Breaking the Wall

Desert News 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: 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
Race: Desert News 10 K (6.214 Miles) 00:32:31, Place overall: 30
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Deseret News 10 K, 32:31.7,  30th place. Yes, 30th, and triple-chicked! Last year I would have been safe. So I thought sub-33:00 will preserve me from the embarrassment. But this year we had two Kenyan ladies - Hyvon Ngetich and Caroline Rotich, and then Lindsay Anderson and Lindsay Dunkley had break through races as well. I barely beat the slower Lindsay, so 4th place among women. I suppose I can use running Five Fingers as an excuse, but in all honesty if it did make a difference at all it may have saved me the disgrace of local chicking (32:22), but Ngetich would have still chicked me with this effort. My only defense is that I did not get chicked from behind - the speedy ladies just took off and I could not catch them all.

The reason I ran the 10 K this year was that I did not want to run in shoes, and did not feel confident I could handle the marathon course in Five Fingers. Plus I did not want a marathon in my legs at this point in my training.

Running in Five Fingers presented a problem with the chip. Sarah solved it for me by sewing a special ankle velcro strap with a velcro-locked pocket. It worked out perfectly. Did not bother me at all, the chip never was under any threat of falling out, the strap stayed on. We did have to call Kurt Black to find out the exact dimensions of the chip to get it right, though.

At the start everybody took of like a bat out of a hot place for sinners. Maybe because it was rather warn - temperatures in the high 70s. I found myself in mid-pack of sorts through about a quarter mile. That is not too abnormal. However, one mile into it I was still into heavy mid-pack in spite of running 4:51. Downhill, but with the adjustment it was probably worth about a flat 5:15. In a 10 K! And then I did not pass a whole lot of people in the second mile in spite of running it in 4:52 (probably 5:15 flat equivalent). 9:43 at 2 miles.

Then I could not believe my eyes. After that effort I see what looks like a girl about 100 meters ahead of me. It was really a girl, not just some weird high school runner with a ponytail that is trying to send some sort of a weird message. She turned out to be Lindsay Dunkley. I did not recognize her. Now that is embarrassing. Not only are you getting chicked, you do not know who you are getting chicked by!  Putting things in perspective - a mom of three kids just put a 100 meter gap on me in the first 2 miles of a 10 K while I had just run an equivalent of a flat 10:30 2 miles!

Third mile had a net down with some significant up. I ran it in in 5:24, 15:07 at 3 miles. Probably worth around flat 5:30 . Made zero dent in the gap with the group ahead of me. However, some high school runners have been falling off the pace and I was passing them here and there. However, there have been a couple of smarter ones that have started a bit slower and were now passing me.

5:17 in 4th mile, 20:24 at 4 miles. Probably worth a flat 5:30 again. Gradual downhill, no up. Happy that I found another mile at sub-5:20 in me. Reduced the gap in about half. Not looking forward to the next two miles fearing that I would slow down a lot. Trying to relax and not go into neural red zone. I know very well what happens when I do. When you are limited by oxygen, you go into the red zone, then you ease off for a minute or two, catch your breath, and you get back to pace. If you go into the red zone neuromuscularly for as little as 40 seconds, you never get back to pace, and you have absolutely no kick. This took some self-control, as breathing wise I feel like I am bumming it, and when racing I prefer to breathe on the verge of vomit.

In the fifth mile I came up on the group I was chasing, which by now had caught Albert Wint. A small consolation - I might get chicked, but at least I will beat Albert today. No split, missed the mark. In the last mile I ran with Brad Perry - a Box Elder High runner, and Lindsay Dunkley. I saw a Kenyan woman - Caroline Rotich - fall off pace and start coming back to us. And further ahead there was another white woman - turned out to be Lindsay Anderson. I did not realize the woman's leader was a good minute ahead and was hoping to unchick myself completely.

So I pushed as hard as I could, but so did everybody else around me. Alexander Thomas appeared out of nowhere, and passed us slowly. That was odd. He must not have been having a good day, he should have been about 2 minutes ahead.

