Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fun with Numbers

It is no secret to my good friends that I enjoy stats. My running log is a veritable cornucopia of graphs and charts and numbers. I often delve over the numbers on my list of all time marathons as if it is some code that I need the German Enigma device to break. Lest you think I am kidding, take a gander at my charts which shows my lifetime marathons in chronological order.

Recently on a run, I was thinking about some of my most recent marathons. So far in 2008, I have had 5 marathons, listed below. (The 4th column shows, out of my 77 lifetime marathons, where that specific marathon ranks).

01.20.08...Carlsbad Marathon......21...3:09:50
03.29.08...National Marathon......1....2:51:49
04.12.08...Utah Valley Marathon...5...2:58:48
04.21.08...Boston Marathon.........8...3:01:48
04.27.08...Hangang Marathon......3...2:56:48

I already knew that in 14 days I ran my 5th, 8th and 3rd fastest times ever. But something else was there that I couldn't but my finger on. Then it hit me. The seconds!

In 5 marathons this year, which have had a range of 18 total minutes, the seconds have been nearly identical. Three races ended in :48, one in :49 and one in :50. With every one of those races being a chipped time race, it was nearly impossible for me to have planned that coincidence. I don't know exactly when I crossed the starting mats for each one of those races and as such could only use the finishing clock to gauge an approximate guess even if I WANTED to try and match seconds.

Believe me, I know this is not ground-breaking. This is just the sorta of thing that is fun to take your mind off a run or whatever else may be bothering you.

For example, another time I was doing a sorting of my races. I knew that the Leadville Marathon, ran in 5:17 for me, was the slowest time I had ever (and hopefully WILL ever) run. But for some reason it was only listed in my tables as being the 76th fastest race and not the 77th. I poured over the data, played with all kinds of sorting techniques and then it finally hit me. I had run two marathons in the exact same time.

The Carlsbad Marathon with its 3:09:50 earlier this year

tied my first ever Boston Qualifying time from 2005 for 21st fastest overall. And it was pretty close to being 3 years to the day (01.09.05 and 01.20.08)

As such, sorting-wise, Leadville was indeed the 76th fastest.

While I sometimes lament the fact that running so many marathons has skewed my overall average time to be much slower than it could be, I absolutely love that my sample size of marathons gives me so much data to play with. My best friend Anne always use to shake her head when I poured over these numbers. Recently, she decided to begin training for a half marathon in the late summer. She sent me an email that contained her first day of stats on the track. The contained split times for a ladder that she had completed on the track.

I told her that was about the sexiest thing I had ever received in an email.

1 comment:

Anne C said...

You like that, baby? I'll type them slower next time...