PITTSFIELD -- Christina Barrett is one of those people who believes that if life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

Barrett, 31, the director of Marketing and Student Recruiting at Berkshire Community College, had been training for several months to run her first marathon in New York City.

The Pittsfield resident was excited. Her friends and family were excited.

Then, of course, fate intervened, in the form of Hurricane Sandy. The marathon was canceled. Large parts of New York City are still without power.

So Barrett did what, in her mind, was the next best thing. She ran a 26.2-mile marathon on Sunday anyway. By herself. Here, in Berkshire County.

"This year, I decided to run a marathon," she said. "I trained for it, planned for it, I was going to do it. We had hotel reservations, everything. And then, obviously, I couldn't. At least not in New York."

"She said she was going to run a marathon on Nov. 4, and she did it," said her friend, Holly Kresiak. "We're very proud of her."

Kresiak and two other friends, Pete and Christine Hoyt, were at the faux "finish line" at Herberg Middle School. Christine Hoyt and Kresiak strung a piece of purple ribbon across the sidewalk so that Barrett could break it.

The two also wore T-shirts that read, "Run Barrett Run". Christine's husband, Pete Hoyt, held up a sign that read "Beer + wings ahead."

"We were with her from about mile nine," said Christine Hoyt. She added there were a few Barrett supporters scattered along the course; about a half-dozen in all, who followed her along the route. The course ran from Barrett's apartment in Pittsfield south into Richmond and then into West Stockbridge and then back north to the Herberg parking lot. She finished in five hours, five minutes.

Christine Hoyt said that Barrett laid out a much tougher, hillier course than she would have run in New York City.

"She didn't do herself any favors," said Hoyt.

"They were great," said Barrett of her friends. "They encouraged me when I was running the hills."

This was Barrett's first marathon, although she had run two 20-mile courses previously.

"I was a little scared," she said after the run. "I wasn't sure it could do it. But I feel good. A little tired, but good. I'm starving. I could really use some wings."
She credited her boyfriend, Nick Grizey of Pittsfield, for encouraging her and giving her the confidence to continue. Grizey monitored Barrett throughout the run via her cell phone, kept the media informed of her progress and ran the last four miles with Barrett.

"He was great," she said, her voice halting with emotion. "He was always positive. When the race was canceled, he said, ‘Don't worry, We'll figure out a way to do this.' He was a trooper. And when I was running today, he was always very positive."

After she broke the tape, Barrett hugged and kissed Grizey and accepted congratulations from her small group of friends in attendance.

"I learned about myself today," she said. "I might do another marathon, but maybe not one next time with as much glitz and glamor. New York would have been cool, But getting there and getting to the starting line would have been such a hassle. I'll maybe start out with a smaller one."

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
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On Twitter: @DerekGentile