Breaking the Wall

Deseret News 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: 51.55 Year: 2011.51
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: 881.43
Race: Deseret News Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:34:43, Place overall: 8
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Executive summary - 2:34:43, 8th or 7th place (depending on what they do with the Colorado runner that missed the turn into the subdivision), 1st from Utah, $500. 6 Kenyans at the start, 6 Kenyans at the finish. Looks like Bob Wood said no travel expenses unless you finish. Good move for him. Tight left calf from the start of the race contributed to running slow, and is hurting like there is no tomorrow now, but on the positive side quads seem intact. Details to follow.

Stayed with Adam Wende the night before. Got up at 2:45, made the bus without an incident (unlike last year). Noticed a tightness in the left calf during the warm up. I've actually had this tightness the entire week, but figured it was one of those taper cramps. For some reason the muscle responds to reduced mileage with occasional cramping. So when I felt it I thought, no big deal, it will go away because it always has even when I felt it on race day.

But it did not before the start. I figured it would go away as the race progressed, and proceeded to execute the plan. The plan was to hit pretty much exact same splits I did in the 16 mile tempo 10 days earlier, and then see how I would fare after that. Last year I started slow, ran strong after 10, then by 20 the strength had left me, and I finished at about the same pace I did in 2006 when I started fast only it took me a minute longer to get to 20, so I ended up finishing a minute slower.

I ignored the competition, and took off. I figured they would eventually catch me, and when they did try to hang with them for as long as I could, and I figured I wanted to be at the top of the Little Mountain with the Kenyans because then it is downhill again and I'd be able to hang with them a little more. Seth told me he was not feeling that great, so he wanted to start a little slower. Steve Ashbaker was there as well, and acted as a threat from behind if I let my guard down.

Downhill, 8% grade. 4:50, 4:51. Perfect. The first mile felt good, I was going to guess 5:00-5:10 by the effort. So I was pleased to see 4:50. Then the calf started hurting more and I eased off on the third mile. 4:52 instead of planned 4:48. Now gradual flattening out. 5:18 (plan 5:10), 5:35 (plan 5:25), and 5:56 (plan 5:45). Reached 6 miles in 31:15 vs 30:54 in the tempo run. Calf pain has been getting progressively worse, but I took it as a positive - when it goes away I'll be able to run faster. On the positive side, the breathing kept getting lighter. So at least the fitness was OK.

Right around mile 5 a white guy whose exact name I still do not know who is rumored to be from Colorado went by me and I could not latch on.

After the first 6 miles we started a climb up the Little Mountain. Back in the days of the old DesNews course when we did not experience the Big Mountain I wondered why that mountain was called Little. It is a climb of 1.5 miles during which you gain about 300 feet of elevation. That sounded pretty big, but not when you look at the Big Mountain that drops 1500 feet or so in 3-4 miles.

6:38, plan was 6:30. Seth passed me. However, he was not moving as fast as I expected him. That could mean two things. He is either holding back, or is he is as sick as he thinks he is.

I think the climb gave my calf a break and stretched it a bit. Next mile in 6:03 (plan 6:00), and I felt strong. However, now a VPB is looming. Does not look like I can hold it. Had to pull off to the side of the road and do my patented (clean!) 5 second job. Still managed 5:32 mile (plan 5:20).

The Kenyans finally caught me, and I ran with them for a minute or so. Went into the subdivision. This allowed me to measure the gaps. Seth had a bit less than a minute on me. Steve and a stray Kenyan runner were about 30 seconds behind. Next mile 5:56 (plan 5:45). I was hoping that running with the Kenyans would give me a better time on that mile. Reached 10 miles in 55:22, vs 54:49 in the tempo run.

Next 2 miles were both 5:37. I had an approximate plan of 5:30-5:35 for them as I was not exactly sure about their quality. During the tempo run I eased off at that point to about 6:00 with Seth and Jeff. But this was within range. However, 5:46 on the next mile gave a cause for concern. What was strange is that I was not feeling bad, nothing was wrong except I felt I was running way too easy but could not go any faster. Probably what was happening is that the calf kept getting tighter and tighter, but because of the endorphines the pain was not getting any more acute, nevertheless the push off power kept getting reduced, so I was running slower and slower.

