Laura felt great. She was keeping a nice rhythm, her head and body in sync. She was ahead of the pack, too. Oh, she could hear the collective pounding of their feet hitting the road. But she was in front of them and there were perhaps ten or so others in front of her.
Not bad for her first marathon.
Her mind was focussed. She was not, under any circumstances, going to let it wander. Nor would she buy into paying attention to any pain in her legs.
She’d trained hard for this.
A bucket-list item. She was gradually making her way through it. She’d eaten frogs legs in Paris. She’d been to the Himalayas last year. She’d sung in a choir. After the marathon, the next item to be ticked off was renovating her home. The plans were with the architect now. Another level, to make it a two-storey home, the master suite up top, with a parent’s retreat, balcony, and a study nook. Downstairs, the bedrooms would have a quick tart-up, the bathroom updated, and the kitchen was going to be wholly done over: marble benchtops, breakfast bar, butler’s pantry. Knock down the back wall to make it indoor/outdoor living. A new deck outside and the best bit: a pool. The kids were looking forward to that one.
Five runners passed her.
Wait…what? She checked her FitBit; her pace had slowed right down. Stupid girl, Laura! She’d lost concentration. Dreaming about her home! At this moment! All her training would be down the drain if she didn’t make a good time.
She quickened her pace, shut her mind down again, and ran fast. Too fast.
Five minutes later, her body was burning. Her legs screamed with each step. The soles of her feet throbbed. Her heart pushed against her ribs, threatening to explode.
What had her trainer told her? Slow down or push through? She couldn’t remember. Her brain was fuzzy. Her eyes blurry. Her legs wobbled and down she went.
Red flashing lights blinked behind her eyelids. She was lying on a hard, stony surface. She heard the wail of a siren.
‘Laura,’ said a voice. A green-suited ambo came into Laura’s line of sight. ‘How are you feeling? You took a tumble there.’
‘I’m fine, thanks,’ she replied, attempting to stand. Behind the ambo Laura noticed a group of people staring, with mouths and eyes wide.
‘Whoa, no, no, no, no!’ cried the ambo. ‘You’re not going anywhere. You hit your head for a start. But you’re also badly dehydrated. There’s no way you’re finishing this race.’
‘But I feel great,’ Laura lied. Her tongue was thick in her mouth. Her sight was still not focussed. Her whole body wobbled like a tub of jelly.
‘Sorry. You’re coming with us.’ The two ambos got her onto the trolley and took her to the back of the ambulance. ‘Anyone you want us to notify?’
Laura nodded. ‘My husband. He’ll be at the finish line with my kids.’ The sadness of defeat, of a dream not realised sat heavy on her shoulders,