Home-field Advantage is a travel series that highlights where locals love to eat, train and play. To kick off this series, we asked four people preparing for the Baltimore Running Festival to show us the city through their eyes.
When Rodney Nesbitt Jr. thinks of Baltimore, he sees families enjoying the parks and Francis Scott Key writing the national anthem. Most importantly, he sees a city that won’t quit.
“I think most people go to the negative—that Baltimore is a scary, industrial and stagnant place. But that’s not the Baltimore I know. I grew up [in] this city and run her streets with her people. It’s inspiring. It’s wonderful. It’s resilient.”
Four years and 60 pounds ago, Rodney began his own resilient story. He was unhappy with his weight so he started to run laps around a track, but he wasn’t getting the results he wanted. Instead of giving up, he took his run to the streets and never looked back.
Rodney, who now works at Under Armour, will stay true to his word and run his first full marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival. During his training, he has discovered the best that Baltimore running has to offer:
All of Rodney’s gear fits in his Storm Recruit Backpack. Now for some good music and a light stretch before running in Druid Hill Park.
Best Place to Train: Druid Hill Park
As the name suggests, Druid Hill Park is perfect for building strength, speed and endurance by running the hills. Rodney loves how the paved paths will not only lead to a killer workout but also take you through a historical journey of Baltimore with monuments, botanical gardens, the Maryland Zoo, and a memorial that commemorates the stance against racial segregation unified the whole city.
Best Run for the View: Howard Street Bridge
From the impressive architecture of the bridge to the neighborhoods and people he sees en route, this is Rodney’s favorite place to run. For an extra boost of adrenaline, Rodney suggests running right as the Amtrak is crossing the bridge.
To recover, Rodney throws on his ColdGear Armour ¼ Zip and hits up The Grind House on St. Paul Street.
Best Place to Refuel: Grind House Café & Juice Bar
A hot spot for runners and other fitness enthusiasts, Grind House Café & Juice bar is 100% vegan and 100% delicious. Rodney is a sucker for the Goodness Kale Salad washed down with a glass of Beet It! fresh juice.
Race Day Meal: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
When it comes to getting ready for his fastest days, Rodney likes to stay consistent with his favorite pre-run meal: peanut butter and jelly. Whole grain honey oat bread with some organic peanut butter and low-sugar jelly is his go-to. And it’d better be creamy peanut butter and strawberry jelly or it doesn’t stand a chance of making the cut for Rodney’s sandwich.
Best Post-race Reward: The Food Market in Hamden
There’s no food better than comfort food. The Food Market offers the best preparations from the land, sea and air. It’s all farm fresh and always able to put a smile on Rodney’s face.
The Final Word on Baltimore:
“When I first started running, I used to look out across the bay to the Under Armour office. I said, one day, I am gonna run all the way over there. It took a while, but I made it. And now I work here. Funny how that all worked out.
“Resilience—I think that defines Baltimore for me. From Francis Scott Key writing about victory over the British, to getting an NFL team back to the city and winning a Super Bowl, to the community I see every day on my runs, Baltimore is the best place in the world; Baltimore is resilient. And I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Read Part 2 of this series, “The Bucket List Chaser.”