Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Buffs4Life Fun Run Recap

Di addressing the crowd after the Buffs4Life Fun Run.

  I've made two long-weekend visits to Colorado in two months. Most recently, mid-July, to celebrate one teammate's wedding.

  The first visit, in June, was for another college teammate -- Di Spencer.

  Late this spring, Di was diagnosed with MS, and her Buff family wanted to reach out and provide a helping hand.

  Buffs4Life selected Di to be their main beneficiary this year. The premise behind Buffs4Life is 'Buffs Helping Buffs'. With all the former student athletes that have donned a University of Colorado uniform, no matter the sport, there's bound to be a few in need of help each and every year.
Some of the women's hoopers that turned out in support of Di.

  This year Di was that Buff.

  Through the efforts of countless Buffaloes, $8,000 was raised for my teammate and great friend Di.

  It was a special weekend; teammates and their families, staff members, and friends from our playing days turned out in droves in support of Di.

  I know Di was especially touched just by the turnout and the support.

  Thanks to the people with Buffs4Life for coming to Di's side -- it means the world to her, and to those of us who care about her!

Some pictures & a video from the Buffs4Life weekend in June.

The Friday night BBQ turned into a friendly 15 yard race between former football players.
The '94 Heisman winner was victorious.

Linda (in Coach Lappe mode) addressing the crowd at the start line.
Laps getting the crowd fired up for Di.

Pre race mingling.
The crowd getting ready to start the race.
Buff teammates and families ready to walk for Di.
Britt, Coach Barry and Kami catching up during the 5k (or was it 3k?).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer is Serious Returns

  All my hoopers -- no matter where you live -- here's your shot to go to Barcelona in September with Nike Basketball.

  Grab your phone, and have a friend record your skills --your nicest dunk, your range from three, your best ball handling -- show off your A-game and you might be selected!

  Upload, and share your video via social media (Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook) with #SummerIsSerious (#SearchForTheBaddest if you're outside of the US). And don't forget to register here to make it all official.

  If the kind folks at Nike Basketball like your game, you'll get a player card, a nickname, and earn a spot on The Baddest Draft Board (100 spots). After that, you never know what might happen -- you could find yourself on a plane to Barcelona with the Swoosh!

  It's pretty easy. I did it last year. And if you get selected, the payoff is is well-worth it.

  Questions? Let me know!

My entry from last year:
The player card Nike made for me.

The video I submitted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Papa's Team's Revival

Papa's Team -- the 2013 rendition.

  Last summer, I had the opportunity to lead a fundraising and walk effort on behalf of my grandpa benefiting the Alzheimer's Association. 

  Through the help of friends, family and loyal readers, Papa's Team was able to collect $700 for the Portland edition of the 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer's.

  After the walk last summer, I wanted to commit to making the walk a yearly event --to bring attention to the far-reaching disease, raise funds for an outstanding organization, and most importantly, walk in the memory of Papa each and every year.

  As promised, it's that time again to start leading fundraising efforts, and asking friends and family to join us for a walk at PIR in September. 

  Walk details are as follows:
2014 Walk to End Alzheimer's 
Portland, OR 
Date: Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 2pm 
Location: Portland International Raceway 
1940 North Victory Boulevard Portland, OR 97217 
Coordinator: Kara Busick 
Phone: 503-416-0209 
Why Walk is Important
Click for details about Alzheimer's.
  The Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities across the country, the walk calls on participants of all ages and abilities to help affect the future for millions.

  Together, we can end Alzheimer’s disease -- the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death.

  The cost of care and support is rising on a yearly basis because the number of those living with Alzheimer's continues to grow exponentially. It is up to us to help ease those costs, and hopefully, eventually, find a cure.

  My family lost Papa to Alzheimer's in the Spring of 2009, after a 12-year bout with the disease. If our fundraising can help bring awareness to, aid a caregiver or family member, or eventually help with finding a cure, then we have done our job.

  I hope you can join us on September 7th, or donate on behalf of Papa's Team! Let me know if you have any questions.

Nana & Papa
The Dresslers
My cousin, Robbie, & I with Papa.   
Nana & Papa on their anniversary in 2009. 
The Promise Garden at the 2013 Walk. 

Walk start like at Portland International Raceway.
The button I had made for Papa's Team.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Texting & Walking

  There's a new hazard in the streets of Portland (and to venture a guess, every other city throughout the country): people with their faces glued to their phones.

  The number of people walking down the street, any street -- in a city, along a country road, crossing the street in a suburb -- with their noses in their phones is astounding.

