My First 26.2: The Buffalo Marathon

Relax and finish with a smile.

Pre-race Smile

Those words don’t look like the most inspiring mantra or set of goals, but they were the ones that got me through the Buffalo Marathon.

Pre-Race

I left Friday morning from Ithaca and headed to Buffalo with a small stop to see my mom at her boutique and to eat lunch at Wegmans on the way. I got to the hotel around 3PM and checked into a room I would be sharing with three other women I did not know. I have not mentioned this before, but I qualified for the elite section of the race with my half marathon time of 1:20:37. This meant that I got a hotel room free of charge and a special tent after the race with food and massages.

SHVP Hotel meet-up

After checking into the hotel, I met up with Carrie and Jay who are on my Strong Hearts Vegan Power team. Carrie and I went to the expo so I could pick up my number and walk around. I don’t usually get to enjoy the expo as much as I want because most races for me are quick due to work obligations.

Expo with Carrie

We walked around to the different booths but one stood out; the Nut Butter table. Because it was about 4:30 when we got there and things were wrapping up, the nut butter guy told us to take as many samples as we wanted…and then proceeded to open my expo bag and give me around 100 single serve almond butter packets. This was a good omen 🙂

Expo number pose

We went back to the hotel and Carrie and Jay decided to go out for dinner. They invited me, but because I’ve had a pretty clean diet the past few months and I didn’t know what was in the food, I opted to sit out and keep resting. I had brought my own food and knew it would be right for me.

Flat Runner

Around 9 my roommate still had not arrived…so I went to bed. I fell asleep sort of and was awoken around 10 by two women opening the door. They were so sweet and apologetic about being so late and waking me up. It was quite funny, because I had given up on roommates and thought I got a free room to myself! The total time I had to share was only about 6 hours!!

Race-Day

I woke up around 5 and ate some food and chatted with the two other women while getting ready. They were running the half marathon and were master’s elite runners. They did not look old enough to be masters at all!

Pre-Race Selfie

The race started at 6:30, so I dropped off my bag, pinned on my number and attempted a quick warm up, but I was already pretty warm. The temperature for the race was starting at 65 and climbing. I made it up to the front of the race, listened to the National Anthem and we were off.

I started out the race staying with the 3:00 pacer. Three hours was my goal and concerning the hot weather, I did not want to go out too fast. After the first two miles, the pacer stopped at a water station and I kept moving and didn’t see him again. My early splits were in the 6:25-6:35 range and I was feeling pretty good. I kept holding myself back and remembered something Tina told me about waiting to race until the last 6 miles.

Buffalo News Picture

It started to get pretty hot, but the community of Buffalo really stepped up. Tons of houses turned on their sprinklers and hoses and sprayed us as we went by. It felt so good! The volunteers had cold towels and ice in addition to Gatorade, water and gels at the aid stations. Because I did not practice nutrition very much at all, I made up/asked Julie what I should do. I decided that because liquid calories have always worked better for me, I would take Gatorade at EVERY SINGLE AID STATION. Yes, I do train fasted mostly, but racing a marathon is different. I did not wait to be hungry or thirsty, it was not worth it.

I felt good until about 20 miles. Then the pain came. I still kept relatively the same splits, but it was so much harder. I just repeated my mantra “Relax” “Finish with a smile” and kept plugging along. When I passed the 24 mile mark, it was the farthest I had ever run. I thought I was going to get emotional there…but I was in pain so I didn’t really take in the moment.

Post Race Full Body Picture

I finished my first marathon with a time of 2:53:55, 3rd overall female and 14th place overall.

Post-Race with Baily

My friend Bailey who I have run with and lives in Ithaca too got SECOND! It was quite a show for the Ithaca running community.

Post-Race getting a check

Afterwards I couldn’t stop smiling. I was interviewed for the Buffalo news (and you can read it HERE!!!!) and just tried to take it all in. It was actually really nice weather when I wasn’t running in it.

Post-Race Check

I got a check for $800 (a months rent and a meal whoop whoop!) and crossed an item off my running bucket list.

The rest of the day I spent eating, resting and watching Disney Channel Original movies.

Post-race Thoughts

Honestly, I don’t know why or how, but I feel different. It’s very strange. I don’t know what happened or why, but something has changed inside me. Maybe I feel more confident. Maybe I just finally feel at peace with some part of myself I had been wanting to explore. I’m not sure.

I had a huge headache the whole afternoon after the race. Seriously it hurt so bad. I believe it was electrolyte imbalance of some sort and also…I just finished a marathon duh. Something to keep in mind next time.

A sub-3 first marathon? Check out my first 26.2 experience here! #runnerbliss @buffalomarathon #RunTheBuff Click To Tweet

Future?

At least a week, most likely 2 of no running. I wanted to wait until after my race to think about the future, so I have no plans right now. Get into a yoga practice hopefully to restore my legs. Maybe work on my push-ups/pull-ups like my SHVP team. Honestly, I need a mental break from running. Not from all movement, but definitely from running.

