Here we are--clueless--the night before the big Walk. We stayed at the Crown Royal in Natick, a stunningly beautiful (ok, not) hotel along route 9 that offered a nice buffet dinner for all of us walkers, who had, at this point, absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
Here we are back in our hotel rooms, acting a wee bit silly. Such anticipation we all felt that night! Good thing Ursula brought some wine to take the edge off...
This fluffy lovebug Blue Footed Boobie above was our mascot, our spiritual guide, our fearless leader. We kept calling it a HE but really would have preferred if what rolled off our tongues had been SHE. I called him BLUE. He came everywhere with us, quite a good sport about it all. So very glad I did not drop him down the porta pottie.
It poured the first morning. It was beyond dismal, but we were sporting our Energizer bunny ears, our yellow rain ponchos, and had slicked our feet with un-petroleum jelly, so we were doing okay. Here we are trying to make the most of it, waiting in line to use the BK flush toilets, flashing smiles...
Finally, after soaking us, then spitting on us, the skies cleared a little, and we found some respite and comfort in a team gathering at lunch.
Our day had begun at 4 that morning. Over 12 hours later, we strolled into camp, set up our tents, and heaved big sighs of relief.Here's camp! A beautiful pink tent city, covering three artificial turf fields, with stations of all kinds stretching out over parking lot pavement and beyond. Below, Ursula catches some down time before lights out at 9.
The light at dusk and dawn that washed over camp was so pretty. Here we are below, in a pair of team shots, in the early morning hours of day two, gearing up for our longest, toughest day yet. 22 miles?! We'd done 18, 19 even, but 22? The sun warmed the dew off the tops of our tents, and we set out. Go Boobies!!
We worked the pit stops and grab 'n gos, much like you might work the Fast Pass line at Disney World, quickly learning to be efficient, grab those bananas, bags of pretzels, fill up those water bottles, use the porta potties, and stretch, always stretch, while waiting for your teammates. Of course, since we were walking through suburban and urban areas, there were plenty of opportunities for unofficial pit stops, too, and the Boobies were awfully grateful for Starbucks, Peet's, and a host of other spots that provided flush toilets and shelter from the rain the first day, and air conditioning, coffee, and the chance to recharge my iPhone on the second two.
Here's a sampling of some of the guys that came out every day--all along the route--to cheer us on. Angie asked if she could grab a photo with the guy on his bike, above, who was one of the many crew members who formed the safety patrol. He was great about it, even granting Angie her wish to sit in the front. (I don't think he minded at all sitting in the back.) The Pink Angels were also an ever-present, creative, enthusiastic bunch, er, posse, and I couldn't resist getting my picture taken with them on Saturday, as we made our way through a nice park on our way to Lexington.
Day Three! Morning comes quickly; camp had been quiet the night before (weary campers, no doubt) but by morning, it erupted in activity and in anticipation of this final day, when we would have to take down our tents, pack up our gear, and put on our I love Boobies! team shirts.
Here's the starting gate, below, where eager walkers gathered at 6:30 to start the day. ON this final day, we were warned that if we were not out of camp by 7:45, the sag buses would take us to the lunch pit stop. I wondered how many people opted out of the first 12 or so miles. For many, it was the only option. For the Boobies, it was never an option. Lucky us.
Here's Mom, above, in her I love Boobies! tee shirt, Mardi Gras beads, and rain gear wrapped about the waist: just in case! Notice the lanyard in her left hand, route card in right that she's just about to put in the plastic case in the lanyard. The route card was our daily map, telling us how far we'd have to walk in between pit stops and grab n' gos, when the next cheering section would be coming up, and what camp schedule was like for the day: camp services, showers, dinner service, local entertainment, "Today at the 3Day Show," 3-Day Rock Star, Dance Party. The funniest thing on the back of the route card: instructions for those walkers who were Leaving Camp for the Night, with telephone numbers for local taxi services, and a pick-up location.
Walking into the city of Boston was wicked awesome! For a long while, we walked solo, at our own pace, staying focused, listening to our bodies. I was carrying the Courage banner, and kept forgetting to drink, my hands were so damn full. Blue hung up in my fanny pack most of the time, but I did take him out for some good photo-ops every now and then. By lunchtime, below, we all caught up to one another and enjoyed refueling for a bit before heading out again. Everywhere, but especially on this last lunch stop (actually, last stop period), there were some hilarious people who came to entertain us. I was impressed with and emboldened by all the good energy about. With just 3.2 miles to go, it was good to take with us some laughter in the belly.
Here, Ursula and Damon relax under a tree. Notice the red rash on Damon's legs--ouch! She was such a good girl, though, icing it at every stop. Love this t-shirt below. My sentiments exactly.
These two girls above were part of the Youth Corps, a group of kids who totally blew us away with their maturity, compassion, and all around great energy. I spoke to these two at length, and wanted to give them all big hugs, they were so endearing. Plus, I was missing my boys!
These Borat ladies from behind caught my eye (how could they not?!)...so I rushed over and asked someone to take my picture with them! Did not ask--but wanted to--what they had used to stuff sacks.
After lunch, we set off and found ourselves walking through the unexpectedly lovely neighborhoods of South Boston and Dorchester. Here I am with Blue, below, with the beach and ocean behind us. No dogs allowed, but Blue Footed Boobies? You betcha! (to steal a line from Sarah Palin)
1 mile to go before Holding (strange name for the finish! No wonder we felt a little like cattle.) I walked the final three with a great woman named Ann, a resident at Mass General in psychiatry. In the short 45 minutes or so that we talked, I felt like I had made a good friend.
Ann took this shot of me, above. Even suggested it for the cover of my book! Once we finished, we gave each other a big hug, and I turned right around to find the rest of my teammates on the route.
It felt great to cheer on the other walkers as they came closer to the finish. There was such relief on their faces, such a look of accomplishment mixed with the unmistakable strain of the 60 miles, the lack of sleep, the intensity of the experience. And then, through the steady stream of walkers, there they were! Angie, Ursula and Jeanne strolled into view and I rushed to greet them, walking with them into the stadium. I turned around again to look for my mother, and Angie came back to find me on the route, heading in the opposite direction. It wasn't too long before we saw her blue cap and big smile. So proud of her! If felt great to be able to walk the finish with her.
The finish was pretty uncrowded when we went through, above, but as the afternoon progressed, it started to really fill up with people, below. You can see the medical staff in red waiting to catch weary walkers in their arms. The med tent was brimming, the docs and nurses all busy, much like at the end of the Boston Marathon, and buses were bringing into the holding all the injured walkers, some having been Red carded the day before, and others having met their ends on the third day. Below, big crowds came out to cheer on the final walker, just before the Closing Ceremonies got underway. I felt very happy to be feeling so good, and to be in the company of such strong women! Well done, Boobies!!
An amazing and decidedly grand finale to our three days of fun. Emotion was in high gear at the Closing. Here, below, are the Survivors in our pink victory shirts, with a smattering of Crew about in blue-green, and other walkers in white. Big stage. Big sound system. Big message. Big show. Brilliant. Bawl!