A couple of high school runners came from behind and demonstrated with their kick that they could with some training run this course under 30:00. Ben Van Beekum passed me, but then I was able to gain on him and almost outkick him, but he edged me out at the finish. Caroline kicked pretty hard knowing that if she got passed she'd be going home empty-handed, and was able to stay in 3rd. That kick was also good enough to keep me from reducing my chick count.

Hyvon Ngetich got 31:30, then Lindsay Anderson 32:22, Caroline Rotich 32:28, and Lindsay Dunkley 32:37, a major breakthrough. It is odd that I am reporting on the women's race today, but, hey, I report first on the one I watched!

In the men's we saw 27:46 from an Ethiopian runner Alene Reta. To give you an idea of the depth of the field, Teren Jameson finished 8th with 29:24 (or maybe 29:22 depending on which version of race results you believe). Jeff McClellan set the blog record for the course with 30:13, but that was good enough only for 12th, and 6th Utahn after Seth Pilkington (29:07), Kyle Perry (29:20), Teren, Brad Osguthorpe (29:39), and Jon Kotter (30:07). Previous record was held by Paul (30:27).

Afterwards Jeff and I watched the marathon backwards, and then I paced Mike Warren from about mile 20 to the finish. Then ran back to my car at the start of the 10 K.

Had an interesting incident. I felt thirsty so I decided to try some grape juice. Drank to much of it. Started feeling sick. Threw all of it up, it even went through the nose. Then I felt a whole lot better.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:55. Julia ran with Sarah (1.5 in 14:42). Jenny and Benjamin ran ahead and did their usual 2 miles. Benjamin 17:41, Jenny 17:50. Ran 0.5 with Sarah in 4:55.

Five Fingers 2 Miles: 20.00Bare Feet Miles: 1.00
Night Sleep Time: 6.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.50
From jeffc on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 16:03:19 from

I don't know how you run so much in five fingers, you are one tough dude. You are an incredible runner. Getting chicked is common place for me but I can understand your distress since it's probably been a while since it's happened for you. Despite all of that, congratulations on a great race and time!

From James on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 16:16:03 from

Good race in the five fingers, chicked or not.

From Bec on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 16:33:11 from

It was nice meeting you today. Great race in Five fingers, wow! This blog has helped me improve so much this last year, thank you!

From RAD on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 16:36:17 from

Nice race! Good to meet you today, I couldn't believe you'd been chicked...however, as one I do have to smile a bit :) You are one strong runner and I'm impressed with all you do and how fast you run.

From paul on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 16:58:00 from

Good job. That must be some sort of 5-fingers record. I love how deep the Des News 10K is. It's truly the most competitive race in Utah, and holds it's own against the best in the U.S., especially for only $1500 in prize money.

From Matt on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 17:21:39 from


Nice to meet you in person. Congrats on the race and you could also mention that you took first in our Age Group. So not only did you get chicked so did our whole Age Group. Some day I hope to see a long straight finish and maybe I will be close enough to see you finish.

From JulieC on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 17:55:07 from

Wow Sasha, Awesome report for an Awesome Race. Felt like I was there somehow, certainly like any reader reading the pages of a book wishing we were in fact there. Great job!!! Sorry you got chicked X 3 : D

From Kelli on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 17:59:54 from

Nice 5 finger race, Sasha.

From Mike Warren on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 18:45:35 from

Sasha, good job today! Hey, thank you very much for bringing me in. Even tough I did not hit my BQ, it was a PR on a darn hard course and 1st in my division. Without you I may of started walking, was completly spent. Anyway, thanks again, I really appreciate you!!

From Eric Day on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 18:47:45 from

Great story & race Sasha. 32:31 and 29th, wow! That was a fast race!

From redrooster on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 22:29:03 from

Nice job Sasha, what an incredible time, you really can run fast in those five fingers! it was great to finally meet you at the starting line. Maybe we can go for a run together when I drop by daughter at BYU towards end of August? Scott

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 23:35:58 from

Scott/red rooster - it would be great to run together. Send me a private message when you are in town.

