The not so glamorous side to van life

I have started to see my mornings as a series of actions to take and duties to respond to.

I run, get back and move my van, turn on my heater, turn on my stove, boil water for coffee and breakfast, read the news and eat, move my van again, make sure everything is put away and turned off, lock it up, head out for my day.

If everything works, like it did today, I feel like the day is so good! If things go wrong, I’m looking it as challenges to overcome and problems to solve. I tried everything to fix my little buddy heater, but it was faulty. So yesterday I got a new heater and it worked both last night and this morning. I feel good about that.

I successfully made my breakfast in my van this morning without any outside help (I usually got coffee at work and used my electric kettle for water, now I cannot do). If everything goes well and I do it relatively easily, I feel as though I can live anywhere and be fine.

Of course things go wrong. Yesterday I was setting up my Mr. Buddy and was so focused on making sure it worked I didn’t take the time to pee even though I really had to go. This ended up with me trying to get out my pee bottle and sort of peeing on myself a bit and the floor before I made it into the bottle.

Yesterday morning I pooped in my bathroom bucket and the bag I use to line it had a hole. Ew.

Then this morning I dropped my oatmeal filled spoon on the floor.

Of course I cleaned these things up right away and I’m used to it now, but the van life isn’t all easy even when you get the hang of it. I was going to try to just tough it out for the next week or so without heat, but I knew it would be detrimental to training and also unnecessary. This is what Mr. Buddy heaters are for!

When I say it’s detrimental to training, I mean that during the night if I need to drink, which I often finish a bottle during the night, I don’t drink because I don’t want to come out of my cocoon in the 20 degree temperatures. Then I try to drink before I run, but I often am focused on getting outside and starting to warm myself up I forget.

Hydration is a big issue for me. So getting a heater and being a bit more comfortable is a luxury I will maintain. Even if it cost me $70 and they wouldn’t take back the faulty heater because I didn’t keep one of the parts. Oh well, I’ll donate it and a few other items to Ithaca Re-use on Sunday.

It was warmer this morning, and the sun rose for me so the last 4 miles of my run were in the light. These little things make me so happy.

Breakfast: peanut butter and plum(!!!) jam oatmeal with banana, apple and coffee

Running: 70 minutes

New running shoes and meeting Evan, the Altra rep

I just bought two new pairs of running shoes so I’m on that fake “I just bought something” high that’s happens when I spend money. After each race, especially if the training cycle is as long as this past one was, I force myself to get new shoes. I will wear the same shorts, shirts and spandex forever, but new shoes, with the mileage I put on them are necessary.

I also can tell if I keep wearing them too much longer I will increase my injury risk and decrease my response to recovery. I chose another pair of the ALTRA Escalante and a Saucony Kinvara. The Escalante for speed and the Kinvara for a cushioned everyday shoe. I made sure to get different colors so I don’t mix up the pairs of Escalantes. I’ve done that before.

Today I opened at CTB and the day sped by. Whenever I work late like I did yesterday and the open the next day, it feels fast. I decided not to move my van last night so I wouldn’t have to move it again this morning. So I got back home last night, ate a snack and went to sleep, then woke up, ran and came right back into work. It just feels so fast.

My runs on these days are hit or miss. Sometimes I’m really sleepy hitting the road at 4AM, other times I feel energized, as if my body didn’t shut off the night before. This morning I felt oddly rested and the run felt easy. I had some weird hip flexor tightness, so after I finish this bike ride (yes, I blog and bike lol) I’ll do some mobility.

Work went fast because we were short staffed so I had no down time. After work I finally met my Twitter and IG friend Evan, who is also the Northeast Altra rep. He is a cool dude and it’s nice to meet the faces of brands I use. I brought him some bagels and he brought me a buff. It was then I got my new shoes. I left them at the store because I didn’t want to carry them to the gym with me hahaha

After I get done here I’m going to Walmart to return my defective Mr. Buddy heater and get a new one. I did nothing wrong to it and it crapped after a week. Wish me luck for an equal exchange and a nice salesperson.

Lunch: hummus, tofutti cream cheese, nooch, lettuce, tomato, onion and sprouts on ciabatta. Pickles and soup on the side

Running: 67 minutes

Mr. Buddy fails and French Press coffee wins

Blah I cannot get my Mr. Buddy heater to light! It’s igniting, but I can’t keep it on. I have followed the directions, googled answers and nope, I’m perplexed. So last night and this morning, I turned my van on for a bit to use that heat, then just wore another sweatshirt and tried to keep the heat in. Whatever, I’m surviving. Hopefully I can get to Old Goat or go see my dad tomorrow and maybe they can help me.

