Running the Edmonton Marathon

City of Edmonton

City of Edmonton

Completed the Edmonton Marathon on August 24, 2014. Easily the hardest thing I’ve gone through physically. Did not realize how much it takes out of you and the recovery needed afterwards.

I’ve been running consistently for a year. I aim for 10-20 km a week (a few times a week, somewhere between five and ten kilometers per week). I can pretty easily run up to 15 km at a 5:30 min/km pace without any issues. Early hours work best with two young ones at home.

Leading up to the marathon, the most I’d ever ran was a half-marathon about seven years ago. In hindsight, I was extremely unprepared back then but I finished the 21km trek in just over two hours. I remember being absolutely spent after that run, so I trained enough this time to avoid getting burnt out.

Along with running over the past year, I spent one morning a week at the local track merging in sprints, jogs and body weight exercises. Just picked up a couple tips online from this website that really helped build up the legs and core. Had ACL surgery in 2006, so I had to make sure the knee and supporting muscles were feeling fine.

Going into the race, I figured a pace closer to 6 min/km get me to the finish line. Objective was to finish but to maintain a good, reasonable, pace. Doing the math, it would take me around 4:12 to finish, but I also padded it and decided that a 4:20 to 4:30 would be reasonable.

The course started in downtown, went east towards Rundle Park, then back to downtown and then looped to the west end, and then finished in downtown. A very flat course, with no hills. Caught myself a few times looking out into the river valley. Click here for a map of the route: Edmonton_Marathon_2014.

I followed along with the 4:15 pace setter to start and see how things feel. The fellow keeping the pace was very social and passed on some great advice along the way. I stuck with them for the first 29 km very comfortably and was very relieved that I made it that far without any physical issues. Unfortunately, I had to take a bathroom break and never caught up to the group after that. Right around the 33 km mark was when the discomfort kicked in, making the rest of the run extremely tough. Thankfully, I pushed through, made it to the finish line in 4:32 and felt fine, all things considered.

Quick breakdown of my run, courtesy of Sports Stats:

Distance
km
10 21.1 35 42.2
Time
hh:mm:ss
0:59:49 2:06:16 3:37:40 4:32:50
Pace
min/km
5:59 5:59 6:13 6:28

Average finish time was 4:06:51. Total of 542 participants.

Legs and back were pretty stiff after the run. Soreness stuck around for about 4 days. Took two weeks off from any physical exercise to fully recover, which I’m glad I did. Muscles felt very shaky for days, so I decided I didn’t want to risk any serious injury. Also felt pretty nauseous for a day, but some sleep and a good diet took care of that.

Thought the event and route were well planned. Really can’t say enough about the volunteers. From handling the race kit pick-ups, to the water stations, to the signs along the way, the volunteers really made the event a success.

Congrats to Arturs Bareikis for winning the Marathon. He completed the route in 2:27:46 with an average pace of 3:31 min/km. Just ridiculous. You can track his journey to the Olympics on his blog.

Related Links:

McGrath runs personal-best in Edmonton Marathon, but still finishes second – Edmonton Journal

Reporter on the Run (Series) – Otiena Ellwand of the Edmonton Journal

Edmonton man runs five marathons for his aunt – Edmonton Journal

Runners, organizers welcome Edmonton marathon downtown route change – Metro News

 

Diffusion of Hockey Analytics

Hockey in Society / Hockey dans la société

Applying Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation theory to understand the adoption of hockey analytics

As fans, we all watch, follow and engage with the game very differently. Hockey analytics really is a supplement to our experience with the game, much like gambling, fantasy league and video games. What a person pays attention to during a game depends on their own experience, including their biases and preferences.

Aside from the information it’s creating and the impact it’s having on the game, hockey analytics is first and foremost a method of engagement with the game. Fans are far more than passive consumers and have used the communication technology available to fully immerse themselves in an active, participatory culture.

Having said that, hockey analytics is an innovative way to understand the game as fans try to detect some sort of meaningful patterns. Again, it’s not for everyone, but the fact is analytics, especially the…

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Beyond the Stats: An Interview with Extra Skater’s Darryl Metcalf

Hockey in Society / Hockey dans la société

Chicago Blackhawks v Los Angeles Kings - Game Four Los Angeles Kings

The popularity of hockey analytics continues to grow as fans, teams and the NHL embrace new methods of measuring team and player performance. The uptake of analytics is dependent on the individual doing the analysis, as each person has different opinions and biases regarding what impacts a game result and what doesn’t. As a result, a number of websites have emerged providing various levels of data and analysis, putting the onus on the end user to interpret it as they please.

