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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2017 NBA PLAYOFF FASHION & STYLE – ROUND TWO

We are back with Round 2 of our 2017 NBA Playoff Fashion Report! Although we will miss Russell Westbrook in this round, we still have some guys who would give him a serious run for his money in this round. So let’s begin with our best dressed!

BEST DRESSED

(Image courtesy of Cleveland CavaliersBoston Celtics, and Washington Wizards)

  • #1 — Lebron James

    Taking our number one spot on and off the court is the Cavaliers star, LeBron James. The King pulls together a complicated but fresh look for Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs. As we have seen all throughout this offseason, jackets are everything! LBJ styles his look with one of the most popular pieces in menswear this season, the camo military jacket. He pairs it with a simple white tee and painted jeans. James finished the look with matching green shoes, and complicates it with red and black striped socks that tie into and bring out the patches of his jacket. The Kings tops it all off with a neutral colored hat. Complicated in the most perfect, off the run way, way! We only wish we could pull off a look like this!
  • #2 — J.R. Smith

    Runner up for this round is Cleveland Cavaliers J.R. Smith. The Cavs guard goes trendy with this all camo in this A Bathing Ape sweatshirt and matching baseball cap with matching high top sneakers. J.R. not only kills us with his on court thoughtlessness, and trickery (tying other players shoes together while the foul line), he also kills us with this look!
  • #3 –Isaiah Thomas

    Opposite of the camo trending look, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas pulls off a classic style in Round 2 of the playoffs wearing all black everything! The staple piece in the 5’9″ pointguard’s look is his black hooded letterman’s jacket. Again, menswear jackets are everything! #GetBucketsAndJackets
  • #4 — John Wall

    Finally we have a suit break the list at honorable mention. This Washington Wizards #Wallstar kills the suit game with this nicely fitted navy suit and red power tie. He polishes the look off with a pair of shades. His future was so bright, boo! We want more J.Wall!

WORST DRESSED

(Image courtesy of Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards)

  • #1 — Kelly Olynyk

    This man has been haunting my dreams both in game and now out of game. This outfit looks like a middle school boy heading off to the bus stop in the 90’s.
  • #2 — John Wall

    Camo is totally in this season but camo on camo? It doesn’t even match John Wall! I love you but I just cannot!
  • #3 –Isaiah Thomas

    This look is not all that bad right?! Isaiah is always so stylish but honestly, I am so confused by the black lines on this shirt. Did someone get out black tape and just place it across IT’s chest to make this look more interesting? So confused!

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

2017 NBA Playoff Fashion & Style – Round One

The time has come for the NBA Playoffs so we are back with our 2017 NBA Playoff Fashion Report! Now that round one is officially finished, we here at Athletchic put together the best and worst dressed of round one as well as popular trends around the NBA during the first round of playoffs! 

Best Dressed

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Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook is not only known for his triple doubles but also for his unique fashion. This year, the point guard did not disappoint. He won Athletchic’s best dress of the NBA Playoffs – Round One with this patterned short-sleeve button up, navy bandana, sunglasses and beat up cropped jeans. Although most men could not swing this look, Russ rocks it with confidence and completely pulls it off. We love it Russ!

(Image courtesy of OKC Thunder)

Runner Up

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Memphis Grizzlies, Guard, Wade Baldwin doesn’t fall far behind Russell Westbrook in the fashion department during the first round of the NBA playoffs. Pictured here, pre-game, wearing a tee by Chris Brown’s Black Pyramid Clothing, a flannel tee tied around his waist and camouflaged skinny jeans. As if his look couldn’t get any more fire, he paired the look with probably the hardest pair of shoes to get your hands on, the Yeezy Boost High-Top Glow Brown Suede Sneakers by Kanye West and Adidas. Seems like Baldwin is a fan of musicians. Either way, Athletchic is obsessed with this look!

(Image courtesy of Memphis Grizzlies)

 

Honorable Mention

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Honorable mention in fashion for the first round of the NBA playoffs goes to Chicago Bulls, Small Forward, Jimmy Butler. Jimmy Buckets looks like he just walked off the runway in this Saint Laurent floral patch jean jacket which didn’t break this 27 year old millionaire’s bank even though it cost $3490! And he isn’t the only celeb that rocked a jean jacket this week. Kanye West, Future and Jared Leto were spotted this week wearing denim jackets too! So look out men, jean jackets may just be the new It jacket of 2017! Butler rocked the Parisian look by pairing it with light skinny jeans and a maroon tee underneath! After seeing this round one look, the women of Athletchic will be rushing to the re-create this look for themselves!

