Breaking the Wall

Sandy Classic 10 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: 51.55 Year: 2011.51
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Neon Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 881.43
Race: Sandy Classic 10 K (6.21 Miles) 00:35:15, Place overall: 5
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Sandy Classic 10 K, 35:15, 5th place.

Drove up with Benjamin. He ran the 5 K in 23:20 according to his timing.

At the start we had Paul Petersen, Hobbie Call, Nick McCombs, and Vance Twitchell . Hobbie took off fast enough for Nick, Paul, and Vance to not want to follow, and they in turn took off fast enough for me not to want to follow. So I ran the whole race in no man's land.

My goal for the race was to be in pain. I miserably failed to reach it. No matter how hard I tried, I could not sustain a pace that hurt. Could not get my HR above 161. It felt like a slow half marathon. On the positive was able to pick it up on the last quarter a bit - hit 5:03 pace according to the GPS. I also felt strong during the race and hit fairly even splits.

My Garmin 305 showed the race to be 6.28. I noticed that both times going around the South Town Mall  my quarter splits started getting very slow even on the downhill sections even though I felt I was maintaining good turnover and the heart rate did not drop. Then the splits went back to more believable values on the straight stretches.

The official times have not yet been released, but Hobbie was around 31:30, Nick around 32:15-32:30, Paul timed himself at 33:03, and Vance was around 34:00. 

It puzzled me for a while why the times were so slow on this course last year. The course is hilly, but not as bad as Salt Lake Classic. I even suspected that Bill had made a mistake in the measurement of the course after I did a rough map of the course on the Course Tool. However, after redoing the map with nearly perfect tangents, I figured out what was happening. This course is laid out in such a way that running the tangents perfectly is nearly impossible (having slow 5 K runners only 10 minutes in front does not help either), and the loss from improperly running tangents is very high.

After the race, Benjamin and I rushed home as we were participating in the parade in Provo. After the parade ran 1.1 to get the car. In the evening ran 0.5 with Julia, 1.38 with Jenny, and then 6.3 with Jacob in the stroller averaging 7:00 pace.

 Made some improvements in the Course Tool. For one, fixed the missing elevations in the courses. That shrank some courses,  particularly  Summer Games 10k because now you are not taking a vertical dive to sea level right in the middle of Cedar City.

Need some empirical data. I am fairly certain that grade adjustment is a function of the elevation you are at. Right now the Course Tool uses the data I collected in Provo, so it is for 4500-5000 feet of elevation. What I need is to have as many people as possible that could measure out a course on a grade at various elevations, and run it back and forth at a hard, but reliably repeatable effort several times back and forth on the same day (eg. 10x400 alternating up and down).

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From wheakory on Thu, Jul 05, 2007 at 00:58:48

Nice race Sasha. Sorry that you couldn't push yourself to that pain level to where you know your pushing it real hard. Maybe you were and your fitness is better than you think?

From jtshad on Thu, Jul 05, 2007 at 11:05:32

Impressive time nonetheless. Sometimes things just don't click...this was one of those days for you, I guess. Keep up the strong running.

From michael on Thu, Jul 05, 2007 at 11:05:47

Good race - wish I could run without pain

What do you think of having 2 USATF circuit races the same day - what is the logic of that?

What do you mean by running tangents?

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jul 05, 2007 at 13:33:39

Michael - Bill Cobler could probably explain the details better. My understanding is that if a race is willing to fulfill the requirements to be on the circuit - get the course certified, offer prize money, and pay USATF a fee based on the number of participants, USATF is quite willing to put on on the circuit. So if two races apply, they get on.

From bc on Thu, Jul 05, 2007 at 15:08:34


We try to avoid having races on the same day. We want head to head competition. However, as with Des News and SLC marathon they offer other distances as part of their race and want to be in the circuit. We want to bring good quality races that are well run and accurate to the circuit. It also is an LDR circuit of many distances. So we try to get a broad spectrum of distances, not just 5K or Marathons. And in some cases dates move from year to year. Three years ago Sandy 10K was on a different date and they wanted to be in the circuit they were added based on their past record. Some race directors know that being in the circuit makes them a legitimate race in the eyes of elites and brings usually 150 or more runners to their race. We turn down races every year because they are not organized well and we don't want that. One thing many don't know is there is a big difference with a race that is certified vs. a race that is sanctioned. A USATF santctioned race means it only has purchased insurance through USATF. If it is not USATF certified it is not guarnteed to be at least the advertised length. All boston qualifiers are USATF certified. We had a problem last year with Park City Marathon an athlete saw that it was sanctioned and ran it to qualify for Boston. He was not happy when he found out that the course was not certified. We are open to all ideas and comments about the circuit so I will add yours to our next meeting. This year we added a ton of races to the circuit giving a lot of opportunities to runners through out the year. Only your best 8 races count anyway, if you do more we do offer bonus points and it was our intention to give more opportunities to race and acquire prize money to the top runners.

From "D" Ence on Thu, Jul 05, 2007 at 22:01:46

Good job on the race, looks like there was some really good competition there. I think your course tool is off on the Summer Games 10K, you have it measured at 5.1 miles, it might be a little short, but not 1 mile short. Are you sure you have the right starting point? My Garmin measured it about .10 short. I know Dave Holt, Steve Hooper, and Steve Olsen all had Garmin's also, so it might be interesting to see what they had for distance. But I'm fairly sure the course is longer than 5.1 miles, if I'm understanding your course tool right.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Jul 06, 2007 at 12:46:25


Ruth made the course profile. She may have run into a bug with the USGS service not being available. When that happens, the elevation is being marked as zero, so you are taking a very quick descent to the sea level, which would add about the elevation of Cedar City to the length of the course. Ruth probably saw that and cut the course short. After I've run the script to correct the elevations, the course that Ruth plotted out now actually has the correct length for what you see on the map.

To fix the problem, Ruth or somebody else who knows that area very well should re-plot it.

Michael - regarding your question on tangents. For any given course, there is a number of ways you could run it, and get a different length. If you swing out wide on the turns you will run longer than if you run nearly in the gutter. When a course is certified, it is measured along the shortest possible path a runner could take without being disqualified. During a race, a smart runner will try to follow that path as close as possible. This is called running tangents. The path may look a little strange at times, especially on a windy canyon road with the runners moving from one side of the road to the other all the time. To an outside observer it may appear like they are drunk. However, failure to run the tangents properly can increase the length of the actual distance run by as much as 2%, and possibly even more in some extreme cases.

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