I am competing in the North Carolina 70.3 Ironman Triathlon on Oct. 15th, 2022 to raise awareness for ALS Association and Autism Speaks. Our dream is to increase awareness for ALS and Autism by raising donations to help these organizations support families in need.
Your help is wanted, needed, and appreciated!
I would like to take a minute and share what is important to me, My Family, and Friends! However, it is family that has always kept me grounded. Through life’s many challenging events my family has always been by my side and has taught me about patience, compassion, and loyalty. My family is certainly made up of the typical Mother, Father, Sister, and Brother, relationships but over the years my family has grown into those friends and acquaintances who have both touched my life and those who I may have touched. It is this sense of family that has inspired me to give back by providing an avenue to support two very special causes to me: ALS Association and Autism Speaks. I want you to join my T.E.A.M. TRI-UNITED by supporting ALS Association and Autism Speaks by Donating Today in honor of my Uncle Joel and my Daughter Maddie.
Diagnosed 2021 with ALS, “Lou Gehrig’s disease”, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord causing weak muscles and loss of physical function. There is no cure for ALS, at this time.
When I was about 8-10 years old, I went turkey hunting with Uncle Joel. I remember the day as if it were yesterday, well maybe not exactly but what I do remember is spending quality time with a truly wonderful man.
I didn’t realize it at the time but, as I have grown up the man I called Uncle Joel was a very calm, compassionate, respectful, loyal, male role model, that any young man would have been lucky to know and I just happened to be his Nephew. So, back to the story. He asked me one day if I wanted to go turkey hunting with him and I of course said yes. He found me a pair of camouflage pants and a jacket which felt as though it was 4 sizes too big but, he rolled them up and off we went. I remember walking in to the woods for what seemed like days. In reality it was only minutes. He calmly whispered to me and told me to sit close to the tree on the ground and be real still and quiet. He explained that turkeys had really good eyesight and were very smart. He then walked just a few feet away and sat next to an adjacent tree. While sitting there listening to the birds sing and the crickets chirp as the sun rose time magically stopped for me and it was amazing. While we sat there in the woods all alone we saw all kinds of wildlife. A deer walked right by me just a couple of feet away as I was paralyzed with joy and excitement. We saw chipmunks, squirrels, birds, deer, and eventually, Uncle Joel was able to call the turkeys in and they flew into the trees above us. The time spent in nature with Uncle Joel and the life lessons I learned that day have stayed with me. Ultimately, We did not shoot anything and I am not even sure if Uncle Joel had a gun with him as that wasn’t the focus for me. The time and memories created in the woods that day with my uncle was priceless and I will always cherish.
The life lessons I learned that day which I know have helped me through my life and will certainly help me during this physical journey of training and competing in this 70.3 Ironman is patience and enjoying the moment. Thank You, Uncle Joel. I, WE, Love you!
Madeline "Maddie" Allen
Hometown: Albany, Georgia Currently residing in Prattville, Alabama
First triathlon: None: October 15, 2022 – North Carolina 70.3
Hobbies: Auto Restoration, Art: (Painting, Mixed Media, Pen, and Ink), Soccer, Anything Creative.
A bit about me
I was born in a small town in south Georgia about 3 hours south of Atlanta called Albany. I moved a few times during my childhood and lived in multiple cities in and around Atlanta, GA and also in Dayton, Tennessee. I moved to Prattville, Alabama in 1989 while in High School which is about 11 miles north of Montgomery, AL on I-65. I grew up playing Soccer, Water skiing on the Alabama river, Life Guarding at the local YMCA, and riding bikes. After High School I became an EMT then attended Nursing School and became a Register Nurse in 2000. I have been practicing as an Infusion nurse for about 20 years and I now work for a specialty pharmacy as a Senior Clinical Liaison specializing in Bleeding and Autoimmune disorders.
My first sport was Soccer
I was introduced to Soccer when I was about 6 years old while living in Stone Mountain, GA. My first position was Goalie and stories are told where I would watch the planes and pull weeds more than watching the ball on the field. Eventually, I earned a spot on the Olympic Development Team, ODP, for both Georgia and Alabama during middle school and high school. I went on to play in College for a short period of time before breaking my right leg while playing indoor soccer during our off season. I was very competitive and enjoyed the team aspect as well as being a Team Leader.
