Breaking the Wall

Salt Lake Marathon

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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: 88.07 Year: 2386.98
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: 1257.89
Race: Salt Lake Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:34:07, Place overall: 6
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Executive summary: Salt Lake Marathon, 2:34:07, 6th pace. Windy day, slow times. Overloaded field, got outclassed into the no money land. On the positive site, collected nice LDR circuit points for being first in the circuit, and for the first time in my life (out of 43 marathons) ran a negative split on a non-St. George course. Talk about being a slow learner.

Details: Stayed with Adam and his family the night before. That made it very nice for getting to the start as he lives right next to it. Met up with Kory, and Dave Holt at the start. A pack of Kenyans/Ethiopians at the start, Shin Nozaki, Alexander Thomas, Matt Harmer. Trouble, but hopefully there will be enough Kenyan DNF's / jog-ins to make top 5. In all truth, though, I need to work on being fit to race those guys honestly, being able to beat them in the half marathon to begin with, rather than counting them at the start and hoping enough are going to have a bad day.

Adam made a nice map of the Salt Lake City Marathon on the Course Tool, so when I say the mile was supposed to be X it means based on 2:30 pace projection and the elevation profile the Course Tool thought this how fast I was supposed to run it.

We started with the Star Spangled Banner. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave? You bet, it was waving quite a bit today in the wind, you could see it all over. I wish they had sung the second verse as well, it would have been even better:

What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Half and full marathon started together, so that was nice. Relaxed through the downhill first mile with mild headwind in 5:49 (target 5:31). Perhaps too much relaxation. Adam and Kory fell back a bit. I motioned to them to catch up, but they thought the pace was too fast. So I made a move and caught up to the Kenyans accompanied by some half-marathon runners. Next mile was 5:39, it was into a more significant headwind, but not a complete killer (target 5:44) . On the third mile the Kenyans were done with the warmup. Nate Hornok, who was running the half at first went with them, the later came back to me. The headwind was the same as in mile 2. Got 5:49, target 6:02. Good, lets hope not too good.

On the fourth mile we turned on 21st south and headed down a nice 4-5% grade. I passed Nate and did not care. Finally no headwind, but not for long. So I figured I'd make up some time. Got 5:04, target 5:11. Eased off on the next mile, Nate caught up to me, we chatted a bit, I sat on him for a quarter or so. Then at around 4.6 it was time to say goodbye, it was half-marathon turnaround point. So I was left alone. Could see Alexander Thomas up ahead. A little further Shin and a Kenyan that fell off the lead pack. That is a good sign for me. Kenyans, the type that come to the caliber of Salt Lake Marathon races usually hang on with the leaders until they literally cannot go any further at that pace. Next mile in 5:31, projected 5:22. Why so slow? But the split at 5 was 27:53, only a second slower than 2:30:00 projection.

Hit the Sugarhouse loop. This has been one of my least favorite parts of the course. Today it ended up being my favorite part of the stretch between 5 and 13 miles. Next favorite was the climb on Keller Lane between miles 8 and 9. The reason being not that all of a sudden I've become a terrific hill runner. Rather, those were the only sections on that stretch that did not have headwind today.

Mile 6 in 6:01, target 6:05. Encouraging. And then the wind got stronger. Do not remember my splits on the next few miles, but I got to 9 in 52:24, losing to 25 seconds to 2:30 projection. I believe I gained a couple of seconds on the Keller Lane mile (from 8 to 9). Mile 10 was supposed to be 5:37. Good luck with that headwind, only 5:57, 58:21 at 10 miles, last 5 in 30:28. Followed by a 5:59 for mile 11 that was supposed to be 5:25! Either the headwind picked up on that mile or I wore myself out trying too hard on mile 10.

No worries, though. I had already realized that 2:30 ideal conditions effort today would not result in a 2:30 time today, and not just for me, but for everybody else as well, and I was going by effort while making a mental note of what kind of split that effort produced rather than stressing out about not hitting a target split.

Mile 12 was 6:01 vs target of 5:49. Mile 13 6:25 vs target of 6:08. That is where we got the full gamut of adversity - headwind + uphill. 1:16:46 at 13 miles, 1:17:25 at half-way. The 2:30 guy put a good 1:34 on me on that stretch between 5 miles and the half.

No more headwind, tailwind all the way back, or at least so I thought. On mile 14 just a cross-wind, but it feels so nice to be running downhill and with no headwind. 5:42 on the next mile, target 5:36. Not bad considering I had to shift gears from 6:25 pace earlier. Next mile in 5:36, target 5:25, followed by 5:34 right on target. I think the tailwind helped on this one finally. The weather started getting uncomfortably warmer. Mile 17 was 5:49, target 5:33. I think that is where the subtle fatigue of battling the wind in the earlier miles started to catch up to me in combination with a temperature that was not that warm (maybe 65 degrees), but being not used to it from the winter training took its toll. Do not recall my splits in the next 3 miles, but I got to 20 in 1:56:41, 2:15 behind the 2:30 guy. Passed a Kenyan, and then Alexander Thomas.

