Confessions of a 10K

Yesterday, I ran my first 10K as part of my training plan for Run Disney’s Glass Slipper Challenge in February. Not only was it the furthest I have run thus far, it was my fastest 5K to date. I feel stronger, faster, and more confident overall as a runner. Through pounding the pavement over the past few years, I have learned a thing or two that I hope will help you during your next run.

Dress the part

When I started training for my very first half marathon several years ago, I left the house in a pair of tennis shoes I had owned since college. Needless to say, that first mile (and the only one I ran that day) was brutal. The absolute most important part of becoming a runner is wearing the right shoes. Take this from a girl who knows a thing or two about shoes. Go somewhere and get fitted for the right type of shoes. Let them watch you run and determine what style and fit will work best for you.

While I was running that first mile in the college shoes, (and, I use the term running loosely) I was wearing a cotton t-shirt and shorts. The further I ran, the bigger and longer the t-shirt got until, properly accessorized, it could have been a dress. That doesn’t make for a comfortable run. Wearing the appropriate moisture wicking fabric, whether for those humid summer runs or frosty winter miles, will make all the difference.

Slow your roll

The very first mile I ran as an adult training for a half marathon (think college tennis shoes) was at approximately 16 minutes per mile. I have gotten much faster since then and am always proud when I get more comfortable at a faster pace. One of my biggest problems as a runner is starting out too fast right out of the gate. I may feel great at a fast pace right when I begin the run, but I know realistically what pace I can sustain throughout my run, no matter the miles. This is especially an issue when running longer distances.

I started running with a Garmin Forerunner 10 recently and it does everything I need to slow my roll on long distance runs. My husband/trainer has the fancy version that tells you everything including what you want for breakfast that morning, but the Forerunner 10 does just what I need it to do to slow me down, tell me how far I’ve gone, how long it has taken me to go that far, and how many glorious calories I have burned.

Get it over with

There is nothing more I love to do than hit snooze. I am a super productive person during the day, but there is just something about getting out of the bed each morning that I absolutely hate to do. When it comes to running, getting out of the bed when the alarm goes off is key to my success. My best runs happen first thing in the morning, when it is just me, God, and the road.

I know I am committed to training for a race when I am able to get out of the bed in the morning and run. This race has been on my bucket list for so long that I am uber-motivated to get up and go each day, maybe it is because I will get to run through Cinderella’s castle dressed as a princess, but definitely because I am using this opportunity to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I am half way to my goal of raising $2,000 and every little bit counts, so please help me help the kids of St. Jude by donating here.

A lifetime’s worth of thoughts go through your mind when you’re out for a run, and these are just a few of those thoughts that flitted through my head Saturday morning.





Running with the King

I didn’t start out as an Elvis fan. I could tell you that my favorite Elvis song was “Jailhouse Rock,” but I’m pretty sure that was only because it was one of the only ones I knew.

When I arrived at the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau as the new Public Relations and International Sales Director, almost three years ago, I was immediately thrown into the world of Elvis Presley. Within one month of working there, I had already visited Graceland on official business three times. Even today, not a week goes by that I don’t spend some time at his birthplace in Tupelo.

I’ve learned over the years that the best way to approach a new situation is to sit back, listen, and learn. What I learned is that we have The Beatles, because of Elvis. We have Bruce Springsteen, because of Elvis. We have Eric Church, because of Elvis. We have Metallica, because of Elvis. We have Lady Gaga, because of Elvis. I can keep going. I promise. We have an amazing multitude of music today because one Elvis Presley took his music to the masses. He didn’t invent rock ‘n roll or rhythm and blues or gospel, but he melded them together to make a sound like no other, and it set the music world on fire.

I have just returned from celebrating the legacy of Elvis Presley during Graceland’s grand, weeklong bash held each August in Memphis, Tennessee. Elvis Week celebrates his life through concerts, special events, conversations with those who played a role in his life, and many, many other opportunities to pay homage to the King of Rock ‘N Roll.

Tupelo Booth at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition

Tupelo booth at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition

Each year we travel 90 miles north to share with Elvis fans from around the world, the story of where it all began. Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1935, and spent his formative years here until moving to Memphis with his parents, at age 13, to find a better life. With my co-workers from the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau and our partners at the Tupelo Elvis Festival, we spent the week doing media interviews, hosting special events, and promoting Tupelo at the annual Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition.

2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition Contestants

2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition Contestants

The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition brought contenders from around the globe to pay tribute to arguably, the greatest entertainer the world has ever known. Singing songs made famous by the King of Rock ‘N Roll, they looked like Elvis, dressed like Elvis, moved like Elvis, and crooned like Elvis. For the record, there is a vast difference in an impersonator and a tribute artist. The men (and occasionally women) who enter this competition are truly showing their appreciation for Elvis’ impact on music through performance. From the glitz and glitter of jumpsuits to a full band that knows every rendition of every song he ever sang, a tribute artist competition should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The semi-final round saw the group go from 24 to 10, and the finals narrowed it down even further to the top five. In the end, only one man could be named the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist of 2015, and this year’s winner was David Lee. He won the competition singing “America the Beautiful,” in Elvis’ 1973 American Eagle jumpsuit. David has previously won the Tupelo Elvis Festival’s Tribute Artist Competition to advance to the Ultimate contest in Memphis, so he is “one of ours,” and is a great friend of the Elvis Presley Birthplace.

