Janesville24.8°

YMCA class helping train female triathletes

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
July 3, 2010

Gwen Hazekamp used the strength of her outstretched arms and legs to stroke and kick her way across the pool.


The 46-year-old Janesville woman was swimming laps long enough to equal a half-mile, in preparation for her first triathlon.


"I'm real concerned if I'll be able to hold my own," she said after finishing her half-hour workout.


Hazekamp will be among 3,000 women racing their way to the finish line of the 2010 Trek Women's (Sprint) Triathlon on Sunday, July 11, in Pleasant Prairie.


Gradually, Hazekamp has become more confident that she'll be able to finish the swimming, biking and running parts of the competition.


"I'm doing it and going to finish,” she said.


Guiding Hazekamp through her training is Darcy Fugate, who's leading the YMCA's women's triathlon training class first offered last year.


Sessions for the nearly half-dozen women started in June and continue through July 10.


Training has focused on skills and drills in running, swimming and biking, with education about strength training/overtraining, nutrition, yoga for athletes, triathlon transitions, proper gear and equipment/maintenance, Fugate said.


Besides enjoying the camaraderie, the female athletes are able to tap into Fugate's knowledge. The 42-year-old Janesville woman is a member of the YMCA staff and is certified in personal training, group exercise and general fitness. She's also been in three triathlons and run many 5K races, a few 5-mile runs and three half marathons.


She's training for her first marathon Oct. 10 in Chicago.


"As the instructor, I've had the experience, can take that and pass that knowledge on, plus share concerns I had that lets them know their fears are normal,” she said.


That leadership has kept Hazekamp on track and motivated her. It also has challenged her to eat better and exercise more regularly.


Hazekamp said learning how to transition between the swim, 12-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run, as well as learning how to use a variety of equipment—weight machines, free weights, bands and balls—have been helpful and have made her stronger.


Fugate's guidance and training also have kept Hazekamp aware of areas where she needs improvement.


"It just helps to talk to others who've done this before, in addition to providing comfort,” Hazekamp said.


Hazekamp had hoped to improve her overall fitness, and she's met that goal.


"I definitely have more energy," she said.


And that's great, Fugate said, because "once she's done with the triathlon, she'll be hooked. Then she will get competitive."


Hazekamp simply smiles as she considers that.



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