Joshua Tree Half Marathon by Vacation Races

Joshua Tree Half Marathon – A

#JThalf

On the night of Saturday, November 3rd, I was driving into the Mojave desert completely conflicted. I had a goal to run a half marathon within a year of giving birth to my daughter (11.16.2017). However, I was trying to get over a very rough illness, I was on antibiotics and I had pulled my right calf muscle a couple weeks ago playing soccer. I had been running every single day, with a stroller preparing for this race but had not done my usual long runs because of how difficult it is running with a stroller. With all that being said, I decided I was not going to run the race. I did have all my stuff with me just incase because I just couldn’t say no 100%. The race was in my favorite place in the world, Joshua Tree, CA and my husband and sister-in-law were running the race too. After attending the expo and seeing the runners, at the last minute, I changed my mind and ran the race. I am so glad I chose to run this one!

  • Cost – A

The cost of this race is much like other half marathons. If you register early, you can get in for just $99! Regular registration is $124 and late registration is $149!

If you are strapped for cash, don’t worry! Vacation Races makes it easy for you to save money while running. Scroll to the bottom of their ‘Pricing‘ tab and click ‘How to Save Money‘. These guys/gals are great aren’t they!

  • Race Expo – A

You have to understand, this race is not your typical race and that is actually why I love it. If you hate getting up early and are a night owl this race and expo will be perfect for you. Because this race is at night, the expo is the day of the race. 2018’s race began at 6:15PM on Saturday, November 3rd. The expo opened at 10AM that day. That means you could show up early and get all of your things ready in advanced or you could choose to be a procrastinator, like I was on race day, and show up right before the race to get your packet and then stay to run. The race directors suggest that if you choose to wait until just before the race to pick up your packet and bib, that you get into a parking place by 5PM, an hour and fifteen minutes before the start of the race. That is exactly what I did. I parked my car at 5PM and then stood in line to get my packet. It was perfect! Although there was a bit of traffic, as expected, parking was close to the expo, which was right at the start and finish line. I didn’t have to make multiple trips there, I didn’t have to get up early and I didn’t have to wait around forever to run. I was there early enough to get my packet and get ready. Not only that, but I was able to get some amazing sunset pictures, because nothing beats a desert sunset!

Aside from the race expo being at a convenient time and location, they had awesome booths set up. They sold additional race gear at an exceptionally low cost, they had pizza for sale, a National Park sign up specifically for the race which made for awesome picture opportunities, an area to pick up your hydrapouch and etc.

  • Race Swag – A+

This year we received a moisture wicking Joshua Tree Half Marathon t-shirt that glows in the dark! The Bibs were cute and featured your full name and/or team name on the front. You also had the option of getting a hydrapouch, which I chose to do since the race features a cup-free course.

At the end of the race you get the ALL TIME BEST METAL you will ever get. It is huge and the design is so beautiful. It also glows in the dark which is awesome as it is a night race!

Lastly, a week after the race finished it was such a nice surprise to receive all pictures that were taken by race photographers for FREE!

  • Course – A-

I wanted to give this race course an A+ because I really enjoyed it, however, I gave it an A- because of the difficulty of the course. I loved that this race was run at night and in the dark. It made for the perfect race conditions. The race was the perfect temperature, I wasn’t too hot, baking in the sun, nor was I too cold, since it was run just after sunset. I felt great, the entire race!

Because it is dark you are unable to see the beautiful landscape of the desert. At first, I worried this would bother me. “What am I going to look at?!” I thought. I actually was not bored for one moment of this course. I loved the thrill of running through the remote desert in the middle of the night. The course posed challenges that would make it hard to look around. There were parts of the race that were in deep, soft sand, parts of the race on pavement, up hill, down hill, and hard sand. I was constantly checking my footing and looking for the next challenge that would arise. This made the course so much fun but definitely one of the hardest races I have ever run. (Remember to bring a head lamp or flash light when running this one!)

One other aspect of this race that is different than other races is that it is a cup free course. I have never run a race like this before and thought this was going to be very inconvenient. You can opt in for a hydropouch upon registration and I strongly recommend it. You could also go to REI and get yourself a collapsable cup to carry with you. Either way, the race directors did great with cup free water stops! I never had to wait in line. I was always able to run right up, get water, an electrolyte drink and/or snacks and run out!

On the website they say this course is “kind of” stroller friendly but they do not recommend running with strollers. I train and run daily with a baby in a stroller and let me say this, there is absolutely no way anyone would want to run this with a stroller. The sand gets too deep, up hill and the trail is very slim and can be crowded at times. It would be extremely difficult to complete with a stroller.

  • Participants – A-

The Joshua Tree Half Marathon had between 2500-3500 runners. The beginning of the race gets a little crowded even though the race directors organized the waves of runners well. After about 2-3 miles, things start to spread out. The runners are all wonderful. I watched runners help each other out on the course with lights, when runners fell, at water stops and etc. The vibe of the participants was happy, positive, uplifting and fun!

Vacation Races also provided runners with pacers! They had pacers in ten minute intervals starting at 1 hour and 40 minute pace up to 2 hours and 30 minute pace.

