Breaking the Wall

Utah Valley 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: 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: Utah Valley Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:31:58, Place overall: 6
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Utah Valley Marathon, 2:31:58, 6th place. 

Lots of competition at the start. Four Kenyans, Peter Vail, Jacob Buhler who had an exceptional first marathon (2:24 for 3rd), Clyde, and Dave Holt among a number of runners I recognized at the start. I hooked up with Peter and he agreed to go out a bit slower so both of could have company for a while. Report mile by mile:

1 - 5:26 - with the lead pack (all Kenyans, Peter and Jacob). HR was around 145 due to the downhill (2.9% drop). Believe it or not, it was quite conversational. I was chattering away with Peter.

2 - 10:45 (5:19) - still with the pack, the grade is 2.5% down, felt harder but maintainable, HR was around 155. Still chatty, but not as much as the first mile.

3 - 16:08 (5:23) - The Kenyans had some kind of a discussion, then all of a sudden surged. I told Peter about how they did that to Seth in the Salt Lake Marathon in 2009 and made him run a 4:55 mile. He agreed it was not a good idea to surge with them so we dropped back. The grade was 1.5% drop, HR around 157. A bit too high, but I want to stay with Peter for as long as is reasonable, and 157 is still reasonable.

4 - 21:41 (5:33) - 0.9% grade down, HR 157, Peter is pulling me.

5 - 27:04 (5:23) - 1.4% grade down, HR starts visiting 160 but stays at 157. Still with Peter. Feeling OK, but I know I should be feeling this kind of OK in the marathon at mile 5. We passed a Kenyan. I think his name was Zack.

6 - 32:41 (5:37) - 0.7% grade down. Peter is edging to press it, but the pace is already too fast for me. So I tell him to go and back off. HR drops to 153.

7 - 39:06 (6:25) - 1.9% net  grade up, but rolling a lot. A lot of 6% grades, so a really slow mile.  The Course Tool thinks I actually hit it right on for my average pace even though it was 38 seconds slower than flat. HR stayed at 160 during the climbs and visited 163 mark briefly. I had not looked at the Course Tool prior to the race, so this came to me as a surprise. That is one place where it is easy to misjudge the grade. Plus it occurs at 5500 feet, which has an effect on how much of a hit you get from a given uphill grade. This ended up being the slowest mile of the race for me.

8 - 45:08 (6:02) - 0.2% net grade down, but again a lot of rolling with grades varying from 5% up to 5% down. The course tool says the right split for it would have been 6:07. HR is all over the place from 145 on the down to 160 on the up.

9 - 50:50 (5:42) - 3.1% grade down. HR did not crack 150. The Course Tool says it should have been 5:24. Probably was having a hard time shifting gears after the uphill grades earlier.

10 - 56:41 (5:51) - 0.1 % grade down on a roller coaster of grades varying from 4% up to 4% down, but mostly staying in the 2% up/down range. Got some rhythm. Do not remember the HR, but I imagine around 153-155. The Course Tool expected 6:06.

11 - 1:02:31 (5:50) - 0.7% drop on a roller coaster similar to mile 10.

12 - 1:08:30 (5:59) - 1.1% drop, the roller coaster continues. Right on with the Course Tool.

13 - 1:14:16 (5:46)  - 0.4% drop, more steady.  The Course Tool was confused there because of the tunnel.

Half - 1:14:53. Time to do some assessments. Given how I am feeling and that I did have to be aggressive to get this slow of a split, sub-2:30 is probably out of the question unless there is a strong and steady tailwind all the way combined with no crash, which is too much luck to ask for.  If I average 6:00 to the finish that gives me a high 2:33. I'll be OK with that. If there is a crash of average severity, I might not average 6:00 to the finish. So we are looking at 2:35, which is on the edge of being embarrassing. I'll just take it a mile at a time, and try to put as much gap on the 6:00 guy for the second half as possible, so I can still hold him off if I do crash. 2:33 will be better than embarrassing.

14 - 1:20:01 (5:45) -  1.2% down, more or less steady. Hey, that invites illusions of breaking 2:30, but in order to do that I would need to be as fresh in the last 6 miles as I am now. But still it is nice to think about being technically on pace for 2:30.

