Well I have definitely gone up another gear and the challenges have grown substantially. I have had big doubts about my ability to finish this event.
We did a 65km ride on 5th July from Featherbrooke to the Chicken Pie (with a 10km loop in the Cradle). This has over a 1000 m of climbing. I got really tired near the end and wanted to cry. I then found I couldn't breathe. Jonathan was with me and calmed me down and got me to breathe slowly and deeply. It was scary and took me completely by surprise.
The next day we did a 76km ride out Magaliesberg way called Slow Poison. Well that was certainly my mind that day. My mind was vicious to me that day. I was tired and I was slow. I was aware of the rot in my mind and kept on saying to myself:
"its ok. its ok to be at the back. its ok to be slow"
"i am doing fine. look at where i have come from. don't stress"
"its ok to be tired"
But somehow I couldn't sustain the positiveness and ended up on this loop:
"how will i manage on the ride to rhodes on those really long days when i can't ride and sustain 65kms and only 1000m climbing"
"this is too big for me. i am no good at this. i am too slow"
"why am i doing this?"
"how will i manage"
As I reached the guys who were waiting for me (again) I tried light-heartedly to apologise for being slow and them having to wait for me. There was NOTHING light about me at that point and my chest completely closed up. I was gasping and wheezing and not getting air into my lungs. I stood to one side trying to retain some measure of dignity. Doug was with me this time and Jonathan was with me again. I was crying and convulsively breathing. I realised that this not being able to breathe is linked into a panic attack brought on by not believing in myself and allowing my mind to control this. Then there is a physical reaction in my body. From an outside point of view it is quite interesting to see this huge reaction.
It has taken me ages to write this blog (it is 26 July today).
I have made a couple of changes. The 1st being more aware that this is a life experience and to that end it is irrelevant as to what the actual experience is. It is more important to BE in the experience - with all its glory, pain, tediousness, ability to eats loads and still lose weight, celebrate the experiences with my buddies, share the stories, be tired (exhausted actually!) and still carry on with work and home and all the normal other stuff.
The 2nd being I have been doing sprints with Fiona and I think this has aided some power in my legs. Certainly the last few rides have been much better in terms of my strength as well as my head space.
It is so difficult to be at peace and ok with the sense of not being strong enough and not being good enough. It is difficult to rise above that and look back at how far I have come in terms of strength, fitness and technical ability. But that is certainly life lesson stuff.