Breaking the Wall

July 19, 2019

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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: 110.88 Year: 2082.97
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 914.70
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Easy 8 miles early in the morning near my house going out and back on my slightly rolling mile stretch. Started at slower than 8:00 pace. Kept gradually speeding up. Saw at 3.25 that I was 53 seconds behind the 7:00 pace, but was running a bit sub-7:00. Figured I'd play the catch game with the imaginary 7:00/mile guy. It is a silly game since all I needed to do to catch him is run one mile in 6 minutes. But it is very entertaining. I caught the fantom runner shortly before 7 miles. He said: "It is not fair". I said: "Too bad". Total time for the run was 55:32. Last two miles were 6:39 and 6:35. This pace is not very fast, but I was pleased that it came naturally without any additional mental effort. The stride felt wider and more relaxed. I felt I was maintaining momentum better on the short hills. The heart rate 3 seconds after the finish was 126 (counting for 10 seconds).

In the afternoon ran with Benjamin. The other kids had already run on the way to computer school (free experimental early reading program in our area done on computers). So I took Benjamin out for a mile in the stroller. I started out at 10:00 pace, but then warmed up and went faster. On the last quarter I saw that I could beat Benjamin's mile record with a little pickup, so sped up to 6:20 pace and hit the mile in 7:06. Ran with Benjamin on the way back in 8:24 with the last 0.5 in 3:50.

Worked out with the weights - 5-4-3 bench press with 105 pounds, narrow grip.

Went to see Dr. Jex. He gave us some more equipment and more exerices. I am doing them every day now.

Noticed an improvement in hand dexterity. Got dressed faster today, washed the dishes in a reasonable amount of time, and put away the laundry faster than my wife expected me.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Cody on Thu, Sep 07, 2006 at 15:54:32


I have a general question about what you eat before and during a long run or marathon. I see you are gearing up for the TOU Marathon, what are you planning on eating before/during the race (gatorade/gels etc)?

I am getting excited for it and I would love to see you win it again. What time are you shooting for? Do you race against the clock or do you focus on staying in the lead pack?

It's too bad that Paul Peterson was injured, it looks like he was great competition for you. Who else do you keep on eye on during the race? Any fellow bloggers??

From Nick Miller on Thu, Sep 07, 2006 at 20:11:18

Hey Sasha,

I am thinking about running a 10k in a week or so to keep my "game face" on before my next CU race (Sept. 30th). Do you think that this is a good idea? I want to get as much race experience as possible, so I figured I might as well throw one in the schedule. I think that I am going to relax much more for the next CU race, mainly because I saw that I can definitely hang with some of the runners, but none the less, I feel that more race experience would be beneficial.


From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Sep 07, 2006 at 20:57:19


I generally eat my regular meals before marathons and long runs. The morning of the race I eat a banana 3 hours before the start, and one more 1 hour before the start.

I have tried several different things during the race - soymilk and bananas, just bananas, and finally found a formula that has worked better than anything else so far. Go out aggressively, and take nothing up until about mile 10. Then try a sip of Powerade to see if it tastes good. If it does, drink it up. After 13, drink a cup of Powerade at every station, slowing down as needed to make sure it goes in well.

The guys to watch in TOU this year are Leon Gallegos and Steve Ashbaker. There might be some other fast runners. Many runners are saving themselves up for St. George this year so they can qualify for the Trials, so that makes the Top of Utah easier to win, but still not too easy.

I try to focus on running a certain time that would put me out of reach for the competition. Sometimes it is possibles, other times either I am too slow or they are too fast. Even if I know the competition is safely behind, I still try to run a decent time.


Racing often is a very good idea. Run as many races as you can, including this one.

From Brad on Fri, Sep 08, 2006 at 10:21:24

I loved reading this entry! I was worried that I was the only guy who tried to track down imaginary runners. Sasha, I think your guy is faster than my guy, but I think they both lose more than they win.

Also, a quick question: I'm surprised that they count the St. George Marathon as a qualifying marathon for the Olympic trials because of the elevation loss. Is this taken into account by the track and field authorities?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Sep 08, 2006 at 13:12:06

Downhill on a marathon does help, but it takes quite a bit of practice to learn to use it, and even then it does not help as much as it would in a shorter race. I believe that is why downhill courses are allowed for Trials qualifying.

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