Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 3-Day DAY THREE!

Friday morning I awoke to an overcast misty morning.  We got up early knowing that we had to pack up and be ready to go by 7AM.  Packing in the rain is just no fun.  If you have ever camped, you know what I mean.  I tried to pack as much as I could while sitting in my tent so that things stayed dry.  I don't think my girls had that same idea.  Imagine my surprise when I set up our tent only to find the girls' air mattresses soaking wet and covered in black astro-turf pellets.  I am not joking when I tell you that after doing the 3-Day you will find these annoying little black pebbles for months!

Just before 7AM, CJ, his brother, and camera-guy Dylan, showed up.  To refresh your memory, CJ works for Just Live, a lifestyle and fitness apparel company that encourages people to seize the unlimited potential of each day.  TWP has partnered with Just Live, and CJ was filming us during the walk.  CJ was part of the crew that did our documentary, and has become a good friend since.  When he approached us about partnering with Just Live, we knew we just had to.  What is better than a Tough Warrior Princess who wants to just live and embrace all that life has to offer?  Well, as you read on, it will become very clear, as it did to CJ, that the TWP definitely seize the unlimited potential of each and every day.

We gathered just inside the chute for a quick photo op, and were on our way--all of us. 
As we exited camp, we were once again greeted by our stalkers who traveled from Amesbury early in the morning to cheer on each and every walker as they began their third and final day.  There were lots of hugs and cheers.  When starting on the route, we are walking on a very busy road.  For that reason, the 3-Day staff have us walk, single file, inside orange cones.  On each of these cones is stenciled "3 DAY" in black letters.  Well, we were extra rowdy this morning, and thought it might be funny to pick up a cone.  Gretchen took hold of one of the cones and continued walking.  We thought we might borrow it for a while, because stealing is illegal, and then maybe place it back somewhere else, like someone's basement, or a TWP event.  As we came upon a safety monitor, Gretchen decided to place the cone upon her head so as to not be seen--hidden in plain site.  We were prepared to be scolded. 
Luckily for us, he just rode on by.  We thought we might be on to something, so Allison decided to follow suit.  The two of them just plainly walked down Trapelo Road with cones on their heads while the TWP around them could not even stand up due to hysterical laughter.  Ahead we noticed a safety monitor, a different one.  You know how sometimes people try to be funny and light in what they say, but there is always a slight disgruntled undertone to it?  Well, this is how this woman was.  She was volunteering to help out, and I know it is awful to say, but she just rubbed some of us the wrong way.  Unfortunately, for us, she was the safety monitor ahead--Operation Connie Distraction was in full effect.  Connie went up to the "Princess" and obnoxiously danced with her while Melissa ran said cones over to Stalker Sean's car.  Mission successful!  Be sure to look for these cones at a TWP event near you!

As we left Waltham and continued into Watertown, Connie made it her mission that day to dance with EVERY police officer on route.  And she did!  Believe me, there are a ton!  One at every major intersection.  I loved this idea.  Most officers were great about it.  Some even waltzed in the middle of the street with her.  Others, not so much.  But in true Connie fashion, she warned them that if they did not dance with her, she would just bump and grind around them, and she did.  The best thing about this was that every officer who was approached smiled and laughed, even when they were reluctant to dance.  For a few moments, Connie made everyone forget about why we were here, and just made people laugh.  She is truly someone who embraces and appreciates life, and I love her for that!

On Day 3, as we always do, we savored every moment.  Maybe even more so this year.  We had conversations with those around us learning their reasons for walking. 
We continued to find every mode of transportation that Mo could have used for this walk including a shopping cart, which we so aptly put Dylan in.  We chatted with CJ as he walked with us, GoPro on his head.  We laughed hysterically, once again, when Dylan ate gummy bears after putting Icy Hot on and got it in his mouth!  We stopped and hugged our stalkers, re-reading the inspirational Mo signs that they had created.

 At one of the early pit stops, CJ interviewed me and Patty, and some of the other TWP.  Now, the TWP aren't the only people to cause trouble.  As CJ finished interviewing Alexa and Dylan, a 3-Day staff member comes over and starts talking to him.  I can see from the conversation that he is in trouble.  The staff member then picks up her phone and calls someone. We are assuming someone in authority.  The end result was not that they were going to throw CJ off the route, just that he was not allowed to film at the actual pit stop. Lucky for us!

