Anchorage Resident Runs Competitively After Undergoing Heart Surgery

If you've never met Anchorage resident, Julie Michels, you wouldn't have guess she was born a little different.

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by Megan Mazurek

It's a cause and fundraiser that participants hold close to their heart and in leu of this weekend's heart walk we're profiling survivors who are sharing their stories of heart surgery and life after recovery.
If you've never met Anchorage resident, Julie Michels, you wouldn't have guess she was born a little different.
"They would listen to my heartbeat and say, 'hey, something is not right,' " Michels said.
Born with a hole in her heart, Julie said as a kid she was unable to do strenuous physical activity without becoming exhausted and often times very sick. So, at the age of 12, she went under the knife.
"I don't remember being scared," Michels said. "I think my family thought I would die though."
Three weeks later, with a major heart surgery under her belt, Julie never looked back.
"I just have all this endurance and stamina to run long distance," Michels said. "I just love it I get to do it joyfully now without having to stop and take a deep breath."
She became the team captain for her high school's cross country team and began running marathons and half marathons. For the past 2 years she's boasted the best time for a female finisher in the Heart Association's Mended Heart Division in the 5k Heart Run.
"I just thank god and the American Heart Association for supporting me and encouraging me to get involved," Michels said.
With early morning frost and Fall finishing it's final touches, Julie isn't letting Alaska's seasons stop her either.
"I started skiing this past winter people would ask me, 'have you tried skiing?' and I would say, 'no i'm from Hawaii I don't do that,' but I took the challenge and I'm hoping to do the Tour of Anchorage 50 miles this winter."