Breaking the Wall

August 09, 2020

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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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ran with Jeff and Scott in the morning. Did a warm-up, 4x100 17.3 - 17.1 - 16.8 -16.6, then a fast mile. The goal was to run around 5:00 pace and then kick a bit at the end if there was anything to kick with. This was supposed to be a practice run to figure out how fast to run the first mile in Draper Days. Jeff's best 1600 is 4:34 in practice in racing flats in college. Scott's best 1600 is 4:24 in high school. My best high school 1500 (!) is 4:26 - in spikes. The fastest mile I've ever run on a course I would consider comparable to the track is 4:42 - Provo Canyon, from the Timpangos Park to the mouth of the Canyon, 0.5% downhill, but a bit rolling and with a headwind. Before doing that, I trained for two months with a middle distance focus. Jeff is 25, Scott is 23, I am 34. I've been running 90-100 mile weeks for the last two months with the emphasis on the marathon. What would you expect to happen in a fast mile with three of us running it?

This mile was on a course that I would consider at least 2 seconds slower than the track. There is no apparent elevation change, but there are a couple of sharp turns, and  slight barely noticeable rises and drops. We started at the mile mark of the standard 5 mile tempo and finished at the 2 mile mark.

Scott set the pace in the first 200 (more precisely 0.125) - 34. Too fast, and I felt it. Then we eased off closer to the target pace. 70 at the quarter, 2:24 at the half (74),  3:37 at 0.75 (73). Scott started pushing the pace, and I was somewhat happy to go with him. So we got into a bit of a duel and dropped Jeff. Next 200 in 35, followed by the last one in 34. Scott lost some steam with 100 to go, so I pulled away just holding a steady pace. This gave me 69 for the last quarter, and 4:46.6 for the mile. HR maxed out at 173. Scott finished in 4:47, Jeff got 4:48.

While I've run this fast before, I've never felt that good after running this type of effort. When I ran my 4:42 mile, it took a good 3-4 minutes of jogging before my breathing returned to normal. My legs were like led for the rest of the workout. It felt like a good all out mile. My splits were 68 - 70 - 72 - 72, as opposed to 70 - 74 - 73 - 69, which also is a sign of a lesser exertion in the latter run.

Ran a cool-down - total of 8.2 for the run. Then in the afternoon ran 0.25 to find Joseph - he escaped again. The kids were sick today with a stomach flu, all except Jenny. So she and I ran a mile in the evening.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Maria on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 02:26:48

Great time in the mile, Sasha! It is impressive, but hardly surprising, despite you being in marathon training. It just shows you have gone on to another level. High mileage is known to produce qualitative shifts across the board, starting from 800m and up. Speedwork can sharpen you and bring that time down more, but now your body "plumbing" is able to sustain faster pace with the same effort as before. You should feel it in your next race.

From James on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 11:44:59

Nice mile! I used to be a pretty decent miler a few years ago, but I don't know if I could run a sub 4:50 right now. Where did you do your speed mile?

I did get that course tool to work finally. I was using the newest version of Internet Explorer and all I would get was a blank gray box. When I used Mozilla is worked fine. Paul gave me the idea this morning on our run together.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 11:59:48

James - it was on the Provo River Trail goings towards the Utah Lake from the 1 mile mark of Provo River 5 Mile Tempo. Hawk, or somebody under his supervision, wheeled that stretch and marked every 1/16th of a mile with the standard Hawk triangles. I have re-wheeled it to verify the accuracy of the marks.

From Paul Petersen on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 12:01:19

Nice work. It looks like you are sharpening up nicely and will run well at Draper.

From James on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 12:04:25

Hawk walks that trail every Spring and re-paints all the markings. It makes is nice for speedwork, especially if don't have a Garmin like me.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 12:06:16

Garmin is useless for speed work anyway, at least for me.

From James on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 13:59:33

How do you get the elevation to come up on the course tool? Everyone else seems to show their elevation and mine just says 0.00.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 14:10:33


Looks like you are running into one of the intermittent failures of USGS server, which I use to get the elevations. Just save the course, and load it up again - on save my code will re-try zero elevation lookups and will succeed if USGS server cooperates. If that does not work, just try again 5 minutes later.

From Paul Petersen on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 14:16:54

I'm having the same issue. The USGS server is notorious unstable. Not only is their elevation web service reliable, but it's often difficult to retrieve raw GIS data as well. Tax dollars at work...

From Adam W on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 16:19:51

Exciting recap of your workout, like watching a movie. Good effort and good time.

From James in Sunny AZ on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 22:04:23

Impressive workout, Sasha. Your entries over the last couple of weeks have been encouraging. Sounds like the higher mileage is paying dividends for you. What was your 5K PR again? Based on your mile effort, what pace do you feel is sustainable at Draper Days?

From James on Thu, Jul 19, 2007 at 11:22:09


I just talked to Curt today and he is giving me a comp for Provo Canyon. I guess he was serious afterall, so I'll be down for that. I am kind of excited since I haven't done it in several years. That is where my half marathon PR is.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jul 19, 2007 at 11:57:03

James - I consider 15:37 in Draper Days 2004 my true 5 K PR. I've run it faster on courses with extreme downhill. Draper Days is 0.4% net downhill with some uphill involved. I consider it 10 seconds faster than a perfectly flat course at the same elevation. I would probably equate my 15:37 performance to about 15:20 at an ideal sea-level course in ideal conditions.

Based on my recent workouts, I have a very good shot at setting a PR in Draper Days this year.

From Clay Simmons on Thu, Jul 19, 2007 at 12:38:28

You guy's are a bunch of animals. Good luck this weekend, run like the wind. I wish I was 15 years younger and I might have a chance against you kids, then again probably not.

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