athlinks

How to Travel: #BlueRidge Marathon Edition

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!


Let me get something out from the onset. This post was supposed to go live last Thursday night and I thought for sure I had hit publish late Thursday night. I did not. Boo on me. As a result, you’re now in for a treat – my pre-race travel tips…from the future…about the past. Don’t worry, I’m confused as well. Enjoy the post!


If you’ve been following me (here, Instagram, Twitter, etc), you probably know that I’m heading to Roanoke, Virginia this weekend for the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon. I won’t lie – I’m excited AND slightly terrified for this one, the reasons for which are best summed up in my OTHER preview post. However – and again, no big surprise – it really was only a matter of time before one of these race weekend preview posts inevitably focused on the travel aspects associated with such a trip. So, here are some of the tips, tricks, and best practices that put into action to make my race travel as easy as possible.

Plan Ahead

Once I’ve finally determined what race I’m going to do, I have to figure out two basic things: 1) how to get there, and 2) where to stay. Without these things sorted out in advance, the trip can get more hectic and more costly. For this particular trip – happening TOMORROW mind you – I sorted out both of these details more than a month or two ago.

First, how to get to Roanoke.could have opted to fly, but that would have involved leaving (and paying for) a car at the airport, being at the airport 2+ hours early on BOTH ends of the trip, checking a bag (I usually don’t, but depending on the trip it could happen), renting a car, and navigating from the airport to my accommodations. I’ll pass on all that, thank you very much! I’ve opted instead to drive the 6(ish) hours from my home just outside of Columbus, OH. It will allow me to travel on my terms and take breaks when I like, eat what I need/like, and so on. The obvious downside is being awake and driving for 6 hours, but I’ll take it. All it costs me is gas and a little money for the West Virginia turnpike – thank goodness my car gets pretty decent gas mileage!

So, how’d that whole driving thing go? It wasn’t too bad. The drive down felt like it went fairly quick. Minimal stops, no delays on the roads, decent weather. The trip BACK to Ohio, however, was the driving equivalent to watching a sloth – slow and not very exciting. LOTS of stops to stretch, hydrate, and walk. 

After making that decision, I have to figure out where to stay. The initial and probably more obvious option is a hotel relatively close to the center of the action. While this is great and probably offers more amenities, there’s also very likely a higher price tag that comes with it. For such a short trip and for as little as I’ll actually be in the space, I don’t need all that a hotel offers. For the Blue Ridge Marathon, I secured a really fantastic location via AirBnB. I’ve had really great success in the past – we used the service for our honeymoon in 2014 – so it was definitely worth a look. My rental is less than a mile (a 15 minute walk) from the start/finish line and for less than $90 for one night. This is HUGE for me because proximity to the start/finish, overall cost, and ease of access were paramount. Obviously, everyone’s preferences are going to vary and specific needs will dictate what type of accommodation work the best, so do your homework and find what works for you and your specific situation.

How was your AirBnB? It proved to be a GREAT decision. Perfect location in reference to the start/finish and super simple. There were the essentials and that was it – bathroom, shower, tv, bed. I was only there for a night, so that’s all I needed. Hands down, one of the best AirBnB’s I’ve ever booked.

Have a Plan? Good. Be Prepared to Throw It Out Because Things Happen

This piece of advice applies to many aspects of life – not just travel – but it does bear repeating. Whether you are a seasoned business traveler or a casual leisure traveler, being unfriendly or just plain rude can come back and bite you. If your flight is delayed or you get stuck in traffic, etc. – trust me, there are other people experiencing the same issue(s). Know your plan, but be ready to ditch it. Thankfully, I didn’t need to do this. I had things laid out in such a way that there were contingencies in place, but didn’t need them at all. The plan actually workout and I had an amazing weekend! Be patient even when your patience is tested to the max. Finally, be flexible. Sometimes the best experiences come when you have to call an audible. Keep these things in mind when traveling, because occasionally, you may find yourself being rewarded for it in the end!

