Meet Team MPI Athletes Joel Blackledge, Heather Dziadula, and Kathryn McAlpin
Joel Blackledge of Gulfport, MS training with Coach Allen Stanfield
I am an attorney and fairly new to the sport of triathlon. I’ve done a couple of super sprints, a couple of duathlons, several half marathons and one full marathon. I got into running and biking in 2013. My plans for 2019 include at least one or two half marathons, a sprint tri or two and IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta.
In terms of the challenges I face, I am not a good swimmer. And like most of us, I have time constraints with work and family. I’ve watched Allen race for a while and I’ve always been impressed. I asked a friend who is into the sport about his opinion on coaches. Without hesitation, he recommended Allen, who he worked with in the past. When I said I was concerned because I am nowhere near the athlete that Allen is, he reassured me that Allen coaches newbies and that “you want a badass as a coach."
Heather Dziadula of Baldwinsville, NY training with Coach Laura Henry
I have been married for 19 years to my husband Gary and together we have five cats. I work at the Liverpool transportation center where I am a bus attendant, working with special needs children. No one day is ever the same, but each day my driver and I get the children home safely.
Almost 10 years ago I saw my sister run the Mountain Goat and I thought "one day I want run that." It took nine years to do it but I ran it and finished it last year. I started running about six years ago, starting with the YMCA then switching to Fleet feet two years ago. I watched my brother and sister-in-law Bob and Nicole Teska (also Team MPI athletes with Coach Laura) progress through Fleet feet over the years.
I joined Team MPI is because I had a bad experience with running the 1812 challenge two years ago and I wanted to see what I could do with this team. I watched my brother's progress over the last year with his dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
The challenges that I face during these next few months are to get all my workouts in and learning how this team works. I am definitely out of my comfort level. My favorite musical is wicked. And the way I’m going to rock the 18.12 and all my training is defying gravity, my favorite song from wicked!!
Dr. Kathryn Hudson McAlpin of Diamondhead, MS
training with Coach April Corey
I'm a Veterinarian with a busy family life with three young children, a challenging work schedule, a three+ hour round-trip commute, and we are starting our own mobile veterinary business. I'm a new runner, and my first running experience was local C25k group with April Corey as our coach. I stared on May 29, 2018 and completed my first 5k on August 18, 2018. Then I started half marathon group training with her in August and completed my first half marathon on November 24, 2018. I had no prior experience running. I was on the swim team through high school and also enjoyed softball, golf, and scuba diving
I am training for the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA on March 17, 2019, which will be nine months and twenty days after starting the C25k with April (hopefully the first of many marathons). I have a goal of a sub-30 5k and a sub-60 10k. I am not very fast but I am working towards getting faster.
As a new runner it’s hard to be patient building distance and speed without overdoing it. I'm also overcoming a severely sprained ankle after a fall while running in October. It's also hard to make time to run, strength train, cross train etc and also help my husband have time to run (he is training for the Shamrock marathon too).
Coach April and I live in the same relatively small community of Diamondhead, Mississippi and met through her couch to 5k program. She gently encouraged me to sign up when I emailed with questions and was scared that I couldn’t do it (although I always wanted to be a runner). She has been there guiding me/putting up with me every part of my running journey so far even coaching my sister, husband and soon my parents in her local groups as well! I could not imagine taking the next step without her guidance, experience, encouragement and friendship. I am thankful to God for her everyday!