Friday, August 2, 2013

2013 3-Day DAY ONE

As I rolled over to shut off the alarm at 4:45AM, all I heard was the pounding rain pelting the hotel window.  This was not going to be good.  I had to put on a brave face for my girls.  They had no idea what they were in for.  I, however, did.  It sucks to walk in the rain, especially pouring rain. I jumped out of bed with a smile, and woke the girls up.  After donning several layers, we were out the door and on our way to Farm Pond.

When we arrived, we dropped off our gear, and I signed the girls in.  At first M & M were resistant to wearing the yellow trashbag-like ponchos the 3-Day provides, but upon looking around, they realized very quickly that they were the way to go.  I found the rest of my team hanging out under a large tent. 
Connie and I waiting for Opening Ceremonies
They had gathered at 3:45 AM to travel down to Framingham by party bus, after being sent off by several Princesses.  That was always one of my favorite parts of the 3-Day, but I felt it was just too early for my girls.

It was freezing cold out, but in a way I almost think that was better.  I was wearing my TWP shirt, a light-weight sweatshirt, my jacket, and a poncho.  I also wore capris which I had never done before.  Because of the cooler temps we didn't have plastic ponchos or jackets sticking to us.  Plus with all the layers, I stayed pretty dry, even my feet.  I avoided puddles at all costs, even if it meant taking many extra steps.

At 6:30 I joined my fellow flagbearers on the stage.  This being the last year of the 3-Day, Komen did it right.  Many of participants on stage were long time 3-Dayers.  Sharyn from String of Pearls, Amanda from Team TuTa's and Kathy from Cup Crusaders among many others were all chosen to carry honor flags.  I can't imagine how much money all of these women have raised for Komen over the years.  If you add it all together, it has to be over $100,000.  In the survivor circle I was joined by 3 of my favorite Pink Angels, Josie, Cathy and Martha. 
Me, Cathy, Josie, Martha, and Sharyn before Opening
I was so excited when I saw them standing there.  That is one of the tough things about the survivor circle.  You are honored to be chosen, but it so difficult to not be with your team.  I couldn't have been more proud to stand among these ladies.  Each one of them has changed my life in some way.

After a crazy zumba warm-up session, Opening Ceremonies was on it's way.  This year some of the flagbearers said a few words about why they walk.  Listening to Dylan speak about carrying on his mother's legacy is something that I will never forget. From that moment on, I knew this was going to be one special 3-Day.

Standing up on the stage, I scanned the crowd looking for my TWP.  Even though there were only 900 walkers, it seemed like so many. There was no way I was going to find my team.  Then in the distance I saw one of our pool noodle princesses bobbing up and down.  Thanks to Cheryl, one of our walker stalker extraordinaires, I was able to be with my girls even across a sea of people.

Survivors and flagbearers lead the walkers onto to the route, so Dylan and I waited for the others to arrive.  The start of the route is always slow and becomes bottlenecked.  We didn't mind.  We wanted to try to stay together as much as we could.

As the morning continued, so did the rain.  It let up from pouring, to a light rain.  It was definitely bearable.  As they say, it was better than chemo.  We walked through Framingham, Natick, and into Wellesley.  In Wellesley center we found our awesome team of TWP walker stalkers.  Cheryl's car was tricked out with it's own giant crown.  You could spot it anywhere. 
At each pit stop I scanned the mass of people hoping to spot my girls.  When we arrived at Pit 2, I saw Robin, one of the YC leaders.  She informed me that several of the YC kids went to the laundromat to dry out some clothes, but that Maddie and Mia were fine and went on to work Grab & Go B. I couldn't wait to see them.  I was hoping that they were enjoying themselves, but with the rain, I just didn't know.

Two miles ahead we entered Grab and Go B only to be greeted by Jim and our walker stalkers.  All weekend long, we would see Jim along the route with his Mo sign.  She was everywhere we turned--in conversations with walkers, in Dylan and Tyler's smiles, and in Jim's heart.  She was just as much a rock star as she always was.  I can't tell you how many people came up to us and had a Mo story to share. 

It was at Grab B that I first saw my girls. They were filling up water bottles.  The rain had stopped, and they had smiles on their faces.  When I asked how it was, their response, "AWESOME!"  I was thrilled.  The best part was that as soon as they saw me, they both gave me a giant hug.  This is not unusual for Mia, but for Maddie to hug in public is a huge deal.  She is usually way too cool for that.  I knew that she was proud of what she was doing.

