Maryland: state #40
Baltimore is just over 6 hours from where I live. So, early on Friday morning after eating my traditional 2 donuts from Amy's we headed east. We arrived at the hotel mid afternoon and walked to the convention center to pick up my race packet. It was only about half a mile away and on the way to the inner harbor with a lot of food options.
The expo was typical of most of the expos that I have attended. They had the usual running gear and nutrition vendors. There was a lot of race specific memorabilia as well, including stickers and glasses. There was an option to have your race packet mailed for a fee, which is a nice option if you plan to arrive late or don't want to bother going to the expo.
After the expo, we walked down to the inner harbor and ate at Hard Rock Café. That was at least the 13th different Hard Rock that I've been to. I collect the pins that are specific to each location.
The race was on Saturday morning, with the half marathon starting at 9:45 and the full at 8:00. It was one of the later starts I've had in a race. The half started near the inner harbor and the full started near Camden Yards. Although they had their own lane, the full passed through where the half started. It seemed to add a little to the chaos.
There was a light rain while we waited to start. People were taking shelter wherever they could find it. The start seemed a little disorganized. I'm sure the rain played a part, but I could not hear the national anthem or the start countdown. I just started running when everyone else did.
There were no corrals or pacers. Runners were supposed to self corral. Inevitably, there were a few slower runners that needed to be dodged in the first half mile. It continued to rain off an on throughout the race. Not ideal, but I'll take it over heat anytime. The first several miles of the course are the toughest. That is where most of the up hill is. It levels out for a little while and then the last 3 miles are mostly downhill. I was able to make up some time the last 3 miles.
The course goes through a lot of neighborhoods and around a lake. The lake portion was modified to an out and back due to the Orioles making the pay-offs, but they were swept and didn't end up being needed. There were plenty of drinks as well as a station with Gu and another with oranges. Considering the weather, there was a good number of spectators.
The half did a big square and finished near the start at the inner harbor. The finish line had plenty of fare including apples, bananas, veggies chips, nutrigrain bars and gatorade. The medals were handed out by local police officers and featured a crab that opens to reveal the USS Constellation. The shirt was a long-sleeved Under Armour shirt which was quality, but a little plain. Considering the course and the weather, I was happy with my finish time.
It continued to rain most of the day, so we stayed inside, ate a pizza and watched Ohio State. There was a break in the rain later in the evening and we were able to head to the inner harbor for supper.
Sunday the weather was much nicer. We visited Edgar Allen Poe's grave site, briefly saw the B&O railroad museum and went to Fort McHenry. It was the site where the Star Spangled Banner was written. Monday morning before heading home, we had tickets to the National Aquarium. Aquariums are generally one place I need to visit when traveling. I've always had a fascination with sea life and it is a nice aquarium.
It was a good trip. Baltimore is know as Charm City, but it's not all that charming outside of the inner harbor. You definitely need to do your research about where to avoid.