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.


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!!


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


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.


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

35 thoughts on “My First 26.2: The Buffalo Marathon”

  1. Ahhhh so good to read! So happy for you Ellie, you earned this (and $800, nice job!!!!). I can definitely believe something in you has changed, and there is an exciting future ahead of you! I look forward to hearing more, and thank you for the shoutout.

    Ps. We MUST get you to practice nutrition!!!!! But good job with taking gatorade every mile, that probably saved your race!

  2. The feeling of completion after a marathon is an inexpressable feeling of gratitude and amazement that God created our bodies to sustain over that long of a distance, and you did SO well Ellie! Just praising God with you, and I loved your race strategy. It sounds like the community of Buffalo was super amazing; it’s always amazing to have a community that turns out for the race, especially a marathon, cause the going can get super hard. And I guess there are perks to being a fast runner. 🙂 That’s cool that you got a hotel room, and 100 packets of almond butter? YES please! I would love to do a big race with an expo like that.

    1. Mentally and physically taxing it certainly was. But you know, it’s almost like I can’t remember that. I only remember the feeling of finishing and accomplishing my goal 🙂

  3. Congratulations, Ellie! It sounds like you ran a perfect race. That is so impressive for your first outing – not your time (although that IS certainly impressive) but the way you finished at the same pace and kept it all together and SMART. You are amazing.’

    I know after my first marathon I definitely felt changed. From that point on (and it continues today) I felt like nothing was too difficult. Definitely a boost of confidence.

    So excited for you! It’s been fun to watch your journey.

  4. WOW! Super sonic awesome race Ellie!!! Huge congrats!

    It’s an interesting feeling after you run a marathon, you feel kind of invincible. 🙂

  5. You are just AMAZING Ellie! I mean, we all knew knew you could run fast, and long, but you really had an amazing performance! It’s awesome to know you are such an awesome athlete, but you are an even better person, more importantly! Keep up the great work, you’ve got something special and you are very inspirational! See you soon!!

  6. Congrats and wow, simply amazing on your time! You totally rocked it and are just amazing! Congrats again and so awesome on the check! Just amazing for your first marathon! You deserve a break after that absolutely amazing pace!

  7. What an awesome first marathon, Ellie! You have definitely found your niche! Yes…work on the nutrition so you don’t feel so depleted afterwards. I hope you are enjoying the rest and relaxation. Super weekend for you with such hot temperatures! I think I see an Olympic Qualifying Time in your future! 🙂

  8. Congratulations! That is seriously an incredible achievement. What a testament to your hard work and dedication. Hope you enjoy two weeks of nut butter and Disney Channel movies!

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