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: 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: Wasatch Back Relay (180.5 Miles) 17:54:16, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Wasatch Back continues. Leg 17 in 36:43, and Leg 29 in 20:18. Details to follow.

The end of the first shift of Van 1 was followed by a logistical mistake. Instead of getting our rear ends into Kimball's Expedition and hurrying over to the next exchange to sleep we lounged around, and then followed Van 1 of the Blue team to Subway. Mental note. Next time find somebody ideally in Huntsville, less ideally but still good in Eden or Liberty that would not mind having six stinky guys + the driver come and crash at his house. Sleep is critical to success on the second and third legs for everybody, but particularly to the neurologically limited runners, which in my estimate would be about half of our team.

We hurried over to the next exchange, dropped Jeff off in a hurry, dealt with a traffic jam. I am sure glad Jeff is as disciplined and detail oriented as he is, or we would have miffed that exchange. It was dark, lots of teams, you could not see one's face well enough to recognize it. I did not recognize Jon Allen from 5 feet away. He said, how is our team doing? My answer was, "which team?", with the implication of - why in the world do you expect me to know how your team is doing? I do not even know who you are.

Mental note for the future. On the van-to-van hand-off, the first runner in the next van must carry a watch with precise time (or at least now exactly how much off his watch is), and must make sure he is at the exchange at least 5 minutes prior to the time estimate given by the previous van in case a miracle happens or the previous leg turns out to be short. Cell phones sometimes do not work. However, the arrival time is fairly predictable, at least the earliest physically possible arrival time. After that deadline, no potty visits, strides, or anything. Stand there, listen with both ears for the team number, and stare like a hawk at the arriving runners. A volunteer could easily miss a Fast Passing Runner, especially in the dark.

Van 2 brought us the baton about 2 minutes behind schedule.

Leg 13. 8.47 miles. 3.2% net drop. 712 feet of gain, and 2128 feet of drop. First mile uphill, the rest steep rolling down. Jeff McClellan against Kyle Perry. Jeff's splits speak for themselves - 6:35, 4:54, 4:53, 5:06, 5:22, 5:05, 4:50, 4:53, and 4:50 pace for the rest of the leg. 44:05, 5:12 average. Sasha Science projected 44:59, the original projection was 45:20. Kyle Perry (BYU) ran 43:33. Sweet for Jeff, only 32 seconds behind the BYU super-runner. We were 16:54 behind after leg 13.

Leg 14. 3.00 miles. 85 feet of drop, 145 feet of gain. Hayden Hawks against Nate Ogden. Hayden ran 16:22, 5:27 pace, was projected to run 16:34 by Sasha Science, 17:40 originally. Hayden's form reminds me of Ryan Hall. Who knows, he might run 2:06 marathon when he grows up, I would not be surprised. Jared Kelly ran this leg in 16:00. No data on BYU times from this point.

Leg 15. 4.95 miles officially, measured 5.05 on the GPS. 208 feet of drop, 265 feet of gain. 0.2% climb. Tyler ran through a side-ache in 29:02. Sasha Science projected him at 28:45, original projection was 28:32. Average Garmin pace 5:45, if the leg was right, then 5:51.

Leg 16. Officially 3.05, measured 2.93 on Walter's Garmin. 31 feet of drop, 74 feet of gain, 0.3% grade. He ran it in 17:02, 5:48 pace. Sasha Science projection was 17:31 (5:44 pace), the original projection was 17:46 (5:49 pace). The projections assumed 3.05 miles. Splits: 5:40, 5:57, 5:48 pace for 0.93.

Leg 17. Officially 5.87, measured 6.03 on my Garmin. 103 feet of drop, 339 feet of climb. 0.8 % grade. Started at 12:33 AM. Felt sleepy and weak on this leg. Ran 36:43, 6:06 average pace. Was projected to run by Sasha Science in 34:18, 5:51 pace. The original projection said 34:23, 5:52 pace. Splits: 5:46, 6:06, 6:08, 5:56, 6:07, 6:31, and 5:55 pace to the finish. It is interesting to compare my splits with Chad's who ran the same leg: 6:09, 6:05, 6:03, 6:00, 6:07, 6:23. So in other words, in the first mile I was myself, from 2 to 5 I became Chad (in his current shape), and on the last mile I was transformed into a runner that is 8 seconds a mile slower than Chad. This was a clear case of neural fatigue. Next year we'll try Operation Huntsville Nap and see if that makes a difference (assuming I am in Van 1 again, which I should be because it would be a disaster to put me in Van 2). I was rather surprised that I was passing mostly fit looking young men running around 7:00-7:30 rather than mostly women running 10:00 pace as I was expecting. Every time I'd come up on one due to my past race experience (you never start behind somebody except a race like this) I would think, well as weak as I am feeling, he's going to try to hang with me. Maybe I'll draft a bit before passing him. But he never did try. Of course, he could not. If you did not even see him a mile earlier, there is no chance he'd be able to go with you. It is like passing somebody who's hit the wall in a marathon. He is a helpless lamb, there is nothing he can do. My mind was playing tricks on me in the middle of the night.

