Jade breathed deeply, sucked in her stomach and slowly let out air from her open mouth. Annie had insisted this was wrong aerobics, “Breathe in air to your lungs,” her know-it-all friend had said but Jade was too occupied at the moment to worry about the technicalities of breathing.
“Live with it,” she mumbled to herself and spat ungracefully. She did the breathing again to steady her heart. She didn’t need this now. If there was ever a time she needed all her mind in one place, it was now.
Jade had entered for the “Run for life” marathon a month ago. A friend, Ben, had introduced it to her and she had gotten the ticket; which was weird. The ticket, that is.
They had told them the ticket was free and the only thing they had to do was show an interest. They said the prize was N50 million and a mansion. Seriously, who gives you a chance to enter for a contest with such a huge prize attached to it without expecting anything? Jade thought. And it wasn’t even a company event. It was a one-man organized thing.
Another strange thing. No one saw a picture of the mansion. In all the fliers and banners, they had never shown anyone the prize they were running for nor the man – the organizer. But she gave up understanding it. Her friends had laughed at her. They thought it was a sham and teased her mercilessly when she got up early every morning to train. But all that didn’t matter.
She was running.
Of course her family had disapproved. It was foolishness, they said. But she had hoped that somehow they and her friends would still come to cheer her on.
She got on her mark. The race was about to begin.
* * * *
Dave couldn’t get what the man was hollering about. He stood at the sidelines and yelled at him to get himself fixed up. What did that mean anyways? He had entered for the race about a week ago after getting the handbill from some guy on his way to the office and it had said nothing about getting himself “fixed up”. It just sounded like a great deal to him.
Okay, fine it was indeed a race and like his friend had told him, he needed to train hard. But seriously, he didn’t think it was that big a deal. He was very athletic and after doing a sweeping survey of his fellow runners, he decided he was probably the most fit. With or without exercises.
And running shoes.
Agreed, dress shoes were not exactly “track-friendly”. That and his beige slacks together with a clean white shirt and tie. But that was beside the point. Heck, there was no way he was wearing any of those ugly running boots he saw the others sporting. He huffed.
Some people had style.
All that did not matter. The point was at least he had come. Dave could almost see the dazzling mansion in his mind’s eye. He didn’t know what it looked like but he enjoyed imagining it. He had even told some of his friends to come along. Some had agreed and others laughed at him out rightly. They thought he had lost his mind, running for something he knew almost nothing about.
He would show them.
The sun was coming on them really hard and he thanked God for the strong antiperspirant his wife had made him buy before coming. Although she hadn’t entered for the race yet, she had agreed to join them later. That was possible. The flier had said so. So long as the race was still on, others could join them.
He waved off the man – hollering man on the sidetrack – and gently rocked on his feet while placing his hands in his pockets. The old trooper just shook his head and walked off.
Dave briefly surveyed the sidelines again but couldn’t see any familiar face, which was great. He didn’t care one way or the other. He was a one-man team and didn’t need any cheerleader mussing up his focus.
But once again, it didn’t matter. He didn’t even need the thing. It was a terrain he knew so well. He stuffed it back in his pocket and whistled.
He was waiting for the shot. The race was about to begin.
…to be continued.