I didn't feel really good about my last long ride. I had a great day for it- sunny, warm. I didn't get hit by any trucks. I had plenty of fluids and food. I didn't get any work emergency calls.
I also needed over three and an half hours to get 70 miles in and I didn't have time to run afterwards. On one hand, the not being able to run afterwards is an issue. (The next day I did a brick and had a great run, so no big). But I was frustrated by how slow I rode, and how gassed I felt when I got done. Which is silly. I know this. The intellectual part of my brain keeps tell me the same thing- you can't go out and ride that long, ride in a B effort, and expect to ride at 20 mph. It's just a number. Numbers are not a good thing to get fixated on when you're training. When I run and swim, I do very little benchmarking. And I felt gassed after 70 mph ? Maybe I should try getting more than 6 hours sleep...
But the truth is, I used the 20 mph as my benchmark in 2006, when there was not enough time to do long rides in preparation for IM LP. Left to do shorter rides, I stuck to that as my measure of success.
So today, when I went out in colder, winder temps, took a hillier route, and managed to ride 70.6 miles in 3:28, I was psyched. I was even more psyched to be able to hop off the bike and get a short run that felt pretty good in.
Now, the trick is to start putting that benchmark out of my mind. I know I can go out and do it by myself, while keeping my heart rate nice and steady (well, for the first three hours anyway, until I started to push a little). So here comes the hard part- telling myself not to feel like I need to do that. Before IM FLA I rode 120 miles in under 6 hours. It did not lead to me having a good race there. Training is about building confidence, but it's more about building the base you need to succeed on race day.
I train alone. Even when I have a phenomenal (for me) day out there, it's written on a blank slate. I don't record what I do, there's nothing enduring about it, except how much I enjoy some of it. It's time to forget the number, maybe even think about turning the computer off for a few rides.