Fall is Coming

August was definitely a month on the run, but not so much a month of running. It has been hot. I mean, miserably hot. So hot, that I feel like my motivation to run has literally melted away. I have felt defeated when it seemed like a huge feat to run even two or three miles, but I keep reminding myself that running in a heat index of 105+ could make any seasoned runner question her sanity. Some days, I have pumped myself up to get my miles in after work, only to get home in the pouring rain. But, fall is coming.

This past weekend we went to Memphis for Miles to participate in a Ducks Unlimited Greenwings event. After sweating through the outdoor extravaganza to which I stupidly wore a dress and flip flops, we visited Breakaway Running where John and I both got fitted for new running shoes. He is logging miles like crazy as the New York Marathon is a little over 63 days away. I just hoped that new shoes would help motivate me to get back at it, as there are several races for which I am signed up or want to sign up this fall and winter. As fate would have it, I’m back in my beloved Mizuno Wave Riders, but up a full size. They feel great and it doesn’t hurt that they’re hot pink and purple. Yes, fall is coming and I’m ready to hit the pavement.

 

Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX

After Elvis Week last month, I found myself in Grapevine, Texas, for Travel Media Showcase, a trade show where I had the privilege of pitching stories about Tupelo to travel writers from across the country. Through excellent networking events and scheduled tours, we got to experience Grapevine. I assumed it was just a suburb of Dallas, as it took a mere ten minutes to drive from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to the gorgeous Gaylord Texan resort where the conference was held, but boy was I wrong.

 

Water feature in the Gaylord Texan

Grapevine is culture and cowboys, water slides and wine. It is a shopper’s paradise and one train ride away from a great adventure. I got to participate in the family fun tour that took us for an afternoon at Grapevine Mills. We lunched at Rainforest Cafe, complete with the enormous Sparkling Volcano dessert.

Sparkling volcano dessert at Rainforest Cafe

 

Sea Life Aquarium

Our next stop was Sea Life, a two-story, 45,000 square-foot aquarium with over 30 interactive exhibits showcasing amazing sea creatures. The highlight was a huge tropical ocean tank with a walk-through tunnel. Sharks and rays of all sorts and sizes were swimming just under our feet and above our heads.

 

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

When I travel for work, my child has figured out that my return almost always means a surprise. In fact, he often puts in his “surprise request” before I leave town. The next stop on our tour was a quick glance at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. I immediately hit the gift shop, making sure that his request was met. Part of me felt guilty that I was experiencing all of this without my LEGO-obsessed dude, but we got just enough of a taste that I knew a family trip here would be in our future.

 

Hanging with Wiley from Great Wolf Lodge

The last stop on our family fun tour was the Great Wolf Lodge. Speaking of places I definitely plan to visit further, Great Wolf Lodge is like a mini-theme park all under one roof. Love water slides? They have plenty. Need a princess makeover? Yep, you can get it here. Enjoy character meet-and-greets? They have those, too. And, there’s pizza, and ice cream, and an arcade. I can keep going and can’t wait to go.

 

Grapevine Lake

I did manage to get in some running while in Texas. The Gaylord Texan had a great running trail that went around the property, with gorgeous views of Grapevine Lake. I had the privilege of¬†experiencing God’s amazing artistry as the sun rose over the lake each morning. It was hot and humid, but it made for a great start to the day.

I’m home for several weeks before I leave for Europe at the end of September. My goal is to build my miles back up and get ready for all of the races I plan to run this fall. I love keeping up with my upcoming races on the Days to Go app, as seen above. On another note, I’ve found the perfect virtual race to complete my running resolution and it is all the motivation I need. But, more on that later. For now, fall is coming and I am back on the run.

2016 Miles to Go: 823

Opening Dinner at TMS

 

Starfish at Sea Life

 

Clownfish at Sea Life

 

Sea Life

 

Dallas in LEGOs

 

Roll Tide from LEGOLAND Discovery Center

 

My booth at TMS

 

Gaylord Texan

 

Gaylord Texan

 

Happy Elvis Week

I’m sitting here in the Memphis International Airport awaiting a flight for my next work trip. It’s gloomy here today. There is a drizzly rain coming down and the sky is so gray that the clouds have blocked any semblance of sunshine. The airport seems eerily quiet, even though there are people all around. Despite my eternally optimistic outlook on life, I find the bleakness of Memphis today somewhat appropo. It is, in fact, the 39th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.
 

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition

 

I spent last week at Elvis Week 2016, Graceland’s annual celebration of all things Elvis. We were in town to promote Tupelo as the Birthplace of Elvis Presley to his fans from around the globe. We did media interviews, recorded a podcast, worked a booth at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competiton, and hosted the official competition after-parties at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street. In between all of this, we talked to fans about Elvis and took every opportunity we could find to invite them to see where the story began. 

Presenting the check at St. Jude

We have created an annual tradition of hosting an event at St. Jude Children’s Hospital during Elvis Week. We take a tribute artist who performs for the patients, their families, and the staff, while we pass out Elvis glasses to the crowd. Brandon Bennett, a Tupelo winner and Ultimate ETA, joined us this year and he was absolutely fabulous! Also, during the Tupelo Elvis Festival each year, we take up a love offering as part of the Gospel Concert Sunday morning that is presented to St. Jude. This began when The Landmarks, a local gospel quartet, performed annually at the festival and asked for a donation to be made to St. Jude in lieu of payment. Elvis’ legacy of giving generously is continuing.   

Jeff Lewis & Friends Jam Session

We helped sponsor the Jeff Lewis & Friends official after-parties at the Hard Rock each night after the competition. These events are great because tribute artists and influencers in the “Elvis World,” become brand ambassadors for Tupelo, promoting us from the stage all night long. The event is one big jam session and my favorite part is the diverse talent that hits the stage. Tribute artists don’t just sing, they play guitar, and drums, and bass, and keyboard. The event is emulated during the Tupelo Elvis Festival, so those who can’t make it to Memphis can join in on the fun in June.

Hard Rock Event

I’m sitting on the tarmac and the rain is coming down harder. Elvis Week 2016 has come to a close and his fans have begun their journeys home, taking with them a piece of Memphis, and hopefully a piece of Tupelo, as well. This plane is full of people in Elvis shirts, Elvis jewelry, Elvis sunglasses, and even an Elvis wig. I’m sitting here in my business-casual attire, Starbucks in hand, ready to start the new Harry Potter book. While we don’t look like we have much in common, it’s our respect and admiration for the world’s greatest entertainer that is our common ground. For that, we can thank Elvis Presley.