Breaking the Wall

Park City Half Marathon

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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: 51.55 Year: 2011.51
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: 881.43
Race: Park City Half Marathon (13.1 Miles) 01:14:18, Place overall: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Park City Half Marathon, 1:14:18, first place. Today was Jenny's 7th birthday. Winning the race has a historical significance. I won Hobblecreek in 2000 about 10 hours after she was born. I do not always get to celebrate her birthday by winning a race, but I try.

Drove up with Ted and Jeff. Warmed up 2.3 miles.

Saw Bob Thompson. Bob is recovering from a calf injury, but knowing his previous fitness level, it was a possibility that he could cause some trouble, and definitely be able to run with us at least for a while. So I invited Bob and Jeff to share the lead every quarter. We went like that for two miles at about 5:45-5:50 pace. The course is a beast - starts at 6400 feet (Kimball Junction), climbs to 6900 at the half-mark (somewhere in the middle of Park City residential area), then back down the same way. About half of the way on gravel/dirt. Lots of 90 degree turns, and the narrowness of the trail makes them a true 90 - no room to swing out. To make things worse, the climb is uneven - some places flat, some near flat, some even slightly down, and some steeper, reaching perhaps a 3-4% grade, which really hurts at altitude anywhere, and on this course those parts are towards the end of the climb - a higher elevation for the steep parts, double trouble. So on that climb anything sub-6:00 is really good.

That pace was too much for Bob after two miles. I suppose he would have done relatively better at a lower elevation - the gaps in the aerobic conditioning from a forced break would have had less effect. Jeff and I went on trading quarters. Jeff was very strong and was making me suffer. By around 3.5 I knew that the only thing that would save me would be the distance to soften him up, and I hoped 13.1 would be long enough. Nevertheless, I was taking my turns every other quarter according to the plan. Our slowest quarter (off Garmin) during the entire climb was 1:34. At first I rarely saw anything slower than 1:30, but as the grade became steeper, I started seeing 1:31s and 1:32s more often. We would occasionally hit a 1:27-1:28 when it flattened out for a brief moment, or when Jeff would really turn up the heat on me.

We reached the turnaround in 38:56, and my Garmin 305 showed a reasonable distance, good sign. Most of the mile markers agreed with Garmin as well, another good sign. On the way down both of us press hard on our turns. I started seeing sub-1:20 quarters quite frequently. Saw Chris Rogers in third, he passed Bob, then Bob not too far behind, then a while later a group of runners and Ted. By around 8 we were in the thick of things - lots of runners going the other way.

I kept waiting for the distance to soften Jeff up, but it was not happening. I began to realize that I was dealing with a different Jeff. That is good news for his upcoming marathon in St. George. Today with no taper he could have definitely made it to 16 in one piece if not further, then it is only 10 to go. Additionally, St. George is a much more fuel efficient course. I've felt pretty bad on it around 13-15 and was still able to finish decent, without a forced premature cool-down. If I am feeling that bad at the same point in Ogden or Top of Utah, things do not look good, the cool-down is bound to happen.

With a mile to go, it was apparent that the race would be decided with a kick. We were still trading leads on quarters, but now it was more tactical and ferocious. Jeff is not a kicker, so he was trying to drop me with a fast pace. I am not a kicker in a 5 K, and I will not kick well off a faster pace, but in a threshold race (15 K to half-marathon) it is a different story. If the pace softens up to as little as 5 seconds per mile slower than my threshold, I will have a good kick. At 12.75 it was my turn to lead, but I figured waiting another 200 meters to take my lead would be fair game that late in the race. Jeff had soften up just a tad, and it was enough for me to have a kick. So I waited until I thought we had 300 meters to go, and then went for it. Jeff did not expect me to start the kick that early, so I was able to open up a small gap. I eased off a bit, then once we hit the grass, I realized I was in trouble - Jeff was closing, and he has done a lot more cross-country running than me. So I pushed as hard as I could, and ended up beating him by a second. The time on my watch said 1:14:20, the official time was 1:14:18. Jeff had 1:14:19. Chris was third with 1:16:59, and Bob fourth with 1:17:37 (I think). Ted was 6th with 1:23:37 (I think).

After the finish the announcer did not have us on his list, so he asked me my name. That 300 meter anaerobic interval at the end put me on the edge of losing my breakfast had I eaten one in the morning, but fortunately I did not, so there was nothing to lose, but I was still not able to talk. So I waved to him, and he said he would get to the business later.

One great thing about this race was the food. I think this race had the best food selection I've ever seen in a race. Lots of natural, organic stuff. I ate a lot.

Ran a 3 mile cool-down with Ted and Jeff. Then stayed for long enough for the awards ceremony, and watch the finish of the marathon. Dave Spence made a come back and won with a high 2:49. Steve Olsen was second with 2:53, Bill Cobler third with 2:57.

P.M. Ran 0.5 with Julia running and Joseph in the single stroller in 4:49, then 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny, plus Joseph in the single stroller in 13:27, then 3.04 in 21:30 with Benjamin riding along on a bike. Hit a bit over 120 miles this week, highest ever.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Adam RW on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 14:52:37

Sasha, Great win. Was your race report cut-off half way I was just getting into it when it was over? I'm eager to hear the rest. Also, do you know how Bill Cobler did in the full?

From Jon on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 15:01:10

Nice race- can't beat a win!

Do you think it would be possible for you to add the TOU 1/2 marathon to your race predictor, too? It is growing in number and would be nice to have on their.

From Jon on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 15:01:22


From Paul Petersen on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 15:23:27

Exciting finish! Way to kick.

From Christi on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 15:33:43

Awesome win! Way to push at the end!

From Lybi on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 15:53:09

What an exciting race! This seems like a fabulous time on such a difficult course and at super high elevation. Great job!

From James in Sunny AZ on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 16:39:10

Way to go, Sasha. We had firsthand experience last night how gravel slows you down. The bloggers are taking over!

From Chris Rogers on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 16:51:18

Good job today Sasha. I liked the course and I think that even though the uphill was a challenge, it was a great workout in prep for SGM. Strength building uphill and speedy downhills all in one!

From ashman on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 19:04:25

Sounds like a gut buster! Good job!

From Michael on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 at 23:21:30

Way to continue that winning and great race performance streak Sasha. Sounds like a tough course

From Tom on Sun, Aug 26, 2007 at 07:44:31

Great race report, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Sounds like quite the exciting finish to a well fought race, congrats on coming out ahead.

From Paul Ivory on Sun, Aug 26, 2007 at 23:53:03

Sasha, awesome race!! You make us feel like we were there with you. Congrats and all the best for you in St. George.

From Clay on Mon, Aug 27, 2007 at 15:29:44

Great race Sasha. you and Paul and Clyde are the Men, so to speak... Inspiring. Keep up the hard fought workouts and weekly mileage, your awesome!

From Logan on Mon, Aug 27, 2007 at 17:24:57

After running the TOU/half and running a little bit with Paul I feel like I am going to give it my best shot for a 2:22 at St. George. A lot of it is mental for me but I feel pretty good about it now.

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