Leg 18. Officially 5.23 miles, measured 5.11 on Jeff's GPS. 201 feet of drop, 695 feet of climb. 1.8% grade climb. Jeff Shadley with his quads already trashed ran 34:40 averaging 6:47. His Sasha Science projection was 33:48 (for 5.23), 6:28 average. Original projection was 32:48, 6:16 average.

We messed up the exchange. It took about 30 seconds for Taylor to find Jeff. Again, a note for the future. We need military discipline in the vans, especially at night. Know the current time, know the earliest your hand off can arrive, and from that time on watch like a hawk without losing vigilance. The runner ideally should never be left alone at the exchange. 5 minutes from the earliest possible arrival the companion should come out and be there to remind the runner to stay vigilant.

Immediately after picking up Jeff we headed over to the North Summit High School in Coalville. Set a PR for the sleep. 70 minutes! This later proved very helpful on the third leg. Being humbled by the hand-off fiasco we were more disciplined. However, we did waste about 5 minutes on a small detail. I forgot the exact location where Tyler and Walter were sleeping, and it was impossible to tell among about 50 sleeping bodies in the dark who was who. So we did a man to man check waking up a few unhappy runners. Some volunteered that they were not either Walter or Tyler before we had a chance to kick them. Note for the future - make sure you know EXACTLY where everyone is sleeping and can find that place in the dark. For the team members - do not go away from the van without telling the van captain (and have an official van captain to begin with) where you are with enough detail that he could find you in less than 60 seconds in case of emergency.

Drove over to the Rockport Lake for Jeff to start his leg. There was a huge jam. We let Jeff out with about a mile to go so he could do his warm up.

Leg 25. 5.60 miles. 385 feet of gain, 155 feet of loss. 1.3% grade. Nasty leg. I ran it last year. Slower than it looks from the elevation profile. Jeff McClellan started his leg at 5:01 AM, about 3 minutes behind Carson Campbell from the Peak Endurance team that started at 4:00 PM, an hour before us. Too much gap for Jeff to make a road kill, but enough to set Hayden up for it. Jeff's splits - 5:34, 5:50, 6:01, 6:30, 6:29, next 0.5 in 2:47, last 509 feet at 5:18 pace. Total time 33:42. Average pace 6:01. The original projection was 33:51, Sasha Science projection was 33:49. Kyle Perry reported that he ran that leg at 5:56-5:57 average. So that puts Jeff at most only a little over 30 seconds behind. Jeff finished about a minute behind Carson. We again lost about 3 seconds on the exchange. This time we did it right for the most part - I was out there with Hayden and kept him alert. But then we both spaced out spaced out, Jeff apparently went by the radio announcer so fast he could not see his number, either that or Hayden and I both spaced out, the volunteers kept us out of the exchange area until the number had been announced, and by the time Jeff got in Hayden was still on the sidewalk. Again shows the importance of being vigilant.

Leg 26. 163 feet of gain, 127 feet of loss. 0.1% grade climb.

Leg 29. I started at 7:05 AM. Splits. 4:52, 4:36, 4:56, 5:30, last 379 feet at 5:40 pace. Average pace 4:59.

T4 Racer - 205.14 miles

P.M. Home to Costco relay with the kids. 1.06 with Julia in 10:48, 1.56 with Jenny in 13:51, and 2.75 with Benjamin in 22:55.

Five Fingers - 452.76 miles

Night Sleep Time: 1.17Nap Time: 2.00Total Sleep Time: 3.17
From seth on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 13:13:41


Did you see that Brian Lindsey in on the blog now? byumiler.

From bryan on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 15:32:52

I'm living outside of Seattle. My injury is a recurring stress reaction in my femur that also has brought along some chronic groin and lower back injuries. Most people I talk to who have had similar problems have had to have surgery, but it's super expensive. I'm trying to find another way now. I cross train a lot. I ran a 15:44 5k in March off of 25 mpw, but I can't seem to even get that high lately. I'm closer to about 10 mpw at the moment. I hope your running is going well and that you have some good races lined up.

Cool website!


From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 17:02:56


I just wrote down my injury prevention/recovery philosophy on the forum:,465.msg4323.html

Hope you find it helpful.