  • Spectators – C 

Because of the nature of the course being in remote areas of the desert and in the dark, there is no where on the course, aside from the start and finish for spectators. The race directors make this known. With that being said, the spectators at the end of the race were absolutely wonderful, standing out in the desert, at night, cheering! Thank you spectators!

  • Finish – A+

The finish was amazing. When you get towards the end of the race and you start hearing and seeing very energetic and uplifting spectators. There are all kinds of different colored lights on the ground for about a hundred or two hundred yards before the finish. There is an emcee on the microphone congratulating you by name and where you are from. People are cheering. It was wonderful!

The finish is equipped with amazing metals, chocolate and strawberry milk, hot chocolate, water, food boxes, a night sky movie, and a place to hang out with all of your new running pals!

  • Overall Race Grade – A

This race was all around amazing! I will definitely be back for the 2019 race. For more information and to sign up for next years race, click here.

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Jessie Zahner is the owner of Athletchic.com. You can follow her on twitter at @Athletchic.

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Loving Layla Grace

First time her name crossed my lips, a Pacific breeze followed me up the hill that leads away from the ocean in Redondo Beach, California. As I climbed, the night sky hovered above me like an upside-down bowl, a hint of powdered sugar dusting its bottom.

I saw it then. The flash. Just as I spoke her name. Layla Grace.

The November sky lit up and my eyes shot toward the upturned, twinkling basin. There was my sign—a shooting star brighter than any I’ve ever seen. It etched a bright, backward C into the night as if chastising, “Cyndie? No backward, negative thinking!” Then it faded like fairy dust into a black, velvety-caked sky, and I knew.

Layla Grace was going to be fine.

I was blessed to be in the room when she, my sweet granddaughter, was born into this strong family of women. It took my daughter, Jessie, a whole lot of labor and three pushes to bring Layla into the world. When Layla didn’t show on the second push, Jessie said, “I thought I was a bigger beast than that.”

And she, Jessie, is a beast. She’s been uprooted three times for her husband’s occupation. Left good jobs behind knowing she would be forced to start from scratch somewhere else. And start over she did. All three times she succeeded beyond measure, working two jobs most of the time.

Now she takes yet another job. The hardest of all. Motherhood. It comes at a cost most women don’t first recognize, yet would be willing to pay even if they did. That price is sacrifice.

Admitting you must sacrifice for your children is hard for a mother. But not for a grandmother. Because now your baby is making those sacrifices.

Sometime after Layla’s arrival, I realized the gravity of the sacrifice most of us women make for our children. The life changes they command. Now we wake up in the morning and think, “What does my child need today?” “Where do I have to take her?” “What do I feed her?” We rise, do what we have to do, and ask for no thanks. We may, in an occasional weak moment, blow up and tell everyone they’re selfish. But for the most part, we don’t mind the doing, the giving.

Because we have each other.

The sacrifices we women make bind us together. Give us an I-understand comradery men don’t share and a hand to hold on to as we tread water in that ocean—like the one in Redondo Beach. Our strength rises and falls with the waves. We swim along together, flap our feet, find shallow spots, deep holes. Sometimes we plummet toward the bottom and kick up rock and stone, then forcefully make our way back to the top. To breath.

My mother passed away thirteen years before Layla came to be with us. She was our family’s matriarch. A giver. Faithfull servant. The memory of her standing stoically beside my father’s casket is forever framed in my mind. She had a strength I do not have, and yet, I have strengths that escaped her. And my daughters have strengths that elude me. So we lean on each other.

The sisterhood of women, which my sweet little Layla Grace has been born into, produces a mighty adrenaline.

I’m old now—my mother’s age when Jessie was born, but I don’t feel old. Or wise. Like people say  I should feel. The day Layla was born, I felt young. Fragile and scared. They whisked her off to the NICU shortly after her birth because Jessie—my baby—had a fever. They started antibiotics to treat possible bacterial infections in both of them.

My toes sank toward the bottom of the ocean as my mind traveled back in time thirty-two years. To a different neonatal unit far away. To my beautiful little daughter, Jackie, who only lived fifteen hours.

When Jessie asked me to go to the neonatal unit with her to see Layla, I thought of Jackie, and I swear I felt my feet imbed in the ocean’s bottom. Yet, I leaned on Jessie. Her confidence. She was sure she and Layla would be fine. I grabbed hold of her hand and she lifted me up.

Isn’t that what we women do? Pull the sinking women around us back up to the top?

My good friend, Carol, and Jessie’s strength guided me through the forty-eight hours we waited for their tests to come back normal. To most people, it would have been nothing. But to me? After burying my little Jackie years ago? My entire life passed before my eyes.

Sometimes we women are strong and sometimes we crumble. But we love—always. And we support. And we keep on swimming through the waves and the current, reaching for each other’s firm grip and watching the skies for shooting stars.

And as for my shooting star? I am grateful and honored and blessed to say Layla Grace is fine and healthy and, of course, strong.

To all those women, who have hollered “keep swimming” to me or lent me a hand over the years, thank you. Some of you have done that in the past few weeks and some of you have done that at other times in my life when I needed you most. I promise to be there for you, when you are searching for your shooting star.

