I don't know where to begin, the first picture says it all, it was great to see the brothers Brownlee and have a peek back into their world. I had a glimpse a few years ago at New Years watching a fell race out in the Dales but that was just one day, a quick dinner and hello. Spending 4 days living with Alistair seeing his routine first hand and in the end spending hours just talking life and sport, performance decision making, was special. A privilege. To see the Yorkshire squad putting in the hard yards, their attention to detail, and compete self reliance, reminded me of everything I loved about being immersed in mastery, the obsession with the details, the daily rituals, and whole heart commitment to excellence. I couldn't believe the number of people who asked them for an autograph and a picture. The Brownlee brothers are a bit of a big deal in Leeds, in fact everywhere we went heads turned and cell phones came out. I was asked quite a few times if I was famous also, to which I happily replied, I don't even know who these guys are.
I wrote extensively about the trip in an attempt to document it, and at some point I will share my thoughts beyond the initial impressions, and frankly the obvious; it turns out they are detailed oriented, highly competitive and work extremely hard.
I learned a great deal from both Jonny and Alistair, in the end spending three full days in and amongst their lives, although sadly I avoided working out with them, sighting a sore Achilles, and laziness, something I regretted in the end, I'm not sure what held me back, maybe it was jet lag, or the deep well of reflection I often find myself. I did get out for a run on the second last day after we strolled into a local running shoe store and I bought a pair of Hoka speed goats; i love these shoes. While the squad went out riding I went for a "yog", a very slow "yog", for the first time in a couple years (I play soccer and paddle these days) and I absolutely loved it. It wasn't lost on me just how cool it was to be out running in the Dales, on the trails that the Brownlees grew up on, exploring the forests and fields where they plied their trade, the greatest triathletes of all time, generational Olympic talent. I logged my first run back by recording the audio, and talking out loud, to myself (needless to say I avoided people...). It was a fun and interesting experience, I felt like a CBC radio correspondent, in fact I tried to pretend in my head I was doing it for "on the island with Gregor Creigy". Honestly, I loved it, I absolutely loved it. I could feel my state of mind shift, in fact, it felt momentous and I recall saying out loud (it's actually on tape) "I forgot how much I love running". When I'm done transcribing it I'll post it. For now it's mine. As are the conversations we had. I recorded a few but I missed the first one at a Cafe by Alistair's house, where we talked about "and yet", the other side of notoriety, about losing your voice in your stature, being told to hold your opinion to yourself because it carries too much weight. And being held to a different standard, and at times just how much we would love to go back to anonymity in our home towns, life without the narratives written by people who think think they know who you are. And it turned out I didn't record it, and honestly it was a blessing, because it will forever remain our conversation, one for our memories, where we forged a common bond, well beyond sport, a sort of "I got your back" and something I will cherish. I did manage to record a 45min conversation about what characteristics we attributed to high performance decision making. Alistair comes back to conviction, conviction, conviction. And I agree, what makes up, what composes conviction, as compared to arrogance, is simply doing the work, with an obsessed commitment to the details. This is in line with much of my thinking on high performance decision making, although I believe it all begins with a high capacity to engage ones imagination, and therefor script and orchestrate that to which one assigns their conviction. I have said before, at a Canadian Olympic Committee panel discussion, that the overwhelming characteristic of the greatest champion our sport has ever seen, Alistair Brownlee, is courage, the courage of his convictions, the courage to commit wholly of himself. Alistair and I share a common fear, we are not afraid of failing, we are afraid of not giving all of ourselves in pursuit of expressing our gifts. That and we love walking straight at it, no matter how dark it gets; we believe in our capacity to overcome, to engineer light, to illuminate our paths forward, built on a conviction, that one is indeed capable, of anything.
More to come, this was meant more as a summary. I had some deeper reflections, some very personal ones, I'm not sure I'll share, this trip was meant to be about performance decision making and the "and yet" side of fame, but it ended up, as it so often does, being about so much more, as I found space to reflect and evaluate, assess what's important and where I'm headed, out running in the Dales.
and remembered just how much I love running.
Almost as much as paddling.. and soccer.