Whether you are running the Blue Ridge Marathon, the Boston Marathon, or anywhere in between – here’s wishing you all a fantastic weekend of racing!

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Review: Athlinks

Disclaimer: I am promoting Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


I am a stats nerd. I’m not even a little shy about that.

This is incredibly evident when watching the registrations roll in for my collegiate alma mater’s annual alumni band at Homecoming. Where are people from? How far do they have to travel to come home? What instrument are they playing? How many times have they been back? These questions and more are usually answered through an elaborate spreadsheet, detailing the event. Naturally when I got serious about my running again in 2014, this system made sense to track my progress, specifically my races. However, in 2017 – after listening to a handful of episodes of the BibRave Podcast – I found Athlinks.

What is Athlinks?

Simply put, Athlinks is a massive online database for athletes all over the world. Notice I said “athletes” and not just “runners”. This is because Athlinks pulls results from triathlon, swimming, cycling, mountain biking, and many other events. If they can find results lingering out in the online world, they’ll add it to their database. Athlinks is all about results.

But it’s more than just that – Athlinks is about sharing and connecting with other athletes (for the rest of this post, we’ll focus on runners). Through their site/app, runners can track their progress, share their results, compete with other runners simply by typing their name into a search box.

What does this mean for ME? Ultimately, it means I don’t necessarily need to track my races on a spreadsheet anymore!

How does it work?

Athlinks makes it VERY easy to get started and one can have their account completely set up in roughly 5 minutes (or less!). Personally, I was sitting at a bar, scrolling through Twitter when I made the decision to download the Athlinks app. It took no time at all to set up and before I knew it I was searching for races. That’s pretty much all you have to do: sign-up, set-up, search, and claim your results.

Regardless if you use the app or the website, you’ll find that – as with any online based service – you have a landing or profile page. Here’s mine:

As you can see, Athlinks will show ME, where I’m from, my age – which comes into play if you’re focusing on age group competition, any upcoming races (usually shown on the “timeline” tab), and then the bread and butter – past race results.

The other tabs along the top include Statistics (all-time), Following (think like Twitter or Facebook), and Rivals. As you probably guessed, the Statistics tab is definitely where I live and is my 2nd favorite feature in the entire app. Why? It shows me the overall result of all the running I’ve done through mileage and personal records (PRs). I don’t have to rely on my spreadsheet or even my medal rack (which has spots to log PR’s) for this information. But I said this was my 2nd favorite part of the whole app…what is my favorite?

RIVALS. So not only can you follow your fellow runners, you can also see how you stack up against them in the races you both have run. For example, in the photos below you can see that I follow Jessica on Athlinks and we are listed as rivals because we both ran the 2017 New York City Marathon. The reason I am 1-0 against her is because I finished the race before she did. 🙂 This takes tracking results to another level because it adds the spirit of friendly competition to the mix. Speaking of competition, coming up short by 18 seconds isn’t something I’m okay with – I’m comin’ for you, Matt! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limitations

Like with anything, there are limitations when it comes to Athlinks. The most glaring is missing results. Right now, Athlinks believes my half marathon PR to be 1:56:30 from a race I ran in August of 2017. Since then, I’ve run TWO faster times (currently a 1:45:23 as of this post!), but because those results have not been posted online by the race director OR not made accessible to Athlinks, my 1:56 stands.

The second limitation, which falls mainly on the user, is racing. If you have not participated in a race and only run for personal fitness, then this is not the app for you. But why not take the next step and tackle that local 5k? Who knows – maybe you’ll like it! 🙂

Overall

Honestly, I really like Athlinks and the simplicity of the service they provide a stats nerd like me. I can find my past results, declare what races I intend on running, see all my records, follow fellow runners and compete with them all in one place. The ability to search for results could not be easier and the overall user experience is very friendly. You can get started with Athlinks by downloading the app via Google Play or the App Store, or by visiting athlinks.com.

As always, keep striving.


Check out Athlinks on Social:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/athlinks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/athlinks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Athlinks/

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