Friday, August 9, 2013

2013 3-Day DAY TWO

Saturday morning we awoke to sunny, but very brisk weather.  I remember being completely buried in my sleeping bag, head and all.  I never sleep well on the first night, and I think the cooler temps didn't help. I felt a chill all night long.

We quickly got dressed and walked over to grab some breakfast.  After several years, you know what to expect--eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, pastries, fruit, and a variety of cereals.  I enjoyed breakfast, but Maddie and Mia thought the eggs were too cheesy.

The plan was to be ready to go when the route opened at 7AM.  We always attempt to start when the route opens, but for some reason we never make it out on time.  As we are waiting to gather at the chute, wouldn't you know that "Cure Me, Baby" starts playing.  That silly Mo, she didn't want us to leave without her.

We wanted to start the day as a group, but shortly after we walked out of camp, we got split up.  Sometimes you get chatting and don't even realize that others behind you have stopped.  During the 3-Day we try to have our motto be, "No person left behind," but it can be challenging, especially with so many of us.  In the past we have had a buddy system, but we didn't this year.  People think we are crazy to try and have so many of us walk together, but to me that is what the 3-Day is about.  I say to people all the time, "It is a journey, not a race."  What good does it do you to rush back to camp if you miss out on all the laughs?

Honestly, I was completely dreading Day 2.  I just don't like it.  I am sure that I have said this in previous years.  Mostly because of Belmont Hill.  It just sucks.  Melissa prepared her husband Sean to be close by (most likely because I was whining about the hill the minute we started on the route).  Three miles in, we take a left hand turn, and there it is--one of the most daunting hills I have ever walked.  It really isn't that steep.  It is just long as hell.  You round the corner, thinking that you are done, and it just keeps going.  Melissa and I were going to do this together--slow and steady wins the race, right?  Sean's car would creep up the hill, always offering that supportive, yet annoying, BEEP!  Melissa was in front of me, and I could tell she was in the zone.  Her head was down and eyes were forward.  I told her Sean just drove by.  Her response, a simple thumbs up.  I knew she was good.  At the top you reach the water tower, and there is a spectacular view of Boston.  The next mile or two includes a cheering station (at which Maddie was kicking butt) and is downhill through some residential neighborhoods.  Honestly, that is really the only part of Day 2 that I like.
If you look closely, you can see the Boston skyline in the background.

At the second pit stop, we connected with the rest of our group. Now that we were together, we wanted to stay together as much as we could.  Here I found Mia happily pouring Gatorade for walkers.
She really seemed to be enjoying this new gig.  After a quick hello and a kiss, we were on our way again.  Next stop--Dunkin' Donuts!   On the 3-Day they boast that they give you Starbucks' coffee.  What they don't tell you is that it is instant coffee and they only put about 2 ounces of water in it.  In my opinion it is undrinkable; however, I think Starbucks is strong and can only get the froo-froo drinks when I am there.  I only drink one cup of coffee a day, but I was needing some caffeine.  So were the others.  So once again we stopped. 

The iced hazelnut did the trick and gave me the boost to continue my journey through Woburn.  Along the route, the sweep crew stopped and gave some of us water balloons.  I was so tempted to chuck one at Connie, but ended up getting so hot I broke it over me.  Plus, to be honest, I was a little afraid of the repercussions.  If you know Connie, you will understand!

Around mile 10 we reached Pit 3.  Just after this pit we walk around Horn Pond.   If you have never been there, I suggest you go.  It is a lovely paved trail around the pond.  The best part is that we can all walk abreast and talk.  Get it?  Abreast!  I crack myself up.   Just as we finished walking around the pond, we spotted our walker stalkers.
Some of our walker stalkers and team!
There were a ton of them there, and Cheryl's dog Sampson even had a TWP shirt on!  In addition, they also had a sign for our friend Sharyn and her team String of Pearls.
We will walk until a cure is found!
The best part was that they had a sign that said, "Every Step for Emma" which is the name of our Jimmy Fund team and is in honor of Tina's daughter who lost her battle to Neuroblastoma last August.  Once again, there was the motivation we needed to keep moving forward.

