Breaking the Wall

Salt Lake Track Club 5 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: 151.02 Year: 151.02
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: Salt Lake Track Club 5 K (3.107 Miles) 00:17:37, Place overall: 13, Place in age division: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance


Post race picture:

Fast Running Friend Workout - 2015-01-31 09:31:56
Workout Totals: Distance13.307Time1:39:06.80Pace7:26.89
Today we ran the Salt Lake City Track Club 5 K. There were eight of us - Sarah, myself, and our oldest six children with ages ranging from 6 to 15. We averaged 22:13. This would probably be a record of this kind if such records were kept - average 5 K time on the same day for at least eight immediate family members with both biological parents running and the mother having given birth to nine, the youngest being four months old. I suppose since we do not know of anybody else keeping such records we could - if anybody knows of any family that has achieved some kind of a decent group performance time in spite of a challenging age distribution, use either the comment or the feedback form to report it. Right now the rules are a little fuzzy, but we will formalize them as we go. We need to have a lot of categories - e.g. if you require the mother of many children to run that changes the game because by the time she had given birth to all of them and raised them to maturity it would be very hard for her to run a time that does not drag the average down a lot.

Conditions were windy today, so I estimate this produced a slowdown of anywhere between 20-30 seconds.

Report on each family member in the finishing order:

Benjamin - 15 years old, turning 16 next month. 16:13, 3rd overall after Anthony Costales (15:30), and Jason Holt (15:43). Beat Fritz Van De Kamp for the first time in his life. Fritz was not having his best race, but it was not his worst either. Benjamin's splits were 4:59, 5:25, and 5:49 for 1.107 which is 5:15. His last 1 K was 3:07 which would not have been so decisive if had it not been into a fairly strong headwind. For a comparison, all I could do for the last 1 K was 3:37. Fritz did 3:32, Jon Gauthier did 3:21. Jason Holt was only 1 second faster than Benjamin over the last 1.107.

First time that I remember in my 15+ years of experience with Utah LDR Circuit races that somebody 15 or under made the podium in a circuit race.

Myself, age 41 - 17:37, 13th overall, 3rd master. Splits 5:17, 5:47, 6:33 for the last 1.107 - 5:55 pace. Craig Green won the masters with 16:47, Dan (2nd place) ran 17:25. Even though I slowed down a lot into the headwind I got passed by only one person which was around the 3 mile mark, and I was able to latch on to him and finish maybe only a second behind while we closed on some other runners in front of us. So the slow down in the quality of effort was perhaps not that drastic as there were plenty of relatively strong runners behind that would have passed me otherwise.

Jacob, age 8 - 21:12, 1st in 1-14 division. Experienced a cold in the week prior to the race, but recovered enough to be competitive. Opened with 6:34 mile, then somewhere around 6:50 for the second, which makes it 7:48 for the last 1.107 - 7:02 pace, quite respectable for an 8 year old into that headwind. I saw him twice - once while I was racing, and the second time when I was running back to meet Sarah. He looked smooth both times.

Joseph, age 10 - 22:04, 2nd in 1-14 division. For him this was a lesson in humility. He was recovering from his bike accident 11 days ago in which he punctured his upper quad, lost a good amount of blood, got 7 stitches, could not walk for 2 days, and could not run without a serious limp until Wednesday. His biomechanics were still affected, and I could tell that he had lost some endurance largely due to the lost blood, and possibly also as a result of inactivity when he could not walk. So considering all things, this was a miraculous performance. However, Joseph had to deal with the fact that his younger brother Jacob beat him. This had never happened before. Joseph has a problem with unhealthy addictive sibling rivalry. Perhaps this experience will teach him to make some adjustments in the way he thinks and make him a more healthy competitor.

Julia, age 12 - 22:54. First in 1-14 division. Her opening mile was 7:00, do not know her other splits. This was a significant accomplishment for her. She has had to reduce mileage over the last couple of weeks due to a cold. Over the last few years she has struggled with anemia - now she is able to control it with an iron supplement and a diet focusing on iron. She also has some kind of a condition that nobody has been able to diagnose that makes her not function well unless she gets 12 hours of sleep at night.

Jenny, age 14 - 22:55. Opening mile 6:55, then Julia passed her and gapped her, but Jenny closed most of the gap with a strong kick, but ran out of road. This performance is a significant achievement for Jenny. She has struggled with anemia as well, and has just barely began to come out of it with the help of a supplement and dietary modifications. We are learning something about girls. They naturally tend to eat like a mouse when they need to be eating like a lion. Especially if they are training while going through puberty. That skill needs to be taught, few girls have it naturally. Jenny also has struggled with the feeling of panic when the pace gets fast and her breathing goes out of control. She dealt with it by thoroughly studying Elder Holland's talk "Lord I believe" and thinking of it whenever she felt that feeling during the race.