After more interviews at the next stopping point, we entered Boston, my favorite part of the walk.  We were definitely taking it slowly.  As we walked into the Public Gardens, there was another 3-Day staff member there.  It seemed they were all over us today!  She told us that the pit stop after the Public Gardens was closing momentarily and if we chose to go on the Swan Boats, we would need to continue without support.  After careful consideration (we had our own support crew and we knew we could find bathrooms) we decided to go on the Swan Boats.  It was a tradition, and one of our favorite parts of the walk.  We held spots in line for the few people that needed to use the facilities at the pit stop just ahead.  We thought they would be right back.  We knew we were late because the Pink Angels and String of Pearls had just finished, but had no idea how far behind we really were.

As we waited in line, Connie's phone rang.  It was Tina who had gone ahead to the pit stop.  She warned us that they were busing everyone to lunch because the pit was closing.  Our TWP were heading back on the route to avoid the sweep.  She told us that if we didn't want to go directly to lunch, we needed to find another way out of the public gardens and back onto the route.  We said we would figure it out while we were on the boats.  Some of us were fine with sweeping.  We had done the walk before, but for others, this was a personal mission.  Walking 60 miles is no small feat.  Since we are of the "no Princess left behind" motto, we decided to go rogue.  Yes, you heard me right, we went rogue!  Fortunately for us, Kaitlyn (I mentioned her in my last blog) had joined us at the Swan Boats and was very familiar with the Downtown Crossing area, plus she knew the route from year's past.  As soon as our boat docked, we were off.  We knew we had to be fast and sneaky.  If anyone from the 3-Day saw us, they would pull us off the route and bring us to lunch. 

We briskly took a different exit out of the public gardens.  As we were leaving we could hear this vibrant live Spanish music.  It sounded like one heck of a party.  It kept getting louder and louder.  Then we stumbled upon the Puerto Rican Pride Festival--a huge parade through the streets of Boston.  There were masks, beautiful costumes, and dancers throughout the street directly in front of us.  The street that we needed to cross.  Anyone pick up where this is going?  There was no way to get back on the route unless we crossed the parade.  What would Mo do?  She would dance her way along the parade route to get to the other side.  So, that is exactly what we did.  It was like a scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  At one point a young man came up to Gretchen and attempted to put a giant mask on her head.  We were laughing so hard we could barely walk.

As we did the salsa across the street, we knew Mo was right there with us; however, there was still work to be done.  We needed to find our way back to the route, and quickly.  Our brisk pace had just about turned into a trot when my phone rang.  It was CJ asking where we were.  In our haste to get back on the route, we took off and lost the poor guy.  Maybe he didn't feel comfortable doing the salsa?  Anyway, I told him of our location, and he quickly joined us.

After a few minutes we found our way back onto the route.  Boy, were we relieved.  Now we were on our way to the Whiskey Priest to meet the rest of the team for a celebratory drink.  As we looked around, we realized that something was wrong.  There was nobody else on the route.  Not even Safety.  Were we that far behind?  I guess it would make sense if they had closed the route 20 minutes before.  We looked at our route cards for the closing time of the next pit stop.  If we didn't make it there on time, we were in the same situation.  They would bus us to lunch.  The stop closed at 1:25.  It was already 1:00, and we had 2 miles until we get there!  Remember this is Day 3!  Our bodies are exhausted at this point.  I am not crazy about walking 15 minute miles during training, never mind 12 minute ones.  We had to book it.  Unfortunately, this meant that the Whiskey Priest was out.

After almost 10 minutes, we had still not seen another walker.  I was starting to become nervous.  It appeared that the route had been shut down, and we were left to fend for ourselves in the blazing concrete jungle.  Then a knight in shining orange rides toward us on his bike.  His exact words: "Where the hell did you guys come from?"  Connie's response, "I had to spend some time with my people at the Puerto Rican Festival."  Mind you, Connie has blond hair, blue eyes, and not an inch of Spanish decent in her.  The safety monitor did not seem amused.  For the next mile or so, he followed slowly behind us.  This meant that we were the caboose!  How exciting!  I had always wanted to be the last walker.

We arrived at the next pit stop just around 1:30.  They appeared to be waiting for us, so I think they knew we were coming.  We did our business and were off again, on our way to lunch.  At this point we were able to walk a little slower, but it still seemed a bit rushed for my liking.  Especially on Day 3.