1:12:57 at the half vs 1:12:49 in the tempo run. Even with the ease-off between 10 and 12 I still could not catch my tempo run guy. Next two miles in 5:50 and 5:49. 1:24:01 at 15 miles vs 1:23:26 in the tempo run. The plan was 5:35 for both. At this point I realized I needed to ditch the plan and just hang in there hoping Steve won't pass me, and hoping for the best in general. Maybe the calf pain will go away and I'll be able to close strong.

Saw Seth in the distance. My first thought was that he failed to keep up with the Kenyans when they caught him, and from that point just decided to run for first Utahn, the slowest it takes. Which would mean he would run with me, then blow me away on the last mile. That's OK, at least I'll have somebody to run with. Or maybe not, maybe he is just plain out of commission with no guile involved.

The stray Kenyan runner caught up to me, and I followed him for about a mile. We ran the next mile in 5:48, which had the uphill by the Hogle Zoo. This gave me 1:29:48 at 16 miles vs 1:29:15 in the tempo. This gave me some hope. However, the next two miles showed the hope was vain. I felt decent but the pace kept getting slower. The next two miles which were a net downhill produced a split of 12:24, 6:12 average, and a 1:42:12 split at 18 miles. The grim reality of having to run slower than 6:00 for the rest of the race began to show its ugly face.

By this time I had caught up to Seth. We chatted. He told me he was struggling. I told him to run with me and finish the race no matter what. 1:54:41 at 20 miles. 12:29 for the next 2 downhill miles. At least it is not getting any uglier. Seth dropped back.

I felt very perky on the next uphill mile. So perky that I thought for sure it would be under 6:20. Good luck - 6:42. Last year 6:33. I guess the quads were perky, the fuel system was perky, but the dysfunctional calf spoiled the show. Next downhill mile in 6:07. Last year 5:45. So we are starting to see a pattern. I am losing in both direction, but more on the downhill.

Mile 23 brought some excitement into the drudgery. 6:14 with some uphill on 13th South. I see a Kenyan ahead of me, but do not feel like going out of my way to chase him down. What's the glory in passing a Kenyan that is in a hopeless out-of-money position? He is just doing a training run to finish. Now if passing him meant his money is now yours then it is a different story. Then you indeed are racing a Kenyan.

Mile 24 in 6:20. Two more to go, and all of a sudden it is warmer as the course turns from the shade South Temple into the sun on 300 East. The downhill ends as well. Mile 25 in 6:24.

Now the nasty last mile. It starts going uphill, it is still out in the sun, and it has a long stretch of straight road, you count the blocks. I guess the problem with the straight road is that when you are in pain you can maintain your focus better by setting small goals. Get to this landmark, then get to that landmark. Luckily I know how nasty it is, I also know exactly where you turn, and I know how blocks work in Salt Lake City. So that makes it easier.

2:33:15 at mile 26, 6:47 split. Very unspectacular, but with the calf problem could be a lot worse. And as usual, my local competition suffered more than I did at that point, so nobody passed me. Last 385 yards in 1:28, 6:42 pace for the "kick".

Steve Ashbaker was about 30 seconds behind me at 20 miles, about 1 minute behind me at 25, and then he had to stop for a couple of minutes to throw up. So he finished in 2:38. Seth barely held off Bill Cobler at the end finishing in 2:45.

The top Kenyans were very fast. The results have not yet been posted, but according to:,5143,700245616,00.html

Joseph Chirlee 2:18:16, Jynocel Baswell 2:19:31, Edward Korir 2:19:51, Jon Ndambuki 2:20:33. Ndambuki ended up out of money with the fastest time he's ever run on this course (2004 does not count, it was short).

P.M. The calf was very sore. Could not walk without a serious limp for a while. Iced it, Sarah massaged it, then Josse massaged and scraped it. After Josse's magic it felt a lot better. I could walk without a limp and could even jog a bit. Nevertheless I rode my bike for the kids run tonight just to be safe. Julia ran a mile in 9:37, then Benjamin ran 2 miles in 17:07 with Jenny running the first 1.5 in 12:59. Not counting biking miles because they were too slow.

