Breaking the Wall

August 10, 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: 88.07 Year: 2386.98
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: 1257.89
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Started the run with Jeff and Derek. Ran with them for 8 miles. Then was planning to run 2 more, but ran into Brandon Ashcroft, and he was going a little further, so I ran with him. We went to Geneva road and then came back to my house. He stopped briefly to meet my family. I joked that I went for a run and found a Russian-speaking souvenir - Brandon served a mission in the Ukraine (Donetsk), and interestingly enough had served near my birth place. I was born in a little town Rubezhnoye near Lugansk, but did not stay there long. Three months later my mom brought me to Moscow where I lived until I was 20.

I think this is about fifth time in the last two years that I ran into somebody during a run that was a Russian speaker.

Total time for the run was 1:20:50 - 10.5 miles.

Five Fingers - 1547.47 miles.

P.M. Jacob ran 200 in 2:08. 0.34 with Joseph in 4:08. 1 with Julia in 11:03. 2 with Benjamin in 17:32. Jenny ran the first 1.5 with us in 13:11.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From Maria on Sat, Oct 18, 2008 at 19:53:52

I never imagined there are so many Russian speakers in Utah, although with it being the center of LDS church it makes perfect sense due to the mission activity. My husband is from Donetsk and I would never think there could be LDS movement there, but times certainly have changed since I visited one and only time in 1990. Not getting into religious aspect, I think it would be a very positive thing for Russia and its neighbours if more people were practicing LDS code if for no other reason than improvement in the drinking department. I wonder how popular is LDS in the CIS countries - do you have any data, Sasha?

From Sasha Pachev on Sat, Oct 18, 2008 at 22:12:21


According to

there are 19,543 LDS members in Russia. That would the total number of members on record. Activity rate is probably about 20-30%, although I am guessing from Church average. Some people get baptized, then fall away later, some might come back.

In the Ukraine, according to

there are 10,394 LDS members.

Belarus does not currently allow proselyting, so we do not have a presence there other than service missionaries. I believe it is the same in the Middle Asian countries.

We have 153 members in Georgia and 2,650 members in Armenia. The missionary work is much livelier in Armenia - my neighbor had served a mission there. He is a rare case - fluent in English and in Armenian, but not in Russian.

There are 927 members in Estonia, 966 in Latvia, and 833 in Lithuania. Our neighbor across the street is an ethnic Russian from Lithuania who converted to the LDS faith several years ago in Vilnus.

I believe if we could convert 20% of Russia this would help close the gap between Russian men and women in the marathon due to the improvements in the alcohol department you have mentioned and in the tobacco department as well. Having a sense of purpose should not be forgotten either. I predict we would see 40 sub-2:10 men from Russia.

Now, how do we convert 20% of Russia? We need to set a good example. Maria, when are you going to meet with the missionaries?

From Maria on Mon, Oct 20, 2008 at 15:51:30

Thanks Sasha, this is very interesting. These are small numbers, compared to overall size of population in Russia and Ukraine, but it's probably growing. As for me, I am not conversion material, and it holds for any religion. I have tried, so I'm not talking without experience. I would classify myself as agnostic. While I respect and admire many values LDS Church (and some other world religions) teaches I also have fundamental differences with it. Some of the ideas are not acceptable to me. I did think several times in my life that it would be much easier had I had the faith in God, but the truth is that I don't. And I learned that it cannot be forced if you don't feel it in your heart.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 19:29:50

Maria - telling me that somebody cannot have faith in God is even worse than telling me somebody lacks the natural ability to qualify for Boston. I would at least be willing to admit that if you have only one leg, qualifying for Boston would be difficult. But I know that all of us are children of God, even those who do not believe in Him, that He loves us, that He wants us to return to his presence, that we cannot return without having developed a measure of faith, and that he is just. The very reason He sent us here is to develop faith. Therefore, there is no way in the world He would leave somebody without some measure of a gift of faith. It may be dormant, it may take work to develop, but if there is enough humility and a sincere desire, He will grant the gift.

So, as you may already understand, your statement offered me an interesting challenge, which, if you do not mind, I will try to tackle.

Question number one - while you may not believe in God as defined by Christianity, will you agree that we do have an intelligent creator of some kind?

From Maria on Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 19:22:13

Sasha, if we continue this discussion, we risk breaking the number of comments in one day record! To answer your question, - no I do not necessarily agree that we (or Universe as a wider entity including us) have an intelligent creator. It is possible, but it's also possible that we evolved by natural selection alone without any divine intervention, for example through DNA mutations over millions of generations. Our current scientific explorations are not at the stage where this mystery can be explained and proven, and so it remains a mystery, a very puzzling one indeed. But I don't see any convincing evidence that would make me accept that we do have an intelligent creator. So I am undecided.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 20:44:18

OK, good start. Follow-up question - do you consider it necessary to have scientific proof for you to accept something as true? Or in other words, does science have the monopoly on truth?

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