From Jon on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 18:54:56

Sasha- with your logistical mistake, I think your best bet would be to find someone where you could all shower. As for sleep, I don't think it is likely- it is too early in the evening, too close behind a hard run, and too short of a time period to make it worth trying to sleep for long. But a shower and good meal would be perfect.

From Hayden on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 19:51:00

Good job on the Relay. Thanks for helping me out with everything. It was fun and i am glad i did it.

From cgbooth23 on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 00:32:11

any thoughts on why in this race so many people suffer from stomach issues? I don't get this any other races, but man my stomach was doing a number on me again this year!

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 13:35:23

People think they have to eat normal meals, and they mean American normal meals too. You are guaranteed stomach problems in a race like this if you think you are going to a party rather than a death march.

The death march aspect comes in two ways - primarily sleep deprivation. Choose sleep over a meal. You can rock in a 10 K hungry, but not neurally fatigued.

Secondarily, you have to learn to live for 18-24 hours with a relatively empty stomach. Starving people in Africa do it for much longer than that, so really the big deal about this paradigm is breaking the mentality "I have to have three big meals a day every day".

To avoid stomach problems you need to buckle down and eat/drink very minimally. You are only running 13-18 miles total, it is much less than a marathon. Unless you are really out of shape, you will not have fuel issues even if you do not eat at all. During the entire relay I only ate a couple of bananas and drank Powerade to thirst. No stomach issues.

From cgbooth23 on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 13:51:45

I think my issue was more not eating enough I had a small sandwich Friday, and other than that ate an apple, half a banana, 2-3 gu's, a recovery drink (Endurox), and alot to drink (water and gatorade), I also did the Ultra so I ran a total of 28 miles, but last year I did the regular and still had stomach issues! Thanks for the reply, I always appreciate it!

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 14:06:52

Probably too much to drink. Clyde and Logan learned that in Del Sol.

From Superfly on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 14:37:01

Actually we both got sick from eating too much Subway sandwich too close to running.

From cgbooth23 on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 15:28:00

Thats what I can't figure out, I didn't eat much and still had stomach issues especially Saturday morning early about 3 hrs after my 10.9 mile run from E. canyon down to Henefer... I never have these issues on other runs, I also talked to many others who dealt with similar issues... in fact our first runner almost couldn't go for his 2nd run due to stomach issues!

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 15:39:49

Not sleeping and running hard puts additional stress on the stomach. So you have to go real easy on it. It could very well be something you ate the day before.

From Jon on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 16:01:25

It isn't often that you stay up for 24 hours, trying to get your body to perform well in 3 races with minimal relaxation time. Stress can often show itself in the digestive system. I'm not sure there is any way around having at least some problems on a relay like this.

From cgbooth23 on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 16:06:39


yea thats what I am kinda figuring, based off 2 years in a row... and also pacing a friend in the Wasatch 100 and seeing him deal with it alot! It's a hard one to figure out!

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 16:26:46

Here is what has worked for me - eat well the week before. From 8 hours before the race until your last leg eat a banana when hungry, drink Powerade when thirsty until you don't, otherwise do not eat or drink.

From Jon on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 16:29:57

On the Powerade note, I have found that I have less problems (i.e. the runs) when I drink the stuff with no food coloring- arctic blast, or something like that (white). Not sure if it is in my head, but drinking lots of sports drinks with food coloring seems to mess me up versus no food coloring.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 17:04:05

For the record - the one I drank was white.

From Lybi on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 17:27:03

Great job on this leg, Sasha! Man, you really are the King of the Downhill.

I hope Subway doesn't sue us or anything, but I've heard SO many reports of people having stomach issues after eating there. I think it is thought of as a healthier place to eat, but it just doesn't seem to make the cut for race food, from my observations.

Sasha when you came to my house for the first time for the Del Sol relay I felt SOOOO sorry for you that you ended up eating bananas, raw oatmeal, raw peanuts , dates and honey all mixed together with a little soy milk. I felt like such a poor hostess that I couldn't even provide you with normallish healthy food to eat! But now I look back and laugh because that's just how you dig in! It's illuminating to see your perspective--coming from a foreign country for one, and being ultra-dedicated to good fueling. It is helpful... I don't feel as sorry for myself when I eat a pineapple for a treat instead of a cookie.

From superfly on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 17:49:41

cgbooth23- Did you eat any of the Fizzolies spaghetti at that major exchange? I did and almost right after I ate it I started having stomach issues. I was doing fine until then and that's where things went south if you know what I mean.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 18:30:35

Lybi - that leg was Jeff's. I got his splits off my Garmin which he wore. I have not yet written about my other two legs, but my downhill leg went all right as well.

