Breaking the Wall

August 23, 2019

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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: 173.50 Year: 2475.51
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1360.04
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Speed workout with Ted at 4:30 AM on the trail. He had an early meeting, I had to take my mother to the airport. It was dark. We warmed up 4 miles. Drafted behind Ted, occasionally would get wired a bit and pull alongside. We did 6x0.5 with 0.25 jogging recovery. 2:35.7 - 2:37.1 - 2:37.1 - 2:39.1 - 2:35.7. They felt at around the level of aggressive threshold, maybe approaching 10 K race pace. On the last one Ted said he might want to pick it up on the last quarter. So with a quarter to go I pulled alongside and picked it up to see if Ted would respond. But he did not want to be unduly uncomfortable, and dropped back a bit. I just coasted waiting for him to catch up, but he did not.

My mother lost 11 pounds in the month she was here, from 192 down to 181. She cannot run because of her leg injury, so she rode the stationary bike 6 days a week for 10 minutes, and ate our diet. At the airport she told me she noticed it was a lot easier for her to walk.

Some food for thought - an article on Hobie Call. A little old, but still an interesting read, perhaps even more interesting due to its age. For those who missed the big news. He ran 2:16:39 on Saturday in the Top of Utah Marathon. For those who do not know - Top of Utah course is not slow, but it is no St. George, and even no Chicago/London/Berlin, probably comparable to Boston. For those who know the course - his first half was 1:06:40, and he came back with 1:09:59. The second half has a couple hundred feet of net elevation drop, but it rolls more than enough to negate it. So in other words, had he had to run the Great Salt Lake Half out and back, he would still have finished under 2:20. So we've got a guy that can go under 2:20 on a flat course at 4500 feet.

He will still be a dark horse at the Trials, especially with the misleading letter "a" right next to his time for "aided course". If he runs an equivalent quality performance there, though, it would cause a lot of wide-open mouths. Chances are he will - I've never seen him crash in a marathon.

P.M. 2.13 to Benjamin's soccer game with him in 17:20. Another 0.75 around the field by myself in 5:46. Benjamin's team won 5-1. Back 1.6 in 14:23 with Jenny, then added to get 2.03 in 17:30.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Tom on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 13:36:28

Sasha after I got back from my 3 week trip to India last month, having been a bad eater and gaining 3-5 lbs on the trip I decided to give your diet (or at least I think something similar) a try. My breakfasts and lunchs actually seem pretty humongous with a lighter dinner but the rule is that I stick with whole grains, fruits, veggies..basically the good stuff and not really even worry about how much I eat. I'm happy to say that doing this I was able to shed the India pounds and then some. I've been able to lose before but I felt hungry all the time. On this diet I rarely feel hungry, sometimes maybe a little before going to bed but that's it. Also the cravings for stuff that seems to have been my downfall in the past (ice cream, chocolate) don't seem to have been so bad this time around. However I must confess that I have indulged a bit on Sundays and haven't yet sworn off ice-cream and chocolate completely.

From Shanti on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 14:27:25

Hi Sasha! After reading this post, I am dying to know what your diet consists of!! Could you please post like a sample of what your daily diet is.... Breakfast,lunch, dinner, snacks!! Or if you don't post your daily diet, I might have to come and stay at your house for a month....Hey a new idea for can turn your home into a weight loss resort for all of us clydesdales! LOL!!! I would love to lose 11 pounds in a month!! WOW!! Thanks for this great, inspiring, magnificent blog!!

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 15:49:49


Here is a sample daily menu:

Breakfast: rolled oats (raw) mixed with nuts, dried dates, some fruit, and soy milk

Lunch: buckwheat, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or mashed potatoes sometimes with some light meat (about every other day) - fish, chicken, or turkey; vegetable salad with no dressing

Dinner: Same as breakfast, except no soy milk and no oats

Snacks - honey on whole wheat bread, fruit

Cooking always happens with vegetable oil.

Banned list: anything caffeinated, alcohol, red meat, white flower, unnaturally sweetened products, soda pop, and just about anything Americans normally eat in front of TV or during a football game.

