Readjusting

So much to think about and do before next Saturday. Cayuga Trails came up so fast this year. I feel like I just ran MOTG and here we are.

Granted, there isn’t that much time between the races, and normally I’d never sign up for races so close…but that’s part of the challenge of the Triad this summer. After Cayuga it’s a few weeks to Twisted Branch, my main focus of the summer.

After the events of this past weekend, I took a look internally at what I think I am capable of. Sitting here now, tired, a bit sore and emotionally fatigued, I have readjusted my goals. At Cayuga, I want to have a good time. At Twisted, I want to finish.

I was talking to a friend the other day and I wish I’d not heard stories about how tough Twisted is. I think it is preventing me from giving myself a chance. I have never signed up for a race before without believing I could do it. At Twisted, I was unsure but confident I would make it out alive. Right now, I’m on the edge of doubt. I really wish I hadn’t listened to people share their experience. How the race changes people. I don’t normally get psyched out, but I can see myself headed in that direction.

Therefore, I have adjusted my goals to help me enjoy the rest of the training and the race. I will try hard, but my goal is first to finish. To enjoy the 60 or so miles mostly, and just be happy getting out there. I have some friends crewing and pacing, which I am thankful for. Seeing their faces will be a huge boost. However, the bad experience I had on the trail last weekend, although nothing to do with the course, weighs on my mind.

I have done what I can to stop thinking about it, but it’s proved difficult. I don’t want to get into that mental space on the trail. I am confident these feelings will pass, as they’ve already started to fade and I feel lighter and happier. However, they still come up at the most random times. All I can do is keep working on me, enjoy the training and help myself out.

To be honest, I’ve taken this as an opportunity to try workouts or things I haven’t had the chance to try in the past. I am taking initiative to get myself where I need to be. Might I fail? Sure, but I don’t do this to win or be perfect, I do it because it’s hard, I enjoy it most times and the suffering makes me feel alive.

Next weekend at Cayuga some pretty great girls are coming to play. Sabrina Little and Sarah Keyes, both fantastic runners are showing up and I plan to learn from them. I am going to school next Saturday. These opportunities do not happen often on the East Coast, so I am taking advantage of their knowledge and experience. I can’t wait to get out there and have my ass handed to me.

I’ll be so much smarter the next go around.

Yesterday I ran with a new friend I actually met at FLRTC the day before. I felt some soreness in my foot, so I knew I needed a new supportive shoe. Nothing fancy. I got the Brooks Ghosts and Brooks Revel off the men’s sale rack. While I was there, a dude came in and I remembered I saw him earlier that week on the bike path. We got to talking, found out we run at the same time, so we met up yesterday. I didn’t plan to do 14 miles, but it felt right. I’m happy to have found a new training partner.

Today I ran a really easy 7 miles at six mile creek. My legs were tired, I have some outer shin discomfort on the right side, so it wasn’t that hard to go super easy. It’s funny how the night before a super easy day, I am ready for some “blissfully easy” miles…and I end up sore, humbled and well, it’s just not what I expected. Workout days sometimes feel easier you know?

Speaking of workouts, I did my first solo workout on Wednesday. I did 8 half mile uphills with the downhill recovery in between. My legs and butt were burning by the end. Hill work is one of my favorites when I am relearning how to judge speed, simply because they are completely effort based. I also remembered to use my lap band, so if I do another set before Twisted, I can judge how I am improving (or recovering).

Since there is so little time between Cayuga and Twisted, I really think most of my training will be recovery focused. I will only do workouts if I feel up to it. Cayuga will be the last true workout.

Food has been really good lately. Really good. I have made a lot of rice, was blessed with pesto and hummus from my work, and have been trying to get a bit creative. I tried a pineapple turmeric hummus which I really enjoyed. I made pesto roasted potatoes in my air fryer. I finally bought corn nuts, so of course I’ve been putting them on my bowls as a crunch.

Breakfast cycles between yogurt bowls and pancakes. I’ve been using a vanilla protein powder in the bowls, which I think has been helpful in my recovery from workouts and races. I do feel lighter lately and eating more produce has definitely been good for the digestive system if you know what I mean.

My struggles in my diet basically involve hydration. I’m trying, it’s just a struggle. What I have implemented is drinking half a bottle of water before my run each morning. Some days I just get up and run. However drinking the water during the night and before I leave is proving beneficial. Whoa who knew right?

Today I have a complete day off, so errands and laundry will get done. My sister is working for my mom today, so I’ll go see her this afternoon. We’ve got a lot to talk about.

Happy. Fine.

“How are you?” is a question I get asked a lot. I ask it a lot myself. That’s part of customer service. The overwhelming answer I hear, and one I give myself, is “I’m fine”.

Usually I think that’s true. In this moment, I am not in present danger, I am working a job I like, I have a pretty good life. Fine is a perfectly acceptable and true answer.

When I ask how someone is, and a I truly care, I’ve started to reframe how I do that. I’ve started asking “How is your life?” Or “Are you happy?”