On the plus side, I am completely self sufficient in the breakfast department. Well, technically I was before my last race as well, but I’ve made a few additions since then that will help me boondock more successfully. I already wrote about the butane burner which I use to boil water, well I also got a French press travel mug to make coffee! This morning I literally made everything in the van and didn’t go outside!

I liked the look of the mug and it worked perfectly. I got ground vanilla flavored (my favorite don’t judge) coffee from Wegmans and then had left over soy milk from last weekend in my cooler. The plus side of cold weather is not having to worry much about refrigeration. Also, using plant based alternatives usually means they stay better longer. Vegan win.

My run today was good and easy. I’m staying slower than 8 minute miles and under 90 minutes for long runs. It snowed lightly the whole time but I felt relaxed and low HR. Even going up the Turkey Hill felt good. The last two miles I could feel a bit of tightness in my right hip, so I’ll work that out once I get off the bike. My coach says we’re hitting the weekend hard. I will be ready and recovered by then.

Today is bagel Tuesday at work and my shift is 11-7. I actually like later shifts more especially once the trails clear up and I start to move out there. Maybe I’ll get lucky and start having more of them.

Breakfast: oatmeal with half a chocolate bar, banana and sunflower butter

Running: 90 minutes

Greenstar, Monkey Run and my first meal

I’m really starting to enjoy my weekends. On Saturday I ran, worked till 12 and then got lunch with my friend Fabian before taking him to get groceries. We ate at Greenstar and I treated myself to some delicious country-fried tofu. I highly recommend it!

We then drove around Treman park for a bit so I could find parking spaces and trails. He’s such a good friend for going with me.

I then went to Agava for a bit to take photos and touch base with my manager. After a few hours, I just wanted to sit in my van and read, which is exactly what I did.

On Sunday my legs were tired so I skipped a run and went hiking at Monkey Run. I was able to scout those trails for two hours and get some pretty photos.

I finished just as soon as the snow started. The Skunk Cabbage half marathon was going on at Cornell, and I got there just in time to see the finish. It’s still my favorite race. The first time I won.

After that I did laundry and went back to Greenstar for lunch. I’d been craving tempeh like mad, and they had it! I got BBQ tempeh and quinoa. They have those in the packaged section (still made in house) and so then I got a bowl and warmed it up in the seating area. It was so good!

I did some van maintenance, a few more errands and then read my book.

I cooked my first meal (oatmeal haha) using my butane stove and it went very well. I can’t wait to bust out my Coleman burner.

Things will be ok. I trust that now.

Breakfast: peanut butter and jelly on sourdough

Running: 68 minutes

Parking further away

Last night wasn’t as chilly as the previous two. I’m also comforted by the fact that ONE MORE NIGHT and then the weather gets a bit warmer. Actually, it’s rather beautiful outside. The sun shines and we have that lovely spring weather where it goes from sunny to snow to rain in about 15 minutes. I enjoy watching it from the inside of my work or van. Mother Nature is kind of great.

I think tonight I will park further away from downtown and try to be self-reliant. Meaning I will not be near work or people, and try to park at a place I am unfamiliar. I want to either hike or do a short run at Treman tomorrow, however I might wait until it warms up a bit. I was also a bit winded on my run today, so I want to see how I feel.

Yesterday I got a small single burner butane stove for boiling water. I will make oatmeal and coffee without assistance tomorrow morning. That is my goal. One step at a time. I need to buy the grounds first…

Tomorrow is also the Skunk Cabbage half marathon, my absolute favorite. I won it twice and it’s such a beautiful course with great people. Maybe I will stop by and cheer. There is a trail near the race, so I could run that and then head to the finish to support everyone. Oh, the possibilities!

This afternoon I am getting lunch and going grocery shopping with my friend Fabian. He is the best and doesn’t have a car. So I get to trap him for a few hours while I take him to get groceries. I think we’ll eat at GreenStar. I want some tempeh, so I hope they have it in their hot foods bar.

Breakfast: oatmeal with peanut butter and fruit

Running: 51 minutes