Breaking the Wall

April 10, 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: 0.00 Year: 916.90
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: 1679.47
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Deseret News Marathon. 2:31:47, third overall, first Utahn.

My goal was to make top three, and to win the first Utahn prize. At the start, we had Simon Sawe, John Ndambuki, and Jared Nyambuki of the Kenyans, and Steve Ashbaker and Corbin Tally of the locals. So I had to find a way to get rid of one Kenyan, and not get punished by a local for it. A challenging task.

I noticed the Kenyans were a little slow at the start, and decided to take advantage of it. I signaled to Steve, and we went off trading leads. 5:04 for the first mile. At about 1.5 Steve had to stop to fix the rock in the shoe problem. So now I was on my own. However, Jared Nyambuki took the bate and followed us. 9:47 at two miles (4:47), then 14:28 (4:41) at three, and 19:27 at 4 (4:59). The pace is actually not as fast as it sounds - this is a 7% grade.

Then it flattened out. 24:57 at 5 (5:30), next mile uphill 30:43 (5:46). Nyambuki started pulling away, which was just fine with me. Now we are climbing the Little Mountain. Next mile in 6:29. Sawe and Ndambuki passed me, and they looked like they were racing already.

Next mile was half up and half down - 5:59, then down in 5:19. Felt so good I thought it was only 5:30. So far so good. Now a little loop to Pinecrest. This gives me a chance to check what is going on. Nyambuki about 1:20 ahead, Sawe and Ndambuki about 45 seconds ahead, Steve about 2 minutes behind, Corbin about 3 minutes behind.

10 miles in 54:16, half in 1:11:30, and still running relaxed. However, somewhere around 14 legs started feeling a bit cramped, and I slowed down to 5:35 pace. We are still going down the Emmigration Canyon, so 5:35 is not a fast pace, although not too bad. 15 miles in 1:22:26. Then things started getting worse, and I could not quite understand why at first. It was not the fuel, my usual issue, it was the legs, something that usually holds up quite well. From then on, I managed to do 6:00 pace on downhill miles, and slowed down to 6:20-6:30 on the ones with uphill. Around 18 the right hamstring cramped up, but then it felt better. Then I saw Nyambuki on the side of the road, and it looks that he is so cramped up that he cannot even walk. Ok, that puts me in 3rd. Now I need to hold off Corbin and Steve. As slow as I am going, they could come up to me very fast. 20 miles in 1:52:38. Next mile in 6:33 (up), but the one after that in 5:50 down. Now just try to hang in there, and fight the negative thoughts. The subsequent miles were somewhere in the 6:10-6:20 range. Almost missed a turn. Finally, the finish. Yes, I made it!

2:23:15 for Sawe, 2:26:39 for Ndambuki. Finally Corbin comes in 2:40:18 and they carry him to the medical tent. Then Steve comes in 2:47:36, and he is even worse off - two people carry him to medical tent. I guess I did not realize how hot it got once we came out of the canyon. That explains the cramps, the slowdown, and not getting passed through all of this. So I guess given the conditions I was not running that slow after all. A repetition of the lesson I've learned a while ago - never get depressed about slow mile splits, but fight out the battle instead - you might actually be doing quite well for the conditions.

The legs were extremely sore afterwards. Could barely walk.

Ran with the kids in the evening. Had to lean on the stroller to make it.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Chad Derum on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 09:18:21

Great effort, Sasha. Congratulations. You looked very strong when I saw you on 13th East, though you were so much in the Zone, I'm not sure you even saw or heard anything.

From SuperFly on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 10:14:07

Great race Sasha! Nice photo in the DesNews online article. I learn something everytime you run a race just reading the blog. What was the temp at the finish? How do you feel now the day after? What is your total recovery time after a race like that?

From Andy on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 10:45:52

I was happy for you when I read in the paper that you finished 3rd overall and 1st Utahn. Congratulations!

From steve hooper on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 10:54:34

Way to go Sasha! First Utah Runner and third overall! Here is a link to the article in the Deseret News Article . You should use the picture from the Deseret News article for your FRB Bio picture.

From Brent on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 11:45:02

Sasha, great race, congradulations. I am impressed with your ability to run a 5K at race pace on saturday and then turnaround a marathon at a great effort two days later.

From Maria on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 12:22:47

Sasha - great performance in difficult conditions! Congratulations on a well deserved prize and press coverage :). The picture in the article looks a lot different than the picture you have now on your bio page! You do seem to recover quickly between races as Brent noticed, but I'm wondering if you could have even better results with more tapering? You only seem to taper a week or so before your marathons and then you also throw a 5K race just 2 days before!

From Bill on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 13:33:53

congrats to you and your great performance. sounded like a pure gut race when it heated up. you battled hard and came out the victor. A nice pay day for your efforts.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jul 27, 2006 at 13:04:48

Thanks everybody for your support.

Chad - I did notice you on 13th South.

Maria - throwing in a 5 K two days before the marathon did not help, neither did having a baby on Friday. However, there are some things you just have to do - baby-wise, children are a heritage of the Lord, and race-wise I do not like putting all of my eggs into one basket.

I discovered through trial and error that a one week taper works very well for me. After that, the gains are marginal, if any, and happen at the cost of losing fitness in the future.

From MikeBro on Fri, Jul 28, 2006 at 10:11:55

Congrats, Sasha, both on the new baby and on the race!

From Paul Petersen on Fri, Jul 28, 2006 at 12:02:28

Congrats on both baby and race! I figured out last year as well that a one-week taper is quite sufficient, and it shouldn't need to be a big one at that. In 2004 I ran 100-mile weeks all through August and did an abrupt 2-week taper before TOU...and paid for it dearly. Ever since then I just go for one week and keep mileage up by doing doubles.

Now that you've achieved your goal of Top 3 and Top Utahn, the only thing left to do is win the race outright!

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