Do You Go For It?

Ultrarunning mindset coach Susan Donnelly risked a chance to finish War Hammer 100 mile race

It’s mile 78 of the War Hammer 100-mile race in Kentucky.

I’ve been running for over 24 hours with wet feet, through unbearable heat and humidity with no air movement, over miles of painful, unforgiving pavement, under full sun, through miles of briars, mud, muddy puddles, and creek beds, past loose dogs and flying traffic, covered head to toe (and more, thanks to falls) in poison ivy, mud, sand, and most likely a horde of ticks.

As I head down another gravel road, a convoy of vehicles approaches. 

They reach me, and the woman driving the first vehicle gets out.

“Are you in the race?”


“You missed an aid station.”

I go stone cold inside. “What??”

I tell her what I think I've done and she tells me what I’ve missed - two aid stations, really, because her convoy was the next. They both packed up and left before I got there.

I’m crushed and confused Our stories don’t connect. I thought I was ok on time but the race has been beating me down for hours. 

And now this. 

I hate the idea of DNFing here - so preventable - and picture sharing the unhappy news, while another part of my mind fantasizes about how nice it would be to get off my pulverized feet.

She frowns at me and gets on the radio. 

Back to race focus, I didn’t get here by accident. I did something to land myself in this situation so I calmly wait for her to decide my fate, but missing two aid stations? I’d do the same thing and pull myself.

After a few minutes of radioing, she turns and miraculously says I can go to the next aid station. These vehicles are full of people and stuff and no room for me. Of course it’s easier to get me out of the race at the next aid station.

But eight more miles of new trail before I have to leave? I’ll take it. It makes a better long for Black Hills 100 in a few weeks.

I ask and she doesn’t know about sweeps but the markings are still up and the people that have to help me across the rib-high river crossing are still there (thank goodness).

I take off at a decent clip to prevent those people from waiting on me any longer than necessary. Where’d this speed come from?

As I arrive with relief at the next aid station, a woman checks my number off her list, looks me in the eye and says,

“You have three minutes. If you get out of here by then, you can continue.”

Three minutes?

I’m dead tired, incredibly filthy, and what’s left of my blistered, wet feet hate me. 

I’ve never been that close before - just a pile of seconds. But I didn’t expect a chance to go on either.

I fill up my bottle and run. 

Fifteen unknown miles and no time on the clock. "I can do it."

"And I’m going to do more than survive, dammit."

I push the next 5 miles of pavement hard, for what I have left - 35 minutes ahead of cutoff. Good - more!

I push the next 6 miles of slower trail/gravel road/pavement hard - 24 minutes head. "Crap, how’d I’d lose 11 whole minutes?"

I push the last 4 with it's long, steep climb.

"I can do it."

And I do. Second place woman, the coolest sword finisher's award, and one of only 35% to finish - with 30 minutes to spare.

So let me ask you, if you’re that beat up, with fifteen miles of unknown miles to go and aid station people say you have just three minutes left on the clock, what would you do?

Call it a day or go for it?

This kind of thing happens in 100-milers all the time. Do you have the confidence you can depend on when the going gets tough in one unexpected way after another after another?

Not the hack it, quick-fix, cop-an-attitude-to-convince-other-people type. The deep, bedrock confidence you actually feel

You’re going to want it if you plan to take on bigger challenges, especially if you want to do them in a consistent way that's sustainable over a lifetime.

You can build it - I have. Decades ago, I was the marathoner who caved when simply being passed.

And now I pull out a finish like this, against all odds, surprising even myself.

Start with confident attitude and try the feeling on - that’s a great way to jump to a new level - but don’t stop there. Build confidence in yourself with every new stretch and every finish so it's there to depend on.

You’ll need it for the magnificent things you’re going to do.

Please share this with any bold, ambitious person that needs a boost.

Until next week,

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PS - Hey! I’ve got two openings for 1:1 coaching where we can build confidence you need for the ambitious things you're planning. I know from being coached that it's the difference between trying to change your mindset and actually doing it and the accountability doesn't hurt! Check it out here and email me to set up a free 15-minute mini-session call.