Team Blogger

From the beginning of her career in Triathlon, Karen Wood brings her A game. She will find every finish line. No. Matter. What.


meet mary brooks
Mary Brooks will be joining us in May and will be helping us approach our workouts from a functional nutrition standpoint.  Mary has a Master's in Health from University of Virginia and a Certification as an Integrated Health Coach. She has over 25 years in health and wellness. She is a speaker, workshop leader, private coach for individuals and also creates and coaches group programs.  Her specializations are digestive and gut health, issues of the thyroid, adrenal fatigue, detoxification, and sustainable weight loss. She has coached many athletes including an olympic level pole vaulter. She approaches food and wellness from a whole person perspective and looks beyond calories to incorporate food quality, mindset, sleep, stress, the uniqueness of the individual, and emotional well-being.

Mary is going to be taking on a nutritional advisor role for EPT Racing and will be contributing monthly to our newsletter.  We are very excited about having Mary Brooks come on board in this capacity for our team.  Her knowledge and expertise will provide all of us with sound nutritional advise that will be geared towards the specific needs of endurance athletes.  In May, Mary will be the featured guest at our meeting.  She will be speaking about 5 Whole Food Solutions to Improve Performance and Well Being.

Her thought for athletes this month is to start with improving the health of your digestion. "It's not just what we eat, but how well our body can breakdown the food, assimilate the nutrients and remove toxins."  At high levels of activity, the body stresses it's methylation pathways (how energy is converted).  This does two things: it causes more nutrients to be needed to convert energy and it puts stress on the mucusal linings. Most athletes need the active form of Vitamin B12 and the active form of folate.  If you are taking a multivitamin or eating fortified foods you are getting the inactive form of both of these, which is not enough.  Click on this link to find a good source of metholated B12 and folate. 

Secondly, you need to eat foods high in probiotics as well as collagen to keep the gut lining healthy.  Foods that are high in probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha.  Homemade bone broth and collagen powder are good sources for adding ways to add collagen to your diet. Finally, if you are looking for a great source of energy that can be burned as fuel that also supports digestion, add a teaspoon or more of coconut oil to your regimen. You can cook eggs or veggies in it, add it to a smoothie, put it in your coffee or add it to a sweet potato. You can even add a little cinnamon and raw cacao powder to it and eat it straight from a spoon.

You will get more tips and chances to ask Mary your questions at our team meeting on May 4th.

ftp part 2 - Training & progression
Last month we introduced FTP (Functional Threshold Power), how to test it and how to begin training with power using our HIT Cycling Studio's Power Palooza series. (Reference back to last months FTP article by clicking on the March Newlsetter Blog at the bottom of the newsletter)  Continuing on this month, we are going to talk about using your power data to help you progressively increase your cycling strength.  

A knowledge of FTP and the ongoing tracking of power metrics provides cyclists with invaluable performance feedback.  However, if you're like most of us, those numbers mean little if you don't understand them or understand how to train with them.  Once you understand what you are looking at, the data can help each athlete's progress with effort and volume for training purposes which in turn helps to not only see progress but also to feel it during the workout session. 

Much time is dedicated to riding aerobically, mainly from 65%, and for some up to 90% of FTP.  Training here can help to improve the aerobic, steady state effort that characterizes FTP.  These steady state efforts are best done on a stretch of road without interruptions, or on a trainer.  Focus on maintaining a steady effort for say 3 x 8 minute intervals with half the interval time as recovery spinning between, working towards longer intervals of say 10 minutes or even 20 minutes.  A steady grade 3% -5% hill works very well as well. Here's a favorite local outdoor "Strava Segment" that some of our athletes use to benchmark their FTP progress. Remember to ride extremely safely when exerting oneself outdoors with a heightened awareness of road conditions and traffic. 

While a quality FTP workout is 2 x 20 minutes at 100% - 105% you must first progress to this point.  Start off with a 3 x 5 minute FTP workout or a 2 x 10 minute FTP workout building to the 2 x 20 minutes session.  The total volume initially might be only 10, 15, or even 20 minutes, depending on the session you choose.  But building to 40 or even 60 minutes is a quality progression as well. 

Consider also adding in threshold climbing work to improve performance on long climbs.  These efforts should be performed at 100% - 110% of FTP on a sustained climb.  The power output for these efforts should ideally be the maximum power the rider can sustain throughout each interval in the set.  These are very difficult training days and are most effective if done on days when the athlete is fresh and able to dig deep.  A good session of threshold work shouldn't include more than 60 minutes spent at threshold.  

