit the ground. I need to figure something out for the chip next time, maybe make a strap around the ankle that will hold it securely. I was able to squat down, pick up the chip, and hand it to the volunteer after I finished, so that is good. But if we go with a conservative estimate of 2:35:42, my last 1.218 is 7:46,   6:22 pace. Met Ted with about 0.5 to go and he got me going. Once I got going I felt I could have held it longer. So maybe if he had showed up at 23 or if a competitor showed up at 23, I would have run 30 seconds faster, but who cares anyway.

Post race damage. Some blood on the feet, stinky Five Fingers, a couple of blisters, more than normal quad soreness, but not DesNews kind.

Not sure how much I lost from Five Fingers. I definitely still do not know how to run in them as well as I do in shoes. But I need to keep running in them exclusively until I've learned a better form very very well. Then I can run in racing flats again and use their extra capacity for pounding. So from now on I will not race a race unless I feel it is safe to race it in Five Fingers. Abebe Bikila ran 2:15 in Rome in 1960 barefoot. But he grew up running barefoot. I did not. So maybe 2:35 in Five Fingers while somewhat wimpy is not that embarrassing after all, qualifies me for an African wannabe.

On another note, I failed on muscle glycogen miserably. The race would have been a complete disaster without those magic bottles, the blood sugar saved me. This could still be a leftover from the ear infection in February. Or it could be something else, all those chess tournament trips with missed long tempos. In any case, to address that I will start adding mid-week 8-10 mile tempos in addition to the regular ones on Saturday.

P.M. The children ran with Sarah, Benjamin and Jenny ahead. Benjamin ran 2 miles in 17:24, Jenny around 18:30. Julia ran 1.5 around 15:40.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 27.22
Night Sleep Time: 6.50Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
From Lysa on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 14:31:37 from


From Burt on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 15:00:44 from

Stinky feet? I know what that scripture references, so...

Great job. I said to my wife, "I wonder who won the race." She said, "Probably a blogger." It looks like she was right, albeit an inactive blogger.

From RAD on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 15:02:51 from

Nice work Sasha! You make us all proud to be your bloggers!!

From Sam Dean-howard on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 15:03:56 from

excellent running and racing well done :-)

From allie on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 15:26:51 from

Great race, Sasha. I loved seeing you in the fiver fingers. Just curious, would you race in them again?

From Kelli on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 18:18:07 from

It was great to actually see a marathon finish and to see all of the speedy guys come in! Nice work, sorry about the feet. Air out those five fingers!!!!

From Maurine/Tarzan on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 18:18:43 from

Well done, Sasha. I look forward to reading more about the race.

From Carolyn in Colorado on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 18:43:00 from

Great job, Sasha. That's an interesting situation with the chip. I can smell your feet from here. Just kidding.

From Brent on Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 18:59:13 from

Sasha, not sure if this was a key race for you, your like the postman, always delivers, your consistency is like no other runner.

Stay Kool, B of BS Rools out

From jtshad on Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 08:49:14 from

Well run race in the five fingers. You are such a strong runner it is impressive to see you run. I talked with Sarah for a bit after the race, sorry I missed you.

Hope your feet are alright! Great job once again.

From Snoqualmie on Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 11:13:58 from

I had no idea one could run that far in the VFF's! Congratulations, Mr. Strong Feet!! :D

From Mike Warren on Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 17:16:29 from

Sounds like just another day at the office for you. Impressive as usual, Nice job!

From Barry on Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 21:02:01 from

Great job! You are a very strong runner!

From mattk on Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 23:29:14 from

Nice race virtually barefoot. When I saw you before the race I thought you had some regular shoes on, but then I saw the improvised socks cut off before the shoes/feet (whatever you call them). How did your special drink workout?

From TylerS on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 08:53:02 from

I think that this is pretty much his office! Good job Sasha. Did you win any money? You told me at Ogden that you should pace at least 4th? Was there more competition than what you had expected? Or was it that you raced in five fingers? Awesome job!

From Kory on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 12:18:31 from

Nice work Sasha on five fingers. That definitely would not be an easy task. I hope the blisters heal. It was nice to see you and talk to you.

From seeaprilrun on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 12:48:54 from

Wow. Quite a captivating race report. Great job on the race. Bloody feet my goodness maybe I don't want to run a marathon....

From Jason McK on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 12:49:38 from

Nice VFF race! When is your first barefoot marathon?

From Burt on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 12:56:03 from

You have just given me a great idea of how to out-chip someone.

Okay, after reading a bunch of the race reports, this marathon sounded tough. Not terribly tough, but not as fast as some of the other races out there. Still, you, Jeff, Seth, Mary Ann, etc. all had great times. How do you think you would have done on a better course?

From Maurine/Tarzan on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 13:11:23 from

I couldn't believe it when I saw you planning to do the marathon in FiveFingers. I think my longest run in mine has been 8 miles and I know my feet need a lot more strengthening/work before I can handle more than that without injury. Kudos to you on accomplishing your plan and learning from it.

From Eric Day on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 14:00:59 from

Five-fingers or not, still awesome Sasha.


From argentinerocket on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 14:23:44 from

Congratulatioons on yet another impressive race!

From Ashbaker on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 17:18:57 from

Maybe not what you wanted, but definitely a well thought out and executed race from what I could tell running with you guys. Sorry I blew up so soon. I hope that can change with some better training and recovery in the future.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 15:22:56 from

Everybody, thanks for the encouragement.

Allie - I decided I will not run anything in shoes until I learn how to run. So, yes, my next race will be in Five Fingers.

Matt - the drink saved me from a disaster. It did a good job keeping the blood sugar up. Gotu Kola gave me a slight neural drive boost as a bonus, but there was not enough, I think. I ordered 5lb of Gotu Kola powder, will test it in training and other races.

Jason - I am long ways away from being able to race barefoot. I can barely run 4 miles. My skin is still too tender.

Burt - hard to tell. For some reason this course is awfully slow, and I cannot quite figure out why. And I cannot quite figure out how much slower it is. I need more data. But I think it is reasonable to say I would have run Ogden in 2:33. Also, I think it is reasonable to say that it is no less than 5 minutes slower than Fukuoka. Shin ran Fukuoka in 2:20:16 in December last year, and 2:27:02 here, and he is fairly consistent.

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