15 - 1:25:59 (5:58) - 1.4% steady up. This is exciting. Last year  the split on that mile was 6:02, and I was in a pack at mile 5 instead of being alone at mile 15. The course is different this year.

16 - 1:31:29 (5:30) - 3.4% steady down. Got going. Last year the split was 5:33.

17 - 1:37:01 (5:32) - 2.4% down with some rolling. Last year 5:25 on Jeff's initiative. Still technically on pace for sub-2:30, but the marathon has not yet started. 3 more miles to go before it starts. Marathon starts at 20. If you can get there ahead of pace without killing yourself, you get the privilege of the early start, and it does not count against you.

18 - 1:42:50 (5:49) - 1.2% down. Last year 5:34 on mile 8 in the same spot. The fatigue is starting to show.  But I am still sub-6:00 and with a couple of 5:30s in addition to not slipping over 6:00 on the uphill I have a good gap on the 6:00 guy for the second half. However, all it takes to lose it is a couple of 6:30s, which can still happen.

19 - 1:48:46 (5:56) - 1.1 % down. Last year 5:36. Still sub-6:00.

20 - 1:54:45 (5:59) - 0.9 % down. Last year 5:40 on the matching mile 10. The long anticipated start of the marathon. One thing I do not like about marathons is that it takes almost two hours of running before the race begins. You can really psych yourself out with the anticipation. If you hurry to get there, you might end up too tired to race and perform poorly in spite of the head start. If you take your time, you can get there fresh, but the race will have already started without you.

Time to assess again. Last year split at 20 miles was 1:55:50 and the preceding mile was 6:19. This year things look more promising. The split is a good minute faster, the pace is 20 seconds per mile faster, and we drop 290 feet in the last 10 K at a fairly steady grade with only two minor climbs, one by the Country Club and one on the bridge in the last mile. So it will be faster than 2:35:46, but by how much? Sub 2:30 by now is impossible. I will need to run a 35:15 10 K, which is not happening if an honest effort is giving me barely sub-6:00 at this point. However, something like a 38:00 while challenging is still realistic. That would give me high 2:32 which would be not too far off my prediction of 2:32:00 on the message board. I decided to set a goal of hitting at least one mile in the "zone" under 6:00. Then hopefully the momentum will carry me through something like a 6:10, and maybe one more. Then I will smell the barn, and give it a good push, and maybe the slowdown could be stalled. Still not quite 38:00 for the last 10 K, but worth a try.

21 - 2:00:40 (5:55) - 1.3 % down. Goal met. Let's do one more. By this time I started to catch the half marathoners and they served as easy targets. Every little bit helps in the "zone". Zero in on a runner ahead of you. One nice thing is that unlike when you race your competition he always comes to you at a fast rate, and then there is another to zero in on. You can even fancy that a runner ahead of you has blown up and you are moving up a place. So you are easily meeting the goals and that helps you keep the spirits up when the blood sugar is down.

22 - 2:06:37 (5:57) - 1.2 % down. Another sub-6:00. Encouraging, but do not get a big head over it. Still 4 miles to go and the blow up can be spectacular. Doing some crazy math. If I average 7:30 to the finish, this gives me 2:37. That would be embarrassing. But I am not likely to average 7:30, I always drop gradually. So let's say I average 7:00. That would be 2:35. I like that better, especially since I am not going to average 7:00, at least I am a good minute faster than that pace right now and I am feeling quite strong. OK, let's try another one under 6:10.

23 - 2:12:40 (6:03) - 0.5% net down, but with a climb by the Country Club. Better than expected. Do I have another good mile in me? How about a good 5 K? Hey, 20:00 5 K gives me a low 2:33, and by now I am feeling quite confident I could run a 20:00 5 K.

24 - 2:18:41 (6:01) - 1.3% down. On pace for a sub-19:00 5 K, but still 2 miles to go.

25 - 2:24:44 (6:03) - 0.7% down. During this mile a police officer underestimated my speed and thought a car could safely cross in front of me. It did make it, but it was a bit too close for comfort. So he commented about his mistake. I'll take his mistake as a compliment, especially during mile 25.

