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.