Pittsburgh, Easter and Chinese Food

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Wow, it’s been a busy week and a half. Finally decided that if I wanted to update my blog, I needed to just make some time so here goes!

Well I completed my first half marathon! It was a lot of fun. While it was warmer than last year when two friends completed it, it was by no means warm. It was also not flat as I had been told. The first mile was a nice uphill and then it was gentle rolling hills throughout. It was actually pretty perfect. Other than a flat course, I don’t know if I’d prefer anything else. I don’t mind hills and since you can’t avoid them here in State College, I’ve just accepted them as a challenge on any run and almost enjoy them. Emphasis on the “almost”. Anyway, it felt so good to get out and run. Since I wasn’t sure what to expect, I started out with the 2:20 pacer. She kind of drove me nuts as she kept speeding up and then realizing she was going to fast and slowing back down. So by mile 4 I had left her and began my pursuit of the 2:10 pacer. It was around mile 8 that I caught up with that group. I ran with them until the last two miles when I started to make a break away. I had told Gabe that I was shooting for 2:15 so when I rounded the bend to the finish line he wasn’t looking at all. I slapped the  barrier in front of him and then ran to the finish line. The clock said 2:09, but I later found out I slipped in just under 2:08 at 2:07.57 thanks to chip timing. I think my next goal will be under 2:05, which means I need to get out there and run. Course the snow in State College today isn’t really helping that plan!

After the race, Gabe and I went to breakfast, showered and went to my mom’s hometown. I know, probably not his idea of fun, but it was a time for me to reminisce about my childhood and just give him a chance to see more of where I’ve come from and what’s shaped me. After that we hit Ross Park Mall to walk around a little bit and get a gift for my friend’s June wedding. Let’s just say by 6 p.m. my feet and shins hurt so bad that I was standing in Crate and Barrell in tears. Haha…classy, I know. After a good night’s rest, Gabe and I went to the Pittsburgh Zoo on Sunday morning. It was great. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid. It wasn’t crowded in the morning and most of the animals were really active and in good places to be viewed.

Silly sleepy Tiger

What a cutie!

The new baby gorilla! He's smiling....sorta.

So small and cute!

We stopped down in the Strip District for some shopping and lunch before heading back to State College. We ended up eating at this Latino restaurant. We had some awesome food, including yuca frites (yucca fries), arroz con frijoles (rice), polla asado (chicken), horchata (cinnamon rice milk…tastes like Chai tea), and flan (custard with caramel) and postre de tres leches (three milks cake…amazing). Oh and we also had plantains that were baked so they carmelized…mmmm!

After a week back at work, Gabe came home with me for Easter and met the family. It went really well and I think we all had a nice time.

With the bro and his gf, Kaelynn.

Just us!

After church while we waited for my brother and Kaelynn to come over and for my mom to get home, my dad and I took Gabe to historic Annapolis. After that I gave him a tour of my hometown. Again, super thrilling I’m sure, but he did get some Hawaiian shaved ice out of it! I hadn’t had any in a few years, so it was certainly a nice treat!

Abby was a little tired from all the excitement.

On Monday, instead of heading back to State College right away we took our time getting ready in the morning. I managed to wash the bugs and dirt off my car and then we hit the road towards Columbia for my first Dim Sum experience. We went to the Red Pearl. It was a really nice restaurant and was situated on a small lake. Check out some of the food we had.

This is a pork bun. It was delicious. Think buttery roll stuffed with bbq pulled pork.

Sticky Rice inside a banana tree leaf. Inside the sticky rice was chicken, sausage and pork.

So these are chicken feet. Yep...chicken feet. I completely lost my nerve to try these so Gabe ate all but one of them. It's basically just fat, skin and ligaments and you have to spit out the bones.

On the left we have egg custard, a little eggy but creamy and pretty good. On the right is Shumai, steamed meat (beef) dumplings. It was also pretty good, but the exterior texture took me a little to get used to. We also had shrimp inside rice noodles, which were quite yummy (sadly, no picture).

After lunch we took a short walk on the path around the small lake. On the way back we happened upon a dead Bumble Bee. It was neat to get to look at her close up. She’s a fuzzy little thing and the coloring on her face was quite beautiful. Her eyes were also really neat and big. Just as an FYI, Bumbles won’t hurt you. I don’t believe they sting. It’s crazy, but I’m taking a liking to bees. They’re quite fascinating especially their social behavior.

I think her coloring, especially on her face is beautiful. Her eyes were also really neat to see up close. They're huge! She was a fuzzy little thing.

We decided to take the long way back to State College, heading out I-70 west past Hagerstown. We stopped at the outlets where I managed to purchase a nice Calvin Klein trench coat before getting back in the car to make the rest of the trip. I hadn’t gone this route in a long time as it adds up to an hour to the trip, but I’m glad we took it. Once you hit the PA line, it’s all two-lane roads with lots of ups and downs and all-arounds. There’s a ton to look at and it was a nice change from the monotany of the interstate.

After another week back at work, I’m heading away again this weekend. This time to Philly with Gabe and his roomie, Sheena, to visit her fiance and just have some fun. On Saturday I’ll sneak away for my friend Melissa’s bridal shower. I can’t wait to see her and some of my faves in Reading!

I hope you all have a good week and I look forward to updating this soon!

Quote for the Day (from my fortune cookie): “Although it seems like a roller coaster, life will calm down.”

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