Breaking the Wall

May 21, 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: 149.44 Year: 1460.80
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 120.59
Brown Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 1509.03
Brown Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 987.95
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

My second leg of the relay (legs 19 and 20) started at 1:30 am. I think given a choice, I would start with three normal legs instead of two, or maybe even four to get in as much distance on fresh, well slept legs, and then run the remainder of the distance after having good 8 hours of sleep. The way you do it in a relay is probably harder on our body in a way than running a full marathon - you run, get shuttled to the next leg, by the time you get there, there is no time to sleep, you need to get ready to run again.

My teammate Jon Felis was faster than we anticipated, so I was still in the bathroom when he got to the exchange. He ended up having to wait two minutes for me.

Paul Peterson rode the bike with me and provided the entertainment. Leg 19 started out pretty good, I was keeping about a 5:40 pace or so, if our GPS could at all be trusted. Then we hit a climb that was steep enough for me to drop Paul while he was giving it all his got on his bike, although I felt I was barely moving. Did leg 19 in 25:41. Then we started going downhill. Did 4 highway miles in 5:33. Then we got into Henifer, and finally made it to the exchange. 1:05:02 for the 11 mile stretch, and 39:19 for leg 20. When I got the baton, the BYU team who had a 5:00pm start (we started at 4:00pm), had already passed us, and the Full Nelson team Paul wanted us to try to beat was a bit ahead. At the end of the leg, we had a 7 minute lead. It was an interesting race - Full Nelson was a gender mixed team, while we were ultra. Their male runners on average were better than what we could on average muster in the ultra sections, however, we made up quite a bit of ground when their legs were being run by a woman. My legs were sort of the revenge ones - the first regular leg was run by Anna Judd (about 3:00-3:10 female marathoner), and the second by Bob Hinzte ( a master marathoner in about 2:40-2:45 shape).

My last leg (legs 31 and 32) started in Heber and finished in Midway. By that time I had slept for a total of about 5 minutes, and had run over 20 miles of hard tempo on hills. From the last two miles of the previous leg I knew my glycogen stores were pretty low, and it was also clear than my regular meals do not replenish them very well in 6 hours like I hoped they would. So I figured I needed some quick sugar, bought some honey at Days Supermarket in Heber, and loaded as much of it into my system as I felt was healthy. However, the nervous system was quite a bit out of whack due to the lack of sleep.

I got the baton a minute ahead of Full Nelson this time, so my goal was to try to put on as much distance on them as possible. The task much harder on the third leg, and it also a lot more important in that place. Drew essentially hit the wall on the last two miles of his second leg, and he still had You gotta be kidding me followed by Ragner ahead of him (about 8 miles of steady 7.5% grade climb) while racing Taha Mahmood and Scott Browning who can run 17:15-17:30 5 K fresh. I suppose this is reverse revenge for me putting on distance on a woman, so it is all fair.

I was not super fresh, but did the best I could. Decent pace through leg 31 (4.1 miles in 23:28) on a gentle downhill. Clocked a highway mile slightly uphill on Hwy 113 in 5:59 - still good. Then the uphill started getting to me. I felt I was slowing down. Last mile was 6:52 on 3% grade up, if the mile to go mark was accurate. It did not help having no sleep and 30 miles on the tempo odometer for the last 24 hours. My total leg time was 1:02:12 for 10.2 miles, with leg 32 in 38:44. Only about extra 4 minutes on Full Nelson this time. Still managed to put about 45 second lead on Bob Hintze, so it was not all in the ladies department.

But this was not enough for us to beat Full Nelson. Drew and James were pretty tired from the ultra impact. Drew managed to hold Full Nelson off until about half-way through Ragner, but then they ran strong from then on and beat us by 7 minutes. We managed to dip a bit under 20 hours, though - 19:58 I believe, won the ultra, and were 5th overall if my current info is correct.

For a father of almost 5, the race never stops just at the finish line. Sarah came to get me at the end of my leg in Midway, and we went to Benjamin's and Jennifer's piano recital. I managed Joseph through it - unlike me, he did not want to sit still. Then we finally got home, and I was able to take a nap. Dreamt about chasing Full Nelson.

Later in the evening ran with the kids. Benjamin set a record on a half-mile - 3:32.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Mike Kirk on Mon, Jun 26, 2006 at 12:42:03

Wow, a 96 mile week with a lot of MP running. Nice job on the Wasatch Back Relay.

From MikeBro on Mon, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:34:30

Great running, Sasha!

From Kerry on Mon, Jun 26, 2006 at 16:10:25

It was great seeing you fly down the road from the East Canyon. We yelled out some encouragement as we passed in the van. I ran legs 20 and 32 as well. The uphill on 32 wore me down as well, but I would have been thrilled to do a 6:52 even at the start when I was feeling fresh. Just saw the results on the WBR web site. Congratulations on a first place finish in the Ultra Men's! You guys are incredible.

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