The Next Milestone

60-year-old targets 60 days of 6-minute miles

Ed Bickley
Lifelong runner and armchair philosopher Ed Bickley, bib 501, has raced hundreds of events that would be the equivalent of running 2.5 times around the globe.

I once read there are two major milestones in most people’s lives:

(1) the day they become invisible to young people of the opposite sex (around age 35, assuming they have no unusual levels of fame, wealth, or physical attractiveness) and (2) the day they realize their career prospects have peaked (generally in the 50-60 range – although it could be influenced by levels of fame, wealth, or physical attractiveness).

I can’t say exactly when these life events happened to me; I married early and well so the first slipped by unnoticed. I chose I.T. as a career, a profession that declares everyone a dinosaur before they see their 40th birthday. As I approach my 60th birthday, my running times have followed the usual age-grading curve downward and I have more trouble recovering from hard runs or workouts each year. Still, most days I feel like I’m just getting started with life, with running, and with accomplishing things in the world. In fact, when I ignore past milestones and everyone else’s preconceptions about what this age is supposed to be, I can get in a mindset that what’s ahead is about new possibilities, limited only by what I can imagine and find time for.

I started running 28 years ago, initially as a one-time marathon challenge and later as a source of relaxation, personal accomplishment and social interaction. I’ve run in hundreds of road, cross-country, and track races all over the world, run the equivalent of more than 2.5 times around the earth, collected four shoe boxes full of race medals and run more than 100 marathons (50 of them under 3 hours). My running library includes more than 100 books, many on training and performance theory. I’ve done this running thing about as completely and whole-heartedly as anyone could, while working full-time and helping to raise a family.

I should be happy about another birthday; most runners look forward to being instantly competitive in a new age-group. With my family grown and retirement on the horizon, the coming milestone seems monumental because it forces decisions, many of which I’ve been ignoring or postponing. I should also be thankful that I’ve been blessed with so many injury – and illness-free years.

So, how to mark this milestone? I’ve always been motivated by setting goals, so some sort of stretch goal that’s different from the cycles of training and races I’ve filled the decades with seems in order. Also, it would be great if it was about more than me; a lot of my running and training in the past has been about me spending time on my own goals.

Some time ago, I read how a young man named Patrick McGregor had broken his former coach’s record for sub-5 minute miles for 105 consecutive days.

This led me to target a similar streak (6:00/mile for age 60) for at least 60 days. 60 in 6 starts in July.

I’m excited and energized about the attempt. Maybe it will help reassure me that the proper path is being followed and give me an indication of the remaining distance to my next milestone.