Breaking the Wall

St. George Painters Half 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: 123.22 Year: 3048.88
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: 33.72
Race: St. George Painters Half Marathon (12.95 Miles) 01:10:29, Place overall: 3
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Raced Painters Half in 1:10:29, third place after Logan Fielding (1:08:57) and Nick McCombs (1:09:00). The course measured 12.91 on my GPS, 12.92 on Logan's and 12.95 on Ted's. Ted's never measures long. So for now we'll call it 12.95, given the fact that the start was about 0.15 further ahead of where Steve Hooper and other St. George guys thought it should have been. Details to follow later.

More details. Around 30 degrees at the start but it kept getting warmer. I called out for Mr. Little Bad Legs to identify himself. He did not hear me. Then Ted noticed his legs and pointed him out to me. About 1 minute into the race I found myself right next to him, we talked, and it was discovered that it was indeed Glen Tucker as Steve suspected. But I think the name Little Bad Legs is now going to stick. I love those 5:30 pace introductions. Incidentally, that is how I met Paul Petersen as well.

We started at a brisk but comfortable pace trading quarters. In addition to myself, Nick, Logan, Dave, Little Bad Legs, and Karl Wilcock, a talented high schooler that needs to run more miles, were in the pack. This was a perfect picture moment - four FRB team members in uniform in the lead pack with police escort.

Karl looked a bit scared, so we did not make him take his quarters. Everybody else did their turn up front religiously. We went through the first mile in 5:35, followed by a 5:31. Then we hit the downhill, and picked it up - 5:19. It flattened out, but Nick pressed the pace, and we ran a 5:24. Somewhere around there we lost Karl. Then Nick put some serious pressure up the little hill, he climbed it as if that hill was not there. This lost Little Bad Legs, and made Dave show some signs of struggle. I started hurting as well, but acted normal in response to pace changes.

Now we were on some rolling hills in the neighborhood, and Nick was pressing the pace relentlessly. 5:25 on the next mile which was uphill. That hurt. Now downhill. We are moving. Next mile in 5:11. Dave fell back a bit, Nick gapped me and Logan. I told Logan to go with Nick if he felt confident he could keep up, otherwise hang around with me for a while and trade quarters so we would not both end up in no man's land. He felt good enough to go with Nick.

As we hit the bridge coming off the downhill and charging hard, the 90 degree turn on an icy surface did wonders. Nick went down then quickly got up like a hockey player, Logan did exactly the same, Dave and I saw it and eased off enough to avoid their fate. Then Dave suggested we should close the gap. I told him it was a bad idea. That was all I had the breath for then, but here is the reason. In a half marathon you should almost never forcefully close the gap. There are a few exceptions - e.g if you think the competitor had just made a move he would not be able to sustain, or if you are approaching a section with strong headwind, or if you are within a mile and a half of the finish. In distances up to 10 K it is all about how bad you can hurt. In a half marathon, it is the opposite. Any pain that is past anaerobic threshold pain makes you run eventually slower, you pay for it.

So Dave and I traded quarters for another mile, then Dave fell back. We hit the Bloomington loop. It did not seem to have one flat spot - you were on a constant roller-coaster. I focused on running steady and naturally. Even though Dave was only a few seconds behind, I felt confident about my position due to the laws of nature. I knew that as long as I hit around 5:30 flat equivalent I was safe. There is something about half-marathons. Things rarely get better between 8 and the finish, and they definitely do not get better if you fall behind.

Hit 10 miles in 54:12 (by GPS, course mile markers were fairly consistently 0.15 short), so 26:59 for 5 miles, was quite happy with that. By that time I was also fairly certain that the course would be short. This made me lose focus a bit. I was not excited about running a fast time any more because I knew it would be about a minute fast. So from then on I was just coasting, just running naturally and not trying to fall asleep. Slowed down to about 5:35 pace once we got back on the trail. I think that section had a mild grade because going the other way the same effort gave me 5:20, and I did not feel I had lost that much steam. Lots of runners coming in the other direction, many of them were cheering. That was nice. However, dodging them was an interesting exercise in eye-leg coordination. I remembered a story my mission companion once told me about how while he worked as an EMT his boss made him drive an ambulance at 90mph on the wrong side of the freeway.

