Breaking the Wall

July 08, 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: 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
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Paced the kids at Onion Days in Payson. Next year I want to have our own Fast Running Blog races. I am tired of supporting raffle jogs. Consider this - with some very rare exceptions every race around here gives away a prize of greater value in a raffle than it does to the overall winner. What kind of message does this send? "We are all winners" -:) ? Why do we even race? Why even bother paying a timing company a thousand bucks to time the race, and then hold an award ceremony? Just bring everybody to the start, fire the gun, jog, everyone is a winner, then go straight to the raffle afterwards.

Yes, dealing with the reality that you are in a race you cannot win can be hard. At the start of the Minuteman 5 K it was announced that we would have an opportunity to win some cash. I knew that most of the crowd had a statistical zero chance of beating me, and yet I had a statistical zero chance of getting any cash. So much for the chance. There was no chance. Many runners approached me asking if I was going to win, or if I had won. They were rather shocked when I told them about the statistical zero, or, post-race, materialized zero. They could not comprehend the dreadful reality of that zero. Yet it is in those races if we choose to face our own inadequacy that we develop the strength to push ourselves and improve. Had I not chosen to face that dreadful zero earlier I would still be running 2:40 marathons.

So we went to the race. It was a 5 K. Benjamin ran by himself in 21:56, 20th place overall among men (out of 118 runners), chicked only 6 times (out of 134 runners), not bad for a kid. Splits were 6:45, 7:07, 7:22, 42. Won 1-9 division by over 6 minutes. Probably course record in his division, but they do not keep track of those. Beat everybody in 10-13 division as well. For some reason he was having a slow day. He ran 21:12 on a slower course 4 months ago. Two possibilities - his pants were too long and too moisture absorbing, and that slowed him down in the second half of the race when it started to rain. Or maybe he is just going through a growth spurt, and his cardio is lacking a bit. In any case, 21:56 is quite a respectable time for a 9 year old, so I am not going to worry about it.

I paced Jenny while pushing Jacob and Joseph. She was doing well in the first mile and a little after, acting feisty, having fun passing people. First mile in 7:26, a slight downhill. The second mile was a mild uphill, and we started to get some minor headwind as well. She slowed down to 7:54. She caught up to a few adult girls in the third mile and that got her going a bit faster. Her next mile was 7:49. She ran 52 seconds from 3 miles to the finish, which I think was a little long. I ran the course two more times later for the mileage. First time around I hit that stretch in 51 seconds going about 7:20 pace, and second time around 49 seconds going around 6:30 pace (based on the split from 2 to 3). Jenny finished in 24:01, new PR by 1:03. 14th place among women overall. Won her age division (1-9), but the win was dimmed by the fact that there were only two girls running. However, she beat everybody in the 10-13 division as well, and set a course record I imagine - at least I have not seen a faster time in that division in the past. Only 43 out of 118 mostly adult men avoided the fate of being chicked by 8 year old Jenny.

Julia paced Marion, sort of. That was a way of finding something productive to do for Julia during the race. I thought that if we gave Julia pacing responsibilities she would be able to mentally handle a 5 K better. They ran together, then Julia took off, then got tired and walked, then Marion caught up to her, then at the end after I had come back Marion picked it up, and Julia started to struggle and fell back a bit. Marion got 30:57. Julia ran 31:12, but she was not officially in the race.

Sarah being 32 weeks pregnant ran 34:37, and finished 91st out of 131 women. That is a huge late pregnancy PR for her. She inspired me to create a new concept - virtual pregnancy. You do not have to be a woman to be virtually pregnant. If you are under 50, are not actually pregnant, and cannot break 34:37 in a 5 K, you are virtually pregnant. What is special about Sarah is that she is not a super-athlete. Her all-time 5 K PR is 24:19. So a 34:37 5 K can reasonably be used as some basic health test. If you cannot break it, it is a condition (virtual pregnancy), and it is probably time to make some life style changes.

Ran some more mile afterwards to make the total of 12, including running the 5 K course twice. Second time around decided to beat Benjamin's time, picked up the pace a bit, and got 21:22. Had to run 6:30 pace at the end to do it. Noticed that the difference between 6:30 and 7:20 for me is mostly in the focus. 7:20 = light breathing while spacing out, 6:30 = same breathing as 7:20 but a lot more focus.

Finished at Marion's house.