I may not have a sister to talk to, but I have good—no, great—friends, a  mother and  little angel looking down on me from heaven, and two strong daughters who will have each other to rely on long after I am gone, and now? Now I have Layla Grace.

And, so far in my life, loving Layla Grace has been the easiest of all my motherly tasks.

MomJessLaylapicinwhiteandjeans

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Cyndie Zahner is a freelance writer. Follower her on Twitter at TweetyZ or Instagram at Athletchicz. Or visit her author website under construction at www.cyndiezahner.com.

Feeling Amazing on Amazing Grass Elixirs!

Alright, so let me tell all you athletchics about a product that I have had my family using for the last 30 days! I am not the kind of person who likes ANYTHING! I am a very picky eater/drinker. I also am always looking for something to fuel myself and my family.

I noticed that both my husband and I had been working A LOT recently and because of that our diets had been slipping. We were eating out more, grabbing more fast food, more quick snacks, and in turn, less nutritious, healthy food. We both were getting sluggish, tired, and my skin was out of control! So for 30 days, I decided we would include Amazing Grass Elixirs into our everyday diet in attempt to improve our overall health.

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Amazing Grass Elixirs come in three types, Brain, Belly and Beauty. They are all organic and gluten free. They are filled with farm-fresh greens and adaptogenic herbs, things my family was not getting in our everyday routine. You can use these elixirs in a number of different ways. My husband would drink them as shakes, using just the elixir and mixing it with water. I got a little more creative with the elixirs and drank or ate them as smoothies or smoothie bowls. The great thing about Amazing Grass is they don’t just send you a bunch of product and leave you hanging. Their website is robust and so useful! They provide users with many different recipes and ideas on how to use their products and incorporate them in your diet in many different ways.

After 30 full days of using Amazing Grass products both my husband and I feel literally AMAZING! The Elixirs have provided us with nutrients that we have not been getting regularly. We both feel as though we are less sluggish, that we have more energy and are able to focus more clearly on projects, work, and etc. Aside from that, one thing that we both really loved from the turn out of this 30 day trial, is that we noticed more clear skin and less bloating feelings.

We both recommend these products for individuals who live a busy lifestyle that also want to add a healthy, nutritious, quick snack to their daily routine!

SO FOR ALL OF OUR FOLLOWERS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN AMAZING GRASS, USE PROMOTION CODE/COUPON CODE SweatPink17 TO GET 40% OFF AMAZING GRASS PRODUCTS.

***LASTLY, WE ARE GOING TO BE GIVING AWAY SOME AMAZING GRASS PRODUCT. TO BE ELIGIBLE TO WIN FOLLOW ATHLETCHIC, ATHLETCHICZ AND AMAZINGGRASS ON INSTAGRAM. ONCE YOU HAVE FOLLOWED ALL THREE ACCOUNTS, GO TO ATHLETCHICS LAST IG POST, LIKE THE POST AND COMMENT ‘DONE’ IN THE COMMENTS! WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN 10/20/2017 AT 8PM EST/5PM PST!

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Jessie Zahner is the owner of Athletchic.com. You can follow her on Instagram (Athletchic) or on Twitter at @Athletchic.

 

 

Peppy in prAna

prAna Product Reviews

 Women’s Uptown Pant

  • Product Number: W4UPTP315
  • Color: Cargo Green
  • Size : Medium
  • Price : $89.001

Although in a very big transitional point in my life, I am currently seven months pregnant, I am still true to myself. What does that mean? It means I have not changed one bit, except my tummy is a little larger than normal. I haven’t not become any less curious or energetic. I am still running, hiking, climbing, doing yoga, working out, just a bit slower than usual.

So being that my weight and size is changing, I was looking for multi-use, durable, versatile and stylish piece that I could use in different areas of my wardrobe. While looking for pants, I wanted something that I could bum around the house in, something I could wear hiking and something that would be acceptable to head out in, whether to work, the grocery store or a friend’s house. I searched literally EVERYWHERE and resulted to all black yoga pants (which get boring after a while) and wearing a LOT of dresses.

I was literally in a fashion depression and then I came to prAna’s website where I searched for pants. The site had many great options but I had never purchased anything from prAna before. Would the pants fit right? Would they look okay on me? Was the material going to be sturdy? I decided to choose just a single pair of pants to test out the quality of prAna’s products. I went with the Uptown Pant in the Cargo Green color. A couple days later the pants showed up at my house. I have to say, I really did NOT think I would love a pair of pants this much. I never order pants online since they don’t ever fit right. Plus, I am more of a yoga pants and jeans kind of girl. However, the Uptown Pant from prAna soon became one of my all-time favorite pairs of pants.

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They are perfect for the adventurer in us all. They are light weight, breathable, loose fitting, durable, airy, comfortable pants. Whether you are road tripping for hours or hiking the desert, you will be able to move about the car or world comfortably in this pair of pants.

They are perfect for relaxing around the house. The breath-ability and looseness of the pants makes these the perfect pair of pants to bum around home in. They are comfortable and airy and great for your normal laid back days.

They are perfect for the working girl. These pants are beautiful and stylish. I have paired these pants with black flats and a blouse and turned them from hiking pants into a business casual look at work. I have worn these out to dinners with friends, to the grocery store, any and everywhere.