T4 Racer - 346.45 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 5.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 5.00
From sarah on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 16:37:52

Well I think it's only fair that I get to be the first to post on here...I don't think that's ever happened before. Yay for 500 more dollars towards the van fund...keep reminding me to massage that calf and we will get it feeling good by Tuesday is my guess. Good work despite some opposition. I love you.

From superfly on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 18:59:05

Good job. Somehow you pull it off every year. Hope the calf feels better.

From luzylew on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 19:44:45

I'm so sorry to hear about the calf muscle. That must have been rough running. But still, 8th place! Sounds like Sarah's pretty happy about that! I mean, yay for the family van right?! You are a great example and inspiration to us all. Hopefully, you can nurse your leg back to health very soon.

From Adam RW on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 21:29:44

Way to stay strong the whole way through even with a nagging calf. That alone would have done in a weaker runner. As always great to talk to you the night before and I'm glad the race worked out for you. Can't complain about top Utahn and $$$.

From Dallen on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 22:21:03

I looked back and it appears that your time in this race has gone up a minute each year since 2005. Any explanation? It seems like overall you are improving, why the negative trend here?

From Falcon on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 23:27:57

My dad and I saw you finish. Way to run Sasha and congrtulaysions on winning $500

From Lucia on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 10:22:07

Congratulations Sasha! What was your hydrating/fueling strategy through the race? Do you elite runners have special treatment and can have your own energy drinks/gels at water stations?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 10:54:33

Dallen - not exactly sure. This year I do have an explanation. It was an odd race due to the calf issue. It is very apparent from the splits, perception of effort, and post-race quad soreness (none). Last year I think I had not done enough downhill training. 2005 was on a different course, but I trained more on the Squaw Peak Road. In 2004 I lived on the Squaw Peak Road and in the Provo Canyon. The course was short by about 900 meters, so my adjusted time would be around 2:29. That year I also hit much faster splits in the first 3 miles which shows a better downhill ability - 4:36, 4:41, 4:29. The Kenyans did not get me until 9.5, and I was able to stay with them until 11.

Lucia - DesNews did not offer elite aid stations, but St. George does. However, after my last year experience I decided it was not worth the hassle. I find it sufficient to drink whatever they happen to have at aid stations when my body tells me it needs it. No special strategy. I just listen to my body and obey the signals.

From Tom on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 11:56:10

Congratulations Sasha on hanging tough as usual in the face of opposition (your misbehaving calf in this case), and getting the 1st from Utah along with the $$$. Hope with some help from Sarah you can get the calf all worked out and be good as new soon.

From wheakory on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 13:20:20

Great run Sasha. Great determination to run when you find your body not quite at a 100%. Your fitness is what really pulled you through. Getting some cash while not at a 100% can't be bad at all.

From tarzan on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 15:26:01

Congratulations on hanging in there and being first Utahn. I am impressed - the Des News is a tough race and must have been even harder with a calf injury.

From lybi on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 16:07:03

This is the course that always beats up the quads so much, right? Good job! Look at those sub-5 splits! So sorry you had to battle it out with a painful calf. This might be a good time to finally experience scraping! You'll be impressed, I think.

From peggy on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 23:22:45

Congratulations, Sasha, on hanging on and running a good race under less-than-ideal conditions. I was at the finish line and saw you finish, and you looked good coming in. Way to go!

From Jennifer Pachev on Sat, Jul 26, 2008 at 18:00:39

You call that biking slow. I had a hard time keeping with you.

From walter on Sun, Jul 27, 2008 at 22:44:28

Very nice race Sasha! I wish I could remember my miles split times from a year previous! I know exactly how Seth was feeling on that course it is the hardest course ive ever run on! Good to be patient and let the fallen soldiers play out in the race huh!? I still think you should have worked on beating that kenyan! maybe if the calves were better. Im proud of you man! Good Job!

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