Thursday, July 28, 2011

EXTREME 3-DAY 2011--Day 2

Believe it or not, the majority of us woke up at 5AM chilled.  We all left our tents open and were just sleeping with sheets--no sleeping bags this year.  Personally, I didn't sleep great, but what can you expect.  We quickly got dressed and put the fly and tarp over our tent.  It looked like we might get a quick shower, but we figured it was going to be so hot, everything would dry quickly.  They planned to open the route earlier than usual, at 6AM, because the temps were expected to soar once again.  After a yummy meal of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown, and banana, we were on our way again.  We arrived at the gate just a little after six, but the route still wasn't open.  Someone said that the ice vendor would not arrive early, and they were fearful that people would arrive at Pit 1, and there would be no ice.  At 6:20 the route was opened and we were on our way.

Every day on the walk we start together, but you've heard me talk about our kamikaze walkers with Connie being the leader.  Well Connie had a partner in crime this day--little Miss Allison.  For those of you who do not know Allison, she is one of the children's librarians in our town.  She also can't be more than 5 feet tall.  We used to joke that it was one step for Connie and two for Allison.  Well, that day, Allison led the pack and arrived back at camp at number 140 out of 2000.

Taking a break waiting for the route to re-open.
What started as a much cooler morning with a slight breeze, began to turn ugly at about mile 3 or 4.  There was one portion of the route where we had to walk up the street a bit, use a crosswalk, then double back on the other side of the street.  When we turned around, the sky was an ominous charcoal gray.  Oh no!  I thought there would be no rain this year.  Then began the rumbles of thunder.  The wind was blowing, and it just felt like a storm.  As we trekked up the "hill that never ends" (you've heard me mention in previous years) it began to sprinkle.  Then the sprinkle turned to a light rain.  Then came the lightning.  Yep--extreme 3-Day!  As a child, I was terrified of thunder and lightning.  I'm over that now, but believe me, the last place I wanted to be was under a bunch of trees, next to a body of water in Winchester.  Seriously?  Being familiar with the route I knew that there was a pit stop ahead.  As we pulled in, we put on our lovely pink ponchos, that Jody had so generously purchased for everyone, and were getting ready to refuel when they looked at us and told us that the route was closed due to lightning. It was me, Nichole, and Dana, and we sat down under a porch and waited.  We found out later in the day that those in front of us were never pulled off the route, they just kept walking, and those behind us were pulled into Arlington High School for a bit.  Unfortunately, that made the gap between all of us even larger.  I knew we wouldn't be able to be together the entire day, but I was missing the rest of my team.

After about 20-30 minutes, the route re-opened.  Ponchos came off and the sun started to try to peak through.  We began walking with Wayne from the Pink Angels.  The Pink Angels, if you don't already know, is the largest team in the Boston 3-Day.  They are simply amazing.  Since their creation, they have raised over 1.5 million dollars!  Very impressive!  Josie, one of their captains, has also been a huge support to the TWPs in our endeavor to become a 501c3, and personally has offered much guidance in how to lead a large team.  Thanks Josie!  Love you!  But, back to Wayne.  Since I have walked, Wayne has always been a member of the Pink Angel Posse.  He always dressed in a pink gown with big angel wings.  You will see the posse everywhere along the route, and they are always wearing something to make us laugh.  This year, Wayne was walking.  His wife is a 14 year survivor, and he had the honor of carrying the "My Wife" flag during Opening and Closing.  It was so interesting to talk with someone who is such a wealth of 3-Day knowledge and is just so passionate about finding a cure.  It was one of my favorite parts of the day.

From Winchester, we headed into Woburn where the TWP cheering station was.  I had decided to hang there and eat lunch with AZ and the kids.  It was motivating to see all of our families there.  The signs were outstanding.  McCue the Florist was super supportive, and even moved stuff around for us.  They provided watermelon, and others brought orange slices, freeze pops, squirt bottles, signs, dunking stations, and we even had photo ops with Big Papi!  My mom provided a camp chair with an awning so I took a few to sit back and relax.  I loved hearing the walkers go by saying, "We love the TWPs!"  "Those girls are the best!"  It really made me feel good.

From there, we bypassed lunch and continued on the route.  It was here that we ran into Dana's husband and her three gorgeous girls.  Every time we turned around, they were there.  And each time her husband had painted something new on the mini-van.  It just cracked us up.  This continued for the remainder of Day 2.  Her girls showed up at a pit stop with face paint, and were even allowed just inside the shoot as we were headed into camp.  What a special moment that was for Dana.

If you have been a reader of my blog, you know my friend Tracy--the woman who has been my rock for the last 5 years.  She's the one who did all crazy stuff for me while I was in treatment, and she also made the outstanding signs that lined the route on Day 2 of last year's walk.  Well, once again, Tracy came to cheer me on!  As I was walking into Lexington center I see this woman walking toward me.  Mind you, I don't have my glasses on, so to me she is just some random woman.  Then I realize my dear friend has returned to the 3-Day to walk with me for a few miles.  I am so disappointed I didn't get a picture of us.  Tracy missed us at the TWP cheering station and decided to walk up and down the route looking for us.  Before she met up with me, she had walked with both Kaitlyn and Patty.  All in all she ended up walking about 3 or 4 miles in a skirt and flip flops.  The funny thing was that she ended up with a blister!  In all her miles of training years ago, she never got one!  Must be those sassy silver sandals.  Seeing her just brightened my day and gave me the strength to keep plugging.  I keep hoping that one day she will walk with me again.  No pressure Trace!