  Let them walk into a pole the next time they're at it -- and if it's me, let me run into it head on. Is that too harsh? That way, we'd learn our lesson!

  Just over the past week or so, I've nearly been run into by text and walkers (or Tweeters/Instagrammers and walkers) on four or five occasions.

  Unless you're lost, is what's on your phone really that important?

  Sure, I'm guilty too. But I'm making a conscious effort to put my phone away. When I'm out and about, take in the sights, pay attention to my surroundings -- I've found they can be pretty entertaining and interesting as well.

  It feels like we don't enjoy the moment anymore -- we can just 'be' for a couple minutes. We have to be entertained by some thing at every moment. And we're constantly looking for that next 'thing' --whatever it is -- the video or photo to share, the funny moment to text your friend about.

  But let's be real, it's kind of embarrassing. Go into a work break room, a cafeteria, a library, a mall, any place really -- and we've all got our noses firmly planted in our phones.

  Here's the challenge: let's put the phones away. 

  Enjoy our company. Enjoy our surroundings. Enjoy the scenery.

  If you want, take a picture, but then put your phone right back into your pocket or purse.

  How quick, are we as adults, to judge a group of kids sitting at a table, ignoring their surroundings and their 'friends', nose glued to a screen of some sort? But when it's us at the table, we don't bat an eye.

  It's not a good look.

  Let's give it a shot, and see how it goes. And if you must, please stop in one place, lest you won't run into me (or be hit by a car).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Run Club with Nike Portland

Nike Portland Run Club.

  May and June in the Northwest can be frustrating. Summer is near, but the weather may not always reflect what the calendar says.

  Of course, there are teasers on occasion. But usually the warm, sunny days are scattered between week long bouts of gray, drizzly days.

  In the two weeks that I've been home, I've caught myself feeling like it's mid-July or August on several occasions, but obviously that isn't the case.

  What the summer-like weather has allowed me to do is get a jump on a few summer activities. 

  One of those activities is the Run Club at Nike Portland. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while now, but haven't gotten a chance to participate in.

  I've written before about my fondness/obsession with running.

  More often than not though, running is a solo act for me. Running gives me a chance to clear my head, plan out my day, think through whatever might be running through my mind, and just get outside into the fresh air. No matter how the day is going for me, after 35-45 minutes of pounding the pavement (or the sand, when I'm lucky), the day always gets that much better. 

Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
  But there are definite benefits to a run club.

Run Club Plusses
  For one, it makes running social.

  Portland is an active city, and Oregon in general, is a state that runs. So there are a lot of runners, each with their own interesting story throughout the Rose City. Who knows who you might meet at run club!

  It's been said that the toughest step is a runner's first step out the door. Sometimes that is absolutely true. There are days when you just don't want to get out there. Where you're tired, or don't feel like running. If you do make it out the door, the run usually gets better after those first tough steps or those unmotivated thoughts. But the key is getting out the door.

  Having a run club to go to, makes those first steps easier. It's scheduled. You're going to meet people. Even though they'd run even without you there, you're being held accountable to a certain extent.

  Run club also gives you a change from your usual routes/routines. Every route gets tiresome and boring at some point. Why not find a few new ones?

I got to take the Flyknit Lunar 1 out for a spin!
  One benefit is unique to the Nike Run Club, and came as a surprise to me: you're able to test out new shoes and products during the run club. 

   For three weeks at a time, Nike Portland has new shoe models and products available to try out. If you're thinking about a new pair of shoes, or a new gadget, your local Nike store might let you test it out. If it's a new product for you, you can test it to see if it's to your liking before you plunk down the money.

  I tested the Flyknit Lunar 1. And just one test run was all it took for me to decide they'd be my next runner. 

  Finally, Run Club is free, and I'm betting you'll gain more than you lose from participating. Though I did have to pay for parking. 

  Specifics of the Nike Portland Run Club:
  Portland run club meets twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30, at Nike Portland (on SW 5th & Morrison). They have four different routes they cycle through (Waterfront leftWaterfront rightTerwilliger and the Waterfront Esplanade). Since Portland's downtown sits on the Willamette River waterfront, most of the runs have some pretty scenery.

  Depending on how you're feeling that day, you can choose between a 3, 5 or 7-mile run. All the runs are led by numerous pacers, so no runner will be left behind!

  The warm, sunny Wednesday I went to Run Club there were about 10 other runners. I was told that as the summer weather becomes more and more consistent (usually July thru September), there can be as many as 30-35 runners.

