Breaking the Wall

St. George 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: 1935.71
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: 805.63
Race: St. George Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:34:08, Place overall: 13
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

St. George Marathon, 2:34:08, 13th place.  First half "officially" 1:16:27, really more like 1:16:17 (13 mile split was 1:15:37), second half really around 1:17:51. The foot fussed from the start, fussed more after Veyo, and really did not like the Snow Canyon decent. I considered a DNF around 9-10, but figured the DNF bus was too slow, and the foot would take a month to heal whether I finished or not. Was able to calm the foot down some by pouring water on it at aid stations and finish more or less OK. Details on Monday.

Jeff finally ran a decent marathon and got second after Iain Hunter in 2:22:01. Second half in 1:08.

Finally, the details. I did not want to go to the race due to the foot problems. But I had a few reasons to go. St. George would give me a travel stipend of $150 if I came. I needed to renew my sub-2:30 status, and it would have been possible if the foot cooperated sufficiently. There was a chance of a top 10 finish which gives you a travel stipend for the next year. Jeff needed somebody to take his bottles to the expo by 5 pm, and his work did not allow him to leave in time. Sarah and the kids wanted to go on a trip. Kory prayed for me to run well, and did so in faith.

We stayed at Mike Warren's office. He owns a propane wholesale company. We liked that office a lot. In fact, Jacob did not want to go back home. Half way through the drive home he was saying he wanted to go back to the office.

Brigham Young used to say that you should pray as if everything depended on the Lord, but then work as if everything depended on you. So I said a prayer the night before and then did some work in the morning soaking the foot in cold water one last time before the race. That would give me some breathing room for the first few miles.

We often pray to ask the Lord to remove the consequences of our foolishness. While the Atonement of Christ pays for our sins on conditions of repentance, we are responsible for paying our credit card bill. If we are late, we are also responsible for the late fees, and interest. The Lord will not pay our credit card bill. He will, however, help us find a job and teach us to live within our means so that we can do it ourselves.

In an attempt to find a breakthrough I borrowed against my body by not only running in Five Fingers on pavement, but also doing one-leg hops and hill sprints. I thought I was just using the savings and I had enough. I was wrong. Without realizing it I used the money I did not have, and now it was the time to pay back with interest plus late fees. The Lord was not going to remove the consequences of my mistakes until I had paid the price. If He did I would not learn what I needed to learn.

Saw a lot of friends at the start. Warmed up with Jeff, Steve Hooper, and his wife Kendra. Then the race started.

From the start Iain Hunter took off with Jose Martinez. Jeff and Seth formed a chase pack. I was not too anxious to join them, but eventually did. Warned Dallen and Walter that the pace was too fast. Then figured I needed to make disclaimer that my sense of pace could be messed up. It was not, not in the first mile. We did it in 5:35 and that felt right. The foot was fussing already, and that worried me. But it was not yet altering the form too bad, and I felt comfortable running in the chase pack. Jose came back to us quickly.

Second mile was 5:55 (uphill). Third in 5:29 (downhill started). Seth made a move to go after Iain. At this point I realized that the pace would get faster soon, and I was right. The pack strung out. I found a sweet spot at the tail end right behind Satoru Shimomura from Japan and sat on him until Veyo. Noticed he was conservative on the downhill and aggressive on flat/up. We hit 5 miles in 27:58, 6 in 33:23 and 7 in 38:48. HR was 152-153 on the down, but Saturo would bring it up to 157 on uphill and flat seconds. Jeff Huxhold from Reno caught up to us and joined us shortly before Veyo. The foot did not do too bad on this section. I felt I could maintain good form in spite of the pain.

Then we started the Veyo climb. I fell back. First taking it easy on purpose, but then I realized I was not taking it easy at all. HR hit 160. The quads felt strained. The foot started fussing and when the climb was over I felt I was limping a bit. The form was not good anymore. The Veyo mile was 6:22, the one after that 6:10. During the Dameron Valley climb the foot kept getting worse and the form was deteriorating. I was not able to break 6:00 in any of the miles until 11.

At this point I knew that 2:30 was not happening, and even 2:40 was in serious question. When things start going bad around 10 they only get worse as the race progresses. I considered a DNF. I thought of my family and friends praying for me to run well, and thought it would be a shame to not even try. I thought of the $150 stipend waiting at the end. I also thought that the foot would need a month to heal regardless of whether I finished or not. I thought about the doctrine of enduring to the end and the spiritual benefits of enduring adversity. But what gave me the final push to keep going was the realization that if I waited for the DNF bus I would not make it to the finish before 12:00 pm. That would make Sarah worry excessively and I would miss the first session of the General Conference. In trouble with the Lord and your wife at the same time. That is much worse than foot pain for 16 miles!

