Breaking the Wall

St. George Marathon

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Location:

Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986

Gender:

Male

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.

Personal:

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: 90.98 Year: 2713.79
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: 22.05
Race: St. George Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:34:43, Place overall: 10
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
1.0026.220.000.0027.22

Quick report. St. George Marathon, 2:34:43, 10th place. Bad weather. Rain all the way, headwind. The times were probably around 6 minutes slower for the same effort. Feet got soaked, misjudged my fuel levels, and did skipped too many aid stations. Ran out of fuel, hit the wall, increased the fuel intake, was able to recover some, but still the last 10 K in 39:48. Live and learn.

Interesting that many others were having similar problems. Blog did well - we captured 5 out of the top 10 spots. $100 cash for being first from Utah County + $150 for winning the age division last year and finishing this year + $100 travel certificate. Not bad for a mediocre performance, makes up for getting nothing (except the come-back travel stipend) last year for a 2:23. Sometimes you have to come back next year to collect for the unfairness of the prior year.

Details:

The start was wet, but it did not look too bad at first. However, after the first mile in 5:56 I knew that something serious was up. Even though I hid myself in the pack the best I could it felt hard. I would have normally blamed this on my fitness, but the pack with the exception of a couple of rabbits was in no hurry to speed up. Even after that mile when Nick and Clyde tried to pick up the pace, the next mile was 5:49, and it did not feel like a jog at all. On the third mile Dave Holt tried to pick up the pace. Knowing Dave I knew what he was thinking. "I do not care about the rain and the headwind, if I just believe in myself I can get my goal time!" But the laws of nature cannot be ignored.This would have been bad for him and every blogger in the pack. I warned him to not even think of racing for time and not to break the pack that early. Ideally I wanted to see everybody together at 20 even if that meant that some would have to run a bit faster, and others would have to hold back.

My feet were wet from the start, and I was running very tense. We made it to 5 miles in around 28:15. I started to feel a bit better. The pack was composed mostly of bloggers, but there were some dark horses in it. Too many dark horses for my taste - I wanted to see 1-10 blogger sweep with no gaps. One of them looked particularly troublesome. He had a perfect collegiate runner form. This could be both good and bad. If he is a typical collegiate runner, no worries, he'll blow up after 20. But if he's done his homework, he could be full of trouble. I learned his first name at the bottom of Veyo from the cheering. It was Mark. I wondered about his last name for the rest of the race, but he had taken off, so I could not ask.

I learned his last name at the finish. It was Currell. Indeed he was a recent college grad. He ran for SUU. His collegiate times were good enough to run for college but nothing exceptional. 4:25 mile, 3:59 1500, 14:31 5000, and 30:51 10000. However, he had run a remarkable race after college winning Seafair 8 K in 24:30, ahead of Mike Sayenko (24:39), and our Sean Sundwall (25:03). Seafair is not a fast course. Mike ran 2:18 at the 2008 Trials, and was fifth at TCM with 2:19 in tough conditions this year. Sean around that time ran 2:22 alone on an honest course. Anybody who can beat Mike and put a 30+ second gap on Sean over an 8 K can rock in the marathon when properly trained.

And Mark sure did. Once Veyo started he literally disappeared into horizon. Jeff commented - "If he is going to come back, he would have to crash pretty hard. Otherwise, he is not coming back."

I did better than I expected going up Veyo. First Dave Danley and Nick got an little antsy and tried to go after Mark. I got concerned, and tried to go with them in fear of losing contact. But then I realized I needed to ease off. Jeff McClellan and Dave Holt passed me and gapped me, but then I worked my way back to them. Soon we had a pack again - Nick, Dave Holt, Jeff, and myself. Dave Danley was about 20 seconds ahead, and we maintained the distance. We lost Clyde and the rest of the dark horses.