Avoid falling into the trap of only doing your threshold work on a climb as many riders do.  In order to learn to ride steadily it is important to be able to hit FTP numbers on flat roads vs. relying on the grade of the hill to hit your numbers.  To avoid this trap try to ride most of your FTP workouts on flat roads.  Outside of a few events most races, especially for triathlons, are on flat roads.  

Now armed with some knowledge on how to improve and progress your FTP and your training, begin to 1) review your power files to see those improvements and 2) focus in on the feeling or intensity of each of these rides and note when they begin to feel easier or more achievable.  Look at peak 20 minute average power from hard rides and races.  Also, after a few months do another FTP test to truly gauge your improvements and progress.  Soon enough you'll see yourself breaking these records on climbs, in training rides, time trials and most importantly at races.  

ept training weekend may 20th - 22nd

Don't use a pencil; put these dates down in PEN! The EPT Training Weekend is set for May 20th - May 22nd!  You won't want to miss this!  Packed with training, tips, food, friendship and Chris McDonald!  Yup Chris McDonald, seven-time Ironman Champion will be joining us for the weekend to offer tips, advise and training.  We will have a formal itinerary for the weekend at our next team meeting,  however the tentative schedule of events is attached below:

Friday May 20th - 
Group swim practice at MSA pool (8:30AM - 10:00AM)
     ~ Coffee & bagles to follow
Group Ride from Paul Harrold's place (11:00AM - 12:30PM)
     ~ Lunch following
Team Dinner at the Blakeney Chili's 
     ~ 6:00PM - 7:00PM Happy Hour for the team with Chris McDonald
     ~ 7:00PM - 9:00PM Dinner; spouses welcome to join

Saturday May 21st - 
Group Ride out of Bike Depot Waxhaw (8:00AM - 11:00AM)
T-Run with Chris McDonald (11:00AM)
     ~BBQ following

Sunday May 22nd - 
Functional Stretch & Strength Session at Performance Therapy (9:00AM - 10:00AM)
Q&A Session (10:00AM - 10:30AM)
Group Run (10:30AM - 11:30AM)
     ~ Brunch to follow

There will be a lot of opportunities for everyone to pitch in to help execute the weekend.  Sign-Up Genisus' will be coming out soon for you all to volunteer to bring in items for the various food functions.  We will also be looking for ride leaders and sweepers for the various groups on the Saturday Bike Depot ride.  Please direct questions about the weekend to Karen Wood or Paul Harrold.  

Next Meeting - May 4th
Our next team meeting will be held on Wednesday May 4th from 6:30PM - 8:00PM at the Epoch Universal offices (6331 Carmel Rd., Bldg. B).  We are very excited about bringing in our newest team advisor, Mary Brooks who will be leading a seminar titled "5 Whole Food Solutions to Improve Performance and Well Being".  


                                                                                          Functional Threshold Power and the HIT Cycling Studio
Functional Threshold Power or FTP for short can be a scary term for those of us who are not well versed in the world of power, cycling output and power meters.  However, FTP is one of the key factors in your cycling arsenal.  

If you don’t know what it is or why is should be important to you don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Functional Threshold Power is a phrase that has as many perceived meanings as there are gears on a bike.  We’re going to take a fairly basic approach in this article to explaining FTP testing so you can better understand how to measure it and improve upon it.   

There are several ways to test for FTP, however the easiest and most time efficient way is to perform a 20 minute test.  After a solid warm up you’ll crack out a full on 20 minute, hardest sustainable effort ride.  Your average power from that 20 minute segment is then multiplied by .95 to give you your FTP result.  

Now that you have your FTP what do you do with it?  Lucky for us we have a fantastic opportunity to train with Coach Steve Hall in his HIT Cycling Studio.  Currently Steve is leading our team through a several week series designed to increase cycling power output.  It’s known as the Power Palooza.  Currently we are training in week 5.  The Power Palooza series is built on the theory of progressive loading, meaning  from workout to workout, week to week the intervals and the intensity builds upon itself resulting in increased power output on the bike.  

