Breaking the Wall

St. George 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: 291.02 Year: 1935.71
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: 805.63
Race: St. George Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:25:32, Place overall: 8, Place in age division: 1
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

St. George Marathon - quick update. 2:25:32, 8th place. First half 1:12:40, second 1:12:52. James Lander won with 2:18:24. Steve Frisone second in 2:21:56.

More to follow later.

Now the details. Stayed overnight at Dustin's in-laws cabin in Pine Valley with Dustin, Bill (Wild Bull), and Steve Hooper. Got to the start, warmed up. Lined up at the start.

Wore the Training Toy (Garmin 305) with HRM. Auto-split every quarter. As I predicted, the field was full trouble. Soon a pack of 5 formed - James Lander (2:21:06 PR in Chicago 2005 until today), Steve Frisone (2:24:31 St. George 2004), Dave Danly (debut, 29 minute 10 K runner), and Keven Stover (2:24:32 Austin 2006). We hit a couple of miles a bit under 5:30, and then as we started going downhill the pace picked up to about 5:15. 5 miles in 26:53. The pace felt comfortable, HR was around 153. Approaching Veyo the grade got a bit steeper with the miles in 5:09 and 5:14. 7 miles in 37:16.

Now the fun part starts. Next quarter in 1:19, still down. Then 1:24 slightly up, HR climbs to 159. 1:28 even more up, HR at 163. Dave Danly pushed a bit, and I went with him knowing I needed a bit of a buffer from the other runners as we approached the section with the 7% grade climb. Although my legs are strong, biomechanically I have a disadvantage relative to other runners as the grade gets steeper, while at the same time I approach a more normal running form on a steep downhill grade while other runners start suffering from the pounding.

Now I am feeling strained. HR hits 166. Working too hard. I eased off. Next quarter in 1:46 which gives me 5:57 for the Veyo mile. James and Steve went by, and I did not feel like I could latch on.

Next quarter in 1:39 with HR of 165. We are still not out of the woods. One more in 1:29 HR dropping to 162, now a litte better.

Kevin caught me, and I latched on right behind him. Next mile in 5:48. 10 miles in 54:47 (5:42), not bad for the climb, HR staying around 160, Kevin is pulling me. Another mile in 5:56, followed by 5:36, now the grade eased off. HR dropping to 156. Next mile in 5:26, to get 1:11:45 at 13, HR hovering between 153 and 156. I believe the half mark was in the wrong place. The Toy always beeped no more than 5 seconds away from any mile marker, so I am fairly confident about my 13 mile split. Yet at the half mark the clock said 1:12:40, while it should have been more like 1:12:20-1:12:25. Come to think of it, I actually remember the last year having the same problem - took way too long to get to the half mark from 13 miles.

Next mile in 5:26 going slightly down. And now we are headed for fun. The Snow Canyon downhill dash/ if you havent' practiced downhill running quad bash. Next mile in 5:11 (1:22:22 at 15). HR stays around 154.

Now Charles Wallace has caught us. I latched on behind him and pulled away from Kevin. However, towards the end of the downhill, I was a bit low on fuel, and backed off the pace. Kevin passed me.

As hard as I tried to avoid the bathroom problem, here it comes - all the downhill running shook things up. So I made a very efficient stop hitting a 1:27 quarter without stopping my watch.

Mike Vick passed me as if I were standing. He was having a great race. There goes the prize for first from the Utah County, if they are giving one this year. I still have not gotten mine from the last year, and heard no announcements that they were planning to continue the tradition.

Handled the climb between 18 an 19 OK with the slowest quarter in 1:31, HR at 156. Too low for the climb, shows that I am a bit out of fuel, but not too bad. 19th mile in 5:57, 1:50:25 according to the Toy, and 1:50:29 officially at 20 miles, the 20th mile in 5:31, HR at 152.

PR is still possible, but difficult. I'll need to run a low 34 minute last 10 K.

Next mile in 5:23, downhill. Neal Gassman passed me, and he was doing great. From 21 to 22 in 5:44, mostly down, but about a quarter of up, which made it slow. 23rd mile in 5:30, down, not too bad, HR at 153.

Next mile in 5:37. It was mostly down, but caught a flat portion as we turned the corner on the Diagonal. Next mile in 5:46, a slight down with about a quarter of up. A few turns. I do not like the change in the course. The old way you went down all the way and it did not break your rhythm. Then it was flat for the last mile, which you could also run with good rhythm. Now the turns and the changes in the terrain make you shift gears at the point in the race where you really are not fit to do it.

5:56 from 25 to 26, essentially flat, a couple of turns. 1:15 from 26 to the finish. 2:25:32, 8th place, missed PR by 45 seconds, but happy with the performance. 5th marathon of the year with the slowest 2:35:20 as a training run.

James Lander 2:18:25, Steve Frisone 2:21:55 (congratulations on qualifying), Dave Danly 2:22:04 (good work for a debut, but it sure hurts watching the clock tick for the last 4 seconds), Mike Vick 2:23:24 (exceptional debut), Charles Wallace 2:23:54 (congrats on a PR), Neal Gassman 2:24:01 (what a breakthrough, but it is about time), Kevin Stover 2:24:08 (good effort).

Congratulations to Randy McDermott (2:28:55), Dave Weiler (2:28:59), Clyde (2:36:12), Chad (2:37:52), Jed Burton (2:38:02), Bill Cobler (2:38:32), Dustin (2:46:13), Andy (3:06:00), Steve Hillam (3:10:23, BQ) and Kerry (3:31:49 BQ) on setting their PRs.

