I went to Rosslare yesterday, it is a port on the far south east of the country and as I live in the far south west it was a 10 hour round trip a 600km journey. I went to pick up my wife Kate and her friend Beaky who took part in the Paris –Brest – Paris (PBP) Audax Cycling event, one of the oldest official cycling events in the world run once every 4 years. It was an easy enough journey for me, I got up at 4am left by 5am and arrived at the harbour at just after 10am, sunshine all the way and most of the traffic seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. 300km was just around a quarter of the journey that Kate, Beaky and 6000 other cyclists attempted. They had 1200km to complete in 90hrs, who is first or last over the line is really unimportant, it is about completing in the allotted time, an endurance cycling race against time not against each other.
Kate loves her cycling in the same way I love my garden, it is a world of her own creation, a world she chose, her personal arena of the mind. Kate hasn’t always been a cyclist, after the kids were born, Kate was looking for a way to get back into shape, she soon discovered that it was not just good for the body but it was good for her state of mind. Cycling was a mental release from the responsibility of parenthood and the tediousness that it can bring having to chase after 4 young children. She could set off on her bike and return refreshed, ready to face all that life threw at her.
Hanging in the kitchen along with photos of the kids is a photo I took at the first event that Kate entered, the Fastnet Triathon, she entered as part of a relay team to do the cycling, a 20km ride. It is almost comical that she is on a sit up and beg bike in her shorts. I do remember that day very clearly, there were loads of lycra clad warriors on their carbon fibre speed machines and then there was Kate. I was so proud of her and we waited in Toormore at the halfway point to cheer her as she reached the halfway mark. She was not really sure she would be able to make the 20km but that was the point and by the end of the race she knew she could. She had faced her challenge and reached it, what a great feeling that is, the taking part, the testing of one’s limits and the achievement of one’s goals. She was hooked!
I have to admit we did struggle for a period after that, I think she became a bit obsessed, I do understand why, but I think the adjustment to Kate’s passion for cycling caused some problems but from my perspective we have readjusted and there have been unforeseen benefits. I think Kate is a great role model for our own kids, her passion, dedication and interest in her hobby is a great example to them and her keen interest in fitness has helped all of them. Even the importance of a healthy diet affects all our lives.
Kate went on to complete a couple of Malin to Mizen Challenges and last year Kate completed the Mile Failte 1200km event, she was very tight to the maximum time but she managed to beat the clock, Physically I was concerned as she had pushed herself to the limit and it took her a long time to recover but we were so proud of her, she had trained so hard and risen to the challenge a great example of putting your mind to something and achieving it, the sky’s the limit! Buoyed by the success she took the next step and started preparing for the Paris – Brest – Paris another 1200km event. She dedicated herself to entering all the qualifying events around the country, researching every aspect of the event, travel, accommodation, equipment all the logistics, which were extensive. This was a really big step and very a long way from her first Schull Triathlon.
While Kate had taken part in the Mile Failte I had written a report on my blog and put a few posts up on social media on our local Goleen Village FB Page, there had been quite a lot of interest, many people knew that Kate cycled, she if often spotted cycling on the roads around West Cork but not so many people knew of the extent of the Mile Failte Challenge or that Kate was taking part. However there was even more interest in the P-B-P and Kate asked me to post updates as she really didn’t think she would have the time to make any updates herself. She would text me when she could and send a couple of photos and I would post them for her, which I was very happy to do.
It would be easy for me to now go into all the detail of the event, average speed, lack of sleep, trying to follow the tracker, snatched conversations about all the myriad of aspects that the event itself threw up but that’s not really the purpose of this blog, I’ll leave for others to write about. What I really wanted to say was she didn’t complete the 1200km in 90hrs, at the 1000km stage she decided to stop. She didn’t achieve her goal, the event she had worked for a year towards ended without the glorious acclaim, the satisfaction of completion. This is not how the fairytale ends this is when the lessons get taught and the opportunity for significant progress is offered.
As a performance coach I know the mental fitness aspects of any sport is the real difference between success and failure, one of my favourite and possibly one of the most well know quotes on the key to success is that of Michael Jordan one of the most successful sportsmen of the modern era “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.” Another of his quotes is that “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
I don’t know where the story will go from here but I do know the journey didn’t stop 200km from Paris, in fact I’d say this particular chapter has only just begun and Kate will certainly be taking more shots and that is something I can only admire.