Matt - I "forgot" to mention the age division win on purpose. I do not believe in age divisions until you are 45. Up until then you are racing in the open division. Although I will take master's cash, or age division consolation $50 at TOU when I get booted out of the awards.

From Superfly on Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 00:54:04 from

Good job man. I still can't get over you racing in five fingers.

From Jon on Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 15:00:34 from

Nice job, Sasha. Good to see you yesterday.

From RivertonPaul on Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 15:03:31 from

Very nice report, as usual.

From Adam RW on Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 17:11:15 from

Great race Sasha. It was good to talk on Thur and a little yesterday.

From Maurine/Tarzan on Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 17:21:21 from

Great job, Sasha. Do you feel any difference in the FiveFingers on hotter days? That sounds like a tough course and a deep field. Great write-up too.

Kudos to Sarah for solving your chip problem.

From Sasha Pachev on Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 18:41:30 from


Five Fingers feel miserable when it is below 35 degrees. The warmer it gets the more pleasant it is to run in them.


It might be a record of some sort for a while guy that did not grow up running barefoot. However, it greatly pales in comparison with Abebe Bikila's 2:15 marathon barefoot in the Rome 1960 Olympics. They said afterwards that it took a million Italian soldiers to conquer Ethiopia, but it took one Ethiopian warrior to conquer Rome.

From Snoqualmie on Sun, Jul 26, 2009 at 13:44:46 from

Congratulations, Sasha. Great report. I always learn so much from you.

I've been trying to start a transition to minimal footwear and I will probably get some VFFs very soon. Your experience in them has been very inspiring.

I hear that a new VFF, more comfortable for winter, will have a debut in September. It is called the Trek and has a suede upper. Did you hear about that? Very pricey, but my birthday comes in the fall. :D (

From argentinerocket on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 15:40:00 from

It's good to know even the best runners get chicked sometimes :)

Do you have any thoughts on why the grape juice made you sick? I often feel a queezy stomach feeling when I eat fruit before running...

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 15:58:03 from

Snowy - no I have not see those Five Fingers yet. But I think $200 for essentially nothing that develops a hole after 500 miles is a highway robbery. In fact, $60 for something that our ancestors could weave from straw is a highway robbery as well. In all honesty, if I had to buy shoes with my own money, I would just use $5 Walmart Crocs instead. Possibly with some alterations to help them stay on better and not rub during turns at fast speeds. Or see if Sarah could make some cover for the bare feet so I could run 20 miles at once. Or maybe just run barefooted for long enough so I would develop a natural cover.

Lucia - no clue about grape juice. Maybe I drank too much too fast because I was thirsty, and grape juice is not something that is good for your body to drink really fast when you are thirsty.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 16:00:58 from

And, Lucia, best runners do not get chicked. The ones that are kind of good do, though.

From Snoqualmie on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 20:31:27 from

Crocs seem way too thick, but have you considered good old "Indian" moccasins? Sarah and I could put our heads together and design/market runners' mocs. :)

From Snoqualmie on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 20:32:33 from

p.s.Have you successfully patched holes in your VFFs?? If so, what did you use? That's a lot of miles you've got on them!

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 23:38:21 from

No - I just run with holes in them. That does slow me down on certain surfaces. I wonder if it was a factor in the race. But I have considered patching. Just need to figure out how - then I could take them to 3000 miles or more.

From Maurine/Tarzan on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 08:59:11 from

I'm going to have to disagree with the Five Fingers being pleasant on really hot days. I agree about them being uncomfortable below 35 - it takes several miles to get my feet numb enough that they didn't hurt. Yesterday I ran in them in the late afternoon and I could feel the heat of the pavement baking my feet through them, so think that above 90 or so they start getting uncomfortable a different way.

From Superfly on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 11:14:40 from

Try using bike tube patches... just stick them on the inside. If you were careful you could get a pretty good patch job. Maybe even double them up for twice the thickness.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 17:00:12 from

Clyde - thanks for the suggestion. Will give it a shot.

Snowy - I talked to Sarah about Running Mocs. She thought it was an interesting idea.

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