Breaking the Wall

Park City Relay

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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: Park City Relay (13.11 Miles) 01:17:35, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Park City Relay. Ran the second half in 1:17:35 minus however long it took me to get over a fence. Our team got second place in 2:37:29.

Bob Thompson unfortunately had a hamstring problem at mile 8 and had to stop. Mike Kirk was running with him, stopped, tried to help him get going for a minute. Then went on. In the mean time, Adam from the Wasatch Atheletics team (just moved here from St. Louis) kept on going, and handed off to Leon Gallegos at 1:18:41. Mike came announcing the change of plans as he was running in, so I got going at 1:19:54 in hopes of catching Leon.

The course was not fast at all. Start at about 6650 feet according to gmap-pedometer, and about 6450 according to the official race elevation map (Let hope Paul can get this straight for us). 4 miles of climb to 7041 according to the official map, and 7058 according to gmap-pedometer. The last half-mile of the climb gets brutal, probably 4% grade (any comments on that Paul?), then a decent at some extremely steep grade that makes you break, then a more gentle descent for a few miles, then rolling hills to the finish. Probably about 30-40% on dirt. As if this was not enough, a closed gate on the course to keep the cows out with a sign asking the passer-bys to keep it closed.

I believe some of the mile markers were accurate, at least the ones that were painted on the road. Others were off. In the beginning I was going about 6:00-6:05 pace, if we are to believe the painted marks. The steep uphill mile was 6:48. Once I got to the top, I started getting a side ache, the type I have gotten before from running hard at a higher elevation. So I took it fairly easy coming down. Hit a few 5:40 miles. 40:47 with a 10 K to go. It started to look like I could even dip a bit under 1:16 if I managed to keep the pace. However, now I was on dirt, and the downhill ended. Now it was just dirt, and 6500 feet of elevation. And no sign of Leon. Oh, well, just hang in there.

As if that was not enough, another obstacle. A closed gate to keep the cattle and the runners out. As I approached it, I realized that with the stress of being in a hurry, it could take me as long as a whole minute or maybe even two to figure out how to open it. My hand dexterity is not very good at all - way below average for a man. And even worse after running 9 miles hard at this elevation. So I looked around to see if there was some kind of a hole. No hole, just barbed wire. However, the gate looked like I could fairly easily climb over it, so I did. Probably lost 20-25 seconds of time + rhythm.

Finally made it to the finish area. Saw my mother, and waved at her - she is visiting us from Russia, and was willing to get up at 5:00 am to see a race.

Leon ran a great time of 1:13:29. This is absolutely amazing on this course. What a breakthrough! In the beginning of the year I was beating him in 5 Ks by over 30 seconds. Then he closed it to 3 seconds in Draper Days 5 K. Then he beat me by a minute and a half in the half marathon last week. Now he beat me by as much as 4 minutes just a week later, and I do not think that my performance today was any worse than last week comparatively with the adjustments for the course. He is going to be a very tough competitor in the Top of Utah marathon.

Jed Burton won the marathon with 2:50:08. Bill Cobler was second with 2:55:30. Went for a cool-down with Bill afterwards.

In the evening ran with the kids, and worked out with weights, bench press, 105 pounds, 3x3, narrow grip.

Somehow managed to put in 76 miles this week.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Chad on Sat, Aug 26, 2006 at 21:32:03

What a crazy race. Good work on your finish in challenging circumstances. I'm excited for Jed too; pursuing the Grand Slam and a marathon victory along the way.

From Clayjr on Sun, Aug 27, 2006 at 15:15:56

Sasha, what is the best way to determine my marathon pace? I don't want to start out to quick or to slow, when I ran Ogden I took it kind of slow not knowing what to expect.

Thanks, Clay

From Clayjr on Mon, Aug 28, 2006 at 13:13:37

Thanks for the advise, man you guy's run fast how do you do it. My goal is to get it where I can run around a 7:00 minute mile when I'm racing, I don't know if that is possible when I here you guy's. I averaged a 7:35 mile when I ran a 10 mile race in june but I don't know if I can keep that up for 26.2. Sasha I am training for the St. George Marathon and the 20 mile was on my training schedule for my long run is that to much, is that why you told me to keep it around 15 miles for my weekly long run, let me know.

Thanks Again, Clay

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Aug 28, 2006 at 13:24:37

Clay - I think running 20 miles does you some good when you are ready for it. Otherwise, it breaks you down, and you end hitting the wall sooner in the race. With your current level of training, 15 miles for a long run makes more sense.

Never mind the schedules unless they were written for you individually with a solid understanding of how your body works.

I do not think running 7:00 mile pace for 10 miles, or even for the whole marathon is an unreasonable goal for you. But it will take time and diligence in training.

From Evan on Mon, Aug 28, 2006 at 17:48:50

I don't remember any closed gate. It looked like they had fixed the one gate I do remember from the 2005 Rail Trail 1/2 Marathon. I remember getting yelled at during the Park City Rail Trail 1/2M in 2005 by some psycho about leaving a gate open on the Rail Trail. It was actually kind-of funny. The guy demanded I go back and close the gate. I was like this is a race, move your cows off the trail. My clock time was 3:37, my offical time was 3:57. I started 20 minutes late. I liked that course. I didn't think the course was much harder than the Salt Lake City Marathon. I agree that the hill at 17 was tough and there were some impatient drivers on that section as well. The hardest marathon I ran thus far has been the 2006 Bonneville Shoreline Trail Marathon, it's absolutely brutal. I almost called a cab about mile 20 or 21 of the BSTM. I think I would have, but another runner talked me out of it. I got lost and ended up running about 27 miles. There are some section of the BSTM that are insanely steep, you can barely walk up it, much less run. There is very little flat in that course.

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