The programs that Steve has written for HIT Cycling take each individuals FTP into account; meaning your ride will be built off of a percentage of your individual FTP so that each participant will feel challenged at their own ability.  The workouts vary from class to class and are done in a fashion that leads towards progress in each individuals cycling ability.  For example, if a rider can hold 100 watts for 2 minutes but no more, then during your HIT Cycling sessions you’ll work to increase that number and that duration.  Intervals range in intensity and duration; the shorter the interval the more intense the effort.  ‘Shorter’ can be as quick as 8 seconds, up to several minutes with the longer intervals anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes.  Steve has crafted these workouts by coupling timed intervals with specific percentages of FTP in a effort to increase the riders strength, power and in time their Functional Threshold Power.  To quote Steve directly, “ Through consistency, patience and hard work you will make gains on the bike you never thought possible.”  

Although each of us are dedicated to working hard and improving our performance, going at it alone, unguided, and without coaching can be a lot like throwing darts while blindfolded.  Join in at the HIT Cycling studio and let a professional like Steve help guide you towards achieving your cycling potential.  

Case in point, two of our team members, Paul Harrold and Karen Wood, recently performed power tests with Steve in the HIT Cycling Studio.  Both Paul and Karen have been attending the HIT Cycling workouts, both are training for Ironman Louisville and both are being coached by Steve this season.  After weeks of specific, focused training under Steve, Paul and Karen made impressive gains in their FTP’s increasing them by 6% and 20% respectively.

When asked about Steve as a coach Karen Wood stated; “Steve is an excellent coach who is extremely dedicated to the success of his athletes.  I’ve only had the privilege of working with him for the last several months, but in that time I have already realized steady gains in my bike strength.  Steve reminds me of a professor in that he truly studies the sport of triathlon.  His knowledge base is incredible and he understands how to utilize that knowledge and put it into practice, building me into a stronger athlete.  If you’re looking to make strides in your bike strength I highly recommend taking advantage of the HIT Cycling Studio and letting Steve guide you towards greater success.”  

Of Steve’s coaching ability Paul Harrold says “For the 2015 racing season, I was fortunate enough to have Steve Hall of HIT Endurance Coaching as my coach.  In working with Steve I found that he prescribed the right doses of training, knowledge, mental preparation and accountability to not only balance training/life/family but achieve serious racing results.  He provided the ‘recipe for success’ which resulted in my best year of racing ever.

Moving into the new year I strive to build upon my successful 2015 season and with the help of Steve and the new HIT Cycling Studio, I am seeing new results already.  I enrolled in the Power Palooza Series at HIT Cycling and after 4 weeks of classes with Steve I recently performed a 20 minute FTP test in which I achieved a 6% increase, putting my FTP at 300+ watts.

If you are looking to improve your power and fitness on the bike I highly recommend enrolling in the HIT Cycling series where Coach Steve will help you to achieve new highs in your performance.” 

                                                                                            March Meeting News with REV3 Triathlon
We had a great meeting on March 2nd at Performance Therapy.  Thank you to Mike Danenburg for hosting us.  Our guest presenters were Mariah Bridges and Eric DePoto of Rev 3 Triathlon.  

Mariah and Eric laid out the REV3 race calendar for 2016 (see below) and also pitched some great incentives to our team for participating in their upcoming events.  

~Kicking off the REV3 racing series is Westfields, VA on May 1st.  This race will include a sprint, a relay and a kids race.  

~May 22nd Knoxville, TN hosts a Half, Oly, Aqua Bike, Relay and Glow races

~The weekend of June 4th - 5th Quassy in Middlebury, CT holds a Half, Oly, Aqua Bike and relay event.

~July 10th is the Williamsburg, VA race.  Distances include Half, Oly, Aqua Bike and Relay events.  

~On August 7th you can head to Main for the Old Orchard Beach event which has a Half, Oly, Aqua Bike, Relay and Glow race

~Rounding out the season September 10th - 11th the Cedar Point series in Sandusky Ohio featuring IM, Half, Sprint, Kids race, Aqua Bike, Relay and Glow races.  

Many of the courses for this year have been changed so even if you’ve been out to one of these events in the past you can expect your experience to be different this time around.  And, as incentive for our team REV 3 is offering the following to us:                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
~10% race entry discount on any race at any venue.  Use the code EPOCHREV3 to sign up for any 2016 race.
~1 free race entry for our team for every 10 Epoch participants registered        
~Dedicated team bike rack at the race for 15+ Epoch team members registered
~Dedicated (albiet smelly....) porta potty at the race for 20+ Epoch team members registered
~CO-BRANDING of the race with Epoch for 30+ team members registered!!  