Those questions probe deeper and I actually care on a deeper level about the answers.

This past weekend and few days, I asked myself those questions.

Am I happy? How is my life?

I had a rougher weekend on some fronts, which made me sad. Actually, I numbed out for a while. I just wasn’t ready to cope with what I knew it meant. What I wanted it to me. Not because it would make my life harder or worse, but how it might affect other people.

Of course, this might all be projection and all parties will end up better off and happy. However, hard decisions were made, and it was unsettling for a while. During my numbing out process, what ultimately helped me make a decision was asking, Am I happy? How is my life?

Yes. I am happy. My life is good.

Can I move on from this in a direction that will still make me happy? Will the decision I make improve my life?

Yes and yes.

Answering those two questions made it obviously clear what the next step is and my path forward.

My life is not changing in a significant way. I will still be happy regardless, I’ve learned I am more than this one facet of my life.

I am happy. I am fine. Life is good.

Blood from nowhere, cold food is the best food

This morning I fell on my trail run, but it didn’t seem so bad and so I kept running. All of a sudden there’s blood going down my hand, from a cut on my finger.

It’s not even a big cut but it was like a severed an artery. I also noticed a few more bruises on my left side from my fall on Sunday. To be honest, I’ll take the bruises over any other issue even if it looks like I got into a fight or have a rambunctious dog.

The heat finally broke and it was cooler this morning. I slept a bit better last night and hydrated more appropriately yesterday while at work. I actually apologized to a patron for being “thangry” on Monday if I seemed rude to him (thirsty + angry = thangry) He said he didn’t notice anything out of my usual self…so I’m good at hiding my headaches.

My coworker Josh was being a dick for the first half of the shift, so I started writing down a list of mildly infuriating things I hoped would happen to him. We’re good friends so it was all in jest, but even he was surprised at how personally accurate the annoyances I came up with were. Worked seemed to fly by, and I got home at a good time.

I have to be honest, it’s kind of nice living some where stable right now, so instead of missing my van, I’ve started looking at all the positives of apartment life.

A fan, good food, cold water, a bathroom. Little pleasures I took for granted before vanlife.

Today before work I am going to my friend Ashley’s house to get some produce! She and her boyfriend Tim have a lot of land and a huge garden. At lunch on Saturday she said I can have a bunch of the vegetables that are starting to come, because there’s so much they cannot possibly eat it all.

I want some zucchini so I can air fry it. I also want to make kale chips. Or potato chips, I’m not picky at all.

I’ve noticed that I am the only person keeping things in the bigger fridge in the kitchen. Seriously the only thing in there is my almond milk…so if she gives me a lot of stuff, I am planning to put it in the community kitchen. I don’t really think anyone will take it, but I guess if they do, at least they are eating well.

Speaking of food, does anyone else eat all their food cold when it gets hotter than 80 degrees? I don’t eat anything hot anymore. Ok, I make pancakes for breakfast sometimes, but my dinners are just eaten straight out of the fridge. Rice, tofu, whatever, I just put it in a bowl and go to town.

Breakfast: chocolate pancakes with peanut sauce

Running: 70 minutes

Friendly neighborhood hitchhikers

Here in NY this past weekend we had temperatures that reached 100 degrees. I usually am good in heat, but even I’ve been struggling with hydration and keeping my cool. Last night at work I felt really sick for the last hour…I’ll work on drinking even more today.

When I am dehydrated, I feel sick, and don’t want to drink, then I get a headache and feel grouchy. Not a good combo. Luckily my coworker and best work friend Josh is pretty easy-going, so he makes me feel ok again.

On Sunday my coach and I met at the Twisted Branch course at 10AM for some heat training. Yup, heat training. Our plan was to do the first 20 miles of the course at a really slow, hiking pace. Which we did. Our pace was very slow and deliberate so we could keep going in the heat. There was also a water stop at the half point, and a creek to dip in.

However, best laid plans sometimes go awry, but not in a terrible way. Essentially, we got lost and off trail a few times. The FLT course markers aren’t always the best, and so we had to navigate a bit randomly. We got to the water hose, and it had already been about 2 hours and 15 minutes. We debated stopping then, because it was only getting hotter and I had a family party I wanted to get to.

The thing is, when you’re an hour from the people you know, there’s almost no point in stopping if there are no physical ailments. Sure, we were both hot, but I had enough food and water for both of us, so we kept on. I knew I was going to be pretty late to the family pow-wow.

Another issue in finding the trails was the lack of cell phone service. My phone kind of shit the bed and it was luck that we got a hold of Jeff, a trail pro, to help us out. After about 15 miles, we were lost again, so we decided to make our way to a parking lot and see if anyone would give us a ride back to my van.

Luckily, a few wonderful women who were on vacation, thought we were a riot and helped us out. We struck out with two families before that. Rightly so I mean we looked gross. The ladies even took our picture after they dropped us off. I am thankful for people like that. I wouldn’t give a second thought to helping a runner or hiker if they’re lost, but I realize it’s kind of sketchy if you don’t understand the culture.

