Breaking the Wall

January 25, 2021

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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: 266.81 Year: 266.81
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: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1438.17
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Long run. Started at 6:10 AM. Ran with Matt Anderson and Jeff McClellan. Matt is a king of nerds. If I am a nerd, then he is nerd2 or even better, enerd - check out his web page. It is very interesting to discuss math or physics with him, he speaks Spanish, and he can ran a 1:13 half on top of it. What a guy!

We started at my house and ran on the trail towards the Provo Canyon and on to Bridal Veil Falls. The plan was 10 out easy, 10 back hard. Jeff was going to go just 7 out/7 back - he still has a post-marathon cold, and on top of that he got hit on the head yesterday playing flag football.

The course starts at the elevation of 4545 feet, rolls up 240 feet in the first 5 miles, then steadily climbs another 310 feet to the turnaround, and then the same thing backwards - steady down drop of 310 feet for 5 miles, then a rolling drop of 240 feet in the last 5.

It was dark. We warmed up/plodded along through the first 5 miles in 37:06. Then I announced a chase of the 7:00 mile guy with a goal to be within a minute of him by 10 miles. Sub 6:40 pace felt way too easy up the canyon, and there was no headwind, so I suspected we must have had some tailwind. We ran the next 5 miles in 33:13 hitting 10 in 1:10:19. Jeff turned around at 7. Matt said he did not want to run fast downhill on the way back. So after the turnaround I was alone.

My plan was to go by feel and experience the closing miles of a marathon as closely as possible. Interestingly enough, at least for me, at the end of a high mileage week, and after running 10 at an easy pace, when I try to run fast I feel like I am somewhere between 15 and 20 in a marathon race. So this was just perfect - start the tempo at that point in a marathon without having to run hard to get there.

When I turned around, I realized that I was right about the direction of the wind. I could definitely feel some headwind, although it was not a killer. I started out with a few quarters around 6:00 pace, and then finally warmed up into a 5:40-5:45 rhythm. Coming out of the canyon I slowed down to a few 1:28 quarters, and began to wonder if I was about to hit the wall in a few miles. But I was able to refocus and get back into 5:40-5:45 zone. Hit the next 5 miles in 28:49.

Now the hardest 5 miles of the whole run. It is at the end, less elevation drop, and it is a rolling drop with lots of turns and going under bridges and through dark narrow tunnels on the trail. Lots of rhythm breakers. Decided to focus on challenging the energy into moving forward rather than making the standard Sasha-in-pain face. Hobie looks like he is smiling even when he is running at his limit. I wondered how he manages that and if there is anything I could learn from it. I think I did today.

Held a fairly steady pace, managed 28:51 for the last 5 miles, closed with a 5:40 mile. This gave me 2:07:59 for 20 miles, and 57:40 for the last 10. Relived the last 2 miles of St. George in a positive way. Visualized Kelly Mortenson passing me with 1.5 miles to go. In the race I tried to go with him, but then I just could not. It was odd - I felt no pain, but my mind was just too tired to go. On the last mile I practiced overcoming this mental "I am too tired to go". It is hard to describe exactly what I did, but the closest I can get is saying that I worked on fully believing that my limit was neurological, that the body had more to give even though I was feeling a bit fuzzy, and then channeling all of my mental energy into going forward, going faster, and believing that I could hold it to the finish at the same time.

P.M. Ran with the kids around the block. 1.05 with Julia in 11:05, 1.75 with Jenny in 16:53, and then 2.1 with Benjamin in 15:54.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From crumpyb1 on Sat, Oct 20, 2007 at 22:34:23

I enjoy your visualization and how you make your training into a race.

Sasha, I wonder how much faster I could have been today, if I had warmed up properly. I think jogging a mile would have helped. (I feel like I have a lot to learn still when it comes to races and running.) Or maybe it wouldn't have. I was up with Will for about a half an hour last night and hadn't gotten very much sleep the night before. And I did try to fit in quite a few miles this week. (Well, quite a few for me.)

You know how your race is the marathon? Do you think I have a race? Or do you think one can pick what race he or she wants to be the best at? Because he or she learns how to run that particular race well. To me, even the 5k and 10k races seem very different to me.

Anyway, I love reading your kids times. Benjamin just gets faster and faster. Well, they all do, but I can relate and appreciate his times the most.

From crumpyb1 on Sat, Oct 20, 2007 at 22:39:51

Do you ever train by running the race route or some of the route while visualizing other runners like Kelly passing you?

From Logan on Sun, Oct 21, 2007 at 20:39:30

Good run today. I will try and make my slow runs actually slow runs. The Achilles is feeling better though.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Oct 22, 2007 at 12:06:08


Proper warm-up is important for a good 5 K. Also, 5 Ks are difficult to run when it is cold. I do not know how much faster you would have run under better conditions, I think you would just have to wait for another race and find out. Also, was the course certified, or was there any guarantee that the length of it was correct?

In order to run a good 5 K you need to learn to start out at a very uncomfortable pace and hold it to the end. 5 Ks are very painful when run properly. The last mile of a properly run 5 K hurts more than the last 6 of a properly run marathon. I would rather race a marathon any day.

Regarding which race is your. You will not know until you've properly trained for all of them. When you are running less than 40 miles a week, you will perform relatively better in shorter races. With higher mileage you see your potential realized in longer races, which allows you to see if your talent is there or not.

I hardly ever train on the courses of key races just because they are too far away from me. But I try to find a route that is similar as much as I can.

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