Saturday Morning Run Down Sycamore Canyon to Ranch Center Road

SycamoreCanyon FR_sign.JPG

For those of you who have walked, run or cycled down the paved Big Sycamore Canyon Road in Pt Mugu State Park from the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area, you may have noticed the fork in the road about a mile from the bottom of the steep hill.

Sycamore Canyon Road / Ranch Center Road juncture

Sycamore Canyon Road / Ranch Center Road juncture

Sycamore Canyon Road / Ranch Center Road junctureMost folks continue straight down Sycamore Canyon towards the beach. But if you veer right, you are headed down Ranch Center Road. I don't get up that way very often on my runs in the canyon. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I was up that way. But this past Saturday I decided to divert myself up that path.

In general, I don't see a lot of people down in Sycamore Canyon. As beautiful as it is, it is a lot of work getting down there and about five times tougher getting back out of it up the steep fire road to Newbury Park. I'd estimate easily two thirds of the folks I see down there are on bikes and the rest are hikers and runners.

But  there are significantly less people on Ranch Center Road. This past Saturday, I was surprised to see two young teenage-looking gals jogging up the trail, chatting away, having a nice run. Otherwise, I saw about 8 cyclists as I made my way up Ranch Center Road to the dilapidated, burned down Ranch area structures where Ranch Center Road meets Wood Canyon Fire Road.

Wood Canyon Fire Road is more interesting to run than Ranch Center Road as it is all dirt trail and surrounded by trees.

Wood Canyon Fire Road is more interesting to run than Ranch Center Road as it is all dirt trail and surrounded by trees.

RanchCenter_danger2.JPG

Wood Canyon Fire Road is more interesting to run than Ranch Center Road as it is all dirt trail and surrounded by trees. I saw two cyclists rolling up this trail as I was coming down. Quite peaceful.

Trail runners' heaven is Wood Canyon Fire Road. I could run on trails like this any day.

Trail runners' heaven is Wood Canyon Fire Road. I could run on trails like this any day.

Several miles downhill the trail links back up to Sycamore Canyon Road, where I ran up past the Danielson Multi-Use Area, where I saw a group of campers, then back up the canyon.

Less than a mile north of the Danielson Multi-use area is this well placed porta-john.

Less than a mile north of the Danielson Multi-use area is this well placed porta-john.

I was out there for about 1 1/2 hours. A good, mid-summer fun run.

Saturday Morning Run Up to Danielson Cabin in Boney Mountain State Wilderness

This morning I decided to test out my new Sketchers trail running shoes with a trail run up to the Danielson Cabin and back.

I have no affiliation with Sketchers, by the way. Maybe I should, because I'm liking their shoes more and more. These trail shoes feel as comfortable as any shoes I've worn. Every shoe brand is different and everyone has a brand that seems to fit their own feet better than others. I'm finding this to be the case with my Sketchers. They fit snug but not too snug, light, yet supportive. And comfy.

Mind you, I can pretty much run in any shoes. Over the years I've worn ASICS, Saucony, Nike, Mizuno, Brooks and a few others. Since I'm not particularly picky about the shoes I run in, other than they can't feel too heavy, I tend to go with whatever's on sale.

But the price point on the Sketchers I like on a day-to-day basis without having to wait for a sale. Plus, if I can get to the Sketchers store on a buy one, get one at X% off day, that's even better. Also helps that my kids like to wear Sketchers.

But enough about Sketchers, which is just one thing that Meb Keflezighi and I have in common.

What else do I have in common with Boston Marathon winner Meb K? Well we're both UCLA graduates. And we've both run the Boston Marathon. He ran it 37 minutes faster than my time back in the day, enough time to shower and have breakfast. But we both like Sketchers. Except, he gets paid to like his Sketchers. I don't. But that's ok with me. Or maybe it isn't ok with me subconsciously, since I've mentioned it twice now. Hmm.

So my run up to the Danielson Monument this morning was a nice, easy one, no falling and hurting myself, which is good, as the scabs from my last fall have not quite healed up yet.

I'm keeping my eyes on the trail more now. Watching where you're stepping on trails is pretty important. It is ok to look around too, but better to do so on flatter sections so you don't trip on a rock or root and bash your body around. Attempting to practice what I'm preaching.

The sky was pretty clear this morning and it wasn't quite too hot...yet. We are a few days from July and it appears the temps are going up soon. Spring is my favorite time to run, when it's cool out, but not too cool, and the sun's out, but it's not too hot.