26 - 2:30:43 (5:59) - 0.7 % net down with the bridge. When I saw my split at 25 I thought that I needed to give it an earnest to push to break 2:32 or else I would be cursing myself for running something like 2:32:05 for the next two months. Two days ago I played in a chess tournament with an HRM (now you have to be a geek to play chess at all, geek squared to play in in a tournament, but to play it in a tournament with an HRM is more than a geek cubed, it has to be something like egeek

). I noticed that my HR goes up as high as 90 on some moves while normally when I am sitting down in the evening on a warm day it hovers between 57 and 65. So I knew how I could get some adrenaline. I thought about a tournament game I played two weeks ago against a player that was rated 200 points above me. I was a bishop up, and had a mate threat that he could only stop by sacrificing his rook. So in essence I had a win in the bag. But unlike running, one mistake is fatal. I improperly captured his rook, lost my queen, lost my rook, and ended up playing queen against a bishop which resulted in a loss. This did the job. HR hit 160 on the bridge, and I was moving.

Kick - 1:15 (5:52 pace) - 2:31:58 at the finish. The results have not yet been posted, but the finishing order from what I gathered was two Kenyans, Jacob Buhler, Peter Vail, another Kenyan, then me, Dave Holt and Clyde.

The time is the fastest I've run since 2007. It was nice to break a dry spell of pour marathon performances. It was also my marathon debut in clogs. I am pleased to report that aside from some minor slipping on wet uphills there were absolutely no issues - no blisters, foot pain, etc. So I have proven that a sub-2:32 marathon can be done in a $10 pair of clogs bought at Walgreens. Of course, Abebe Bikila proved in 1960 Olympics that a 2:15 marathon can be run barefoot, shoe cost being zero. Indeed, it is not the shoe that makes the runner. I was also happy that my second half was decent (1:17:05), and my last 10 K (the real part of the marathon) was 1 minute faster than my optimistic goal at 20 (37:13).

Update - results are at  Stride Racing

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:55. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:24. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:36.


Eva Clogs Pirate Miles: 29.77
Night Sleep Time: 6.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 6.00
From artichoke on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 19:44:34 from

Now that was a GREAT race report! Congratulations on a great time and great finish.

From Toby on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 19:52:59 from

Fantastic race report!

From Kelli on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 20:50:52 from

Very interesting race report, I can not believe how much you are able to think while you run. I do math in my head to keep my going, but it is much simpler. Wow, you really think through things, impressive how your brain works.

Great race, nice kick.

OH, I liked the comment about how a marathon does not even start until mile 20. SO TRUE.

From Dragonvulture on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:11:31 from

Congrats on the great race. Love the amount of detail you remember about everything during your race.

From Lindsey Dunkley on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:20:12 from

Seriously can't believe you ran that time, in clogs none the less. Way to get your PR since 2007. Great race report, awesome race!

From Superfly on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:47:59 from

Good race Sasha. I could tell you were feeling good today as you went out pretty strong and then we never saw you again. Way to finish it off too. Hopefully Dave and I will get ourselves ready to "race" with you again.

From jtshad on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:51:57 from

Great race, nice and steady! Good to hear you had such a great result and are getting back into your groove!

From Little Bad Legs on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:59:17 from

I think that's the first race report that included a reference to a chess tournament. Great race, as usual.

From Steve on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 21:59:36 from

So nice to see you running that speed again! I was a great fan of yours from the TOU days!

From Burt on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 22:08:04 from

Great job Sasha. I'll let Bonnie run the stats on how geeky you are. But with that kind of speed it's excusable.

From Paul on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 23:19:52 from

Good job on fastest-ever clog marathon time.

From Tom on Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 23:35:45 from

Great job on the race today Sasha. And nice talking to you and Sarah afterward.

So after running it, how do you think UVM compares to SGM, TOU, and Ogden in terms of fastness of the course?

From Jon on Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 00:27:21 from

Sub-2:32 in clogs! Nice job.

From James on Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 00:59:18 from

That was a great race for you, your best in years from what I have seen. Nice job!

