Friday, September 10, 2010

Life after the 3Day

Each year after the 3Day, there is always a let down.  Those three days are so overwhelming and such an adrenaline rush, that of course you are going to be slightly off your game afterward.  You no longer have people cheering for you as you cross the street, nor do they give you candy when you hit that all time low.  For me, this year has been especially difficult.  From spending hours with these women, to getting back to the daily routine of work, activities and whatnot, it has been quite an adjustment.  We all learned what it means to be a team.  We definitely embodied the motto, "no woman left behind."  The ten of us bonded in a way that is difficult to put into words.  I still see most of them regularly, but it is different now.  We are all back to our routines.  I miss "us"--the TWP's.

Last night was the first night since the walk that I had that TWP feeling again.  Andy and I decided to go up to the track to run--remember that I am training for my first 5K with many of the other princesses.  Patty rallies a group of us together every Tuesday for running club, but because of my crazy schedule I have missed the last few.  Don't worry, I am still training, but just on my own.  As we got out of the car, I looked to my left, and Patty was pulling in the parking lot.  I was so happy.  Patty and I became very close this spring and did the majority of our training together.  I knew that I couldn't keep up with her running, but at least she was there for support.  She then told me that Cheryl was coming.  Cheryl was definitely more my speed.  After she arrived, we started to run together.  I took my headphones off, and we just listened to music.  The next thing you know, we got into a groove.  We were running at the same pace and were even able to carry on a conversation, which I am never able to do.  Cheryl, was a week ahead of me in our running program, but decided to stay with me because I had my ipod.  I don't know what came over us, but we just kept going.  We pushed each other, and ran further than we had to.  When we were done, we had run two miles and were thrilled.  Once again, I had that TWP feeling, that indescribable "I can do anything with you by my side" feeling.  It was the first time that I thought I can make it through this 5K.  Cheryl called me her "running soul mate."  I couldn't have said it better.  Needless to say, we plan to do the rest of our training together.

Speaking of that feeling, be sure to save Friday, October 1st so that you can attend our "Pink Carpet Premiere Party" at the Lafayette Club in Amesbury.  There will be a cash bar, munchies, dancing, AND we plan to show our documentary.  We are hoping to have a blooper reel, which I'm sure will prove to be more entertaining than the actual short film.  Our hope is to have a fun, relaxing evening celebrating the success of our 2010 walk.  Tickets are just $10 at the door, and proceeds go the the 2011 TWP team, which by the way, already has 7 members.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Royally yours,

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Real Housewives of the 3Day: Day 3

Well, I am back from vacation and can finally finish my blog.  Here goes...

Once again, everyone got a pretty good night's sleep.  How could you not be exhausted after walking 40 something miles?  We knew we had to get up early because we told Paul, the director, that we would be leaving camp around 6:30.  I don't think he really believed that we would be ready by then, so we had to prove him wrong.

After waking, we got dressed and went over to the dining tent.  Again, breakfast was just okay.  We quickly ate, stretched a bit, and went back over to the tents to pack up.  Normally we would pack up first thing, but we wanted to leave our awesome decorations for the crew to see.  Even if we didn't win, we knew they would appreciate them.  When we walked over, Ben and Doug were already there, and they were filming.  They proceeded to film us packing everything up and chatted with us a bit.  When Patty and I both realized that we forgot our deodorant and went to put it on, we asked them kindly not to film that.

Around 6:00AM Cheryl arrived.  She had gone home the night before because her feet had been so bad, but she was looking refreshed and appeared to be feeling well.  I knew she would cross that finish line with us.  Kaitlyn's feet continued to get worse, and she was over at Medical getting them taped.  Maurine was doing well too.  We knew we would be at UMASS arm in arm even if people had to sweep the majority of the day.  Those last 3 miles after lunch we would be together.

We left shortly after 6:30 and were excited to be on our way to the finish.  When we left camp, somehow we had lost some of the crew and just had Ben and Doug with us.  The poor guys--we were on a mission.  I was supposed to arrive at UMASS no later than 3:00.  Doug would run ahead to get footage of us walking toward him.  It was extremely hot already, and I felt badly.  I keep remembering Ben running with a camera, holding his coffee, and trying to ask us questions.  Ben is a producer; he usually does not have a camera.  He was doing remarkably well until he inevitably tripped.  Fortunately he only lost half of his coffee.  However, it did make me feel better about my spill the night before. 

When we left Waltham, we walked through Watertown which is where we met up with Paul and the rest of the crew.  From there we had a pit stop in Cambridge, where we did a short group interview.  At this point, everyone had heard about my lack of balance while dancing, and of course Paul had to ask me about it while on camera.  Ha ha!  Funny!  Let's laugh at Sherri again.

Not long after we left the pit stop we met up with Men With Heart, a team of all males who are simply the most unbelievable men.  The wear bright yellow shirts, serenade you, and cheer every single walker into camp even in the worst of conditions.  When we met up with them, we were just entering Harvard Square, and they asked us to sing one of their cheers with them.  Of course we obliged.  The cheer was something like you would hear as you marched in the army.  We repeated everything that they said.  It was a lot of fun--something I had never done during the 3Day before.  It was especially cool because we did it as we tromped through Harvard Square.

Just after we passed the magazine stand in Harvard Square, our director Paul, insisted that he wanted to get some footage in Harvard Yard.  He made us walk out of the way, and into Harvard for which we gave him a hard time.  We sat on the steps, and he asked us a few questions before security came over and kicked us out.  I guess you cannot shoot footage inside the campus, just still shots.

From there, we continued through Cambridge toward City hall where there was a cheering station.  Remember I said we had the best cheering stations, well once again our family rocked it.  As you can see, we had a ton of people there.  Gretchen's family was actually there too, but they arrived after this photo was taken. 
While we were grabbing some snacks and chatting with our families, I spotted Team Courage.  If you were a woman at the 3Day, you knew who Team Courage was.  Tina spotted them Friday night at camp, and the cougars began to prowl!  They were 4 young, very attractive, very well-built men.  We joked about them, and admired them from afar all weekend.  I don't know if it was the mood that we were in, or if it was because of the cameras, but we called them over.  We had no problem fawning over them, and Andy even joined in the fun saying they had nothing on him.  We took some great photos, and they even had us record a message to their 4th teammate who was not able to walk on Day 3.  They were such good sports.  You should have seen our faces light up when we found out that one of them was a podiatrist.  Blister help, please!!!

From there we continued through Cambridge toward MIT which was our next pit stop.  After MIT we were crossing the Mass Ave. bridge where the crew would be shooting some special footage with a long lense from up in a building.  This was the reason that Paul wanted to know when we were leaving in the morning.  He wanted to make sure that the cameras were there at the right time.  At this point, Kaitlyn was really hurting.  She was planning to take the sweep van to lunch, but we all convinced her to stick with us until she got over the bridge, then have the van come get her.  She was such a trooper.  While walking over the bridge, we had to be in a very tight formation and we said our cheer.  It seemed to take forever, but I think it will look great in the film.

From Mass Ave, we turned onto Commonwealth and walked toward the Public Gardens.  Last year on this part of the route, there were not many people.  It was a beautiful area, but you did not feel the support of the spectators.  This year was extremely different.  There were lots of people, and even a cheering station.  In the Public Garden, Patty and I did our last individual interviews.  We were both a bit emotional to think that we were so close to ending our journey--about 8 miles away.  It had been so amazing up to this point, we could only anticipate what the culmination would be like.  Here we told our families to meet us at Closing.  We felt we needed to be a team and try to get to UMASS in a timely manner; therefore, we opted to pass by the Swan Boats even though they looked very relaxing.

The next few miles of the walk were some of the most difficult for me.  After the Public Gardens we walked through Downtown Crossing and made our way toward South Boston.  I felt that this area of the walk was not very scenic, and there was a lot of concrete and hot top.  Concrete and hot top = HEAT!!!  I remember Theresa looking at me and saying, "I can't believe that you do this every year."  Yep, and I will continue to until a cure is found.  Hearing her say that gave me the little push that I was needing right at that point.

