Archive for April 2014

Woodland Park Zoo – April 29th, 2014

Yesterday Stephanie and I went to the Woodland Park Zoo. We had many compelling reasons for going to the zoo on a Tuesday afternoon: 1) it’s always enjoyable to play hooky, 2) the weather was gorgeous (~75 and sunny), and 3) baby animals! (According to the zoo’s website, four otter pups and a porcupette were just recently deemed old enough to be allowed to roam their exhibits.)

WoodlandParkZooSignThe zoo!

We got to the zoo at just the right time. Because we went and grabbed some sushi lunch in Wallingford beforehand (so many avocado rolls), we didn’t arrive until ~1pm. This was just when all of the kids on field trips were getting ready to leave. We walked past 10+ school buses and a lot of hot/tired kids as we we were entering the zoo. If we’d gotten there earlier in the morning, our visit certainly would’ve been a bit… louder. In any case, the zoo wasn’t very busy and we were able to walk around/view the animals in a nice, leisurely fashion.
tree kangarooStephanie_monkey

A tree kangaroo chompin’ down on a flower (left) and making friends with a Patas monkey (right).

Unfortunately, we were unable to spot any of the babies that I mentioned earlier. They were likely snoozin’ away the afternoon in the comfort of their respective dens. Nevertheless, we still had a good time. And we did get to see one baby, but it was a Komodo dragon, so probably not quite as adorable as a baby porcupine/otter… I’d say that my top three animal sightings/viewings on the day were 3) the warty pigs (very cute and seemingly underrated; we stood by their exhibit for 5+ minutes and nobody else stopped to watch them), 2) the sloth bears (the yearlings/cubs were wrestlin’ pretty ferociously with one another), and 1) the tree kangaroo (such a fluffy tail!). We wandered around the zoo for more than three hours and exited just a little bit before closing.
Andrew_PenguinThis little guy almost jumped in the water ~20 times but never quite worked up the courage. Poor buddy.

After we left the zoo, we made our way over to the adjacent Woodland Park Rose Garden and walked around a bit. Although most of the roses won’t bloom for another month or so, it was still beautiful and vibrant and lovely. Several cherry trees were in blossom and most of the plants had a ton of new, brightly-colored growth. The grounds are manicured exceptionally well (especially for a free public park), and it’s easy to pretend that you’re lost in the middle of a sprawling Victorian estate. This seems like it’d be a particularly perfect place for reading a book on a lazy summer day…

Andrew Rose GardenNo roses yet, but so many different shades of green.

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Miles run in 2014: 132.7
Books read in 2014: 27

Mariners Game: Beard Hat Night!

Last night we went down to Safeco Field and caught a Mariners game. It was College Night, which meant we were able to get tickets for only ten bucks (hooray for student IDs without dates on them!). They were also giving away Mariners Beard Hats to the first 20,000 fans, so we were super excited. We went down about two hours before the game started to enjoy the ballpark and the (fleeting) sunshine.

pre-game beerCollege Night meant that beers were “only” $5 until first pitch. I got Elysian’s Hombre Lager – it was tasty.

Before the game started we hung out in Edgar’s Cantina, which is a small restaurant inside the stadium. It’s just beyond the left field fence underneath the manual scoreboard. Edgar’s is a neat place to take in a game because it has such a unique view; you’re very close to the field (only ~8′ above the playing field) and there’s also a window that looks right into the visitor’s bullpen (providing an up-close view of the catcher’s backside). Every once in awhile someone will even hit a home run right into the restaurant. Also, the food is tasty and relatively reasonably priced (especially for a ballpark). Four of us split a huge serving of chips and gucamole (for $4), and the carnitas torta (meat! – #20) I got was on a big ol’ hoagie and had so much avocado and only cost $9. Waaaay better than eating a hot dog and only a couple bucks more.

pre-game tortasMid-chew, pre-game tortas.

After the first inning, we wandered up to the 300 level and found our seats. We were waaay up there, only three rows down from the top. Fortunately, every seat in Safeco Field has wonderful sight lines, so we still had a lovely view. As the sun set, the clouds behind the stadium were highlighted with a mix of electric pink and deep dark purple, providing a pretty dramatic backdrop for the game. While a bit windy/chilly, it was a nice night for baseball.

view from our seats - Mariners April 25 2014The view from our seats.

Seattle was playing the Texas Rangers. The Mariners have been playing terribly so far this season, and Texas was leading the division, so the likelihood of an M’s win wasn’t particularly high. True to form, the Mariners soon found themselves down by two runs, but then they battled back by scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a three run lead! Their new ($14 million) “closer” came in for what should’ve been an easy outing… and promptly gave up two hits, hit a batter, and walked in two runs. However, despite his best efforts to lose the game, the Mariners first baseman made an extraordinary diving play to snag a hard-hit line drive and execute a game ending double play. Mariners win!!!

beardhatsBeard hats!

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Miles run in 2014: 132.7
Books read in 2014: 27

Taco Party!

