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My Self-Challenge: Ten 5K Races for Turning 50

6 tips to mark a milestone birthday with optimism instead of dread

By Liza Kaufman Hogan

To be honest, I’ve been dreading turning 50 for a while — ironic since I work for a website that celebrates life after 50.  




Here are my six pieces of advice, in case you want to try it yourself:



Given a choice between a charity run or one sponsored by a for-profit company, I would choose the charity race. Over the course of my 50Kfor50Y, I supported and learned about a variety of local causes from Best Buddies to So Others Might Eat to the American Druze Society



Each race was a challenge in its own way (hills, heat, cold, wind), but a rule I created for myself early on kept me going. I allowed myself to run slowly, but if I walked any portion of the race it wouldn’t count, and I’d have to do another to make up for it. This kept me trudging up the hills when I might have given myself a break. 





He was a great trainer and coach. During one of our early races, as I struggled up a hill, he kept me going by recounting each day of a trip we took to Italy two summers ago. Him: “Then we had dinner outside and watched the sunset.” Me: “Oh,” (pant pant) "the place with the bolognese?”


Our teenage daughters joined us for the last run, Sunday. Neither loves running, so I was happy they agreed to get up at 7:30 a.m., stand in the cold wind surrounded by people dressed as reindeer and Christmas trees, and tackle the 5K with me. I crossed the finish line holding hands with my oldest daughter and looped back to cross again with my youngest. That really made it all worthwhile.  




Now that I've finished 10 races, I’m not done. My intent was to establish a fitness baseline before turning 50, and I want to maintain it long after I polish off the last bite of birthday cake.

So what should I do to mark 51? Maybe a biking challenge with three, 17-mile bike rides or a 51-mile walk over several days. Maybe I'll go to 51 weekly Zumba classes. Whatever I decide, I know that it will be the start of something and not the end. And that's the best way to greet a birthday. 

How do you plan to celebrate your milestone birthday? Tell us in the comments section below. 

Liza Kaufman Hogan is a freelance writer. Read More
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