Soon after that we came into Southie.  It was here that one of those memorable moments happened.  The 3Day is filled with them--the typical ones like Opening and Closing, but there were many others--Theresa's tears, rain at camp, falling at the dance party, Maurine's spirit, Patty trapped under the air mattress, and the guy with no pants.  You heard correctly--the guy with no pants.  As we walked down the hill toward lunch, we looked across the street and saw a man standing on the corner in his boxer shorts with his pants around his ankles.  Who knows what he was doing.  He was just standing there.  Of course, in true TWP fashion, we cracked up.   Then in true Gretchen fashion, the comedian of our group breaks into a chorus of "Pants on the Ground."  The rest of the way that was all we sang.  Seriously, it was so hysterical.

On our way to lunch there were only 7 of us.  We knew the other Princesses and crew would be meeting us there.  It was so cool to walk in to lunch hearing the rest of the team and the entire crew shouting, "TWP, TWP, TWP!"  We continued to have our own fan club.  Sitting near the water, it was 30 minutes of shoes off, refueling, hydrating, and gearing up for the last 3 miles.

The last 3 miles were going to be completed together.  We were a team--we were whole once again.  We walked along the water, and just chatted.  It was an easy walk, and it was beautiful.  About a mile from UMASS, Youth Corp was there waiting for us with chocolate chip cookies, cheering us on.  It was here that they let Alexa and Dylan walk the last mile with us.  This had never been done before.  We were so excited.  We were singing songs and listening to music.  We were pumped and so proud of ourselves.  I knew exactly where we were and how close we were to the finish.  When we got really close, we gave Alexa and Dylan our sign to carry in.  We marched arm and arm behind them.  That was when we saw our families.  They were all there.  We literally stopped traffic on the route with all of the camera equipment, and hugs that were being given.  It was such an amazing feeling.  That would be the last time we would see our families until Closing Ceremonies.  From here we went into Holding.  In previous years, you could just hang out with your family outside, but this year we were shuttled into the gym.  The nice thing was that it had air-conditioning.  And music.  Yep, more dancing!  Walking 60 miles then dancing on the speakers sounds like something the TWP's would do.  It was AWESOME!

After we collected our victory shirts from Patty's friends Jody and Barbara, who were volunteering, we were able to hang for a few minutes before we did our final group interview with the crew.  Paul chatted with us and asked us all what the 3Day was to us.  I honestly can't remember much about that interview, that was when I lost it.  I had been pretty composed during most of the interviews, but not this one.  This year's 3Day was so surreal to me.  It was like none I had ever experienced or will probably ever experience again.  It was simply amazing, and I still had Closing.

As I walked up to where Closing was, I noticed another Tracy sign.  It said, "TWP--Yeah, you know me!"  Like the 90's song, OPP.  I think most everyone knew us by now.  We had definitely made our mark.

Walking in to closing was even better than Opening.  When they raise that flag that says, "A World Without Breast Cancer" I always cry.  Standing there looking up at that flag, holding hands with women who know what it feels like to have cancer, I can't stop thinking how unbelievable it would be if my kids never had to think about breast cancer.  I look at the crew and see how this is affecting them.  I looked over to Patty, Tina, and Maurine and blew them kisses.  We did it.  After such an emotional moment, Candy Coburn comes out and sings her "Pink Warrior" song.  It brings a feeling of empowerment to the entire crowd.  As the ceremony ends and music begins to play, of course the dancing commences to none other than the Black Eyed Peas--I Gotta Feeling.  Tonight was definitely going to be a good night.

From there we said "so long" to our new friends--it could never be "good-bye."  We gave our last hugs, shed our last tears, and walked away with a sense of accomplishment like no other.  We had spent an indescribable 3 days together--something we will never forget.  We were proud of what we had achieved and didn't know what we were going to do with all of the free time that we now had.  We had raised over $41,000 for breast cancer research.  That was pretty incredible.   How were were going to keep this feeling alive?  We knew it would last for a few days, but when would it fade?  No one wanted it to.  We needed a way to have the TWP spirit live on until next year.  Several of us decided that if we could walk 60 miles, then we could run a 5K.  It didn't matter that many of us had never run before.  We were the TWP's, and we were a special breed of women. 

So I went home and registered for the Race for the Cure and started a Tough Warrior Princess team.  We have 10 members so far, and many others that are planning to join us. We would love to have you join us too.  If you can't run, just come and cheer us on Sept. 25th.

I again want to say thank you to all of my friends, family, and supporters who helped to make my third time a charm.  It was simply the best.   I look forward to sharing the experience with you once the video is released.  We are in the process of organizing a Pink Carpet Preview Party, so we'll keep you posted.

Love to all!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Real Housewives of the 3Day: Day 2

I awoke earlier than expected on Day 2 (about 5AM) to the sounds of someone in a tent behind us speaking much too loudly for that time of day.  I think I speak for the team when I say that we were all feeling pretty great.  The rain had stopped, and the temperatures were already starting to heat up.  We were determined to make it in to camp earlier than the day before--we no longer had that film crew to hold us back.  We all got dressed, and then went to eat a hearty breakfast to nourish us throughout the morning.

All throughout breakfast I kept thinking about what the day's route would be like.  Yesterday was the same exact route as the year before.  Did that mean that today was going to have that monster hill that last year had?  If you followed my blog last year you will remember the hill that actually caused my lymphedema.  It is one of the biggest hills that I have ever walked up--Prospect Hill in Belmont, and I absolutely hated it.  The year before, we were told about it at camp, and offered a sweep van up it.  This year, I had not heard a thing; maybe that meant they had changed the route.  Either way, I knew what to expect, and I was mentally prepared for it.

As we left camp, we felt like we were missing something.  We didn't have our matching shirts, and we didn't have our crew.  It was like we didn't know what to do with ourselves.  I felt like we were scattered.  You couldn't spot anyone without the big pink NB, but as soon as we started on the street a little before 7AM, our cheer unified us.  The thought that it was going to be another amazing day was only intensified by a sign that I saw just outside of camp.  Not only was it a motivational sign, but it was a sign designed specifically for the TWP's!  TRACY!!! You may remember that Tracy was red carded on Day 2 last year, and was not allowed to walk.  She was very upset by this, and wanted to show her support of me, so she went out at the crack of dawn and hung signs all along the route.  I think Tracy's decision to not walk this year was a difficult one, and she was experiencing feelings similar to those of last year.  Once again, Tracy lined the ENTIRE Day 2 route with motivational, funny, and sometimes inappropriate signs.  They really got us, and many others, through the day.

Our second day had started at a great pace.  We were feeling fabulous, and everyone even made it up that daunting hill.  I felt much better than last year.  I don't think I trained more, maybe I just knew what to expect this time.   Shortly after that we arrived at our first Grab & Go on the route.  Just then Kaitlyn asked if I had seen the tricked out TWP car that just drove by.  Oh crap!  I missed it.  What color was it?  Silver?  Of course--Tracy.  I called her up again (I had already thanked her at 7AM when we saw the first sign) and asked her to drive by us again so that we could all see the car.  She turned around, and came by again.  She had painted her side windows, and the on the back window were the words, "Tough Warrior Princesses."  Where was the camera crew when you needed them?  Our "Posse" appeared to be growing. 

We continued walking through Winchester, and about a mile from the second pit stop our amazing families were waiting once again.  They had actually set up their own mini cheering station.  There were outstanding signs indicating that, "Blisters are this weekend's fashion statement."  But for me, the best part was seeing Tracy.  I was so excited that she was there, but when I saw what she was wearing I almost cracked up.  Tracy had taken our TWP logo and added the word, "wannabe" below it.  She also took her daughter's favorite crown and added the princess to it.  She is the best!  Seeing her refueled my strength.

As the morning wore on, the temperature continually increased.  On our way in to lunch a thermometer at a bank said 93 degrees, but it felt hotter than that.  We seemed to be constantly walking up hill, and there was little shade.  The heat was taking its toll, and so were people's feet.

As we got in to lunch our amazing husbands had set up quite the spread for us.  In my opinion, the food this year at the 3Day was not great.  In past years it had been so good, but this year they hired a new catering company.  Luckily for us, we had a picnic spread with all sorts of fruit and even a blanket to sit on.  I'm sure other walkers were looking at us thinking, "Those damn TWP's again!"