(Image courtesy of Chicago Bulls)

 

 

Fire

(Images courtesy of Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder)

NBA players aren’t just talented on the court! These guys really know how to pull off street fashion! Check out looks by LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas, James Harden and more above! All of these players pulled off fire fashion during round one of the 2017 NBA Playoffs!

Fouls


1. Rajon Rondo’s Short Sleeve Suit Coat

Poor Rajon Rondo! The Chicago Bulls, Point Guard helped the eight seed pull off two stunning wins in game one and two, while on the road in Boston. Unfortunately after an injury the team went on to drop four straight, losing the series. But the Bulls aren’t the only losers in April 2017. Rajon took a second loss with this short sleeve suit jacket. I mean, I get it, “How does he fit that cast in a jacket?”  Honestly, I don’t know but cutting the sleeves off a suit was not the first idea I would have come up with! Although I loved the color scheme, I had to pause the game to rewind and re-look at Rondo’s interesting outfit. I have never seen a men’s short sleeve shirt coat. There is a first for everything I guess!

(Image courtesy of Boston Celtics)

2. Russell Westbrook’s KISS Button Up 

Now you may see this next picture and wonder how someone could be on the best and worst dressed list all within the same series. Well ladies and gentleman, leave that to your boy Russell Westbrook who wore this interesting combination of a short sleeve button up KISS shirt and tight red athletic pants. Sorry Russ, I love you, the way you play on the court, the shade you throw during interviews and I even love your fashion, but not today. This shirt is frankly scary!

(Image courtesy of Oklahoma City Thunder)

3. Jerami Grant’s Red Camo Sweater

I am still unsure of what exactly this sweatshirt Jerami Grant is wearing is. Is it Camo? Is it some weird trippy tie dye? Is it velvet? What is it? I get that he is trying to out-do Russ on the catwalk but bro, this just is not working out. You can’t beat Westbrook in the style department, even if he does end up next to you on a worst dressed list. So let’s tone it down, just a notch!

(Image courtesy of Oklahoma City Thunder)

Not Sure What to Think

(Images courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Milwaukee Bucks)

So many looks here! Good? Bad? I honestly don’t know and it is driving me crazy!

“What is Jerami Grant doing in a women’s black demin jacket? Spencer Hawe’s shirt is a joke right? Is DeAndre Jordan actually pulling off a Canadian Tuxedo? Are Dante Exum’s pants too short? Is he too tall? Are they women’s pants? Men’s capri’s? Help me understand! Is Mike Conley wearing shoulder pads? Is Zaza Pachulia wearing dad khakis and a women’s coat? What is happening?” All thoughts that ran through my head while taking one look at the collage of pictures above. These looks could be good, they could be bad, I haven’t been able to figure it out quite yet.

Round 1 Trends

All Black Everything

(Images courtesy of Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors, and Atlanta Hawks)

This round of playoffs did not shy away from classic fashion statements like all black. Here, we see players pull off the timeless look with a flair of their own individual styles.

Best in Black

  1. J.J. Redick (Top Left) – The Los Angeles Clippers, Guard kills the black-on-black-on- black game rocking a bomber jacket, tee and skinny jeans.
  2. Andre Iguodala (Top Right) – The 33 year old veteran of the Golden State Warriors totally rocks an all black look with a fitted leather jacket, a tee and skinny jeans.
  3. Kyrie Irving (Bottom Left) – The Cavs star Guard pulls off his all black everything look with a hoodie, baseball cap, tee and long black coat.

Children’s Back Packs

 (Images by Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks)

Yes, this may sound odd but if there is one thing that round one of the NBA Playoffs has taught me fashion-wise it is that children’s backpacks are a fashionable accessory staple for the modern day jet setter! Check out the stars of the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards rocking their children’s backpacks!

Vans

(Images courtesy of the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies)

Old Skool classic Vans have made a strong showing during round one of the playoffs. (From left to right) Wade Baldwin, Andrew Harrison and Jaylen Brown paired their Vans with black skinny jeans.