Jam session at the Hard Rock Café featuring 2015 Ultimate ETA David Lee

Jam session at the Hard Rock Café featuring 2015 Ultimate ETA David Lee

Following the competition each night, we co-hosted events at the Hard Rock Café for all of Elvis’ fans to continue enjoying the music of the King. Elvis tribute artists, both Ultimate winners and contestants, joined others for amazing jam sessions each night. Most of these guys are so unbelievably talented, that they would go from singing, to playing the drums, to taking a turn on the guitar, really showcasing their musical capabilities. I have heard it said so many times that music is the universal language and never before was it more apparent than watching people come together through the music of Elvis Presley. In fact, Tupelo Elvis Festival’s 2015 Tribute Artist competition winner, Diogo Light, hails from Brazil and learned to speak English watching Elvis’ movies and singing his songs.

Beautiful view of Downtown Memphis while running by the Mississippi River

Beautiful view of Downtown Memphis while running by the Mississippi River

I managed to find time to run in between all of the exciting events that made up Elvis Week 2015. As we were staying at the Westin Memphis, I enjoyed running by the Mississippi River each morning taking in the beauty of the mighty river and the exceptional views of Downtown Memphis. This helped me deprogram from everything I saw and heard throughout the week, even though I may have had an Elvis song or two in my playlist.

This was my third Elvis Week and each time I travel to Memphis to experience this weeklong celebration, I am continually amazed at the impact Elvis Presley still makes today. He is such a part of popular culture that not a day goes by without hearing his music or seeing his image in some form. In the year that would have been his 80th birthday, I have often wondered what music he would have given us had he not passed at such an early age. Whatever it might have been, I know we would still be enjoying it today.

And now, I am an Elvis fan, a big one. I am a fan because I love music. I am a fan because I appreciate what he did for music. I am a fan, because he was Elvis. And today, my favorite Elvis song is “Never Been to Spain.” What’s yours?

Working with the PR Team at Graceland during Elvis Week

Working with the PR Team at Graceland during 2015 Elvis Week


Tupelo billboard on Beale Street during 2015 Elvis Week

Tupelo billboard on Beale Street during 2015 Elvis Week


Jay Dupuis, 2014 Ultimate ETA; Jessica Hollinger, Tupelo Elvis Festival; Dwight Icenhower, ETA; and me at the Hard Rock Café

Jay Dupuis, 2014 Ultimate ETA; Jessica Hollinger, Tupelo Elvis Festival; Dwight Icenhower, ETA; and me at the Hard Rock Café


Talking Tupelo with Argo on Sirius/XM's Elvis Channel (photo courtesy of Derek Russell)

Talking Tupelo with Argo on Sirius/XM’s Elvis Channel (photo courtesy of Derek Russell)


Selling Tupelo with Jay Dupuis, 2014 Ultimate ETA and Stephanie Coomer, Tupelo CVB

Enjoying Elvis Week with Jay Dupuis, 2014 Ultimate ETA and Stephanie Coomer, Tupelo CVB



Going Back to College


This week, I went back to college. I lived in a dorm, ate in the cafeteria,  and went to class…all of them! No, I am not embarking on a new career, I just completed my final year of Southeast Tourism Society’s Marketing College. Pending a final project, I am now a certified Travel Marketing Professional. This is an amazing industry and it has truly been a wonderful experience to learn from some of the giants of the tourism trade through this program. Not to mention, I have made friends and colleagues for life.


University of North Georgia

Marketing College is hosted at the University of North Georgia in the delightful town of Dahlonega. About an hour north of Atlanta, Dahlonega is a picturesque place in the foothills of the Appalachians. It was the site of the first major gold rush in the United States and today is the heart of Georgia’s wine country. Its rolling hills make it an ideal cycling destination and prove a challenge for runners hoping to get in a few miles between classes. I speak from experience.

Wolf Mountain

North Georgia Hills at Wolf Mountain Winery

I’m on week five of my training for Run Disney’s Glass Slipper Challenge, so thankfully it was a recovery week and I only had to run three miles each day through the winding hills of North Georgia. My running partner this week was my friend, Kim Caron, owner of The Caron Gallery in Tupelo. The first morning out, just as we were about to get going a deer ran right in front of us. Luckily, this was our only encounter with wildlife, other than our classmates at karaoke each night.

My trainer (and husband, John) constantly asks me if I feel stronger. This week, my answer is YES! My pace was almost a full minute faster and I was able to keep up with my running partner and carry on a conversation at the same time. It feels great to see results after just five weeks of training and gives me even more motivation to keep training hard. Thanks, Coach!

I am thankful for the three years I spent at Marketing College. I am excited to take what I have learned back to the Tupelo CVB to help make it an even better experience for our visitors. Most importantly, I am blessed to have begun relationships that will last a lifetime. My class will always be “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and I look forward to hot dog games and many, many calls from Beth…or Ben. Thanks, Dahlonega. I will definitely be back!


The Tupelo Seven

Mississippi Delegation

Mississippi Delegation