Saturday Spotlight- Joe Mecheels Sr.

Name. Joe Micheels Sr
Age. 50
Hometown: Islip
Current Town: East Islip
Marital status : Married to MaryBeth 27 yrs (high school sweethearts)
Children: Joe Jr 25, Peter 22 (both have run the Hills)
Pets: Bailey (shitzu/ yorkie mix) 15yo
Occupation: Paramedic manager,
ACLS PALS CPR instructor, Volunteer paramedic/ firefighter

So my earliest memory of running was getting chased out the house by my mother with a wooden spoon in hand. That did not end well, with the spoon breaking over my ass. Aside from that, my brothers (2, both younger) and I were very active as kids. I remember being enrolled in CYO track and field through St Mary’s in East Islip and practicing on the cinder track behind the old East Islip High School. We went around the island to different meets, though I can’t remember what events I participated in. I’m sure there are some medals stashed away at my dad’s home that will get dug up some day. My brothers and I played Little League baseball, took swimming and sailing lessons. A religion teacher mentioned he was looking for a crew member for his Narrasketuck sailboat, to which I volunteered and spent several summers racing on the Bay and the Sound. Fast forward to junior high and high school where I ran cross country, played baseball and basketball. I can remember going up to Sunken Meadow and into the city for meets at Van Cortland park. It was more of a social experience than competitive running as the distance was way too long (haha). At college I somehow ended up making the rifle team and played intramural deck hockey and basketball.

Several years post college MaryBeth and I got married and bought a home in East Islip where we still live today. Our sons were born and several years later they registered for Little League baseball. Somehow I was convinced to coach and that lasted a few years until my older son decided he didn’t like baseball and wanted to play soccer. Heartbreaker. Baseball was my sport but I couldn’t convince him to stay engaged with it. Soon enough I was recruited into coaching soccer, a sport of which I had less than minimal knowledge but through some reading and viewing I came to love the sport. I was playing softball with a work team and and I kidded myself that it was “keeping me in shape.” At 30 I decided I wanted join the Fire Department and was then convinced to become an EMT, then a EMT-cc and ultimately a paramedic.

As our boys entered middle school the older one started running track at East Islip and was able to compete with the varsity team. I was re-introduced to running through going to his meets. He switched to St John the Baptist, for high school, and joined the winter and spring track teams. During the winter the frosh were supposed to go to a meet in the city, but they didn’t have a coach to accompany them, so I volunteered to go and ended up being a volunteer coach for track and cross country for 6 years. My younger son went to St John the Baptist and became a thrower, shot, discus and javelin. During this time I began to run again, the very hilly part of the island known as the South Shore. For hill work, it was to the train or parkway overpasses. If and when my boys ran with me they were frequently frustrated with my frequent stops but those became less and less.

My older son, noticing that the limited running was not equalizing my caloric intake of food and drink, commented that I needed to do something more as far as exercise, so that I would not be consumed by our sofa. He mentioned that maybe we should do triathlons. I “googled” what that was and said sure. I went and bought a road bike, started riding and increased my running. Having taken swim lessons as a kid I figured I was good for the short swim of a sprint tri. So I was perusing some local races and found one down at the East Islip Marina. I signed us up while he was away and I went and bought a wetsuit and rented another. I let him know we were entered. He arrived home and we found his wetsuit didn’t properly fit. Too late to switch. Boy I was wrong about the swim, mainly the elementary back stroke, with some doggy paddle mixed in for good measure. I didn’t drown and got through it. Figured that was fun, and the sofa missed me, and that f@&%ing thing they call an Ironman was entirely insane and that would never happen. 2 full Ironman later, I can resolutely confirm my earlier statement that they are indeed insane. Joe Jr did Lake Placid with me, and he and Peter did Mt Tremblant the following year when I did Copenhagen, Denmark. My younger son promises he will beat me at a half Ironman distance soon, and I believe he will
My middle brother moved up from the cinder tracks to doing his first marathon (Long Island) at 14 years old. He continues to run having done nearly 30 marathons or so including Boston several times. He worked at Runner’s Edge for a stint before moving to Wake Forest and opening two running stores with his wife, also a runner. He organized and directed the City of Oaks marathon as well as a handful of local races down there. My youngest brother, also a runner when he was younger, touts his prowess and his speed, though recollections are faint and no documents can be produced to his actual times. After my older son went sub 2 minutes in the 800 meter, my brother proclaimed he too had gone sub 2. This was of course met with much laughter and denials. He though steadfastly believes he has, and we’ll let him remember his glory days.

My wife is a regular walker, good and foul weather. She steadfastly supports me on my longer races, but she is immensely proud of her 0.0 sticker in her car.

I think that about wraps up my brief history, except for my introduction to the Selden Hills. My coach (Bob McKeown)put in my training plan to either go to Sunken Meadow or the Selden Hills one day. So never having heard or run them off I went. Did the 10k and was amazed at the Hills of along Island. A few weeks later I was down at Sayville Running Co, speaking with Mike Petrina, and he said, oh they have a whole group on Facebook, and regular group runs and courses up to 25k. The rest, as they say is history.
See you on the roads, and stay safe.

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