Chili, Caffeine, Clif Shots

Ithaca Chili Cook-off is today! That means busy at CTB, and taking pictures of the event for Agava. I’m debating doing a bit of biking before I go out there. Sometimes the spinning makes my legs feel good, but I also know I will be on my feet most of the day.

I had two confidence boosting runs this week, which I’ve been waiting for. My hamstring is behaving as long as I take short strides.

I’m sold on the salted watermelon Clif Shots. They are delicious and I can put down a bunch of them. I’m also sold on scones. I’ve been eating one as an afternoon snack for the past week and they make me smile.

I started drinking caffeinated coffee in the mornings. I’ve been off caffeine since JFK in November. However, I want to use caffeine in my races for a boost, so my coach thinks I should introduce some of it back in before race day. Still on decaf for everything else.

My sister did her first 10 mile run of her marathon (!!!) training plan this morning and she didn’t walk at all! I’m so proud of her. I can’t wait to do this race together. If I didn’t mention it, we’re going to Texas in May to run the Silo District Marathon. Run-cation is the plan, road-tripping and stopping along the way is also scheduled.

I’ve been reading Liza Howard’s blog, and I love the format. It’s quick, funny and something that makes me smile. I think if I want to blog more often, the way she does it is sustainable for me. I’ll even include my running time like she does.

If anyone doesn’t know who Liza is, you should. Powerhouse running coach, mom and amazing athlete.

Breakfast today: oatmeal with maple syrup, bananas and peanut butter

Running: 118:28 minutes

The First Van Crisis

This morning, I had my first van crisis. Although that sounds extreme now looking back, it definitely was challenging.

To set the scene, it has been frigid here in Ithaca the past few days. Snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures. I was lucky to be able to park in one spot all weekend, which meant I didn’t have to drive my van in the slush and ice. Well, parking in one area meant I didn’t move my plug-in cord at all. It also meant I didn’t rev the car battery at all, yet still used a light inside.

Being new at this, I didn’t think of it, I was just thankful I had a warm place to stay the weekend without much hassle.

This morning I woke up and tried to start my van to move it to it’s “day spot”. The engine didn’t start, the battery was dead. To make matters worse, my cord was under two inches of ice. I immediately started to de-ice my cord using hot water and salt from work. This involved hauling 40 gallon buckets in and out for about an hour…at 5:00AM, I had to work at 6:15AM.

During this time, I am racking my brain as to what to do about the van. I have to move because people park there during the day. That’s the deal. It was so early, I didn’t know of anyone who could give me a charge. I’m thinking about all the explaining I’ll have to do, how much trouble I might get in and also about cutting my cord because it’s not out of the ice and I have to work.

I called my dad. I started working and my coworker finished the last few inches of ice I hadn’t gotten to (it took him 2 minutes, thank God!)

My dad saved the day. He answered the phone at 6AM when I was at my wits end. I didn’t know who else to call, and I knew he would be up and have what I needed. He came.

I de-iced my wet hands and feet while waiting for him, changed shoes and we got to work. He gave me a jump, then gave me his old battery charger for if it happens again.

He taught me what to do next time and told me I did the right thing, I did what I could and then asked for help.

We got my van going, I let it run for 45 minutes, then drove it to it’s spot. I plugged the battery charger into it, and it’s back working now.

First van crisis: averted.

My dad has been really helpful in this transition. I cannot stress that I have benefited from numerous sources for help. I am not alone, and that is so comforting. I’ve been in the van for a week, and I do like it, but it’s a learning curve. My dad simply stepped up to help. He could have said no. He could have told me that this was my bed I had to lay in it. But he didn’t. He helped me.

My dad is someone I want to be like. He has his opinions, his ways and just how he thinks…but he always stops to help. I called him in tears because I didn’t know what else to do. After I got off the phone and when I saw him, I was crying again, but they were tears of overwhelming joy. I was so overwhelmed that he was coming to help. I should have known he would, that’s in his character, but for some reason, I still doubted.

First van crisis: averted. I love you dad.

