Breaking the Wall

February 17, 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: 81.04 Year: 418.47
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: 1353.22
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Josse. Paced Josse through 3x2 miles. She ran 13:08, 13:34, 13:30. On the last one she wore my HRM. Interesting HR patterns. She started the interval with HR of 125. It climbed to 165 in 0.5. Then around 1.25 she hit 172. In the last quarter she was able to be consistently over 180, and maxed out at 187. During the cool down her HR hovered in the 145-150 range. So, assuming the HRM was working right, we are looking at a cardio/aerobic power limitation. At least over that interval. It would be interesting to see what her HR does when she crashes around mile 7 of a half-marathon.

P.M. -1 Ran 1.03 with Benjamin, Jenny, and Julia to pick up our new van in 10:03. Julia fell back a bit and finished in 10:11. Fueling a CNG vehicle is a different experience. Definitely less convenient, and it takes longer - took about 5 minutes to pump 6.8 gallons, and we had to wait for two people ahead of us to finish since only one pump was working. However, cannot complain about the price. Filled up about half a tank for $5.83. This should be good enough for about 100 miles. And if you do run out of gas you have to be towed.

P.M -2: 1 with Benjamin in 8:48 with Jenny joining for the first 0.5 in 4:39. Then 4 miles on the trail to the Utah Lake in the dark in 29:45. I could only hear crickets and my footsteps as I watched the very late stage of the sunset. It was beautiful.

The reason I ran out 4 miles was that Joseph wanted to go for a ride in our new van. So Sarah drove to the Utah Lake to pick me up. Noticed how roomy the van was. All that room will come handy during relays. If only we can make sure we do not run out of gas, that is.

On the way home we observed an interesting scene. Two cows were being escorted along the road by a pickup truck and two police cars with their lights on. We were stuck behind the procession for a few minutes. Finally the cows made it home, and we were able to resume normal driving.

Five Fingers - 1258.52 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 6.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.75
From Superfly on Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 19:37:22

I'm jealous! I'm really into the CNG vehicles and most likely will buy one as my next vehicle purchase. Although I'd get one that can do both gas and NG just in case you needed it.

In any case that's awesome you got a CNG Van. Now you should paint it up with (pictures and color) stuff and it can be a driving bill board.

From Cheryl on Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 20:02:24

Can you explain why you called Josse's heartrate pattern a cardio/aerobic power limitation? What should the heartrate be doing ideally?

From Bonnie on Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 21:00:38

Hi Sasha, I heard the other day that there is a company that can hook up a CNG pump to an existing gas line from your house. That way you can fill up at home and pay using your existing gas bill ... I don't know if the technology is available here in Utah yet, but it sounds pretty cool!

From Bonnie on Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 21:01:34

oh, by the way, FRB site does really well using Google Chrome!

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Sep 04, 2008 at 14:02:53


Performance in distance running is limited by two types of factors: aerobic/cardio and neural drive. As it is near impossible to have both subsystems perfectly match each other in strength, it nearly always be one or the other - either the heart will reach the top of its pumping ability, you can still push, but you go into severe oxygen debt, or the opposite - the heart is barely working but you cannot go any faster because your brain is weak/tired and cannot cope with the intensity and complexity of fast running. A simple test to see what limits you is to run a fast pace that you will not be able to sustain for too long (e.g about your 2 mile race pace), and watch your heart rate. If you are limited by the cardio aspect you will see a steady HR drift upwards that will spike sharply as you battle to maintain the pace right before the failure occurs. After the failure, even as you decrease the pace, your HR will still hover around the maximum for a while even though you are going much slower. Your ability to pick the pace back up will coincide with a drastic drop in HR.

If it is the neural drive, your HR will steadily rise, but once the failure occurs and you slow down, it will quickly drop and will be only a couple of beats per minute higher than your normal HR at that slower pace that you would normally reach without the fast portion earlier. You will find yourself unable to speed up for a while even though your HR is staying quite a bit lower than what it maxed out at prior to failure. As you continue at that forced recovery pace you may at some point all of a sudden discover an ability to speed up as well. When you do speed up, your HR goes up as well.

If the problem is aerobic/cardio (which is the case for the majority of runners), the fix is easy. Just run more miles. If it is the neural drive, things get tricky. Sleep helps, staying carboloaded helps as well, keep easy runs very easy, avoid stress, do not think or focus too hard, avoid dull tasks, watch funny movies, visit friends, play games, etc. But it is still a mystery for me. The trouble is that every thought you think, every move you make every second of the day can affect your neural drive, and if it is the limit, then you will notice it when trying to run hard.

From Scott Zincone on Thu, Sep 04, 2008 at 22:43:45

Too bad you could not convert all the methane from the cows into fuel for your new van.

From Cheryl on Fri, Sep 05, 2008 at 14:27:37

Sasha--Thanks for that explanation.

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