Finally made it to the finish, safe in 3rd place, but Dave made a heroic effort and closed the gap to 9 seconds.

Still had some miles left for the workout, decided to use them wisely. Ran back, paced every blogger I could find. Messed up a couple of times, and mistook two fast blonds for Marcie. She would have beaten them on a good day, but I did not realize she was struggling. So I paced two Marcie-looking runners for a while, and only afterwards realized that they were taller than 5-1! But on the bright side of things they got to see the blog commercial.

Total of 20.25 for the run.

P.M. 1.1 with Jenny and Julia in 11:09, then 2.2 with Benjamin in 17:15 in St. George on the 0.55 loop near Steve's house.

Night Sleep Time: 0.13Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.13
From Christi on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 00:16:21

CONGRATS on your 3rd place!! It was so awesome to see so many bloggies coming in the top of the race! Thanks so much for pushing me at the end and believing in me! I know I didn't seem appreciative, but I was. It was a fun weekend with the FRB. Looking forward to the next race!

From Mike Warren on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 00:22:25

Sasha, great race! Congrats on third place, very impressive time! It was nice to meet you at the party. Enjoy your stay at Steve's and travel home safe.

From Michelle on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 00:32:41

Sounds like a great time for the FBR today down in St.Goerge! Nice job to all of you guys and it sounds like you did a great job in bringing the other runners along the way too! Great work for the whole team!!!

From James W on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 00:49:34

Congrats on a great race, Sasha! Looks like even with the course measuring a bit short, you would have beaten your Sasha science prediction!

From Kim on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 10:36:21


Thank you so much for helping me the last mile and a half! I may have acted like I didn't like you and what you were doing for me, but you would be the first one to tell me that that was just negative thoughts that needed to be conquered! Now that the race is over I have thought about some of the things you said along the way and I will work on those things to help me do even better next time. The ta ta ta ta ta thing is making more sense now that I am a little more coherent. Thanks again! You and that cute, patient wife of yours are awesome!

From Tom on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 10:40:29

Great race Sasha. Ditto everything Kim said. That was great of you to help so many other runners in and help them finish strong after you were finished. Kind of reminded me a good shepherd helping bring all the FRB sheep safely home! Thanks for being the good shepherd of the blog.

From JohnK on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 11:48:10

Amazing to me that you ran so well after logging 20 miles each of the two previous days. I'm curious how much faster you think you might have run had you toed the line rested?

From Steve Hooper on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 11:49:03

Sasha, Great Job on your race! Another great Sasha performance. Keep it up!

It was also great seeing you and your family this weekend. You guys are welcome anytime.

From James on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 21:07:07

Impressive run. You are running stronger now than I have ever seen you run! I think those extra recovery days are paying off. Keep it up. I'll be down close now, so I'll have to hook up with you for some weekend runs.

From MarcieJ on Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 21:09:54

Nice Job Sasha! You had a great race! It was nice to meet you and your family and thanks for the push at the end of the race!

From wheakory on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 13:28:25

Nice race Sasha... sounds like trading quarters made the pace fast and interesting. How did you feel the last few miles finishing? Did you have a good kick towards the end? I know you always like to start out fast.

From Lybi on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 14:14:29

Great job Sasha! Very nice time. Was it close to your half PR?

I especially liked that you went back and ran in so many FR Bloggers. Very nice.

PS I am trying to substitute molasses for sugar. Unfortunately it tastes like crap. Trying to remember how the pioneers would have died to shluck down this stuff with their pancakes.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 16:48:07

Everybody, thanks for the comments.

John - I think I might have run it 30 seconds faster with a taper, but no more than that. I actually felt quite fresh throughout the race. 20 miles a day is really not that hard on your body when you are not doing any speed. Especially with all the snow on the roads that forces you to run 8:00 pace or slower for a good portion of the run. Essentially it is like a long relaxing hike.