I have considered setting up a fitness clinic (I do not like the word "weight loss" because it does not always mean increased fitness), I do have the knowledge of how to help the people, but what is holding me back is the lack of knowledge/experience on the logistics. If somebody wants to work with me on this, I am open to ideas.

From Lybi on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 15:59:21

I lost a couple pounds in just the weekend you guys were here at my joke.

From Paul Petersen on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 16:39:45

That's an interesting article. Written at a 4th-grade level, but interesting. At the time, I was very impressed with his 2:25 at TOU, but looking back at his times earlier that year (particularly GSL and SLC Classic), that is a severe underperformance.

It seems that Hobie has had this 2:16 coming for over four years.

From Dave Holt on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 16:57:04

Paul you must understand where that article comes from - The Hurricane Valley Journal is written for 4th graders... I mean the town of Hurricane! Just kidding - no one write me back and yell at me. I mean, I taught there for 2 years and contributed to the distinguished level of education that fines town holds.

That final sentence you wrote really interests me. I think we all have to have a goal like this (whatever level of running you personally have) that just keeps driving us. For many of us it is a similar goal to Hobie's. Three years ago a 2:20 was a crazy pipedream for me, now it is something that IS going to happen in the next few years.

From Tom on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 17:35:30

After reading the Hobie article perhaps we need to throw in some wheat grass into our oatmeal.

From ashman on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 20:20:30

No, just 120 mile weeks for several years, good genetics ie talent, excellent diet and perfect diet.

From ashman on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 20:21:50

Oops I meant perfect recovery like the Kenyans.

From crumpyb1 on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 21:13:44


Shauna said that you said a single jogging stroller adds two minutes on to your mile time? I ran a 8:07 (with the wind and mostly downhill) followed by a 8:28 (against the wind and mostly uphill) today. I was running so hard, I didn't talk to Will.

I have a hard time thinking I could run a 6:30 mile. Of course I haven't tried lately. I am thinking I will try on Saturday. (By picking up my pace on the quarter mile or half a mile prior to my fast miles has helped me be more consistent with the first few quarter.)

Here are my quarters from today.









Should I believe that I can run a 6:30 mile? And what should I shoot for in a ten mile race (Indian Summer Distance Classic--the flier said it was not a fast course)? Please let me know what you think when you have a spare moment. Thanks--Adrianne

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 22:43:50

Adrianne - the stroller impact greatly varies with the weight of the stroller itself, the weight of the kids in it, the tire inflation, wheel size, whether you are going uphill or downhill, the quality of the surface you are on, etc. It also varies with the weight and the absolute strength of the runner pushing it. I would guess Will right now in your stroller would slow you down by at least 30 seconds per mile on a perfectly flat stretch. Headwind and even moderate uphill can slow you down by as much as 2 minutes a mile.

You should be able to run close to 6:30 mile right now assuming you are in a similar shape to where you were in May. Based on your 10 K performance against Benjamin, I would estimate that at that time you would have been about equal in the mile. Although one would think that a kid that runs only 2 miles a day would start losing ground against adults running more miles in longer distances, I have noticed he actually gains ground on adults running as much as 40 miles a week as the distances get longer, and beats them coming from behind as well.

He raced the mile on the track in May in 6:48. That was at 4500 feet of altitude. He probably could have done it 10 seconds faster at sea level, which would make it 6:38.

For the 10 mile race, I would recommend going out at 8:00/mile and see how long you can hold it. Slow down to 8:10 when and if 8:00 ever becomes unbearable, and so on down the road.

From Michelle on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 23:09:46

So for dinner, taking away the soy milk, and the oats that just mixed nuts, dates and fruit?

Soy milk? Why do you drink that over regular milk?

From Dallen on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 23:10:59

Having run the TOU and Chicago I have a somewhat different opinion. If someone is not prepared for the downhill they will run TOU a few minutes (or more)slower than a "fair" marathon. However, with proper downhill training, TOU is probably 2-4 minutes faster than a flat sea level course.

I would rather be proven wrong, but I don't know of any instances of a Sub-2:30 Utah runner putting in a comparable performance on a flat course.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 23:49:32


Yes, you are correct for the dinner. The reason for soy milk - I do not handle regular milk well.


