I'm Running Marathons Instead of Having Kids, At Least For Now
When I look back on the year that just passed, 2013 will always be The Year My Friends Started Having Kids. Three little people came into being, brought into this world by the girls (women, now, though it still feels weird to call them that) that I studied biology with, stayed out late dancing with, ran middle school track with. I use the term "ran" loosely; track was the only team you didn’t have to try out for. My speed was more of an embarrassingly slow jog; during the whole season, I think there was only one race in which I didn’t place dead last. To say I was not an athletic kid would be an understatement.
So I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be sitting in the living room of my former track teammate, congratulating her on her new baby and reporting that the most notable news from my own life was “Well, I just finished another marathon.” The running isn’t the most surprising thing, though. I also never suspected that I’d be among the last of my friends to get married and have kids.
For most of my early 20’s, I was the friend with a plan, a timeline. I was the friend with the serious boyfriend, the friend who was excited about having kids, and was determined to have them before 30. Two failed relationships and a lot of bad dates later, I’m 27 and it’s been quite some time since I’ve met a guy I wanted to go on more than a few dates with let alone raise children with, so I’ve accepted that 30 isn’t a deadline I’ll be making.
In a way, I’m only running marathons because I’m not married. Running is a sport that lends itself to being single and childless. I run with many people who have families, and they talk about what a luxury it is to take the time for themselves, away from their spouses or children. I still find running sufficiently challenging that I like being able to consider it an accomplishment, rather than a selfish indulgence. I enjoy the freedom to schedule my life around my running, and I like that I can come home after a 20 mile run and collapse in a sweaty heap on my floor without having to worry about who has to smell me or who I need to take care of. Sure, I always thought I’d be spending weekends in my late 20’s at cake tastings or picking florists rather than at marathon expos or sitting in ice baths, but given the choice now, I don’t think I’d change a thing.
I used to think that having kids was an inevitability, and running a marathon an impossibility. Having achieved what I once thought was impossible, you’d think I’d feel good about eventually getting around to the inevitable, but to be honest, at this point I feel like it’s more likely I’ll do an Ironman than actually meet a man. This isn’t a grievance, it’s just a "huh, funny the way things work out" observation. For now, I’m content, even thrilled, to continue attending weddings and baby showers with my biggest life updates having to do with what race I’ve signed up for next.