From my house, I made it to the Danielson Monument in 36 minutes at casual pace, stopping my watch a few times to take pictures. I was back at the house 34 minutes later, which, given the downhill, seems slow, but I did sidetrack a couple minutes to see if there was even a little dribble of water in the "Waterfall" off of Danielson Road. No such like. Quite dry back there.

The Occasional Hazards of Running Trails

I've enjoyed running local trails for over 15 years and am on them almost every day, barring rain and mud. A majority of my mileage is on trails and I enjoy the variety, the peace and quiet, the scenery and the chance of spotting wildlife, like a coyote off in the distance.

For the last few years I've been carrying my camera with me when I run so that when something photo-worthy appears, I'll be ready. Kind of a hassle for sure, in that the camera is not light, and I hold it in one of my hands (switching off to the other hand from time to time).  But occasionally it comes in handy.

This year, 2014, so far I've managed to trip and fall on the trails not once, not twice, but THREE times. I'm not talking a simple trip and catch myself, but a full on, snag my shoe on something, then topple almost flat on my face fall.

No, this is not a pile of poop on the trail. It is a root sticking out of the ground, I believe a remnant from damage done by the Springs Fire of 2013.

This has never happened to me before. Ever. Never have I fallen flat on my face before while running on any surface, and I've run all types of surfaces and have run and raced trails like Bulldog at Malibu Creek, the Catalina Marathon and all around town.

Mostly just scrapes and cuts from my latest encounter with the ground on a trail run.The other day was the worst of my three trip-and-falls. I was running along, la la laaaa, thinking of all the exciting workday activities, when, BAAAMMM, I was down. My right foot snagged either a rock or a root, and I had no time to react. But I did manage to get my right arm on the ground before my head, which saved my face, but got my right arm pretty good. Just scrapes and a little blood. Nothing broken. There were some minor scrapes and scratches on my shin and lower back. THANKFULLY my knees and face were spared.

After my body finished sliding, I got up, assessed the damage, picked up my camera (held in a case, so it was safe, unlike my body), and ran home.

So WHY does this keep happening? I'm almost afraid to continue running on trails because next time I may do some more serious damage.

I think it is one of, or a combination of, three things. I've noticed that the Saucony shoes I currently wear feel slightly too big. I have to re-tie them more often than most shoes I wear to make them more snug. I suspect that this is the main culprit...my shoes are too big and they are snagging things on the trails and damn near killing me.

But perhaps the other issue is that I'm carrying this camera around, looking around for nice shots. Maybe I should be looking at the trail more and the surroundings less...at least when the trails are rocky and technically challenging. That would make sense now, wouldn't it?

Lastly though, I'm turning 50 in a few months. Maybe I'm, well, just getting OLD. Yes, maybe I'm not lifting my legs up as much when I run (which actually is a good thing on the roads, as it is more efficient). Maybe I'm going blind (well to some degree I am, after dealing with a detached retina a few years ago and its impact on my eyesight). Maybe I'm just going senile.

Or perhaps it could be all of the above. I dunno, but I'm gonna continue running those trails until it kills me. Probably. Literally.

In the meantime, time for some new shoes.

Longest Duration Training Run Ever Yesterday Due to My Bad Sense of Direction

Yesterday, three weeks and a day before the marathon I'm signed to run, I decided to explore a bit. A week ago I ran a solid 19.5 miler on the roads, my longest long training run in quite some time. Two weeks ago I ran a half marathon. So the question yesterday for me was, do I need to get another long run in before the LA Marathon on March 9th, or is it too late in the game for that. Would a 20 miler three weeks before marathon day prove detrimental?

I figured sure, why not. I've run plenty of marathons and have generally run my final long run in the 3 to 4 week time frame prior to the race. But since my training has been generally on the light side, I hedged my bets today and decided to try a trail, which would be a lot easier on my body.

One of 5 stream crossings on the Arroyo Conejo Trail in Newbury Park/Thousand Oaks.

The Arroyo Conejo Trail trailhead in Newbury Park is about four miles from my house. I ran to it with a bottle of water in one hand and a camera in the other. I'd never run this trail before. It was nicely maintained but, not having reviewed a map of the trail, I didn't know where it ended or much about it.