In spite of running slowly I got passed only once before the half mark. A collegiate-looking runner with good form passed me very quickly. I think his name was Jason Griffiths. Had a decent mile from 12 to 13 in 5:45.  Reached 13 miles in 1:15:37. The half split was 1:16:28 where the clock was, but it was in the wrong spot, about 10 seconds ahead. Maybe even more than that.

Greg Harris passed me shortly after the half mark. At this time I also passed Dave Holt who was jogging waiting for his brother James to catch up after he had decided he did not want to suffer the all pain to run only 2:35. I find it rather interesting that even though James ran 2:47 Dave had to stop at mile 19 and wait for him after all of the jogging. I guess he could not quite jog as in "jog" with all of the adrenaline from the race.

The next two miles were bad. I could not use the downhill very well. Mile 15 which I normally run in 5:10 was 5:45. I became very concerned. Still 11 miles to go. Will my foot make it with all of the downhill? Then I thought of a trick. Pour water on the foot at aid stations. Sometimes it was Gatorade. Who cares, just get as much moisture on the sock as I can. I wished for the last year's weather. 1:27:22 at 15 miles.

Around 15 Walter caught up to me. Walter was too fast to latch on, but he brought me a gift - Ryan Ripley from Oklahoma. With the downhill grade reduced to about 2% and some cooling on the foot I was able to latch on to Ryan.  The grade stayed reasonable for a while and after about a mile I realized that Ryan was going too slow. I passed him, and thought for a moment that I could catch Walter. But then Winchester hill started followed by a steep decent. My foot could not do it, either up or down. I could run decent on between flat and 2% down but fell apart on anything out of that range.

1:57:13 at 20 miles. The good news is that I am not having any fuel issues and still plodding along at around 6:00 pace. So I will probably break 2:40, and maybe even 2:35. That is better than nothing even if I do get passed by a troop in the last miles.

With some water on the foot I was able to speed up to about 5:30 in the next downhill mile. That was exciting. At 22 I passed the smooth runner who I thought to be Jason Griffiths. He asked me what pace we were on - I told him we were headed for about 2:33. I did not have the time to explain that somebody who got there who was not dying was headed for 2:33. But he was still disappointed.

2:08:38 at 22. 2:14:31 at 23. Still sub-6:00. In the 24th mile got passed by Jose Martinez. The downhill was too steep - could not latch on. I think 2:26:38 at 25. Made a mental note that I just passed myself at the Top of Utah two weeks ago. 2:32:49 at 26. Not a whole lot left for the kick.

Done! 2:21:03 for Iain, 2:22:01 for Jeff, then Seth 2:25:52, Pepi 2:25:58 (new PR), Satoru 2:26:10, Chan Ye Woo 2:26:28, Fritz 2:26:46 (new PR), Jeff Huxhold 2:28:19, Greg 2:30:39, Justin Park 2:31:01 (new PR, I think),  Walter 2:31:43, and Jose 2:33:20.

P.M. Drove back. Listened to General Conference. The foot was bad. Could barely walk when fueling up. The kids ran with Sarah. Benjamin ran 2.1 in 14:33 around the block. Jenny did 2.1 untimed. Julia ran 1.75 untimed. Joseph ran 0.5.


Saucony Type A Miles: 27.40
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
From Kelli on Sun, Oct 04, 2009 at 10:35:55 from

Sorry about the foot pain, but you powered through it as all great runners seem to be able to do. How would it be to be so fast that you do not want to wait for the DNF bus? Crazy amazing.

Take care of your foot.

From jtshad on Sun, Oct 04, 2009 at 12:06:50 from

Sorry about the injury, hopefully you can rebound quickly. Time to take it easy and rehab the foot.

From Superfly on Sun, Oct 04, 2009 at 13:27:29 from

Good job Sasha. It was good to see ya even if it was only a short time. Take care of that foot and get healthy again.

From argentinerocket on Sun, Oct 04, 2009 at 14:17:58 from

A 13th place finish with foot issues, now that's impressive! I think you were just going slow to let Walter win and meet his goal! Nice job!

From LuzyLew on Sun, Oct 04, 2009 at 15:15:43 from

Great job again in St. George (and in spite of the foot and so close to TOU). We have a good friend (college basketball player)who just had a pin put into his foot. He didn't realize he had a broken bone for about a month, until his coach forced him to get an X-ray. I sure hope your foot heals well so you can run once again more pain free! We've had a great year, you've led your FRB 'team/bloggers' through another excellent season. We had a lot of success this year and have had a great time getting to know each other. Thank you so much (as always) for the blog and a great place to review our performances and thoughts regarding our running goals.