Oh, and I’m happy to be back to eating all the vegan foods. This made my Sunday night <3

Post-Race Ice cream

I want to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU! To everyone who helped me on this journey. From friends like Julie, Bailey, Lesley, Melissa, Natalie, Katie, Sydney and Lisa to mentors like Ian, Tina and Tawnee, everyone of you helped me run this race.

Thank you to the companies that have supported me: BalegaPlant Fusion, Beyond Meat, Philosophie Superfoods, B Happy Peanut Butter, and Finger Lakes Running Co

I am overcome with gratitude. You all mean so much to me.

Now, ONWARD!

For another perspective, I found this article at RW UK: 10 Things I Learned In My Final Sub-3 Marathon Attempt

Oh HEY, 26.2

Hey everyone!

I’m just checking in on this lovely Memorial Day to say hello! I had a little race over the weekend and so this Week In Review is coming at you in an exhausted, elated and respectful state.

Respectful because I relearned what it means to be a newbie this weekend. I found once again a respect for a distance I had not yet run and a new respect for anyone who attempts it. Not only is it amazing for the fast people up front, but also for the people who spent over 5 hours in the 85 degree heat that was the Buffalo marathon.

I want to thank all the people who encouraged and helped me get there and all the people who congratulated me afterwards. You all have a special place in my heart.

Right now, I cannot think outside of watching Disney Channel Original Movies (on Disney Channel all weekend, you’re welcome) so I will catch up with you all tomorrow.

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For more race fun and to see results:

Follow me on Snapchat: E11ePe11

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Head over to Meg’s link-up today for more Week In Reviews!

Final Marathon Thoughts

This will be my last post before my race on Sunday. In order to not go completely insane, it think a mind dump is in order here.

I’ve learned so much in the past six months and wrote about it here.

That’s not what I want to talk about today. Today I just want to bare it all.

To be honest, I’m not as anxious as I predicted I would be. I get anxiety a lot actually, but I’m good at holding it in and coping. I know what to do when I get anxiety. As of right now, I only feel one thing:

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Excitement.

I just want to get out there and run!

My runs this week have felt fine. Nothing good or bad. I think that is a sign that I want to race. I want to run 26.2 miles in one go, cross the finish line and smile.

I have a time goal, sure. But I think what I keep remembering is that this is my first marathon. I am not putting as much pressure on myself as I used to. I feel relaxed about this. I know I am only 24, and have many running years left. Nothing rests on this.

I also have decided that it’s ok if I do not like this race and choose not to do another one. It is ok if I decide that my favorite distance is something shorter (or longer and slower). I have freed myself from needing to be a marathoner. I can be a one and done person.

My plans for this race are to enter the pain cave, but manage it. My friend and SHVP teammate said this of the marathon:

“It’s like, the longest distance where you have to go fast.”

I agree with this. I will have to push for 26.2 miles and hope it doesn’t go to shit. There are a lot of opportunities for it go to hell. There will be low points, high points and mental battles. I know I can physically run the distance and I feel confident and mentally strong. However, that does not guarantee success. I will have to race longer than I ever have before.

Shit show or not, it will be epic.

I have fears (not practicing nutrition enough), doubts (why am I entering the elite field again?) and just general worries (what if I get lost?). But what keeps me from going down those rabbit holes is the confidence I have in what the past 6 months have showed me and the wise words from my running mentors about my chances.

I’m not going for any other reason than to finish 26.2 miles with a smile.

Let’s talk post race. I’m already getting emails from fast women in my community about XC season or other races. I have decided to put all those thoughts on the back burner.

I am not ready to think about after the race. Regardless of how it goes, I am taking a 1-2 week break from exercise and my pretty good nutrition plan. Even if I end up only jogging or don’t feel tired, I need this mental break. I have been focused on this goal for 6 months (plus all the base building beforehand). I tuned my diet in, I slept as much as I could, I prioritized recovery, I ran hard. I need the time off.

Then and only during those weeks after will I even think about what’s next. I will not entertain too much thinking about this or commit to anything before I am done with the goal at hand. Running will be there after the two weeks.

So that’s what I’ve got today guys. That’s it. I’m ready. I’m going to do it.

What do you think about 3 days before a race? Read my pre-marathon mind dump here! #vegan #runner #marathon Click To Tweet

No questions. Thanks for reading!

The Seasons of my “Diet”

If you eat, you have a diet. I’ve long stopped seeing the word diet as a way to lose or gain weight. I feel the need to preface this post with that.

What I’ve noticed in the past two years of my running and blogging life is that the only factor that has stayed constant in my eating is being vegan.

I’ve often felt the allure of being in a vegan camp (cult?). How neat is it to have a little tribe of people eating the same way, sharing recipes and believing they have some secret to well being and happiness that everyone else is too dumb or weak to use? I am completely guilty of this even if I’ve never said it out loud.

I remember going raw for a month and loving it. The new recipes! The people telling me how amazing I was! It was an adrenaline rush I’d never experienced. Honestly, it felt good. I didn’t find going raw hard or annoying. It was just something I was trying.

I remember being in the high carb, low fat camp and again getting pulled into that mindset. There were others like me who were on the same high. It felt good to be labeled in this way. I liked the label. It was almost as if being vegan wasn’t enough. I wanted to be vegan. It wasn’t good enough to not eat animal products, I had to also be fruitarian, organic, carbing the fuck up or whatever those people say.