Another two miles down the heat oppressed road was our oasis--the TWP cheering station.  This is just before lunch, so many of us meet our families there, have them bring us yummy food, and then bypass lunch.  This year I have to give the HUGEST shout out to Kaitlyn, former TWP walker, and one of my all-time favorite students, for putting on the BEST TWP cheering station ever!
Me and Kaitlyn
Her mom and dad are awesome as well.  They had an EZ-up with relaxing chairs to sit in, 700 freeze pops, balloons, frozen Peppermint Patties, watermelon, water, and a dunk tank.  You name it, they had it.   It was so refreshing to hang with my family and regroup.  The roast beef sandwich with pickles was pretty awesome too.  I honestly didn't want to leave. As I was sitting there Connie comes running over to me with tears in her eyes. She and Jody were just talking about Emma and a dragonfly came right over and landed on Jody's hand, mid conversation.  We knew that Emma was right there with us and urging us to move forward. 
Leaving the TWP cheering station

I knew what the next few miles had in store--no shade and a slight incline.  I didn't want to do it.  I knew I could.  I was feeling fine.  I just didn't want to.  I felt like a little kid trying to assert myself for the first time.  I was stomping my feet and refusing to go.  I guess I was arguing with myself, because there was no one stopping me from getting in Andy's car and driving down the road a few.  So I turned to Sandy, my partner-in-crime, and said, "What if we have Andy take us a few miles down the road to the next Grab and Go, that way we don't need to walk that horrible stretch?"  I didn't need to twist her arm.  She was in.  So walked a bit before our knight in a blue mini-van came to our rescue to carry us up the road two miles.  It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  Both of my girls were at the Grab and Go, and I got to really see them in action.  Their hair looked different than it had earlier.  (The older girls would try new styles on them.)  They were giggling and laughing, and were all smiles.  Maddie was starting cheers and Mia was right there too.  I was so proud of them.
Youth Corps leading cheers

During the second half of this day, our walker stalkers wanted to make sure that we knew Mo was with us.  Every so often there would be a "Mo says..." sign.  These signs were sometimes inspirational and sometimes funny.  Either way, they made us feel that Mo was with us every step of the way.

From here we had 6 miles left. On a training walk, 6 miles takes about an hour and a half, maybe a touch longer, depending on your pace.  We knew we were taking our time, but we never expected 6 miles to take 3 hours!  However, I have never laughed so hard as I did during those 6 miles.

As we entered Lexington Center we saw Orange Leaf.  Hello!  Of course we had to stop.  OL has the best fro-yo ever.  Just about the entire team went.  We took up almost all of the chairs and actually had difficulty leaving because the A/C was so grand.  This was Alexa's second ice cream of the day.  She just had one about a mile up the road.  Oh, to be 17 again and have ice cream twice in one day.

From there we continued through Lexington walking by some baseball fields.  At this point we were all punch drunk.  You know the feeling, where anything can make you laugh uncontrollably?  Even the smallest or dumbest of things.  In addition we had been hydrating plenty, and there was not a bathroom for 2 more miles.  You get where I am going with this.  The giggles could very easily turn into something ugly.

When you are walking on the 3-Day it is not uncommon to walk by someone's house and just see food or drinks left on the sidewalk for walkers to enjoy.  As walkers, we don't think anything of grabbing random food from people we do not know.  This is just what we do.  As we came closer to the baseball field, we saw some guys practicing and noticed something on the sidewalk.  It appeared to be a large bucket of pretzel rods.  An essential item of the 3-Day buffet.  All of a sudden, the coach swooped in and grabbed them off the sidewalk.  It was as if he knew we were vultures and had been eating our way through every mile.  It struck us all as hysterical the way he clutched the bucket and quickly walked away.  I'm sure he didn't see the humor in it, but we could not stop laughing for at least half a mile.

After that, we ran into a couple members of String of Pearls, Sharyn's team.  We had gone on a training walk with Andrea and Brandy, so we had already started developing a relationship with them.  Connie was chatting with Andrea and telling her our pretzel story; meanwhile, Alexa was walking with them.  Andrea starting telling them how everyone "calls you the gorgeous one."  As she says this, she is looking toward both Connie and Alexa.  She then turns to Connie and says, "Not you, her."  Anyone who has seen Alexa knows they were talking about her.  She is 17 and absolutely beautiful.  Connie, however, took advantage of this situation. I thought she was going to fall on the ground she started laughing so hard.  Poor Andrea, she had not meant it to come out the way it did.  Nor did she realize who she was talking to.  Connie can turn anything into a laughable moment. 

