Joel lined up with the other marathoners and waited for the starter’s pistol.
He had trained for months for this race. For months he had been getting out bed at 5.30 in the morning.
His wife had kept him going, the thought of his wife; it was the thought of the look she would give him once he’d completed the race. She would be proud of him, he knew it.
Finishing that race would show her that he was still strong, he still had fight in him, he still had life in him. She would see who he really was – who he was on the inside – and she would fall in love with him again.
The starter fired his pistol, and Joel ran.
Joel ran with heart. He ran with passion. He ran as if his life depended on it.
Joel ran the whole race as if he were running towards his waiting wife. At the end of the race he ran across the finish line and seized her in his arms.
She didn’t have the look that he had hoped for.
She was pleased for him, of course. She handed him a towel and a bottle of water and told him that he’d made good time.
Joel took the bottle of water.
He hadn’t done it for her, he realised.
He’d been running for himself, running for the feeling that he could be someone to be proud of.
Joel might have cried a little bit on the way home, but he was okay. In fact he was better than okay: he was alive.