Bandera 100k - Long Overdue

I turned my iPod on (yes I have an iPod) for the first time since Bandera 100k the other day and found a video from mile 58 (below) which reminded me that I had written this and never posted it.  So heres some words / reflections on Bandera 100k!

First and foremost for you number geeks - here's my Strava data. The splits will show you a fun sufferfest :)

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Hello world - it's January 7th a little after midnight.  This might not be completely coherent, but i'll try my best.  My brain is on fire - physically I am in so much pain.  Today beat me up.... hard.  My legs are shredded: the skin shredded from brushing up against cacti - the muscles just shredded from exertion.  My feet: blistered - Its been a long time since i've blistered this bad.  It hurts to move.  It feels like a gnome is running around inside my head with a hammer pounding around deep inside my brain - its the dehydration talking.

I didn't expect to get this destroyed.  Its only 63 miles right?  Yesterday (The clock reads 12:14 right now) was a glorious day though.  There are so many moments that I know i'll forget if I close my eyes - I want to jot them down before that happens.

The Start (Mile 0): I had never run a 100k race before, and this was going to be my 4th time ever hitting that distance (2x in successful 100M finishes, and 1x during a DNF at a 100M attempt).  Coming off of my 2017 Superior 100M finish I had a lot of confidence at the starting line, confidence that I have never felt on the starting line of a really fucking long race before. 

I don't know how to describe the feeling - but I knew that I would finish.  I believed in myself.  I knew that the 24 hour cutoff meant all I needed to do was keep moving forward.  I knew that my dad was going to be out there meeting me at aid stations with his "Rameen's Bodega" and that no matter what I would have the nutrition that I needed to keep moving forward.  I knew that mentally I had what it took to gut it out.  I remembered at Superior around mile 30 starting to hurt both physically and mentally - with 70 miles in front of me... and I still crossed the finish line. 

I guess what i'm trying to say is - I knew that shit most likely would go wrong and the day would be full of obstacles and unexpected twists and turns.... but my toolbox was full.  I had everything that I needed to make it to that finish line.

Almost to the Midway Point (Mile 29): I wish I knew the names of the climbs at Bandera, but on the backside of the loop theres a pretty long climb that seems to last for a mile or so.  Its a decision you have to make - power-hike or run.  As I hit the climb I shifted into power-hike mode.  I'm hurting.  I notice that the runner ahead of me about 1/4th of the way up the climb is running but i'm gaining on him.  He's hurting too - more than me it seems.  I get to him right before we crest the top of the climb.  I don't know who said what - but we start talking.  I learn that he's 21 fresh out of running cross country at the University of Portland - this is his first 100k and will be his longest race ever.  He actually has never run a 50k, but had thrown down some marathon times that would put me to shame.  As were talking he's telling me that he's going to drop, that he's already proud of how far he's gotten and this will be his first "ultra finish."

I laughed when he said "ultra finish."  When people start complaining in races or talking about dropping I usually do everything I can to get away from them - negativity is contagious.

"Let me tell you one thing because i've been you before" I say to him.  "You have no excuse to drop right now, and if you do I promise you that you will spend the next year of your life regretting it.  The pain your feeling right now will fade and you'll be forced to come to terms with the fact that with 20 hours to go 31 miles - you threw in the towel.  Make me one promise - when we get in to the next aid station you'll sit down and spend at least 5 minutes thinking about why you signed up for this race and what you'll tell yourself for the next year if you quit."

He mumbles something back - we run in to the aid station together a few miles later.  I focus on myself.  Coming out of the aid station theres a pretty big climb thats a bit of an out and back.  As i'm coming down the climb I pass him - a smile on his face.  We give each-other a fist bump.

Later - after finishing and watching the runners come in I can't help but find myself cheering for this kid.  I'm a fan - i'm invested.  A little over an hour after I finish I see him come out of the darkness and across the finish line.  Thumbs up.

Fighting Hard (Mile 40ish): I pass the #2 (at the moment) woman on a climb.  She's struggling - big time - destroyed.  She asks me how far till the next aid station.  I tell her we must be almost there - a mile or two away.  I ask her if she needs anything - just to drop she says.  I tell her to fight hard - that she's in 2nd place and all she has to do is hold on.

She looks at me like i'm speaking another language - she pukes on my foot.

Second Wind (Mile 55-Finish): 

Leaving the last aid station I would see my dad before the finish (mile 54) I was a wreck.  My wheels truly had come off.  My legs were cramped and stiff - I felt dehydrated - mentally I did not want to run.  I walked out of the aid station munching on Avocado smashed on a piece of bread - cursing everything. 

"Alright Dylan - lets try to run a little bit."  A few steps.  OUCH.  My foot is on fire -  oh lordy its wet.  There goes a big blister.  Grumbles grumbles - shuffles shuffles.... and then I don't know.  A few miles later and i'm climbing away (see the video below) and suddenly it hits me.  A second wind.  A realization that the day is coming to an end - and it was a great day.  I find myself running down the hills racing the sunset.  Purples and pinks fill the sky.  What a great day to be alive.

Found on my iPod.... I have no reccolection taking this video... or cursing this much.

Bandera Mile 58 from Dylan Armajani on Vimeo.

Perfect days are few and far between. As a matter of fact, I can count on 1 finger the number of times i’ve had a “perfect” race. And I suppose that’s part of what I love about ultra running: the unknown, the lack of control, having to adjust when the plan falls apart (it always does). Today physically was not perfect, but I gave it all I had and left everything I had out there. .. And truthfully I wouldn’t actually change anything about today. Run or no running, crushing goals or not, Sotol Cactus kisses or not (My legs are shredded) - I am the same person, with the same dreams life and family and friends. I am so grateful for the opportunity to lace up one more day and have an adventure powered by my own two feet through the wonderful outdoors. Also finishing with the sun going down under a pink sunset was epic. Perhaps the closest to finding meaning in this life I’ve ever found. Who knows? What a beautiful day! … I also need to say thank you to my Dad who not only inspired me to start running 5 1/2 years ago, but also has supported me since then in every single race I have run 50M or longer as my “Crew Chief” and has been there clapping with a hug for me at the finish line regardless of if I broke the tape, made the podium, or hobbled in a broken man. Today was no different, thank you Dad! … Ps I finished in 10:40ish and Michele was just behind me as second female! Boom! … #Ruggedrunning #TrailWhippAss #Bandera100k #PerfectDay #ThankYouDad #RameensBodega #CactusKisses #Epic2018 #WSQualifier✅

A post shared by Dylan Armajani (@captainscastle) on

The Finish Line (100k): So I finally got to meet Michele and watch her kill it.  #2 - and a golden ticket that gets to go to my Rugged Running Teammate Anna (#3).  I ran the second 50k thinking Michele had dropped.  I passed her coming in to the 50k aid station and her hip was hurting - bad.  After crossing the finish line I asked where Michele was - expecting her to be wrapped in a blanket nearby.  "She's right behind you - she's been ~20 minutes behind you at all the aid stations."  The next 20-30 minutes were excruciating - would coach cross the finish line in 2nd and win that golden ticket?

When she did I ran up to her - as excited as could be.  I'll never forget the first words she said, "And that's why you never give up.  Baby steps can get you to the finish."

Now i'm a bit tired.... I think its time to go to bed.  What a great day - what a great race.  2018 Is going to be a wonderful year.