For the brief time you are at lunch, it is important to take off your sneakers and give your feet a break.  Most people reapply moleskin and Vaseline, and change their socks.  It is important to just check your feet to make sure no blisters are forming.  Cheryl and Kaitlyn's feet were really bothering them.  Kaitlyn had already had her blisters taped up, and it didn't seem to help much.  It was during lunch that we first saw Cheryl's blisters.  Yikes!  She had two huge blisters on each of the balls of her feet.  When I say huge, I am talking at least 3 inches in diameter!  On the balls of her feet!  No wonder she was in so much pain!  The worst part of this was that Cheryl had trained harder than anyone else on the team.  Other than her feet, she was feeling fabulous.  She was determined to continue.  That is one thing about this team...we are full of strong, assertive, stubborn women!

Right before we were leaving lunch we received a message from one of the producers, Ben.  He planned to stop by to drop off a new Flip camera for us because one was not working.  He showed up with his adorable daughter minutes later.  It was so great to see him.  We were really missing the crew, and I dare think they were missing us as well.  After a brief visit, we were off again.

To me, the afternoon on Day 2 was the toughest part of the walk.  It continued to be uphill, and it was never-ending.  When they divide the 60 miles between the 3 days, Day 2 is always the longest.  If I remember correctly it was over 22 miles.  You may not realize it, but those 3-4 miles can make a huge difference.  As the afternoon continued, our team began to dwindle.  Cheryl's blisters became unbearable, as did Kaitlyn's.  Maurine had also walked much further than she should have considering that she had treatment scheduled for Monday.  We encouraged people to take sweep vans so that we would all be able to walk across that finish line together.  To me, that was what was truly important.  I think others agreed.

We made it back to camp, albeit short a few people.  Reunited with everyone, we immediately wanted to get our tents decorated.  Because of the rain the night before, we were not able to decorate Friday night.  We knew that we would win the contest.  We pulled out all of our materials and went to town.  We had crowns, flags, lanterns, our noodle princesses, and of course our incredible sign that so many of you signed.  That sign was going to win us tent decorating.  As we were busy at work, a fellow walker came by and asked us if we were trying to win tent decorating.  Of course was our response.  Then she hung her head and said she didn't know how to tell us this, but the tents had already been judged and her friend had won.  What!?!  No way!  Not fair, not fair, not fair!  She did say that we totally would have won.  Although we were feeling dejected, we continued to make our mark, by letting the 3Day know that the TWP's were here to stay!

 After we finished decorating, we took showers and went to dinner.  Dinner was chicken cacciatore, and was very dry--not too great; however, the entertainment at the tent was fabulous.  Jenne, who is the national spokesperson for the 3Day is AMAZING!  She is funny and caring, all rolled into one.  She just recently wrote a blog about "The Pink" and the Boston 3Day.  It is truly worth reading.  After the silly games that are played, my favorite part of the 3Day happens.  Youth Corps, 20 kids ages 10-16 stand up and speak about why they are part of the 3Day.  I've said it before, but these kids are something else.  They sacrifice 4 days of their lives, raise a ton of money, and work their tails off for something that many their age never even think of.  These are the kids that realize that life is precious.  They all have a story, a reason they are there, and their stories are always the most powerful.  No one wants to see a child affected by cancer, but each and every one of these 20 kids has had their lives changed forever because of it.  Some of the stories are uplifting and talk about survival, others are just the opposite and talk about the loss of a mother, grandmother, or aunt.  This was when Alexa and Dylan stood up and spoke about their moms.  They were phenomenal!  All of these kids are unbelievable, and there was not a dry eye in the place after they finished. 
While the 3Day is filled with lots of tears, it is also filled with so much laughter.  After Youth Corp spoke, it was time to lighten the mood again with a dance party.  Yup, you heard correctly.  After walking 40 miles, you get up and dance your butt off.  Believe it or not, it feels great.  It stretches your body, and makes you use muscles you haven't been using all weekend.  The TWP's were psyched.  We had been dancing the entire weekend.  We would dance at pit stops, along the route, anywhere there was music.  This was right up our alley.  We got out our Flips and were having a blast.  Sue was filming Patty and I dancing to FloRida--"Low."  If you've ever heard the song, you know that it says, "low, low, low, low."  Well, that's exactly what Patty and I were doing on our exhausted legs.  You can probably guess where this is going, and if you have read Patty's blog, you already know where this is going.  Unfortunately my legs decided to take that opportunity to stop working, and I fell flat on my tush!  It was hysterical.  Through my tears streaming down my face, I looked up to see Sue standing there with the Flip focused right on me.  Oh no!  It was captured on film, and I wasn't even drinking!  I then did what every TWP would do--got up, brushed myself off, and started dancing again.  I figured it would provide some entertainment for the editing crew.

As the dance party ended we decided to walk over to the Remembrance tent before going to bed.  There is a Remembrance tent in every city of the 3Day.  It is a white illuminated tent where walkers can write messages to loved ones who have lost their battle with cancer, or a place where you can write words of encouragement to fellow walkers.  We knew that this would be difficult for Patty, but we wanted to be there for her as a team.  We walked in together and it was completely still--a group of loud boisterous women had been moved to silence.  It was such a feeling.  It was here that Patty wrote about her mom, Tina wrote about her grandmother, and Maurine wrote about us.  Reading how Maurine hopes her team, the TWP's, will never have to walk in her memory just made me lose it.  Tears, laughter, now tears again. 

As we walked over to our tents, it was past "lights out" time, but that didn't matter to us.  We switched back to laughter again as we tried to get comfortable in our tiny tents when it was still at least 85 degrees out.  We all unzipped them and decided to go to sleep with our heads sticking out.  Cheryl had done it the night before, and it seemed like a good idea.  As Patty and I were laying there, we had another fit of the giggles when we were debating climbing out of the tents to cool off.  It seemed like it would take too much effort, so I suggested to Patty that she do a forward roll dismount off her 3 foot tall air mattress, and that was all it took.  Laughter erupted from the TWP's, and once again, I'm sure we probably aggravated somebody somewhere.

After about 20 minutes we finally settled in, only to be woken by the zip, zip, zip sound of all the tents as the rain once again started to fall.  Fortunately it was just a passing shower, and we were all able to get much rest before our final day.

Royally yours,

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Real Housewives of the 3Day: Day 1 Scene 2

Day 1 continued...

As we walked down the street and were scanned onto the route, we saw the rest of the film crew, or "Our Posse," as they became affectionately known to us.  I can't explain to you how much these people just intensified this whole experience.  They became our friends, and completed almost the entire journey right by our side.  They supported us, made us cry, cheered us on, and most of all, made us have fun.  They have truly become our friends and I miss them every day.

Once we got on to the route and a little further into Framingham, a still photographer from New Balance came along and wanted to do a team photo.  He pulled us off the route and to the only area of trees along this stretch.  I hope that the picture comes out well because it set us back at least 10 minutes.  The 3Day is not a race, it is a journey; however, you do want to get back early enough to set up your tents and still have time to enjoy yourself.

The beginning of the walk seemed very slow.  We jokingly harassed the film crew saying they were holding us back.  We had to get mics on, and we had to stop and do interviews every so often.  Jarrod, who was working one of the cameras walked backward almost the entire day, a feat I was definitely impressed with.  I have said before how difficult it was for me to film training walks with my Flip.  Then there was Dave, the sound guy.  He had on a huge pack with sound equipment, and he walked carrying the big boom.  We were definitely moving slowly, but it was all good.  The walk had barely started and we were already a spectacle!

I'm sure that many other walkers looked at us as that obnoxious NB team.  With our big pink NB's on our back and the 10 or so people with us all the time, I'm sure we were always in someone's way.  We also came up with the idea of counting off before we left every pit stop.  Each person was assigned a number so we knew that we were all present and accounted for.  I'm sure all of the other walkers loved that!   Then there were the times that we would talk with people who were up for the casting call.  You just felt terrible.  Here you are surrounded by this mass of equipment, unintentionally flaunting it in their faces.  As I looked around, I would continually say to myself, that I was doing this for a reason, other than my own fame!  LOL! 