Dana, Nichole, and Sherri with the Minute Men.
After saying good-bye to Tracy, we realized it was starting to get very hot again.  It was around 2:00, and the sun was now blazing.  Where was that lovely cloud cover we had earlier in the day?  I would even take the showers sans lightning.  We knew we only had 5 or 6 miles left, and that we could do it.  As we passed through the Lexington cheering station, we were greeted by the Minute Men.  Of course we had to stop and take a photo.

We arrived at Pit 5, 2 miles outside of camp at 2:55 when we heard rumors of the route closing again.  Hell, no!  I am not getting on another bus when I only have 2 miles left.  I asked one of the crew what was going on, and they said that if you were not back on the route by 3:00, you would be transported back to camp.  My response, "Gatorade, please."  And off we went.

At this point, we were done--not actually, but we were ready to be.  All that was left was a medium-sized hill.  No prob.  We would be back before the buses came in.  No shower lines for us.

As I said earlier, we were greeted by Dana's family as we entered camp.  In addition to them, was a member of the Event Staff who said we could not shower until 5:00 or so, and that they would prefer we did not go into our tents.  I just said that I needed to get my flip-flops.  "Okay," was his response.  How could he argue with a woman who just walked 21 miles?  Here is where I got a bit sneaky.  Having done this walk for years, I understand my body, and know how it reacts to these conditions.  I knew I had consumed enough food and Gatorade that I would be fine in the shower, but how could I argue with staff?  People were standing guard at various entrance points to the tents.  All of a sudden, I saw my break.  One staff member walked over to talk to another, and immediately I started zig-zagging through tents, sneakily making my way to the showers.  Not very "Safety Spice" like, but I just couldn't wait to get clean.

We had all agreed that we would sit together at the dining tent on Saturday night.  What the majority of the team did not not realize was that the reason we wanted to do this was because our fearless teammate, Maurine, was chosen out of 2000 people to be the camp show speaker.  Plus, the Saturday night camp show should be experienced as a team.

We didn't need to wait for the show to start, Connie was our entertainment--not just that night, but all weekend long.  I think of anyone on the team, this weekend affected her the most.  To see someone who is always laughing and joking around be turned to tears, really makes an impact on those around.  At this point Connie proceeded to call the good Dr. over to introduce the TWPs to her.  This year, Komen has a new National Spokesperson for the 3-Day for the Cure.  While many of us miss Jenne, Dr. Sheri did a fabulous job.  Connie called her to our table and made sure she knew who we were.  Dr. Sheri said that she had seen our video, and that it was outstanding.  She said  that they gave the youtube link out at some Komen media thing.  I don't know the exact details.  What a great feeling to know that the TWPs are known outside of Boston.

The camp show started with the Bank of America money booth--one of those blow up booths where the money blows everywhere, and you try to get as much as you can in a certain time.  There were two people that were chosen, and wouldn't you know that one of them was Maurine's son Dylan who was participating in Youth Corp once again.  Dylan and another young woman were able to grab almost $250 dollars which Bank of America doubled and donated to the Komen Massachusetts Affiliate.  It was an exciting start to the evening. 

Following that was Maurine's speech.  I really have no words to describe it.  Maurine is simply one of a kind.  She made everyone understand the poignancy of this walk while inspiring, motivating, and laughing along the way.  She had the perfect combination of seriousness and comedy.  I heard someone say after that they didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  It felt like you were just having a conversation with her. If you have not seen it yet, please take the time to view it.  You won't regret it. Her closing had such an impact on a young woman, Samantha, that she took a photo from her 3-Day adventure and embedded Maurine's words into it.   I was thrilled to receive an email from Samantha and immediately forwarded it to the rest of the team.  We now all have it as our profile picture on Facebook in honor of Maurine.  Our hope is that Samantha will decide to join us as a TWP next year in Boston.

After that, Youth Corp stood up and told the crowd why they raise money and volunteer their time to the 3-Day.  These kids are wise beyond their years, and have such a maturity about them.  I guess when faced with cancer, they have to.  It is uplifting to see kids realizing that they too can make a difference, yet sad too, because they want to do this when they should just be kids.  Our team is lucky enough to have 3 kids on Youth Corp.  This was Alexa's second and final year.  Next year she will be old enough to walk with us.  This was Maurine's other son, Tyler's, first year.  Of all the Youth Corp, Dylio, as he has been affectionately named, was the last to speak.  At this point, all the walkers knew who he was.  He had already done the money booth, and was on stage when his mom gave her speech.  Let me tell you--like mother, like son.  He just commanded that stage.  He was absolutely adorable. 

When the camp show ended, we decided to walk over to the Remembrance Tent.  Last year when we went, it was so emotional for all of us.  This year was no different.  In the tent there are photos of walkers that had passed over this past year.  They were such beautiful women.  The most disturbing part was that many of them were younger than me.  In the past I have written about those times when I feel so vulnerable--when I feel like I may not know it, but my cancer could still be wreaking havoc on my body.  This was one of those times.  Why am I here, and they are not?  I think about years down the road.  Will my picture be in this tent?  Then in the next moment I look at those around me and think, "No, it won't.  We will find a cure."  As I walked out of the tent, I saw my friend Mara, a fellow survivor.  Just one year ago, after turning 40, she walked for her best friend, only to be diagnosed herself after completing the walk.  I can't even begin to imagine the emotions running through her.  One year later, and she is here.  I don't think I will ever forget that hug we shared that night.  On the 3-Day you laugh and have loads of fun, but the Remembrance Tent is what it is all about.

1 comment:

  1. The 2nd day was a hard one, but myself and Poppy made it in before they closed the route! Sounds like we could have walked with Connie and Alison :)
    (this is dkiss02 if you didn't know - I blog anon as Mommakiss!)