Team this last offering is HUGE and would be such an awesome platform for our team to really show up and gain recognition on a larger platform.  Several of us at the meeting expressed interest in the Williamsburg, VA race and we would love to have a huge team presence out there.  If you are interested in racing at Williamsburg please contact Karen Wood at  Let’s see if we can’t get that race co-branded as a REV 3/Epoch event!

In other team news there are several upcoming events that provide our team opportunities to race and or volunteer.  Please read the list below, check out the links to the races sites and consider helping Epoch make their presence known not just as a great team of racing enthusiasts but also as a dedicated group of triathletes who give of their time to support others in their racing endeavors and support worthy causes around the Charlotte area.  

Run Jen Run is THIS Saturday, March 5th -- Contact Kelly Crooks Sherin with questions on how you can help 

Know Your Craft 5k is 9:00am Saturday, March 26th - Contact Emily with questions 

Bike LUCK Saturday, April 30th - Contact Kevin Casey with questions 

Our next team social will be held at Triple C Brewing Company on April 6th.  Hope to see all of you out there!  


The 2016 EPT Kits and gear have arrived!!!  If you have any questions regarding your gear please reach out to Paul Harold  The new stuff looks fantastic and we can't wait to see everyone training and racing in their new gear.  

If you didn't order and are now kicking yourself wishing you had don't worry, we've arranged to open up the store again for a short time to allow everyone the chance to order.  The store will be open from Friday March 18th to Friday March 25th.  To order just go to the team page at and then select "Shop".  

Karen Wood

How did you get into racing endurance events?

I started running as a way to alleviate the stress of opening a hotel in downtown Chicago. Running soon changed from being my stress release to the place where I could think, plan, problem solve, etc... and before I knew it I was running 10+ miles at a time so I decided I'd try a half-marathon. I was hooked.

One day some people I knew from the gym suggested that I sign up for a triathlon with them. I said "Sure, why not. What is that?". Without knowing what I was getting myself into I registered for The Spirit of Racine half ironman. I finished it and did two more the next month. Later that summer I went out to cheer on my buddies as they raced IM Wisconsin and I just knew that was something that I had to do too.

If applicable, what is your favorite discipline? Why?

The run, always the run.  Running just brings me joy.

Do you have a favorite local race?

How far away can a race be and still be considered 'local'?   
In NC Lake Logan is I guess my favorite.

What would you consider your career highlight?

That's a tough one as I think that every race is such an accomplishment.  Between IM Louisville and IM Lake Tahoe it’s pretty much a toss up.  But, I guess that if I have to pick one then IM Louisville would have to be it.  I had broken my hand and bruised a bone in my leg in a fall and lost pretty much the whole summer of training.  Four weeks before the race I got the pins out of my hand and was also given the green light to do some light jogging, get back into the water and actually take my bike out on the road.  Eager to start swimming again I over did it and suffered a tear in my right shoulder.    Unable to talk me out of doing the race my doc gave me a steroid pack.  He let me know that it was going to hurt (He actually used some more colorful language than that if memory serves...) but this would get me through the day.   

At the time I was working with some middle school and high school athletes for summer conditioning and had been drilling into their heads the mantra "Never Give Up".   
To me I had to do this race, I knew that they were all be watching me to see if I would give up or not.  It was a painful to be sure and a struggle from the start but I finished.   

Above and beyond the finish though, and where I see the success of that day, is that I was able to live out an example for the kids I was training and show them that just because something isn't going to look like what you had planned it to you just Never Give Up.

What would you consider your biggest challenge?

Juggling kids, training and a husband who travels most of the time.

What is the biggest race day mistake you've made?

Actually taking someone's advice to totally change my race day nutrition the morning of the race!  Disaster!!!

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

Do I have to pick just one?   
My Garmin
My Coach
My playlist
I can't choose just one!

Do you have a strict nutrition/recovery regimen?

Probably not?  From a nutrition standpoint I guess believe that if it comes naturally from the earth, whether it's plant or animal, then we were intended to have it.  If it comes out of a crinkley package in your pantry it's probably best to stay away from it.   Having said that I have a really hard time saying no to Teddy Grahams!
From a recovery standpoint I think that sleep can't be beat.

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

Don't limit yourself to what you think you can't do.  You will be absolutely amazed at what you can train your body to do and by what you can accomplish if you put your heart and intention into it.

OwnWay Apparel

Official triathlon apparel sponsor for EPT Racing

HIT Cycling

Official cycle studio sponsor for EPT Racing. Visit our new site at

Charlotte Running Co.

Official running store sponsor for 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."

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