Saturday, April 23, 2011

Spring has Sprung!

Like so many of you, I really enjoy this time of year.  Spring signifies re-birth, and that is truly the case with me.  It is during this time when I really kick my training into gear by walking several times a week.  I always feel like a healthier me.  I am getting up earlier, eating better, drinking more water, and getting fit.  Sometimes I enjoy the early morning solitude of walking by the farms as the fog hangs low in the field, cows staring as I walk by.  When I say it that way, it sounds kind of creepy, but it really isn't.  Then on the other hand, just as fun, is walking with a group of 10 women laughing and sharing stories of their escapades the evening before.  For this reason, I chose to become a 3-Day Training Walk Leader this year.

My first year I completed the walk, I didn't really participate in any of the Komen events.  Luckily, at the time, I didn't realize what I was missing.  I thought that I knew all I needed to know in order to have a successful event, and I did.  What I did not realize was that I was missing out on so much more--the friendships that blossom during that time.  I have said it before, but it takes a special kind of person to participate in the 3-Day.  I don't mean to sound boastful, or arrogant, but to take the time to train for hundreds of miles, and to raise thousands of dollars, this event has to be of significance to you.  When my friend Meredith runs her Get Started Meetings, she always tells a story about her brother and how he asked her what makes the 3-Day different from other events.  She replies that it is the "community of kindness" that the 3-Day creates.  What exactly is a "community of kindness?"  Simply said, it is bringing your best self to the event.  When you choose to walk 60 miles and raise $2,300, you are being your best self.  When you see someone sitting alone at dinner and you invite them over, you are being your best self.  When you are standing in a parking lot in 100 degree weather cheering your family on, you are being your best self.  When you volunteer to drive in to Boston, pick up your friend's luggage, schlep it a mile back to the car, walk back, and cheer them on as they proceed into Closing Ceremonies, you are being your best self.  Clearly, everyone who, in some way, participates in the 3-Day is bringing their best self.

So I decided to bring my best self and become a Training Walk Leader this year.  You may not think so, but this was a difficult decision for me.  I train with a group of women that really don't fit the training walk profile.  What I mean is that we didn't always follow the rules.  I know that might be a shock to some of you, but it is true.  We weren't blatant offenders, but could incur some minor infractions.  There would be the occasional cell phone conversation while walking, sometimes we would not stretch enough, Connie might not walk on the sidewalk, Connie could have us walking at a 5mph pace, and I believe there was one time when Connie did not bring water on a hot day.  So I guess that it really wasn't all of was just Connie!  JK--xo Connie!  Seriously though, the fact that we were so comfortable with the way we did things, and how we were with each other, I was nervous about including new people and new rules at the same time; however, I figured it was important, so I signed up.

If the TWPs were unhappy about me being a TWL, they didn't show it.  Nine of them signed up for my first official training walk two weeks ago.  I had mapped out a great five mile route around Amesbury which included everything that it needed to--a few hills, a stroll along the river, water, restrooms, and stretching.  I remembered the echoes of Pit Stop volunteers, "HYDRATE, URINATE, STRETCH, STRETCH, STRETCH!!!"  I tried to anticipate everything.  I had waiver forms waiting to be signed, and my cell phone was charged.  I had water, and my safety speech was ready to be recited.  The one thing I didn't anticipate was that even though it was technically Spring, and some flowers have started to sprout, it is still felt like winter in New England.  I was not expecting 25 degrees, with a zero degree windchill.

Sherri the Safety Monitor AKA...Safety Spice!
We arrived at our starting point, the Rail Trail in Amesbury, behind the Stop & Shop.  We all waited in cars for the last of the stragglers.  When everyone was almost there, we began our stretching.  As I am just about to finish, Michele G. shows up with a special present in honor of my first training walk--a reflective vest with the words, "Sherri--AKA Safety Spice" emblazoned on the front.  Yes, I had made it to the big leagues.  I was now one of the Spice Girls.  All I needed was a pink whistle.  Having that vest allowed me to play up the safety role and made for a more entertaining walk.  I was proud of the Princesses for walking despite the freezing temperatures.

Since then, the TWPs also participated in the 3-Day Kick-Off event.  When you sign up to do the 3-Day you have a choice of which training schedule to do--a 24 week one or a 16 week one.  My first year I did the 24 week one.  At the time, I hadn't been doing anything physical and was just a year out of treatment.  I thought I needed that much time to be prepared.  I walked more than I needed to and was very burned out by the time the actual walk came around.  Since then I have opted for the 16 week schedule.  So, the Kick-Off event is a day where participants gather together and celebrate the beginning of the 16 week training schedule.

The TWPs in full force!
Cheryl sporting her new toy!
We met at New Balance in Burlington where we planned to do the first of two 3 mile training walks. Believe me, the TWPs were going to represent!  We had about 20 of our 33 teammates there! After checking in, the store was open just to 3-Day participants, and we got a special 20% discount.  Many of us loaded up on t-shirts, flip flops, and some of us even got sneakers. At 8:00 we began the first of the two walks.  It was a leisurely pace with one stop on the way.  I don't think the TWPs knew what to do!  We rarely walk at a leisurely pace.  After getting back to the store, we shopped some more, ate munchkins and waited for raffles. Lucky Cheryl won a really cool pedometer/heart rate monitor. 
Jenna, Melanie, and Dana
Julie and Lisa
While we were there I thought it was a good time to grab some photos of our new TWPs.  I hope that as the season progresses you will get to know them as well as you did last year.  They are a great group of women who are adding a whole new dynamic to our group.  There will definitely be tons of laughs on this year's walk.  In addition, they have renewed my energy, and once again reminded me why I continue to walk.  What I love most about them is that they all want to be a part of the "team" that we have created.  While some of us stayed in Burlington to do a second 3 mile training walk, another group went out for breakfast.  I have to admit I was a little bit jealous when I received a text from Cheryl with a photo of them sitting around a large table with the caption "Our second training walk."  I'm glad they had the opportunity to hang out a bit.  It is all part of the journey.

Royally yours,

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