Breaking the Wall

Top of Utah 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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
Race: Top of Utah Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:36:06, Place overall: 5
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Top of Utah Marathon, 2:36:06, 5th place, $250. I feel like I have just piloted a plane with a missing propeller blade, or perhaps a couple. It could not go as fast as it normally does, but I landed it safely without being too much off schedule. Not that I had ever flown a plane or ever would (my uncorrectable 20/800 vision in the right eye will not permit it), but I image that is how something like this would feel.

I woke up in the AM. Relatively minor congestion in the throat and nose. HR was 52, a bit high for that time, but no fever. I do know from experience that even a minor cold can prove disastrous in the marathon. You can fake it in the 5 K, or even 10 K, but the marathon is a different animal. The health needs to be perfect at the starting line or else...

Decided to give it my best shot anyway, then jog to the finish if I had to. Ran the first 2 miles with Sammy Nyamongo and Peter Omae (5:32, 5:22), then about half way through the third mile the pace increased, and I realized that I did not have the health to keep it. So I backed off and cruised with the goal of keeping my head above water, being thankful for everything under 6:00, more thankful for under 5:50, and exceptionally thankful for a few miles under 5:40.

Hit 5 Miles in 27:58. Steve Shepherd and and Ben VanBeekum caught up to me around 7. I ran with them for a couple of miles. Ben was just doing a tempo run - 13 miles. Steve was racing. Steve's pace was too fast for me, I backed off. Ben stopped to go the bathroom, then caught up and was nice enough to pull me to 13. That helped a lot. 10 mile split was 56:52 (28:54), 1:14:24 at the half. Not a complete disaster yet, but the body is weak and there is another half to go.

1:25:32 at 15 (28:40). Encouraging. Now I have only 11 miles to crash over. And I am still in 4th. Meaning I can get passed once and still be in the money. And even if I get passed twice, I am not going home completely empty handed, it is $50 for age division win. But the way I am feeling I can get passed multiple times once the eggs of trouble hatch. Slightly sub-6:00 average for the next 3 miles, 1:43:29 at 18. Only 8 miles to crash over, that is encouraging. Also, the fact that I could keep sub-6:00 that late in the race means the crash will not be exceptionally bad, that is encouraging as well. Maybe I might even hold on to 4th!

The two uphill miles in 6:15 and 6:24. Second one shows a sign of weakness, but I am still moving my legs. 1:56:08 at 20. Brandon Reiff from Reno came up on me during the 21st mile. I tried to hang with him, but could only do it for a minute. This however pulled me through the next mile in 6:00. This was the last respectable mile, then I started laying goose eggs with nothing approaching 6:00 anywhere close, but at least I kept my head above water with nothing slower than 6:40. During that time I started praying for the Lord's mercy so that I would not get passed, and the Lord heard and answered my prayer. I ended up with a time that did not deserve 5th in this race, but at the same time I ended up with a place that I believe my true fitness without that trip would have earned had the race been more normally competitive. The trip was not my fault. I did not go to Montreal for pleasure. I did not have a choice, it was a mandatory company trip, and I need to feed my family, I could not say no. But the Lord was merciful to me, and made up what I lost after all that I could do.

The top finishers were Sammy  Nyamongo (2:24:06), Peter Omae ( 2:25:02), Steve Shepherd (2:25:30),  Brandon Reiff (2:33:31), then right behind me Joe Furse 2:38:15.


Gold Crocs 1 Miles: 26.72
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 1.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From jtshad on Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 10:13:07 from

Nice job pushing through and finishing in the top 5. Sometimes life gets busy and priorities take the place of running, so good job with the balance required this past week.

From Scott Ensign on Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 10:44:43 from

way to go Sasha, coming off that trip, fighting off a cold, little sleep. your dedication and perseverance are inspiring. It was great to talk to you at the end too, though at the time I was a little disoriented and out of it as I was feeling like I was going to pass out or throw up (you may have noticed..).

there is a nice separate article in our local paper about your running the marathon in crocs, along with some nice pictures. I will save it for you and can send it, or deliver it next time I am in Provo (I go down there quite a bit).

congrats again, Scott

From Jon on Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 12:54:23 from

Nice race in less-than-ideal physical state, Sasha.

From seeaprilrun on Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 17:57:53 from

Way to go Sasha! You can still run an awesome time in less-than-ideal condition!

From Superfly on Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 19:05:08 from

Way to gut out a race Sasha. Hope you feel better for STG. At least you still got in the $$$.

From allie on Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 19:10:56 from

great job, sasha. another strong race, even with a propeller missing. good to see you yesterday, and thanks for the advice. i always appreciate your insights, and my dad very much appreciated the crocs :)

From Steve on Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 19:30:44 from

Nice race! I enjoyed talking with you a bit after the race. Can't wait for some time off now..

From Jason McK on Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 20:06:26 from

Nice race. It was great to meet you. Sorry I wasn't more hospitable, there were just so many people to support. Congrats on being in the money. In all the things you mentioned, the one thing that I can't remember that I need was how much slower than race pace a 2:40 guy should run most of the time...What was that again?

From Tom on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 00:24:59 from

Nice job Sasha. It's really tough to race well with busy work and being on the road.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 12:12:43 from

Everybody thanks. I have not been as responsive on the blog lately due to a new job. I still do not have it as bad as most people job-wise, but when you add seven children and a couple of church callings, it leaves very little time for the blog.

Clyde - no STG this year. I decided I did not want another marathon in my legs for the possibility of an air travel certificate. Especially after the Friday ordeal, I really do not want to even think about air travel, even if it is on my terms and to another marathon. And I do not want to miss the mission reunion for the mission where I served (Salt Lake), which is Friday night before St. George.

Jason - thanks for letting me stay with you. You have a great family. Keep it up. Very solid performance on Saturday. The pace for an easy run of a 2:40 guy naturally gravitates to around 7:30. However, no particular guideline here, except you do not want to do the "easy" not so easy runs at 6:40 pace. Just relax and let the body choose the pace. If it starts getting slower than 8:30 give yourself a mild push, otherwise do not worry about it. On a hard run, the pace is very particular once you start going fast. You never want to run slower than 6:10. If you cannot run 6:10 without extreme fatigue, then just jog until you can, and try again.

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