Breaking the Wall

September 24, 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: 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
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ran in the Provo Canyon with Clyde  . It was 10F and 7 mph wind blowing out of the canyon. Did a short warm-up, then ran the standard 12 mile tempo (4 stretches of the standard Mouth to Nuns Park 3 mile tempo). There was some snow on the ground, not too much, but enough to knock you out of rhytm when going up.  Kept  6:25 pace on the good parts of the up, slowed down to 7:00 on the bad parts, on the way down went a bit sub-6:00 once we got going. HR was low, probably because of the cold conditions - hovered between 135 and 145 depending on the effort. Ran the last mile in 5:35 to catch the 6:15 guy. Total time 1:14:41. I told Clyde he were to race today he was ready to run about 2:40 in Boston, maybe faster. The cold seemed to affect his nervous system - he would push the pace at times, and then all of a sudden lose the momentum, then repeat. Cooled down, total of 14.8 miles for the run.

Came home, and as they say in Russian, from the ship to the ball. Benjamin was getting baptized. I have performed many baptisms before, but this is the first time I got to baptize my own child. I have waited for this for a long time. When a person is baptized, he makes a promise to God to be faithful for the rest of his life. In our church we often talk about enduring to the end. Baptism is the starting line. Then it is all about enduring to the end. Very much like distance running.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. Afterwards, Sarah and I went to the temple for our date. When I came home, there was still work left to do. Got it done. Now is the end of a long busy day, I am looking forward to hitting the sack.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Maria on Mon, Mar 05, 2007 at 09:32:28

Sasha, I tried the course tool today - pretty cool! I measured the course for my half marathon next Sunday and uploaded it. For some reason, it shows here a full mile longer than in GMaps pedometer (it is 13.2mi. there - still long, but it's probably due to my inaccurate measurement, it is a certified course by South of England Athletics Association). So why is it a full mile longer after importing the .gpx file? Did you notice it before with other routes?

I wanted to see elevation changes, and I was not disappointed! This course is marketed as flat and "excellent PB potential", but I saw few pretty steep hills there. Ugh, I better adjust my expectations, especially since I don't train on hills at all now. I put in a flat pace of 7:48, and the tool gave me mile splits in the range of 9 to 11 min/miles. Is it correct (seems really slow)?

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Mar 05, 2007 at 10:31:56

Looks like either there is a bug in my course tool, or perhaps the course elevations are not correct. The profile looks like you have to stop sometimes and climb a vertical wall. If that is the case, I'll add an option to even out crazy impossible grades.

GMap pedometer does not account for the vertical component of running, the course tool does. So perhaps somehow your profile managed to accumulate an extra mile from the vertical component. I'll try to debug it in the next couple of days to see what is going on.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Mar 05, 2007 at 17:48:18


I found the problem. The course profile apparently did not have the elevation data for some points. Those showed up as zero after import. Perhaps there is was a way to detect them during parsing - I could look into that if you e-mail me the original GPX file.

So occasionally because of that the course would bring you down to sea level in a quarter of a mile or so, and then immediately bring you back up over the same distance. To deal with that, I added a special option to smooth out the course. If you select it, and then mark the maximum reasonable grade that course can have (crazy grade cutoff), it gives you reasonable data. Your course works well with 15% crazy grade cutoff.

From Maria on Mon, Mar 05, 2007 at 18:33:18

Thanks Sasha! You're right, some points have 0 elevation, I checked the .gpx file and confirmed that's the case. If you're parsing by XML tags you should be able to catch these points. It's still a mystery why some elevations are missing - a bug in Goggle Maps, perhaps? And how would one know what crazy grade cutoff to use in smoothing? I need to try mapping some other courses and see if the elevation problem is consistent. Meanwhile I'll email you the gpx file. Thanks for looking into this!

From RivertonPaul on Mon, Mar 05, 2007 at 18:35:36

Congrats on the special occasion.

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