Breaking the Wall

August 12, 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: 88.07 Year: 2386.98
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: 1257.89
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. We ran into a few BYU guys who were warming up for a tempo, ran with them for a bit less than a mile. They helped us catch the 8:00 guy. Then we bummed the rest of the way at a bit faster than 8:00. I did explosions. Jeff was concerned about his knee and did not want to do the fat miles. Then some bikers passed us, and I was able to talk Jeff into doing one fat mile. The excitement of the bikers was too much for him, and we opened with a 38 200 AFTER I had warned him that the pace was too fast. We still ended up with a 5:16 mile, HR got up to 162, not a fat mile at all. We were rewarded for our speeding by passing an old guy on a tricicle. The ladies gapped us. A lesson in humility. Do not mess with bikers.

Finished 10.1 in 1:15:21. Then 2 more with Benjamin in 16:26. Then 64 foot one leg sprints: right - 6.4, left - 7.1, right - 6.2, left 6.5, right 5.9, left 6.4.

P.M. Ran 2 with Jenny in 19:08. Julia did the first 1.5 in 14:22. Then 0.5 with Joseph in 5:33.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.10Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From AmberG on Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 22:41:57 from

Thanks for your input on the race and the healthy eating!

From The Howling Commando on Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 10:11:10 from

Hey Sasha - Re: your Five Fingers. Do you run in the classic ones? I have done some research and I am thinking about getting a pair of KSO Five Fingers to see if maybe incorporating barefoot running will help with my foot pain while at work. What do you think? When walking I have flat feet, but I think that incorporating the vibrams might help strengthen muscles that have atrophied with the use of orthotics over the years?

From Andrew_Boston_2010 on Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 10:16:13 from

Hi Sasha -

I just wanted to say thanks for the comment/welcome note you left me a few weeks back..I appreciate the support. I read your piece on Boston Marathon qualifying and have been working to get there. I am still struggling to quit smoking, but have gotten my weekly mileage up to where I'd like. I've set a hard deadline for myself of July 31st to quit smoking, along with alcohol, red meat, caffeine. We'll see how that goes, mainly boils down to will power I think. I am confident that giving up mu 'party' lifestyle on the weekends will allow me to realize my full potential as a runner.

I wanted to ask your advice though, considering the Chicago Marathon is only about 12 weeks away, can you give me an idea of where I should be in terms of long runs? I'm to a point where I can run 8 miles at the 7:15/mile qualfying pace 6x a week, and realize I need to start increasing the distance of my long runs. Any tips you could provide would be much appreciated.

Thanks again and glad to have found the blog!


From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 13:33:37 from


Yes, mine are classic. Sprint are more expensive but might be better in the sense of heel rubbing, but I am not sure since I've never worn them. Give it a very cautious try, see what happens. I believe a lot of foot problems are a consequence of growing up with shoes, and forcing the body to work with the shoe rather than allowing it to develop adaptations for its natural weaknesses. The big question is if your body will be able to learn at this point in your life.

Andrew - do not stress about the pace. Just run, and be consistent, 6 days a week, no skipping, no excuses. Put 100% of your mental focus into fixing your health. It goes like this. Imagine a pyramid. Health first at the very bottom. Then above it aerobic base. Then specific training, that's when you worry about hitting target paces. If the underlying component is failing, your work on the component above it is not very productive - it is like trying to get out of debt or save up some money by working extra hours at your job, but because of the extra stress you end up spending all of the extra money on eating out, daycare for the children, buying more expensive items because you have no time to find deals or to ponder and realize you do not need them, etc. A good scripture from the Old Testament - Haggai 1:6:

"Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. "

So focus number one is to make sure your fitness bag does not have holes.

I do think you have a potential to run in the 2:30, possibly 2:20 range once everything is in order and stays in order for long enough.

From The Howling Commando on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 14:42:12 from

Hey Sasha I got the KSOs because they had more protection from sand and such getting into your shoe. I wore them for a 1 mile cool down and they felt good, but the only problem is I stubbed my toe and I have a pea sized hole in the right big toe just behind where the rubber ends in about the middle of the toe nail. Any ideas on what I should do? Should I leave it alone and see what happens before trying to super glue something to it? I told Emma I'm lucky she puts up with my shananigans. We'll see how I feel tomorrow!

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 15:43:32 from


I have two huge holes on both shoes in the exact same spot. I enjoy them, they give my feet a chance to breathe. I'd say don't worry about it, just run in them the way they are.

From The Howling Commando on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 16:51:02 from

Okay, thanks Sasha! My brother said return them but the more I look at it the more I am starting to like the little hole. Maybe it will be a good conversation starter. As it is I already had one lady comment on them and a couple people look at me like I had 4 eyes. They feel so natural though. I definitely felt my footstrike change too. No more heel-toe when I'm in the Vibrams. It switches to land on the midfoot first. I can see why you run in yours so much!

From Andrew_Boston_2010 on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 11:00:11 from

Sasha -

Thank you for the advice - great stuff. The pyramid ananlogy definitely makes sense to me. I kept putting off my commitment to a reformed, healthier lifestyle but have finally started to get things in place. As you said, 100% metal focus on maintaining good health -it's a work in progress but I'm moving in the right direction. This upcoming Sunday is the Chicago 1/2 marathon - I'm hoping to post a 1:35 or better to be at Boston pace, and to get some additional racing experience under my belt. Also hope this will give me an idea of where I am fitness-wise. Any tips of how I should approach this race, and analysis afterwards? Thanks again for sharing your wisdom.

- Andrew

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 13:34:38 from


Just go out at 7:00 pace. Run that until it either does not feel good, or you feel confident you can make it to the finish at a faster pace. Hopefully you can crack 1:30.

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