First half: sublime. Middle interlude: anxiety-producing! Second half: psychologically taxing due to lingering effects of anxiety.
My legs remained very strong, really I feel that physically I am ready to go LONG, but once I have a fit of anxiety, I become increasingly unable to do the thing that is always rather hard for me - namely, to get back on my bike and ride through the intersection after I have stopped at a light! Once that ability is really eroded by mental fatigue, I feel an increasingly strong urge to cut the ride short, for obvious reasons.
(All my long rides in this training block have been a bit short, I pretty much just had to resign myself to it - #7 was 4:15 rather than 4:30 due to heat, #8 was 4:53 rather than 5hr and today's was 5:07 rather than 5:30 - I had already done an out-and-back beforehand, I did do another good out-and-back but the feeling of going away from the "home" of where I get the bus got the better of me, plus aforementioned intersections issue; I turned around a little short of where I had gotten to on the first one!)
The strange thing is that Ironman training as I have been doing it is relatively short in duration - so that is my last really long ride on 9W for this season of training. I have one more big block of training, but it will be done in Cayman: so I am shooting for 5.5hr on 8/11, 6hr on 8/17 and 6.5hr on 8/25. Will do one more 3hr ride on 9W the week I'm back at the end of August, but it's taper by then, so no more huge long ones. This is good as the terrain is mentally taxing to me - I had a dreadful time today coming back up the "ramp of evil" at Haverstraw, the ramp itself wasn't bad and I made it through the intersection at the top without having to stop, which is always helpful, but the NEXT intersection pretty much stymied me - the light turned red, I stopped, it's a horrible configuration for me (anxiety already running very high due to this ramp and steep elevation change, brief ride on shoulder of 9W in very trafficky and truck-heavy stretch and then the intersection leaves you on a steep uphill to cross, with an even steeper hill rising up on your right). I must confess that if a car had pulled up beside me and said "I will take you home right now!" I would not have hesitated! However really if I did not do my ride today, I would have to do it AGAIN tomorrow, so that was not really an option. I walked my bike across the intersection, as I simply could not persuade myself to get on it as it was, took a few puffs of asthma inhaler and collected myself and got back on to ride up the hill.
Anyway, it was really a good ride, and I have saved the best part for last. I was thinking very much of two of Joanna's pieces of advice - "9 and 3" on the rare occasions of coasting without pedaling, "heel down." And I am sure both were beneficial. But my single huge mission for the ride was to ride as much as seemed sensible or feasible in the big ring, and it was amazing! My average speed is strikingly faster, in fact this sort of explains why I have been so slow on my long rides - I really thought I should be riding a bit faster, but it is easy to put it down to (a) too many pounds and (b) poor descending skills. This is transformative - I really think I may be able to ride 15mph at IMWI, actually....
5:03:48 (rolling time), 73.4mi, 14.3mph (compared to 13.0mph last week in very similar weather conditions)