8They are even perfect for the pregnant girl! Although these pants are not your typical maternity pair of pants, they have been great for me even at seven months pregnant! The elastic through back waistband makes it easy for me to get into the pants at this stage of pregnancy, and yet will still fit once I am no longer pregnant. I love that this is a piece that I can wear at all stages of life.

What I am trying to say is these pants are EVERYTHING! I am very critical of pants. I have the hardest time fitting into certain pants. Different styles that look great on certain people always look horrible on me. When not pregnant I wear a size six pant. I have wide hips and thick thighs (thanks to soccer). It is so hard to find a pair of pants that fits just right. I am five feet, four inches tall, a lot of pants are too long for me, so I constantly find myself rolling my pant legs. I have to say, even with all of these issues, I ordered a size medium and these pants were perfect!

If you too are looking for a versatile pair of pants that are light, durable and comfortable, use the promo code FAJZ15 on prana.com to get 15% off these pants and many more products from prAna. I promise you, you will not be disappointed in this pair of pants!

Women’s Sway Tank

  • Product Number: W13170213
  • Color: Black
  • Size : Medium
  • Price : $69.00

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As a runner living in California, I am a tank top kind of girl when it comes to attire for my work outs. Choosing the women’s Sway Tank was an easy option for me. What I love about this product is that the tank has a built in bra that is beautiful. The website also offers a Roxanne Capri that matches the bra, which would make an awesome outfit to wear to yoga or to go grab groceries in.

In terms of functionality, this top is best suited for and also intended for yoga. Wearing this top to yoga class was great. I was able to move about the class freely in this top without pulling at it or struggling with it during different poses, positions and stretches.

I have also used this top to hike and climb in. I actually loved it to hike in, especially when I was in the desert. The material is light and keeps you cool.

Because of the lightness of the shirt, weight-wise, I tried it out on a run. For me, the bra did not offer enough support while running. This is not a problem unique to this top, I have never found a top with a built in bra that I felt offered me enough support. All other activities I wore the top for the support was great and keep in mind, this top is not intended for running.

So for all you yogis out there, this top is perfect for you!

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Additional prAna Product Information

I take pride in the things that I endorse on my site. Some products are greater than others, but prAna has seriously impressed me. prAna’s motto is:

Welcome to a world where we re-write the rules, re-route the road map, and let all routines be damned.

A world for the curious. For the creative. For the spirited; where we play long, travel light, and trust our instincts.

Welcome to prAna – Design that sets you free.

When I read this I honestly thought maybe my long lost twin was out there creating a line of clothing specifically designed for me. Everything above, is me! On top of that, prAna stands by all of their products. If you do not absolutely love your prAna purchase, they will offer you a full refund or exchange. (See details at: prAna.com/returns or call 1.866.915.6457).

prAna created sustainable products as they strive to minimize their impact on the environment and what it means for future generations. They go the extra mile to design everything with the best possible materials and practices. So if you are a lover of planet earth, this company is for you!

Both products purchased meet The bluesign® criteria. This is a system for sustainable textile production. bluesign® eliminates harmful substances from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for an environmentally friendly and safe production. These products are created with minimum impact on people and the environment with the highest level of consumer safety. It ensures that the final textile product meets very stringent consumer safety requirements worldwide and provides confidence to the consumer to acquire a sustainable product. You can find out more about bluesign® criteria at www.bluesign.com.

Added a few extra details to this piece:

  • Recycled
  • Organic
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Hemp
  • Fluorine Free
  • PFOA Free

As if I did not love these products enough, the backbone of prAna’s company makes me love their products even more.

So for all of our readers or followers who are interested in prAna products, use promotion code/coupon code FAJZ15 to get 15% off any items on prAna’s website.

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Jessie Zahner is the owner of Athletchic.com. You can follow her on Instagram (Athletchic) or on Twitter at @Athletchic.

The Baby Inside My Baby

We athletchics believe we can have it all: family, career, exercise, and possibly travel the globe. But what happens when we get the big news? Hear those seven words that change our lives?

“You are going to have a baby.”

Well, we still believe we can have everything our heart desires, after all, we are tough. Invincible. Our low BMI and healthy living will catapult us into healthy pregnancies. This is going to be easy.

Right?

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

When it isn’t

Thirty-four years ago my OBGYN gave me the bad news: I was dilated to five at thirty weeks gestation.  High risk. He sent me home with a note for work and sentenced me to bed rest.

Yes, sentenced. Any athletchic would consider being confined to the couch a sentence. For a good eight hours of rest? Okay, we would welcome that. But for ten weeks? Yikes!

My first thought was how could this happen to me? I was a runner, swimmer, skier. I batted balls back and forth over nets and against walls and bats, all while working a full-time job. I worked hard and played harder. Was in perfect shape. You name the sport, I partook.

High risk pregnancies happen to the best of us and when it does, we adjust. We heed our doctor’s advice and we rest. Pushing ourselves to the limit and taking risks is fine, when it is just us. But when we are carrying a child, we submit. (It is the only time in our lives that submission is necessary.)

