South Charlotte

Club challenges women to compete

At 58, after walking by the YDub Tri Club sign at the Park Road YWCA for months, Jennie Derby decided to try the fitness center's triathlon training group and prepare for the Ramblin' Rose triathlon.

An avid tennis player her entire life, Derby enjoys the outdoors, competing with others and staying fit. But an osteoporosis diagnosis in her 40s persuaded her to begin exercising daily.

Living close to the Park Road YWCA made morning workouts easy.

The challenge of the Ramblin' Rose triathlon combined two of Derby's strengths, biking and running, with her challenge, swimming. Determined to become a better swimmer, Derby began swimming laps in the mornings and the YWCA lifeguards helped her improve her strokes and rhythm.

The YDub Tri Club inspires women to be active and helps them train for sprint triathlons, which include a 250-yard swim, nine-mile bike and two-mile run. The ages of the women in Derby's group spanned from the 20s to the 50s. Their group training schedule ensured all were achieving the milestones necessary to complete the race, and the comradery motivated them.

Designed specifically for women, the Ramblin' Rose triathlon events celebrate the empowerment of women. Derby and her club trained for and competed in the Ramblin' Rose triathlon in September 2010 in Huntersville.

Jody Frazier, 36, founded the YDub Tri Club to share her passion for fitness with women afraid to train for triathlons on their own. Her motto is, "The average woman is an athlete; she just doesn't know it."

"Training, for me, means being able to push past those points that you just can't seem to do by yourself," said Fraizer. "Yes, there are friendships and encouragement, but I think this training truly shows you what kind of person you are. I was extremely proud of all the women who raced."

Derby's husband and family supported her throughout the training and wanted to be at the race; however, she feared she might not do well.

"I didn't want them to see me fail. I asked them to not come," said Derby. "But they surprised me and were there to see me cross the finish line."

"My primary goal was just to finish, and my stretch goal was to finish in the top half," said Derby. "But I exceeded my expectations and finished third in my age group of 55 to 59 and placed 319 out of 1,200 total participants. It was exhilarating."

Bitten by the triathlon bug, Derby is planning to train and compete again this year, in September in the Ramblin' Rose triathlon.