Breaking the Wall

September 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: 90.98 Year: 2713.79
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
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ran the Moab Marathon for a marathon pace tempo run as the opportunity presented itself. 2:35:20, first place. Felt very strong. Race results are available here. This race was a rather interesting experience. Six years ago I volunteered to help my friend Curt, who directs a number of local races, to help with his website. This eventually led to me becoming in charge of timing his races. Timing a race means you need to be at the start when it starts, and at the finish when the first person crosses the line. I also need to get a hard run in that day. The logical solution to that problem is, of course, to run the race. I have a back-up person who knows enough to push the button for me, and in case I get beat, for the winner, but otherwise I am in charge. So I have two conflicting goals - to win the race with enough margin to take care of potential problems with the computer, and to arrive at the finish line with the blood sugar level sufficient to operate the timing equipment for a couple of hours. Fortunately for this occasion, Curt does not go out of his way to recruit a strong field, which allows the timing to go smoothly. As you can see from the Course Map and Elevation Profile, the race starts at the Dead Horse Park, follows Hwy 313 to the junction with Hwy 191, then two miles south towards Moab along 191, under the bridge, and back to the Archview campground. First 8 miles a gradual climb on rolling hills at 6000 feet, then downhill to about mile 19 with some rolling hills in the middle, then pretty much flat and rolling to the end. Last 2 miles on dirt. This run was going to answer an important question for me. Do I need long runs to do well in a marathon, or are my 16 milers with a 10-13 mile tempo in the middle sufficient? Since the St. George marathon in October I never went longer than 16 miles in one run. Curt sounded the horn, and we took off. Tried to recruit some company in the first minute, but everybody said they were shooting for 3 hours. So I went alone. Steady 6:00 pace through the first 8 miles. Not bad at all - at 6000 ft with rolling hills going up I was expecting about 6:10. Ate a banana at 6 miles. Then a turn, and we got some tailwind in addition to the downhill bonus. Maintained 5:30-5:40 pace up until 16 miles. Got a low fuel signal at 12 miles, and drank some Powerade. Less than ideal, but better than nothing. Drank some more at 15, if I remember right. Then some headwind came. I got a side ache on the right. This could be just an irritation from the headwind, or could indicate that the liver is running out of fuel. Slowed down to 6:00-6:10 pace, and costed to 20. Half in 1:16:34. 20 miles in 1:56:32. Refueled with Powerade at 20. Tried to be thorough and drink the whole cup. Refueled again at 22. The side ache is gone, and I am feeling very energetic. But now we have some serious headwind and we are going slightly uphill. Was very happy with a 6:30 and 6:44 miles. I was expecting 7:00. Then under the bridge, and two more miles on dirt. But it is slighly down, and with a solid tailwind. Feeling exceptionally good. Too bad it is dirt road, and there are no quarter marks to pace myself. I wish I were in the Provo Canyon. Now if only I could stay on the course. There are so many trails going in all directions. I still see the cones - that is good. With about a quarter to go I saw a mark, but somehow I ended up taking a wrong turn and when I got to the finish, a barbed wire was separating me from the chute. This sure makes for a good story for an April Fool's day - crawling under a barbed wire at the end of a marathon. Could not have thought of a better joke if I were trying to make one up. The marathon did not end there for me. Fortunately I had enough time to get changed, and even tried to find a radio station that had the LDS General Conference. No luck - will have to catch a rebroadcast of the first session later. Another almost three hours of timing the race. The marathon is still not over, though. I've got General Conference and a drive back to Provo coming up ahead. I think I am going to tell Curt I will not time a race on a General Conference day again. However, I am very happy with what I learned today. Adjusting for the conditions of the course, I had probably just run an equivalent of 2:27 in St. George. What is more important is that I felt strong on the last 4 miles, probably strongest than ever in a marathon. So I have strong reasons to call this race a success. As I suspected, going long is not what does the job for me to prepare the marathon - it is going medium long, but fast. I also learned something about refueling. Powerade has simple sugars. They give me a funny feeling during the first 10 minutes after the intake, but then the body cleans up the mess and I feel strong. My intuition tells me that a more complex sugar would work better. Maybe I should try Ultima.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From BS Rools on Sun, Apr 02, 2006 at 11:15:43

Congradulations, I can't wait to read the full story. It seems all your hard work has paid off.

From Dallen on Sun, Apr 02, 2006 at 15:53:11

Congratulations on another marathon victory. I should move to utah to give you some competition. I've never heard of the 26.2 mile marathon pace tempo run. Sounds like a marathon to me.

Not much competition. I should move to utah to give you someone a little quicker to beat.

From Paul Petersen on Mon, Apr 03, 2006 at 08:58:16

Nice effort, Sasha. I've been coming to think that medium-long runs at up-tempo pace are a key to success as well.

From SuperFly on Mon, Apr 03, 2006 at 11:23:12

Good job in the Moab. It looks like the Moab weather was a little better than last time you were there.

Do you take any supplements? You mentioned Ultima, have you ever tryed Cytomax. I would like to look into different supplemental fluids and such. Do you have any good suggestions.

From MikeBro on Tue, Apr 04, 2006 at 00:41:55

Very nice work, Sasha! I'm envious of your ability to run a great time while staying well within yourself. Congrats!

From Mike Salkowski on Thu, Apr 06, 2006 at 12:22:01

Sasha, well done! I've been remiss on checking up on blogs and didn't realize you had run this one! I can't imagine getting a banana down at 6 minute pace.

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