We walked into lunch being cheered on by our stalkers.  Finally, some time to rest.  The only problem was that the group that went ahead was still at the Whiskey Priest.  The route was now closed.  How were they going to get to lunch so we could all walk the last 3 miles together?  Two minutes later a magical sweep van shows up with our lovely, refreshed princesses.  They were able to enjoy a yummy lunch in an air conditioned restaurant and still meet us on time.  I have to admit, I was a bit jealous. 

Just as we were ready to embark on the last segment of our journey, Jeff Hollett asked us to join him in a Circle of Trust. If you check out my ABC's of 2011, Jeff is the "J."  Please do.  His story is very inspiring.  The short version is that Jeff was in the service for many years and at the end of every 3-Day he walks into Closing in pink camouflage fatigues.  He uses the Circle of Trust to change before the last few miles.  The first time we did this with Jeff we sang God Bless America, and it was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had.  This was one of Mo's favorite parts of the 3-Day and Jeff really wanted Dylan to be a part of it.  Once again, it did not disappoint. 

Immediately following, we gathered at the edge of the park to finish our journey together.  I really wanted our entire team to walk the last miles as a group, even those who were not walking this year.  It was the last 3-Day and we all needed to be together, especially to celebrate those we have lost; therefore, I invited all TWP past and present to join us.  Even though some people did not walk this year, they helped mold TWP into what we have become, and the 3-Day was the initial glue that bonded us together.  At first many of these women were apprehensive.  They didn't want to take away from those of us walking, but I strongly felt they should be there. 

The last 3 miles were what they always are--full of laughs, conversations, and songs--my favorite time of the 3-Day.  As we rounded the last bend, we were anticipating the emotion that was to take us over as we walked in, but we had to wait a bit longer.  Closing Ceremonies was moved to a new location, BC High.  They added additional mile to the route.  Ugh!

As we gathered the survivors up front to carry our sign, lead by Nichole and Dylan carrying the In Memory of Mo sign, we walked in.  I have to say it was a bit disappointing.  We usually walk in to a crowd full of people.  Unfortunately for us, and many of the other large teams who wait to walk into Holding together, the spectators were asked to head over the Closing Ceremonies site just moments before we entered.  I have to say, I was very frustrated.  The organizers of this event obviously know who these teams are and what we do.  There were several large groups of women and men that were just about to enter.  These groups were the ones who, hands down, have raised the most money for Komen over the years.  We were all anticipating the excitement of the remaining moments of our last 3-Day, and quite honestly, it was a bit of a let down.   

I quickly moved on from feeling sorry for us, and celebrated us.  I was once again able to stand hand-in-hand with my peeps in the survivor circle, those courageous women I am going to miss, especially when July comes along.  I looked out through the crowd overcome with emotion.  There in the back was my cousin Kimm, jumping up and down trying to get my attention.  She comes to Closing every year.  I don't know if she has any idea how much it truly means to me.  Then I scan the faces closer to the stage searching for my TWP.  There they are, Maurine in their hearts and tears in their eyes, just like me. 

Me and my girls after Closing ceremonies.

So, everyone has asked me if I will travel to another city for the 3-Day.  The answer, for now, is no.  Not next year.  There is talk that in 2015 many of us may reunite for a walk in Philly.  We will have to wait and see. 

I believe things happen for a reason.  I believe that the reason I developed cancer was to make me a better person, to bring so many beautiful people into my life, to make a difference.  Maybe the Boston 3-Day has ended because I am supposed to focus on TWP.  We are growing larger and stronger every day.  Check out Patty's blog to see all the cool things we have been up to.

So my journey for a cure will continue...until one is found.  Now my focus has moved from honoring Mo and Bridget, to honoring Emma.   In a few short days, I, along with many TWP, will walk in the Jimmy Fund Walk on the team Every Step for Emma.  We are hoping to raise $15,000 for Neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that affects the nervous system, and is most often found in children.  I know I have asked before, but I will ask again.  Please think about coming on my journey by donating today. 

Love to all!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I was hoping to get in touch with you about your blog. My wife is a cancer survivor and we were hoping you might be able to help us with something. Do you think you could email me when you get a chance? Thanks so much.


    cameronvsj@gmail. com