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.

Product Review – Petunia Pickle Bottom Backpack Diaper Bag

Petunia Pickle Bottom

Backpack Diaper Bag

www.petunia.com

@petuniapicklebottom

Are you a mom looking to stay hip while at the same time prepared? A Petunia Pickle Bottom Backpack Diaper Bag is all you will need!

BPack1

Price Point –  B

  • $99-$215 depending on the bag.
  • Free Shipping for orders over 75%.

Parent Rating – A

As a parent who is always on the go, whether it be to the grocery store, road trip or cross country flight, this bag always comes in handy.

First, the bag is stylish and hides the fact that it is a diaper bag.

Second, and more importantly, the bag works! It is large which allows you to be able to fit all the necessities plus some. I fly a lot. Sometimes on airlines that don’t allow carry-ones, like Spirit. All airlines allow you to bring a diaper bag for free. I cannot tell you how clutch this bag has been for this purpose. When I am flying I get a full container of wipes, ten diapers, disposable changing pads, the changing pad the bag comes with, a backup outfit for my daughter, a bottle/sippy cup, a squeeze pouch, a container of puffs, a bib, toys, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and then things for me as well, cell phone charger, sunglasses, head phones, etc. The backpack has an insulated side pouch for a bottle or sippy cup. The bottom of the bag is also a separate compartment that is insulated. It has everything you could need for any outing you are going on.

Ease of Use – A-

Backpacks in general are easier than traditional diaper bags because they allow you to have your hands free. This allows me to carry the baby, push the stroller, etc.

One problem with a lot of diaper bag backpacks is that the straps are not adjustable. This backpack is adjustable! You to make the bag as tight or as loose as you would like. This is great when my husband and I are trading off. He likes to carry the bag very loose, I like it tight on my back, it is able to suit both of our personal needs.

The reason that this bag got an A- and not an A for ease of use is because I have seen bags with sides that give easy access to wipes. I always think of how convenient that would be, however, when I chose this bag, I wanted a bag that did not scream “Diaper Bag”! Wipes hanging out of the side is a dead give-away, so I still prefer this bag.

Overall Product Grade – A

I am obsessed with this bag. I have gotten so much use out of it. As I drive from LA to Yosemite National Park while typing this, I have this bag sitting beside me filled with everything I need and I couldn’t be happier. I will use this bag until I completely destroy it and then I will get another one.

JaywithDBAG(Proof my husband even loves this bag! So convenient, he can hold the baby and his coffee and not worry about the diaper bag!)

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

Product Review – PinkBlush Maternity

Pink Blush Maternity

www.pinkblushmaternity.com

@shoppinkblush

Price Point – A+

  • $30 – $130 for maternity dresses.
  • Get 10% off first order when you subscribe to their email list.
  • Free 2-Day Shipping for orders over $150.

Parent Rating – A

Living in LA as a woman, what you wear is important. When I got pregnant, I was worried that I would have nothing to wear. I would spend hours online searching for maternity clothes that I could wear to work and events that would look stylish. I wanted clothing that would work from the early stages of pregnancy to the late stages. I came across PinkBlush after one of my friends at work started raving about their clothing. I thought I hit the jackpot when I got on the site. The clothing is so cute and there are so many options. I was able to find maternity wear that worked for presenting to clients at work, on air hosting, red carpet reporting, weddings and just running errands.

Ease of Use – A+

What is so nice about PinkBlush clothing is that I began wearing their pieces at the beginning of my pregnancy and was able to continue use even at 40 weeks pregnant! The clothing is so well thought out and made that you can really wear them pregnant or not! I still wear PinkBlush maternity clothing even though I am no longer pregnant.

Overall Product Grade – A+

If you are pregnant, GO! Go to PinkBlushMaternity.com now and look. Get something! Anything! Try them out! You will find a piece that speaks to your own personal style. The piece will be well made. The piece will be able to be used throughout your pregnancy. You will love it! They truly make something for everyone!

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

Product Review – Little Bipsy Classic Clothing

Little Bipsy Classics

www.littlebipsy.com

@little_bipsy

Looking to purchase wardrobe staples for your current baby that could be used for your future babies? Want to get a gift that will always be of use? Little Bipsy has you covered with their Classics line of baby clothes!

whitetee(Basic Swoop Tee by Little Bipsy)

Price Point – B

  • $20-$40 for the Classics line.
  • 10% off your first purchase if you sign up to receive emails.

Kids Rating – A

My daughter loves wearing  all of her Little Bipsy clothing. The material is soft, light and comfortable.

Parent Rating – A

Living in LA it can be a struggle trying to keep up with the urban street fashion here, even for a baby. Baby stores around the city are filled with expensive designer clothes, but who has the money for that? I don’t, so I love Little Bipsy. The clothing is perfect to keep your child on trend at a reasonable price. The clothing is well made, fashionable, and versatile. Whether styling a girl or boy, whether they are in jeans or camo pants, you can pair these pieces with anything. Because of the minimalism of the line, the style will hold up for years to come. Even your next baby will be ready for the runway!

Overall Product Grade – A

I can’t say enough about this brand. The clothing is well made. The fabric is high quality and comfortable. The style is perfect, versatile and will be on trend forever. The company continues to create new pieces to stay current. They are always changing and trying to make their clothing even better. (For example, when I got my first LB Classic Romper I loved the look but it was hard to change a diaper in because of the way the piece was designed. The company either figured it out themselves or listened to the customers because soon after I received it, they began making the same piece, now with snaps at the crotch for easy accessible diaper changes! They rock!)

