Breaking the Wall

Wasatch Back Relay

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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: 217.33 Year: 2189.42
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1034.77
Race: Wasatch Back Relay (180.5 Miles) 17:54:16, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 2.5 in 17:29 by myself, 1 with Julia in 9:46, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:07.

Five Fingers - 452.39 miles.

P.M. Ran leg 5 in 47:59. Details to follow.

Now the details. BYU finally put together a real team. Good for us. Will hopefully teach us to be humble, and will hopefully help us get a better appreciation for Quality X and the importance of developing it if we want to run in the OTQ range.

Before the race James and Cody entered some data into Paul's spreadsheet. Whatever came out was called the original projection. I adjusted the flat places, made a few adjustments to the calculations and then went through it leg by leg and manually adjusted the predictions that I felt were still way off to more reasonable values. The new projections were called Sasha Science projections. Interestingly enough, the original projection said we would finish in 17:39:35, while Sasha Science said 17:39:38 - essentially the same end result, but lots of leg time variations. Both ended up quite a bit off, although for different reasons.

First leg. Jeff McClellan on the White Team, Mitch Zundell on the Blue Team, Kyle Perry on the BYU team, and Mike Vick from Runner's Corner. 90-95 degrees at the start. To add a little bit of drama - Jeff ran for BYU before his mission as a walk-on, then after his mission got cut. So he had something to prove. He hit his first mile in 5:05 (uphill), followed by 5:18, 5:27, 5:53 (uphill), 5:53 (uphill). He finished his leg in 28:28 which was 5.14 miles, 5:32 average. Not bad for uphill (0.2 grade, 132 feet of loss, 192 feet of gain) and 90 degrees. 26:32 for Kyle, 27:42 for Mike. His Sasha Science projection was 29:08. The original projection was 31:00. Mitch finished in 29:40, very good for being out of shape. Another reminder of the importance of Quality X.

Second leg. Hayden Hawks on our team against Nate Ogden (BYU) and Jared Kelly (Runner's Corner). Hayden struggled with the heat but still managed 39:44 for 6.73 miles, 5:54 average. Not bad for 90 degrees and 0.7% net uphill grade with 292 feet of gain and 192 feet of loss. His Sasha Science projection was 39:30, his original projection was 41:19. Jared ran very well and gapped Hayden by a couple of minutes. Probably about the same gap for Nate. So we were about 4 minutes behind BYU at this point.

Third leg. 5.65 miles. 0.3% uphill, 42 feet of loss, 275 feet of gain. Iain Hunter for BYU, a girl for Runner's Corner (UVU runner, I think), and Tyler for us. Tyler started out as expected, first two miles at 5:45 pace. Passed the Runner's Corner girl, after that we never saw Runner's Corner. Then a 5:57, and then something really odd happened. 6:24, and 6:45. This should not have happened even in 90 degrees and dehydrated. Maybe 6:10 and 6:20 at the very worst. I told him he needs to eat like a heart patient, lots of fiber, very minimal to no cholesterol. Something somewhere is wrong. Tyler toughed it out and finished in 34:42, 6:08 average. His Sasha Science projection was 33:30, his original projection was 34:43. After he was done he headed straight for the Honey Bucket. I got into one right next to him to address my own needs, and we had a lovely discussion of his leg. On the positive side, he made the first road kill, or in other words, passed a team that started earlier. I thought a fluke, somebody must have gotten a wrong start time, but then there was more road kill on the legs to follow.

Forth leg. 5.09 miles. 0.6% uphill. 315 feet gain, 152 feet loss. Walter Brown on our team against Aaron Robison (BYU). Walter got 31:27, 6:10 pace, Sasha Science projection was 31:37, original was 31:20. Splits: 5:21, 5:45, 6:00, 6:10, 6:22. Cody ran 31:48 last year. Who knows how far behind BYU.

