Monday, January 2, 2017

Nike & The Fastest Runners In The World Attempt To Be The First To Finish A Marathon In Under 2 Hours

(Greetings, All! This is a piece I wrote for Terry Crews's blog, "Artbuff." Feel free to comment and share!)
If you are a long distance runner, this story is either going to motivate you to get your marathon times up, or make you feel like a mere mortal and hang your running shoes up for good. After two years of research, testing, and planning, Nike has teamed up with three of the world's fastest marathon runners in attempts to finish a 26.2 mile race in under two hours!

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea have started on a training program to prepare for a race in spring 2017. The goal is to run 1:59:59 or faster which equates to a pace of 4:34 per mile. Nike calls the plan Breaking2. It is a collaboration of 20 designers, engineers, coaches, and physiologists hand-picked for this project at the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The team has been hard at work on this project since 2014.
The fastest recorded marathon time is the world-record of 2:02:57 set in 2014 by Kenyan runner Dennis Kimetto. His pace of 4:41 per mile is only seven seconds slower than the pace needed to break the elusive 2-hour barrier. It would seem that a few tweaks to training, nutrition, and technique could be all that is needed to set the new world record. The Breaking2 team concluded that their success is tied to five criterias: athlete selection, course and environment, nutrition, hydration, and equipment. They believe that they now have a winning formula.

According to Nike's website, the mission of this undertaking extends far beyond just beating a number, stating: "Attempting to break the sub two-hour marathon challenges the perception of what is possible in sport, resets the expectations of product and enables Nike to gather incredible athlete insight. These lessons can be applied across everything Nike does, including products and services, to ultimately serve all runners. The only real failure would be to not attempt such an audacious goal."

A photo posted by Pablo Gil (@gilzaragoza) on

The runners will be testing everything from weather conditions to Nike running gear which will enable them to maximize their potential. This trio will, however, forego the very lucrative spring running season to take on the Breaking2 challenge. Nike is compensating them for their participation, but the runners value the possibility of this first-time achievement in the history of the sport. And they want to be a part of it. Adese shared his sentiments saying, " I know one day [two hours] will be broken. I want to be part of it.”

Pretty exciting stuff, right? The date, time, and place of the 2-hour race attempt will be announced in 2017. Get ready! We might be witnessing history in the making!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Serena Williams Won't Apologize For Being Black And Confident & We LOVE Her For It!

Christopher Griffith for The New York Times

(Greetings, All! This is a piece I originally wrote for Rickey Smiley's blog, "The Rickey Smiley Morning Show" that I thought I would share with you here. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments!)


At 35 years old, this little Black girl from Compton has become one of the most decorated and accomplished women in all of professional sports. No one has matched her fierce work ethic, unstoppable drive, and sheer competitiveness—not even her big sister Venus. This winner of 22 Grand Slams has been ranked #1 in the world on 6 different occasions. She finished 2016 as the highest-paid female athlete earning $28.9 million. She is confident. She is Black. She is a living legend in the world of sports. She is Serena Williams and she offers no apologies for that. And why should she?

Recently, Serena sat down for a conversation with her good friend and former beau, Common, for ESPN's "The Undefeated" interview series. They discussed what it means to walk in her shoes against the current social landscape. Serena believes that she and her sister were misunderstood early in their careers. From the first moment they stepped on a tennis court, they knew that they were Black and that they were different. They let that reality fuel their efforts rather than stall them.
At very young ages, Venus and Serena's father (and coach) stressed the importance of knowing the history of their people. This knowledge instilled in them a sense of pride. The Williams sisters understood that they stood on the shoulders of their predecessors like Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. Their focus, competitiveness, accomplishment, and tenacity were unfamiliar to their opponents, but they were able to shake off racist insults and focus on being the best. Serena explained, "We came from Compton. We came from nothing. We just wanted to play tennis."

Serena has always been true to herself and acutely self-aware. She thrives on being different and always looks to discover her own path. To stay focused on her craft and being her very best, Serena insulates herself against all negativity. At age 17, she decided to stop reading all press, good and bad, to keep her ego in check and the critics at bay. Her dad taught her to believe that she could be the best. When she first articulated those goals, Serena was often met with resistance from those who just didn't understand her empowered mindset. You see, little Black girls from the hood aren't supposed to speak in those terms.
Serena acknowledges that there is pressure when she is on the court to represent her race well but, when she considers her accomplishments, she accepts that the pressure is par for the course. The racism Serena has encountered spans from the crowds to tournament organizers, to advertisers, and even opponents. She has becoming painfully aware of the pressures that Black men face every time they get behind the wheel of a car, as evidenced by a Facebook post she wrote about her nephew. While opening doors for other Black tennis players and becoming a role model was hardly on radar at the start of her journey, it is now something she embraces. Serena wants to use her platform to make real change regarding race relations.
Serena embraces her physical and mental strength. Both have enabled her to become the greatest tennis player to ever hold a racket. Her beauty, grace, and her bold Blackness have earned the respect of those who once hated her solely for the color of her skin. So, if anybody owes anybody an apology, it is those people who owe you, Serena. Keep doing what you are doing. We see you, Sis.

Be good to yourself! More next time...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

You only get one shot!

I find it very interesting that anything and everything that heals, liberates, educates, and uplifts a people is considered "controversial". Don't you? Think about it. The people in your life seem to lose their individual and collective minds when you make a change in your lifestyle that goes against the grain.

Some of my favorite OMG moments include:

1) "I don't always vote Democrat/Republican. I vote my interests."

2) "I am going to stop relaxing my hair and just go natural."

3) "No, thanks. I am a vegetarian/vegan."

4) "My daughter doesn't go to public school. We are homeschoolers."

5) "Not eating/drinking until the sun goes down. I am fasting for the next thirty days. It's Ramadan."

6) "Flu shot? I'll pass. Haven't had the flu in decades."

7) "We don't immunize."

Wait. Say what now? You MUST to take your flu shot every year and you MUST keep up with those immunizations. If you don't, the entire human race will be wiped out. Not so. Vaccines and the like have only been around about 200 years. Guess what? We are still here.

While we push the ideal that we live in a free-thinking society, our culture really isn't as endowed and empowered as we pretend to be. Somehow, using your brain makes you a rebel. There is a stigma associated with questioning anything.

We must be mindful that there is a much greater agenda pulling the strings of public opinion. The Wizard is behind the curtain--to find Him, pay attention to the laws that are passed to protect the bottom line of our biggest industries (Big Pharma and the food industry). Simply put, just follow the money trail.

I am going to curtail my commentary and offer you some resources that will help you make an informed decision about vaccinations. Check these out and decide for yourself. You only get one shot at this life. It's God-given. Don't let anybody tell you that it's not.

"CDC Whistle-Blower Admits that the MMR Vaccine Causes Autism"

"Vaxxed the Movie" exposes the harmful effects of vaccinations, especially on young Black boys.

"Vaccines Cause Autism: Supporting Evidence" by Mike Adams, The Health Ranger

MMR Vaccine and Autism - Press Conference at CDC Headquarters, October 23, 2015

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Mercury, Vaccines, Autism, and Black Boys, October 18, 2015

Be good to yourself! More next time...