Pacemaker derails Lee's triathlon bid
RICH LEE trains for his triathlon run.
Rich Lee started training in February in order to compete in the Wildflower Triathlon this weekend in southern Monterey County.
But instead of competing in his first triathlon, Lee will be there cheering on his Team in Training colleagues and his daughter, Abbey, who is competing on a team from San Francisco.
Last Saturday, after a final run-through, Lee felt faint.
"I started to feel like I'd black out," he said. "And it happened twice."
Sunday, while sitting at home, Lee had another episode and that's when his wife, Rhonda Stallings, decided it was time to go to the hospital.
After numerous tests, the doctors decided that a battery in Lee's pacemaker was running low and needed to be replaced.
The 58-year-old Lee, who is co-owner with Stallings of Arroyo Veterinary Hospital, had the pacemaker implanted about eight years ago for a condition called Bradycardia, in which the electrical signal from the brain to the heart becomes irregular.
Lee figured he had about a year left on the battery, but he came back from the hospital Sunday with a new pacemaker.
While he feels better than ever, Lee won't be able to compete because he can't get his incision wet for a week.
"This is a big disappointment," he said. "After Saturday's workout, I felt like I was ready. I told myself, 'I can get through this.'"
The Wildflower Triathlon has three classes and about 8,000 athletes competing, and Lee was set to compete in the Mountain Bike Triathlon - swimming a quarter-mile, a 9.7-mile bike ride and a two-mile run. "I'd been doing mountain biking and trail riding, but I hadn't done any swimming since college," he said. "I had to relearn."
Starting in February, Lee swam three times a week in addition to running and biking. "I was training six days a week," he added.
And he was part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. LLS is a group raising funds to fight leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkins lymphoma and myeloma. In addition to finishing the triathlon, Lee also had a goal to raise $4,000 for the cause.
As of Wednesday, some 60 donors had pledged almost $3,700 to Lee who was doing it in honor of John Randall. Randall, who's been involved with the No Name Café at Sonoma Valley High, the Shop on Eighth Street East and Social Advocates for Youth, is currently undergoing treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma.
"LLS helps people with blood cancer," he said. "It's a very effective organization. You realize how many people's lives have been touched by cancer."
He got involved with Team in Training after pledging money to Bob Edwards who participated last year. "Bob talked me into it," Lee said. "It's a great cause - and I wanted to get in better shape," he added.
While he was training, Lee wrote a blog detailing his training at pages.teamintraining.org/rw/wildtri11/rleeyr.
And while he'll be cheering on his teammates and his daughter this weekend, Lee has decided he's going to continue his training and finally compete in a triathlon sometime later this year.