The next few miles were filled with more giggles and lots of,"Stop it! I am going to pee my pants!"  On the last part of Day 2 you walk up yet another hill and through some residential areas of Waltham.  We knew that creepy stalker guy was right by our side, so we decided to forgo our fanny packs.  Totally rebellious, I know.  We threw them in the car, strapped them in, and let them sweep up the hill to camp.

We were coming to the area where there is an annual house party. The owners hang outside and offer free beer and food to walkers.  Every year, I have bypassed this house.  This being the last year, we figured, why not?  So after the ice coffee, ice cream, and other 3-Day munchies, we added a beer to the list.  We actually split one.  With a mile left, I just don't think I could have consumed a whole one. 

On the next corner, we happened to spot a police officer on a bicycle.  You have never seen a group of women so excited.  Why, you might ask?  If you have ever seen our video Walk Like a Princess Maurine says that "next year I'm going to do this walk on a bicycle."  Since then, we have taken every opportunity to take a photo of Mo on a bike.  In honor of Mo, Gretchen wore a different shirt each day with a photo and a Mo-ism.  On Day 2 she had a photo of Maurine on a police motorcycle with the above quotation on her back.  Of course we had to ask the officer if we could please borrow his bike, no we were not going to steal it, to take a photo.  After hearing our story, how could he not.

This bike moment created ideas for the rest of the walk, continuing on to Day 3.  Every time we saw some mode of transportation, as quirky as it may be, we said Mo's phrase..."Next year I am going to do this walk on a dolly, or a wheelbarrow,  or a Vesper."  This continued down the hill toward camp, but became especially funny when we saw a young man mowing his lawn.  The funny part was not the lawnmower, but what the young man was wearing.  The jury is still out on his age.  Some think he was a teenager, others think he might be in his early twenties.  Either way, no guy should be wearing Tinkerbell pajamas that are so small they look like capris.  Again the hysterical laughter ensued.

As we were just recovering from our Tinkerbell experience we came upon another Mo sign.  Just dance.  Mo's love for dancing clearly exhibited her love of life.  So when the sign says "just dance" that's what we did.  Albeit not very well after 40 miles.

After the last mile that took over an hour, we edged our way toward camp.  At this point, it was almost 6 o'clock!  Standing right outside were our ever-supportive stalkers waiting to cheer us on into camp.  Beside them was Jim, Maurine's husband, who stood there thanking every walker as they entered camp.  He stayed there until the last walker entered.  It hurt my heart so much to see him standing there, but I knew he just had to do it.

After a quick shower, we made a beeline for dinner to secure seats for the camp show.   This being the last Boston 3-Day, family and friends were invited into camp on Saturday night.  Many people were up in arms about this, but to me I was thrilled.  We could have all our TWP and supporters together to honor Mo.  Before visiting the remembrance tent, we enjoyed some of the camp show.  On this night  the Youth Corps stands up and reads a piece of their essay that they wrote on why they want to participate.  I had hoped to include video of this, but for some reason Mia's wouldn't upload, and having twins, I couldn't post one without the other. This year they had all former YC members join on stage. 
It was very impressive to see all of these kids and young adults who have themselves made a difference.  Since YC started 10 years ago, they have raised over $200,000.  These are just kids!  Absolutely unbelievable!  Some of the speeches are very emotional and some are even heart-wrenching.  This year, there were 4 kids on YC who had lost a parent.  Once again, my girlies impressed me when they stood on stage and spoke.  Mia, being the smallest kid on Youth Corps was the first to speak, and she did an awesome job.  Maddie went a few people later, and did just as well.  They said they weren't even nervous.  I know I would have been. 

After the speakers were over, all of us gathered at the remembrance tent.  It was so moving to look at each person that Maurine had touched in some special way.  We waited for a quiet moment and all went in together.  To look around at the photos of women who had lost their battle has always been difficult, but this year was beyond painful.  To see the pearls hanging from Bridget's picture, a photo of her with a giant smile frolicking in her wedding gown, just broke my heart.  I couldn't help but think of her husband Alex and their life together that was much too short.  Then I looked at Maurine's picture.  It was a gorgeous photo that I took of her holding the Healing flag during one of our 3-Days together.  Looking around at all of us there, many of us with tears, some writing notes to Mo, and others holding tight to one another, Maurine's photo couldn't have been more appropriate.  She was helping all of us to heal. 

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