Kory - I felt good at the end, the legs were a bit stale, but you would expect that at the end of a half marathon. Nothing unusual, I would say the last 3 miles felt better than normal. I kind of spaced out the kick, though. I was distracted by the shortness of the course, not feeling a threat from behind and not particularly caring about my time I zoned out, and by the time I realized it was time to kick, I was crossing the finish line.

Lybi - this was probably a PR quality run. My PR for an aided course is 1:07:03 in Hobble Creek, but you do not impress a race director with your Hobble Creek half PR any more than you do with your 8K time from Alta Peruvian. My PR for an unaided course is a big question. I think the closest I can get to claiming a non-aided PR is 1:12:09 split in Richmond in 2003. So had the course been certified, this could have produced an official non-aided PR to put on a resume, something around 1:11:25. Quality-wise, this run was probably worth 1:09:45 on a course like Houston.

Regarding the sweetener, try honey or maple syrup instead of molasses. Or some dry fruit like dates or raisins. Molasses on their own do not taste very good, but they give you a nice flavor when you mix them with something else.

From Brent on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 17:14:08

Sasha, 100 commando points for third place, 1,000 commando points for being the good shepard bringing your bloggers home, your spirit is the blog. Great race report as usual.

Sasha Science, should be a required running class, b of bs Rools out

From Sean on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 17:33:39

Nice job Sasha. It's really too bad they can't measure a course properly. It definitely puts a damper on things. Way to hang in there.

From Paul Petersen on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 17:52:18

Nice job. Bummer on the short course. Sounds suspiciously close to a block in length, kind of like the Striders 10-miler last year.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 17:56:41

We suspect that what happened is that they measured the course right, but then somebody messed up and started us in the wrong location. I am trying hard to communicate to the race directors that after the course has been measured due respect needs to be given to the start and the finish location, those cannot be moved on a whim!

From Paul Petersen on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 18:01:18

Yeah, it's pretty aggravating as a runner to run a PR effort and not get a PR out it. Fast times and good weather do not happen every day.

From Dustin on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 19:03:40

Good Job Saturday Sasha. It was fun watching you come by. The FRB had a good showing Saturday. Disappointing the half was short again, just like last year. The 5K was pretty close. I measured 3.08 on my Garmin, but I was trying to take the corners best I could.

From Patrick on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 19:11:31

Sasha: I thought I would send my congratulations along with many others. You had a great race and you are an amazing runner. Good luck!


From Craig on Tue, Jan 22, 2008 at 00:00:35


As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the race description. I have a high school kid across the street that lives in my ward named Kyle Moffet. He runs XC for Alta. He's 16 and ran a 1:16:XX time at this race. He said he was 2nd in his age and 7th overall, so I'm guessing he finished behind Karl Wilcock. This was his first long race, and he said it was the toughest thing he has ever done (running-wise). I know you have opinions on how high schoolers waste their talents. I don't know if you got the chance to meet him at this race, but I'd like to share some good advice with him from someone that has a closer eye on high school talent than I do. I'll tell him about the blog as well.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jan 22, 2008 at 16:33:14

Craig - I did not get to talk to Kyle, only to Karl. However, I noticed he had run a mile in 4:57 in a meet. Not sure if this is his PR. If he thinks a half-marathon is harder than an all-out mile, I would imagine he trains like most high-schoolers (I'd run a half over an all out mile any day). If that is indeed the case, there would be a lot of room for improvement. Tell him to get on the blog, and we'll see what can be done.

From Kyle Moffet on Mon, Feb 04, 2008 at 20:36:20

Hey, this is kyle. That was my first ever half. I really enjoyed it. As for my mile, i've run faster, however, I got phnemonia during the end of track. It was pretty bad. But since then i've sped up and I should be able to pull a sub 10 min. 3200. Do you have any advice for me? I'm racing 2 other boys in my division in the 2 mile this year and would love to be a little ahead of them.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Feb 04, 2008 at 23:29:19


Advice number one is to get on the blog. The advice is most meaningful when I can see the fine details of your training overtime.

You could be quite a bit ahead of a lot of high schoolers especially in the 3200 meters if you build a very thorough aerobic base and do a thorough job of consistently maintaining it throughout the year. I left some comments in Karl Wilcock's blog at

most of which will probably apply to you as well.

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