"I always tell aspiring athletes that you can do anything you desire and are willing to train for. The most difficult variable in that equation is not the training. It's the desire. If you’ve got desire and passion and are willing to dream big, you can literally light the world on fire."

Beth Hernandez

How did you get into racing endurance events?

In my mid 30’s, I decided to get back into running to tackle some pretty significant weight loss goals I needed to achieve. A friend asked me to do a half marathon with her and that became my jumping off point into the world of endurance sports. I really enjoyed the half marathon distance and continued to run two or three 13.1’s a year. After completing nine half marathons, I decided to train for a full marathon distance. The training was fierce and humbling. But training during some pretty rough winter conditions prepared me for the cold and torrential rainy race day conditions in Nashville. Crossing that finish line was an unbelievable experience. I decided to run my next marathon closer to home and completed the Thunder Road 26.2 that fall. It was another wonderful race journey that included a 10 minute PR! In the spring of 2014, a few of my triathlon friends encouraged me to mix some sprint tri’s into my half and full marathon race training. The LKN Tri was my first and wow - what an achievement! I loved the training and how it responded with my body providing some needed rest from a run-only focus. I did a few additional sprint triathlons and even got to experience the podium at the LKN Tri the second time I competed in it. That was pretty cool. Always a seeker of “what’s next,” I completed my first 70.3 in Augusta in September 2015 and I'll be racing in Chattanooga 70.3 in May and Augusta again this September.

What is your favorite discipline?

No doubt about it, I love running because of all of the racing I had done prior to my interest in triathlon. But surprisingly, I have come to really enjoy swimming. I was genuinely terrified about the swim in the early days of training and would avoid it more than embrace it. My coach and fellow EPTR teammate, Jen Keith, has been an incredible inspiration to me in the pool. Besides adding it to my training schedule nearly every day for an entire season (ha!) she provided me with a ton of encouragement and support and the results have been incredible.

Do you have a favorite local race?

I love the LKN sprint triathlon. It's just a great course and a lot of fun. I have been a YMCA board member for several years so I love supporting anything that helps our local Y's.

What would you consider your career highlight? 

There are so many incredible accomplishments to list - just crossing any finish line seems like a highlight in itself. However, I'm going to say it's a race moment that probably no one would expect me to list as a highlight. Definitely my first marathon and first 70.3 races were highlights but the one that wins out in my heart was my 10th half marathon. I completed it when I was training for the Country Music marathon. My coach at the time know I was frustrated with my half marathon PR which was 2:00:51. I was desperate to break the 2-hour mark and she quietly trained me to achieve that during a half marathon that was scheduled as part of my 26.2 training plan. I had a perfect race plan and knew that I had executed it well the whole race but I was not prepared for what I saw when entered the home stretch. I remember rounding the corner of the straightaway to the finish line and seeing 1:56 on the clock. My husband was caught off-guard too! Neither one of us expected me to be there that early. I started screaming, “I did it! I finally did it!” I crossed the finish line in 1:56:24 and that has been such a breakthrough moment for me. What I thought I could never do, I did. Since then, I've competed in several more half marathons (17 total) and have broken the 2 hour mark a few more times - even on the Southpark Racefest 13.1 course which is a beast of hills!

What would you consider your biggest challenge?

Enduring the painful moments during the race when your brain says slow down but your heart says give it all you've got. I struggle with self-doubt a lot and I'm learning that digging deep to achieve your goals is all mental. I know I've got the physical ability, it's just training the brain to "embrace the suck" when it matters most.

What is the biggest race mistake you've made?

Chia seeds!!!!! During Charlotte’s inaugural Rocktoberfest half marathon in 2013, I tried some new, all-natural gel product with chia seeds. I absolutely bonked HARD at mile 8 and broke out in a rash that covered my legs. It made for an awful race day.

What is one training tool you couldn't live without?

My coach. Seriously, Jen has been an incredible racing role model and she pushes me to do my best, every single day. Plus, if I didn't have an email from Training Peaks with my weekly training schedule laid out to precision, I wouldn't be able to function!

Do you have a strict nutrition/recovery regimen?

This is an area I'm working to improve this year. I'm learning the difference between fuel and nutrition. It's a very delicate balance. Nutrition and recovery for endurance running is also vastly different than triathlon and there is not a one-size fits all approach. I'm trying to hone in on what works best for me.

If you have any advice for folks who have yet to begin their endurance racing journey, what would it be?

This is easy. I always tell aspiring athletes that you can do anything you desire and are willing to train for. The most difficult variable in that equation is not the training. It's the desire. If you’ve got desire and passion and are willing to dream big, you can literally light the world on fire. 

Epoch Universal

Founding sponsor of EPT Racing

Ortho Carolina

Official orthopedics sponsor for EPT Racing

Performance Therapy

Founding sponsor of EPT Racing

Beth Hernandez

Performance Therapy
"after each session with Mike Dannenberg,
I walk away with new tools and a better understanding for how I can improve my running form and overall training performance. Not only is he an expert at the ART technique, he's taught me a lot about nutrition and hydration - all of the things needed for great athletic performance on and off the race course!"

Laurent Painchaud

Performance Therapy
"I have been going to see Mike and Matt at Performance Therapy for a few months now and all I can say is that they live up to the promise of their name! PERFORMANCE + THERAPY as in I've been experiencing tremendous gains in my endurance sports performance without the debilitating injuries that I have had in the past when pushing my body too hard. Mike has been using ART and other techniques to work on some serious scar tissue in my hamstring, but has also worked on correcting various inefficiencies in my running gait and posture. Matt is my strength coach and has been working with me on my mobility and fostering new movement patterns to correct my bad habits. A well earned 5 star rating for Performance Therapy! Top marks."

Jack Heil

Performance Therapy
"Mike helped me with my run training years ago. I get great strength & flex training ideas from LaDawn. I love getting nutrition tips from Heather."

Collection For Jack's Mother

$415.00 Raised / $250.00 Goal

In honor of Marcelle T. Heil

Jen Keith

force de frappe: (n) a force equipped to deal a quick offensive or retaliatory blow -- BOOM.