Day 1 continued on without incident.  We made it to the first cheering station in Wellesley to be greeted by some of our favorite TWP supporters, Cheryl's family, Patty's dad--George, and my family.  In true 3Day style, my husband amazed me with his signs.  At this station, he had taken Zach's 6 foot tall Big Papi from his room and had him hold a sign which said, "SAVE SECOND BASE."  Only Andy would think to use Big Papi.  Unfortunately we were moving so slowly, they were pretty much the only ones there.

Just before lunch I found my family again.  This time it was my extended family.  There on the corner was Andy's brother Dave, his wife Cuch, their two kids--Matt, and Ali, and Cuch's mom--Ita.  I was so happy to see them, especially considering that Cuch has been wheelchair bound for umpteen weeks after having foot surgery.  I know how difficult it is for her to get around, and to come to see me, meant more than she knows.  I only wish I could have spent more time with them.  Fortunately for Andy, Ali was coming out to help with the kids for the weekend.

Lunch consisted of hanging out with the family and conducting more interviews.  The only problem was that there was starting to be a light sprinkle, nothing too heavy, just refreshing.  After lunch we walked through Newton and into Waltham.  When we hit the center of Waltham it really started to rain.  The staff at the 3Day hands out these obnoxious yellow rain ponchos whenever it starts to drizzle.  They look absolutely ridiculous and stick to your sweaty body, but they do keep you dry.  As we went to do one of our final interviews of the day, we were all wearing our ponchos with hoods up.  Paul, the director, looked at us and said, you just can't leave those hoods up, reiterating how attractive we must have looked.  Good thing there were no mirrors available.

At this point we had just a few miles left.  I was in Waltham, a city I know well because I used to work there.  I could tell Kaitlyn was excited too because this was her hometown, and she knew her family would be there cheering her on.  It was hard, because by the time we reached Yolanda's where Kaitlyn's family was, it was drizzling pretty steadily and everyone just wanted to get back to camp.  We were tired and it was an excessively long day.  It was great to see her family, especially her brother Jeff who was also a student of mine.  He just returned from the service, so seeing him was even more powerful.  Kaitlyn was able to spend a few minutes, then it was up the hill to Gann Academy--camp! 

We were taking it slowly because as I said, everyone was exhausted.  Camp was up a long hill and we were just beat.  I was so proud of everyone, especially Maurine and Theresa.  Maurine, in treatment again, was so upbeat and positive.  She was always making us laugh.  Whenever we asked how she felt, her response was always, "GREAT!"  which you knew could not be true.  And Theresa, 5 months pregnant.  Seriously?  You couldn't get me off of the couch at 5 months pregnant, never mind do anything physical.  Just think of what she will be able to say to her future son Leo when he is older.  Amazing. 

During all of our training as a team, we often spoke of coming up with a team cheer or song.  It never happened.  We always ended up getting side-tracked.  As the rain was coming down, and we were a half mile from camp, it finally came to us--our cheer!

"Who are we?  We are Tough!"
"What are we?  We are Warriors!"
"What else are we?  We are Princesses!"
"TWP!  TWP!  TWP!  TWP!  TWP!  TWP!"

Not too exciting, but it worked for us.  We rehearsed a few times to make sure we had it just right as we walked into camp.  As we came to the base of camp, there were Men with Heart, lining the entry way.  This all male team is always there, every day, rain or shine, cheering on the walkers.  We had done it.  We walked into camp, arm in arm, saying our cheer.  We were so proud of what we had done.  Just as we began to relish in our achievement, CJ looked at us and told us to do the same exact thing again at the top of the hill because that was where the cameras were.  Seriously?  This leads to one of the big jokes of the weekend.  You know how you watch TV and someone says something funny? Well little did you know that chances are the first time it was said, it was not picked up on the mic, and the person was asked to say it again.  Somehow, it just doesn't seem as funny the second time, but you have to laugh just as hard because it is on camera.  I can't tell you how many times we had to repeat things throughout the entire weekend.  Needless to say, we were more than happy to repeat this again.  We had made it through Day 1.

As we walked past the cameras we were just thrilled beyond compare, and then something happened that will stick with me forever.  Just as we let go of each other, Theresa burst into tears.  Theresa is always composed and refined, to see her so moved by what she had just done made me cry too.  It was one of the most memorable parts of the weekend.  We all just sat there hugging and sobbing.

After we wiped our tears and said good-bye to the crew until Day 3, we knew it was time to grab our gear and get our tents set up.  The weather appeared to be taking a turn for the worse, and it was crucial that we get situated before that.  No such luck.  We no sooner got our tents set up and began to blow up our air matresses, than it started to pour!  When I say that I laughed more during this walk than I ever had, this is where it starts.  For those of you who don't know, when you camp at the 3Day, you sleep in 7X7 hot pink tents.  They barely have enough room for two twin air matresses.  Normally you would sit outside your tent with your gear, put your air mattress inside, and blow it up.  Because of the rain, this was not possible.  Patty and I grabbed our gear and mattresses and quickly hopped in the tent.  We were sweaty and gross, but we had to close up the tent because of the driving rain.  I moved my luggage to her side of the tent and began to blow up my mattress.  It was definitely tight in there, and there were lots of giggles, but we did it.  Next was Patty's turn.  Patty wanted to be sure that she got a good night's sleep, so she purchased a double high, extra long air mattress.  When I said the tents were 7X7, I didn't tell you that there is barely enough room to sit up straight in them.  I knew this was not going to be good.  Patty started to blow up her mattress, and as it got bigger, it started to crush her, and she became trapped underneath.  When I tell you that it was hysterical, that is an understatement.  I felt like a little girl at summer camp, when you laugh so hard you feel like you are going to wet your pants.  Tina and Vicky kept asking what was going on because we couldn't control ourselves.  Finally I helped Patty escape but not without my mattress becoming victim to hundreds of little black pellets from the astro-turf. 

As the rain continued to pour down, we tried to decide what to do.  We really wanted to shower, but at this point we were starving.  We didn't get in to camp until after 4:30, and now it was a couple of hours later.  We opted for dinner then showers.  The unfortunate thing about the rain, is that it really put a damper on camp life that night.  There was no way that we could decorate our tents, and we were convinced that we were going to win.  Also, everyone was freezing, and we didn't really get the opportunity to relax; however, we did get over to the Bank of America tent to sit in the massage chairs.  They even had laptops available so that you could update your facebook status.  Wouldn't you know that when I got there the internet was down. 

On our way to bed, we picked up our mail.  Mail is such an important part of the 3Day.  I thank all of you who sent me letters.  It means so much, especially when it is pouring rain, and you are wondering why you have chosen to do this walk, yet again.  The inspiring words or simple "thank you's" make all the difference. 

At this point it was just about 9:00--lights out.  I put in my ear plugs, put on my eye mask, and tried to prepare myself for the day ahead.  

Next up, Day 2...

The Real Housewives of the 3Day: Day 1 Scene 1

In order for me to share the best of my 3Day with all of you, I have once again, broken it down into several parts.  Here is the first installment of The Real Housewives of the 3Day:
For me, the 3Day actually started on Thursday not Friday when I had to travel down to Framingham to participate in rehearsal for Opening Ceremonies, in which I was to be a flag bearer.  I had to be there at 3:45, so I decided to have lunch with former TWP, Sarah, who completed the walk with me in 2008.  We had an enjoyable time catching up and visiting with another friend from work, Carolyn.  At 3 o'clock I left to head over to Farm Pond where the ceremonies were being held.  Upon arriving I was shocked at how many people were there.  I knew that it was Crew Day, and there were a lot of crew, but I never expected to not be able to find a parking space.  After parking a good distance away, I followed the route over to the stage, reflecting on last year when I walked this same path during the middle of a nor'easter.  The weather was perfect on Thursday.  It was about 80, and there was a beautiful breeze.  I could only hope that the weekend would be just as perfect.

Arriving at the stage, I was greeted by other flag bearers.  They then separated us into groups, with me being placed in the Survivor Circle.  It was here that I met Dina, a young survivor from Andover.  Dina was the captain of Second Wind, another small team that raised a lot of money.  The funny thing is that I had heard of Dina because she and Patty had a mutual friend.  The eight of us women chatted and shared our 3Day experiences.  There were only 2 of these women who had never walked before.  After practicing with our flags, we were finished and were told we could be on our way.  On my way out, I gave a quick wave to Dylan and Alexa who were at Crew Day for Youth Corp.