From Paul on Sun, Oct 04, 2009 at 17:07:14 from

Too bad about the foot, and I hope you recover well. I'm sure you at least got some good stories out the race, though. Congrats on the finish, in any case.

From Walter on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 01:05:54 from

Great race and wow, I wished I could finish a 2:34 with thoughts of taking a DNF. I actually had that same race at Utah Valley Marathon and lost 10 minutes from puking, strecthing visiting the porta potti and was going to drop out but decided to finish instead. Its no fun. Get well and heal quick. Our age group was intense this year! the new age group record is now a 2:21! sheesh it gives me hope!

From seeaprilrun on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 09:16:14 from

Great job Sasha! Way to run through the injury and finish! A 2:34 on a bad day? Nice to be able to pull that off. Sorry the foot is causing such trouble. Hope for speedy healing!

From Mark on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 11:59:18 from

Great job Sasha! Awesome time on a bad foot, you'll crush the course next time. Get that foot better soon.

From Eric Day on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 14:21:37 from

Impressive, 2:34 on a bad day. Now imagine the time on a good day!

Nice !

From Jason McK on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 14:39:05 from

Way to endure to the end!

From Kory on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 14:53:44 from

The important thing here is you had faith to believe you could finish and you did. I think that's what you can take out of this.

To me trusting in God to provide strength for you in this race would be more exciting than running a 2:20 with no injury coming in to the race.

From Lindsey Dunkley on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 17:21:23 from

So sorry about your foot...are you going to take some time off? It is still amazing to run a 2:34 with foot pain right from the beginning. Good Job!

From Matt on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 18:17:09 from


Sorry it wasn't the race you wanted. You inspire me hope the pain subsides quickly. My wife said you looked pretty hurt at the end. I amazed that you are running again today but after reading your blog the last few years I should say I expected it.

From Maurine/Tarzan on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 at 21:40:33 from

Sasha - sorry to hear your foot was that bad and you struggled. Great job conquering the pain. What are your recovery plans for letting the foot heal?

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Oct 06, 2009 at 11:35:23 from

Thanks everybody for your support.

Maurine - my recovery plans is to run as little as I can get away with until I am able to run on pavement with no pain.

From Jon on Tue, Oct 06, 2009 at 11:49:27 from

Sorry about the foot. Get it better so you can return 100%.

From Kelli on Tue, Oct 06, 2009 at 13:20:15 from

What exactly is wrong with your foot? I am correct in assuming that it stems from running in the five fingers? Is there something broken in there? I am just curious because with my foot injury I got a lot of advice about running barefoot on the grass and wearing minimalist type shoes. So, I am curious what exactly happened, if you know.

Whatever it is, I hope it heals soon and you are back to happy running quickly.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Oct 06, 2009 at 13:30:02 from


Five Fingers did not give me any problems (aside from rubbing in the wrong spots) until I got ambitious/overconfident and added one-legged hops and hill sprints on pavement. This gave me two problems. An inflammation in the metatarsal area on the right foot and another inflammation on the left foot where plantar facia attaches to the heel. The first problem was gone after a couple of weeks of running on grass. The second problem is still present. It has been getting better gradually, but not fast enough to run good marathons.

From Kelli on Tue, Oct 06, 2009 at 13:34:38 from

So is it plantar fasciitis then? Best of luck feeling better. I am no expert, but this is my foot problem and calf stretches and exercises have really helped me, as well as the regular PF stretches (especially before getting out of bed).

Way to finish a tough marathon with foot pain. No one understands how much it can hold you back until they have experienced it themselves. HEAL QUICKLY.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Oct 06, 2009 at 13:54:42 from

No, it is not PF. The plantar Facia itself is OK. Some ligaments that attach it to the heel bone are inflamed, though.

From Kelli on Tue, Oct 06, 2009 at 16:40:53 from

I see, well foot pain is not fun. Take care and next year you will be back to your usual self in St George (and hopefully well before that time).

Thanks for the comments on my blog. I appreciate it. One day I will get that 3:05, and maybe even a 3:04.

From Glory in the long run on Thu, Oct 08, 2009 at 01:05:26 from

Sasha, I do admire your perseverance. I've always thought that you should be an ultramarathon runner, you really have the drive for it. I liked Brigham Young's quote, it actually originates with the original Calvinists, who of course believed in God's complete sovereignty but didn't feel that diminished the need for personal responsibility. The Reformers were incredible evangelists.

I hope God gives you grace with your foot. I also hope you have the courage to accept the grace.

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