Red Sneakers

(Images courtesy of Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies)

Red sneakers aren’t a piece of a wardrobe, they have their own wardrobe! No one walks into a store and purchases a pair of red sneaks without thinking about it. These sneakers are unique in that, once purchased, the individual must then go out and create some type of wardrobe built around these shoes. With shoes at the center of a look, you can almost always guarantee fire and these NBA players proved that once again. (Left to Right) Jarell Martin, Chris Paul, John Wall, and James Ennis all rocked all red shows during round one.

Suits

(Images courtesy of Toronto Raptors, Portland Trailblazers, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, and Utah Jazz)

Last but definitely not least, suits! Although street style is everything right now, suits are never out. Check out the NBA players who rocked the classic look during round one of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

That is all for round one NBA Playoff Fashion, check back at the end of round two for more NBA fashion finds!

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

There Is No Joy in Camden, the Fans Have Been Locked Out

Jillian Zahner and Brandon Lilley stand before an empty Camden Yards.

Jillian Zahner and Brandon Lilley stand before an empty Camden Yards.

Athletchic spent time on the streets of Baltimore Saturday afternoon with peaceful demonstrators. By Monday evening, Athletchic couldn’t get home. A SWAT team had surrounded her apartment complex.AdobePhotoshopExpress_2015_04_29_07_36_00

Athletchic questions the City administration’s decision not to accept help from the governor this past weekend. With twitter echoing threats of violence, could Monday’s unrest have been prevented?

Now, for the first time in Baseball history, a professional baseball game will be played without IMG_3310fans. Officials are closing the doors of today’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox.

Questions still remain regarding the death of Freddie Gray. Questions that should and MUST be answered. All men, women and children–in all walks of life–are responsible for their actions. Justice must be served. But in this tumultuous time, let’s not forget what is most important. All lives matter— the lives of our children, the lives of our residents and the lives of IMG_3284our police officers.

As we witnessed in the past 48 hours, sometimes stepping up to the plate doesn’t have anything to do with baseball. Community members, religious leaders, teens, children, parents and especially mothers, are stepping up all around town. They are taking this great City back.

Athletchic is back at home and wants to thank all of the Toya Grahams out there that helped get her home. She is proud to say she lives in Baltimore.

And as for tonight’s game? As a die-hard baseball fan, Athletchic won’t be making the half mile jaunt to Camden Yards. She’ll be watching that first pitch soar past the plate from home.

phonto (3)

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Cyndie Zahner is a free lance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @tweetyz or on Instagram as athletchicz.

Happy Final Four from Athletchic.com

Let the parties begin!

Athletchic.com hopes all Athletchics are still in the running for winning their March Madness pools. (For many of us, by now, it’s a March Sadness pool.)

Hope Saturday finds you with family, friends and lots of other final-four-lovin’ Athletchics. Don’tIMG_2999 forget to grace yourself with lavish foods and try not to take the games too seriously. Athletchic spent sometime at a basketball game recently with a wise, little four year old. She perhaps taught us the true meaning of sport. In her eyes, it wasn’t really about who won the game or who lost, it was really all about the hot dog and mustard!

 

Safe travels for all Athletchics traveling to the Final Four games. Especially you northerners in a different March Madness!!!

 phonto (2)

 And don’t forget to slap some mustard on that dog! Happy Watching!!!!!!!

_________________________________________________________________________ Cyndie Zahner is a free lance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @tweetyz or on Instagram as athletchicz.

Women Who Never Miss a Winter Workout—What’s Their Secret?

You hate them—winter workouts.

It’s dark, dingy and cold out there. Your bed is calling. You can’t kick your after-work, couch-and-chips affair. Then—on the way to the fridge—you see that crazy neighbor lady out the front window. She’s running in ten degree weather. The profanities fly.

If you’re wondering how those women have the will power you pledged you’d have after two glasses of wine on New Year’s Eve, I’m going to let you in on their secret. They’re “pack” rats. It’s the main quality they posses that you don’t. Become a pack rat and you’ll never miss a workout again. (Ok that’s pushing it, but you’ll miss 75% less.)

