Brett Coffee

Team Z literally changed my life.  I was a nationally competitive cyclist growing up, but I put that aside to pursue a legal career.  Before we had kids, I already set triathlon as a goal because I wanted my kids to live an active life.  But a non-Team Z coach said I would never be able to complete an Ironman.  Well, I went from 240 pounds to 180, and Team Z helped me complete Ironman Cozumel in 2011 by helping me tackle the scary swim and providing a framework for training and racing.  Now, I give back as a Team Z cycling ride leader.  But more importantly, I am now able to compete without being hyper-competitive, I have an incredibly supportive group of fellow triathletes/friends and our family has a blast training and going to races.  Our oldest child isn’t even in preschool yet, and he already wants to race, I’m healthier and am doing more.

Brett Coffee, Lawyer and Business Executive, Father of 2, and husband to a future Ironman wife,

Scott Leary

In 2009 I ran the Disney Marathon with my mom, accompanying her on her first 26.2 mile adventure.  I remember standing at the start next to her and saying, “just think, those Ironman people have to do this after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112…..freaking lunatics!.”   Two years later with a couple of sprint and Olympic triathlons under my belt, and after a couple of glasses of wine, I started to wonder, “Maybe I can do an Ironman too?” So I pulled the trigger, dropped the cash, and signed up for Ironman Cozumel.  This followed by immediate panic.  “Oh dear God, what have I done? I haven’t the slightest clue how to train for an Ironman.”  A couple months later, by chance, I ran into a Z’er outside of my work and as we started talking Triathlon, she told me about Team Z.  “Why not?  It can’t hurt” I thought to myself.  So I joined.   It didn’t take me long to realize that this team had everything I wanted: knowledgeable and supportive coaches, structured training plans for all levels and abilities, fantastic teammates, and most importantly cold beers ready for you after every race!

Scott Leary, Social Scientist, Team Z happy hour fan,

Kathy Hsu

Never say never on Team Z! I never thought I would do a triathlon let alone a half Ironman.  I told anyone who would listen that the only way I would ever run another marathon was if it was in an Ironman and since I was never going to do an Ironman I had nothing to worry about.  Well, so much for my “never” list.  With the support of Team Z, I have raced numerous short distance triathlons, several half Ironmans, raced my best injury free marathon (I beat Oprah’s time), and signed up for an Ironman.

Regardless of your experience, speed, motivation, and goals there is a place for you on Team Z.  When I joined the Team in December 2011, I did not know what to expect.  My old game plan was to go as fast and as hard as possible regardless of the consequences.  I do not recommend this strategy.  I somehow always fell to side with an injury and burned out long before I reached the start line.  This all changed when I joined Team Z.  With the help of the coaches and my teammates, I am learning everyday how to find balance physically, set reachable goals, listen to my body, and enjoy the experience.  I have a good friend on the Team that says that all the training and hard work is the journey.  Race day is the victory lap.  Gotta Love Team Z!

Kathy Hsu, Attorney, proud dog owner,


Growing up, I was never even remotely athletic, a distinct liability in a sports-mad country.  Moreover, I grew to associate the idea of people being “sporty” with people who were generally obnoxious, who loved to lord their athletic prowess over others.

Triathlon, therefore, was a revelation for me: very ordinary people who were able to achieve extraordinary things.  Team Z is the essence of triathlon in that regard, an amazing mix of experienced athletes (who turned out to be quite nice people) and absolute beginners, all sharing their different journeys.  The team is full of people who push me when I need to be pushed and who push me when I don’t think I want to be pushed.  Because the team pushes me, I’ve become something I never would have believed I could become: an athlete.

Mark Mullen, Writer, dog whisperer, bike addict,

Chris Hague

I am relatively new Zer having joined in June of 2012. I had been training by myself for the past two years and those lonely miles were really taking a toll.  The initial pleasure of triathlons had worn off and I found it hard to get excited about workouts. Moreover, I had hit a speed plateau. Team Z really helped to put the spark back into my training. Through the great team support and no pressure atmosphere that I found in Team Z, triathlons became fun again. I no longer had to workouts and race unsupported and by myself.  Now I have the pleasure to compete and have fun with the tremendous support of my new “triathlon family.” With the help of the coaches, I was able to improve my swim stroke and endurance, helping me break through my training rut and set several PRs including a podium finish in my age-group at the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.

Chris Hague, Aspiring professional triathlete, Manager at Bonzai sports,

Valerie Dix

I like to joke with myself that I am an athlete in a bigger girl’s body.  I was ALWAYS the girl who was envious of her college roommate’s athletic talents and accomplishments, her friends running in marathons, and the crazy people who did Ironman triathlons on tv. After I expressed an interest in doing a triathlon and with a little nudging from a friend, I attempted my first race in 2010 and a few months later I found Team Z.  Team Z has fully embraced me as a member of the Z family and has given me the knowledge, support, and structure that I was looking for both in a triathlon team and in a social group.  Not only have I gained so many invaluable friendships but more importantly I have gained confidence in myself that has allowed me to continue to do things that I never thought was possible.  With the support of coaches, friends, and mentors I continue to grow as a person and an athlete and just one year after joining the Z family I tackled my biggest challenge to date and successfully completed Ironman Cozumel. Since I have joined this family I often refer back to my favorite Dr. Suess book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” because I believe that I have stumbled upon a pretty amazing journey.