Shortly after, we traveled into Newton where we enjoyed each others company over lunch.  I usually don't eat much on the 3-Day, partly because I am snacking so much, but this year, I was famished by lunch.  The Panera turkey and cheese didn't even taste too bad.  Again, I got to see my girls meandering through the crowd carrying 2 gallon containers of Gatorade asking each walker if they would like a refill.  I didn't even know little Mia could lift 2 gallons!

After lunch we continued through Newton.  It was here that we came up with our quote of the weekend.  Those of you who know us, and know TWP well, realize that we try to make the most of every situation.  This is usually done by laughing, and even though I hate to admit it, sometimes by laughing at others.  Along the walk there are many places where you can purchase buttons to place on your lanyard. 
At many of these stops there are also bandaids, mole skin, hand sanitizer, deodorant, and the like.  Well, our dear friend Nichole felt as if she could be a little fresher smelling, so she opted for the spray deodorant.  As she began to spray, a large woman in some seriously hideous compression pants, snidely responded with, "May I make a suggestion?  You should really move away from everyone when you do that."  Yes, she was probably right, but her tone just rubbed us the wrong way.  Our response, "May we make a suggestion?  You really should not wear those pants in public."  Well, not really, but we were all thinking it inside.  Needless to say, "may I make a suggestion" became the quote of the weekend.

As we entered Waltham, we were greeted once again by our walker stalkers at the boat launch.  As we arrived, we met a young woman, her husband, and their two small children.  They were an adorable family with an interesting story.  When they arrived to cheer walkers on, they noticed our Tough Warrior Princess banner.  The mother, immediately came over and started talking to Cheryl and Patty.  She knew us and was extremely grateful for what we did.  You may remember that around the holidays Maurine had met a young woman at Dana Farber who was also battling breast cancer.  The family had fallen on hard times, and TWP decided to help provide an extra special Christmas.  Well, this was that woman and her family.  We knew this was no chance meeting.  Maurine had brought her to us so that we could meet.  Unfortunately, we had to be the ones to tell her that Mo had passed.

By mid-afternoon there were only about 5 miles left.  We were at that "I am done" point.  If you have ever participated in an activity for a long length of time, you know what I am talking about.  Everyone seems to get in the zone, and all conversation stops.  You just want to "get 'er done!"  It was here that we first started to appreciate "creepy stalker guy."
"Creepy Stalker Guy" is not so creepy at all.  He is actually Princess Melissa's husband, Sean.  Melissa had walked the 3-Day last year with a friend.  Like so many others, she, too, had conversations with Maurine, and was moved by her zest for life.  Earlier this spring, Melissa asked if she could join our team, thinking she would be walking with Mo.  She was heartbroken to hear that Mo had passed.  However, Melissa fit right in.  So did her husband.  Sean followed us along the ENTIRE route, every day, from start to finish.  He was nicknamed "creepy stalker guy" because every time we would turn a corner he was there.  He was often known to beep his horn and scare us to pieces. But, he also had everything that a 3-Dayer would need, from snacks, to chairs, to paper towels.  He was there as we took that last hill up toward Bentley College just in case someone needed some extra support.  Knowing he was there motivated all of us to move forward.  There was no way we were getting in that car.

As we walked into camp we received another sign from Mo.  Last year during the 3-Day Maurine made up her own words to Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me, Maybe.  Her words were "Cure Me, Baby!"  You could hear her singing it everywhere we went.  We always said TWP needed a theme song, and Mo was going to make it her mission to have this song be it.  Wouldn't you know that as we walked into camp that was the song that was playing.  Of course Mo was with us every step of the way.

After setting up the tents, and taking a quick shower, we headed to the dining tent.  On my way there I bumped into M & M who had just eaten dinner and picked up their mail.  Thanks so much to all of our friends and family who sent mail.  The girls received a TON!  They thought they would just be getting letters from me.  Boy were they wrong.  They were super excited and could not stop talking.  Mia told me I just had to have the mac and cheese, and Maddie told me that the "sweet treat" was delicious.  Seeing them as happy as they were, I felt okay that I had only seen them about a total of 15 minutes that day.

Dinner was the usual--pasta.  Mia was right, the mac and cheese was yummy.  The slide show was fabulous too.  Especially the first photo which was of Maddie and Mia, ponchos on, standing in the pouring rain, cheering walkers on.  As dinner ended and the camp show started we looked toward the pink sky and there was a double rainbow.   Yes, our friends above were with us and had blessed us with a beautiful day. 

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