As I got onto the Pike, I gave Kaitlyn a call to let her know that I was stuck in traffic.  I was on my way to pick her up, so that she could take the party bus with us to Opening Ceremonies.  Mind you, Kaitlyn lives in Waltham, about 20 minutes from Framingham, but she agreed to get up at 3:00AM, so she could be part of the team.  What a good sport!

I arrived at Kaitlyn's house, she said goodbye to her family, and we were on our way.  After we arrived home, we grabbed a quick salad, made sure that we had packed everything, relaxed for a few, and then went to bed a little later than we had expected--10:30.  Much too late when you are getting up before dawn.

Of course, I didn't sleep well.  Do you ever when you have some big event happening?  3AM, came much too quickly.  We threw our clothes on, and were just putting our sneakers on when Patty pulled into the driveway.  We grabbed our gear and were off to Cheryl's where the party bus was meeting us.

As we turned down Cheryl's long driveway, we saw several cars, the awesome party bus, and yep, the film crew!  They must have gotten there around 3!  Patty parked the car, and we headed over to the bus.  Immediately the cameras were on us.  It was blinding, the light was so bright.  As we got on to the bus, I knew this would be a weekend that I would never forget.  We started talking, laughing, and eating macaroons.  Paul, CJ, and Jarrod had become part of our team.  It was like the cameras were not even there.

We arrived in Framingham at O'Dark:30, which is 3Day time for Opening Ceremonies.  The sun was just coming up, and I knew it was going to be a good day.  Dylan was there to load up our gear, and Alexa was further down waiting for us, with beads in hand.  Something that you may not know about the 3Day, is that all along the route, supporters give out Mardi Gras beads, stickers, and pins.  You wear them, or place them on your lanyard, and by the end of the walk, you look like you belong in New Orleans.

As we walked over to Farm Pond, we stopped in at the tent which held the Opening Ceremonies flag.  It was a long piece of rope with hundreds of small strips hanging off of it, almost like miniature banners.  It was here that we waited as Patty wrote her mom's name down, and we wrote the names of those who are meaningful to us.  From there, we took a few photos and waited for our journey to begin.

Right before I had to go behind the stage for Opening Ceremonies, my friend Gail showed up.  Gail has seen me through all stages of my life in recent years.  During the 3Day she became affectionately known as the "macaroon lady" because she makes the best chocolate chip macaroons, and was kind enough to make some for the team.  Her parents reside in Framingham, and she decided to come over to see me, Theresa, and Gretchen off.  It meant the world to me to have her there.

While I was waiting back stage, who comes up with a pink swim noodle decorated with TWP all over it, but Tracy!  Seeing her there brought back all the memories of last year, the torrential rain, and all.  It was bittersweet.  I was thrilled that she was there, but so sad that she was not walking.  We spent a few minutes chatting, and then it was time for the Ceremonies to begin.

Being a flag bearer was indescribable, as was most of the walk this year.  I was given the "love" flag to carry and couldn't have been happier.  As I walked across the stage, and up to the Survivor Circle, I looked to my left, and there were all of my teammates, most of them with tears streaming down their faces.  Wow!  The feeling of admiration I have for these nine women just washed over me.  As I stood in the circle looking down at them, I just wanted to scream, "Thank you!  You have made me a better person, and have made the world a better place!"  I know it sounds corny and cliche, but to me it was so true.  When I walked off the stage, I headed onto the street to wait for my team.  Once again, there was Tracy waiting to cheer me on--a true friend.

I was thrilled when I saw my team dancing along the path leading up to where I was.  We immediately hugged and were on our way--3 days, 60 miles.

When we first started this journey, we made a conscious decision to walk as a team--no woman left behind.  We knew that this would often be challenging for us, but it was so important.  That was what made this year so powerful to me.  It is so rare to have 10 women get along so well, and support each other in every way possible.  That is exactly what we did.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Still Flying High

Just when I was starting to come down from the high of the pool party, UPS pulls up my street with a package from who, you ask?  New Balance of course!  It was our team t-shirts!  When I spoke with Nadesha at the party, she didn't think that we would be receiving them until Tuesday or Wednesday, so this was a pleasant surprise.  When I first found out that we were getting t-shirts instead of tanks, I was definitely disappointed; however, these shirts are ADORABLE!  They took the logo that I created, blew it up, and put it on the front of the shirt.  On the back of course there is a bright pink "NB."

These are definitely going to make our iron-ons on Day 2 look a little shabby.

In terms of this week, we have one more training walk to do tonight.  We are hoping to capture some more footage of us walking on the Flips.  It is really hard to tape while you walk though.  I'm sure they look at my taping and say, "Seriously?  Doesn't she know the difference between telephoto and wide angle?"  I am constantly zooming in when I should be zooming out.  Who knows if they will even use any of this footage, but it is fun to do.

Also, the New Balance crew has requested that we try to get fans at two specific cheering stations on the route.  The cameras will be rolling, and they would like to see lots of support for the TWP's.  As I said before they will only be filming us on Day 1 and Day 3.  Here is the info:

Friday, July 23rd
8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
St. Paul's Church
502 Washington St.
Wellesley MA 02482

* This is about 8 miles in to the walk, so I estimate that if you arrive by 9:00 you should be able to see us coming along.

Sunday, July 25th
8:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139

As far as our arrival time on Sunday, I can't really give you an estimate because I am not exactly sure of the route.

While we would obviously love for you all to attend one of these, there are also several other cheering stations along the way.  Just be sure to visit the Spectator Information page at the 3-Day website to find out more information about how you can support us.  If you decide to join us be sure to look for one of our family members so that you can show your support by wearing a Tough Warrior Princess pin.

If for some reason you can't make it in to cheer us on Friday or Saturday, you could always join us for Closing Ceremonies on Sunday at UMASS Boston.  If you have never attended Closing Ceremonies, it is surely something you should do at some point, just be sure to bring your tissues and arrive early.  If you get there early enough we might even be able to hang out with you for a bit. 

While we would love to have everyone come and join us, we understand that for some of you, that might not be possible.  We know that you will be there in spirit, cheering us on every mile of the way.  That spirit will help us to take that next step when our bodies feel like they can't go forward another inch.  It is your support that will help us get through every day, and we are thankful for that.

Royally yours,

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Real Deal

My phone rang at 9:00 yesterday morning.  It was Patty.  She said, "If you weren't intimidated before, you will be now."  What?  What was going on at her house?  She proceeded to tell me that her long winding driveway was filled with cars, at least 10 or so, and her garage was overflowing with technical equipment. There was also a large box truck whose supplies seemed to be endless.  If it wasn't already confirmed before, this was the real deal.

I arrived 15 minutes later to be greeted by the crew consisting of Paul the director, Steve who I believe is a producer, CJ, a writer,  Rachel and Ben who are producers, Nadesha from Marketing Drive who is the go-between for New Balance and Element, and several other sound, lighting, and camera crew.  After we signed our releases, Patty and I sat in her living room taking deep breaths and trying to stay cool.  We knew that they were interviewing us first, so we were looking forward to being able to relax, if only for a bit.

Patty's house looked amazing.  It was spotless from top to bottom, and her landscaping was gorgeous.  (I wouldn't expect anything less from Mike.)  As I looked out into the back yard, I saw what appeared to be a movie set.  There were two cameras, reflectors, coverings to provide shade, and lots of other technical stuff.  Yes, I was intimidated.  Steve came in and told us that he would be interviewing Patty and I together.  Yay!  That made us more more relaxed.  He said they enjoyed how we played off of each other.  He then looked at us and told us that our clothing needed to compliment one another.  I had on a red and white sundress, so Patty went upstairs and put on a brown one.  As she was doing that, they sent me to get my make-up done.  Wahoo!  Maria traveled up from NY that morning just to do make-up for us.  I was thrilled, but she told me that I would obviously not be made up too much as this was just a pool party.  I didn't care.  It had to look better than what I did.  After I was done, they sent me over to get my mic.  I had a small mic that was placed in the inside of my dress with a little battery pack attached to the back of my dress, just like you see on reality tv shows. 