Oh, I made a YouTube video which you can view here: https://youtu.be/eTtPP9Q0MGE

The First Few Days of Living In A Van

I moved into my van on January 7th. Today is January 9th so I have survived the first two days.

Saying “I survived” sounds much more dramatic than it really turned out to be. I think I’m cut out for this life.

Here’s how the first night went:

I moved in officially at about 4PM after getting the rest of my stuff out of my apartment. I turned on The Office and started trying to put things away and organize, though it proved a bit futile because, being so new, I still am figuring out what things I need near me and what I don’t.

I made a good effort at it though 🙂 My space heater worked, although two of them do not work together at the same time. It proved not necessary to have two, so I will most likely return the second…or not and use it as a back up…decisions.

I have not used the table under the bed yet as it has proved unnecessary to do so. I have a different table that is easily storable and makes it so I don’t have to move the bed. I’ll figure it out better later, I’m only two days in.

My toilet system works rather well. It sucks that I know this, but I eat so much and it has to come out sometime. At least it works and it doesn’t make my van smell. Thank you kitty litter 😉

After I organized what I could, I started making dinner: steamed broccoli and oatmeal. It seemed simple.

It was, just a bit cumbersome to steam the broccoli. My electric hotplate takes longer that a flame to steam the veggies, but that was ok, I just kept watching The Office. The oatmeal was easy. I used quick oats and my electric kettle. Plopped some PB and banana in there and we’re done.

I ate dinner, clean up, did a crossword and went to sleep. That’s kind of what I did at my apartment, so not much has changed, just the movements.

One thing I noticed was that I slouch more because I am so tall. The next day I went to Ithaca ReUse and got a stadium chair (some guy definitely made it because man it says DIY all over it) to help with this. I think it’s working…

Sleeping has been ok. I don’t fall asleep immediately yet, but I have gotten good sleep. To be honest, last night I was too hot, so I might exchange my mummy sleeping bag with some blankets and see how that goes tonight. I also sleep in spandex and a tank top for reference.

Breakfast the next morning was more of the same: oatmeal and an apple. Perfect. I had errands to do that morning, and my only 2018 goal is to try all the Ithaca restaurants, so I took myself to On The Street Pitas for lunch. Definitely great and good service to boot.

I worked at Agava that afternoon, then came back home (TO MY VAN!) and ate dinner. I made a pesto pizza melt at work and had more veggies. Did a crossword and went to bed.

This morning was kind of different because I park outside my work at night, then I park at a different place during the day. So after my run I moved my van, then came into work. It all went well and smoothly so I am grateful.

That’s all I’ve done since moving into the van.

Any questions?

Showing Up

I’ve run away a lot in my life. I avoid social situations where I don’t have control. I like my routines, my boxes and things a certain way. My brain has a way it wants things done. When things are not that way, I have an internal battle where I convince myself not to run away.

On the surface, I seem very social, easy-going and up for most things. On a deeper level, it takes a lot of work to get me there. I’m not saying I would rather be a shy mouse in the corner, but I don’t branch out very often. I don’t do many social situations after 6PM. I make sure I give myself enough time for 8 hours of sleep.

I don’t go to bars, I don’t drink much. I like to have dinner at home. I like to get up early and go to bed early. I like to take my time.

Then, I started to build relationships and have friends. I have a huge family unit I love being a part of. Though these people drive me crazy sometimes and push me out of my Zen zone, I would not trade them for that comfort.

The second half of 2017 looked a lot different than the first half. The first half I needed to get away from Ithaca, from friends and from what I was used to. Essentially, I ran away from that comfort, but I also ran away from the responsibility that comes with forming relationships. I had a reason not to show up. I lived further away after all. Sorry, no can do. Bridal shower? Sorry, gotta work. Christmas? Hmm, I actually can’t make that. No I wasn’t mad at anyone, but I was in my comfort zone, alone, doing what I knew. I was content living that way.

In the second half of 2017, things started to change. I met Michael, Eric, Sheila and Lisa from TrailsRoc and they made me a part of their family. I started to work with my friend and running coach Mike, which forced me to be accountable with training and what I was doing. I started to crave people who liked me for me. Even crazier, I missed my family because they became people who I could talk to, lean on and laugh with. Rather than loving them because they are blood, I loved them because I love them. They make me feel whole.