When I was pregnant with my first child, Jessie (Athletchic), I discovered my mother took the famed DES pill. The technical name for DES has long escaped me. But its purpose was to help women who had trouble carrying babies get to a full-term, healthy delivery. Unfortunately years later, the female babies of those mothers who took the drug were plagued with a barrage of female and fertility problems.

I had six pregnancies, three healthy children, and a hysterectomy at age forty. And I was one of the lucky ones. Many DES babies couldn’t carry babies full term at all.

And, I don’t own the corner on tough pregnancies. Lots of women have them. If it happens? Simply, you adjust. It’s not forever. (Only a blink in time when you’re my age.)

What’s good is that high-risk pregnancies are not the norm. Having a baby is natural, and most women have a much easier time than I did.

When it’s easier

Let’s not confuse easier with easy. Pregnancy is challenging. You have another life inside you, and you become concerned with everything you put in your mouth, the amount of rest you get, travel, even the weather can be a challenge. (A friend of ours, Athletchic Elana Morales, was born a week late in Houston, Texas, on the Thursday after Harvey reared his ugly head!)

But my baby, Jessie, is having a baby and, while for years we worried that she would go through the same troubles I did, she is healthy and active and beginning her thirty-third week. Working, walking, hiking in the mountains, and even able to do a little running, she hangs onto every word her OBGYN gives her.

What is important to remember about pregnancy is that we are all different and no two pregnancies are the same. You’ll hear stories spanning from women who didn’t know they were pregnant until delivery (secretly, we long to be them) to those who knew the day after they missed their period (when the aroma of their daily coffee made them throw up in the sink.)

Each pregnancy is as unique and diverse as the baby inside you.

A little advice from an expectant grandma

Listen to your body and don’t listen to anything or anyone else except your doctor. Or at least only half listen, because people talk too much about the problems and not enough about the joys.

If you asked me what my pregnancy was like thirty years ago when it was fresh in my mind, I would have complained about the morning sickness. Twenty years ago I would have mentioned not being able to see what color shoes I had on in the morning. (Yep I got it wrong a few times. One black. One blue.) If you asked ten years ago, I’d mention my worries about the rising college costs.

And if you ask me today, thirty years later?

I remember little hands and feet fluttering inside me; my husband stroking my belly, trying to get closer; never being alone; reading softly to my unborn child; and closing my eyes and holding tiny, terrycloth sleepers to my cheek in anticipation, knowing I had already fallen in love.

Some of us have a hard time and for some, the months pass easily by. Whether you must plod along bravely or are one of the lucky ones who sail by, my advice is savor this time you and your baby have together. Because before you know it, those tiny toes pushing at your belly will be strong enough to carry that child far away from you. She will be off in the world standing on her own, maybe—like mine—with a baby in her own belly.

I love you and that little girl inside you, Jessie. More than you know. I’m counting down the days, hours, and minutes to November 11th. See you soon.

Enjoy.

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Gigi, Cyndie Zahner, is a freelance writer and about to be a grandmother for the first time. Follow her on Twitter @tweetyz, Instagram @athletchicz, or on her author website at www.cyndiezahner.com.

Women Need to Back Fox’s Pitch

Women in baseball. Is it far-fetched? Let’s compare swim caps to ball caps: Katie Ledecky to Ginny Baker.

If a jocular pat on the behind after a good inning (episode one) was all women need overcome to play ball, one of us would be kissing necklaces, counting steps, and spitting sunflower seeds by now. But other hurdles antagonize us.

Athletchic is first to commend—celebrate!—the birth of Ginny Baker into the MLB on Fox’s new Thursday night prime-time show Pitch. Sure, she’s tall, dark, and stunningly beautiful (we are still talking TV here) but she brings with her a plethora of real-life problems that might occur if a woman suited up. And that’s a pretty big if.

If a woman can play ball. Can she? We can’t look at all the angles to that question but let’s look at a blaring few.

Physicality

Pardon the pun but do we have the balls to play? Technically no. Figuratively, yes. Our hearts, lungs and muscles may be smaller, but today science constantly raises the bar. Better training, equipment, and nutrition make us bigger, stronger, faster.

Disagree? I challenge your opinion with two words: Katie Ledecky.

I know. Good as she is, her 3:56:46 in the 400 freestyle still lags 16 seconds behind the men’s record. But hear me out. There are 30 MLB teams (I think you know where I’m going) with rosters of 25 (I could debate that number but don’t need to) for a total of 750 male athletes playing professional ball. So let’s take balls out of the scenario (and at the same time leave them in) and convert those players to swimmers. Teams of 25 swimmers on 30 teams swimming the 400 freestyle and guess who shows up as number 311 on the men’s list at http://www.fina.org/content/swimming-world-ranking right between good old Alex and Eric?

You got it. Our man Katie.

In fact, look further. I hate to be the bearer of bad news to the Archie Bunkers of men’s baseball, but that puts her way above Ginny Baker’s fifth-on-the-roster spot. Hell, a few torn rotator cups of team mates and Ledecky is in the starting line-up.

So move on to a second hurdle.

Punctuality

How’s the timing? Is Prime Time the right hour for a story about a profession female ball player?