How I got into triathlon...
I have alway been interested in Triathlon since high school and college however, I never focused on the sport. I competed in a few short sprints in my early 20’s down on the gulf coast even though my sport of choice at the time was Soccer. Fast forward 25 years and becoming terribly out of shape weighing over 300 pounds, 312 pounds to be exact at my heaviest in 2019. My competitive spirit was broken just as the 46 broken bones I had fractured over the years. Depression set in after living with excruciating pain for 30 years while suffering from chronic cluster headaches. In May 2019 while walking past Orange Theory I entered thinking I would order a smoothie. To my surprise it was a gym. I called my girlfriend, now my fiancé, and asked if she would join with me. We started the next day. That was the start of my new fitness journey.
In the beginning, I was limited to the exercise I could perform after fracturing my right heel two years prior. My ankle and heel would swell to the size of a large grapefruit after each workout. According to my orthopedist I was lucky, most who have had my injuries were in wheelchairs or at best walking with canes. However, I wasn’t satisfied with just being able to walk. I wanted to live. I wanted a better Quality of Life. After three years of working with Brandon at Better Fitness Nutrition Center and sticking to a plan I was able to come off all of my blood pressure medications and was able to loose over 100 pounds.
Unfortunately, during this great change and excitement in living my life I had another set back. In the early fall of 2021 I suddenly lost the use of my left arm. I had severe damage to the nerves in my neck and on October 15, 2021 I was having surgery to replace multiple cervical disks.
Prior to surgery I was contemplating doing another Triathlon and when the surgery was a success I decided now was the time. I quickly signed up for the North Carolina 70.3 Ironman, October 15, 2022, one year to the date I had surgery.
My biggest challenge
Slowing down to prevent injury while training. Wanting immediate results.
Also, staying focused when reading about a topic I am not interested in.
My biggest athletic accomplishment
I would have to say right now that would be finding myself again through movement and being able to experience life. I didn’t realize how much I was missing until I began to be active again.
Favorite thing about training
Finding new limits.
Pushing myself and learning my body will do what my mind tells it. It may be challenging and it may be uncomfortable, for a short period of time, but the reward is amazing.
The energy and focus it provides me mentally after a good morning workout.
I love the quiet alone time while training where the stresses of the day melt away. I am able to focus on the task at hand, goals for the activity, and a small win is a WIN and the day starts off on a great note!
Least favorite thing about training
The heat in Alabama, HOT, and HUMID.
If I am honest I don’t like feeling guilty when taking time for myself. The social and family sacrifices are real and having a good support team is important. I have that but, the guilt is still present.
Specifically for this Event is bringing awareness to ALS Association and Autism Speaks. I am a very passionate about supporting my patients as a nurse and possibly even more passionate about supporting causes that affect me and my immediate family personally. My Uncle Joel has been diagnosed with ALS and I encourage all to donate to ALS Association. My daughter, Maddie, is blind and has Aspergers (Autism) so I also encourage all to donate to Autism Speaks. Please read their page and share with as many people you can so we can support these great causes and increase awareness. THANK YOU!
Where would I move if I were to do it full time?
Hands down, I would have to say UTAH. I have had the opportunity to travel there with work. It is simply amazing, Gorgeous!
Dream training set up?
Swim: An Endless Pool www.endlesspools.com . Flip turns in the pool is not my greatest skill!
Bike: Eventually upgrade my bike to electronic Dura-Ace with Carbon Aero-Bar system. Would love to have car-free, stop sign free, roads with all flat or down hill sections. Remember your grandparents saying…. walked up hill in the snow barefooted. I want the opposite, who wouldn’t?
Run: To be able to purchase running shoes like most everyone else and wear them the same day. My shoes cost about $100 more than the next because they need to be adjusted due to previous injuries. So, a new pair of shoes are terribly expensive and it takes weeks to get them back where I can actually run in them. Other than that, just happy I can run and not have to use a walker!
Favorite Mantras while Training
Keep Moving Forward
Suck it up, butter cup
Fast is Slow, Slow is Fast
Take the “WIN”
You want it, Earn it!
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