"Challenge my nuts!"
I used to work with a guy who would shout that from his office. He'd bring in seasoned pistachios - wasabi, cayenne, and something even hotter - and try to get people to eat more of them than he could. Most people wouldn't take him up on the challenge, but that wasn't really the point. The fun was in the invitation. "Are my nuts too much for you?!"
English wasn't his first language, but he was fluent in it. Fluent enough to know that what he was saying was borderline inappropriate, but that if he said it with a heavy enough accent, nobody would call him on it for fear of embarrassing him. "What if he doesn't know what he's saying is funny?"
He'd been in the U.S. for decades. He knew. But he'd sit in his office and joyfully yell out, "Mike! Try to put my nuts in your mouth!"
I finished Emerald Across the Bay on Sunday in a less-than-stellar 1:43:15. I finished Bay to Breakers twelve minutes faster than that last year, even though I was laboring under the strain of trying to keep a Gatorade gel shot from tearing my guts apart from the inside. I was hoping for somewhere around 1:30:00 for EAB, given how much more training I've been doing this year. I'd like to blame Belligero for adding to my weight, but he's only about two ounces. More likely, the issue was poor pre-race nutrition, and a lack of pacing. I ran too fast early on, and lost steam at about mile marker 5.
I consider Sunday's finish a success anyway, because I felt good after I crossed the line, and I'm not limping today. In fact, I went out running with part of my team this evening, and we're going out again on Thursday. I'm learning that it's not the Olympics; I don't have to leave everything I have out on the trail during every run.
The question isn't whether I'll be able to finish the half-marathon. I already know that I can walk thirteen miles without breaking a sweat. The question is whether I'll do it the way I want to do it, running across the finish line, ready to turn around and do it again. I'm hopeful.
A couple of my friends commented on my picture when I put it on Facebook. "That's a *real* Suzanne smile!" Yes. Yes, it is.