I ran at a nice easy pace and discovered this particular trail has not one, not two, but five stream crossings. I'm not a big fan of stream crossings because you have to slow down and usually stop to navigate how to get over them without getting your shoes soaked. I don't like running with shoes doused in water because I don't blisters on my feet. But nonetheless, they are kind of cool to do every now and then.

The first two crossings have little wood bridges on them that make it easy to get across. The next three took more effort as there were no little wood bridges...just strategically placed rocks. Not overly difficult or anything, but when you're not wearing hiking books...just lightweight, road-type training shoes, it's a bit more challenging. I stopped my watch each time I went over a crossing as I didn't want to include the rock navigation time in my training run.

Two of the stream crossings are a breeze with these wood bridges helping out.

It was either the 3rd or 4th crossing that for me was the most challenging. I stepped on a branch that I thought was solid, then my right foot dropped all-in to the water. Dammit. I didn't want that. So while navigating my right foot out of the water, my left foot slipped in too. Arrghh. Oh well. I mentally regrouped and found my way across the stream and thought positive thoughts, like, hey that cold water feels pretty good on my feet.

Soon enough I was at the Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant "Wetlands" - probably not something one would want to jump into for a swim. Slightly stinky around there (as one may expect, though not overpowering. I ran a path around the Wetlands and found myself on trails taking me past Wildwood Park on the right to the Western Plateau section of Thousand Oaks. I figured I would run about an hour and 20 minutes, then loop around through Wildwood Park, for a total time of about 2 hours, 40 minutes.

But I got sidetracked with the numerous trails back there, a veritable runners/cyclists playground. I ran past a group of Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency volunteers working on some trails and made it to a fire road overlooking the Conejo Grade. I stopped several times to take pictures, making sure to stop the timer on my watch each time I stopped.

View of the Conejo Grade from the Western Plateau section of Thousand OaksI would have loved to continue running down the fire road towards the 101 to explore, but had a sparse amount of water in my bottle and was past the 1:20 mark of my run, so I turned back. My navigational skills while running are not very good. So after about 20 wrong turns and an extra 30 minutes of trail running, I decided I should find my way back to the trail that took me there.

Thankfully it was only about 70 degrees (tough winter) as I made it back to the stream crossings. My water was gone and I was getting a bit tired. The crossings were a lot easier for me going back down and my shoes and socks were pretty dried out at this point, as was my water bottle.

I made it to the trailhead at Rancho Conejo Playfields about 2 hours, 45 minutes into my run, with about 4 miles to go. I stopped at the park to refill my water bottle and take in a pack of GU. That was only my 2nd pack of GU of the day; the first one was before my run...basically my breakfast. The GU and water seemed to give me a bit of a second wind as I pushed my way home in a cumulative elapsed running time of 3 hours, 17 minutes.

This may actually have been my longest training run ever in terms of elapsed time. Three hours, 17 minutes at my typical long run training pace would be about a 25 to 26 mile run. But given a lot of my miles were on trails, with lots of stop and go, I'm going to credit myself with a 22 mile run, or only a 9 minute average pace.

Today, Sunday, I'm just slightly sore, but not too much. Time to eat some real food!

Ran Over Two Hours Yesterday Without Carrying Water...Don't Try This at Home

Yesterday morning I was up at 6:30 a.m. and decided to take my camera with me for an adventure run. It was still kind of cool out so I decided to down a bottle of water before the run thinking I would be out no more than an hour and a half. I don't like carrying water if I don't have to, especially when I'm holding a camera.

I decided to head down Sycamore Canyon and see where the Blue Canyon Trail would take me. Usually when I run down Sycamore Canyon I do a straight shot down to the beach. I don't get out enough to the great trails in the Boney Mountain State Wilderness area in Pt Mugu State Park and I'd never run the Blue Canyon Trail, part of the Backbone Trail, all the way through.

Blue Canyon Trail entry point adjacent to Danielson Multi-Use AreaTo get to the Blue Canyon Trail, you run the entire paved section of Big Sycamore Canyon Road to the Danielson Multi-Use Area in Malibu. Instead of heading down to PCH, you veer left. You can't miss it. It's where there's a house. I've always assumed a park ranger lives in that house but don't know for sure.

Danielson Multi-Use Area includes picnic tables and plenty of shade.About .8 mile takes you to a juncture where you can veer left up the Old Boney Trail, which gets you to the Danielson Monument. I continued

Juncture of Blue Canyon Trail/Backbone Trail with Old Boney TrailMoving on, you are treated to outstanding canyon views and views of the Tri Peaks above.

