Sunday, September 16, 2012

The 9 minute 1/2 mile

I still have not broken the 18 minute mile consistently; I can average it but not maintain it (there is always one set that runs a shave longer & one or two that run so much shorter).  I am still doing walking intervals every 4, 5, 6, 7 8 or 9 minutes though, so that probably explains the drag.  What I do know is that the two quickest half miles are absolutely covered in 9 minutes or less....each.

I realize of course that predicting the miles in general by the fastest half mile is absurd.  A funny thing about that--many many years ago (yes, we can say decades) I was briefly involved in collecting data about how children learn (specifically how they learn to express themselves).  My end of things was interviews designed (not by me) to elicit precisely the same response in terms of perspective, but record the different ways it was expressed.  By the parents.  I asked questions & parents answered knowing full well they were being recorded & these recordings would be seen & heard by the people who cared for their children & so, naturally, we expected lies about the home routine & BOY-O-BOY did we get them.  Seriously parents, the people who take care of your kids upwards of 4 hours a day know more about your life, including details of your sex life, than you do; they don't WANT to know, it just happens.  There is almost no point in telling these people anything that isn't true..

That is all an aside.  I am more interested these days in the data collection that was going on in the next office & by "office" I mean cubicle & by "next" I mean we shared a computer table that had a cardboard screen propped between the two monitors; our chairs were side-by-side.  There was roughly the level of privacy between us as there is between your child & the person changing your child's diaper.

What they were tracking was standardized test scores.  In those days, standardized tests were just a blip on the horizon.  When I was a high school freshman, our class was given a test along with a handful of other districts around the state.  As I understand it, the schools involved largely volunteered.  I have no memory of ever being given an all-students style test again.  Anyhow, the results of the annual volunteer tests were being gathered together & used to determine averages, highs, lows, etc.  I remember one memorable fall semester when for whatever reason a certain chunk of the test taking schools failed to forward their tests in time for the scores to be calculated & entered into the system before the student slave labor let for winter break.  Someone made the ingenious decision to just go with the test results they had in-house & for several years (& maybe still, I graduated after all & never looked back), it was the high water mark of standardized testing, as the averages of the class of  1988 were noticeably better than all the others.  It turns out, though, that schools that can turn in paperwork on time generally have higher scores on these things than schools that get bogged down.  Also shocker of shockers, schools that volunteer for these kinds of tests often have significantly higher scores than schools that don't.  Soooo, it seems that basing an average on the higher end of the performance scale may not be the best way to motivate everyone else to do better.

& we are back at my 9 minute 1/2 mile.  In short, it does not an 18 minute mile make.  Still, I am covering more ground in less time. 

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