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.  Progression tempo run with Jeff. I like the Russian word for it - в раскрутку, or literally with a spin. The plan was 90-89-88-88 (5:55)-87-87-87-87 (5:48) -86-86-86-86 (5:44) -85-85-84-84 (5:38)-77-77-77-77 (5:08) - 28:13. Yes, I got nerdy enough to plan every quarter of it. The purpose was to get some marathon pace running, help Jeff feel his 10 K pace, and see how long I could run 5:08 pace at the end of it up a small grade.

It went fairly close to the plan. 90 - 89 - 87 - 88 (5:54) - 87 - 87 - 86 - 88 (5:48, 11:42) - 86 - 86 (14:34) - 86 - 84 (5:42, 17:24) - 86 - 83 - 84 - 83 (5:36, 23:00) - 78 - 77 - 80 - 81 (5:16) - 28:16.2. Yes, I am nerdy enough to remember every quarter split without the use of the split button. Because every one of those quarters has a special meaning that extends beyond the number. Jeff's last two quarters were 78 and 76 with the mile in 5:09. The first quarter of the last mile was just perfect. Then we lost the momentum a bit, and Jeff pushed to regain it. Pacing on that stretch is difficult. This little surge was too much for me. After the first half mile I started losing it and around 1 K into the mile told Jeff to go. I still managed to stay at a little slower than 5:20, but did not have the leg strength to run faster. Was happy to have edged out the 5:30 guy for the last 2.5 by three seconds (13:42).

Here is what's interesting. HR maxed out at 167, but dropped to 164 after I had slowed down to 81 second quarter pace. More evidence against lactic acid being the performance inhibitor as if we needed it. I believe the fatigue mechanism is the same as when you drop a book after holding it with your arm straight for a couple of minutes. At least that's what it feels like.

Jogged back to the house, then I ran 2 with Benjamin in 17:33 and a quarter in 85.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 17:52. Julia ran 1.5 in 13:24. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:32.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 12.00Bare Feet Miles: 2.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.75
From Nan Kennard on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 18:08:26 from

Sasha, you're training looks like it is going well! When you have a minute, I would like your input on a couple of things. I mentioned earlier that I have not done a lot of weekly mileage for the past 5 years because of pregnancies and what not. I am now sustaining around 50 miles a week and will probably hit 60 a couple of times before TOU, but I think that is as high as I dare go for this marathon. I would like to do another marathon next spring, and work up to 60-70 miles a week, but I gotta be honest, I am really nervous about going more than that for fear of injury. Any thoughts on this?

Also, I am researching the best races to do to get me to that OTQ time. I think I would love to do Grandma's, Boston, and Hartford (to avoid racing on Sunday as much as possible). Have you done Hartford? It looks pretty fast. My thought is to do either Grandma's or Boston in the spring of 2010 and Hartford in the fall of 2010. Then do the other out of Grandma's or Boston in the Spring of 2011 and I'm not sure after that. Do you think it matters whether I do Grandma's or Boston in the spring of 2010? My hope is that after running Grandma's, Hartford, and Boston, I will have my OTQ time and I can just race a marathon once or twice more before the Olympic Trials and maybe win some prize money in the meantime.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 19:41:23 from


For the mileage. If you ease off on the pace, the high mileage is very tolerable. 8:00 pace is just fine for aerobic development. Also, do what you can to boost your recovery. Early to bed, naps, healthy diet. In your situation I would choose an hour of sleep over an hour at the gym. Sleep is a critical part of the training regimen. Running is when the check is earned, eating is when it is printed and signed, but sleep is when it is cashed.

I have not run Hartford, but it looks fast on paper. I have run St. Jude. It looks fast on paper, but it is full of micro-rollers, some people just roll through them, some do not. I think Rocket City is faster than St. Jude. I have run that one. Not very well, because I did it a week after another marathon, but I was able to hit the first half in 1:13 in spite of not feeling that great, and even kept the pace to 18 (then blew up and jogged in in 2:37 in time to make my flight home - set a PR of 3:02 from the start of the race to being dressed and driving).

Do not have an experience-based opinion of Boston or Grandma, never run those. From observations, though - Grandma can be fast, but it is easy to have bad luck with weather. Boston is a slow course, it is easy to have bad luck with weather, and unless you already have an OTQ you will not get either a comp or a hotel. They can be pretty snobby - I am aware of them denying elite entry status to a 2:27 female marathoner from Poland (She went to SLC instead, ran 2:30, and collected $25K for the win plus extra for the course record). I imagine they would be nicer to Americans, but only if you have some form of status. A smaller race like St. Jude, Richmond, or Rocket City will give you a comp and a hotel if you are a sub-3:00 woman.

With the marathons I would take this approach. Race them fairly often. Go out at OTQ pace to failure. After you've run two consecutive miles off pace while honestly trying, ease off, jog in, re-evaluate, then try again when you think you have a realistic shot. Unless of course there is cash on the line, and you are willing to wait longer to try again - in that case fight for the cash. Hopefully you will not have to do it too many times.

From Ashbaker on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 11:30:57 from

I think you simply reached the limit of your aerobic/anaerobic systems ability to produce oxygen. The nonlinear relationship of heart rate vs pace indicates this.

From Ashbaker on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 11:31:51 from

In reference to yesterday's entry of course.

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