Breaking the Wall

August 04, 2020

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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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ranger Challenge run early in the morning. The cadets were doing a 5 K tempo on the track. I decided to run with them until there were 3 laps left, and then do a max HR test. Their target was about 6:00 pace. I figured to avoid a mess I'd let Ted do the pacing and hid away in the pack. Stayed on the outside of the first lane, but not quite in the second. We were asleep on the first two laps, surged a bit on the third to make up, then settled into a good pace - 1:28 per lap. The two faster cadets (it is about time for me to learn their names) were handling it well. Once we settled into pace, HR stayed steady around 150. There was a headwind on the home stretch. It was nice to have Ted and a big cadet deal with it. With three and a half laps to go, moved out to get ready for the max HR test. The surge, the anticipation, and the headwind combined brought HR up to 157.

Then the last 3 laps fast trying to push HR to the max. 5 K pace or a bit faster sustained for long enough is sufficient for the task, and in fact will do a better job than an all out push. First two laps in 2:35.4 at about even pace. Messed up on the split after the first fast lap, hit the button about 1 second early (got 1:16.4), but still good enough to take average HR. On the first fast lap average HR was 162, on the second 166. Pushed a bit harder on the last lap, got 1:15.4. HR maxed at 170, and averaged at 169 on the last lap. 3:50.8 for the last 1200, and 17:58.9 for the 5 K.

Did not like the headwind on the home stretch. It messed with my concentration. Also did not like running alone and hard. I liked running easy and in the pack a lot better.

It seems like once HR goes past 160 every extra beat per minute takes me to a whole new level of pain. 160 is comfortable enough to hold for 15 miles. 163 can be sustained for 10 miles. 166 hurts bad enough to be a 10 K pace. And 170 is so painful that I do not think I can sustain it for the entire 5 K. I wonder if practicing sustaining max HR for longer (3x2000 with the goal of maxing it out after 800 and holding it, but avoiding anaerobic running as much as possible) could either push max HR up a bit, or at least make it possible to hold it for the whole 5 K. I do not to expect to gain very much from this, maybe 20 seconds. But that means extra circuit points, plus a few bucks of prize money, which does add up. It could also make surging easier in longer races, and maybe even improve the overall pace a bit too.

Ran with the kids in the evening.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Paul on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 12:40:34

Sasha, it is so funny to read about you like to run easy in the pack (at a 6:00 pace). This kind of pace for most of us is a mile time trial, not an easy fun run. It is always entertaining to read your blog. Thanks, Texas Paul

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