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Teacher Gives Triathlons a Try

Susan Nakas didn't run the Weston 5K last weekend, but she brought as much energy to the races as anyone who competed in the event.

Nakas, a second grade teacher at Hurlbutt Elementary in Weston, helped direct the kids' fun run and 1-mile race for children. She encouraged many of her students to participate, and she seemed to know every kid in sneakers at the race.

"It's kind of giving back,'' says Susan, who has been a teacher for 11 years. "I feel like these are my kids. One of the guys running in the 5K I had in second grade. I feel this is my turf."

Nakas knows more than a little about running and exercise. She has completed three Ironman Triathlons. The grueling event consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. Nakas says she doesn't go fast, but is the slow and steady type. She rises at 4:30 and begins swimming at 5 a.m. at the Westport/Weston YMCA. She rides her bike on weekends and also competes in area races. "I love the cross training,'' says Nakas, who has a son at Weston High School.

Besides fitness, Nakas' other passion is children. Sometimes her passions intersect. That's why she helped race director Karen Sitney, who is also her training partner, at Saturday's run. She says she took her students outdoors to help train for the races. She's committed to her own fitness, but also encourages kids to be active. "You work hard, and you play hard,'' Nakas says. "I bring that into the classroom."

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