We plodded along at around 6:00 pace up the Dameron Valley. Got to the half in 1:15:22. Reeled in Dave Danley, and he joined us briefly. At around 14 Dave Holt's horses started to neigh, he pushed and broke the pack. Jeff went after him, Nick stayed with me, and Dave Danley fell back.

The cold weather messed with my senses. I felt I had plenty of fuel, and being as wet as I was I did not feel like either drinking or (side effect) spilling Gatorade on myself. So I was missing a lot of aid stations, and not getting very much in me when I actually bothered to grab a cup. As it turned out I would pay for it later.

Had it been dry and warmer the chills would not have obscured the readings of the fuel gauge. But I was clearly unprepared for the conditions. I had not factored in the altered perception effect. I had also underestimated that my body would be heating up the air for 26 miles, and had not dressed properly, nor was I taking in the extra fuel for warming up the environment. You would think that in over 45 marathons I would have learned better. Some people are just slow learners.

Nick made a move, and dropped me as if I were standing still. It was almost like he was a lead vehicle cop that accidentally hit the accelerator. I was running alone, but feeling fairly strong as we went up a small hill. But then there was Winchester. Based on how I felt at Veyo and on that small hill maybe half a mile before Winchester I thought I'd scale it no problem. But once we got there the head wind picked up and I started to lose steam. I never regained for the rest of the race.

Nick stopped to tie his shoe, and I passed him.

Clyde, Nick, and Pepi Petersen went by me as if I was standing still. I then caught up to Jeff, and he told me he was not feeling good. I told him to tough it out. I began to realize that I was running out of fuel. Unfortunately my hands were shaking and I was spilling half of the Gatorade into my eyes. The eye contact with lemon acid (I think) in combination with the already low blood sugar was causing a fuzzy vision. This was annoying, but provided food for thought. Lemon acid drop in the eye could possibly act as a blood sugar test on the run.

20 miles in 1:54:55, but who cares about the time. Running just to finish and hopefully stay in the top 10. Josh Steffen went by me as if I were standing still around mile 21. Jon Allen would be next, I thought, of the people I knew.

Fortunately I understood the nature of the problem, and started slowing down at the aid stations, taking double dozes of Gatorade, and making sure all of it went in. But it would take another couple of miles for it to start working, and during that time I would have to jog.

I began to experience a loss of will power, typical when blood sugar goes down. I did not care about the race, and did not even want to finish. There were several motivators that kept me going, though. The first one I thought of was that the quickest and the warmest way to get to the finish was to run as fast as I could. The thought of having to wait for the DNF bus for a couple of hours in the cold was absolutely terrifying. I also thought that I needed to set a good example for the blog. I was still in the top 10, and needed to stay there. I wanted to see as many bloggers in the top 10 as possible. But the more noble reasons were an afterthought. I thought of comfort first. Mosiah 3:19:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Got passed by Chan Yee Woo from Iowa as if I were standing still. Hit the Diagonal. Barely passed some girls that were out for a jog. Saw Lybi with a huge banner cheering for the bloggers. Around mile 25 heard another runner approaching. Thought for sure it would be Jon and got ready to congratulate him on a great race. But it was not Jon, it was Motoharu Fukunaga from Japan. Negative advertisement for the blog, but it worked. He asked for an FRB card afterwards. He quickly put 20 seconds on me.

With about 0.8 to go the Gatorade kicked in, and a portion of my strength returned. I picked up the pace, started to feel some power in my legs, and my racing mindset returned. Motoharu started coming back, but the gap was already too big.

I did not know what place I was in, and was relieved to find out that I finished 10th.