Stephanie’s birthday is this week (the 23rd), so we had a small party for her on Saturday. It was a birthday party. But it was also… a taco party!

A taco party, of course, is a party that revolves around preparing and eating tacos. We set up a buffet and let folks go nuts. Stephanie and I made yellow rice and crispy(ish) potatoes coated with taco seasoning and black beans and roasted poblanos as the main fillings for the tacos. Someone also brought a rotisserie chicken, which was simply shredded to produce a delicious meaty option (which I indulged in – meat #19!). We also had flour and corn tortillas; homemade salsa and guacamole and a radish/carrot/cilantro jalapeño pickle; and tortilla chips, cilantro, avocados, tomatoes, lettuce, and sour cream. I even pulled out and shared my stash of Taco Bell sauces (hot and verde) because I’m just such a good host.

taco party chopping

Stephanie taco party tacos

Chopping radishes for the pickle (left) and a couple of Stephanie’s artfully constructed tacos (right).

In addition to the tacos, there was also sangria and some Mexican beer (with lime!) and tequila and even some presents for the birthday girl. In total, seven people + one puppy came over, so while it wasn’t particularly big/rowdy (only one broken piece of furniture), it was still a lot of fun.

taco partySuper interesting party conversation.

Also, since Saturday, I’ve had approximately five more tacos/burritos. And we still have so many leftovers! It was a good party.

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Miles run in 2014: 132.7
Books read in 2014: 26

Race Day: Seahawks 12K Run!

Today was the Seahawks 12K run. It was amazing! But also not so great in that my time was kinda slow. Earlier, I mentioned some goals… but then I got a little hurt a month ago and took some time off and never really quite got back to where I was in mid-February. I peaked too soon! Anyway, I was hoping for a pace a bit below 8 min + 43 sec/mile but I ended up running 8 min + 51 sec/mile. I guess this isn’t toooooo much slower, and conditions weren’t quite ideal, but I’m still somewhat disappointed. No (imaginary) medals for me this race! Oh well.

group photo 12kPre-run group photo: some of us ran a 12K, some of us ran a 5K. The little guy ran a 0.4K (he crushed it).

Despite my somewhat lousy time, the race was still a lot of fun. We lucked out with the weather; it was warm and sunny and beautiful. The course starts at The Landing shopping center (in Renton) and goes up along Lake Washington (providing some fairly picturesque views) to the Seahawks training facility. You run around the facility, right by the training fields, and then back to where you started (it was an out-and-back race). The race was actually a touch more than 12 km… I think it was about 12.3 km. That disparity might not sound particularly significant, but when you’re running on the course it certainly FEELS like a big difference.

The only semi-bad thing about this race was the number of people who ran in it. There were ~4,000 participants at this event last year (combined, for the 5K and 12K races). But this year, because the Seahawks just won the Super Bowl, the number of folks who signed up increased to 12,000! And ~6,000 of those participated in the 12K. This 300% spike in attendance resulted in some serious foot traffic… Although they tried to stager the start by releasing people in waves, this was largely unsuccessful. The last wave (which I was in) probably had ~3,000 people in it. It was nuts! The route was super congested for the first FOUR miles. This was kind of okay in that weaving your way through the crowd feels a little bit like a game and ~distracts you from the fact that you’re running for an hour. Also, you feel super cool when you’re passing a bunch of people. Unfortunately, all that swervin’ around does add some distance to your run and can tucker you out a little bit faster. There were also several instances where I got kinda boxed in all sides and just had to go slow for awhile.

action shot 12kAction shot! Sprinting to the finish line. (I look so good!)

Another factor that threw me off a little was the fact that, for all of my practicing, I’ve been running at night. The last four months I’ve generally been out when temperatures were near 40 degrees (which I think is very comfortable). Today, it was ~55 degrees at 9 am when the race started. And sunny! It turns out that this ~15 degree difference is fairly significant… I was so hot! Between miles five and six there was a not small hill that we had to run up; I got super light-headed and I think I slowed down quite a bit (because I didn’t wanna tip over). I think that this stretch, in combination with the congestion, is probably what stopped me from achieving my time goal. But the dizzy feeling only lasted about ten minutes. Otherwise, I felt pretty okay today during the run. My hip and knee were (relatively) pain free.

post run 12kPost-run pictures are sweatier than pre-run pictures.

After we finished, I crushed some Clif bars and a banana. I don’t generally like any kind of “energy” bar, but the stuff they were handing out today was delicious and tasted like Thin Mints. After we hobbled around in the finisher’s area for a little bit, we went and grabbed brunch at the Whistle Stop Ale House (a small restaurant nearby in Renton). I got some huevos rancheros. They were tasty. Now I’m gonna hang out on the couch and read/watch baseball! Today was a good day.

*Thanks again to Stephanie for taking pictures! She was going to participate in the 5K, but shin splints have disrupted her runnin’ lately… however, she was nice enough to still attend as a spectator/photographer.

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Miles run in 2014: 124.3
Books read in 2014: 25