Baseball is all about timing. Stepping up to the plate, swinging the bat to meet the pitch perfectly, tagging home plate before the ball slips into the catcher’s mitt. Does Fox earn a run?

Athletchic encourages more women and girls to get behind Ginny Baker. We feel she’s arrived on the mound at just the right time. If you don’t think so, we challenge your opinion with one word. Hillary.

With public audiences drooling over Hill versus Donnie reality TV (oh wait, strike reality), what’s a little girl-meets-boy on-the-pitcher-mound saga? Fox couldn’t have timed this show better if they tried. It seems orchestrated from the upper deck. And if you feel the possibility of having a female president in 2016 doesn’t prove perfect timing then let’s mention Mo’ne Davis. (Athletchic isn’t sure she wasn’t the inspiration behind this story.)

Years ago, a little girl didn’t have the opportunity to play ball like the boys. She grew up on the sidelines tangled in ribbons while boys logged precious minutes, hours, days on the field. Don’t think that doesn’t count. How many families taunting boys with major league potential didn’t pack bags for those snowball prodigies and send them south for winter to spend more time with a girl’s best friend? (Don’t even tell me you didn’t get that.) Time spent in the diamond is everything.

Fox’s Pitch is the story of a girl, Ginny, with a talent, pitching. She has the balls to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the boys and play major league baseball. She’s fifth on the roster, and her feminism may have saved her from a trip back to the minor leagues, but sometimes physicality and punctuality has to be brushed aside and an exception made. Because on this television show, out in the stands, little girls sitting in bleachers have tossed out their Cinderella costumes for Ginny Baker costumes. They wave signs that say “Go Ginny” with thoughts of “it could be me” dancing in their heads.

And out in TV land, little girls sit on couches, wearing Nike sneakers, drinking coke, and responding to their brothers when they say, “that could never happen,” with a hard, cold, determined and strong, “don’t be so sure.”

What could be better than that?

Thanks Fox. Girls? Let’s get behind Ginny Baker and support Pitch.

_____________________________________________________________________________ Cyndie Zahner is a freelance writer. Follow her on Instagram @athletchicz or Twitter @tweetyz.

 

Pitch -A Prime Time Series with Pitch-Perfect Timing

Is this concept far-fetched? A woman playing professional baseball?

If you answer yes, then ask yourself what the responses would have been 100 years ago to this question: Is this concept far-fetched? A woman president?

I thank my lucky stars times are changing. I am the mother of three strong children. Two are girls and today those two girls have so much opportunity it would make my grandmother’s head spin.

But I digress, back to baseball.

Pitch is the new “what if?” series on Thursday night. What if a girl made it to the MLB? What if a teammate hit her on the butt after she had a good inning? What if the crowds got behind her just because she was a woman? What if she was named an all-star, not because she was deserving, but because she was the only woman to make it to the major leagues?

Starting to sound familiar? If not, you aren’t a news junkie glued to the presidential election like me.

This prime-time show has been timed perfectly. It isn’t merely about pitching and batting. It’s about women. Struggle. And Life. Its name, two-fold. It pitches the story of female pitcher Ginny Baker and the concept of a woman submerged in a man’s world. Which one of us hasn’t walked that baseline?

As if a girl playing baseball wasn’t a big enough dream, last night producers elected Ginny to the MLB all-star team. Clearly she wasn’t the best candidate—but she was a girl. And girls have dreams. And dreams pay big at the box office. So regardless of how skilled (qualified mind you) she was, the voting crowds of baseball fans checked her name (on the ballot) and Ginny became an all-star.

I’d like to stay out of politics but this is way too tempting. Fiction assimilating reality. Pitch comes at a time when we girls need to dream big.

I listened as Michelle Obama spoke yesterday with the emotion and poise of a woman who knows her place and importance in history. One who doesn’t want our world to take the slightest step backwards for our girls. So she’s encouraging a vote for Hilary. I envisioned she and her girls, later that evening, sitting down to watch all the news reels about the elections and her perfectly executed speech and happening across the silly little drama series of a female pitcher who dared to dream big. I think she’d like it.

I’ll be blunt because I can. I’m not crazy about Hillary. She will never understand my middle-class trials. I hate her hand in Benghazi, cringe about her emails, and worry she’ll open the borders and ask the middle class working souls to pick up the tab. Political analysts will crucify me for this but at 59 years old, I’ll blame this skeptical opinion on my upbringing: The Republican Party protects the rich. The Democratic Party protects the rich and the poor. No matter what promises they make to us, we middle-classers are left standing alone, fending for ourselves.

Case in point: I hear Chelsea Clinton came to my hometown. She flew in and out for a $250 per plate luncheon. Didn’t speak to a soul other than those she was paid to speak to. It saddened me. I’m so proud of Hillary and Chelsea as they trudge down the line, stamping a path to make future travel for women easier. But I can’t help but feel the Clintons think they’re above the rest of us. Too good for us.

Still, I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. Why? Well because I am a woman and the mother of two woman, and the alternative? I can’t possibly go there—take that step (or maybe even a giant leap) backwards.