Another mile of twists and turns through single track trails gets you the Chamberlain Trail junction, which is also part of the Backbone Trail system.

This trail is tantalizing with its panoramic views to the ocean, the Oxnard Plain and Conejo Valley.

The Chamberlain Trail takes you up to the highest peaks in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Tri Peaks including Boney Peak and Sandstone Peak (the other one I don't know the name of), but alas, I had no water and was over an hour into my run...and my mouth was getting a bit dry.

So sadly, I turned around and headed back to civilization. There was not a soul to be found on these trails other than me. What a great place to run and explore. Total elapsed time of my waterless run was 2 hours, excluding the 5 minutes of stops to snap photos.

On a side note, I ran into a couple friends as I approached the Blue Canyon Trail trailhead. These deer were very large. I slowed to a halt but they weren't up to the task of smiling and saying "cheese" to me.

Local Area Trail Races in Ventura County and Surrounding Areas

Pre-Race at the Bulldog 25K Trail Race at Malibu Creek State Park in August 2012

We're quickly approaching another new year so it's a great time to start planning your 2013 race schedule. If you don't usually run trails and trail races, think about trying it out! Dirt surfaces are a lot easier on your body than the roads and its a lot of fun getting out there in nature! The "feel" of trail runs to me generally feels more relaxed than road runs too.

Local Ventura County area trail runs in 2012 included the races below. We will provide 2013 updates in the CVG Upcoming Races section.

SOME OFFROAD RACES THAT TOOK PLACE IN 2012

Sun, Jan 8th: Xterra Boney Mountain Trail Run 21K and 5K in Newbury Park

Sun, Feb 19th: 4th Annual Bandit Trail Run 50K/30K/15K/6K in Simi Valley

Sat, Mar 3rd: 5th Annual Malibu Creek 10K/25K/50K Trail Runs in Calabasas

Sat, Mar 24th: 27th Annual Great Race of Agoura Half Marathon

Sat, May 12th: Sycamore Canyon Trail Run 8K, 18K, 30K, 50K

Sat, Aug 25th: Bulldog 50K/25K Trail Runs at Malibu Creek State Park

Sun, Sep 16th: Camarillo Offroad 5K and Free Kids' 1K

Sat, Sep 22nd: 7th Annual Malibu Canyon Dirt Dash 5K/10K and 5K Mud Run

Sun, Oct 7th: Ventura Offroad 5K

Sun, Oct 14th: XTERRA Point Mugu Trail Run in Malibu/Oxnard

Sun, Oct 28th: 35th Annual Lasse Viren 20K Trail Run in Malibu/Sycamore Canyon

Sun, Nov 4th: 8th Annual SOAR Run Through the Orchards 5K/10K in Moorpark

Sat, Dec 8: RideOn Therapeutic Horsemanship Trailfest 1K/5K in Agoura Hills

Slow But Steady Paid Off on Saturday at the Bulldog 25K Trail Run

I've talked about the Bulldog 25K/50K Trail Runs a number of times in this blog. But in summary, it is a challenging loop/double-loop course run entirely within Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas, with each loop having a total elevation climb of nearly 4,000 feet, including the climb up 2,528 foot Bulldog Mountain.

Since coming back from my post eye-surgery 5 1/2 week hiatus 5 months ago, my training got off to a rusty start and has been steady, but not memorable. I did get in several 10 mile runs as well as a slow 2 hour run that I counted for 14 miles back on July 28th. I also ran up Boney Mountain very slowly on July 6th. But nothing intense that would fully prepare for the hammering that took place this past Saturday on the Bulldog 25K course.

So cutting to the chase, I ran the 25K race on Saturday without incident in a reasonable 2 hours, 6 minutes, good for 2nd Male Master overall, 1 minute away from the first place master.

I gave it my best shot. My fitness level is back to I'd say about 75% of where it used to be. I still don't have the speed I used to have, so I gave up a lot of ground in the early going of this race. And my timing was a bit off so I had to make an unscheduled pit stop on behalf of my bladder. But hey, we were running in the wilderness so no big deal :>

The uphills of Bulldog are brutal, just brutal. Relentless. You start thinking, about halfway up: "Why am I here? I could be sleeping right now. What did I do to deserve this? Are we there yet? How much further?" as you start the long, steady, climb up the mountain. For the most part, the surfaces are ok, but there are some sections at the top where you're running downhill on the rock face of the mountain.

