Breaking the Wall

Salt Lake 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: 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: Salt Lake Half Marathon (12.96 Miles) 01:10:53, Place overall: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Salt Lake Half Marathon, 1:10:53 (likely short course, not certified, 12.96 on my and Ted's Garmins), 1st place.

Warmed up 2.53 with Ted, Mike Kirk joined us for a bit, really slow, slower than 8:00 average. Saw Neal Gassmann, invited him to participate in our taking leads every quarter plan. Took the first quarter, then called out for Neal to take the second, but he was too far behind, so Mike took it. Then Darrell (or maybe it was Brad, I still get them confused, they look so much alike), who was running the relay, volunteered to take the third. Then I took the fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on up to 52nd.

Course mile markers were somewhat believable, always ahead of the GPS somewhat randomly, but not painted on the road - bad sign, and positioned randomly enough to where based on effort and leg turnover, I was more likely to believe the GPS than the course mile markers. That is bad, I do not put a lot of faith in the GPS. So I'll give my splits by the GPS.

The course starts at the Little Dell Bridge (around 5500 feet) near the East Canyon exit on I-80, goes towards the East/Emigration Canyon junction, a little bit past it, then 180 turn, back to the junction, then up the Little Mountain (about 6300 feet), then down the Emigration Canyon, past the Hogle Zoo and finishes slightly uphill (about 1%grade) near University Marriott (around 5000 feet). So you get a net elevation drop of about 500 feet, but you climb 800 feet in 4 miles first.

First mile was 6:06, followed by 6:33 (steepest uphill), then 6:08 (flatter), 6:14 (up Little Mountain). After that the slowest complete mile was 5:15, the fastest was 4:54, and the rest were spread fairly even in between. No quarters slower than 1:20 until the final uphill, where I saw a 1:26 quarter.

Was not surprised to have finished a bit earlier than 13.11, was actually expecting it. I've seen the times on that course from other runners in the past, did the math as to what kind of shape they were in, then did the math on what time I was going to finish 13.11 in, evaluated the profile of the course, evaluated the gap on the competition in this race (I had a good idea after the turnaround), and figured that if the course were not short we were running a different course then.

Neal Gassmann finished second with 1:12:44. Being a master he was tired from the 100 mile week and the speed workout on Tuesday. Mike Kirk was third with 1:13:47. Ted did a training run in 1:19.

It felt good to run with police escort and nobody else most of the race and through the finish line. This has great psychological benefits. It's been a while since I've done this, I think last time was Top of Utah 2003.

P.M. Ran 0.5 with Julia in 5:10, then 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny. Jenny and I finished together in 13:58, while Benjamin picked it up a bit on the last quarter and ran 13:50. Pushed Jacob and Joseph in the stroller. Then ran to meet the Fast Running Mommy while pushing the stroller with Jacob and Joseph, 2.05 in 14:51. Ran back with Sarah, we stopped at the swing for a bit, rode it, let Joseph ride it, finished with a warm kiss, and continued. I ended up with 36:51 for 4.1. New life time mileage record this week - 121.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Chad on Sat, Sep 01, 2007 at 17:51:49

You looked really strong out there, Sasha. Great race. I can tell that, in addition to your physical fitness, your mental preparation has been going very well. I look forward to seeing what you can accomplish with the momentum you have accumulated as you prepare for the marathon.

From Michael on Sat, Sep 01, 2007 at 18:28:11

Way to go Sasha - another win and great effort - keep it up, your goals are happening

From Bonnie on Sat, Sep 01, 2007 at 19:37:17

Congratulations Sasha!


From Randy on Sat, Sep 01, 2007 at 19:40:07

Sasha - Nice work, man. I don't know that course... I thought the Salt Lake Half went out to Antelope Island(?) Must be different than the "Great Salt Lake Half". Anyway, if you can put almost 2 min on Neal in 13 miles, that's a tough effort. Well done.

From Mark on Sat, Sep 01, 2007 at 20:42:53


You never cease to amaze me. You are an inspiration!

From Christi on Sat, Sep 01, 2007 at 20:53:33

Sasha- Your commitment and self discipline are amazing. You earned this - CONGRATS!!!!!

From James in Sunny AZ on Sat, Sep 01, 2007 at 22:23:19

Congrats on the win, Sasha. I always look forward to reading your posts, and always appreciate your comments.

From Lybi on Sat, Sep 01, 2007 at 22:38:49

You are pure speed and commitment, Sasha! Great job! You better be careful or that police escort is gonna start handing you speeding tickets. Bravo bravo bravo.

From wheakory on Sun, Sep 02, 2007 at 01:22:57

Nice performance. I bet everything felt like it was clicking today. Another win and many more to come for you.

From Brent on Sun, Sep 02, 2007 at 19:57:35

Sasha, smoking them, great time on the course with the uphill portion. Congrads. Hey, this time you did not have to be the siren.

From ashman on Sun, Sep 02, 2007 at 20:07:45

Sasha, Good run buddy, I am really praying that you do get that OLY qualifying time.

From James on Sun, Sep 02, 2007 at 21:50:23

It is kind fun running with just you and the police escort. Nice job on your win. I am going to start calling you "1/2 marathon man", I think that is one 4-5 weeks in a row now.

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