Here’s how to acquire pack rat status and start relishing the results of those winter workouts:

Your Number One Rule

 You pack a bag every night and take it with you in the morning. Period. Feel free to tell IMG_2516yourself you aren’t going to work out tomorrow. But you still must throw that workout bag in your trunk or over your shoulder before you go out the door.

 Invest in a Few Items   If you don’t have these things, you’ll need them:

  1. Backpack
  2. Light nylon backpack (for easy days)
  3. Compact hair dryer (if your gym doesn’t provide)
  4. Make-up bag

These are essential. And if money is not a problem for you, double up on your make up and hair products. (I learned this when I left my make-up bag at home on the day of a big presentation.)

Pack Work Clothes Every Weekend

Every weekend spend twenty minutes picking out six outfits for the week. (The sixth is for awinter workout five outfits finicky day when you need a choice.) Iron and hang them in your closet. Consciously place them in the order you’ll wear them, so you don’t have to make any clothes decisions in the morning. If you have jeans day on Friday, jeans go last. If you have a presentation on Monday, your best outfit goes first.

Pack Your Workout Bag Every Night

This is annoying but crucial. Sunday night is no problem, but for the rest of the week, you’ll need to pack tomorrow’s bag as soon as you walk in the door. If it has been a long day, play games with yourself. Tell yourself you can’t eat. You can’t sit. Heck, don’t even go to the bathroom until tomorrow’s bag is packed.

Here’s your in-the-door routine:

      1. Go directly to your bedroom and unload today’s workout stuff.
      2. Select tomorrow’s work outfit (it’s in order, no thinking required) and hang it somewhere in the open so you don’t forget it in the morning.
      3. Pack matching work accessories and undergarments in your backpack.
      4. Tie your shoelaces together and hang your workout shoes on the outside of your backpack so you can see them. (Packing them inside is dangerous. One day you’ll forget them. Trust me.)
      5. Place your backpack under tomorrow’s outfit.
      6. Place your workout clothes in the bathroom so that you immediately put them on in the morning. (If you are working out after work, reverse it. Workout clothes inwinter workout lunch backpack, work clothes in bathroom.)
      7. Pack your lunch. (I pack mine two days at a time—sometimes three.)You’re ready. In the morning—just grab everything and go.

Dealing with the Morning Slump

What if you can’t get out of bed or just can’t face a four mile run? You compromise. Tell yourself you are only going to do half your workout—or a quarter of your workout. The sound of a one-mile walk is much more tolerable than a three-mile jaunt. Just go—you are already packed!

On Mondays, plan your workout at noon or after work. It took me a ton of years to realize I didn’t hate Sunday nights, I just couldn’t bear that Monday morning workout.

Find a Great Workout Book

If you are like me, you don’t have a lot of time to read. Get a book you can’t put down. That’s helped me log hundreds of miles. I’ve read the best books in winter on the exercise bike. Use the elliptical, treadmill, whatever you prefer.

Take a Few Final Tips from Someone Who rarely Misses a Winter Workout

* If you drive to work, keep an extra towel and an old pair of workout shoes in the trunk. (The towel is in case your gym’s washer breaks down, and the shoes? You’ll figure it out.)

* Find workout buddies and meet them twice a week. (Preferably chatty people.) This gives you “double pack rat ” status.

* Get a big purse. Keep your kindle (or paperback), iPhone, iPod, and watch in your purse at all times. (You ‘gotta love those big Coach purses!)

*Keep a pair of black, blue, beige and off-white shoes underneath your desk at work. Never take them home. (Less packing.)

* Pick one of these books up for the long winter and pass them around to your workout buddies:       
      Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
      The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
      Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
      Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
      South of Broad by Pat Conroy

And Remember

Working and working out is good. (Lots of women in this world don’t have that option.)
You are awesome. You can do this.Bag Lady (2)
AND enjoy your pack rat status. Other women are swearing at you!!!

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________ Cyndie Zahner is a free lance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @tweetyz or on Instagram as athletchicz.

Athletchics Don’t Care How Tom Likes His Balls

People across the world are being beheaded. Global warming is eating away at the earth’s atmosphere. Governments are being overthrown. But here in this great land of opportunity, we are talking balls.

