Breaking the Wall

Provo City Half 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: 188.26 Year: 188.26
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: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1359.62
Race: Provo City Half Marathon (13.11 Miles) 01:13:19, Place overall: 2
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Brief report. Provo City Half, 1:13:19, 2nd pace after Shin Nozaki, a Japanese runner living in Orem who ran 1:11:20, great time for that course on a windy day. We ran together up to about 5.2, then he made a strong move and dropped me, then kept increasing the gap throughout the race.

Full report to follow. Drove up to the start with James, Lybi, and Adam. Warmed up around 2 miles with Adam. The race started 20 minutes late due to the chip pickup problem. I wonder why they were not handing the chips at the packet pickup. Talk to Shin at the start. Checked out the crowd. Did not identify any trouble otherwise, but was aware that some may still be lurking.

In the report, I did not use a GPS, and am giving the splits from my $9 Walmart watch by the mile markers painted on the road (as opposed to the race signs. You should ALWAYS go by what is painted on the road on a certified course), and the elevations are from the official race course profile at MapMyRun.Com.

BYU ROTC cadets fired the gun. I somewhat embarrassingly nearly missed the turn on 2nd West. The pace felt slow, and I was already upfront. Shin was right with me. There was a headwind, or possibly just a cross-wind on 2nd West. I saw Ted on his bike up ahead, and figured I'd just pull up and get right behind him. So I did make a bit of a surge and caught up at around 0.5 mark. Shin fell back a bit, but then caught up once I had eased off the pace. We already had nobody with us.

Made a turn on 800 North and headed towards the Provo River Trail. The head wind picked up, I think now this was a true headwind. We went through the first mile in 5:24, which had a net elevation gain of 43 feet. Good, hope not too good.

After about half a mile we finally got off 800 North on the Provo River Trail, finally no headwind. Ted on his bike, I am right on his back wheel, and Shin right on my heels. Second mile in 5:23, net elevation drop of 30 feet.

The third mile almost entirely overlapped the course I run almost every day. Lots of turns and going under bridges, ups and downs. Knowing that we were approaching a nasty headwind section I made a couple of moves on the under the bridge micro-downhills to gap Shin, but he would always close. That is one difference between an American and Japanese runner I noticed. The American will do everything he can to not reveal any signs of weakness until he just cannot hide it anymore. The Japanese runners I've raced completely ignored my moves, let me gap them, and then gradually closed the gap. They also make a lot of noises that may trick you into thinking they are struggling a lot when in fact they may still have a lot of juice left. We got off the trail and turned on Geneva Road heading north. Our third mile had a net drop of 16 feet, and we did it in 5:21. 16:08 at 3 miles, 16:43 at the 5 K.

We turned on the Boat Harbor Drive. Now the fun starts. We are directly against the headwind. Missed mile marker 4. 27:24 at 5 miles, 2 miles in 11:36, 5:38 average. Net elevation drop of 43 feet over those 2 miles. A very nice gradual drop. Too bad we could not make good use of it.

More headwind fun after that for about another quarter mile. It seemed like it gradually picked up as we got closer to the Utah Lake. I am starting to not feel super-snappy. I can tell Shin is getting a bit antsy to go, but waiting for the headwind to be over. We turn off the Boat Harbor Drive on the Provo River Trail, and Shin quickly shifts gears and picks it up to about 5:15 pace. No response from me, I just do not have it after over 2 miles of fighting the headwind. He is gapping me as if I were standing still. Ted went with him for a while, then figured that since he already had a guy on a scooter with him, he could wait for me to catch up and start yelling at me.

I am now getting a lecture from Ted on mental toughness. I've heard those lectures before, but they were directed at his son James while we were pacing him. And now I am getting the grown-up male version of it as well. Clean language, but tough words. At first I just wanted to ignore it but after a couple of minutes I realized that I could either ignore it and run 20-30 seconds slower, or I could obey everything he tells me to do and run 20-30 seconds faster. So I decided to do the latter.

6 miles in 33:04, ouch, 5:40 mile. Elevation gain of 13 feet.

While we ran into a headwind on an open section, now that we had the tailwind the Murphy's Law made it so that we had a tree cover. So we were not getting very much of it, and to make things worse, with the trail being windy we were getting a mild cross-wind on some sections.

At 6.8 the course overlapped a bit with the earlier section around mile 4, and it just happened that James and Lybi reached that particular point at the same time I did. So I got some cheering from them.

Missed mile marker 7. Watching Shin gradually open the gap. Getting a continuous pep-talk from Ted, and trying to respond to it. We got off the trail and headed south on Geneva road. Soon mile marker 8 came, 44:24, 11:20 for the last 2 miles, net elevation gain of 15 feet in 2 miles.

