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!

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