Posted On:
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Athlete Race Recap: Island Time 24-Hour Race, Hollenbeck’s Spring Classic, & Upstate Orthopedics Mountain Goat Run

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Full Circle Endurance athletes took on three different types of endurance events this past weekend:

Island Time 24-Hour Race
Becky proudly shows off her coveted beer koozie after finishing 20 miles.

On Friday, May 5, 2023, Becky Piper embarked on a new and exciting challenge when she took on the Island Time 24-Hour Race in Chelsea, Michigan!

While any duration-based running event is a challenge for athletes, this particular event was a particular challenge for this particular athlete because Becky is a one-sided para-athlete; the right side of her body is paralyzed.

The technical name for paralysis on one side of the body is “hemiplegia.”  It can be congenital (meaning that a person is born with it) or it can be the result of trauma, which is the case for Becky.  In 2013, she sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that left her partially paralyzed for the rest of her life.  When she woke up after the incident that resulted in her injury, she had to relearn basically everything (especially true since she was right-handed before!).  In addition, she uses two main pieces of adaptive equipment to both move through her daily life and that allowed her to return to endurance sports: An Allard BlueROCKER brace to wear on her lower leg/foot and a knee brace that controls the amount of flexion in her right knee.

I met Becky in 2016 and I started coaching her in 2017.  Over these last several years, we’ve had many adventures, but honestly, training for this duration-based run was one of the biggest adventures we have had together yet.

Becky’s A-Goal for this event was to run 31 miles, which would give her “official” ultramarathon status.  (Technically, an ultramarathon is any running event that is longer than the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles, but the commonly accepted threshold for ultramarathoning is 31 miles or longer.)  As far as either of us is aware, no one else who is as severely paralyzed as Becky has ever attempted to do ultramarathons as an ambulatory (meaning upright/walking) athlete.  So, both the goal itself and the training for this event were uncharted territory for us.

We dialed in on a run/walk strategy that worked really well for Becky (which was three minutes of running and two minutes of walking). We respected the amount of time that it would take for Becky to increase her capacity for training, and thus progressed her training very incrementally over a period of about 12 months. Injuries on her non-paralyzed side would be more problematic than they would be for most able-bodied athletes since any injuries on Becky’s left side would leave her unable to move around and exist in her daily life.

The course of Island Time 24-Hour Race is two miles (mostly on trails) with 300 feet of elevation gain per lap.  (Athletes run as many laps as they can within the 24-hour timeframe of the race.)  The course was extremely muddy due to heavy rains two nights before.  This type of terrain would be challenging for any athlete, but was especially challenging for Becky since she needs to work so hard to bring her right side along with her for the ride.  Nevertheless, she endured (as she always does!) and competed 10 laps, giving her a finishing total of 20 miles in just over nine hours (eight hours moving time) and earning her a coveted beer koozie.

This wasn’t the 31 miles she had originally set out to do, but Becky exercised wisdom by modifying her plan and goal mid-race when she realized that the demands of the terrain were significantly impacting her body more than we thought they might.  She modified her goal to something she felt was reasonable for the day, to a goal that wouldn’t wreck her physically (or mentally), and that would enable her to proceed forward with daily training beyond this single race.  This was the longest distance Becky has covered in running since she became paralyzed and she had so much fun that she decided that she will continue to pursue her goal of becoming an ultramarathoner.

Congratulations to Becky for completing this training cycle and for such a strong race!  Stay tuned to see where we go from here!


Hollenbeck’s Spring Classic
Daria (right) and her friend Monica before the start of the race!

Daria Bakina took on the hills of Hollenbeck’s Spring Classic in Virgil, NY on Sunday, May 7, 2023!

Daria signed up for this 22-mile cycling road race with her friend Monica. Together, they took on this hilly course, both placing in their age group and winning their coveted pint glasses. It was a gorgeous day and a fun event for these two friends!

Congratulations, Daria!


Upstate Orthopedics Mountain Goat Run
Full Circle Endurance & friends at the 2023 Upstate Orthopedics Mountain Goat Run.

Six Full Circle Endurance athletes (Kara Bisaccia, Lisa Crockford, Rebecca Dottolo, Paul Elm, Natalie Metz, and Dawn O’Shaughnessy) came out to run Syracuse’s premiere road running race on Sunday, May 7, 2023 - the Upstate Orthopedics Mountain Goat Run!

This ten-mile hilly race is a local favorite in Syracuse and takes runners on a tour of several of Syracuse’s neighborhoods.  The weather was fantastic this year, which meant that there were even more people than usual out on the course cheering and making for a great experience.

This race was not an A-Goal race for any of the athletes racing; all of them are training for other events later this season that are more important to them. As such, the Upstate Orthopedics Mountain Goat Run was treated as a C-Race for almost all of them (meaning that they completed their “normal” training workout for the day, and just so happened to do it at the Upstate Orthopedics Mountain Goat Run).

I bring all of this up because races like this present wonderful and unique opportunities to practice skills that will be utilized in A-Races.  Completing a workout as a part of a C-Race allows athletes to practice nutrition, pacing, hydration,, and (perhaps most importantly) mental strategies.  Leveraged well and used appropriately, C-Races provide athletes with an opportunity to have their A-Races go exceptionally well since they give themselves a chance to try out specific tactics in a race setting before the day of the race that matters most to them.  

While we always test out strategies in training, deploying them in a race setting is different (for a variety of reasons), and thus practicing in a race scenario is a great opportunity.  They find out in the C-Race if these strategies are effective, and if needed, they have time to adjust their plan/strategy before the A-Race.  (Which, of course, is much better than finding out during an A-Race that a planned strategy isn’t what is working best.)

Congratulations to Kara, Lisa, Rebecca, Paul, Natalie, and Dawn!

About

Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at laura@fullcircleendurance.com.

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