Hillary may not go down in history as the best president, but she won’t be the worst. Likewise, she may not be the best role model (I’ll never condone staying with a man who has cheated on you countless times) but she won’t be the worst. She’ll take her spot in history, well, because it’s time for this story. Just like it’s time for Ginny to play ball.

I love Pitch. It’s so fictitious, it’s almost real.

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Cyndie Zahner is a freelance writer and faithful fan of Pitch. Follow her on Twitter @Tweetyz and Instagram @athletchicz.

REALITY RECAP – THE BACHELOR – SEASON 20, EPISODE 7 -#THEBACHELOR

Athletchicz is storming mad because Ben sent ImBECCable Becca home. We have an idea why. Here’s our opinion on the night:

Ben brings six girls home to Warsaw, Indiana—six nice girls—but the nicest is Becca.

He rides in on a pontoon boat, takes the girls out on a lake, and later asks LB (of course) out on a date in front of the other girls. Athletchic loves Measly-mouthed little LB, but we wanted him to ask Becca. Here’s:

The Warsaw No-Rose One-on-One Date

He drives around in his red truck showing LB where he grew up. They stop at the Baker Youth Club where he use to work, and producers bring in Paul George and George Hill from the Indiana Pacers because kids aren’t Bachelor fans. Measly-mouth is lovable. Later he takes her to his apartment, and they hold hands and drink wine. She talks about his lame accusation last week that she acts differently when he’s not around.

She tells him she was concerned that he listened to what someone else said about her and couldn’t defend herself.  They talk it out, kiss, make up and go to a hometown bar to meet Ben’s friends. We move on to the next date disappointed, feeling like the other Bachelorettes are right. He likes LB best:

The One-on-One No-Rose NoJo Date

Ben meets NoJo at Wrigley Field where Cubs’ shirts, tagged Mr. and Mrs. Higgins on back, are awaiting them. Ben admits he’s a big Cubs fan. They take turns at bat, and Ben hits more like a girl than Nojo. (My husband’s words.) They get along great. Ben says there’s passion. They have dinner on the field. NoJo says she’s a little insecure. He reassures her and yada, yada, here’s the thing: Nojo is nice but we like Becca. So we are on to:

The Becca-Caila-Mommy Group Date

I’m going to shorten this because I’m flipping mad. It’s not a fun group date. He doles out alone time to each girl. Mommy says she wants him to meet her girls in her squeaky voice even though she just told the camera she wasn’t sure she wanted him to meet them. Don’t-know-if-she-likes-Ben Caila cries that she’s not part of a big group like Ben. And Becca says please don’t blind side me.

Mommy Amanda gets the night’s only rose, and Ben sends Becca and Don’t-know Caila back to the house. Athletchic is so mad that we don’t watch the rest of the date.phonto (9)

Here’s our opinion: First, Athletchic feels if Ben isn’t 99% sure he is going to pick Amanda in the end, then taking her home to meet her two little girls is just downright selfish. Period.

Second, Amanda is a replica of LB. Tiny, little, submissive blonde and Athletchic is beginning to feel Ben is so insecure he will only pick an insecure partner. And he’s three for three:  LB, Nojo and Mommy Amanda. See the pattern? Onward:

The Oh-My-Gosh-He’s-Actually-Taking-TwinEm-Home Date

Yep, he takes TwinEm home. This was another shocker. TwinEm is adorable and again, we love her too, but clearly she is too young for this show. Producers only selected her because she and her twin are beautiful, but they forgot to tell Ben.

She meets the fam. Tells his mother she wants to be a cheerleader and his father that she doesn’t like vegetables. Momma Higgins cries and Ben sends TwinEm and her beautifully-blue, teary eyes home.

We are on to the:

Worst-Rose-Ceremony-in-Bachelor-History  

Ben goes ahead with the rose ceremony. Becca doesn’t get a rose. And there is only one question left to ask:

What do you not understand about the word blindside, Ben?

Hope you are feeling good about yourself, Ben, but Athletchic is broken hearted. Prince Charming reduced to a toad.

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Cyndie Zahner is a freelance writer and NO LONGER a The Bachelor fan. Follow her on Twitter @tweetyz or on Instagram @athletchicz.

 

 

Monday is Throw-away-ugly-shoes Day!

The third Monday of every November is Throw-away-ugly-shoes Day. It’s the day we toss all of the ugly shoes we’ve accumulated in the back of our closets.

Don’t lie. You have them. Shoes that you bought for a wedding, work, or to go out on the town in. They may have been cheap or, worse yet, on sale. And now, even though you know you don’t need them, you are having a hard time making the big break with them.

But let’s be honest, you don’t like them.

Women sometimes have unhealthy attachments.

Attachments can be an issue for women. We get used to having shoes at the back of our closet. Even if they are useless, we keep them. Our boyfriend may have picked them out, a friend might have said we looked good in them, or they may have been the perfect color for a work outfit.IMG_5009

Now they sit there filling that void in the corner, and we conjure up reason after reason why we shouldn’t get rid of them.

But no more. This Monday we are going to do a little sole searching. Ask yourself  a few simple questions:

What drew you to those shoes?

Take a long look at the reason you chose those shoes in the first place.

You may have been shopping—alone. They weren’t exactly what you were looking for, but you had a wedding to go to and didn’t have any to wear. They were low healed. Sturdy. You thought you’d look good on the dance floor with them.