When I was finished, it was Patty's turn.  While I was waiting for Patty, I chatted with the crew.  These people are AWESOME!  They are so friendly and make you feel very comfortable.  It didn't matter that they had head sets on one ear listening to feed as they talked to you.  They were far from intimidating.  We talked about where they lived, what I did for work, how many kids they had.  The most important thing was that they all understood that this was our pool party, and they were trying to be as unobtrusive as they could be.  They wanted us to have fun too. 

Around 10:30, Steve tells us that they are ready for us.  Patty and I head over to the middle of the yard where everything is set up, and take a seat.  Paul and CJ are interviewing us, which definitely makes us feel more relaxed.  They were the ones that conducted our on-camera interview in Boston.  It was going to be the same questions.  Hopefully we could provide even better answers.  As we were sitting there waiting to start, someone came out with a clapboard, you know the thing that directors use to say, "Action!"  Patty was hysterical.  We didn't expect that.  Obviously, we know nothing about film production.  Then the questions began.  I don't want to tell you them, but you can probably figure out what most of them were.  I wish I had a picture of them interviewing us, but everyone had to stay way back because of sound.  I guess the mics are super sensitive, and I almost blew out the sound tech's ears when I put my hand to my chest.  Oops!  They even stopped filming as a plane flew overhead. 

Our interview lasted almost an hour, and was much easier than we anticipated.  When we finished, we went inside to prepare some food while our husbands were interviewed.  They were not as fortunate as us.  They had to be interviewed individually.  Mike went first, and then Andy followed.  It seemed like it took forever.  When Andy came out his eyes were puffy.  I knew he had been crying.  Oh dear, what had they asked him?

Back in the kitchen while we were putting appetizers together, we had someone following us around with a camera.  All I could think of was my friend and sorority sister, Melissa, who won The Next Food Network Star last year, and now has her own show Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa D'Arabian.   I had a camera man watching me slicing tomatoes and washing basil.  When he asked me to slowly take the tomatoes out of the package I was like, seriously?  It was just too funny.

This same camera man moved outside to film the kids making signs.  I have to say that the kids were super.  They had to be very quiet during the interviews, and could not go swimming until all the individual interviews were over.  We all brought lots of supplies so the kids could go to town with their creativity, and they did.  The tables were filled with glitter, glue, markers, and stencils--a crafty kid's dream.  I think Maddie and Mia could have stayed there for hours if the pool wasn't calling their names.  Patty's daughter Katie got a little creative with some of the glitter letters.  Check out where she put the word princess.  Patty is such a good sport.    

While all of this was going on outside, Kaitlyn was being interviewed inside.  Kaitlyn was a student of mine years ago when I taught at Waltham High.  She is now 28, and after visiting me during the 3Day last year, she decided to join our team.  I have no idea what she was asked in her interview, but when they called me in to see her, she was crying, which of course made me cry.  I'm sure the crew was happy to catch that on film.

At about 1:00 the guests started arriving, and the crew took a break for lunch.  This was a scene in itself.  I didn't really think about it, but legally they have to provide a lunch break for everyone.  The crew suddenly vanished and we were free to do as we pleased.  Patty and I still had our mics, but that was it.  As I was socializing, Patty came over to me and told me to take a look out front.  The crew brought their own tables and chairs, and set up their own little banquet in the front yard.

After lunch the crew began setting up for a group interview.  They set us up in two rows, one behind the other, sitting on platforms.  It felt like the reunion show on Survivor.  I was happy that they decided to talk to us all together.  They wanted to spark a conversation, and they did.  The interview took about a half hour, and we laughed, spoke admirably about each other, and even shed some tears.  I think when it was completed, everyone felt much better about having the cameras with us during the walk.

After they completed our interview it was on to the kids.  I was in the garage getting some dessert, talking to Nadesha and Rachel when they said that they heard singing on their headsets.  Alexa--they were interviewing her.  She did a fabulous job, in true Alexa style.  I am continually amazed with the amount of confidence and poise this young woman has.  I never would have sat by myself in front of a camera at her age.  Heck, I didn't even want to be by myself in front of a camera now!

 When they finished interviewing Alexa, they asked us to gather a bunch of our kids for a group interview.  We pulled many of them out of the pool, put clothes on them, and sat them down on the ground.  Zach and Mia decided to participate; however Maddie was a little shy.  They asked the kids what it was like to have their mom's walking and how it affected their family.  I was never so proud of Zach when he explained who the Tough Warrior Princesses were, and what we did. He made me start to tear up when he said I was his hero.  It just doesn't get any better than that.

After the kids were done interviewing they had everyone come over and join them sitting on the ground.  They filmed us as we said a little cheer and that was it.  They took off our mics, and they started to pack up their gear.  Patty and I immediately changed into our swimsuits and headed into the pool.  As long as the cameras were off, I was going swimming.  Once we cooled off, we could finally relax.

It took almost an hour for the crew to pack up during which time we socialized and ate.  We were able to chat with Nadesha, CJ, Rachel, and Ben to find out more details about what the weekend was going to be like.  We found out that the four of them would be walking with us for some of the time.  Luckily for them, they have the luxury of getting into the truck to move from location to location if they need to.  We joked with them asking if we could get access to electricity to dry our hair and charge our phones. 

Overall, it was a fabulous day--something that I will never forget.  There was one part, that was especially great.  While we were hanging out, Nadesha and Rachel told us that all the stories they heard throughout this whole process were so moving, that they have both decided to walk in the 3Day next year!  That is what this film is about.  By inspiring these two women, all of this chaos has been completely worthwhile.

I am sure that I will be writing more as the week continues!

Royally yours,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's not Blue Suede Shoes, it's Pink Suede Sneakers!

First of all, one final thank you to everyone who came out and supported us at our Flatbread fundraiser.  If you haven't heard, the final tallies are in, and between pizzas and donations, we raised over $800!  I think that is pretty impressive.  Thanks to all of you, the Tough Warrior Princesses have surpassed the $40,000 mark and are quickly approaching $41,000!  There is still time to donate if you haven't done so yet.  Just click on the link to the side of this page.

As many of you know through my Facebook status updates, the New Balance chaos continues.  When Patty and I signed on for this, I think we thought that a camera crew would follow us around for three days.  If I had just talked to my brother-in-law who is a producer for ESPN, he would have informed me otherwise.  It is a MAJOR production!  Hours and hours of footage.  I think I first realized this when I received an email with an agenda for our pool party.  Agenda?  Seriously?  What about hanging around the pool with a cool refreshing beverage?  The director of the shoot is even coming up on Friday to map out the filming locations!  The party starts at 1:00, but poor Patty.  The crew arrives at 9AM!  As I shared the agenda with Andy, imagine his surprise when at 11:30 it says, "interview with Sherri's husband."  I thought he was going to faint. 

Yesterday, the first of the boxes arrived--Sneakers--the most important requirement for the 3Day!  As you all know, this has been the major concern for our team.  We all received different kinds of sneakers, some walking, some running, but the majority of them were pink.  Patty and I received top of the line ones--pink 993's.  They are different than anything I have ever worn.  We will be walking tonight to test them out.  Be sure to keep your fingers crossed.  (We've been doing a lot of that lately, and it seems to be working.)

While waiting for the second package to arrive, I have been busy making decorations for our tent and also making Tough Warrior Princess pins.  The pins are adorable.  It is our little princess made out of pink and black pipe cleaners and craft foam.  We are hoping to hand them out to people on the route.  As far as our tents, we expect them to be outstanding.  We'll be sure to take lots of pictures. 

Late today our clothing arrived.  It is really cute!  Some of us got capris, others got shorts.  The shorts are absolutely adorable.  They are black with a little hot pink embroidered pocket on the butt.  Patty tried hers on tonite and I made her turn around and filmed her butt on our Flip.  I'm sure they will like that footage.  There are also black jackets for some of us, and white ones for others.  The team t-shirts will be shipped next week with our socks and hats.  So far everyone is very happy with our attire.