Eight days have passed, and we still don’t know if Tom Brady likes to play with soft balls or hard balls. Even Coach Bill Belichick doesn’t know. (And Gisele’s not talking.) Belichick said he doesn’t handle Brady’s balls and deferred questions to the great quarterback himself who laughed mostly. So the topic has been debated, investigated, tweeted, re-tweeted and rolled around like Chinese boading balls until we’re blue. Every critic–not just sports critics–has weighed in on the subject. And the consensus? They say they like playing with softer balls because, well, you can handle them better.

Hello…

Personally, at Athletchic.com, we’re tired of all the ball bickering. We believe it’s just the big green monster rearing its ugly head. Fans of inflated-ball teams are desperate. People like rooting for the underdog and when the Patriots bring their balls to mid-field, there’s a good chance the underdog’s balls aren’t going to measure up (or down if you will). The Patriots have gone to the Super Bowl seven times since ’86. Ok they’ve only won three times, but they’ve got something else going against them. It’s been really rough trying to rouse dirt on Tom Brady. He’s sort of the Mother Teresa of American football.

So the debate continues for mere lack of a better jab. And men can’t stop talking about it, because almost since they could stand they’ve had a fascination with their balls. This is no different. We can only see one small difference–and it’s a stretch. For the first time in football history, the word deflated was used in the same sentence as male athlete.

“In an attempt to inflate their egos, the male athlete had deflated his balls.” Is that an oxymoron?

Athletchic.com votes to stop all the Patriot ball-bashing. We don’t care if the balls are hard or soft, we know it’s really the big guy in the middle of it all that counts. If he is strong, hardy and can last lustily through four quarters, then we are happy. And Tom Brady can do that. (Get your mind out of the  gutter, girl, who did you think we were talking about?)

Guys and  their balls–some like ’em hard and some like ’em soft–’nuff said.

_________________________________________________________________________ Cyndie Zahner is a free lance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @tweetyz or on Instagram as athletchicz.

NBA Fashion Friday!

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Happy New Year everyone! We are back and we would like to start off the New Year with some end of 2014 NBA Fashion. As we all know, it is a huge deal to play on Christmas Day. The NBA always schedules big matchups with some of the league’s best players. With big matchups comes even bigger fashion. Let’s take a look at what some of our favorite athletes wore for Santa:

Matt Barnes – LA Clippers

I wanted to start the New Year off right so I am going to start with our Christmas Day Best Dressed Award. This goes to the Los Angeles Clippers small forward, Matt Barnes. On Christmas Day he stepped out in this look styled by Brandon Williams, one of our favorite stylists. Barnes is wearing a light burgundy colored jacket, pink button down, dark gray pants, a red rose 3D lapel pin and light colored pocket square. He wore a brown belt and theses amazing red to black hombre wing tipped dress shoes with black laces. The glasses add to the looks sophistication. Williams’ use of color here is absolutely stunning. Bravo Brandon and Matt!

mattbarnes

(Image from brandwills and matt_barnes9 Instagrams)

Lebron James – Cleveland Cavaliers

The NBA’s biggest star, Lebron James, showed up Christmas morning in the Camubutterfly sweatshirt by Valentino. The matching hat and sunglasses polished off his look.

LBJ(Image from maisonvalentino‘s Instagram)

John Wall – Washington Wizards

It is no secret that Wizards star point guard, John Wall is slowly becoming a fashion icon in the NBA and he did not disappoint on Christmas Day. John took a second outside of a plane to pose for cameras in this festive black and red ensemble. Red pants, bow tie and pocket square were accompanied by an all-black button down and suit coat. He completed the look with a little bit of edge as he accessorized with a simple gold chain that hung below the bow tie.

johnwall(Image from johnwall‘s Instagram)

Kobe Bryant – LA Lakers

LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant looked dapper on Christmas day in this fitted red suit coat and patterned pocket square. The black scarf, button down and pants went well with this look as they emphasized the coat as the main piece. Good job Kobe!