Fifth leg was mine. Avon Pass. 7.41 miles. 2.9% uphill. 1210 feet gain, 54 feet loss. I enjoyed every one of those 54 feet. Ran against Jon Kotter. He showed me what Quality X was all about with a 43:44 against mine 47:59. Sasha Science projection 48:40, original 49:30. Splits - 5:56, 6:13, 6:35, 6:21, 6:33, 6:58, 7:22, next quarter in 1:37 (6:28 pace), last 405 feet in 0:27, 5:56 pace. The leg showed as 7.33 on the GPS. Possibly because of the GPS error, or possibly because I did my tangents very well. 6:33 pace if the GPS was right, 6:29 if the 7.41 distance was right. Paul ran 46:17 last year.

There were some interesting things on that leg. There was a farmer, had a dog, and BINGO was his name, and he was roaming along the road without a leash or an owner in sight. I was in racing mode, and it was a small dog, so I figured if it attacked me I'd give it some James MonaFlash treatment. Passed it without an incident.

More road kill than I expected. Interesting team vehicle - a pickup truck. Actually not a bad idea, makes sleeping easier.

Jeff McClellan demonstrated his singing ability while running at a pace that would make most people throw up. Talents are meant to be shared, and I've been making him practice, so cannot let that go to waste. He sang BINGO to me as he handed me a large bottle of Powerade and ran with me as I took a few sips so he could take it back.

Overall I felt strong, got into good rhythm, used the measly 54 feet of drop very well, the gear box worked when I had to shift.

Leg 6, Jeff Shadley on our team against Tyrell Jensen. 6.92 miles. 3.0 % grade net drop. 277 feet of gain, and 1396 feet of drop. We made a mistake on this leg assignment underestimating the pounding effect of that downhill. It is very nasty - dirt, lots of turns, and a three mile stretch of 8% downhill. More quad-trashing that we realized. Jeff damaged his quads on this leg, and it hurt him for the rest of the relay and threw him off his projections. He ran 39:04, 5:39 pace. Sasha Science projected 37:21, and the original projection was 37:09. Splits: 6:22 (uphill), 6:04 (uphill then start of smoking down), 4:46 (steep downhill on gravel), 4:46 (still steep ), 5:31 (leveling off), 6:01 (flat ), 0.93M-5:33

Error analysis: we should have put Clyde on leg 5, me on leg 6, and Jeff on leg 12.

Iain Hunter told me the gap now was 12:44. I thought it was a compliment to our team that they bothered to time the gap.

T4 Racer - 193.04 miles

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
From wheakory on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 18:19:13

Very nice leg Sasha way to put on the gears when you needed it. Did you say you took a whole can of honey with you for refueling?

Very nice performance and detail.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 19:01:57

No, Kory - Honey Bucket was the name of the porta-potty company :-)

From Paul T on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 20:52:55

Thanks for the detailed report. It's a great thing to be able to learn from the elite. You guys are amazing.

I appreciate your comments about Leg 6 being "very nasty - dirt, lots of turns, and a three mile stretch of 8% downhill" and about "underestimating the pounding effect of that downhill". I couldn't have described it better myself. I also ran that leg, although a full minute per mile slower (6:40/mi). Nevertheless, every time I stand up my legs remind me of the punishment I inflicted on them.

From Dallen on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 19:23:47

Not sure why you ran the uphill leg when your skills are clearly the downhill stuff, and you admit that uphill is your weakness. Either way, well done.

Did you slow down due to fatigue or due to the elevation profile?

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 19:51:56

Elevation profile.

I had to take the uphill leg because of the team dynamics. Even though I am relatively weak on the uphill, the faster runner takes longer legs. Also, I do not run well in the middle of the night, down or up, so I need to be on a leg that has only one night run.

From wheakory on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 21:01:29

Sasha, I don't think any of us perform the best with two night runs. If you had to do two runs at night with the pressure on you would perform well, because your a competitor.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 23:35:49

Jeff McClellan, Tyler, Hayden, Logan, Chad, and Seth were strong on their night legs. Some people are inspired by the moon.

From wheakory on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 23:46:43

I actually felt really strong on my night legs this time around. I learned a lot fro m Del Sol (of course I had more running under my belt this time around). The first one you really can learn from about the amount of sleep, and refueling you need.

The white team did a great job, and they proved it as well as our blue team.

From Dee on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 17:14:24

We were one of the teams you passed going over Avon. I was the idiot in the back of the pick-up truck who yelled "Sasha" as you ran past us.

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