I will say that this year's experience did not have the same intense "impact" that last year's walk had on me, but I think that's only natural. I knew what to expect, and what was coming. That's not to say it wasn't emotionally moving, or wonderful. Plus, I got to experience the intense joy through the eyes of my newfound, first-time walker friends.
It started out very similar to last year, dawn at Farm Pond in Framingham, MA. The opening ceremonies were meant to pump everyone up with energy and inspiration and they did. We filed out of the pens ready to take on the mileage. I had to laugh when a safety crew member told us at an intersection that we were "one mile in." Hee. Gee only 59 to go. It was however, a different story when the same man told us at the crosswalk just before lunch on day three, that we had walked 54 miles already!
That first morning I met Jean, a local woman originally from the Caribbean whose sister had the disease. She was funny. I lost her at the first pit stop though. Then I met a mother and daughter pair. They were really cool, but I lost them too.
Then I started chatting it up with The New Hampshire Rack Pack. Their motto?
"Save Second Base!"
It wasn't actually the whole team, just a few, all their first walk. These girls were so sweet. They "adopted" me, and throughout the course of the weekend we took care of each other, sharing Glide, ibuprofen, powder, hair scrunchis, and stories about how we got involved, kids, and lives. It was really, really neat having women I just met show such caring and affection.
For those of you not in Massachusetts, Friday, the weather was horrendous. I knew it was going to be hot, but it turned out worse than the forecasters had said: the temperature actually reached 100 degrees, and the humidity was awful. I drank bottle after bottle of water and Gatorade, and I made it to camp after 6:00 but I still felt awful. Most walkers did little but shower, eat dinner, and retire to tents. (Those who didn't take a bus back to camp or pass out and get an IV; they were watching episodes of The Office at the New Balance tent.) Then, the risk of thunderstorms became a reality. A crewmember woke us all as they walked up and down the rows of tents telling us we had to "evacuate" and move to the high school whose field we were inhabiting. Let me tell you that walk after over 21 miles done that day was a frikken killer, especially after being almost asleep. At least I managed to use a real toilet while I was there. Whee!