Ha! I've been there.
In fact, yesterday around 150km into my ride, I was there. The day had gone really well. I was feeling great, legs were turning, I had lots of water/hydration, sun was shining but not scorching and there must have been a hundred smiling faces on the course throughout the day. All was well! Until I hit the wall. I was tired. I was keeping it together but slowly losing pace for about 7km's. The next 20km or so are a false flat (appears to be flat but your actually going uphill at a 1-2% grade - ie; mental torture). My back was hurting, my hips were on fire, my toe was asleep and numb plus I would have robbed someone for a pizza had I seen one.
Just as I was starting to give in mentally, I was feeling down, I look ahead and it's the start of Yellow Lake Road. This is a hill earning a reputation for taking victims of heat and exhaustion and just doing them in. The last big climb toward the end.
Honestly, I wanted to cry. I just wanted to stop. and cry. I did stop, I shook out my legs, I stretched out my back I had another (6th) power bar and just took a second to regroup (no crying though). I got back on my bike and kept going, it wasn't like I had a fresh pair of legs or anything, but at least I was able to pull myself together. I was slowly but surely making my way up and (as if perfectly timed by the universe trying to makes it's point that much clearer), I got a flat tire.
Time to laugh this off. The first thought through my head was - "sweet! another break and I have an excuse to be standing and drinking". A nice man who was out as a support vehicle for another group of riders, whom I now refer to as Saint Al, came to my rescue and helped me change my tire. He even topped up my bottles with ice cold water.
With a new tire and my head on straight I was ready to finish this ride. Thankfully (with a few small exceptions) the rest of the ride into Penticton is downhill. I finally got moving again and had sometime to consider my day. First and absolutely foremost, I was proud of myself for finishing. All my practising being "awesome" this year has paid off in excess. Before I look at my pace, my time or anything, I automatically think to myself "you kicked ass today" because no matter how you look at it - that course is killer and getting through it for the first time is a major win. Then I looked back at my brief period of struggle and I realized - brief is exactly what it was. While your in it, it seems like there is no end. You are never going to stop feeling like crap and your whole day can be summed up by that crappy period where you were sure you sucked at this and that giving up and crying on the side of the road was probably the best solution. But in hindsight, that was maybe 10km of the day. The other 170km was awesome!
I still have a hard time figuring out exactly what I thought of the day. It was long, hard and I was tired. But, that's exactly that's exactly what I had expected. I didn't expect it to be easy and that I would breeze through it. I guess it was just another learning experience. I chose to see it this way:
The course is long, but it's not too long.
The course is hard, but it's not too hard.
Life lesson for the day: stopping and crying may sometimes seem like your only and best solution, but all you have to do is keep going and that [moment] too shall pass. When you sometimes get kicked when your down, laugh it off, smile and take advantage of the extra downtime that additional setback provided. When it's all over, you'll look back and realize what a small moment in time that struggle was and that really, overall you had a pretty awesome experience.
Big swim today and then heading back to the city.