  The out-and-back went quickly for me that day. It was nice chatting up new people, hearing about what they do, what they were training for, what event they had just run, and anything else that might have come up over the course of a 5-mile run. 

  After we made our way back to SW 5th and Morrison, there was water, coconut water, recovery gels and protein bars if we wanted. I've never tried coconut water, so again this gave me the perfect opportunity to test out something new. Can't say I'm a fan, however, so I'll just stick to water.

It's looking a lot like summer in Portland.
A Few Run Club Minuses
  A few things I didn't like: getting out of the city center. It was constant stop and go at crosswalks and lights the first five-plus minutes. Though, once we got to the waterfront, it was fabulous.

  And for me, since I don't work downtown, it's a little difficult to get into the city during the busiest time of the day. But it makes perfect sense for people who already are working downtown, or live close by. 

  There are different run clubs all over the country. They don't always have to be associated with a worldwide corporation like Nike. Sometimes they can just be a group of friends who plan to meet a couple times a week.

  Finding various run clubs in your area can be as easy as googling it, or maybe even check Facebook for a group.

  If running is your thing, or you want it to be your thing, check one out! You won't regret it. I know I'll be going back to the Nike Portland Run Club as often as I can!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Buffs4Life Fun Run for Di

Click image to register for the Buffs4Life Fun Run.

  Diana Spencer came to Boulder with a name suited for royalty. Better known as Di, she quickly became a fan favorite, and more-importantly a teammate favorite, with her fun-loving personality and big heart.

  How could you not adore a girl who lists some of her favorite things as: Elvis, Scooby Doo, the Golden Girls, James Dean, and Peeps.

  Di is everything you could want in a teammate. No matter what, she was always willing to put, you, and the team before herself.

  As another teammate, Tera wrote, Di was the "type of player who was selfless, encouraging and committed to our team. Off the court, Di was fun loving, supportive and had a laugh that was contagious." 

Di, Kate and I as Freshmen. (1999)
  I was lucky enough to be in the same class as Di. Naturally, we became pretty close friends after four years together at CU. We share a lot of memories: some difficult, some funny. But the moments that come to mind when I think of Di immediately put a smile on my face.

A few 'Di' highlights:
  I remember Di taking control of a stuffed duck while we rode around Boulder in Eisha's car -- bringing that toy to life, and having it dance and sing away as onlookers couldn't help but laugh and smile.

The epitome of Di as a teammate.
  I remember running along side Di during one of the many Saturday Breakfast Club runs -- trying to help Di keep her mind off how tired she was, so that she'd make her 5k time and get a few pre-season Saturdays off.

  I remember Di saying hello to virtually every person we passed on campus with a big smile on her face, and when you asked her what their name was, she'd have no idea. But regardless, she remembered their faces and wanted to say hi.

  I remember Sunday omelettes too. Di makes an amazing omelette that she'd occasionally treat her teammates and friends to on lazy off days.

Always up for a good time.
  And other moments that will remain just between teammates.

  I'm going to venture a guess, and say that anyone who has ever spent any time with Di, doesn't smile at the mention of her name. You can't help it.

  In just a few days when she visited me one season in Germany, the support staff and my teammates loved her. At various times throughout the remainder of the season, long after she'd gone, they'd ask me how my friend Di was doing.

Time to Support Di
  Why now, of all times, am I writing about Di?

  Di was recently diagnosed with MS and now it’s time for us to give her our support.

Di at the Alumni game in 2008. 
  Buffs4Life, an organization that helps former University of Colorado athletes in need, is hosting a Family Fun Run on June 22 at the Omni Interlocken Resort.

  All funds raised from this event and money donated will go directly to Di, assisting with out of pocket medical expenses. Buffs4Life also will match 100% of all proceeds raised.

  Whether you were her teammate, a friend or a fan, we invite you to join us for this “Fun Run” to support Di. I plan on being there!

  Even though we're scattered throughout the country, and in some cases the world, Buffs are always one.

  We love you, and we're all here to support you, Di!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Clean or Dirty: Produce Rundown

Pears: clean, or dirty?

  Time for an update! Originally I posted a Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 reminder in March of 2013, but as time goes on, things change.

  With 2014, new Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists have surfaced.

  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a shopper's guide to help consumers avoid high amounts of harmful pesticides on fruit and vegetables.

  The Dirty Dozen (known as the Dirty Dozen Plus, as of 2012) is a list made up of fresh fruits and vegetables that were found to have the highest amount of pesticide residues. Because of the high pesticide levels, it is recommended to always buy Dirty Dozen produce organically.