In 2003, I ran TOU in 2:27:46, St. George two weeks later in 2:24:47, followed by a marathon training run once a week immediately with the times of 2:52, 2:46, and 2:49 on an out and back course from my house by Slate Canyon to a little bit past Vivian Park and back. I did speed workouts in the middle. So by the middle of November I was worn out, but I still managed 2:31:44 in Richmond going through the first half in 1:12:09 - my plan was qualify or die, and I died - 39 minutes for the last 10 K. Phil Olsen ran 2:21 in St. George, then 2:25 in the Trials in less than ideal conditions. Corbin Talley ran 2:21:33 in St. George, then 2:26:08 in the Trials hitting the first half in 1:08:59.

From Superfly on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 08:50:11

I haven't run TOU...But many of you guys have and it is ruled as a downhill course. I have ran Boston 2 times and I'm going to say that TOU has to be faster than Boston. In fact there is no way there even close.

We talked to some runners down here that are not on the blog and they said that TOU was faster than STGM (for them). I don't know about that but they would have never said that about Boston. In fact I would be suprised to see Hobie run under 2:20 at Boston maybe high 2:19, but that is just my opinion.

From Superfly on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 08:57:18

One factor that is overlooked is the tailwind that everyone talks about at TOU. At Boston if the wind is blowing-it's in your face 9 times out of 10. It's the wind coming off the ocen and that's the direction it blows.

From Jon on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 09:16:07

How much do you guys think the tail wind really helps at TOU? It is only for about 2-3 miles, so I don't think it takes more than 20-30 seconds off of times, max.

From Cody on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 10:14:54

Jon- Its hard to tell, but to be generous, I would say 1 min of gain due to the tail-wind. Average of 20 seconds a mile for 3 miles - max. I think that is very generous.

I imagine that people that dont train for downhill could do TOU faster since the downhill is so mild and doesn't beat you up. They would be in the minority though I imagine. I am not an authority on this as I have yet to run STGM. There are many faster courses at sea level than Boston. I agree with Clyde though that Boston is one of the harder courses around much harder than TOU. But London or Chicago may be faster due to the terrain and altitude.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 14:31:56

Clyde - you forgot to include into your analysis that TOU is never below 4400 feet. That automatically brings your threshold down by 10 seconds a mile.

The only reason TOU could be faster than STGM is coming to STGM in significantly worse condition. Here are some stats for me:

Year Ogden TOU St. George

2003 2:27:46 2:24:47

2004 2:32:51 2:25:20

2005 2:36:05 2:39:12 2:27:21

2006 2:30:03 2:33:12 2:25:32

In 2003, there was significant tailwind in TOU, and on top of that I came to it peaked and fresh. St. George was an afterthought, I figured I had a shot for a qualifier. In 2005 there was significant headwind in TOU, and I had a bad race on top of it. In 2006 the conditions in TOU were not bad, but it was too cold at the start, and there were occasional gusts of headwind.

Bill Cobler:

Year Ogden Boston TOU St. George

2005 N/A N/A 2:50:17 2:40:22

2006 2:51:09 2:48:53 2:45:55 2:38:34

Bill is our most reliable data point for Boston. I think he was a bit tired from Boston in Ogden in 2006, which is why I beat him by 21 minutes. However, by TOU/St. George he cut the gap down to 12-13 minutes, so we really should not be comparing his TOU/St. George against his Ogden/Boston for the purpose of establishing a correlation between the course.

I also beat Bill by 19 minutes in DesNews 2006, which is probably the standard gap between me and him in that shape. With that in mind, I would conclude had I raced him in Boston being in my Ogden shape in 2006, I would have run just slightly under 2:30. It has been a while since we had 2003 quality tail wind in TOU, even this year I do not think we did. I am not exactly sure how my Ogden 2006 compares to TOU 2003, but I would put them fairly close together, within a minute.

