Breaking the Wall

Ogden 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: 146.13 Year: 2768.94
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1576.28
Neon Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 22.05
Race: Ogden Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:32:28, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ogden Marathon, 2:32:28, 2nd place. Fast Running Blog sweep of 8 places in the top 10 in the men's plus 2nd place in the women's (Michelle). Not perfect score but getting there. Did some FRB recruiting to fix that. Stay tuned for updates...

The morning started at 4:00 AM with a short scripture study, then I followed Michelle in my car to the bus pick-up. On the bus sat next to an older runner named Ryan. We had a good talk.

The temperatures were quite comfortable at the start, which was a bad sign of things to come as that meant it would be too warm later on. It was nice seeing a crowd of uniformed bloggers. I took advantage of every opportunity that turned up to promote the blog. When none turned up I would create one. "Hey guy, how are you? Do you want to get faster? Go to our site - FastRunningBlog.Com!"

Examined the competition, found Ken Pliska and Seth Wold, invited them to run with us. Pretty soon Seth, Logan, Clyde, and I separated from everybody else. During the first mile we had a guy with us whose name I forgot, I think it was Ken, (I hope he finds this post and reminds me) that was targeting 2:40. After we found out his background and his goal we recommended to him to ease off and join the 2:40 pace group (Ogden Marathon race directors did not know that they had one, courtesy of the Fast Running Blog :-)).

I love those first couple of miles of a marathon. Time for introductions and chit-chat. But it ended too soon. Clyde and Logan were a bit edgy, and Seth was playing along. As it would turn out that pace was just right for him. I noticed Clyde was struggling and suggested this could possibly be a bad sign that our pace is too fast. My thinking was that a pace that is too fast for either myself, Logan, or Clyde could easily be too fast for all three, except the other two might feel too excited to notice it. Clyde said he was OK. I said : "OK for the half, OK for 15, OK for 20, or OK for 26?". Clyde said: "we will see at the end".

In the beginning we agreed that we may try a joint effort for Paul's course record (2:26:24) as there were rumors about a possible bonus, and if we were going to do it, the honest way is that all three of us try. Otherwise, the one that does not will have an unfair advantage at the end. So even though the pace started feeling too fast, I decided to go along with it for a couple of miles. At around 4 it really started not feeling right. I wish I could have sat down right there with Clyde and Logan and presented my reasoning for backing off, and to convince them to back off with me, but I did not have the time. I just said that it was too fast and I needed to ease off.

The mile markers were messed up in the early miles due to the last minute course adjustments, but I think by 5 miles they were correct. My 5 mile split was 27:41, with Clyde, Logan, and Seth a bit a head. When I eased off, I think they did as well after a while, and also with them being ahead I felt some pressure to keep a faster pace as I did not want to lose contact in case we started getting gusts of head wind.

Finally Clyde came to grips with the idea that the pace was too fast and let Seth and Logan go. That was nice because now I could work with him better. At first I tried to do trading leads, but it did not work. Clyde's mind works better when he is up front. This was fine with me, I like drafting.

One we turned into the valley, on the 9th mile all of a sudden 6:00 pace became a chore. Then I knew it was getting warm enough to make a difference. This was going to be a survival race. Those are both good and bad for me. The splits are depressing, and the projected finish time is disappointing. I do not like slow pace when racing, well, who does? On the positive side, however, I am very good at survival games, this gives me an edge over the competition.

56:03 at 10 miles, 1:14:45 at the half. I started moaning to keep the momentum and just because it felt right. Sorry Clyde. Learn to moan with those that moan :-) We did a 6:10 mile from 12 to 13 and it felt too good all of a sudden. So I figured it was time to put the pedal down. With a few moans I was able to accelerate and thought I was going at least 5:45. Good luck, 5:53 on a mildly downhill mile. OK, it must be hot. Clyde is falling back pretty quick, and nobody is coming up from behind or is even close.

Moaned my way up the hill, tried to get into a good rhythm afterwards, but still cannot break 5:50. That's OK, just focus on good rhythm, good form, glide along, stay in the money position, don't try too hard to upgrade it, let it come naturally if it is supposed to happen today. 1:26:34 at 15 miles.

Got past the dam, still feeling strong, but it is not showing in the mile splits. But at least they are all under 6:00, and I am even hitting 5:40s on some downhill miles. Passing half-marathoners and scaring them with my moaning. 1:55:45 at 20 miles.

Getting different reports on the gap with the leaders, figuring it is 2-3 minutes. Not much additional info. I want to know if it is 2 or 3. Finally at 24 Josh Steffen, who was on the course, yells at me that Logan is only 30 seconds ahead. I caught up to him in what seemed like forever, and asked him what was wrong. He felt good enough to run with me and answer that his legs were cramped up, but then had to stop and massage them. This happened to me in my first marathon.