We ended up with about 16 miles and 4 hours of heat training. Coach said it was a solid day. I said at certain points this race seemed like a really bad idea for me. Mental lows were real out there. They will happen on race day, so I might as well train through them. Better overprepared in that sense.

We hit a really good Mexican place finally, which made me forgive him for his heat training idea (I kid, but I was starving by 4PM) and I made it to my family’s party by 6PM. My sister and her boyfriend were getting ready to leave, but I did see them for a bit and hung out with my parents for a couple hours. No regrets.

I woke up really sore on Monday, so my 5 miler was kind of a slog. Today I took a rest day. With work being a sauna and my next race in just a few weeks, I need to be careful here.

Honestly, I miss my van life, but it’s probably better for me to have a stable home right now. I don’t need to worry about things as much. I don’t need to move my vehicle. I can rest assured everything is alright. Peace of mind, less stress, hopefully more recovery.

On the home front, I am still not home very much, but when I have been, I’ve cooked a few times. I made golden rice as my first meal. Technically the pancakes were the first, but I’m not counting breakfast.

I also got an air fryer on Saturday. I’ve had my eye on one for a year or so, and so I promised myself that if I wasn’t living in my van, I’d get an air fryer for the simple reason that I don’t have to babysit the stove and it’s takes less time. It’s also not as hot or dangerous working with less oil.

I made maple glazed tofu, as the only things I have in my pantry to flavor tofu are maple syrup, oil and salt. It worked great! 10 minutes to fried tofu just the way I like it!

My mom also gave me some hand-me-down sheets, so I am no longer sleeping on my sleeping bag. To be honest, it’s been so hot I don’t really notice a difference. I’m just sweating in front of my van anyway.

That’s kind of been it. Trying to manage the heat, my soreness (which now also comes from bruises on my left side where I fell during heat training) and learning how to live in an apartment again.

I don’t feel pressure to decorate. I like the white. I don’t feel the need to make a million recipes. I like how vanlife showed me how to eat simply everyday, and once in a while treat myself. That in itself is a blessing.

Running: Rest

Breakfast: yogurt, protein powder, flax seeds, raspberries and almonds

Onto the next adventure, goodbye vanlife

Whenever I get done with a race, I always think the next week will be relaxing and I’ll have so much more time because I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day training.

I don’t think that has ever happened. But I tell myself it will each race. Maybe the next one eh?

So much has happened in the past few days I don’t really know where to start. For the sake of privacy, I’ll stick to myself and not venture too far off to other people in my life.

The biggest thing that’s happened is I have rented an apartment, and moved in Tuesday morning. It happened rather fast. I talked to my dad about the van, how it’s going and randomly looked at apartments just in case something were to happen to the van. This was on Sunday.

That night I got terrible news, didn’t sleep, and spent the whole night thinking about the past 7 months, and how I could be a better family member at this point.

That morning, I contacted an apartment complex I had rented from in the past, went to check a few rooms out figuring a possible move in that August if I still felt compelled to do so.

They had one I could move into immediately, great price, so I took it.

Yup, right then.

I moved the next day, and have been there for the past few nights.

I miss my van. I loved van life, so I will still do it using my van as a camper for training runs and races and the occasional camp. However, with the dynamic the way it is in my life, having an apartment is a wise choice.

Without getting too specific, I am fine, my van is fine besides the dent in the back I am getting fixed this week and my family is ok. I do not feel like I have given up or failed at living in a van. On the contrary, I feel like living in a van for 7 months during the winter and figuring shit out is a huge accomplishment. I set out to do what I planned, I can live in a van, I got rid of stuff I don’t need, I learn how to survive.

It was a truly great experience and one I will likely repeat in the future.

However, I choose to have an apartment right now to provide a safe space for myself and family members if they need it. Additionally, with the things going on, my parents have enough to worry about without my living on the street. I have never felt unsafe, but I know they worry.

I still have my camper with me, I still drive it, it is still race and camping ready. I kept my pee bottle.

This was a decision I felt right about, even though I have tried to live a minimalist lifestyle and be more environmentally conscious. I will continue to pursue these things while apartment living. I rented the smallest apartment I could, I share a kitchen and a bathroom. I have one bowl, one spoon, one plate etc. I will wear the same clothes and use the same things.

I still use my sleeping bag on my bed (though my mom said I could have some sheets of their’s if I choose).

I kept most of my appliances in storage, so I will get a pot and a pan, my slow cooker and waffle iron, blender etc. The past few days I’ve been using a community pan when I need it. I will also donate my things to the community kitchen. Why not share?

The first night was weird. Sleeping in a large bed. Going to the bathroom simply. Standing upright. It’s nice not going to lie, but also something I could live without. I proved that to myself.

I enjoy it. I enjoy electricity, a fridge, shelves, standing up.

I enjoy that the past two mornings I’ve made pancakes and not burned them. I missed cooking, I cannot wait to do that again.

I loved van life, but this life, my ever evolving life, finds me in an apartment again.

Onto the next adventure.