Breaking the Wall

SLC Track Club 15 K

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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: 155.37 Year: 492.80
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: 1353.22
Race: SLC Track Club 15 K (9.321 Miles) 00:54:39, Place overall: 6
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran the SLC Track Club 15 K in 54:39. Did not realize how much the ear infection had knocked me out. Was also surprised by the pattern of slowdown.Life is full of surprises, I suppose.

Warmed up with Jeff and Steve for about 3.4. Did one stride for 0.1, and then the race started.

We had a nice group in the first mile - in addition to myself Jeff, James Moore (Fiddy), Seth, Steve, Fritz, and Bryce. First mile was 5:35 and it interesting. Definitely sustainable, but with a twist. Perhaps the twist was what made it unsustainable. The breathing made my ear feel like it was being hosed down with water. This is not necessarily an unpleasant feeling, but it is distracting when you are trying to run hard. I managed to run the next mile in 5:33. By that time the pack split and Bryce and I got dropped.

I got behind Bryce and felt good. I thought I'd be able to stay behind him for a while, and then pull away. We made it to 3 miles in 16:52. Now that was interesting - 5:44 mile and it did not feel any slower than the second mile. I had started to feel the legs caving a bit. 17:29 at the 5 K. Pretty soon even that slow pace was not sustainable. I slowed down to 6:00 mile for mile 4, 22:52 at 4 miles. At this point I began to have second thoughts about entering the race and the effect of running so hard on my health. But by that point I was almost exactly half way out and the only way to get back was to run. I considered slowing down and waiting for Mary Ann to catch up, but then I was not sure with the way the things were going if I'd even be able to keep up.

26:53 at the turnaround, 28:56 at 5 miles, 6:04. My fears of the worst started to leave. I knew that my health was good enough to keep running, and I began to feel the strength in the body telling me that if I kept running to the finish my health would not be damaged. Next mile in 5:55, 36:07 at the 10 K. My spirits cheered up a bit. 5 K in 18:38 at a fairly even pace. I knew I could run around 6:00 pace to the finish. Normally this would be little consolation. But after experiencing the fear that I might not make it to the finish at all, I was thankful for this measure of strength.

I was happy about hitting a 10 K in 36:07 en route in this condition. With that, however, I realized that had the race been only 10 K I would not have run it much faster. For some odd reason I was stuck in 6:00 gear and could not go any faster. I could not understand why, either. Nothing really hurt. I was not breathing very hard anymore. Perhaps the body decided to control the breathing to avoid the ear discomfort.

So I coasted at that pace to the finish. Last 5 K in 18:32. Jeff met me with about a quarter to go, and I actually was conversational enough to ask him who had won. My last quarter was 1:29. I tried to kick but could not.  Yet I felt I could have gone further. Odd. Do not know how to explain it. Maybe some governor in the ear. Could a minor irritation or compression of the vestibular nerve act as this kind of governor? Is it possible to have vestibular nerve irritation with no obvious balance function disruptions?

So this race was definitely a learning experience.

Seth won with 49:04, then Jeff 49:12, Fritz a high 51, great performance, then Steve 52:10, James 52:26. Bryce was not officially in the race. His time was 53:00. Mary Ann ran 55:42 well ahead of the competition.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 17:40, 1 with Jenny and Julia in 10:16, 0.34 with Joseph in 3:48.

Saucony Type A Miles: 12.80
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
From Jon on Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 19:08:18 from

Sasha- your race description is exactly how I felt last week at the Striders 10k, after being very sick the week before. Even after we are mostly recovered from the illness, I think our bodies are much weaker than we realize. We can run at a moderate pace and it doesn't feel excessively hard, but we just cannot go any faster. Afterwards, though, we feel like we could have kept going at the same pace. Kind of frustrating, but not much we can do. I don't think it's related to any nerves in your ear, just to being sick in general.

From Sasha Pachev on Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 20:03:30 from

Jon - makes sense. On Dec 16, 2005 I had a 102 degree fever. Then on Dec 22 I did a tempo run, only went 2.5 miles, but after 2 I was getting stuck in the 6:00 pace gear, which is why I decided to stop early. Interestingly enough, the day before I was able to run a 5:12 mile down 1% grade fairly comfortably, so I thought I was recovering well.

I am still curious as to the mechanism of the slowdown. If I could understand it and control it, I could get a major performance gain. My hypothesis that the "stuck in a pace" when supposedly healthy happens for the exact same reasons as when recovering from an illness. In other words, without realizing it you could have something lacking health-wise, and it will only show when you are racing. It might show on a lab test, but you need to know what to look for. And you need to have the ability to run lots of lab tests which most of us don't. But still if you could somehow figure out this "health issue", you could get some major improvements.

From Tarzan/Maurine on Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 23:49:51 from

I am impressed that you pushed so hard as sick as you have been. Great job, Sasha.

From Lucia on Sun, Mar 01, 2009 at 12:05:37 from

You fast guys don't cease to amaze me... better than 6 minute miles, with an ear infection and all! Nice job! Very impressive!

From Burt on Mon, Mar 02, 2009 at 17:30:18 from

Great job. I've had the same thoughts of slowing down and running with people I know behind me, but then not knowing if I'd be able to stick with them. Best just to keep going.

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