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The Story of Lee Michaels
Every spring, the USA Triathlon Northeast Regional Council gathers the names for the top age-group athletes from the previous year and sends out a congratulatory note and gift. This year, the council decided to recognize as many of these athletes as possible in person at the Boston Tri-Mania Expo. In the process of determining the number of attendees, the council heard from numerous athletes, astounded at the news of their final 2013 age-group ranking. One gentleman in particular, Lee Michaels, shared his amazing and moving account and the council agreed it should be shared with the region. To read Lee’s full story, check out the Northeast Region’s Website. We hope his story inspires you as much as it did us and wish you a safe season.
Here is Lee Michaels’ story:
At age 73, I am still a full time civil trial lawyer and now, incredibly, the 2013 age-group champion for aquabike. What makes it even sweeter is my wife, Susan Kreplin-Michaels, who is much younger than me, has competed three of the last four years at the world championships for Team USA. She is a long time All-American. I think she was 13th last year in USAT for her age group. We were in London last year and afterward we vacationed in Dublin, Amsterdam, Bruge, and Brussels before returning home. There was no sign of trouble while in Europe other than we walked a lot and I felt fatigued.
The day after we returned, I went for a three-mile run. I felt a heavy pain in my chest and my throat as if I was nauseous. I came home and it stopped. This went on for three weeks while running, biking, swimming and weight lifting. After three weeks, I'd had enough. I called my cardiologist, as I have had a pacemaker since age 61, and he got me right in after doing some blood work. The next thing I know, I am told I am "having" a heart attack and am sent by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. I had 99% blockage of the left anterior descending artery (the Widow Maker, a la Tim Russert). They put in a stent and I went home the next day. The heart doctor there told me I could have totally occluded any minute. I was told I would have to enter cardiac rehab after a few weeks, so I started rehabbing for the rehab on day three. I ended up having 36 sessions of rehab where I was getting PR's on the rowing machine and nustep machine. I am finally done and back to running, indoor biking, swimming and lifting. I did a post incident PR for a 2000-yard nonstop pool swim. It wasn’t really much of a time if I had been younger, but I was powering past an old guy, 10 years younger than me, in the lane next to me, lapping him every 150 yards.
Now I am the local poster child for other local athletes with the proposition that we "uber" athletes have to pay attention to our symptoms. They can kill us just like overweight sedentary smokers.
I finally did a couple aquabikes, at Rev 3 Quasi and Rev 3 Williamsburg so I would not have to run as I am really slow at running now. They don't give out age-group awards, instead only awarding in order of finish. I did another aquabike a few years ago in the Musselman in Geneva. I was so tired during the 56-mile bike that my attention lapsed when I was going on a dirt path through a park and I fell off my bike and dropped by chain.
While I realize this recognition is really a matter of attrition rather than any particular skill, I find it sort of neat. I have to check out some more aquabikes to enter this year.