Last night, I rubbed elbows and swapped training tips with Craig “Crowie” Alexander, a two-time Ironman 70.3 and three-time Ironman World Champion.
Although, to be honest, Crowie did most of the swapping.
Originally slated to start at 7 p.m. at JackRabbit Sports Union Square, the event featured a book signing and a chance to take pictures and ask questions. However, the start time was bumped up to 6:30 p.m. (thank you, Twitter!) because Crowie’s appearance at another New York City triathlon shop was canceled. (There was a shooting near the store, so police shutdown the entire block.) Anyway, I arrived shortly before 6 p.m.
I bought my copy of As the Crow Flies: My Journey to Ironman World Champion, and around 6:15 p.m., store associates said Crowie would arrive around 6:45 p.m.; they had us form a line that snaked through the store and ended outside.
Not a great picture, but there were easily 100 people in attendance. (This was taken around 6:20 p.m., and more people continued to arrive.) While waiting for Crowie to come—who walked to the store, surprised? Ha!—I talked to other triathletes. A lot of people did the NYC Triathlon, so I picked their brains, and I relayed information about the Musselman to another athlete, which will be his first 70.3. There’s nothing better than some trichat!
At 6:45 p.m. on the dot, Crowie arrived. Immediately, he struck me as being soft-spoken, low-maintenance, and very down-to-earth; he simply walked in the store, grinned from ear to ear when he saw the turnout, and made his way to the designed book signing area in the back. He didn’t have an entourage, he didn’t have a bodyguard, and he didn’t have any outrageous demands. It’s one thing to read how Crowie defines humbleness, but it’s completely difference to witness it firsthand.
With only 10 people in front of me, I had to wait only 15 minutes or so. After introducing myself and shaking Crowie’s hand, we made small talk as he signed my book and an autograph card.
Then, I asked the question: “I started triathloning this summer, so I’m new to the sport—do you have any tips or advice?”
This is when Crowie became Crowie. He paused, took a breath, and entered this place of knowledge and extreme intensity.
He was in the zone, and he took me there with me. His voice became even quieter like he was sharing his closely guarded secret to triathlon success.
And his signature stoic gaze?
Holy cow. Among his words of wisdom, he told me to train consistently and keep my goal races in mind. “And stick with it!” he added.
Yessir, Mr. Ironman Champion!