Having moved into 2nd cheered my spirits, but I still did not feel secure. Based on how well Logan ran when he was actually running, he could possibly find an extra gear that would allow him to block the pain signals and start running sub-6:00 pace. And somebody like Ken Pliska or one of the bloggers having a miracle race could all of a sudden come from behind.

I was able to keep my miles under 6:00 until 24, then had a 6:04, and a 6:10 in spite of trying to pick it up. I did not feel bad but I guess being out in the open sun on the last mile did not help. Kicked in 1:15 for the last 385 yards, and ended up with 2:32:28 in second place behind Seth Wold who finished in 2:27:43 in his first marathon. Logan came in third holding off Clyde who was 4th. Then Jeff Shadley, Chad, Kory, then Ben VanBeekam created a hole in the blogger dominance which we hope to fix soon, rumor has it that he has been learning and has entered the "almost thou persuadest me" state, after that Cody, Walter, Jon and the Lost Sheep Bill Cobler, a picture with him holding a Lost Sheep sign is on its way.

After the finish three ladies one at a time insisted on giving me the finisher medal. I said, no thanks, I think I had to do it three times for each of the ladies. They could not understand why I did not want a finisher medal. I hope some of the readers will. Suppose you could sing well enough to be paid to do it. How would you like to get a medal every time you sang on key? While singing on key is a feat for a lot of people, myself very particularly included as those who have heard me sing would testify, and  the ability to do so is a gift from God which should not be taken for granted, nevertheless for a decent singer this is a basic element of performance, not a stellar accomplishment. For a number of obvious reasons he would not want to pile up token awards of this kind and put them up on display for his friends to see.

So it is with finishing a marathon. To get a finisher medal all you need to do is get to the finish under 6 hours. In some marathons you can be even slower. For some people such a goal is not trivial. It takes a lot of preparation and focus. Others would be able to do it with ease and with no prior preparation. I believe that if you would able to run a sub-6:00 marathon comfortably even you did not train at all or very sporadically you should not take a finisher medal. God gave you a gift and He expects you to do more with it than just finish a marathon. At least that is what I decided to do for myself. For as long as my health makes it so that just to finish before the course closes is not a challenge I will not be taking finisher medals anymore.

As far as the reward for running a race is concerned when the budget of the race does not permit the race director to reward my performance with cash, a mention of my time in the race results means more to me than any kind of a trophy or a medal. In the context of the competition it speaks for itself, and does justice to what I've done that day. That is all I need as far as recognition is concerned.

T4 Racer - 81.17 miles.

P.M. 3 miles with the kids. 1 with Jenny and Julia in 10:10. Jenny pulled ahead a bit - her time was 10:05. Then 0.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 4:09. This gave Jenny 14:14 for 1.5. Then 1.5 more with Benjamin to finish his 2 miles in 15:56.

Five Fingers - 19.63 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.00
From Jon on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 19:00:07

8 of the top 10, and 10 of the top 12!

Nice race today, Sasha- very consistent training and race paid off for you today.

From cgbooth23 on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 19:25:31

great job today, always impressed! Thanks for the words of confidence, I am encouraged by the run today and found out I may have an in to St. george with a corporate sponsor, love to see what I can do down there with continued training!

From James W on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 19:36:11

Great job on the 2nd place finish, Sasha. I can't wait to read more of your race report later.

From Tracy Atkinson on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 19:50:30

It was really nice to meet you, You have helped inspire me to take training more serious. I got to see you at mile 18 you looked strong and fast. I didnt know for sure if you could catch the first two runners, they were going so fast too. but looks like you did it. what happened to them??

From James on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 21:39:20

Nice running! Did you ask Seth to do the blog thing yet?

From haynes on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 22:00:03

Nice race! Bringin home the bacon, or that is, fruits and vegetables, lol. I am wondering--What is your marathon nutrition/hydration strategy? I think that part of my previous failures in the marathon were lack of both (because most things used to make me sick while running). It doesn't correspond exactly because I will be racing for 30ish minutes longer than you since I am so much slower, but I was wondering what you do.

From Adam RW- on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 22:07:38

Great report.

From Superfly on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 23:21:48

Smart race!

From Lybi on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 23:34:26

Great job Sasha! It's a very big day for the blog, too. Congratulations on a very well-played game of survival out there!

From Daniel on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 23:49:02

Great race and surviving the heat! I would have loved to see the looks on the faces of the people you passed while moaning.

From Chad on Sat, May 17, 2008 at 23:56:24

You're definitely a survivor, Sasha. Way to stick it out when no one was feeling very good.

From jtshad on Sun, May 18, 2008 at 09:46:25

Congrats on the 2nd place and very smart tactical race. You ran very well for the conditions.

From Ian on Sun, May 18, 2008 at 10:54:54

Well done Sasha, your training and racing inspires us all.

From Burt on Sun, May 18, 2008 at 13:56:22

Congratulations! That's awesome.

From Paul Petersen on Sun, May 18, 2008 at 14:57:56

Nice job. Very smart, patient race. Did you wear the 5-toe shoes?