Ran with the kids in the evening, over 28 miles for the day.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Paul Petersen on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 10:43:18

Nice race Sasha! What's next on the schedule for you?

From Andy on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 11:22:20

Very well run race. I agree with you about the course change. I didn't care for it. Did you like racing with the Toy? I have decided to stop racing with mine becausee of the information overload.

From Superfly on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 11:26:33

Sasha good job on Saturday. I tryed to keep the lights of the lead car in view until Veyo. I knew that behind those lights were you and the other top guns.

Thanks for the blog. I think had I not started blogging I'd maybe had ran a 2:45. The blogging helped me in a lot of areas.

Over the weekend I thought of a couple of things that could help the site get more frequent hits.

1. Make the front page more inviting- use the word "FREE" around the registration, and make things as user friendly as possible for someone who may be setting up a blog.

2. Do more race advertising. I wasn't sure what you'd do at STGM to get the name out there but you could do more. Maybe just wearing a tee shirt on the podium with "" would be helpful. So anyway some type of advertising at races would bring 5-10 people a race at least.

Those are just a couple things I'd try. Someone else could piggy back off my ideas and advance them even more.

From Nick on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 12:26:45

Nice job! Only 45 seconds off of your PR shows that you definitely ran a good race!

From Cody on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 12:40:05

Nice Run Sasha!!

I love having the details and commentary that you share in the blog. That is my favorite part of reading everyone's blog. I am very impressed with the effort you put into your races and training. What an inspiration! Keep up the good work. I love Dustin's idea about the advertising with t-shirts or other gimmicks. I would be able to help advertise up here in Logan if I had something to give out like key-chains or some other dorky thing that will help people remember the blog's address. I am sure that Paul would help out up here as well. For that matter, it could be a volunteer thing that the current bloggers could "recruit" at all the local races they attend. We just need to find a cheap item to mass produce to spread the word.

From Dustin Ence on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 13:02:02

Great job on the race Sasha. There were definately some fast guys up there with you. It was also nice getting to know you a little better up at the cabin. We'll have to have some of you guys from up north come down and stay a week up there in Pine Valley and have a running camp. Like Clyde mentioned wanted to thank you for the fastrunningblog, it has helped me to stay motivated, plus I have gotten some good training tips. As time allows I'm sure the blog will get bigger and better with even more features. I don't have a personal website, so I have really enjoyed having a blogspot, I know many of my friends and relatives have looked at the site and I think it would be cool to be able to post more photos, especially from races along with maybe more links to recent race results. Another idea or feature that might be helpful would be having bloggers organized by city, or region, or running club they train with. I know I enjoy reading as many of the blogs as I can, but most of the time I really try to focus and comment on those guys that I have been training with or following closely. Also liked the idea of trying to help you advertise in anyway possible.

From Mike on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 13:52:21

Good job Sasha. I didn't get to talk to you much at the finish because I was looking for my family. I found them after noon. I look forward to doing some runs with you after I recover.

From Dallen on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 14:27:47

Nice race!

I still think that if you would taper a little more and skip Top of Utah, you could run a qualifier next year. You've got to put all of your eggs in one basket.

From Zack on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 16:07:39

Great race, amazing you can recall what you are doing the enitre run, I just suffer & keep putting one foot in front of the other!!!

From Paul Thomas on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 21:53:47

Awesome race, Sasha! Thanks for blogging, and allowing the rest of us to also blog. Getting glimpses into the minds and training of you and the other awesome runners that blog here is very interesting and helpful, and the comments I've received have been helpful and inspiring. I can't boast a new marathon PR this year (like so many other fastrunningbloggers can) but I still feel this is my best year since returning to running three years ago (after 20 years off), and I give much of the credit to this blog site. I look forward to continued improvement in the years to come, and wish you and the other bloggers the same. Thanks.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Oct 09, 2006 at 22:08:56

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Paul - the schedule really depends on how my spine responds to the correction treatment. If it does so well enough in the next couple of months, I might be looking for a sea-level marathon on a non-Sunday that pays well. If not, my next marathon will be Ogden.

Andy - I found The Toy to be very helpful, especially in the last miles. It beeped every quarter giving me a split, and seeing I was still sub-6:00 on a flat section while in The Zone was very comforting. Watching the pace and the HR, along with paying attention to how I felt, helped me detect being out of fuel earlier, and focus on refueling before it turned into a more severe problem. I configured The Toy to show me only what I needed - overall time, total distance, current HR, and beep every quarter with an auto-split and a message. Current speed with a GPS is sufficiently unreliable to be useless. However, quarter splits are very accurate with the error of no more than 2 seconds which does not accumulate overtime - if one quarter happened to be 2 seconds faster, then next one will be 2 seconds slower to make up.

Cody, Dustin, Clyde - great ideas on the Fast Running Blog promotion. Let's start simple - when you think of it, print out a few small Fast Running Blog flyers of your own make and print them out. Include your blog address in your e-mail signature. Occasionally e-mail your running friends explaining the value of the Blog and inviting them to join. I will work on making the site more user-friendly and adding new features on my end.

Dallen - I have previously explained my position regarding keying for St. George. In essence, I believe if you have to key for St. George to qualify, you have no business in the Trials to begin with. But I'll take 2:25 with all the perks that come with it for another 3 years if it comes to me through the natural course of my racing and without missing other opportunities.

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