Or maybe your friend had a similar pair. She wore them out every weekend. To the bars. Shopping. Scrap booking. So you bought that brand of shoe, too—they seemed to fit.

Or finally, maybe you needed cushy, sensible shoes to wear on the job. You saw a newspaper ad. It was enticing. Now work shoes fill that empty space in the back of the closet.

What was I thinking?

What was I thinking?

Regardless of whether it was your boyfriend, friends or work that inspired you, it’s time to ask the hard question:

Why can’t you get rid of them?

Think hard. They’re sitting idly in the corner. You don’t love them. You may never have loved them. So is it the shoe you are hanging on to? Or merely the idea of the shoe filling that space?

For we women, it’s about the void—not the shoe. We were raised to believe that every successful woman has a closet full of shoes. So now we struggle with every inch of emptiness.

Athletchic.com is here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. A little open space in your closet is a good thing. You get a better view. You can clearly see which are your most valuable shoes. And you’ll have room to store some other items that will make you  forget those shoes.

Like skis, roller blades, a bottle of wine or a box of expensive candy. Put an early Christmas present for yourself there. Stack vacation books for the next time you’re off work. Buy a fireproof file and fill it with irreplaceable items such as—pictures of childhood IMG_5035friends, letters from your family, or your grandmother’s locket. Make sure it can withstand the heat.

Once you’ve organized your closet, removed the useless shoes, and stored a few important items, you’ll have the space and wherewithal to:

 Go out and buy the right pair of shoes.

Get dressed. Look in the mirror. You are strong. Beautiful. Too good to fill your closet with any more shoes you don’t like. Then go out and look for a new pair. There are hundreds—thousands—out in the big world waiting for you.

And if it takes a while to find them—who cares?

Don’t force it. You’ll find shoes eventually. And they’ll be perfect.  You’ll be wearing them when they’re old and tattered.

The secret is, if you can’t find the right ones on your first venture: go home, snuggle up in front of the fire in your bare feet, and read a good book or watch a great movie.

Because relaxing in your bare feet is comfortable.

There is beauty in the realization that you are comfortable in your own skin, and you don’t need a new pair of shoes.IMG_5041

So this Monday, instead of wallowing in shoe-tossing dread, take a deep breath and toss.

We promise it will feel good.

Happy Throw-away Day!

________________________________________________________________                           Cyndie Zahner is a freelance writer/editor. She’ll be tossing lots of shoes on Monday.  Follow her at @ahtletchicz on Instagram or Tweetyz on Twitter.

 

 

Mothers of Daughters – Our Hardest Job

It’s not easy for us—mothers of daughters. Almost from the time they take their first steps, we drill in them that they can be anything they want to be. We encourage them to be strong, willful, powerful, and tell them to dream big. Find their passion. Set lofty goals.

Then we send them on their way to focus on their dreams, and we find ourselves panicking beyond belief. What were we thinking? A myriad of mothering questions enter our minds. Will they be careful? Eat well? Get enough sleep? Will they know how to get around in a big city? Find a safe hotel in a small town?

For the rest of our lives we will wonder and worry if we’ve done our job: prepared them for the big world.

I dropped my daughter off at the airport at 4:40 this morning. She had spent a week at home before boarding a flight to Philly that would eventually lead her to Norfolk, New York City, and Baltimore for a two-week training period at a new job. After I was out of earshot, I realized I’d forgotten to tell her to write down the license plate of any cab she takes, hold her keys in her fingers to gouge out a mugger’s eyes, only drink from a container she opened herself, and never meet with anyone in her room.

I tried to reassure myself that she knew these cautionary ploys, but other questions surfaced. What if her luggage was lost? Was her phone charged? Did she have directions? Did she pack her toothbrush?

I’ve raised two strong women. Both educated beyond college, both successful, and both braver than I ever was. My oldest left her home town when she was 18 and, other than coming back for a few summers to work, really never came home. My youngest daughter, a special education teacher, announced fifteen months ago that she had landed a new job in a great school district—400 miles away. Her father and I moved her –all by herself—to a big city, and I cried all the way home.

It’s scary—this mothering business. Teaching our daughters to be strong is imperative, but sending them down the road is possibly the hardest job we will ever tackle. It goes against our grain. We become so used to caring for them that once it’s time for them to care for themselves, we are at odds with the world.

Yet it is a necessary evil—saying goodbye. I don’t think I realized until this morning that we really haven’t done our jobs until we can say goodbye.

So this morning, once again, I choked back those tears, told her good luck, kissed her goodbye and watched my strong, successful, thirty-one year old go off in the direction of her dreams.

It was happy and it was sad, but most definitely, it was a proud moment.  I watched her walk confidently toward the baggage scanner in the bright lights of the airport. She never looked back. And just before she rounded that last corner and disappeared from my sight, I swear I saw the faded shadow of a My Little Pony etched on her back pack.

They’ll always be our little girls.

 

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Cyndie  Zahner is a freelance writer/editor and mother of Athletchic s Jessie and Jillian Zahner . Follower her @tweetyz on Twitter and athletchicz on Instagram.