Meet Our Coaches


Ed Zerkle, Founder & Head Coach

With  an extensive background in consulting and a masters degree in business administration, Coach Ed has combined his love of triathlon with a strong business sense to build Team Z into what it is today.

With nearly two decades of coaching experience with thousands of athletes of all abilities, Ed’s focus on providing quality training plans and promoting fun, education, and team camaraderie has proven to be infectious.

Ed is a former NCAA Division 1 swimmer and successful triathlete, multiple Ironman finisher, USA Triathlon Level 1 certified coach, and former head coach for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program.

As an admitted workaholic, Ed doesn’t have much free time. But if he did, he’d be watching football. An overzealous Virginia Tech fan, Ed enjoys watching games with his fiance, Talia and his loyal dog, Zoe. If you ask Ed about his greatest aspirations, he’d quickly respond with something about the pride he gets in seeing his athletes achieve their biggest dreams. But we all know the truth, Ed’s dream is to drive a Hokie colored, tricked-out F-350 pickup truck that he can call his own.

Alexis Lopez-Buitrago, Head Coach

Coach Alexis, affectionately known as “coach speedy” because of his  infectious energy, came to Team Z as an accomplished triathlete, runner and coach. A Boston Marathon qualifier, Alexis has helped hundreds of athletes of all abilities cross the finish line during his time with Team Z and previously as a certified coach of the Leukemia And Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program.

Alexis is a USA Triathlon Level 1 certified coach, American Swim Coaches Association Level 2 coach, and Ironman finisher who has also scored a perfect score on Marine Corp Personal Fitness Test, a feat very few can claim. Ask Alexis about his proudest athletic accomplishment, though, and he would be quick to tell you of his experience as a guide for the Massachusetts Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired “Team with  a Vision” program for the Boston Marathon, where he helped guide a blind athlete to a third place podium finish!

A proud United States Navy veteran, Alexis enjoys spending time with his wife Anne, their children, and their grand kids. Alexis also enjoys running and attending as many U2 concerts as possible!

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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


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


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