Breaking the Wall

August 15, 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. Big Workout at 5:00 AM. Ted did not make it, I suppose due to his knee pain. Part of it was with Clyde and Adam for portions of it. Adam turned around at 3.88. Clyde joined me for the first 2 miles of the tempo - his legs were still sore. First 6.22 in 47:03. Noticed some wind, did not like it.

Then started the tempo. I was lazy. Clyde had his horses neighing at first. So I took the first quarter in 1:28, Clyde responded with 1:20 on his. Odd, felt fast but not 5:20 pace fast. Then I took mine in 1:27, Clyde responded with a 1:25, 5:40 mile. I did mine in 1:28, Clyde did his in 1:23. Around that time I started liking Clyde's quarters, but still lacked the initiative on mine. Then I took no splits for a while - it was dark, and I kept missing the marks. Clyde all of a sudden lost steam and bailed out at 2 - I guess his legs started to complain a lot. I continued on in my laziness. Hit a 5:53 mile (slight up) before the turnaround with the last quarter of 1:29. Talk about a lazy bum. 14:24 at the turnaround.

On the way back tried to wake up. Hit the next mile in 5:44. Then things started to come together a bit, next mile in 5:38. Starting to gain on the 5:40 finally, but there seems to be some odd wind out there, and it is still dark. I am still not feeling extra motivated. Just as I about settled into a nice 5:38 rhythm, there was a gust head wind that slowed me down to a 1:29 quarter. 14:16 for the second 2.5, 28:40 for 5 miles.

On the way back, the tail wind helped me get into a nice 5:36 rhythm after hitting the first quarter in 1:26 recovering from a 180 turn. Prior to hitting the headwind earlier I had hopes to catch the 5:40 guy, but now my goal was to just break 14:00 on the last 2.5. So I was just cruising along at 5:36 pace knowing that I could eat away the 2 second deficit on the last mile barring the headwind or something crazy like that. Next mile in 5:38. Then with 1.5 to go the sun started to rise, and I began to see some light. I may also have gotten a brief gust of tailwind as well. That gave me extra momentum and with about the same effort I hit a 1:22 quarter. From then on, I did all of the quarters in 1:22 up until the last, and with a little bit of concentration but not really kicking hit the last one in 1:20. So that gave me 8:10 for the last 1.5, 5:26 for the last mile (slight up), 13:48 for the last 2.5, and 42:28 for the entire 7.5 tempo, 2 seconds ahead of the 5:40 guy, and a PR for the 5:00 AM version of that run.

Ran the cool down (1.38) in 10:34, total time for 15.1 was 1:40:05, 6:37.68 avg.

Observed an interesting phenomenon that I've seen many times before. When I hit the headwind I had a certain negative feeling in the quads. That feeling comes usually when it is cold and I am trying to either run hard or not super hard but I am not yet warmed up, e.g I can get it going as slow as 7:00 pace in the first mile on a cold morning. I can also get it on a warmer day running hard uphill or into a headwind, and on a cold day that feeling is more pronounced when the quads are in high power mode (uphill, headwind). It can happen at slower than marathon pace effort heart rate, so it is not lactic acid build-up, that feeling is distinctly different from anaerobic running, but it is similar in that it seems to signal to the brain to back off. I can even get it by just walking up the stairs. I am thinking that feeling comes from the blood vessels being too constricted to handle the blood flow in required quantities.

So the question for those with exercise physiology background - when running uphill or into ahead wind, would the increased contraction of the muscle squeeze the blood vessels to restrict blood flow to some perceivable degree?

P.M.  2 miles with Benjamin and Lost Sheep Stu in 17:23. Pushed Joseph in the single stroller. Then put Joseph and Benjamin in the double stroller and ran 2 more miles with Lost Sheep Stu in 14:49. Then 1.05 with Jenny and Julia in 10:55, 0.5 more with Jenny in 4:39, and 0.7 by myself in 5:03, no stroller.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From adam on Tue, Nov 20, 2007 at 15:26:47

I think the problem would come more from the cooling affect of the headwind/cold morning than the muscle squeezing the blood vessel. I think for that to occur you would need an outside mechanism (like torniquet)

An more active muscle requires a higher quantity of blood delivery, which the body is able to normally give by shunting the blood away from tissues unecessary to the activity (digestive system, for instance) and increasing cardiac output (raising the speed and volume of blood being delivered).

However, it is possible that in colder weather the body diverts less than normal away from those organs to maintain core warmth, which would mean not enough blood is being delivered to the active muscles- and it could be that it remains this way until you have raised your core temperature through warmup.

It is also possible that the cooling affect of a head wind/colder temps on the skin could initially cause a slight amount of vasoconstriction on working muscles(much like icing would do), also decreasing the amount of blood that can be delivered. This seems to me to be the most likely scenario. It may be one reason you feel it in your legs, which are exposed.

The constriction on the vessesls to the working muscles could then signal to your brain to slow down, as their isn't enough room for the increased blood amount to be delivered as fast as needed. The pressure of a large volume of blood trying to go through a smaller vessel may the cause of that negative feeling.

It would be interesting to see if you expierence this at all while wearing those undershorts or running tights that would prevent direct exposure to the cold.

From MichelleL on Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 09:12:28

Aren't you supposed to be tapering, Sasha? Just a little bit? Forty miles in two days seems a little on the high side. How about a double digit week, like say 99 miles?

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 12:20:04


Thanks for the explanation. I get that feeling with the pants on as well, although perhaps it is a bit less pronounced. Also, I get it only in the quad, and judging by my muscle proportions, my quads are the hardest workers when I run, not just relative to other muscles, but relative to those proportions in other runners. When I reach a limit, it is always the quads that signal no, we cannot do it. I never get that feeling in any other leg muscle group. I did suspect what I was feeling was the blood vessels complaining about too much pressure on them, and when it is cold and they constrict, they would naturally complain more.

Michelle - thanks for the reminder. I got so relaxed about the race that I almost forgot I was supposed to taper.

From adam on Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 14:39:51

I know what you mean about the big quads being the hard workers. If you think we're big, you should meet my brother...a college football kicker, lifetime soccer player, and weightlifter. I once took him on a 4.5 mile run at 6:30ish pace (he had never being out strictly running before) and though he was dying on the upper half, his legs were keeping him up. like giant pistons of glory.

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