Discovered a new way of fighting the fatigue. Loud grunts. Found them to be very effective. Ran the next 5 K in 18:43, and incidentally the last one in 18:43 as well. Worked my way through a crowd of half-marathoners. Saw Ryan Gurr. He told me I was in 7th place, and gave me the update on who was ahead and how they were doing. Not much hope. However, I anticipated that the weakest Kenyan/Ethiopian in that pack will either DNF or jog in, but only one. And sure enough, with about 1.5 to go I see him walking. Suzanna Thomas was there on a bike and yelled that I am now 6th or maybe 5th. So this Kenyan (his name is Festus Kioko), heard that, caught up to me and then pulled ahead. I got right on his tail, and I got really mad. I decided I'd sit on him, and then we'd duke it out in the kick, and he would have to work to beat me. Shortly afterwards he either remembered that there were 5 guys already ahead or for some other reason decided the fight was not worth it, and went back to the jog-in/walk-in mode.

2:34:07 at the finish, 1:17:25 first half, 1:16:42. Genna Tufa won in a very close race in 2:23:10. Race results are available at

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:57, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:13, then 1 more with Benjamin in 7:43, which gave him 20:56 for 2.5. Toyed with the idea of running another 4 to repeat  Clyde's feat of running the same number of miles as the same number of years I was going to turn on Monday, but my body told me 31 miles for the day would be plenty, and I decided that being more fit for Ogden and other races was more important than hitting a magic number in training. So we can say that I made it to 31 with 26 at marathon pace, and then my age got to me :-)

Night Sleep Time: 7.83Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.83
From Hayden on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 18:11:19

Great job on the Marathon man. Way to represent the State of Utah. Hey thanks for the advise on the quad it helped me this week alot and i am almost right back up their.

From josse on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 18:12:39

I think all runners are slow learners. And when we do learn we forget the next day;) Great job!

From sarah on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 18:50:38

Good job are my hero!

From Brent on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 19:33:10

Sasha, I knew the course would be trouble for the marathon runners, I did the bike tour. The wind was pretty darn tough. Great effort on a tough day. You always have such a strong spirit.

Stay Kool, B of BS Rools out

From Paul Petersen on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 19:51:35

Nice job. I used loud grunts at Ogden and St. George last year, it is very effective. It's even better when combined with dumping cold water down your neck.

From Christi on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:03:28

Great job Sasha! Tough wind today. I saw a quick post race interview from you on the 5pm news,(channel 2, CBS I believe)- you'll have to watch it tonight!

From Cody D on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:03:46

Nice Job Sasha! Top Local runner. Tough conditions today too.

From Tom on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:05:12

Great job Sasha. I'll have to remember the loud grunting trick next time.

From barry on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:17:43

Great Job on the race Sasha. Thank you for helping me with my running; I was able to take off thirteen minutes off my best half marathon.

From Lybi on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:26:28

Heroic effort, Sasha! Way to be the first American. And nice negative split!

Loud grunts, huh? I'll have to try that. I remember you tried to get me to make sounds in my race, but they all sounded so weak and pathetic to me they were draggin me down. A nice, hearty grunt would be much better I'm sure. :)

From Jon on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:44:17

Great job, Sasha- nice negative split in some windy conditions.

We'll start calling you Paul if you do too many loud grunts...

From Chad on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:50:53

Congratulations on the great finish. You looked very strong at mile 20.

From josse on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:53:45

I have used screaming before, if anything it make the person you are passing not want to come with you:)

From Kim on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 20:57:55

Great job Sasha! I wish the whole FRB community could have been there to cheer you into the finish line! You are an incredible runner and so nice to share all of your knowledge with all of us!

From Superfly on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 21:02:40

Good race Sasha. Your extra training is paying off with a strong run like this in the wind. Keep up the good work and I'll see you in Ogden in a few weeks.

From adamr on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 23:26:57

Caught you and Adam on the news tonight. There were three or four clips of you running plus interview with you both. Catch you monday, 6:30 (schools gone, I'll be back much more), and way to tough this run out, especially with much of it on your own.

From Dale on Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 11:05:10

Excellent race. Glad you figured out how to run a negative please teach me! Congrats.

From Michael on Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 11:16:20

Way to run Sasha, congrats on negative split, your toughness will get you ready for your next races

From Dave Holt on Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 11:45:26

Sasha, very good job. I think you made the smart move when you decided to close the gap on the leaders at the end of mile 2 - then it was just Matt H. and I a ways back and that's not where you needed to be.

From Adam RW- on Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 15:01:01

Great report and great race. It was nice conversing with you on Friday and I think we both implemented some of that discussion in our races.

From James on Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 16:02:55

Solid race! It was very windy yesterday, so a good time considering. Did you get anything special for being the first Utah runner?

From Lybi on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 11:27:33

Happy Birthday, Sasha! Hope it is your BEST birthday ever. Here's to having a metabolic age of 12 for at least another decade!

From Christi on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 13:10:59

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I think its cool that you're thinking about running 35 miles on your BD!

From James on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 13:46:14

Wow 35! Happy Birthday! Now you are in the true elite age group for marathoners, what are you going to do about it?

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