Breaking the Wall

Heart of Holladay 5 K

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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
Race: Heart of Holladay 5 K (3.107 Miles) 00:16:38, Place overall: 9
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran Heart of Holladay 5 K in 16:38, 9th place. The race was very competitive as expected. The whole family came. It does not happen very often anymore due to the difficulty of bringing everybody at an early hour. But Benjamin and Jenny were racing, and Sarah wanted to go to a special discount grocery store (NPS) in Salt Lake, so we all came.

Warmed up 2 miles. The gun went off, and I really did not like being in a 5 K. I wanted it to be a 10 K. But you cannot place high in the circuit without running 5 Ks, and we were also doing a campaign for Kim to get into St. George, so I was there. Plus a little push and a kick in the pants a hard 5 K gives you is good once in a while. A fairly sizeable pack pulled away. I considered going with them, but then I saw that Nate Hornok and Matt Harmer were going out a little slower, and I fell for the temptation to run with them. The slow start was right for them but wrong for me. They would later be strong on the uphill if they started slow, but I would run it at the same pace regardless of how I started. I knew that, but I erred on the side of laziness anyway. First mile in 5:14 instead of a more appropriate 5:08 on a slight rolling uphill.

The second mile starts with a slight up, then goes down, and flattens out. Matt dropped back a bit, we passed James Moore (Fiddy), Nate pulled me up closer to Steve Ashbaker, John Coles, and Dave Spence. Josh Steffen was a bit ahead of them, then Dennis Simonaitis and Alexander Thomas together, and Teren Jameson ahead of everyone. I caught a 3 K split - 9:41. By that time Nate was starting to press the pace, and I was barely hanging on. The feeling was odd, though previously experienced and expected. I felt like if I eased off by as little as 5 seconds a mile I could race a 15 K or maybe even a half. But I could not find 5 seconds a mile within me to run one more mile 5 seconds faster. In theory you should be able to address that with speed work. In practice, what has happened in the past is that speed work does help me keep the gap between the half and the 5 K pace bigger, but mostly because the half is slower. I gain 10-15 seconds in a 5 K and lose a minute in the half compared to high mileage, and no speed work other than occasional tempos and races.

2 miles in 10:25 (5:11). That is encouraging. Not 10:25, but 5:11 after 5:14. Maybe the momentum would help be get up the hill at a good pace. Well, we hit the uphill. I did not feel too miserable. But I could not go any faster. Nate pulled away like there was no tomorrow. But that time I had passed Steve, but everybody else was still ahead. Matt Harmer went by, and I could not latch on him. I closed the gap on John Cole a bit. Once it flattened out I pulled up to him, he pressed harder and dropped me, I pulled up again, he pressed again and dropped me, I reeled him in, 3 miles in 16:04 (uphill mile in 5:39, unspectacular but not exceptionally horrible). I was about to pass him, and thought for a moment the deal was done and was planning a forward lean at the finish line, but then he found another gear and beat me by a second. My time on the watch was 16:36, officially 16:38. Others:

Teren 15:18, Dennis 15:44, Alexander 15:56, Nate 16:02 (his last 1.1 split was 5:38, same as Teren's), Josh 16:07, Dave 16:19, Matt 16:25, John 16:37, Steve 16:48, James 16:52.

Went back to pace Benjamin (9 years old). His back and muscles all over the body have been hurting lately (growth pains?) so I was not expecting much. He toughed it out and finished in 22:09, 2nd place in his age division (1-11) after Alexander Berry who got 21:23. Jenny goofed off today. I think she is still too little to run well without a pacer. When I found her, she was jogging along (without much effort) with a 6 year old girl at around 8:30 pace. I suppose Jenny was feeling overwhelmed by the adult crowd and decided to just run alongside a little kid. I told her to speed up, which she did, but not enough to drop her. They both started flying by the adult crowd. Jenny's 6 year old competitor was quite a speedy girl. At the end Jenny pulled ahead of her competitor, which gave her third place in her age division (1-11) and 26:19 for the time, which is quite a bit slower than what she was capable of. We'll try again in another race, this time I'll be there start to finish. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that even with this level of effort Jenny (7 years old) would have gotten an age division award in a number of non-master adult age divisions.

On the positive side, our blogger Kim Lee who we put on the forms got into St. George. This is good not only for Kim but also for the blog. Will make it easier to convince race directors to advertise their races with us.

Passed out the FRB/St. George Running Center cards. Benjamin, Jenny, and especially Julia helped. Then ran a short cool down. Will run more tonight.

T4 Racer - 168.59 miles.

P.M. 1.1 with Julia in 11:14, then 11.5 with Daniel in 1:19:32. We kept it brisker than normal, but still within an acceptable range. The temperatures were in the 80s. The asphalt was warm and soft and I could feel it in Five Fingers. So sub-7:00 happened more naturally than it normally does when it is only 50-60 degrees and the asphalt is hard. Interestingly enough, I was not the only creature that liked warm asphalt today. We saw a short green snake warming itself on the trail and I jumped over it. Ran at 5:30 pm, had no food or drink since about 1:30 pm, but I was not feeling either hungry or thirsty, so I decided to see how well I will do in the heat off blood volume. Did OK, could not feel the heat very much.

Five Fingers - 390.19 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
From marion on Sat, Jun 14, 2008 at 17:59:47

I am just amazed at you all! Really, this blog has been a godsend for me! So much inspiration and encouragement all in one little cyberspace! Thanks so much for making this available to even us polkier new folk. (think fast- be fast- think fast- be fast :) oh yeah, and run, run, run!

From Seth on Sat, Jun 14, 2008 at 20:38:15

Sasha, my cell phone was dead so I didn't call you. I just got back from Lake Powell and had planned on racing, but I have a terrible cold and thought it would be unwise to race. Looks like you did a great job at the race. I still don't have anything from St. George Running Center.

From Michael on Sat, Jun 14, 2008 at 21:05:51

It was nice to see you and your running family. Alexander had fun talking with Benjamin after the race. Great effort and time - thanks for the encouragement

From Kim on Sat, Jun 14, 2008 at 22:11:48

Thank you Sasha for running in my name! What support I feel from friends and family! To have Benjamin and Jenny running for me also made me cry! When cute little Jenny came up to me and said, "Hi Kim" and talked to me about running for me I just wanted to squeeze her! Will you and fast running mommy give her and Benjamin a little squeeze from me?

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