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.
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!|
|We will walk until a cure is found!|
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|
|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.
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.
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 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.