Speaking of attire, Patty and I went for our first walk in our sneakers.  They really are VERY pink.  I don't know if it is that they are pink so much, as they are just very boxy which makes them look even more pink.  I have large feet to begin with, and I feel like they look ginormous.  We decided to take a short walk to try them out.  We were both pleasantly surprised as we started out.  Besides our focus being drawn to them constantly, they felt pretty good for the first 2 miles.  After that I started to run into a bit of trouble.  Some of you may remember that I had surgery on a neuroma on my left foot a few years ago.  For this reason, I need to be very particular with my sneakers.  Not far into mile 3, it started to bother me.  Now, it could be that I was wearing inserts, or that I just have to break the sneakers in.  I loosened my left one at the top near my toes, and it did start to feel better, but it was still sore.  Patty and I kept laughing and joking about the sneakers and were looking at everyone's expressions as we walked by, wondering what they were thinking.  As we headed up through town, we turned the corner by the fire station.  It was a beautiful evening and we greeted the firefighter sitting outside with a "hello."  You should have seen us when he responded, "Hey!  Nice sneakers!"  OMG!  I thought we were going to pee our pants.  Where was the Flip when you needed it?  It was too funny! 

So early tomorrow morning I will try my sneakers again, without inserts this time.  After that we meet with Paul, the director of the shoot.  He is headed to Patty's to plan the set up for Sunday.  The rest of the day will be spent getting last minute stuff for the walk.  I'll keep you posted.

Royally yours,

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Street Team Day!

I can't believe that the walk is in less than two weeks!  This past Saturday Patty, Cheryl, Alexa, Dylan, and I all journeyed into Waltham to be part of Street Team Day.  With the 3Day being such a large event, I believe there are over 1,500 walkers in Boston this year, there is so much preparation that goes into it.  Once the route is established, it is important for all the local businesses along the way to be informed that masses of people will be walking down their street.  Letters are sent out to them asking them to support us.  We were responsible for letting residents know about the walk, and asking them to support us in any way. 

We met at Panera in Waltham to receive our instructions.   Our packet contained a map, signs, tape, and hot pink cards to hand out to residents.  From there we drove to our starting location.  All I can say is that our section started in Arlington and continued through Winchester.  We parked the car and began walking the route.  We were assigned about 3.5 miles, so we figured we would stick together, paper the entire thing, and then walk back to the car.  We started early, around 8:30ish so we assumed that most residents would be asleep.  Not even a half mile into the route we passed a street sign saying, "Beverly Road."  Beverly was Patty's mother's name.   She passed away from breast cancer when Patty was just 22.  She was never able to meet Alexa and Katie.  I stopped everyone and told them that we had to take a picture to honor her.  After a few minutes of tear-filled eyes, we were on our way.

Along the way we did meet a few people and explained what we were doing.  There was one very kind woman who told us she would have some water, balloons, and signs waiting for us.  As I have said before, the communities that we walk through really make this walk what it is.  When you feel like you are just about to drop, you turn the corner and there are kids with lemonade, frozen grapes and chocolate, pink balloons, and upbeat music blaring.  That support just pushes your feet to keep taking one step after the other.  We could have used some of that support on Saturday as it was scorching hot.  We are used to doing the majority of our training in the cooler, early morning hours.  There were definitely some times when we were dragging.

The most inspiring part of the day was watching Alexa and Dylan.  These two kids are really something special.  They are both so confident in themselves, and are willing to take on any task given to them.  As we walked into Panera, they comfortably talked with volunteers that they had never met before.  They also thought nothing of walking up to someone's door and explaining what the 3Day is.  And, they walked all 7 miles without one complaint!  The fact that 2 teenagers did all of this is simply outstanding.  It is a real tribute to their parents.

After we finished papering, the 3.5 miles back seemed a lot longer than it was.  Patty, the crazy athletic nut that she is, decided that she would run ahead and get the car.  For the last mile of the walk we kept anticipating the navy blue mini-van coming around the next corner.  When she arrived, we all hopped into the car, cranked the air-conditioning, and headed back to Panera for some lunch.  After a delicious tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad, it was time for the journey home.  

Royally yours,

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

As many of you already know, the past two weeks have been very exciting for the Tough Warrior Princesses!  As I said in my last blog, both Patty and I submitted our stories to the New Balance casting call.  After the creative team reviewed them, they decided that they needed to know more information about this fabulous group of women.   I was given a phone number and a time to call in for my interview.  You all know how much I like to talk, especially about the 3Day, but for this I was really nervous.  I think I do much better face to face.  I don't think I could ever have a job where I had to make conference calls.  Plus, when I wrote my initial response to their questions, I wrote over two pages.  They knew my story.  What else was there to say?  Patty's interview was at 9:30 and I was scheduled to call in at 10:30.  Around 10:05 my phone rings and it is New Balance telling me that they are ready for my call.  I grab my notes, announce to my family that there should be no interruptions, and head to my room where I close the door behind me. 

When the phone is answered there are several people on the other line.  I was so nervous, I don't remember exactly how many, but I think it was around 6?  They all seemed very pleased with what Patty had told them, and they asked me to expand on a few things, like how we got our name.  I told them the story of how my cousin Kimm and her friend Suzanne came over shortly after I was diagnosed.  Suzanne had a shirt from her friend Jen who created the company Emotional Armor.  The shirt was black and in hot pink letters it said, "tough warrior princess."  That shirt said it all.  That was what I was.  It didn't matter that I had lost my breast. It didn't matter that I was going to be bald.  I was fighting a battle with cancer and I was going to win.  So when I first decided to do the 3Day, what better name was there for our team.  They also asked me to talk about each of the amazing women who will be joining me on this journey.  After a few more questions, they told me that they would be in touch with us.  I hung up the phone feeling confident with my conversation.

My conference call took place on a Tuesday.  On Thursday we each received phone calls from New Balance asking us to go to Element Productions on the following Tuesday to conduct an on-camera interview.  Seriously!?!  We never thought that we would make it this far. I immediately began to panic.  I had to lose weight, get my hair highlighted and figure out what I was going to wear.  I knew that at least I would be able to do 2 of those things, so I got on it.  Tuesday morning Patty had to work in Boston, so we agreed to meet at Element.  After trying on clothes for at least an hour, I chose a simple brown skirt, white t-shirt, and of course a pink linen jacket.  As I walked out of my air-conditioned house I thought I was going to melt, but I felt that I looked the best I was going to, so I went with it.

When Patty and I arrived, we were brought into a room with a camera, a large screen, and four chairs.  The chairs were in pairs and were facing each other--Patty and I on one side, the interviewers on the other.  It didn't seem too intimidating until they told us that the creative team would be behind the screen watching us on monitors and taking notes.  We were then outfitted with mics and sat down to wait.  Our interviewers told us that if we were chosen, today would be the most difficult part of the entire process.  As we sat there, they asked us to tell our stories again.  They had questions about what brought us together, and how we are different.  We just sat there and talked.  After a few moments we forgot that the camera was even there.  The interview lasted a little under an hour.  We actually enjoyed ourselves, and we thought that the creative team did too.  They told us that they had one more interview, and they would be in touch soon.  As Patty and I walked out, we thought we nailed it.  It seemed like everyone genuinely enjoyed themselves, and the people from New Balance and Element were moved by our story.  Now it was time to sit and wait again, with fingers crossed of course.

We hurried home and changed into our Tough Warrior Princess shirts to head up to Flatbread for our fundraiser that evening.  We are so fortunate to have a business in our community that offers such a fabulous fundraising opportunity.  The community came out in droves, despite the soaring temperatures.  We sold pink ribbons to honor those who have battled cancer.  We will be carrying these ribbons during our entire 60 miles.  The restaurant was packed, and some people had to wait a while to receive their order--the sign of a successful night.  We packed up at around 9:30, happy with the day.

The following morning I continually watched the clock.  Were they interviewing today, or did they complete it yesterday?  I felt in my heart that we would know that day.  I thought about what it would mean if we were chosen.  Would we have to wear all New Balance attire?  Sneakers too?  I love my sneakers, but they are not New Balance.  What does the rest of the team think of this?  Patty and I never even discussed it with each other when we submitted applications, never mind the rest of the team.  If we were selected it was going to change the entire walk.  Didn't I want everyone to experience the 3Day the way that I did?  I was so excited, but also slightly ambivalent.  That ambivalence didn't stop me from constantly checking my email and voicemail.

At around 3:00 I once again checked my email--nothing.  I was going back to the pool resigned to the fact that we probably didn't get chosen.  While swimming around my father says, "I think some of your friends are here."  Huh?  Who was stopping by?  I look up and see Patty, Cheryl, and Patty's daughter Katie getting out of the car.  OMG!  Did we get it?  OMG again!  Yes, we did!  Holy Cow!  I had to go inside and check out the email from NB.