My analysis that TOU is like Boston assumes tailwind 2003 quality in TOU, and no wind to mild tailwind in Boston. I give Boston a bit of an adjustment from the data produced by Utah runners because Boston is far away, they fly in the night before, and the mindset is often more to see sights, run the honor lap so you can tell others you've done it rather than to race. Also, there are very few runners that properly train during the winter, which makes the estimate even more difficult.

From Paul Petersen on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 14:44:36

Boston has a marathon?

From Jon on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 16:20:27

It's just a little, local one, Paul.

From Paul Petersen on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 17:15:15

I've never left Utah for a marathon. I assumed other states weren't into them.

From Superfly on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 17:21:42

I don't think that you can compare courses by how far you bet someone who ran that course...The only fair and accurat way to do it is for me to come run TOU in coming years (plannin on doing it anyways)- and for you to go run Boston (you'll never do).

Here is my anayses-

I ran a 2:37 at Boston this year under the worst conditions you could ever dream up. On a normal year at Boston with no wind or mild headwind this would have been with th same effort a 2:34-2:35. If I take that same effort and heart to run TOU this year I'm guessing I run a 2:31-2:32.

The elevation thing isn't that big because your running downhill at TOU and you use less air anyways.

I do a 15 mile run that is mostly downhill up in Torrey that starts on the mountain above the town at around 9500ft and drops off at 6,900ft. I never feel like I can't breath because it's all downhill. For that matter there is less air to create less resistance.

I know TOU isn't faster than STGM. I also know TOU isn't as hard as Boston.

From Superfly on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 17:22:45

I didn't spell check. Oops.

From Superfly on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 17:34:20

One more thought.

Hobie live and trains around 3,000 ft give or take. He went up to TOU and ran a 2:16. I'm still going to say that if he went down to Boston he'd only run a 2:19-2:20 with the same effort of Saturday's TOU.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 18:12:24


Bill Cobler and I run enough races together and we are equally consistent that there is a pattern of how much I am going to beat him by in any particular two month window. This applies to all distances - 5 K through the marathon.

Some more numbers for you - Boston is no more than 2 minutes slower than Chicago when both have ideal conditions - reasoning: Boston course record is 2:07:12, Chicago is 2:05:42. Boston is usually won in 2:09, Chicago in 2:07. The field is typically of equal strength.

Chicago vs St. George - most reliable data point is James Lander, he's run both several times:

St. George 2002 - 2:22:24, Chicago 2003 - 2:22:42, Chicago 2005 - 2:21:06, St. George 2006 - 2:18:25. In Chicago 2005 his job was to pace Deena Kastor, so he probably lost a minute from not being able to draft or run his own pace. He pulled away from her fairly easily on the last mile when he noticed she was being chased by Dita to avoid being a factor in the women's race.

Salt Lake vs TOU - Ezekiel Ruto ran 2:26 in Salt Lake this year, vs 2:24 in TOU, which is right on with what my predictor says should be the difference. This puts Hobie's effort in perspective - Hobie beat him by only 3 minutes in Salt Lake, vs good 8(!) minutes in TOU. You must also take into consideration the fact that Hobie's second half doubled would have given him sub-2:20! That is running at 4500 feet and with only about 200 feet of rolling (as in there is 2 miles of steady uphill from 18 to 20) net elevation drop.

You may not feel out of breath at an elevation, but you will run slower. Downhill reduces the relative slowdown, uphill increases it.

The fastest Dennis ever ran in TOU is 2:25:51 in 2001 (good tailwind). That is with competition - he had Mark Lawson and Joe Wilson with him until 20. His thoughts were that TOU is not as fast as it looks.

From Paul Petersen on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 18:54:22

I think it's hard to use empirical data like this, since people's fitness varies so much from year to year. Not to mention weather. There are just too many variables.

For example, one could say that St. George is only 1 minute faster than Boston, because Clyde Behunin ran 2:36 at St. George and 2:37 at Boston within less than 1 year. Or that Park City is faster than TOU because Paul Petersen ran 2:43 at PC in '05 and 2:45 at TOU in '04. Or that a tailwind at TOU takes away 30 minutes, since Cody Draper ran 3:12 in '05 and 2:46 as a workout in '07. We're all completely shooting at the hip here. If you want to get truly scientific, give me something statistically defensible, with t-tests and mannings u's and stuff like that. I think you could do some pretty good stats with long-term pack analysis, top 10 analysis, etc. But just is spouting off names and times is pure arm-waving.