Shoes(Little Bipsy Sneaks)

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

Product Review – Kishu Baby Bibs

Kishu Baby Bibs

kishubaby.com

@kishubaby

Looking for a unique gift for a shower, birthday or just because? Or maybe you are looking to up your baby’s fashion game. Look no further than the cutest and most useful accessory, The Kishu Baby Bib!

Bib

Price Point – B-

  • $36 for my pack (Pom Pom Bib Gift Set | 2-pk | Baby Girl Bibs | Purple + Mustard)

Kids Rating – A

My daughter loves her Kishu bibs as the material is high quality and there are two different places to snap the bib around her neck so she can wear it loose or tight.

Parent Rating – A+

I was instantly a fan of Kishu Bibs from the moment I saw their products on Instagram. These are by far the cutest and most trendy bibs on the market today. I cannot tell you how many compliments I have received on these bibs.

Ease of Use – A

These bibs have two snaps on the back that allow you to adjust for your child and they are easy to get off and on.

Overall Product Grade – A

Love these so much. They are cute and the perfect useful accessory. GO GET YOURS!

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

 

Easy DIY Minion Snacks for Birthdays, Play Dates or Just for Fun!

When I found out my best friend was throwing a Minions themed party for her sons first birthday, I wanted to help out and bring some on-theme snacks. Being that I am now a mom to a wild six month old and I don’t have a ton of time, I came up with a two super easy DIY Minions themed snacks that I want to share with you all! They are simple, delicious and so cute.

I first started with my 5 minute Minion Pretzels. These are so easy that you can make them with your kids in less than ten minutes.

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Here is your supply list (all of which can be purchased at Walmart): 

– Mini Pretzel Twists

– Yellow and/or Blue Candy Melts

– Candy Eyeballs

– Parchment Paper

– Baking Sheet

 

Instructions:

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.IMG_7056

– Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

– Lay pretzels out flat on the parchment paper.

– Place one yellow/blue candy melt on each pretzel.

– Place baking sheet with pretzels and candy melts into the oven for 2-5 minutes.

– Remove the baking sheet from the oven and immediately place a candy eyeball in the middle of the candy melt and press down. (See picture to the right.)

– Allow the pretzels to cool and serve!

I served the pretzels both in a bowl, for party-goers to snack on, and I also included them in the party favors. Walmart currently has Minion Fruit Snacks which I included in the baggy (as pictured below) with the Minion Pretzels.

The other snack I made was Minions Cupcakes. These are also very easy. Make any flavored cupcakes as you normally would and frost them using vanilla frosting. I made the cake part of my cupcake Funfetti but you can make them any flavor. Once frosted, I used yellow sparkling sugar sprinkles and covered all of the vanilla frosting with this. Once completely yellow, place one/two marshmallow(s) in the center of the cupcake (as pictured below). Using black writing icing, place a dot in the middle of the marshmallow. Then finish off the Minion goggles by using the icing to place a line on each side of the marshmallow. Finally, complete your Minion cupcake with a black icing smile. And just like that, you have Minion cupcakes! Remember, they do not have to be perfect, it is the thought that counts! These are a lot of fun to make, if you have older kids, this may be a fun activity to include kids in as a part of the party/play date.

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Questions on how to make any of these items, let us know by commenting below or reaching out to us on social media!

Making these at home? Post your finished product on social media and tag us @athletchic to show us how they turned out!

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

Happy Mother’s Day

Just a quick post from us here at Athletchic! We want to wish all the mother’s a Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for all that you do and all the sacrifices you have made to make all of our lives better. We love you!

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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.

Three, Two, One Strike You’re Out

Saying Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a story about a girl, is like saying God is woman. Oh, wait! That tune IS the tale of a girl!

Last night, CBS’s evening news broadcast brought tears to the eyes of every girl who ever wore a snapback. The seventh-inning song, Baseball’s National Anthem, is about a Katie Casey. A girl who, when asked out on a date, didn’t want to go sit in a movie theater, she wanted to go eat peanuts and watch baseball.

The song, written in 1908, came at a time when women were beginning to stand up for themselves.

HOW APPROPRIATE.

Could there be a better time to bring this to light? Today, women across the country who have experienced sexual harassment are stepping up to the bat. Saying, hold on boys, no more one, two, three strikes you’re out. Now, you are out on the first damn pitch.

We here at Athletchic couldn’t be happier that the lyrics of baseball’s National Anthem is about women’s rights. Ain’t that like hiting a line drive below the belt. (Let’s stand Harvey Weinstein on the pitcher’s mound during batting practice.)

In honor of the women who had the courage to stand up to sexual harassment in these past few weeks, this year during the World Series, we Athletchics have decided we will still stand and sing Baseball’s National Anthem. You may not be able to hear us over the din of the crowd, but listen closely. The words have changed. Now, it goes like this:

Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s three, two, one strike, you’re out,
At the old ball game.

 

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Cyndie Zahner is a freelance writer. You may follow her on Twitter @Tweetyz or on instagram @athletchicz, or check out her author website at www.cyndiezahner.com.