Valerie Dix, Split Personality Disorder: Department of Treasury, Ironman, Team Z mentor, prolific smiler,

ken wagner 2

I’ve never been an athlete, neither in school nor as an adult. A friend wanted us to do a triathlon for our 40th birthdays. At first I couldn’t run more than 10 minutes without walking, but I enjoyed training and pushing myself to do something well outside of my comfort zone. After that, I found Team Z. There are people of all skill levels on the team, and everyone I’ve met is friendly and helpful. During races everyone cheers until the last person has crossed the finish line. I do my swim, bike and run training with the team as many times per week as I feel comfortable with, I do a few triathlons each year, and I have made some close friends. I’m still one of the last people to finish a race, but that’s not the point. I am a triathlete. –

Ken Wagner, Modest rocket scientist, P90X survivor,

Ray Nancoz

I began my triathlon life in September of 2006.  I am the archetypical AOA (Adult Onset Athlete).  At 38 years old I was extremely overweight (pushing 400 pounds) and had uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure).  Once I was discharged for the hospital after suffering Congestive Heart Failure I began swimming and then running.  In four months I was able to run my first continuous mile ever.  My first bike in twenty years came the next Spring.  From there it was a matter of consistent training week after week and month after month

I joined Team Z in 2007 when I moved to Virginia.  Training is full of highs and lows.  One of Team Z’s greatest benefits is that it keeps me training through the lows till the next high rolls around.  As I keep training with the team I hope to take my speed to the next level of competition.

Ray Nancoz, Engineer, father of 6 (bikes),

Mary Pickering

My first triathlon was a sprint designed for women of all shapes and sizes and speeds.  The organizers made sure that the women who crossed the finish line last were as celebrated as the ones who finished first.  You don’t see that much in racing.  Probably the thing I most love about Team Z is that we are the ones who do that celebrating for the final finishers – no matter what team they’re on.  We line the finishing chute, form arches with our hands and blow vuvuzelas because we understand that the achievement of finishing is so much more important than pace or place.

I joined Team Z to train for my first Ironman. The training program got me comfortably to the finish line, as strange as that may sound.  In 2012, about 100 teammates finished Iron distance races on the same day — the program is the real deal.  But it doesn’t matter what distance you want to train for – I’ve seen teammates go from not being able to swim one length of the pool to finishing their first sprint triathlon at the end of the season.  They manage that because every week they get personalized attention from the swim coaches on the pool deck.  Or they ride their brakes all the way down an even gentle hill and by the end of the season, they’re shouting “Woooooohooooooo!!!” as they break the sound barrier.  They can do that because of the specialized hill training we provide with ride leaders beside them calling out instructions and encouragement.  No matter what your fear, your weakness or your inexperience, Team Z can help you overcome it all.

Or … maybe my favorite thing about the team are the italian chicken sausages and hand cut fries on the bbq after a long ride.  It’s the little things that Team Z does as much as the big things that makes it so important to me.  Give it a go — see what I mean.

Mary Pickering, somebody gave a Kiwi a bike and she flew!,

Marie Malave

I fell in love with triathlon in 2007. I had just completed my first marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, and was at home watching TV when Ironman Kona (the world championship) came on. I was glued to the TV. With the memory still fresh in my mind and the amazing, indescribable feeling of crossing the finish line at Marine Corps still in my heart, I watched as the pros crossed the finish line, arms up in the air, some of them even getting on their knees to kiss the ground after finishing. Although I’m not a pro, (in my dreams I often am), I could relate to the feeling of accomplishment, complete exhaustion, and the inexplicable rush of energy that overcomes you when crossing the finish line and I thought to myself, “I want to do that”.

I had never heard of a triathlon before watching Kona, but a little while after, a friend told me she was training for a triathlon. She invited me to be her Sherpa (the person that would help her out on race day to carry her stuff, before and after the race). While at the race, I saw the Team Z tents set up. I was too shy to come up to the tent to talk to anyone, so I looked them up online, did some research about triathlon and played Sherpa for my friend at a few other races, and finally in 2009, decided to join the team.

I love Team Z! I have made many new friends on the team, learned a lot about the sport, and in the 3 years that I’ve been training with the team, I’ve completed over 15 triathlons, 11 sprint and olympic distance, and 4 half iron distance triathlons. I’m now training for Ironman Lake Placid with the team, my first full iron distance.

Training with the team is fun! The support you’ll receive not only from the coaches, but other members, is amazing.

I’ve discovered that my body is capable of more than I had ever imagined, and that I’m stronger than I ever thought possible, not only physically, but mentally. You have to train your mind to be able to do long distance endurance races!

I recently started teaching bootcamp on Wednesday nights with Team Z MD, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to the team and help the other members achieve their triathlon and fitness goals.


Marie Malave, Stronger than ever, Team Z addict,

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