With some friendly cross wind and tail wind, a slight downhill, and some strong encouragement from Ted, was able to regroup on the next mile and hit it in 5:27, 49:51 at 9 miles, 21 seconds behind the 5:30 guy. The mile had 15 feet of elevation loss.

Mile 10 had some cross-wind and a net drop of 2 feet, but it first dropped 10 feet, and then gained 8. I did miss the mark though. Mile 11 was similar to mile 10 wind-wise, but had a net elevation gain of 5 feet with the initial climb of 10 feet, followed by a drop of 5 feet. 1:01:05 at 11 miles, 11:14 for the next 2, 5:30 guy now has 35 seconds.

Mile 12 was the toughest mile of the race. What made it tough was running into a headwind on University Avenue up the railroad overpass. The elevation data from MapMyRun.Com shows a gain of 30 feet, but looking at the actual location of mile 12, it was right on top of the bridge, while MapMyRun.Com shows further climb after mile 12. And the whole length of the course comes out to 13.24. So I assume MapMyRun data is about 0.1 off the certification. This would make the elevation gain to be 40 feet. I ran that mile in 5:59 and was glad it was over when we started going down the bridge.

Mile 13 had a lot of turns, headwind for about 0.5, and net gain of about 23 feet in spite of the quick drop of 10 feet in the first 0.1. Caught a split at the 20 K - 1:09:29. That would make it 52:46 for the 15 K from 5 K to 20 K, acceptable for the conditions and the course. I managed a 5:42 for mile 13, 1:12:46 at 13 miles. Tried to pick it up on the last 0.11, but did not have much of a kick due to fatigue and the last of competition nearby - 32 seconds. Got 1:13:18 on my watch, 1:13:19 officially.

Afterwards, Ted gave me the greatest compliment - "1:13 is not that bad for that wind!". That was exactly what I needed to hear. It means something to me because I know that Ted does not tell you you did a good job when you did not. He'll say: "What happened, were you sick, did you have a cold, did you have a stomach flu, or are you overtrained?" when you do not run the time that he expected you to run.

Since James could run with Lybi only part way due to his recent knee issues, we had planned the operation "Lybi relay". Adam paced her for the first 3 miles, then ran his regular pace the rest of the way passing people and advertising for the blog. James paced her to 8 miles from there, then drove to meet me on Center street as I ran in his direction after the race, picked me up, and took me to a little bit past mile 9 from where I paced Lybi to the finish. I had several concerns for her - slowing down to slower than 12:00 half way through the race due to a severe fuel crash, muscle fatigue, or injury, and how she was going to handle mile 12 with the overpass and the headwind. She performed in the top 20% of the expectation range of what might possibly happen. Her slowest mile was 10:46 (the notorious mile 12), last 5 K in 30:49, 9:54 average, and total time was 2:03:17, very good result for the first half marathon on a tough course on a windy day and with the lack of training recently.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:15, 1.5 with Jenny in 13:02, and 2 with Benjamin in 15:24.

Crocs - 328.98 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
From jtshad on Sun, Apr 06, 2008 at 08:44:34

Great job on the second place finish on a windy race day!

From Jon on Sun, Apr 06, 2008 at 10:03:43

Nice job. This should give you some good motivation to go beat him next year! That, and the get Shin to join the blog!

From Kim on Sun, Apr 06, 2008 at 11:11:26

Ready for the rest of the story....

From Pat on Sun, Apr 06, 2008 at 17:10:13


Great race considering the conditions. I passed you on the warm-up and wanted to thank you for your thoughts on the book "Brain training for Runners" It's been a great find and I agree one of the read's on running in my experience. Great race!

From air darkhorse on Sun, Apr 06, 2008 at 17:52:47

Sasha, You are definitely dedicated but when is your BIG race? I saw no taper this week and yet you still ran really well. This makes me wonder. Are saving it for Ogden or Des News?

From Paul Petersen on Mon, Apr 07, 2008 at 17:40:56

1:13 is not bad for that wind.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Apr 07, 2008 at 18:05:27

Steve - probably Ogden. I'll probably do 120/100 taper for Salt Lake, and 100/70 for Ogden.

From Lybi on Tue, Apr 08, 2008 at 01:47:11

Oh. Dang, I liked the old numbers I had for the race better. What was my Garmin thinking? And did I actually run slower than 12:00 pace, or were you just saying that COULD have happened? Thanks for the help!

Anyway, great job on a tough race day. It's very interesting to hear about you getting paced by Ted. Personally, I'm glad you didn't yell at me...very much (and only when I really needed it).

PS, if it is not below 100 miles a week, it just can not be considered a taper, by definition.

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