Making these relationships, running a few crazy races and job circumstances led me back to Ithaca, to living with people and running with guidance. I was overjoyed to move back, but I had changed and so did my need for control.

Having relationships means showing up. It means being where you say you’ll be. It means being honest. I no longer felt “bad” for saying “yes I’ll be there but I have a run first.” In the past, I felt like I was doing something wrong or I didn’t care enough. Granted, if it was important, I skip said run, but building a new relationship with my family meant that they also understood who I was. They understand I run and doing that before I help my mom at her store or work with my dad doesn’t mean I don’t love them, it means that my priorities make running first (early before they are awake or opening up shop) and then I am more productive, happier and we get more done.

Showing up means being present, not worrying about other things that “need” to get done. Showing up means connecting when we can, but also not expecting an answer super fast because we all have things we want to do. Showing up for me meant loosening my vegan dietary preferences. Showing up meant loosening my need for control. Showing up reminded me that I don’t need to be alone and that if I do make plans one day instead of have a day to myself, the world doesn’t end, I still get my stuff done and I usually feel even more invigorated afterwards.

Showing up means not living a life online. Showing up means just being there.

Showing up is hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s worth it.

2017 taught me how to show up. No turning back now 🙂

Van Life Currently December 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about what’s up with my van.

I had a good trip to JFK in late November I’ve been working on it slow and steady. The inside was already converted and had the electric done, so the hardest parts were taken care of.

What I realized after JFK was that the bed in it, while very comfortable and big, was not going to be very functional for van living. The van was converted as a vacation, road trip vehicle, and it’s perfect for that. I had other plans. After looking online and at other resources for a week or two, I narrowed down what I wanted: a bed parallel to the van, with a fold up table and two storage compartments underneath. You can find the design I went with here.

Before I worked on the bed, I wanted to get solar panels installed. Luckily, this time coincided with my birthday, so my gifts from family for both my birthday and Christmas helped me pay for the panels. These will come in handy when I do not have access to electricity.

My schedule is tight, something I’ll talk about in a future post, so making time to work on it was a priority on my days off. Thankfully, it’s my dad’s slow season on the farm, and he offered to help. Selfishly, part of working on the van is a way to spend more time with my dad. Of course, I am not transitioning to van life because of this, but it is a huge benefit. There aren’t many crossovers in our lives, so this is special.

A few weeks ago I drew up a rough build plan and my dad got wood and screws from his farm supplier. I am very lucky that my dad is a farmer and therefore has the tools I needed to build. I realize not as many people have this option, so it is harder to get work done.

I must preface this by saying, we did not remove the old bed. I had it removed and taken to the reuse center when I got the solar panels installed from HiWay HiFi. I also got Reflectix (window insulation) done as well. I measured the area I wanted the bed to be and fit it into the layout of the van. After that, it was cutting, remeasuring and reworking my plans as we went using my dads knowledge and also just what worked better for my van. We had to get different hinges and add a few reinforcements here and there, but largely, I’m happy with what we got.

The mattress I will be using also folds up into a chair. I have yet decided whether I will add another piece of plywood to increase the surface area of the table. It also needs some sanding, but it’s in my van and cozy.

I have not slept on it yet, as we finished it yesterday. I am also now able to put in shelves and storage now that the major piece of hardware is in.

A few questions I’ve gotten:

How will I keep warm?

Electric hook up and solar panel electricity at night, Mr. Buddy propane heater. Friends houses if we get a bad storm.

How will I cook?

Coleman stove. But mostly I will eat from work. I benefit from food service, a work perk is free food that would get tossed. I consider that benefit better than a pay increase at times.

How will I use the bathroom/shower/laundry?

I work at a 24 hour gym, giving me ample showering and laundry facilities. I have jobs that provide me with help making van life more manageable. I am also not doing this without support. My community is great and a lot of friends have offered amenities if I need them. I am lucky.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got, any questions, send them my way!