From Superfly on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 19:39:14

True story.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 20:27:10


Now we are entering the realm of philosophy. I agree that neither my arguments above, nor the numbers that come out of my predictor would be considered scientific in the sense of being the science taught and practiced in labs and universities. That is why I call it Sasha science. Nevertheless, Sasha science has predicted somebody's finishing time in a race within 0.1% margin of error on numerous occasions. Regular science would have said the prediction cannot be done with the amount of data present.

Which goes to show that science in the traditional meaning of the word is by far not a comprehensive method of exploring reality and finding truth. It serves as a good common denominator for proving truths to those who lack refined intuition, but it usually not very helpful for discovering them.

From Jon on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 20:40:42

Man, the tail wind at TOU is worth 30 minutes!!! Awesome- someone should come break the world record here.

As for Sasha science- predicting a few finishes within .1% does not count for much, since you only remember the ones where you were accurate. You would have to look at the entire body of work, not just at the "winners" who followed your premise. Still, I think the results calculator is pretty good.

From Paul Petersen on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 20:56:25

Again, you would have to prove that the Sasha science is correct in a statistically significant fashion in order to validate it. Intuition is great and all, but won't hold up under peer-review. I could plug numbers into the calculator (based mostly off of Daniels) and get several finish times within 0.1% as well.

By the way, I'm not trying to be negative here, but am rather trying to promote good discussion. Speaking of which, when will the message board be activated?

From Paul Petersen on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 20:58:48

Ha ha. Never mind about the message board, I see that it is up. Looks great! Now we have a true home for these long, convoluted threads!

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 21:15:08


You've challenged my pride, as Dallen used to say when he tried to test my kick in the workouts. Let's have a race, vs my predictor. Do not strike below the belt - radical changes in fitness, severe heat/headwind - use reasonably comparable running performances for benchmarking. Let's have 20 comparisons to see which one does better.

From Dustin on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 21:39:54


I like the new discussion board option, and I really enjoy reading some of these posts. I've used your predictor to help give me a ballpark idea of where I might expect to be time wise for different races and I've found it to be fairly accurate. Of course as Paul mentioned there are so many different variables that can go into a race, that can make predicting difficult.

Anyway, I really don't an option or much to share on the topic.

What I am wondering Sasha is if there is a way to create a location to post race pictures and things of this nature on our individual blog pages. I know how to change and add different pictures to the profile page, but I was wondering about the future possibility of having some type of photo album. I have a few friends and family members that read the blog, but mainly they want to see how much pain I'm in, while I'm out there running!

From Paul Petersen on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 21:55:18

Heh heh. Sounds fun, Sasha. How about this: we pick 20 people after the St. George marathon, and then try to predict the time of their next race based on their St. George performance. I think it's okay if the courses are very different. That is part of the challenge.

BTW - is an online Daniels calculator, so in reality this competition is Sasha Pachev vs. Jack Daniels.

From Superfly on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 22:21:48

Don't keep us waiting. Pick 10-20 bloggers and others who are running STGM and based of the training and races prior to STGM give us your predictions for this year.

First off Sasha what is your own Sasha Science prediction for you at STGM on normal weather and other conditions?

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 22:55:52

Depends on how much the taper gives me. Assuming no unusual influences, and based on the recent workouts and racing, 2:21:30 - 2:22:30. I sure hope to hit the upper part of that range.

Paul - I am quite sure I can beat Jack Daniels on the Utah courses most of which I've run multiple times.

Dustin - I'll put your request on the TODO list.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 22:58:34

Paul - for the prediction benchmark you do not have to wait for a race to happen. Just assume it did not, and see what times the previous races predict. E.g you can take St. George 2006 as the target race, and some circuit races earlier as the data races.

From Jon on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 23:43:24

Is this a record for most comments on one post?

I want to hear the 20 people Sasha is predicting for, and what their times will be. Within 1 minute.

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