With age and experience comes the wisdom to conserve your energy running uphill on a course like this because, having run the race now 5 or 6 times....once your mojo is gone, you're toast. And I saw this happen to someone on Saturday. The guy with the knee high black socks.

There was a guy that looked like he was 10 years my junior that reminded me of me last year. I passed him at some point, maybe the 6 or 7 mile mark, on an uphill. He was walking. Looked like maybe he blew a gasket...like I did last year. Then came a downhill and he just hammered it past me. I thought, if the rest of the course is downhill, he's got me. But I knew there was plenty of uphill to go.

Sure enough, the next uphill he walked as I slowly but steadily dug in. Nothing fast, nothing fancy. Just shortened the stride, kept the pace even and kept the forward progression up the hill. Then he blew by me again on the downhill. This happened 4 or 5 times until finally he didn't appear at the the next downhill. It was actually kind of fun for me and it kept my mind off the soreness in my calves and quads. But I was now alone....for a bit.

And then the most extreme of the downhills came. You think downhills are easy, but this one is like dropping from a plane. I'm sitting here Monday night at the computer and my shins are still sore from the pounding.  Yet another young buck flew by me on this section of the race to my surprise. I was able to keep him in my sights for awhile, while grimacing through the steepest of the downhills, but ultimately he got away.

Bulldog doesn't end when you hit the bottom. There are some more tricky, hilly, twists and turns until you hit the flats...then there's about a mile of running until the finish...of the 25K (the 50Kers of course run another lap).

I was in pain at the end, but a good pain. Yet again, the Bulldog 25K chewed me up and spit me out, leaving me itching to train harder next year and drop below 2 hours.

By the way, the support along this course is fantastic. They go out of their way to take care of you, both 25K and 50K. They required us to carry at least 20 oz of fluids during this year's race after the extreme heat of last year's Bulldog. They refilled my bottle with icy cold water. I was quite impressed!

Lulled In By the Bulldog 25K Trail Run Again This Year

The Bulldog 50K and 25K trail races are on Saturday, August 25th this year at Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas.  Don't know what it is about this brutally tough race, but I'm signed up for the 25K again this year. Last year it was the hottest day of the year and I didn't fare too well, feeling dehydrated most of the race. Hoping we get an overcast morning.

Today I did my longest run so far of the year, a 2 hour run mostly on the trails in Sycamore Canyon. Ran up Danielson Road, turned up the Old Boney Trail (which gives some really nice views of Boney Mountain), down Fossil Trail down to the bottom of Sycamore Canyon. From there I ran a handful of other trails and road to achieve a total time of 2 hours.

Did something I would not recommend. Swigged down a bottle of water, put a couple candy bars in a fanny pack, and took off. Didn't carry any water with me this morning as I felt I was able to drink enough down to get my through a 2 hour run. I'm not a big fan of carrying water. Started the run at 7:20 a.m. and it was nice and cool. Temps only reached about 70 degrees. Worked out fine for me. My backup plan is that I knew of 3 water fountains on my path. Didn't need to stop for them though.

But I did stop briefly to take a few quick pics of the view!

Train on Hills to Race on Hills

Simply put, if you've signed up for a hilly race, your best bet is to train on hills. Of course the same theory applies to other any other race...training for a marathon, do long runs, training for a trail run, run on trails, training for a 10K, do some tempo runs.

Living in the Conejo Valley provides a distinct training advantage as we have pretty much all kinds of terrain to run on, though in most cases you'll run into some hills. But training for a hilly trail race is easy in the Conejo Valley because we are surrounded by 15,000 acres of open space and over 150 miles of trails. Check out the Conejo Open Space Foundation website for details.

The Edison Road fire road up Conejo Mountain in Newbury Park is a great example of an extremely easy to get to hill that provides some good training for hilly races. Got me breathing pretty hard the other week as you'll hear in this video. Do this 2 or 3 times and your heart may start popping out of your chest :>

Running a Long, Hilly Trail Race? Here Are 10 Training Tips for You!

The other week, a friend asked me for advice on how to train for a hilly trail race. She is a solid age group runner on the roads, having run plenty of 5Ks, 10Ks and a half marathon.