From seeaprilrun on Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 09:33:29 from

Congratulations on a good race and a return to form!

From Walter on Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 10:28:48 from

Sasha, that was a great run! Watching you take off so fast like that and being able to stay at a 6 pace for those last 6 miles is very strong! I felt good to mile 20 and my give a damn was busted after that. I think its amazing how the Kenyan runners can run in a group like that and then do the "wink" at each other and then pick the pace up to drop unsuspected runners.

From ChrisM on Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 12:18:09 from

Nice one Sasha! Great to run a fastest time since '07 too. I am impressed how much you think and can then remember afterwards to put in the blog!

I am guessing you still wear socks with the clogs?

From Holt on Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 17:06:39 from

Good job Sasha.

From Mark on Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 21:54:13 from

Great job Sasha! Nice to see the clogs work out so well, maybe you can get a sponsorship from Walgreens?

From Mike Warren on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 10:53:55 from

Nice race Sasha!

From James W on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 11:39:42 from

Good job, Sasha, your comment about the geekiness of chess cracked me up - even more so about wearing a HRM while playing in a chess tournament! I also wonder what was going through the minds of the other non-FRB elites when they saw you toeing the line with clogs . . .

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 12:40:13 from

Everybody, thanks for the comments. Tom - after proper crazy grade corrections the Course Tool thinks this course is about 2:00 slower than Ogden, and tend to agree with it more or less. I figure the second half is almost identical to the second half of Ogden, but the first half in and of itself is slower by maybe a minute - minute and a half. The other minute to 30 seconds comes from the residual fatigue from the hills between 6 and 8. There are way too many 6% grades between 6 and 10. Thus we end up with a total of 1000+ feet of elevation gain, and this kills all of the benefits of the extra 300 feet of elevation drop. Plus you hit those grades at 5500 feet, while Ogden grades are hit at "only" 5000. So it is not surprising that the Kenyans failed to crack to 2:20 in spite of having every reason to do so and giving it their very best try.

Compared to Top of Utah - I have not done the numerical analysis, but I do feel that I would have quite comfortably hit a low 1:12 first half had this been TOU even without the trademarked TOU tailwind. With it probably 1:11. Then second half in 1:17 does sound feasible. Less elevation drop, but pretty good tail wind from 13 to 15, and the lack of uphill from 6 to 10 would have left me with more energy. But the only way to prove it is to race TOU while in the same shape, which is the plan. Hopefully better shape, though.

Chris - yes, socks are a necessity, you get bad blisters otherwise.

From LuzyLew on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 19:29:25 from

Congratulations Sasha. Your report was exciting and inspiring; Made more so because you were happy in your accomplishment. This report is now one of my favorites. After these many years of seeing you run in clogs, or five fingers, I always want to tell you this story: There was a struggling, hardworking black singer/actress in the 1950's named Junior Drake. At an Oscar ‘after party’ in Hollywood she was noticed by a director who walked up to her and said : THAT, is a fabulous dress! To which she replied: Honey, it's not the dress, it's the girl. So for your many racing accomplishments over all these amazing years I'd like to add: it's definitely not the shoes. Thanks for keeping us inspired, and for giving us the FRB.

From fly on the Wall on Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 13:18:25 from

Congratulations on breaking your dry spell.

I'm curious, I think of clogs as wooden soled shoes without laces. I can't imagine you ran in wooden shoes. What are "clogs?"

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 15:27:41 from

We live in a world of trademarks. So a company that is not Crocs that makes crocs has to call those shoes by some other name. It seems that the competition of Crocs settled on the term "clogs", which I use in the blog to distinguish them from the brand name Crocs and to point out that I am not using the brand. I think we would all benefit if we learned to focus on the essence of the product instead of on how it is marketed. Of course one side effect would be that we would have something like 40% unemployment at first :-)

From Cam on Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 04:59:45 from

Sasha, I ran this race and got really bad blisters and eventually bloody feet due to the rain. Did you have no water/feet issues?

From Sasha Pachev on Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 19:10:06 from

Cam, no not at all.

From Burt on Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 18:07:37 from

Sasha, did anybody ever tell you that you are hot? Well, this race report is anyway.

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