Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Future World Record Marathon

Yep, you read it here first. Someday, most likely in 2021, I’ll be setting the world record in the men’s marathon. How do I know this? Simple mathematics! Let me explain.

I’ve done three marathons, the Midnight Sun in Anchorage in 2005, the Rock ‘N’ Roll in San Diego in 2006, and the P. F. Changs in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe in 2008. I walked the first two, and walked over 90% of the third one. Now I am starting to run more, and consider myself a runalker, so my time per mile is decreasing. Here are my times in those races:

Anchorage – 6:41:39 (walking in heavy rain)
San Diego – 6:14:15 (walking in sunshine)
Phoenix – 5:56:44 (mostly walking in sunshine)

If you will do the math, you will see that, on average, I knocked 22 minutes and 46 seconds off each successive marathon. So projecting this forward, as any intelligent person might, leads some fantastic future times. Of course, I am not scheduled to run a marathon right now, so let’s assume I start up again in 2011, and my time will be about 5 hours and 35 minutes. Then going forward, because I want that world record as soon as possible, I will crank out a marathon a year. This leads to some remarkable milestones in my racing career:

2013 – my first sub-five hour marathon
2015 – I qualify for Boston
2016 – my first sub-four hour marathon (in Boston)
2018 – I break three hours, by a hair, for the first time
2020 – I run a marathon in 2 hours 12 minutes, just missing the world record. Ethiopian and Kenyan runners are looking over their shoulder in fear. “Who is this old geezer?” they ask in wonder. It is possible I even get a medal in the Olympics that year.
2021 – I shatter the word record at age 70. What a way to celebrate the big seven-OH! Sports Illustrated cancels its swimsuit issue to put me on its cover (but not in a swimsuit). Sales of Wheaties, with my photo on the box (but not in a swimsuit) go berserk!

But wait, there’s more! Now things start getting really incredible. In 2024 I win Olympic Gold in a new world, Olympic, and PR: less than 43 minutes. In 2025 I defy all reason by setting a new world marathon record in a shade under 20 minutes. Just for grins, I also win the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and Preakness, leaving the world’s best thoroughbreds gasping in agony and shame. An enraged jockey tries to shoot me after the Preakness when I humiliate him and his horse. I’m not fast enough to beat a cheetah over 200 yards, but can easily beat one in a half mile race.

By 2026, I enter a marathon and win it before it even starts. At that point, age 75, I decide to slow down a bit and jog the Boston Marathon in about an hour and 5 minutes. It is time to hang up the running shoes and take it easy.

All it will take is me doing a marathon a year, and the application of simple mathematics. After all, it was Mark Twain himself that wrote the following: “In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

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