Had an interesting fuel economy learning and faith building experience on the way back. The pressure at the CNG station in St. George was low, so we were able to fill up the Fast Running Van only half way. Cedar City was even worse. So we left Cedar City, and as far as I knew we were going to run out of gas 30 miles or so away from Fillmore, and then have to call for a tow truck. That did not sound exciting. I said a silent prayer. At first I asked the Lord to help the van make it. Then I thought I needed to be more specific and pro-active. I asked the Lord to show me what I needed to do so the van would make it. I was already driving 55 mph and getting passed by trucks. I had considered drafting, but the trucks seemed to me to have been going too fast to make it worth it. The moment I finished the prayer another truck passed us, but not as fast as the other trucks. I thought, try drafting. The truck was going 62 mph. I asked Kory and Jeff what they thought about that. They both agreed that drafting at 62 mph will give you better fuel economy than 55 mph alone. So I drafted behind the truck the whole way, and we made it with 1/8 of a tank left. The pressure in Fillmore was low again, and again I was able to fill up only half way. But this time I knew what to do, and we made it to Provo with a little bit less than 1/4 of a tank left.

T4 Racer - 684.27 miles

Night Sleep Time: 6.25Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.25
Comments
From Lucia on Sun, Oct 05, 2008 at 00:05:19

Congratulations on the placement, and the prize money! Sorry to hear you weren't having that much fun - nice job to toughen it up in those conditions!

From matt on Sun, Oct 05, 2008 at 00:34:41

Sasha, more of a context question. When you say you think the wind and rain added around six minutes, is that based off of your time. In other words it added on 4% more time aprox. for you so a slower runner like me might be able to minus of 4% from my slower 3:10:41 time. Or one could argue no you are running faster so the wind caused you more resistance than it did for me. I am just wondering your thoughts. I'll look forward to your report. Congrats on a tough race.

From marion on Sun, Oct 05, 2008 at 01:15:54

Congratulations on a great finish with the elements going against all runners this morning :) FRB did a great job!

From dave holt on Sun, Oct 05, 2008 at 01:49:37

I know that some of this might be based upon my desire to think I did better, but I think the wind influenced me more than 6 minutes. Just looking at my splits and knowing what times I can hit on that course from running it so many times, as well as Clyde, I think more like 8 minutes+.

Besides the point...

Sasha good job today. We tried. Our group effort was solid for awhile and I think it helped us until we fell apart. Thanks for the times you helped me.

From Christi on Sun, Oct 05, 2008 at 09:35:01

Great job coming in top 10! Glad to hear the blog was so well represented in the top 10 also! Sorry I missed your family at the pre-race party (we left before you arrived)

From MichelleL on Sun, Oct 05, 2008 at 20:25:04

I actually think that the wind and rain affected faster people more than mid-packers (not that 3:10 is a mid-packer). So I wouldn't go by % anyway and its comforting to know all our times were off, but we can't go adjusting our race times of course. They are what they are. We have all survived so we can race another day.

From Superfly on Sun, Oct 05, 2008 at 20:35:19

14 min's plus no questions asked .)

Good job and glad to see you made it home with the little amount of gas in you vehicle.

From Jon on Sun, Oct 05, 2008 at 22:19:22

My judgement would be that the wind affected everyone at least 5-6 minutes. For those who went out too fast, it probably slowed them more since they had longer to die. And I would say people who ran 10+ miles by themselves were affected much more, too- at least 7-10 minutes, I would guess. Big difference on people who sat in a pack the whole time versus people who fought the wind by themselves. In the end, it affected everyone though by different amounts. Probably can't quantify as accurately as Sasha would like.

By the way, good job Sasha- top 10 finish and some money.

From wheakory on Mon, Oct 06, 2008 at 13:31:36

Nice run in the conditions, and it was good to spend time with you. Will be back to better times soon.

From Kelli on Mon, Oct 06, 2008 at 19:17:46

You are a true runner. I can not believe the way you analyze everything---including the guy who won. It never ceases to amaze me the way you see things. And you are so dang honest!

Great race in not so great of conditions.

From Tyler on Mon, Oct 06, 2008 at 22:20:29

Nice run, all things considered.

I remember hearing Mark's name in high school, he was a decent runner from a neighboring town but was never amazing, maybe 9:30 for 3200m. I didn't hear anything about him till this year when he won the Robison Invite 5k. He competed in the NCAA Champs this year, so he's no hack. I believe his PR is closer to 14:10.