I found out that they would be outfitting the entire team from head to toe.  As I said earlier, many of us don't generally wear NB sneakers which makes us nervous.  Walking 60 miles is one thing, but walking 60 miles in sneakers that you haven't broken in is another.  They have shipped us Flip cameras to film some of our training walks.  I also found out that they would be attending our team pool party at Patty's house.   They would like to film us making signs and preparing for our tent decorating, which we will DEFINITELY win this year.  I hope that NB will understand, but there is no way that I will be filmed in a bathing suit unless it is from the neck up.  They may also be meeting us at Cheryl's house on the morning of the walk.  We are all gathering there and taking a party bus to Framingham for Opening Ceremonies.  After reading all of the details it was still surreal to me.  I decided it was time to take a break from the computer and call some friends to share my news.  Of course one of the first people I called was Tracy.  She was absolutely thrilled for us.  She is a TWP at heart.

Later that afternoon I was still flying high.  I didn't think the day could get any better, then I checked my email again.  I had received a message from Meredith, the Field Coordinator for the Boston 3Day, and in it she asked if I would like to be a flag bearer in the Survivor Circle at Opening and Closing Ceremonies.  If you read my blog last year, you are aware that this is something that I have always wanted.  I was honored, but it was bittersweet.  All I have thought about this year is that I will have 3 amazing women by my side in the Survivor Circle.  Being a flag bearer means I will be with 7 other women up on a platform, not with my team; however, there was no way I could pass up this opportunity.  Of course I would be a flag bearer.

So the last few days have been filled with the craziness that goes along with being chosen.  Patty and I drove up to the New Balance Outlet to try on sneakers and apparel yesterday.  If we are going to be on camera, we have to look our best.  I have had numerous emails and phone calls with New Balance giving sizes, and discussing details about shipping.  New Balance has graciously offered to make us our team t-shirts!  We are absolutely thrilled!  One of our main concerns was that we did not want the Princess to get lost in all of this.

In the meantime, this weekend a few of us will be part of the 3Day Street Team where we go around to businesses along the route and ask them to place signs in their windows supporting the 3Day.  The exciting thing is that we get to see where we are walking.  Shhh!  We can't tell!  It is a secret!

I'm sure I will have lots to share over the next two weeks.  I have to say again, thank you to everyone for your support.  The Tough Warrior Princesses would not be where they are without all of you!  XO

Royally yours,

Monday, June 28, 2010

26 Days and Counting...

I can't believe it has been a month since I have last written.  Yesterday, when I had two people ask me when I was going to write another blog, I had to motivate myself.  Here goes.

Training has kicked in to high gear recently.  I was nervous about this because I had sprained my ankle a few weeks ago.  I was hanging new drapes, stepped off my couch, and rolled it.  Stupid, I know.  I had an aircast for a while, but now it is feeling much better; however, I was tentative about this weekend because it is the toughest of the entire training schedule.  Saturday we walked 18 miles!  Yes, I said 18.  Seven of us met at Patty's house at 6AM.  Kaitlyn lives too far away, Gretchen had soccer, and Maurine would possibly join us midway.  We walked to downtown Amesbury, up the Riverwalk, and all along the river to Vicky's house in Merrimac.  It was a beautiful walk because much of the road along the river is closed.  The views were delightful, and there was often a refreshing breeze.  We stopped at Vicky's, the halfway point, and had breakfast--lots of high protein food.  While there, Maurine called and said she would be joining us for some of the walk.  Speaking of Maurine, that woman absolutely amazes me.  After being diagnosed a second time, being part of a clinical trial with drugs she doesn't know much about, her mother's recent passing, and just the general crazy life that goes along with 2 adolescent boys, she ALWAYS manages to make people laugh.  Her upbeat personality is an inspiration to us all.  I am in awe of the fact that she is even attempting to do this walk.  I don't know if I could have while I was in treatment.  Fortunately, she was able to walk with us for a few miles.  Just as we turned up Rocky Hill Road we saw Gretchen, who was out on the second half of her walk.  With our crazy lives, we sometimes have to break up our longer walks because of our kids' commitments--soccer, baseball, dance, gymnastics.  Even though Gretchen was headed in the other direction, we grabbed her and forced her to come with us.  After a quick stop at DD, we finished up the last few miles.  It was really beginning to get hot, and we were happy to have the longest of our training walks completed.

While training, your body becomes used to walking almost every day.  Walking 10 miles feels like a piece of cake; however, 18 completely exhausts you.  Your body is in good enough shape to generally not feel too sore, but you are just physically tired.  I think almost the entire team napped at some point over the past two days.  These weekends can become very trying on our families and our husbands.  We are lucky to have such an amazing group of men that understand our commitment, and our need for sleep after these walks.

Sunday was another longer walk, 15 miles.  We were set to leave from my house at 6AM.  I had gone to bed early, around 9:00.  Unfortunately, something funky has been going on with my alarm clock and it never went off.  I awoke at 6:40 to see everyone's cars parked along my street.  I immediately called Patty and met up with the girls along the route.  I told them to call my house phone if it ever happened again.  They thought it was really funny and decided to take a picture of all of them waiting outside my house.  These are the women I walk with!

The second day of walking is always harder than the first.  It takes a good 2 miles before your body gets into that auto-pilot mode.  Everyone was feeling a little sore, but got over it relatively quickly.  Sunday's walk took us over the Chain Bridge, into Newburyport, along the river to Rolfe's Lane, and back along High Street.  It is one of my favorite walks.  I love the smell of the marsh early in the morning, and there is always lots of activity on High St.  A bonus is that there are no hills!  We made it back home and still had a good portion of the day to ourselves. 

In the early afternoon I decided to take a nap.  My girls had a sleep over the night before and were tired as well, so we all crashed.  After waking up I actually felt worse, and so did one of my girls.  It ended up that we both had fevers--not just little ones, but high ones!  Even though I felt awful, I was pleased to know that I could make it through those long walks when I wasn't 100%.  Today it is off to the doctor for both of us.  I have my fingers crossed.

So training isn't the only thing that has been going on for the 3-Day.  I have recently achieved my goal of $5000!  Yahoo!  The only thing that could be better would be if I could surpass the $5,600 I raised last year.  I am almost there with $5255.  There is still time to donate if you haven't already done so.  You can just click on the link to the right of this page.

Another exciting piece of news is that I made it through the preliminary round for a New Balance casting call where they will be doing a short documentary on someone's 3-Day experience.  Early last week I received an email from Komen explaining that a group of people were selected to participate if they chose to.  I went back and forth, but decided to tell my story.  I stayed up late Wednesday night, and ended up writing over 2 pages!  Once I got started I couldn't stop.  It was the first time that I had written everything down, and it was quite therapeutic.  The following day I received an email thanking me for sharing so openly and honestly.  The day after that, I received another email asking me to complete a phone interview on Tuesday morning.  The most exciting thing about this is that Patty received one too!  How awesome would it be if they profiled the Tough Warrior Princesses on our 3 day journey?  Way too cool!  I will be sure to keep all of you posted, and let you know how Tuesday goes.  Now that school is out, I should be able to write more. 

Another bit of information I would like to share is the address for the 3-Day Post Office.  While we are at camp, we can actually receive mail from our friends and family.  It is one of my favorite things about camp.  These messages do so much to motivate me and remind me of why I walk.  If you feel inclined to send a note, all you have to do is mail it to:
3-Day for the Cure
ATTN: Sherri Ziomek
P.O. Box 8557
Warwick, RI 02888
Envelopes only, please.  Mail must be postmarked no later than July 13th in order to ensure delivery at the Komen 3-Day for the Cure Camp Post Office.  I would love to hear from all of you.

Lastly, we have the information for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies this year.  We are starting at Farm Pond in Framingham again, and will be ending at UMASS Boston.  I am hoping that the route will be similar to last year.  The only thing I could do without would be that horrific hill on Day 2!  The information on the cheering stations should be coming out later this week or early next week.  I will keep you posted, but you can always check and go to the Spectator Information page. 

26 days and counting...

Royally yours,