Today couldn’t have started much earlier than it did. I fell asleep in Nashville at 9:00pm last night, slept for four hours and awoke at 1:00am to make my way to the Megabus to get to Memphis. I’ve never taken the overnight Megabus before, but the options to Memphis were limited, and it was really the only schedule that made sense. Nolan and I headed to the bus stop and I got the on the bus surprisingly refreshed. Adrenaline will fuel much of this trip, but I can guarantee that come Sunday, my body will completely crash.
A big thanks goes to Nolan again for waking up at 1am to get me to where I needed to be. As I expected, I couldn’t sleep on the bus. I was the guy with the bright screen in front of me, and I was able to catch up on email. So if you received an email from me at 2:30am signed Nightwalker Steve, I hope that I was able to put together my sentences.
The bus ride was smooth, and we arrived in the Land of the Delta Blues about four hours later where Ben Boden picked me up. Ben is a 2005 Iowa State graduate and member of Pi Kappa Alpha. He now works for Pike’s Headquarters in Memphis. Ben also works directly with Tillie as he sits on the Young Alumni Council for the Iowa State Alumni Association. Ben is now a passionate Memphian and was ready to show me the best experience that you can have in one day in the city.
My big decision right away was to try to take a quick nap or get the run done. I decided to move forward with the run, but showers were in the forecast. A little rain can’t hurt right? Right.
I jumped into my running gear, grabbed a small bite to eat down the road, and Ben then drove me out to the Liberty Bowl to start my run. Driving out to your start point always messes with your mind, because you know that you have to run that distance back. I had to start at the Liberty Bowl as my Cyclones played in this bowl game this past season. I placed the landmark on the run prior to the miserable game that we played there against Tulsa. Despite this, I had to rock my Cyclone gear today to support the team. There I stood, in the middle of the pouring rain, thanking Iowa State Phi Delt Jon Hernandez. Jon lives in Omaha and was of my first exposure points to Iowa State’s Dance Marathon. He was the General Co-Chair when I was on the Executive Committee, and I haven’t met many people as passionate as Jon is to do a little good in this world.
My Memphis run was pretty landmark heavy on the back end. From the Liberty Bowl, I ran about 3.5 miles to the Memphis Zoo. On the way, I had to stop and take a picture of a few great murals.
I also ran past this sign that completely lied to me.
By the time I arrived at the zoo, I was drenched head to toe. Employees were just getting to the zoo, and six people turned me down when I asked them to take my picture. I guess I would be a little freaked out by a guy in tights, drenched head to toe, with a crazy bird on his stocking cap. I finally convinced a deliveryman to take a quick pic. Despite not having his glasses on, he did a great job. Thanks Mr. Delivery Dude. Here I thanked my Aunt Lori and Uncle Randy at the zoo. Randy is one of my dad’s brothers and two of his sons are Iowa State Phi Psis like he, my dad and my Uncle Tom. Thanks Randy & Lori!
From the zoo, my next landmark was about four miles away. I snaked my way back towards Union Avenue, which is a straight shot to downtown. The four miles were absolutely brutal as I ran directly into the wind in rain. Earlier that morning it seemed a bit warmer so I didn’t wear my under-tights (I take men in tights to a new level) nor did I bring gloves. I blamed the lack of sleep. I turned a few wrong corners, and ended up stopping a handful of times to look at the map on my phone. I stopped at McDonalds to warm up and grab a bite to eat. I continued to make my way towards Sun Studio, the birthplace of Rock & Roll. I even decided to drop my phone while running, cracking my iPhone screen a bit. So mad.
So I finally get to Sun Studio where Elvis Pressley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and many more recorded many hits. I was relieved to get there, but dreaded the ask to get an employee to come out in the rain to take my picture. I found a willing lady, which was much appreciated. Here, I thanked Leigh Thiedeman, another great Cyclone. Leigh and Tillie grew up together in Westside, Iowa and both joined Pi Phi at Iowa State. I got to know Leigh during Yell Like Hell during our first semester at ISU. She now works for Pi Beta Phi’s Headquarters. Thanks Leigh!
I hoofed it back downtown as my brain had mentally checked out. Surprisingly at about nine miles, my legs/lungs felt great, but I was absolutely freezing. I entered the Peabody Hotel, famous for their adorable ducks that come marching in each day to hang out in the lobby fountain. I was forty minutes early, but was able to get a nice pic in front of the fountain, taken by a lovely couple from Britain. Thanks again to my Uncle Tom and Aunt Colleen.
With a few minutes to spare prior to the entrance of the ducks, I ran down to Memphis’ famous Beale Street to thank Neil & Suzanne Alexander once again. Another British woman took this pic, and I started to wonder just why the heck the British love Memphis. Ben confirmed later that the British love Elvis. Well I guess that explains it.
I made it back to the Peabody Hotel just in time to witness the march of the ducks led by their Duckmaster. I bet that guy has the coolest business card.
Ben picked me up at the Peabody and drove me to my final landmarks. We stopped at the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and is the current home of the National Civil Rights Museum. It’s quite the site, and I was able to thank DeMarkco Butler one more time.
The next stop was the FedEx Forum, the home of the Memphis Grizzlies. Here, I used one of my Runner’s Choice stops to thank fellow Iowa State Phi Delt Kyle Schilling. I figured a nice basketball shot was fitting for Kyle as we used to play quite a bit in college.
The next stop was the Orpheum Theatre, where I thanked Ben for his wonderful hospitality. Thanks again Ben.
The final picture before my glorious warm shower was the Memphis pyramid, the former home of the Grizzlies. The structure has recently been acquired by Bass Pro Shops, and the company plans to move their Headquarters to Memphis. Here, I thanked my cousins Adam & Lindsey Good again.
I consider my post-run shower one of the greatest showers that I’ve ever had. Seriously, I dethawed. Ben and I went to lunch at Central BBQ. Gotta have BBQ in Memphis. I meant to thank my sister and brother-in-law here in front of a giant plate of BBQ.
My sister is a vegetarian, so it would have been fitting. But I forgot. So instead, we found some Southern architecture to take the picture. So cool.
I had the unbelievable privilege to get a tour of St. Jude Children’s Hospital while in town. Lane Varner, who I found out is a Chi Omega from Ole Miss, gave a wonderful tour. There aren’t many places in this world like St. Jude. What an amazing hospital for children that is doing some serious research and making many strides to cure disease. The hospital decor makes this place as it creates such a welcoming atmosphere. I’ve seen many a St. Jude commercial during my days, but to be able to walk around within the hospital was a surreal experience. Thank you Lane for the tour! I will never forget it. At the hospital, I thanked my Phi Delt buddy from Gettysburg College Fred Reimer. Fred is the man! Thanks buddy!
No trip to Memphis would be complete without a trip to Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley. We stopped on our way to Oxford, Mississippi for a quick pic at the gates of Graceland. Here, I thanked Iowa State Phi Delt Geoff Wood. Geoff sits on the Iowa Gamma Chapter Advisory Board with me, and it’s been great to connect with he and his family again.
Whew, what a long day, but it didn’t stop here. More about my evening and day in Oxford, Mississippi in tomorrow’s post. With that, it’s been 23 hours since sleep, and I’m going to crash.