Marshmallow Mondays


“Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”  -Hebrews 12:1.

IMG_4157If you asked me how many times I said that verse to myself during my first full marathon on Saturday, I would tell you that I lost count. Through rain that fell like buckets of water that soaked my socks and underwear, across hills that spanned 45 horse farms, I am so proud to say that I crossed the Finish Line of a 26.2 mile race.

When I heard about the Horse Capital Marathon last year, I registered for the half marathon with hopes that I would be able to switch to the full at a later date. At the time, Ryan was on the kidney/pancreas waiting list, so not knowing if or when that phone call would come, it didn’t seem realistic to try and commit to training for anything above 13.1.  So when Ryan had his successful transplant in October and returned to work in January, I realized that there was no reason why I couldn’t begin training for the full.

Preparing for a full marathon is no easy task, and mine involved an 18 week training plan that began on January 10th. There were certainly ups and downs to my training, including a two week break smack in the middle of the 18 weeks due to a slight stress fracture. However, after 446 training miles in the snow, ice, rain, sleet, humidity, wind, frigid temperatures, blazing sun, and any other weather that you can think of, 26.2 finally seemed possible.

Having a supportive husband and kids was a big part of my success as well. Most Saturdays I woke up extra early while everyone was sleeping in order to get my long runs out of the way. Weekday runs were usually done in the evenings, which was sometimes a little more difficult. There were times that Ryan would come home from work and I would go out the door to beat the darkness or get home in time for Lily’s dance class. One time, he even came home on his lunch break so that I could get my six mile run in for the day. Though they might not completely understand why I run, my family always supports me, and I love them for that. Knowing that they are always waiting at the Finish Line is such a huge motivation for me.

IMG_4192This race was nothing short of challenging. With frequent downpours and numerous hills, this wasn’t about finishing in a certain amount of time. It was simply about finishing. A friend of mine pinned a “First Marathon” sign on my back, and that little sign attracted so many words of encouragement from my fellow runners on the course. There were runners who patted me on the back and clapped for me, runners who said “hey it’s my first one too, good luck!”, runners who chose to run alongside of me and offer support, and even runners who said “wow, you picked one heck of a course for your first marathon.” It was clear we were all on that course together, and knowing that we were all fighting for the same thing made each of us push ourselves and each other so that we could achieve our goals.

IMG_4194Outside of becoming a mother, this has been my biggest accomplishment to date. Nothing compares to crossing the Finish Line of a full marathon. For me, that Finish Line was symbolic of so many different things, especially when I think about everything my family has been through over the past year. Throughout those 26.2 miles, I couldn’t help but think about how emotionally similar those miles were to Ryan’s transplant journey. There were uphill battles. There was an element of the unknown. There were feelings of frustration, impatience, determination, fear, and of course, victory.

Turning a corner on Saturday and seeing the Horse Capital Marathon Finish Line come into my view, I couldn’t help but get emotional. There was a time that I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to do this, and even if I did, I wondered, would Ryan be there to witness it? Knowing that he was there, healthy, and I was just steps away from reaching the Finish Line, was one of the best, most grateful moments of my life.






Enter Sunday.  I woke up very sore, and saw this post on the Horse Capital Marathon’s Facebook Page, from Bob Baney, friend and Horse Capital Marathon Race Director:

Some of you may have met her at our Friday expo. In 2013 after finishing her 7th Boston Marathon she was standing near the finish line when those horrific bombs went off. She was hit by the shrapnel and since that time has had 7 surgeries and still has one to go. She hadn’t run a marathon since and her doctor gave her clearance to run one in the spring. She selected the Horse Capital because of her love of horses. Yesterday she had difficulty getting to Fasig Tipton for our inaugural race so she never started. She hung around and I visited her after the race. I told her I wasn’t sending her home until she completed what she came to do. So on this beautiful Sunday morning she set off from our starting line at 7:37am with her own personal hydration volunteer (me). She’s at mile 3 and we’ve already seen 34 horses. She is an inspiration. More photos and updates to come.”

Runners immediately began commenting words of encouragement for Megan on that post. In no time at all, plans were made to go cheer Megan on at the Finish Line. About 50 supporters showed up with signs, water, bananas, and flowers to give to Megan when she finished running. We wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to be there for her.


My eyes were filled with tears watching Megan approach the Finish Line. Cheers erupted from the crowd as she came down that final stretch with a big smile on her face. What an inspiring moment, and what a truly amazing running community we have here in Lexington.


It was a true honor to hug this beautiful, strong, determined woman. I’m so proud to say that we earned the same medal. It will forever hold extra special meaning because of Megan.



Thank you, Horse Capital Marathon, for giving me the opportunity to be part of such an inspirational race. This experience was more than I ever could have imagined, and went way beyond simply accomplishing a personal goal. As a first-time Marathoner and member of our Lexington running community, I truly have never been more proud to call myself a runner.


6 Comments so far
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I recall being behind you for a while, and your sign brought me to tears :

1) This race was supposed to be my first full (I dropped down the 1/2 a few days before because I had not fully trained and would have beaten myself up even more if I couldn’t get myself past the finish line) and 2) You were an inspiration to keep me going. I knew that someday soon I was going to wear a sign like that on my back.

Congrats! Saturday was tough…and you are soooo incredibly awesome for completing what I did twice 🙂

Comment by Alanna

Oh Alanna, thank you for commenting! You have me teary-eyed yet again. You absolutely will wear a sign just like that someday very soon, and I would be honored to cheer you on!

Comment by Bridgit

Bridgit Buffington you are my inspiration!! God has definitely appointed you as his ambassador to show people that any mountain can be climbed with his love and support. Keep up the great work.

Comment by Darlene sipos

I remember running along side you for miles 4-8 (I ran the half) you looked so strong! I loved this race too!!

Comment by Amanda

[…] But as I watched the subsequent posts throughout the day … before and after church, on our way to lunch with my parents, waiting for my son’s Pre-K graduation to start and off and on during our dear neighbors’ impromptu going-away party … I couldn’t get enough.  You can watch Megan’s entire journey unfold for yourself here and here. […]

Pingback by Horse Capital Half Marathon Race Recap! |

[…] get enough.  You can watch Megan’s entire journey unfold for yourself here and here.If you are reading this, you probably know the running community is second to none when it comes to […]

Pingback by Runner Girl Road Trip: Lexington |

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