Anyway, nice run!

From Mike Warren on Mon, Oct 06, 2008 at 23:47:16

Sasha, still a respectable time. Maybe not by your standards, but could of been worse. I was glad to hear you are still learning things in marathons. One huge mistake I made. I had been training in Asic Gel stratus. A little heavy, but great cushioning. I wore a pair of saucony Fastwitch 3's for the race. Needless to say, by mile 15 my feet and legs were trashed. Still hurts to walk. I have no experience with this, but some have told me thats why my calves cramped so bad. Anyway, we live to run another day. Great job gutting out the race!

From josse on Mon, Oct 06, 2008 at 23:59:51

I wish we could control more things through a marathon. But the weather is just not one of them. Good finish on a cold, wet, and windy day.

From britta on Tue, Oct 07, 2008 at 12:16:11

Thank you for your thoughts. I have always felt running strengthens me spiritually and from your entries it seems to do the same for you. St. George was my 4th marathon and I PR'd. Reading your blog gives me encouragement that I can continue to improve and reach goals by putting in the time and believing I can do it! Thank you!!!

From Lybi on Wed, Oct 08, 2008 at 15:51:33

Great job on a tough day, Sasha. I'm glad you didn't take the DNF route, despite the difficulty. I love that the scripture helped keep you going.

I think that the weather affected the guys with super-low body fat the most. I hope you don't mind me saying so, but you and Kory looked worse than anyone else I saw in the recovery area(other than James' freakishly blue lips).

I'm glad you saw my sign. I was so excited, but the thing didn't last very long in the rain. Probably only the first 50 runners saw it before it degenerated into a nasty mess. Durn!

From wheakory on Wed, Oct 08, 2008 at 16:06:20

Lybi - I actually felt fine after the finish line. I even ran about an hour after I crossed the finishing line. Probably what you saw was the disappointment. Other than I did get trampled on at the start and my hip/shoulder was really hurting bad. But I never hit the wall. I just had a lot of miscues. I'm not trying to make excuses, but I really did feel fine crossing the finishing line. The last mile was one of the fastest of the race.

I was glad to be done though, and when you don't expect to PR it's hard to stay motivated in the run.

From wheakory on Wed, Oct 08, 2008 at 16:16:03

To also brag on Sasha he did an excellent job managing the fuel economy on the way back. We did some major miles with little gas. I also prayed to the Lord that he would give this van faith and strength to make it to the next stop.

Sasha and all of us had fun in his van. I appreciate Sasha for his giving and allowing us to take his van, and also for staying with him in Provo the night before. He really is generous and fun to be around.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Oct 08, 2008 at 16:16:15

Lybi - I actually did not think of the scripture until I recalled the experience while writing the race report. When I was cold, off pace even with the weather adjustment, and out of fuel, all I could think about was first how to get warm the quickest, second the money at the finish line, and third, help the blog rule the best you can, in that order. Thus the natural man reared his ugly head. Anybody running a marathon should be prepared to deal with him in the last 6 miles. What are you going to do when you lose your willpower, and you are mentally not yourself? You may think you won't, you may swear you won't, you may consider a mere suggestion that you might an insult but most certainly you will. This is the part of the race where you will do better if you planned to be a surviver than if you planned to be a hero.

From Lybi on Wed, Oct 08, 2008 at 23:18:27

Well, Kory let me explain....You had a bloody hand, goosebumps everywhere, and you were shivering like you were trying to shake your skin off. You just looked cold cold cold, despite saying that you were fine. You both did a fabulous job of pushing through adversity in this race--that is what I am trying to say.

From Jon on Thu, Oct 09, 2008 at 00:11:29

Nice job, Sasha. Funny experience driving home, too. And I would have loved to be the one catching you in the last miles of the race, but had a bad race. Oh well, what do you do. Next year.

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