From MichelleL on Sun, May 18, 2008 at 18:06:50

Congratulations Sasha! Yesterday was a personal and a group victory for you! Thank you for all of your support!

From Logan on Sun, May 18, 2008 at 20:37:40

Great race Sasha! You worked really hard for this.

From Dale on Sun, May 18, 2008 at 20:51:48

Excellent race!

From Walter on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 00:36:58

Well sasha, Im glad I took your advice and I can definately thank you for it. I would have started out with your group and finished alot slower than I did. Cody pushed me and pulled me and the important thing was my finish and how my legs felt after. 100% better! Now I will get my mileage up and get in gear! Good race yesterday and Im so amazed at you and your performance! It gives me hope!

From Michael on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 10:24:48

Way to fly Sasha. Wow 5:48 per mile, wish I could run one at that speed yet alone 26 like you!

From runnate on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 11:25:30

Great job on the race and good report. I really enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the ideas and support from it. I ran my best marathon yet with a 3:14:48 time. I loved the race!!

From Sean on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 11:39:59

Nice race. It would be great to see you at Twin Cities. Skip SGM and join us in Minneapolis.

From Jed on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 14:08:23

Nice work, Sasha. Sorry I couldn't give you a more accurate idea of the gap around 20. It was good to chat with you at the finish. The FRB world is growing in number and dominance!

From wheakory on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 14:17:29

Great race Sasha your really had a good strategy and pace in the race. Your always so steady in the marathon and never seem to have any trouble miles. You really have a strong mental toughness that God has given you and you use that gift to the fullest. Second place is a great accomplishment with the fact of enduring the heat.

I was trying to find you after the race to introduce my wife and kids (their on the blog). My wife and daughters ran the 5k and I ran the kids k with my three year old son.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 14:50:07

Everybody, thanks for the cheers. James, I did the recruiting effort with Seth in the first mile. Let's see what happens. You guys give him some words of encouragement as well when you see him. Seth, if you are reading this, it it time to join the blog. Send me a private message to discuss the team details if you are interested.

Paul - I ran in T4 Racers instead for two reasons. Five Fingers had not yet been tested in long runs. I would have still taken the risk if somebody would have been willing to pay $1000 for breaking 2:35, but obviously nobody was around to offer it. However, if somebody is willing to offer that + travel expenses if the race is too far away, I would be willing to do it in a non-Sunday marathon on a reasonable course.

Sean - I do not run on Sundays, so Twin Cities is out for sure. Also, finishing in 25th place with 2:28 on a technically aided course and bringing nothing home does not excite me even if the race expenses are paid. If I go to St. George, they give me $150 for being there, which is quite a bit more than the cost of the trip (just gas). Being the first one from Utah County gives me $100. With this year being a non-qualifying year and St. George losing its status due to the OTQ standard change, I think sub-2:23 will be good enough for top 3, which would hopefully give me enough in travel certificates to get to either St. Jude in Memphis or Rocket City in Hunstville in December. This way I get to run a loop course sea level marathon, the costs are covered, and if everything goes well, I bring money home on top of it.

From Twinkie on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 15:38:41

Sasha, Why do you say that Twin Cities is an aided course? Just because it's a point to point? I've never heard anyone say that before of that marathon.

Just curious.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 16:16:57

Point to point is aided is the USATF book unless you can prove that there was no tailwind. Granted, Twin Cities will probably be included in the exception list for qualifying, but still.

From Paul Petersen on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 16:46:33

So you're saying this doesn't remotely interest you?

Seems like they are compensating American runners with cold hard cash (and all sorts of bonuses), something St. George does not do. I figured this would gain "Sasha Approval".

Furthermore, start and finish lines of TCM looks to be borderline at the 30% USATF point-to-point threshold. The finish of a marathon needs to be less than 7.9 miles from the start, as the bird flies, and TCM is very very close. I am not sure if it makes it or not, but is interesting in itself (makes you wonder if it helped dictate the threshold - I think IAAF for record-eligible is 20%).

From jtshad on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 16:48:29

As far as I can tell it is a qualifier as it is the host of the US Championshipd and Master's Championships.

From Superfly on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 16:50:59

Wow. That's an awesome pay scale!

From Paul Petersen on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 16:54:20

Self-correction: IAAF start/finish separation for record-eligible course is 50%, so the USATF standard is actually more harsh.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, May 19, 2008 at 18:12:50


When a race is on Sunday, I do not have an interest in it. However, if it was not, I would have a remote interest, but still run St. George unless I was sure I could run under 2:21 in Twin Cities. But on the flip side, if I were that fast, I would probably run Akron, Baltimore, or Hartford.

Aside from the financial reasons, I get a bigger kick out of racing a Kenyan than out of racing an American of the same fitness.

If it were at some time that did not conflict with other more interesting marathons, and it were on a non-Sunday, I might consider it.

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