Breaking the Wall

Ragnar Wasatch Back 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: 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: Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay (177 Miles) 18:29:29, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day 2 of Wasatch Back. Got the baton on leg 25, from Jordanelle Reservoir to Oakley. I expected the leg to be a challenge, I just did not realize how much. Got the baton from James and went for it mumbling BINGO under my breath to get the legs going. First mile was OK, was going at a good sub-6:00 pace. The lack of sleep must have altered my perception. I could have sworn the first mile was downhill, but the elevation profile shows it was a slight up. I could not understand why I was so hard to run so slow. But I was passing people at a good rate. Then I saw a runner that was coming to me at a rate that was slower than average. When I got closer, I realized it was Ron Greenwood. I was a bit surprised, he should not have been coming to me that fast. Then I realized that there was perhaps something about this leg I did not know. I was supposed to run it at 5:56 pace. I was running at 5:56 pace, but there was a big hill coming up, and even without it, I was working pretty hard already. Later I realized that the WBR calculator is way off when there is an uphill of any kind at over 6000 feet. You can run downhill almost the same at a higher altitude, but uphill slows you down a lot more, especially if you do not live at that altitude.

The grade gradually increased, but I did not notice it at first, except the pace started getting slower. I was second guessing myself. What is happening? Why are my legs not moving? Did I overtrain? Am I hitting the wall? I am not feeling like I am out of gas, and I should not be out of gas. What is going on? And why is Ron not passing me back? The pace gradually digressed to 6:20, then 6:40, then 7:00 and then 7:20. At 7:20 the climb now became very obvious, but still did not look bad enough to be running that slow. What I did not take into account is the elevation gain and being at a higher altitude. We started at a tiny bit over 6000 feet and gradually made our way to 6500. Finally by mile 5 the climb was over, and I was going again - hit a downhill quarter in 1:25, followed by another in 1:20, and I felt a lot better.

Finished the 5.57 in 35:28, 2:14 off schedule. After looking at how other runners did on it, it was actually not that bad. Ron was about 2 minutes slower, while Nate Pollard was 3 minutes slower.

Handed off to Dustin, and we continued chugging a lot trying to not get beat too bad by BYU and Weber. Did some more running pacing Cody at the end of his leg, and then ran Steve Olsen's leg (30)
with Paul for his cool down. 

We ended up third after BYU and Weber. We managed a 6:16 average, which I consider to be very good on this course. Last year's version was faster - you started at the Blacksmith Fork Canyon instead of downtown Logan, and  you ran a much nicer version of the Trapper's Loop. That, and the course being 7 miles longer. Even then, with that pace we would have beaten Weber last year. But they learned their lessons and brought a better team. So did BYU. If only BYU learned how to follow the course and plan for their runners arriving on time, they would have done a lot better, though. I think they lost a good total of 30 minutes to logistics. On the bright side of things, Nate Pollard observed a BYU hand-off when one runner finished his leg and the other was not ready for him. The one who finished yelled: Where are you? Nate commented that he was waiting for him to swear, but he did not. I do not know who that runner was, but I am very glad he practiced what he believed at in this frustrating situation. You have not slept much, you've been running hard, you are trying to catch a competitor, you've given it all you've got to do your part, and now your effort is being just wasted. You stand there and just watch it go. If swearing is a part of your vocabulary at all, this would be the time for it to come out. If it does not, this says a lot about your character. Weber may have gotten to the finish line first, but on that particular exchange BYU won in a special way.

Ran a little bit more with Jenny riding a bike in the evening. Felt OK afterward, just tired from the lack of sleep. Legs feel fine.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Lybi on Mon, Jun 25, 2007 at 17:20:04

Great job, Sasha. Tough legs! (The relay too, ha ha.)

I loved how you described the BYU hand off. Any moron can criticize, but I think it takes a lot of character to recognize greatness in a situation like that.

I see that with piano all the time. Someone who can't play a bit will listen to a student, and note with pride the one flubbed if noticing it means he or she would've done better. But someone who has studied, and plays well will notice the immaculate rhythm, or the perfect pedaling. You must have been studying and practicing self mastery for quite some time, I think.

That doesn't mean I forgive you for compulsively bashing my food plan every chance you get! JK

From Dustin on Mon, Jun 25, 2007 at 17:30:01

Sasha, thanks for the great race and letting us ride in VanGoGo (I hope the door is an easy fix!) Also thanks for the encouragement and information you passed along during the race. I liked your assessment of BYU and swearing. I to was a little upset at the end of my first leg and had to control myself. I hope I didn't offended anyone, by saying shootfire! That is just a word I picked up from my father inlaw, we say it anytime we're in a jam. I picked up "Dad Burn" from my high school track coach another favorite word of mine.

From Lybi on Mon, Jun 25, 2007 at 17:33:00

Dustin: you are funny. Great job on your race.

From Paul T on Mon, Jun 25, 2007 at 18:37:41

I found your blog entries for the relay very interesting. I ran the same legs as you, and had very similar (although somewhat slower) experiences. You can read my blog for details, but I was the first runner to Exchange 1 from the 2:00 pm start only because the three runners ahead of me missed the left turn around mile 3. Your insights into the affects of grade and altitude also helped me understand my experiences on Legs 13 and 25. Congratulations on a great individual and team performance.

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