One of the best parts of living in North Carolina is that the mountains and the sea are only a few hours away, in opposite directions, of course. Which means weekend trips are totally realistic (okay, maybe not as much with small kids, but my girls are bigger).
And so a spring weekend runcation at the Biltmore? Sounds great. A marathon, even? Sure, why not? In the mountains in March, the weather does not always cooperate, and this spring marathon weekend quickly became unforgettable. And cold.
To start out, we toured the Biltmore Saturday morning, and strolled the sunny stairwells and book-lined libraries. Moving on, we discovered the awesomeness that is the Biltmore basement, complete with old-timey workout equipment, a super cool indoor pool, and a full-size bowling alley. This is also where the laundry and kitchens are, and the “Halloween Room“. The basement was, in my opinion, the most interesting part of the Biltmore tour.
Upstairs = fancy
Basement = a little bit bizarre, much more fun, and definitely where I would have wanted to hang out if I had ever been hoity toity enough to be invited to stay at the Biltmore in the old days
After the indoors, we walked the grounds and gardens. It was March and it was chilly, but sunny. Until it wasn’t. The snow began to fall. And fall and fall and fall. Before we knew it, the springtime daffodils and tulips were drooped and snow swirled everywhere. It was pretty great. Except, in case you’ve forgotten, I was supposed to run a marathon the next day. Outside (obviously). And now, presumably, in the snow.
After our Biltmore touring we headed to the Omni Grove Park Inn for a stunning view of the mountains, some drinks and snacks, terrific piano playing, and to sit by two of the biggest fireplaces I’ve ever seen. Seriously, this place. I’m staying there next time we go to Asheville.
We also took a short walk around Asheville. I adore this amazing art deco door.
The next morning was like a will she/won’t she of racing mornings. It was still snowing, hard. It was cold, gosh darn it. I was under-trained and going to be running alone. And, just to top off the “reasons to not bother” list, there was a time change, which meant I was going to lose an hour of sleep. And to the planners of the Asheville Marathon, who does that??? Why???
The alarm went off an hour late, as the clock in the hotel room did not change automatically as the signs posted in the elevators had promised. I woke up with a start, realizing I had only 20 minutes until I needed to be at the starting line. Out the window I watched the never-ending snow. I laid back down, made my decision. “It’s too late, it’s snowing, I’m not going”. Husband agrees, rolls back over, snores. And then I continued to lie there, mind ticking, trying to wrap itself around the idea of not finishing, in fact not even starting, a race. Ten minutes pass. I climb out of bed, put on my clothes, lace up my shoes, and my ever-patient husband puts in his coat and drives me to the start line.
It is not warm. The sun is not shining. Runners are huddled up in semi-circles beside heat lamps and inside tents. Snow spits down at us and the ground is sleet. I remember these runs from my Chicago days, but it’s been too long and I dislike being cold. I fantasize about my warm cozy bed. Eventually, the race begins.
And, despite how I’m feeling about the snow and cold (annoyed), it has made the Biltmore Estate even more stunning. The trees are white and heavy, the hills icy and glittering. The gardens have been transformed by the winter storm. I breathe it in.
This race was long, and damp, my shoes were soaked and muddy, I even threw them away. It was my PR for slowest marathon. But I rolled out of bed and did it. And that I saw the Biltmore Estate (seriously, like all of it) in a totally different way.
Afterwards, we had wine.