Then I started eating more nuts, avocados and coconut oils (because they sounded good and I was tired of the high carb community and their dogma) and suddenly I wanted to be some fat adapted person. I was again falling into the labeling camp even though the reason I stopped the other one was because I hated it.

I don’t think I went overboard this time with a label. I never claimed to be ketogenic or denounce carbs, but in my mind I was eating a slew more fats, so I basically was fat adapted right?

Now I find myself enjoying more fruits again and raw nuts etc. Oh my God what label can I be now?

Well guys, I don’t have an answer, because I don’t want one.

Last week I posted about the things I’ve learned from marathon training. I specifically did not address nutrition, because if I’ve learned one thing about that it’s that my diet has changed and will continue to change throughout the year. It will want higher carbs or raw foods at certain points, and more fats at other times.

My diet goes through seasons.

The Seasons of my #vegan diet through #marathon training Click To Tweet

I wanted to write this post to be transparent, but also to have a record for myself when I start getting interested in labels or specific vegan diets again. It’s not worth it to label myself a certain way, because I listen to my body. If my body is telling me to eat a certain way for a period of time, I will listen.

Being in the vegan community is amazing. There are so many great people, campaigns and recipes. However, just like any community, there are problems and if exploited, can harm you or the movement.

It’s almost like school. You can go to the best college or prep school in the country, but there are aLeah’s problems beneath the surface. Drugs, drinking, cheating and violence are all there regardless of the academic standards or money.

The vegan movement is like that for me. I’m in the best school, but if I’m not careful, whenever I have a problem (like a bad race of running) I am susceptible to other diets within the vegan community to solve my problems.

“Recover faster only eating dates and bananas!”

“Being fat adapted teaches your body to not bonk!”

These things are so attractive to someone like me. I am not professional or elite, but want to be faster so badly (not bad enough to dope of course), that what worked for one athlete I admire must also work for me.

This is so false I cannot believe have fallen and continue to fall for it time and time again. It will probably cross my mind again to get into a certain camp, but the next time, at least I have an arsenal of tools to prevent it.

I’m not high carb, low fat.

I’m not high fat, low carb.

I’m Ellie and I’m trying the best that I can.

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I’m linking up and sharing meals for WIAW

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[strawberries and cream protein cookie dough&apple] [dates, banana chips, cashews&unpictured smoothie]

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[bowl of greens&rocky road banana ice cream]

What are some diet camps you’ve accidentally fallen into?

What is the allure for you? Why would you choose a label?

Don’t forget to check out this post and leave a comment to win some B Happy Peanut Butter!

B Happy Peanut Butter [it’s not smooth, it’s not crunchy, it’s SMUNCHY!]

I love crunchy peanut butter. It’s a staple for me in my training and diet.

Smooth is a fine stand in or if it’s really on sale, but nothing holds the same pizzazz for me like a good old spoonful of crunchy, nutty peanut butter. The mouthfeel, the texture, the taste. Everything about crunchy nut butters is something I look forward to.

I’ve even made my own nut butter before in two steps: make the smooth first, then stir in the chopped nuts.

Doesn’t everyone do that?

Well, as I would later find, I also enjoy a “middle ground” version of peanut butter. Not smooth, but also not exactly crunchy. Smaller bits of nuts, still spreadable (and spoonable) and 100% delicious.
B Happy Peanut Butter is a new to me company that makes a type of nut butter they title “smunchy”. I was happy to recieve a couple jars during my training cycle, not only because peanut butter is my recovery food, but because this company is known for being delicious! Thanks to Emily for turning me on to them!

It’s a finer ground crunchy peanut butter that still holds onto that mouthfeel, but the chunks aren’t as big.

I am now a huge fan! As the jar states, it was hard for me not to eat it all by the spoonful.

Actually, let’s get real, it took me two days to eat the jar of original. I then dove into the apple cinnamon and loved that too.


The original version is great for sandwiches, as a topping for pancakes or Vegan Protein Cookie Dough and the apple cinnamon is perfect as is. Really I just ate it with a spoon. The apple chunks balance out the richness of the peanut butter, so I could eat more spoonfuls without feeling like my throat was clogged.

If you’ve ever eaten PB straight you know what I mean.


The apples cut it nicely and it was actually refreshing, not how I would usually describe a nut butter, but it works.

Another thing I love about B Happy Peanut Butter is the small batch, small company vibe. Based out of Zionsville, Indiana, the company keeps quality high in a single factory. I am happy to pay a bit more for that! The flavor names are also adorable:

Plain: KeepSmunchy

Apple Cinnamon: Pay It Forward

Snickerdoodle: So Happy Together

What else do you need?

Check out their website and B Happy!

Check out B Happy Peanut Butter! Eat your peanut butter with a spoon! http://bhappypeanutbutter.com/ Click To Tweet

Anyone interested in a giveaway? 

Leave a comment and email down below and I’ll pick a random winner for one jar of the original KeepSmunchy peanut butter. 

Tell me: What would you put this peanut butter on?