It’s important to note that fans in particular have lead the charge when it comes to developing and discussing new ideas regarding the game. The online environment has been critical for the growth of hockey analytics as fans connect online, publish ideas and develop the knowledge that surrounds the game. In recent years, a number of data visualization tools such as Super Shot Search and Shift…

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Random thoughts on hockey analytics

Couple tweets I sent out a few weeks ago after Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs had this to say regarding data analytics in hockey:

Continue reading

Google Glass in Professional Hockey

ImageWith the recent announcement that Google will soon release its wearable, augmented reality glasses, there has been a lot of discussion about how the technology can be used.

What’s most intriguing to me is how these wearable devices can be used in professional hockey. I’ve come up with three uses.

  1. Professional hockey teams could use the device to send real-time information to players throughout the game. This could include who is on the ice with them, what play to run or where to place the puck.
  2. Coaches could use the data collected by these devices and apply them to their strategies for each game.
  3. Those outside the game, such as fans, hockey analysts, sports journalists or league officials could use the data collected to do their own analysis.

These are all just random ideas, so until the limitations of the device are shared, we can dare to dream. I’d be interested to hear what others think of using Google Glass in professional sports.

More information about Google Glass can be found here.

Hockey Reporting and Hockey Analysis

usb1Typewriter“We shape our tools,and then our tools shape us.” – Marshall McLuhan

 

Influence of Technology on Sports Journalism

The impact of web technology has had a profound impact on how professional sports are consumed by fans. For example, fans have numerous options when they want to watch or listen to a game, including, among others, using mobile technology or data tracking software. Fans can interact and share content with others by publishing their thoughts and ideas about hockey on blogs and other social media platforms. To keep up with their loyal fan base, the NHL has readily adopted technology and software that helps their fans get closer to the game. Examples include providing detailed statistics available online or social media promotions to connect players to fans.

One area of professional sports that technology continues to strongly influence is sports journalism. Specifically, individuals who are employed by television broadcasters that hold NHL distribution rights, such as TSN or Sportsnet, newspapers and the NHL. These individuals typically have direct access to players and managers and are responsible for providing news and updates regarding NHL-related activity.

In the past, individuals who covered sports for the local news channel or newspaper were considered “reporters”. They would attend games and produce a story using the results of the event. Within the story would be quotes from players and coaches, a summary of key events within the game and maybe a preview of the next game. Since speculation is an important facet for professional sports, gossip regarding players and team could also be included, depending on the reporter.

Today, individuals who cover sports for mainstream media outlets are labeled all sorts of things. “Insiders”. “Analysts”. “Correspondents”. At first glance, they all appear to have the same role, which is to cover the game and provide some sort of content for fan consumption. But it’s the technology they use that differentiates them, as not all sports journalists produce the same kind of content. Understanding the tools they and what type of content they produce, can allow us to classify them and understand their roles and objectives.

Defining Reporting and Analysis

The technology sports journalists use differentiates those who report on the game, and those who analyze the game. Both “Reporting” and “Analyzing” are interchanged regularly, not only in sports journalism, but also other industries such as information management. While both actions produce content, they each entail different objectives.

I did a quick search online and came across this differentiation of Reporting and Analysis on a blog from Adobe, a major software company:

Report­ing: The process of orga­niz­ing data into infor­ma­tional sum­maries in order to mon­i­tor how dif­fer­ent areas of a busi­ness are per­form­ing.

Analy­sis: The process of explor­ing data and reports in order to extract mean­ing­ful insights, which can be used to bet­ter under­stand and improve busi­ness performance.

So applying these definitions to sports journalism, I’ve come up with this:

Hockey Reporting: The process of coordinating data and information into summaries that describe hockey-related events. This is someone that summarizes current events, including games, player or team performance and current rumors.

Hockey Analysis: The process of exploring data and reports in order to extract mean­ing­ful insights, which can be used to bet­ter under­stand the game and support further analysis and continue extending the knowledge surrounding the game. This would be someone that could summarize current events, but spends more time looking deeper into the data from hockey games to provide further insight.

These definitions need some work, so I’m hoping to get feedback from anyone interested.

Why the need to classify sports journalists?

It’s critical for fans to understand the roles and objectives of the contents’ producer. The present environment for hockey fans contains a lot of information, and it’s really up to them to filter through the noise to find value in the content available online, in print and on television. Fans do more than just consume the content as they have demonstrated their ability to extend the content by providing their own feedback and raising new, applicable ideas.

