Stop measuring your life in coffee spoons. Do something so big it scares you.

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Christopher Solomon is a writer living in north-central Washington and a contributing editor at Outside magazine.

For the past several years, I’ve mostly belonged to a common American species: the broken middle-aged runner. One day recently, though, after a pandemic’s worth of physical therapy and training, I ran 51 miles at the age of 51. Till then, the longest I’d ever run was half that distance. The race’s starting gun sounded before the sun rose, and I ran all day through the sagebrush and flinty hills of central Oregon’s high desert. I crossed the finish line an hour after sunset. No one was more surprised than me.

I’d never set out to “run my age,” as it’s known in the running world — jogging a mile for every birthday, at once. Perhaps my COVID anxiety needed an outlet, or an undiagnosed midlife crisis had gnawed at the fabric of passing days. What really set my mind to it, though, was the looks that people gave me last summer when the topic came up. People looked offended.

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