You must play the song from youtube or you are not allowed to read the blog.
Everytime I even head in the direction of Memphis I cannot keep the famous Paul Simon song out of my head. Somehow I forgot to actually play the song on the drive.
I only recently decided to lead a pace group at Memphis. At first I thought it would be the 3:15 group but then that became the 3:05 group with friend Feb Boswell who lives in Memphis. The race was great and we had a very good group through mile 18 or 19 and only then did some of the dozen or so runners begin to fall off the pace. Towards the end, I began to struggle as the temperatures began to rise and so I probably pushed to hard since we finished in 3:03:48. At the finish line, I took my photo with Elvis! The king lives!
But that was besides the point. There were really two things I came to Memphis for. First was to support St. Jude's Hospital. They raised $3.8 million dollars and it is great to be a small part of that effort. Second, I came to be a part of a really great city that is full of character and full of life. That is evident when driving over the Mississippi Rive on I-40 and seeing the big neon sign lit up that reads, "Memphis, Home of the Blues". You are reminded of the fact as you run down Bealle Street and the bands are jamming and the people are packed four or five deep to cheer you on.
We run past the Pyramid, Sun Studios and the Lorraine Motel. It is really a great tour of the city. Then there are occasional surprises that remind you of the city's antebellum and Civil War past like the Confederacy Park near downtown, Nathan Bedford Forest statue, and I noticed we ran on Mannassas Avenue.
It's ironic to run past such symbols of our painful past while running in a city that is predominantly African American. And that is what I liked best of all. I still come across racism on a regular basis. People I work with still use racial slurs and students on a regular basis will reveal a racist upbringing. It troubles me so and while in Memphis, I will I could have brought them there with me.
The people of Memphis all along the course were so lively, spontaneous and energetic in a great cause. The African American Memphis Police Officers were professional but also excited to be blocking traffic for you. They would smile at you and give words of encouragement. The culture of Memphis is a culture that celebrates life.
When I think back to the struggles I've read about that Memphis went through during the Civil Rights Movement and the struggles they still face today, I admire how the city is vibrant and successful and that so many in Memphis have overcome so much to achieve great things. If only I could show this to the many bigots of the world. Of course, it would probably do little good, as they would go out of their way to point out the negative.
Here's Blue Suede Shoes from Elvis just in case Paul Simon is done singing:
And finally, "Walking in Memphis" by Marc Cohn:
I saw a factoid while in Memphis that the city is the appears in more songs than any other American city though I am not sure how they figured that out.