By understanding the producers role, fans can put the content into perspective before extending the content and building new ideas. This is not to say that what sports reporters produce cannot be built upon by fans. But a more appropriate response can be made after understanding what the producers objectives are. And it’s much more beneficial to the game if ideas are built on solid claims and information, rather than bogus hockey rumors, for example.

As always, feel free to leave feedback below or contact me directly!

Research Ideas

Source: Wikimedia Commons

If I had extended my tenure as a student, my research would have probably focused solely on hockey fans who conduct data analytics. Blogs, which was the focus of my MACT final project, would play a prominent role, along with other social media tools and analytics software.

That got me thinking of what other research projects could possibly spin out from the research I did complete. Here’s my random, evolving list:

–       History of hockey analytics

–       Comparison of hockey fans across teams, regions and their online activity

–       Does following a horrible team make you more likely to get into hockey analytics? Looking at you, Oilers fans.

–       Interview people who do hockey analytics to find out why they do it, what methods they use, what barriers they face and/or what they think the future holds for hockey analytics.

Hockey Bloggers with Press Passes

Without a doubt, a tension exists between hockey bloggers and those who work as members of the mainstream media (MSM). The lines that separate the two groups have blurred as both fans and those with official press passes to cover the game interact and participate online. Communication tools and software have become more readily available and easier to use, allowing anyone with a basic understanding of the technology, and an interest in the game, to participate online.

In the past few years, bloggers have made the jump to more mainstream platforms and  we’ve also seen those with press passes, such as fomer Edmonton Journal writer Robin Brownlee, get into blogging. In his latest post for OilersNation, “Deep Thoughts XXIV: Ties that bind”, he had this to say about the current state of hockey coverage: Continue reading

Information Diet for Hockey Fans

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Recently read an insightful book called “The Information Diet: A Case for Concious Consumption” by Clay Johnson (2012). Using the current food/obesity epidemic as an analogy, Johnson highlights the problems with our current pattern of information consumption. Some alarming things really come out of this book including how the over-consumption of information:

  • impacts our autonomic nervous system (i.e., how email or Facebook alerts change our breathing patterns)
  • impacts our understanding of topics, which can lead to  biases and poor decision making
  • changes how we behave as a collective group including our ability to collaborate with individuals holding conflicting ideas

I think most can attest to the disruption information can cause in our personal and professional lives. Smartphone’s have converged our information streams, making email, social media, RSS feeds, etc conveniently centralized and easily accessible. As great as it is to have information readily available, conscious decision making is required by individuals to control and efficiently use the content we consume. This doesn’t mean just setting up filters, but also to question the source and added processing of the information.

While Johnson cites his experience working within American politics, I tried to relate his ideas to the experience of hockey fans. Sports fans are different than fans of other genres such as movies, films and literature as they have been found to engage with the game before, during and after live events (Gantz et al, 2006). With so many sources of information and so much to do with it, including fantasy league participation, gambling and blogging, fans are vulnerable to information over-consumption. The information can be disruptive to fans day-to-day lives and impact their mental state and decision making. Then again, “fans” is, in fact, short for “fanatics”.

With the NHL Draft passing by and the start of free agency on July 1, I would love to hear the experience and tactics of fans dealing with the abundant information.

References:

Gantz, W., Wang, Z., Paul, B. & Potter, R.F. (2006). Sports versus all comers: comparing TV sports fans with fans of other programming genres. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 50(1), p. 95-118.

Johnson, C. (2012). The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption. USA: O’Reilly Media

Related links:

Infovegan (SuperFan 2.0)

NHL Trade Deadline: Speculation, Rumors and Information Overload (SuperFan 2.0)

Importance of Hockey Analytics (Hockey in Society)

Information Malnutrition (National Post)

Is it time for you to go on an “Information Diet”? (NPR)

Collaboration and Hockey Analytics

Source: WIkimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Data analytics is a collaborative exercise with the network (both operational and social) being a critical component of any analysis. The right environment has to be in place for people to contribute, develop and share data. To transform the data into information,  context is drawn from the network as individuals apply their backgrounds, experiences and ideas to push the development of a concept. Once the data transforms into information (and later knowledge), the network will distribute the information to those who can use it and develop it further.The importance of collaboration was highlighted at the Analytics, Big Data and the Cloud conference, which presented various topics related to data analytics such as health, productivity and community. One session of personal, and academic interest, was related to professional sports. A description of the session: Continue reading