We were all feeling pretty good since NJ and so we planned to just enjoy this race and run it more for the experience instead of a specific time goal. We were going to treat it like an extra long training run. In the days leading up to the race I was pretty excited for it. I didn't feel any pressure and was looking forward to having a fun day with my friends.
The morning of the race I headed out at 5 am to meet Tami and Karen for the drive to the race. The day before my husband had purchased new wheels and tires for my car and had them installed. Well on the way to meet Tami and Karen I suddenly heard an awful noise coming from my car and it felt like I couldn't control it. I was on the highway at this time. I pulled off at the next exit to discover I had two rear flats! I just started crying...my race was ruined and I didn't understand what had happened with my car. I called Karen to tell her what happened but I'm surprised she understood me through my sobs. She immediately said "We're coming to get you! Don't worry!". I called my husband and he said to just go he would deal with the car. A few minutes later Karen and Tami pulled up and I felt better, I was still upset about the car but I was happy I could still go with them.
They both cheered me up on the ride with funny stories and race talk. We agreed again, we were taking this race slow and having fun. No repeats of our crazy pace at New Jersey. Once we got off the highway the drive to Lenox was so pretty. We arrived got our packets and waited for our friends who were running the half to arrive. Once everyone got there we all took a lot of pictures and headed for the start.
We started running a nice comfortable pace. It was already pretty hot but in the first few miles there were some shaded areas and the hills were not so bad. We ran into another runner from our area. She is a maniac and part of the only mother daughter marathon maniac team and we chatted with her for a while. The miles were going by really fast. We were having a great time running despite the heat. We stopped often at the water stops to refill our bottles but we were still running at a decent pace. In fact we were looking at a 4:30 or better time. Around mile 9 or so we started splitting up a bit, but we seemed to all catch back up to each other from time to time. I was still feeling really good and continued to feel good for most of the race. Around mile 18 the rolling hills ended and the hills started getting tougher. I still felt good but felt myself slowing a bit but I still felt like I was running strong.
Then we hit mile 20! This is where the real hills started! I have never run up hills like this before. For the next 6 miles it was all uphill and directly in the sun. The temperature was in the mid 80's and super humid at this point. It seemed like everyone on the course was doing a combination of run/walk at this point. Ocassionally things would flatten out a bit and I would try to run as fast as I could for as long as I could. I kept thinking the hills would end but they never did.
As tough as this part was I felt strong. It was just hard but I was well hydrated and I didn't have the cramping problems I had in NJ even though the conditions were a million times tougher. This part of the run was also beautiful, the views of the Berkshires were amazing. I tried to just enjoy my surroundings and hang in there.
As time went on I knew there was no way I was pulling off a 4:30 marathon and I was fine with that. Finishing this race was enough. Later we would find out that the winner finished in 3:05 which is much much slower than winning times at most marathons.
Eventually I hit mile 26 and the finish line was around the corner. I picked it up and as I approached the line I heard Joe and Mia cheering for me. Mia ran out and grabbed my hand ran through the finish line with me. I have never been prouder of finishing a race and having her with me made it so special.
After I finished I found out Tami had finished about 10 minutes before and Karen (our speed demon) about 25 minutes before. Tami was having some breathing issues and being checked by the medic. She turned out to be fine she just needed some water and to sit for a bit. Once she felt better we went to collect our medals- custom dog tags with our names engraved on them. They were so cool!
We then went on to enjoy the food and drinks for a while and we toasted with some chocolate milk that Karen had brought for us.
This was the hardest race I have ever run and I am so proud of finishing it. I'm even prouder to have done it with Tami and Karen. They are such strong women and I'm glad they are my running buddies!
Now it's time to rest a little!