A.M-2. Michelle had another 4 miles in her, so we plotted against Marion and convinced/tricked her into going with us on a bike for another 4 miles. Just as we got out the door it started raining very hard including hail. Hail always makes me think of a scripture in Helaman 5:12 in the Book of Mormon which basically says that the winds and the hailstorms of the devil have no power of those who build their foundation on Christ.

At the end of the run I remember Ted telling me about Bill Dillinger coaching him at Oregon and the surprise challenges at the end of a workout. So I figured Michelle could use one of those, and I challenged her to run hard to the end. Then Marion challenged me to beat her, and that gave me a chance to turn my legs over a bit.

Five Fingers - 1243.27 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
From Kelli on Mon, Sep 01, 2008 at 20:48:02

WOW! You are funny with the pregnancy thing. Good point, though. Sarah did AMAZING!!

Your kids did so well. I wish they kept track of all time records for the race, too. I think it is great that they were passing adults. They are great little runners with great attitudes.

I just want to add that I agree 100% that the raffle prizes were far better than what those who won got! I have never been to a raffle race before, but I was kind of annoyed that they would give away iPods, yet just give Michelle a jacket for her win and the men a blanket. So, you have a good point there as well. LET'S do some FRB races, that would be cool!

Thanks for the advice on running. I seem like I do not listen, but I did. I just do not want to hear that I could be faster if I would work harder. I have too much lazy in me, but my husband is slowly running it out of me.

And Sasha science is amazing. Way to predict my time. You floored me there. We will see how close you are about my SG time in a month or so!

From marion on Mon, Sep 01, 2008 at 21:00:15

FRB races are a great idea!

Thanks for getting me under 31 :)

I LOVE the VP standard. Most excellent. The best part is that I am NOT virtually pregnant!!!! :D Now I just need to set my sights on the sub 23.

Thanks again! This blog really is something special!

From saamijeff on Mon, Sep 01, 2008 at 23:20:40

I will never be able to stand at the end of a 5K waiting for the rest to finish with a straight face after 34:37 ticks by. I really like the term!

From kellies on Mon, Sep 01, 2008 at 23:47:45

Good job today and I am impressed with your children. They are great little athletes and it sounds like the sky is the limit for them, running as well as they do for such youngsters. It was nice meeting you and your wife at Marion's house. I really would have loved the opportunity to run a few more miles with the "Pros" but felt it was time to go home and have some family time with the kids. So, Sasha, because you are so skilled in the science end of running, I have to ask your opinion on something and I hope that you do not get annoyed by my "Using" you or the blog for this. But, I am really hoping to BQ this year at St. George and I am wondering, based on my recent races, what you predict my finish time at SGM to be. Would you mind looking at my blog and letting me know what you think? I would greatly appreciate it. Good to meet you again, I hope that you and your family continue to do well. Good luck with that new baby coming.

From Lybi on Mon, Sep 01, 2008 at 23:54:24

Virtually pregnant! Hahahaha! You are downright terrible. Does this apply to men who can't beat this time too? Perhaps beginning runners should be given 9 months before applying the term, I think.

Your wife is AMAZING! I couldn't believe my eyes! Good job to little Julia too. First 5K?

From wheakory on Tue, Sep 02, 2008 at 02:06:22

Great day of racing for the whole family. Way to go Sasha and nice fun day it sounds like with the family.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Sep 02, 2008 at 18:04:31

Lybi - a man can be virtually pregnant. No allowance for novices. A healthy individual (not in the definition of the traditional medical system, which is being able to sit for 8 hours a day) should be able to run 11:00 pace for 3 miles with no training specific to running. General aerobic conditioning done in adequate measure such as biking, swimming, active ball games, etc combined with a well-balanced healthy diet is sufficient to allow an individual of either gender under 50 to pass the virtual pregnancy cut-off without having to train specifically for the event. If our medical system considered virtual pregnancy as a serious illness to be cured, we would not have to worry about a myriad other illnesses.

KellieS - I'll leave a comment in your blog.

From saamijeff on Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 01:01:18

Why an age 50 cut off? Don't we count too? I tried a slow as I could go walk/jog recovery run today just to see.

Sorry I could go no slower than 32:10 even with 7 or 8 minutes of walking.

From MichelleL on Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 17:54:41

I would not advocate putting on lots of FRB races. I was the race director of a 5k with kids races for four years and it is brutal, took me well over 100 volunteer hours per year, and now that I am training more diligently I couldn't fit it into my schedule. Anyone who is training 10-20 hours per week couldn't volunteer much time to putting on an event, let alone a series of events.

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