William, age 6 - 27:02. This was a great result for him, I thought. From his training I knew he could run under 26 on an ideal course, and 100% healthy. He had just barely recovered from a cold, and he is very sensitive to respiratory obstructions - they drive him nuts, when he finds anything in his nose he blows it like crazy for a long time. To make things more difficult, he has a very dramatic personality. It is a miracle that we have been able to convince him to run every day, I think this has taught me how to get anybody to run. So now under those circumstances he goes out and races a 5 K running the second half into a tough headwind that humbles the strongest runners in the state, and he does it alone without a parent or sibling being by his side to pace him or block the wind for most of the way - except for the last half mile when Benjamin came back to him. Somehow William pulled it off. Before the race I asked him what he wanted for his prize and he said three bottles of honey. I think that helped him deal with the adversity, and he courageously toughed it out.

Sarah, age 39 - 27:50. Sarah has given birth to nine children. Our youngest, Mary, is only 4 months old. That alone would make racing tough, but on top of that she picked up a cold a couple of weeks ago. She had not been able to shake the respiratory symptoms until about three days ago, but there was another twist to this. Even a simple cold puts a lot of stress on the hormonal system. It is common for a runner to experience the flat feeling when running hard after a cold for a couple of weeks even after the fever and the respiratory problems are long gone. For a woman that has recently had her ninth child this takes on a different dimension. Sarah felt sudden onsets of fatigue, sometimes lasting several hours over the last couple of weeks. She reduced her training to accommodate, and tried resting more, but ultimately she just has to let it run its course. She was still not 100% over it today, but she was able to deal with it and run a decent time. I ran back to her after I finished my race and paced her for the last half mile or so.
Leg 1:Distance2.500Time19:11.90Pace7:40.76
Warm-up with Benjamin.
Leg 2:Distance4.307Time27:56.50Pace6:29.25
Split 1:Distance3.107Time17:38.00Pace5:40.52
My race.
Split 2:Distance1.200Time10:18.50Pace8:35.42
Back to Sarah, and then paced her.
Leg 3:Distance3.000Time24:29.90Pace8:09.97
With Benjamin.
Leg 4:Distance3.000Time22:31.70Pace7:30.57
Leg 5:Distance0.500Time4:56.80Pace9:53.60
With Stephen.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From SlowJoe on Sun, Feb 01, 2015 at 07:30:02 from

This is pretty awesome -- what do the shirts say?

From Fritz on Sun, Feb 01, 2015 at 10:43:53 from

Congrats to Benjamin. He ran a smart race and closed very well. I will try to end his winning streak at the 10k :)

From Tina on Sun, Feb 01, 2015 at 14:14:21 from

I grew up in northwest PA and I remember the Christiansen family from Greenville all running pretty fast times back in the late 90s/early 2000s. Here's one 5k with 6 kids (ages 5-17) and two parents. Times ranged from 17-24.

I'm too lazy to calculate the average, but all were under 20:30 except mom and 5 year old who ran 24. But I doubt the mom gave birth 4 months before this race and it was at sea level and who knows if it was a certified course.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 at 07:34:42 from

Joe - the shirts say "It runs in the family"

Fritz - I talked to Benjamin and he accepted your challenge.

Tina - thanks for the info. I have contacted the father (Joshua Christiansen) and am waiting to get the details. In the meantime I calculated the average using Linux command line one-liner like this:

curl 2>/dev/null | grep Christiansen | perl -ne '/(\d\d):(\d\d)/; $t += 60*$1+$2; $n++; $t_a = $t/$n; $s = $t_a % 60; $m = ($t_a-$s)/60; printf("%02d:%02d\n", $m, $s)' | tail -1

and it gave me 20:06.

From Tom K on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 at 08:29:13 from

Well done, Pachev Family! Amazing family record! Also, there's a lot of Crocs in that picture.

From steve ash on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 at 09:12:41 from

Pretty cool to get the whole family out there. Congrats to Benjamin for a well run race.

From fiddy on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 at 10:09:53 from

I imagine the garritsons still have you guys beat.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 at 11:12:20 from

So I got some info from Joshua Christiansen. They have seven children. Their fastest average with eight people running (including mom and dad) is 18:50 ( Fastest average with nine people 18:58 (

So we can still claim the record in the division that requires the running mother to have given birth to at least nine children. We will work on taking down the mom/dad/six kids and mom/dad/seven kids marks. We need to get closer first. I did some estimates and I think we can hit 20:30 in Draper Days.

James - will do research on the Garritsons. In the mean time do you have any references/contact info on them?

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 at 11:28:15 from

James - from what I have found it does not appear the Garritsons would qualify. There is no record, and from the descriptions of the family in various sources it does not appear likely that the family would ever have raced a 5 K together with the father and the mother participating.

The nature of the challenge is not just raising fast kids, but rather - can you keep the father and the mother fit (and together for that matter) while the fast kids are being raised.

From fiddy on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 at 11:32:55 from

Yeah this was back in the '80s so I can only find some fairly vague articles. There was another family more recently and one of the daughters went on to some good open times, I'm blanking on the name, but the family maintained a website.

From Smooth on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 at 12:42:11 from

What an amazing family! Congratulations! You are all AWESOME!!! :)

From Tom on Mon, Feb 09, 2015 at 18:04:11 from

Sasha I just read the article in the Des News that Amy Donaldson wrote and enjoyed it a lot. Great job to you and Sarah and the kids on the race, I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty of your family on the leader board of races for many years to come.

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