This June, Fit University ambassador and University of Tennessee senior, Sydney Trentham plans to bike over 4,000 miles.
Yes, you read that right. Over 4,000 miles.
You see, Sydney is participating in one of the most ambitious, dedicated, and endurance-based cancer fundraisers there is. The event is called the 4k for Cancer, and it raises money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
The group started in 2001, when a group of college students decided to ride bikes across the country. They partnered with the Ulman Cancer Fund to raise money for helping young adults afflicted with cancer. The idea came from college students for college students – so many students want to give back to people their age, to give hope for them.
Since then, the organization has accomplished amazing things. In a nutshell, they help support young adults with cancer by developing support groups, establishing scholarships for college-aged young adults with cancer, delivering cancer care packages, and giving money to people who need it to pay for treatment.
Through the program, Sydney will be riding with a horde of fellow college-aged runners and cyclists to travel across the country.
Mid-August, she will arrive in San Francisco: triumphant, fatigued, and content in knowing that she aided the organization that raises nearly a million dollars towards cancer research each year.
So what made her want to participate? When we asked, Sydney told us that her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Through her mother’s diagnosis, she found she was brought closer to the cancer-affected community, and heard about the race through those contacts. In addition, she was looking for something to do this summer that would allow her to travel after she graduated – specifically, something that worked for a cause and hit close to home. The 4k was perfect.
And it was quite the ambitious goal. As for the intensity of the ride itself, Sydney had never participated in anything close. Sure she’s ridden charity rides, done a 5k or two, and biked 30 miles once. But 4,000 miles? You could say it’s a little out of her comfort zone.
The ride itself takes off from Baltimore. Sydney is riding in one of 25 groups of 180 total college-aged students, all running and riding on a few different tracks throughout the country. Routes end in big cities like San Diego and Portland. Some travel East to West like Sydney, while others push in the opposite direction.
Sydney’s particular trip is finishing in San Francisco, and will take a total of 70 days to complete. She’ll be riding for 10 weeks, scaling 50-120 miles per day. Every 7-10 days, she’ll get one rest day, which she’ll be spending delivering scholarships and care packages to young adults struggling with cancer. She’ll be roughing it—sleeping in sleeping bags at a local church, a YMCA, or outside.
Traveling that far a distance with so little recovery time between rides requires quite the training regimen.
To prepare for the event this summer, Sydney started her training about two months ago. “I ride my bike anywhere around school,” she says. “4-5 days a week I’ll ride, and I’ll go anywhere from 60 to a couple hundred miles each week.” She goes on different types of rides on different terrain to prepare herself for the varied track she’ll be embarking on cross-country.
But that’s not all she’s doing to prep. Sydney also is fitting in Crossfit 3-5 days each week on top of her bike rides. This provides the cross training she needs, allowing her to build up her core stability and mobility.
The race gives her recommended training plans, which she participates in and modifies to fit her personal fitness levels and needs. She also participates in intramural sports at her school.
All that training is a lot for one person’s body to handle—it’s a ton of expended energy each day. Which begs the question: what is she eating to fuel it all?
“I’m eating a lot,” she said. In fact, her appetite is through the roof. In one sitting, she’ll find herself eating 3 baskets of chips and queso, guacamole, salsa… (um, YUM) and still not feeling as full as she expected. “Everything you put in front of me, I’ll eat,” she explains.
Sydney makes sure she’s getting plenty of protein to prevent muscle degradation. That means lots of yogurt and lots of meat. Typically, riders have a lot of issues with GI, so Sydney needs probiotics which she gets through the yogurt.
Training sounds intense. And it takes up a huge part of Sydney’s already-busy college life. So we asked her how she’s balancing all the training with school and other senior-year activities.
Simply put, she’s really, really busy. Her calendar is packed, and her social life has taken somewhat of a beating. However, she considers herself lucky to have a group of friends who are really supportive of everything she’s been doing. In fact, her roommates even accompany her on spin bikes at the gym (she may have to drag them every once in awhile, but they’re still down to go with her!).
Not only has Sydney had to put in a great deal of time and effort to train for the 4k, but she’s also invested a lot in raising the money to enter. In order to participate, she has to raise her $4,500 entrance fee. Motivated by her passion for the cause, Sydney has raised money by selling apple butter, reigned in support from her family, held a potluck dinner at her church and is holding a Crossfit fundraiser in April.
A photo posted by Sydney Trentham (@sydneytrentham) on
But her excitement far outweighs her fears.
What’s she excited about? Everything else! Seeing the country (she’s never been North of the Mason-Dixon line or West of the Mississippi), the thrill of the great outdoors, meeting a whole bunch of new people just as passionate about the cause as she is, and (of course) giving back to the cancer community. Giving them hope and support is so important to Sydney; she can only imagine how difficult it is to for someone her age to have cancer.
“What do you hope to accomplish by doing the 4k?” we asked next.
“More awareness and support to young adults with cancer,” Sydney replied. “People are already asking about what I’m doing and why. People want to know why.” Through her dedication and training, Sydney is raising even more awareness for the event, and therefore the cause.
You go Sydney!
As a final message, she has to say: “With a community like Fit U, take something that you’re passionate about and turn it towards a great cause. We can do a lot with the tools we have, and not everyone out there is able to do what you or I can. Use it to your advantage!”
You can also join her Facebook event, where she posts fun fundraisers like health tips, apple butter & ebooks.