Kobe(Image from @nba)

Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

Although his team lost to the Wizards Christmas morning, Carmelo Anthony was winning in the style department. The Knicks star wore a demin button down underneath this red and green puff jacket. He tied the look together with this gold necklace and a plain black beanie. Way to go Melo!

melo

(Image from nyknicks‘ Instagram)

Chris Paul – LA Clippers

Chris Paul always seems to be in style and he stepped his game up on Christmas. Here you see Paul in a pair of flashy red and black plaid pants. He keeps it simple up top with a white long-sleeve thermal and some gold chains. CP3 finished the look off with a brown trilby hat and a pair of Nike’s.

cp3

(Image from @ArashMarkazi)

Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers forward, Kevin Love looked sophisticated in this black suit over top of a white dress shirt. Although simple, he made this style his own going tieless with an understated pocket square. We LOVE it Kevin!

klove(Image from nba‘s Instagram)

Marcin Gortat – Washington Wizards

If you do not know who Marcin Gortat is Google him now and get acquainted. Not only is Marcin becoming one of the best centers in the NBA but he will soon become one of your favorite players. Gortat is a fan favorite in Washington with his black Mohawk, his on-court work ethic, his Polish fashion and his down-to-earth personality. He is DC’s sweetheart and an all-around awesome guy. On Christmas Day Marcin posted this Instagram photo of him with teammates John Wall, Bradley Beal and Garrett Temple. Gortat wears a nicely fitted dark patterned suit with a patterned button down, tie and pocket square. We love the added touch of the black beard and Mohawk. Keep up the good work Gortat!

Gortat(Image from mgortat13‘s Instagram)

Norris Cole – Miami Heat

Miami point guard, Norris Cole brought the heat Christmas Day with his own unique style and ended up being one of our favorites. This casual but fashionable look was created with a plain black tee under a fitted black blazer with a thin lapel. We absolutely loved the black and white joggers with the black high-tops. Nice work Norris!

Norris(Image from norriscole‘s Instagram)

Shawn Marion – Cleveland Cavaliers

Shawn Marion arrived in Miami looking festive in his ugly Christmas sweater.  Marion wore this red snowman sweater and black pants to the big game Christmas Day.

marion(Image from nba‘s Instagram)

LA Lakers Team

The Lakers team style got a little more swaggy Christmas day as guard Jeremy Lin gave each player his own customized purple and gold Monster headphones. Each set had the player nickname across the top in black, their jersey number on one side in purple and the Lakers logo on the other, as well as on the inside. Check them out!

2015 JLin7(Image from jlin7‘s Instagram)

reconbeatlab1(Image from reconbeatlab‘s Instagram)

Recon(Image from reconbeatlab‘s Instagram)

Spencer Hawes – LA Clippers

Last, but certainly not least, Spencer Hawes of the LA Clipper, who was the talk of Christmas Day! Wearing an extremely festive red and green checkered Christmas tree suit. Hawes stuck out while being sidelined and no one could take their eyes off of him. Interesting Spencer, very interesting.

Spencer(Image from nba‘s Instagram)

And that finishes off our NBA Christmas Day fashion favorites. Check back for more fashion from our favorite athletes and visit our new fashion Instragram page, athletchicstyle, for daily style trends.

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

 

Is Your Softball Mitt Screaming ‘Please Lord Don’t Let Her Hit it to Me’?

Embed from Getty Images

By Jeff Zahner

If you’re bumbling grounders and fly balls, and prayers just aren’t working for you, it may be time to take a good long look at your best friend—your glove. A stiff, clumsy glove can make any player look bad. So here are a few tips:

Your Mitt/Glove

First, catchers and first basewomen have mitts. All other fielders have gloves. Because we aren’t in the major leagues, we’re going to use these two terms interchangeably.

Hopefully, you’ve already invested in a genuine leather glove. Prices vary from $30 to $400, but you can find some good deals once November rolls around. Last fall I found the glove of a lifetime on year-end clearance. I spent $30 on a $100-plus mitt from the Rawlings Gold Glove Series. Purchase a glove from this breed and it should help your learning curve.

Besides Rawlings, other reputable mitts are Wilson, Louisville Slugger, or the Cadillac of all gloves—Nokona. Don’t go for the pretty pink no-name. My daughter did that. It was the worst glove she’d ever had.

Make sure you pick a glove that fits your hand—one that you can control comfortably. It’s not like a purse; it doesn’t have to be pretty. Although carrying your pretty 30-pound Louis Vuitton purse around town with your glove hand will make that glove feel light.

