Jeff Crosby entered his first triathlon in haste. He was in his early 20s and about to graduate from Westmont College, ending his career in college basketball. Anxious to keep feeding his competitive edge, yet without any swim or bike experience to speak of, he signed up for a half Ironman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run) with only six weeks to train. Upping the ante, the race was in 95-degree California heat.
“It was the hardest of all the triathlons I’ve ever done,” says Crosby, a Bellevue Club member and Pacific Northwest native. “I went straight from basketball. It was tough. Definitely a case of I was young and didn’t know what I was doing.”
Crosby finished the grueling race, and in the process learned many things. Some were practical for racing: “First, don’t start out in front in the swim if you’re not a proficient swimmer—you’ll get clobbered. Also, get shorts with a chamois; bicycle seats aren’t comfortable,” he says.
The last lesson Crosby gleaned from the experience is more philosophical in nature, and he has since translated it into his professional life as well as his ability to subsequently compete in 19 Ironman races (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run), including six times fast enough to garner invitations to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
“In that first race, I learned never to give up. It was hot; it was long. But you just keep going, mile after mile,” Crosby says.
It’s evident the sentiment now echoes in other facets of his life, particularly in reference to his career as a private wealth advisor, owner of Crosby and Associates and creator of 3XEquity, an online service he likens to Zillow for the financial industry. “To me, it’s never been about just making money. The ultimate definition of success is having a vision and then having the persistence to get that vision,” Crosby says.
And Crosby has many visions for his life. Aside from his professional aspirations, he also has a passion for coaching young basketball players and enjoys spending time with his three kids and wife, who are extremely supportive of his Ironman pursuits. He says all of those things take precedence over his racing. And he claims that staying fit, focused and competitive through racing improves his performance in the other areas of his life.
“I have a lot of energy at work because I’m fit. I’m in a high-stress job, managing people’s money in the stock market. Next to health and family, money’s the most important thing to most people. And so I feel good during the day because I know that by 8:30 in the morning I’ve already got a lot done. It allows me to be confident, efficient with my time and prepared. Training and fitness help me with that,” he says.
“Plus it helps relieve the stress. When you’re suffering on a run, you’re not thinking about the stock market. It helps me be organized, and in tune and thoughtful, not that you have to do an Ironman to be in tune, but for me, it works.”
With that in mind, Crosby’s current vision for fitness is set on his 20th Ironman, another world championship in Kona in October. He earned a spot a few months ago when he beat his personal record at a race in Barcelona, Spain, with a blistering nine-hour, 22-minute time.
“I’m proof that you can get faster as you get older,” Crosby, at 52, says. “Any time you can break 10 hours, it’s huge; that’s fairly elite. So it was just one of those good races; I was really zeroed in.”
But Crosby is quick to point out, coming full circle to what he learned during that first race in California, that the race and the results aren’t actually the important parts.
“It’s elite if someone who has never done an Ironman finishes an Ironman—that’s a big deal, a way bigger deal than me doing my twentieth,” Crosby says.
“Because it’s the discipline and diligence of training that is much more impressive to me, because you have to be in shape to get to the starting line. It’s more about what happens in January, in February, the early morning workouts when most people are sleeping. That’s what’s more impressive, the training required more than race performance.”
But that doesn’t mean Crosby isn’t serious about competing. In fact, he’s constantly finding ways to instigate a deeper drive for his training and competitive edge. “For me, now it’s more about how competitive I can be versus just getting it done and get another T-shirt.”
Crosby says he can’t envision a reason to give up racing anytime soon, and continues to learn from it.
“Life’s not a dress rehearsal. Give your very best, and let the results say what they will.”