Refuse to Be Disappointed

by Jodi

Four days from now (Lord willing) I will be in Vernonia, Oregon, toeing the line of my fourth marathon. It seems like every time I start the process of training for a marathon I get hurt.  This marathon was no different. I fractured my finger - in three spots! - four weeks before the race.  Two days later I stepped on a nail that went through my boot and deep into my foot.  I seriously thought about bagging this marathon.

However the timing just seems right.  I'm turning 40 this year and I want to run another marathon before I start a new decade.  My speed and stamina are about as good as they are going to get and I'm on board mentally to cover the distance.  Normally 26.2 miles intimidates me into not even wanting to try, but right now I feel equipped to handle it.  I want to ride that momentum while it lasts. I also like the fact that the race will be over before all the spring field trips and end-of-the-school year activities start ramping up.

I've been loosely following the Run Less Run Faster (RLRF) training program to get ready for this marathon.  I say loosely because I modified the program quite a bit to fit my current lifestyle.

First, I only trained for eight weeks for this marathon.  A typical marathon training cycle is 16 weeks but I usually get bogged down, injured, and burnt out by the time the race rolls around.  I broke up the 16 weeks into three sections.  I used the RLRF half marathon schedule training program for six weeks.  Took the next two weeks to recover and run with friends.  Then chose the Vernonia Marathon and spent eight weeks training using the RLRF marathon schedule.  The number of weeks are the same, but my body and mind are not burnt out or used up.  We'll find out after the race if this was smart or stupid.

RLRF calls for cardio cross training, but I haven't done a stitch of cardio cross training.  Instead I  reestablished a consistent yoga practice.  Before I broke my finger I was practicing yoga every day I wasn't running and finding HUGE benefit from it.  I hope to incorporate cycling and swimming back into my workout routine after the marathon.

I have faithfully completed every track workout, tempo run, and long run on the RLRF schedule.  I ran by myself on the track and tempo workouts and worked hard to hit every prescribed pace.  On the long runs I allowed myself some flexibility with the pace.  If I was really tired or running with a friend I altered the goal time and ran based on effort instead of time.

These slight alterations made me feel rebellious enough to not be totally confined by a rigid, pace-based schedule.  I am arriving on race day injury free (minus the finger), stretched out, rested and ready to run.

Which brings me to this race.  The Vernonia Half Marathon and Marathon is hosted by the Oregon Road Runner's Club, the same group that hosted the 30k I ran in March.  It's a super small race field - last year only 102 athletes ran the full marathon.  I'm guessing the field size directly correlates to the fact that the Boston marathon is the following week and most of Portland's fast runners are headed to Boston.  I love small races though so the size isn't a deterrent.

The race is point-to-point, starting at a retreat center in Vernonia and ending on the high school track in Banks.  The race course is on a rails-to-trails and winds through Oregon's beautiful forest in the base of the coastal mountains. I've always wanted to run on this trail.  What better way than to see all 21.5 miles of it in one fell swoop?

The weather looks like it is going to cooperate... almost too much.  The forecast calls for a high of 72 degrees with full sun and no cloud cover.  Thankfully the hottest part of the day in Oregon is around 5 p.m. so I am hopeful that it won't be too hot on the course.

I've spent the winter training in capris and long-sleeved shirts.  I even bought a crazy fun pair of Nike capris to wear on race day but they've been sidelined due to the warmer-than-usual weather.  Instead I'll run in my Skirt Sport Redemption Run shorts and my Handful tank.  I'm ditching the corporate giant for the small companies run by women - it seems fitting for a small race.  I also plan to carry my own water and gel in my Nathan Speed 2 belt.  I like the mental comfort of knowing I can drink whenever I'm thirsty instead of relying on the aid stations for my supplies.  Since I'm a Freeze Baby I'll probably start with my Mountain Hardware Momentum running gloves too.

I have time goals but surprisingly they are not driving my motivation for this race.  I'd love to qualify for Boston and need a 3:40 to do that.  My Bucket List dream is to break 3:30.  How cool would it be for my pace per mile to have a 7 in front of it?  If that happens I might hang up my marathon shoes forever.   A marathon has so many variables, however if I have a healthy body and willing mind on race morning AND if there is no wind AND if it stays cool enough... there is a reasonable chance that I could break 3:30.

My main goal though is to hold everything loosely.  I feel so joy-filled that I have the health to do something crazy like run 26.2 miles.  I want to soak in this experience - to run for the sheer joy of running.  I want a steady effort to drive my pace instead of the number on my watch.  I want to celebrate and pray for my friends and family who have supported me through this training cycle.  I want to worship my Mighty Creator who romances me with beauty at every turn.  My kids are making me a play list of all their favorite Christian artists.  I can't wait to have their songs serenade me down the course.  Finally, I would love to hold a steady pace all the way to the finish, especially through those last, horrid 6.2 miles that seem to last forever.  It would be so awesome to not feel half-dead at the finish line.

Ironically, our Sole Sister Tanya is running her first half marathon in almost two years on Whidbey Island at the same time I'll be racing in Vernonia.  She has been plagued with injuries for over a year so this is huge that she is healthy enough to run a half marathon.  She and I will be praying for each other as we race.  What a cool way to run through life together!

Today I finished my last run before the race.  The hard part is over.  I've logged the miles and put in the training.  Now all that is left is to race.  My friend Krysty is honest, to-the-point, and wise.  I love running things by her because I know she'll be honest.  We were talking about the race and she said, "It's a marathon.  Refuse to be disappointed."
Last run finished!  
That nugget of wisdom stuck with me.  It's my prayer heading into Sunday.  No matter what happens, I want to refuse to be disappointed and give God the glory.  Let's get this party started!


  1. Give God the glory, for sure! :) I am excited for both you and Tanya! I'll be praying for both of you this weekend, and I hope you post soon about how your races went. I'll be waiting to hear!

    1. Thank you for the prayers and the encouragement Claire. Knowing people are lifting us up when we run often keeps me putting one foot in front of the other when I'd rather slow down or walk! We'll definitely post race reviews after our events.