Overcoming Negative Thinking (Take Two)
Since the server seems to have lost my other post, I'll try again:
I did a ride today that reinforced for me that cycling is 50% physical, and 90% mental. I had to work VERY hard to overcome some stinkin' thinkin' to reach my goal.
On July 5, 1943, my parents were married -- he at 19, and she at 17. In a couple of days they will celebrate 63 years of marriage and a life full of challenges, setbacks, and victories. I wanted to do something to honor their remarkable marraige, so I decided a while ago I'd "ride their anniversary" today.
I've done one metric century before, back in October, when I rode my own age and then kept going to complete the metric. I achieved this on a mountain bike with knobbie tires, partly because I didn't know any better and didn't know how hard it would be.
Since then, I've done a few long rides (for me) of 35-50 miles, but for the most part, I've been content to ride 10, 20, maybe 25 miles at a clip. So I worried that I wouldn't be able to complete my goal.
The negative thinking started turning up the volume last night, when I began tossing and turning, rather than sleeping. Somehow I managed to screw up the coffee machine and while it did make the coffee automatically ahead of time, it was brewed at 3 in the morning and cold when I finally woke up -- had to be microwaved.
And of course my Negative Thinking caused me to oversleep. I had wanted to be at my starting point at 7:30 or 8:00, but I didn't even wake up until 9:00. Then NT ("Negative Thinking") helped me stall and distract myself, by reading posts on BF, for instance, and misplacing my wallet, for another. It was *this close* to convincing me to do it another day.
But I forced myself to get dressed and mount the bike on the rack and drive over to Coronado, the site of my original metric. I wanted to return to "the scene of the crime" partly to find out if the second one would be any easier.
I started riding after eating a banana and drinking some water, and reminded myself not to go too fast and to remember to enjoy myself (and I really had to consciously do that!). My route was a series of laps around the island (peninsula, actually) that were about 5.9 miles in length. That meant ten laps plus a little something more.
NT immediately began reminding me of how boring this route would be (even though it goes past the bay on one side, the ocean on another, and a golf course on a third). NT also helped me become aware that I'd been riding "for some time" and had only gone 2 or 3 miles. Let's see, that's not very much, huh?
So the first thing I did was make a deal with NT. Let's go for 36 miles, just six laps, as a minimum, and if I want to quit then, so be it. But quit the negative thinking until then! And surprisingly, NT settled down. I sort of felt that if i got to 36, I wouldn't want to "waste" all of them, so I'd press on, and once i got into the forties, I'd be so close I'd keep going. I hoped NT didn't think of that.
The ride began unfolding pretty well for a while. It's completely flat roads, and the winds were gentle, so that was working for me, but there really isn't even anywhere to coast, so it's constant pedalling almost like a single speed.
Around thirty miles things started to hurt. A knee, a thigh, my butt a little bit, and my back. NT sort of woke up and started taunting me. "Do you REALLY think you're going to ride another 30 miles feeling like this???"
"Yes," I answered. "I've set a goal, and unless I get doored, right hooked, or squirreled, I'm going to complete my goal. My parents didn't quit when it got tough, and I'm not going to either.
I had feared the heat and humidity, but the temps were in the mid-70's and were quite pleasant. That said, I couldn't stop sweating and was growing very irritated at the sweat pouring down my face and over my glasses. I'm getting a sweat band IMMEDATELY!
The laps began blending into one another. In the beginning, i was taking a short 2-minute break after each lap to drink ice-cold water courtesy of a Greek restaurant. I stopped at one point for a banana, and at another for a store-bought muffin and a Sobe. Mmmm!
Then something weird happened. I began thinking out loud if I could EXCEED the sixty three mile goal. I even considered somehow hanging on until I reached 82, my dad's age. The last three laps were tough but interesting, I didn't stop between laps, i just kept going and going and going. Nothing really hurt except my back, and that wasn't too bad.
I decided to 'pause' at 63, put the bike back on the car, come home, get a little food and/or rest, and then take the bike out again for another 19 miles. Well, this time, PT didn't overcome NT. I got home, very proud of having reached my original goal, and collapsed on the couch, shattered. My body quickly sort of closed up shop, stiffened, and there was NO way I could ride anymore.
But, by acknowledging my negative thinking, and deliberately turning it around with postive thinking, I reached my goal. Perhaps i could have gone further if I'd stayed where I was, but that's immaterial. I maintain now that it is quite challenging (at least, for me!) to do a metric century alone, using a six mile loop as the basis for the ride. I knew it would be tough, and I wanted to do it that way any way, sort of just because. Hard to explain.
I also think that perhaps I'm not quite cut out for these long distance rides very much. The 10, 20, and 30 milers have much more fun appeal. (Or, is that my NT talking again?).
Anyway, Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I salute you, I am humbled by your achievement, and I love you very, very much!!!