From cgbooth23 on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 19:57:01


No I think they were doing that at the top of E. Cyn. and thats where my 2nd leg started... I would have really been hurtin had I ate before that downhill section... and actually my stomach felt fine then it was after that leg when it started acting up!

I think it is due to stress on the body and lack of sleep, i really pushed my first leg (6:59/mile for me fast over 7 miles) to stay in front of this other ultra team that was pushing us and then I really went hard on the downhill going into henefer.

From wheakory on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 23:58:35

I think Sasha is right. Eating too much and not getting sleep will whack out your digestive and nervous system. I think the best approach is eating like a granola bar, or banana, or trail mix, or even a bagel with just water. I did this and I had no stomach issues whatsoever.

Jon's right about eating a lot of food while downing powerade. Not a good combination in the middle of the night.

From sarah on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 17:44:44

I have two bits to add about the stomach thing. When you body is under stress it sometimes shuts down certain "non-essential" systems for can live for a time without digesting properly and may need all resources to go to essential functions like breathing and heart beating. I am speaking from experience of being pregnant six times and enduring weeks of my digestive system going haywire while my body learns to take care of the essential things....maybe there is some kind of connection when you are doing "a death march" as Sasha calls it.

From cgbooth23 on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 17:57:33

thats interesting and makes sense Sarah, I tell you what if you could figure out how to fix it you'd make alot of crazy people who do this kind of thing for fun happy! especially the guys doing 50-100 mile races, it is a very common issue there!

From wheakory on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 18:09:56

Sarah you make perfect sense. When your running at hours that you normally don't run that's going to cause fatigue and stress on the body.

I do agree with Sasha that you really don't need to eat all that much. I think staying hydrated is more important. Eating a banana or two is probably all you need. I really didn't eat too much at the WBR event, except I didn't pass up on the Pancakes and Eggs at the School. I had the pancakes regardless if I needed them or not because I love them :-)

I'm glad they did bother me going up the "You Got To Be Kidding Me Leg" or that would have been an ugly site.

From sarah on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 18:24:18

Well...if it is a digestive problem then there are many natural ways of helping the digestive system. One of course would be to reduce stress...maybe before the relay really focus on cutting down on stress and taking it easy. May sound impossible but as a mom of several small children I KNOW that it is possible to cut things out if you really have a good goal.

Then there are herbs that help the digestive system and other raspberry, peppermint and charcoal are my favorite but you can research for others and find out which one works best for you..every body is different and so different supplements, herbs, etc work better for other people. I think the low stress before the race will help a ton though for all you crazies out there.

From Jon on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 18:38:51

Peppermint sounds good. Charcoal? As in eat it?

From Tom on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 18:47:04

I believe Sarah is talking about eating the charcoal.

I remember when I was in the MTC my companion was challenged to eat a goldfish we had in our room that had been dead for a day or so. After he ate it he got worried cause it had been dead for a while so he got the dorm medic to give him some stuff to make him throw up. Well he started throwing up and couldn't stop so the medic then gave him ground up charcoal to eat so he would stop throwing up. I think maybe he drank the ground up charcoal in water. It seemed to work quite quickly and effectively. Oh the things slightly homesick 19 year old missionaries in training will do for fun.

From sarah on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 22:11:44

Yes...I am talking about charcoal...the black stuff you start a fire with...Although the version we take is in capsules from Good Earth. Just swallow and enjoy the benefits.

From cgbooth23 on Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 01:19:45


remind me next year you and your crew can crash at my place I live on the WBR route in Eden if that is convenient. Logan knows where its at. cheers!

From sarah on Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 11:09:22

Burnt toast can mimic the benefits of charcoal for stomach upsets....:)

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 23:41:36

Chad - thanks for the offer. We really appreciate it, it is going to help us a lot. We'll get in touch with you prior to the race next year. There is a saying in Russian that it is better to have 100 friends than 100 roubles, and it dates back to the time when 100 roubles was worth quite a bit more than what it is now ($5).

From Tracy1 on Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 23:14:18

This year was the first year I didn't eat at Subway! No stomach problems either! In fact, I didn't eat any solid food at all. Diet consisted of about 10 oz. of CTR Brew immediately after the leg (Crucial to Recovery) with maltodextrin, milk, chocolate/cocoa, sweetner, lecithin, creatine monohydate. Then potatoe chips and a little Coke. I did eat a small plain bagel and plenty of pretzels, but thats pretty much it.

From Lindsey on Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 00:11:24

Could your stomach upset have been caused partly by motion sickness? That could be the difference between this and other races. Being stuck in the back of a van for many hours like that. It seemed like the only time I wasn't sick during the race was when I was running(Because I was out of the car).

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