People train for all sorts of reasons. Whether it be simply to get in better shape, or to slowly work towards running in a bigger race such as a marathon or participating in an obstacle course race. A group of ESTEEM students are training to raise money for a special cause, Niemann-Pick disease, type C (NPC), an inherited lipid-storage disorder in which harmful quantities of cellular fats accumulate in the liver, spleen, lungs, bone marrow and brain. In other words, affected people (usually children) have bodies that don’t work correctly and face a limited life, or death, depending on the severity of the disease. This is why we decided to ride because we feel giving back to a community, one many of us have only been a part of for a fleeting time, is a powerful way to say thank you for all they have given us. The way we are doing this, is by setting up a bike ride from Notre Dame’s campus to Chicago where we will meet with alumni, friends and family to celebrate a successful ride and raise money for NPC.
The ride date is several months away, but as one of our team coaches, we have already begun the demanding process of training our body’s and minds to endure the more than 100-mile ride. The way we have decided to train in these cold (and currently not so cold) months is several weekly sessions cycling in a spin class that I and another student, Brendan Hughes, coach. Brendan and I each have different styles, sometimes pushing the students on hard, short sprint sessions while other times cycling for well over an hour. The variety helps sharpen our poise for the more than 6-hour bike ride, but perhaps despite all the training and preparation, there won’t quite be anything like the ride itself.
No good training program is without fun however. This is why every Friday, Brendan and I have a very special workout called Funday Friday. It breaks the mould a little bit by combining biking with other functional movements such as sprinting, rowing and plyometrics. After a short workout, everyone gets together and plays an athletic game to brighten the spirit and support bonding within the riding group. In the past several weeks such games included dodgeball, capture the flag and sharks and minnows, however, there is no limit to the shenanigans we can kick up in the name of having fun to help others.
The ride to Chicago will be a long one. We will have a support van to help us with any flat tires and a cheering group of riders to help anyone with a flattened spirit. Together, we will push, and ride, sweat and laugh (maybe cry on the hills) all the way to Chicago so that those who couldn’t join us, those with NPC, can receive the care so that one day, perhaps they can join us on the road.