This weekend--besides the usual pandemonium revolving around athletic activities, of course--brought with it something new, fresh, and exciting: an out-of-town visitor! Since we moved to NC a little less than 2 years ago, the rampaging hordes of family and friends have not exactly been, say, beating a path to our door. In fact, we've entertained exactly ONE overnight guest, who stopped by on the way back from his parents' new retirement community in the other Carolina to our south. But he was only here for a short time--not even really enough to show him around or do any fun stuff together, unfortunately.
This time, though, it was a friend of mine from ye olde interpreting days, who was coming to our area to attend a presentation by an author/motivational speaker she follows. When she messaged me that she was going to be in Durham--also known as "the next city over from us"-- for a couple of days, I invited her to make use of our deluxe, luxury accommodations...um...make that "spare bedroom". (How special is the WestEnders Inn? She'd be sharing the hall bathroom with 2 adolescent boys. So really, it's more of a "stay at your own risk" situation--ha! Although Husband--without even being asked, so mad props to him for that one--informed me when I came home from running errands yesterday that he'd performed a "spot clean" on the facilities, to spruce things up for company. Potential embarrassment for hosts/gross-out for guest happily averted.)
After she survived the Interstate 95/85 Gauntlet and arrived safe and sound on Friday evening, the first order of business was a signing event that the aforementioned author was doing at Flyleaf, a local independent bookstore. I agreed to tag along, to navigate and keep my pal company--and let's face it, have some "adult/girl-bonding-time" as a bonus. (If you're thinking that sounds vaguely...I don't know...illicit?...I agree. But you know what I mean, so let's just go with it, 'kay?) As it turned out, though, rather than what we expected, which was kind of "stand in line, get your autograph and maybe a photo", the guy spoke for almost 2 hours--telling stories about his work, his personal journey, and his family...interacting with the crowd...answering questions. And I've gotta say, I found him absolutely fascinating and riveting.
Nothing like a little Food for Thought on a Friday night, yeah? But afterwards, we were sorely in need of some...Food for Tummies...as we hadn't eaten dinner before showing up at the function. So I ran through a long list of possibilities in my head as we drove through Chapel Hill and Carrboro, finally settling on a restaurant that Team WestEnders had not yet tried, but whose menu I'd already vetted and deemed worth a shot. (As with many eateries in our little corner of the world, the Bill of Fare accommodates and pleases both carnivores and vegetarians alike--yay!) Venable was loud, it was packed....but since we were only a party of 2, they were able to get us a table in about 5 minutes. (Again: yaaaaay!)
And the food did not disappoint--one salmon, one banh mi sandwich--and each of us was giving the yummy thumbs-up to our plates (which was the socially acceptable thing to do, as our mouths were quite busy with the chewing for a while). And of course, we got to continue chatting and catching up...albeit over the roar of the crowd...which was like the icing on the cake (only metaphorical, though, as we were much too full to actually consider dessert...which I realize sounds bizarre coming from me, but there you have it...) Then it was off to bed, as 3/4 of the home squad was signed up to run a 5K in the morning.
Whew....daylight seemed to burst on the scene faaaar too quickly, let me tell ya. A groggy threesome lethargically...monosyllabically...munched on bananas, slurped juice boxes, and eyed both the temperature and the gusting wind with...great reluctance. In my mind, today's pre-race pep talk consisted of: "It takes a half-hour or less...just get through it...then you can come home, get warm...and chug a gallon of coffee if you want." (In other words, "acknowledge and accept that this might very well suck....but do it for the java, anyway." Yep, that's a powerful message right there, folks...)
Pretty much the worst part was: standing (or, you know, hopping up and down like a manic bunny in a vain attempt to raise body heat and counteract the damn gale) at the Starting Line waiting for the horn. Somehow I failed to notice the marker for Mile 1, which actually worked out nicely, since the first indication I had of how far I'd gone was when 2 miles were already OVER. At that point you feel like, "Whoo hoo! I've totally got this!" It didn't hurt that the route they chose, through campus and town, included tree-lined streets in full Spring greenery, and a ritzy neighborhood of stunning houses with rainbow-hued gardens full of April blooms. So there was adequate distraction...which was helpful, because man, that last mile was the hilliest one of the run. (Memo to Organizers: maybe next year consider reversing the path? Just sayin'. Oh, and thanks, from one of the people sucking wind and slogging at the end...)
However, perhaps the conditions gave us extra incentive, because both boys finished with PRs, and even feeling like the proverbial tortoise, I logged the fastest time I've seen in quite a while (not setting any blazing speed records, mind you...but good enough for me...) And now, the payoff is a restful afternoon (well, except for Riley, who has a soccer game...poor baby....) and another dinner choice when our wandering warrior returns from her day of...learning...and introspection...and growth...and whatnot. Or, if this ridiculous...cyclone-like nonsense...keeps up, we can always order pizza and stay inside where it's cozy. Either way, we'll go ahead and call it a W-I-N!