For a general guideline, Dick’s Sporting Goods lists the following sizing chart for Women at http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/info/index.jsp?categoryId=12477806#3:

Women’s & Girl’s
Fast Pitch/Slow Pitch
Sizes by Positions

T-Ball: 9”-10”
Youth Infield: 10”-11.5”
Youth Pitcher: 11.5”-12
Youth Outfield: 11.5”-12”
Women’s Infield: 11.5”-12.5”
Women’s Pitcher: 12”-12.5”
Women’s Outfield: 13”-14”

Once you know you have the right size glove, it’s important to begin molding it into the shape that you want.

The Breaking-in Period

Currently, my Rawlings glove is in the breaking-in period. There are numerous ways to break in a glove, but two come to mind:

The first is my personal method. It’s a bit methodical, but has served me well:

 1. Moisturize the Mitt. Your mitt, like your hands, needs a good moisturizer. My father broke my first glove in with      Vaseline. I use Neats Foot Oil, but there are several glove conditioners on the market. Rub the conditioner over the glove and laces but not inside the fingers.

2. Put your glove on. Then open your hand as wide as possible.

3. Shape the Mitt. With your other hand, begin bending the tip of the thumb or pinky finger inward toward your palm. Bend it as far as you can, creating a basket type effect. Move from finger to finger and back around several times.

4. Play catch with yourself. Toss the ball into the pocket over and over again.

5. Work the Laces. Tightening the strings between each of the fingers until you have a little excess lace at the tip of the thumb and the tip of the pinky finger. The laces will stretch easier in time as you break in your glove. Tie two knots with the lace, one as close to the thumb as you can get and one as close to the pinky as you can get.

6. Put your mitt to sleep. When you are ready to put your glove to bed for the night, place a ball in the pocket and tie those excess laces at the thumb and pinky together. This will trap the ball inside the glove and help shape it.

You can also use a quicker method. I’ve never used this, but several players swear by it

1. Place a ball in the center of the glove.

2. Tie a rope around the glove to hold the ball in place.

3. Place the mitt in a bucket of water for a day or two.

4. Take the mitt out and let it dry.

5. After it dries out, rub with a conditioner thoroughly.

Finally, there are a few things you should never do when breaking in a mitt:

1. Never bend the thumb of the glove backwards.

2. Never sit on your mitt or take it to the bar with you after the game. (You’ll forget it or spill beer on it.)

3. Never throw your glove at an opposing player, very unsportsmanlike.

I hope this info will help you on your quest to…..GOOD FIELDING!!

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Jeff Zahner is a contributor to Athletchic and blogs a mini-series on various aspects of America’s favorite past time — baseball/softball. This is his first in a series of attempts to help improve your game. Look for future articles on How to Hold a Bat, Throwing, How to Form your Lid (cap), Who to Root For, and Who Is Responsible to Buy the First Round After the Game. Questions for Jeff? Comment below.

3 Things You Need to Know Today

1. #HORNETSBACK – Charlotte Bobcats are finally the Charlotte Hornets, again!! Yes, it is true. Fred Whitfield, COO of the Hornets stated, “Today (May 20, 2014) we complete a task that has never been accomplished before. Bringing a name back to its original market.” Social media and the internet exploded yesterday with excitement about the name change, from poll questions to throw back pictures of Muggsy, Grandmama and Zo, here are something’s you may have missed.

From this moment on

The Charlotte Bobcats Twitter page @bobcats gets really weird…

New Orleans Hornets

The new Charlotte Hornets Twitter account @hornets gets really awesome…

we're back

We come to find that the 5 ft. 3 in. point guard — Muggsy Bogues — is everyones favorite Hornets player ever!

Favorite Hornets Player

2. #NBADraftLottery – The NBA held their draft lottery last night and the fans are not too excited.  For the second year in a row and the third time in four years, the Cleveland Cavaliers will pick at the #1 spot in the 2014 draft.  This poses the question that ESPN.com Poll Center asked, “Does the NBA need to change its draft system?”  We come to find out that the people of Ohio don’t think so!

NBA Draft Pic

Along with that came this follow up question about wanting your team to tank the season if they have no chance of making playoffs.  Here we find mixed emotions from the worldwide fan base on tanking

Tanking Season

3. #TanakaTime ….not exactly – Star pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, of the New York Yankees walked into Wrigley Field yesterday with a 34-0 record in his last 42 starts. Fortunately for AL East fans everywhere, the 16-27 Chicago Cubs, with Jason Hammel on the mound, served Tanaka his first loss since 2012.

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