  On the other hand, the Clean 15 is a list of the 15 fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticide residues. Many of these items have thick skins or rinds that are pealed off, and never eaten, therefore it's not as imperative to buy them organically.

  To see the full list of pesticide residue found on produce, see the EWG's Shopper's Guide.

  So what do you do when your favorite fruit or veggie isn't on either list? I think that's up for you to decide.

  If I can find high-quality, well-priced items that lie just outside the Dirty Dozen, more often than not, I opt to buy them organic.

  Hope this reminder was just as helpful for you as it was for me!



Friday, April 25, 2014

Stronger Every Run

  Nike's Stronger Every Run campaign -- benefiting the Challenged Athletes Foundation in support of athletes and families affected by last April's Boston Marathon tragedy. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Saying No to the Blue Chippers?

Mercer celebrates after beating Duke.

  Not long after Duke lost to Mercer last Friday, a question popped into my head:

  How long until longtime winning coaches (Coach K, in this case) forego recruiting players who are destined to depart their programs after one measly season?

  How long until they decide they want to invest in a player for three to four years again, instead of eight short months?

  The next day, Syracuse lost to Dayton. Followed by Kansas losing to a junior/senior-led Stanford team.

  All longtime winners. All top-tier seeds, loaded with young stars destined for NBA stardom. All losing (early) in the NCAA Tournament on an increasingly regular basis, to teams with more-experienced, older (gasp!) players.

Cinderella No More
  Conversations of March Madness past always centered on the Cinderella story. A mid-major or small school upsetting the top dog, and going on a small run in the tournament. One or two Cinderella stories were destined to happened every couple of years.

  The conversation, then, shifted to this: would Cinderella ever win it all? When the question was first posed, I didn't think it could ever happen. There was no way a no name program would ever string together six wins in a row against the competition that the NCAA Tournament boasted.

Cinderella came up short in the Final two straight years.
  Then Butler University made two consecutive trips to the NCAA Final in 2010 and 2011. And seemingly, every year after, 'small' senior-led teams were making a considerable amount of noise come tournament time.

  It's becoming more common with each passing year for the highly touted, legendary programs to lose to small(er) programs with less-touted players on a regular basis in the NCAA Tournament.

  Whether it's Cinderella or a lesser-touted, senior-laden team, those schools have one thing in common: experience.

Experience Wins Out
  From the jump this March Madness 'season', it was clear -- to me -- that the more experienced teams (Virginia, Florida, Michigan State) were the ones to beat. For the record, Michigan State is my pick to win it all.

  Experienced teams hold several advantages over young, star-studded teams: team cohesiveness, maturity, understanding of each other and their offensive/defensive systems, trust in one another... I could go on and on.

On to the Sweet 16 -- second Round win at Colorado.
Buffalo Example
  It was no different with my Colorado teams in college. My freshman year, we had a sophomore and freshman filled roster. We took our lumps, and lost more games than we won that season.

  Fast forward two years, and that same roster advanced to the Elite Eight.

  Nothing changed over the course of those two years. Not our players, not our plays, not our coaches. What did change was us.

  We grew up, we learned how to compete on the collegiate level, we learned how to play with each other, we knew how to prepare for big games, and we knew how to beat teams that appeared to be better than us on paper.

  Nothing prepares a player like previous experience.

Who Are You Recruiting?
  My attention, then, turns to those who make the decisions, the coaches: who do you want on your team? Who are you recruiting?

  At the end of the day, what is the point of college basketball? To win games? To make money? To recruit the top players? To recruit the best players for your program?

  Money, over time, has become the ruler. For the college programs, and for the players. The lure of huge NBA contracts have driven the players to leave college early on a regular basis. And attracting top-tier talent brings prestige, media coverage, and with that, money, to the program and university.

  In my opinion, both the college and the NBA game have suffered since the 'one and done' rule came into effect in 2006.

Recruiting the Blue Chippers
  Drawing the top name recruits each and every season is always beneficial to a college program. You can't deny that.

  Top recruits attract other top talent, they draw fans, it's glamorous, and you would think it would result in a lot of championships. But at an alarming rate, those top ranked recruits are becoming 'one and doners'; playing the NBA-required one season post-high school, and then leaving college early for the NBA.

  So in reality, recruiting those highly touted prospects is resulting in a lot of roster turn-over, freshman and sophomore filled rosters, and inconsistent performances in the Big Dance.

  It's grown to be beneficial in every way but the one department that really matters: winning in March.

  How long until coaches start to take note?