She signed up for the Bulldog 25K race on August 27th and asked for my advice. How do I train for a hilly 25K race with a net elevation gain of 4,000 feet, with a run up Bulldog Mountain that reaches over 2,500 feet in vertical elevation.

I have some friends that run dozens of miles in the trails every weekend, if not 40 to 50+ miles. I run trails, but not to that degree. I'm lucky to have trails surrounding me in close proximity to my house, but I don't consider myself to be a trail "expert." But I do have some experience running trail races.

Several times I won the Bulldog 25K (previously 30K), though I attribute that partially to luck...you know there's always plenty of people out there that can beat you in a race...it's just a matter of who actually shows up to the race. As an example, in 2002 I finished 2nd in the Catalina Marathon in a time (2:56:47) that typically would have won the race. But I happened to be racing against a guy that finished 10th in the 1500 meters at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. There's always somebody faster out there!

So although I don't really consider myself a big time trail runner, I do have some decent performances on the trails. And with that modest self intro, here goes with my advice for training for a hilly trail race:

1. Train on Trails: DUH! But of course you must get used to the feel of running on trails. Does this mean you have to run trails 100% of the time? Of course not.

2. Train on Hills on Trails:  You need to acclimate your body to the calf-numbing, heart-pounding uphills and the quad-hammering downhills. The downhills are quite deceiving on a brutal course like Bulldog, as your quads will give out on you like limp strands of spaghetti if they're not conditioned for the tremendous thrashing they're about to undertake. So prepare your body on training runs.

3. Change Gears Uphill: Gear your body for slower going uphill. Mentally and physically change gears by shortening your stride and using your upper body to push your way through the uphills. Upper body strength will help you, so consider some moderate weight training if you don't already hit the gym 2-3 times per week. Breathe. Don't worry that you're going slow. You're going, and that's what's important.

4. Go With the Flow Downhill: Don't constantly break your stride. Use gravity to your favor and go for it! Keep good eye contact both looking forward and down below so you can step in the right places. Not sure if good foot/eye coordination is inherited or learned, but can't hurt to practice it.

5. Take the Tangents but Steer Clear of Rocks: In other words, take the shortest path whenever possible in a race...and practice it when you train. But if you're on a rocky trail, do what it takes not to thrash your feet on sharp rocks. Look at it as a challenge, which it is. You don't want a sharp rock stabbing you in the foot. Run on your forefoot, not your heels, so you are more nimble.

6. Drink Before, Early and Often: Applies to any race but a 25K in the mountains you have less water stops, so prepare for that. I take a bottle of Gatorade (or equivalent) to the starting line and down it right before the start. Sloshes around a bit in my belly for awhile but it helps me get through the race.

7. Slow and Steady, Ever-Ready: Every single time I race, trails or road, long or short, there are a bunch of young kids that go out like they're running the 800 meters in the Olympics. Let em go. They will come back to you soon enough. If they don't, good for them. But generally they will wear down. Don't be one of them.

8. Single Track Running: There are trail sections of Bulldog that are single track, with only enough space for 1 person across. I get frustrated at times getting "stuck" behind someone who is running too slow. If the right moment opens up, I'll pass them. But otherwise, take it easy and know that soon enough the trail will open up. And you've conserved energy in the meantime.

9. Uphills Can Brutalize: The men (women) are separated from the boys (girls) so to speak as soon as you hit the hills. At Bulldog, the steep hills appear about 3 miles into the race. Always fun to see how many people wilt up those hills. So keep this in mind mentally. Don't stop and don't psych yourself out when you see a hill that looks like Mount Everest in front of you. Grin and bear it. (This is kind of redundant to #3 above, but hey, it's important.) Don't hesitate taking some brief (e.g. 20-30 second) walk breaks if you need them, especially on nearly vertical hills (there's a few on the Bulldog course).

10. Wear Glasses and a Hat: Wear a hat and sunscreen to minimize the sun damage to your skin and keep the sun out of your eyes. Pray for overcast skies and cool temps if you believe in prayer. I recommend wearing glasses as for some reason, it seems flies and gnats appear when I don't wear them, causing discomfort when they fly into my eyes. Think of them as your little windshield. If overcast, place them on your head for use when the sun comes out.

So there you have it, 10 tips that might help you in your quest to run a hilly, long trail race. Hope my experiences, good and bad, help you do your best on race day!