Execute: Sage Canaday’s Course-Record Bandera 100k Race Report

[The following is Sage Canaday’s race report from the 2013 Bandera 100k, which he won while establishing a new course record. The race was also the 2013 USATF trail 100k national championship as well as part of the 2012-13 Montrail Ultra Cup.]

“Execute.”

I had this one-word mantra on a loop in my head for the last 42 miles of the Bandera 100k (I also had a song by Awolnation stuck in my head at times, but that’s another story…).

“Execute, Execute, Execute.” After an opening uphill mile of 7:28 (according my GPS and Strava upload report), the lead pack of Dave James, myself, and Dave Mackey had separated ourselves from the rest of the pack. A couple miles later, after some rather technical, rocky trails and a more tame, muddy path, I had taken the lead and opened up a little gap on the Daves. I was pretty much alone with my thoughts (and my mantra) for the remaining 59 miles of muddy trails, skull-crushing rocks, and sharp cacti.

The mantra became my simple way of coping with the pain and inevitable mental struggle that ultras bring up. The challenge is a full-on exposure that strikes at your vulnerabilities, your own self-doubts. However, this mantra was effective in combating that internal, mind-body battle in that it reminded me to do the basics: Eat, Drink, and Keep Running! On the rocky, steep uphills I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of another; on the technical downhills it was a matter of not falling and/or breaking an ankle. On the flats I tried to cruise but the soul-sucking mud seemed to sap the energy out of every step.

Thankfully Joe Prusaitis and the local race committee had marked the course very well with arrows and “do not enter” signs at every questionable fork in the trail. Staying on the course and not getting lost was another big part of this whole “execute” strategy! Also, due to the fact that I was wearing my SCOTT Kinabalu 2 trail shoes, I actually never fell in the slippery mud or on the slick, sharp rocks that were scattered about on many sections of the course. My Drymax calf sleeves helped protect my legs from getting really cut up and the compression seemed to help the tibialis anterior tendonitis that I’ve been struggling with for the last couple of months (It still hurt quite a bit, though, despite that and all the taping I did before the race as seen in the video below.):

After an opening marathon split of 3:14 (much too hard of an effort considering the muddy conditions and technical rock sections), I braced myself for the remaining 36 miles. There was a decent chance I’d crash and burn…

Things started getting pretty tough around the 40-mile mark. I remember thinking back to my first 100 km race at UROC and how devastating it was to wrap my head around the idea of still having to run close to a full marathon just to reach the finish. I HAD to force such negative thoughts out of my head. I concentrated on just taking it one mile at a time and trying to keep the pace reasonable. It became a battle of looking at my Garmin mile splits and counting down the remaining tenths of a mile until the next aid station.

I’ve posted data from the run on Strava.

The Nachos and Chapas aid stations were very supportive. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers there, I was able to move through these stations efficiently. It became routine: ditch empty gel packets in trash, pick up a couple new gel packets, and fill up my Ultimate Direction handheld with Coke (or in some cases Heed). Also, I ran with an Ultimate Direction belt that had lots of pockets in it… sometimes I adapted and grabbed things on the fly and stuffed gels in my pockets to eat for later. I ate and drank stuff that I’ve never tried in training (I don’t recommend that.). I tried S! Caps for the first time because I knew I would be losing some salt through sweat in the relatively high humidity (Although I will say that I only took about five or six total… not even one an hour and each time I did it made my stomach feel a little iffy… something I’ve found out in long training runs with them.). I slammed some potato chips here and there as well. Good thing I’ve practiced with this key, extreme-carb-eating-running “workout” a couple years ago when I ran for Hansons:

The whole race I really had no idea what my lead was on second place was. With about 12 miles to go I was still looking back over my shoulder and expecting to see someone within a couple minutes of me. That kept me motivated (as did the mile splits I needed to execute up the final climbs to sneak under the course record). Things got pretty tough the last 10 miles or so… but I still tried to soak in the run… enjoy the terrain, the race unfolding in front of me after hours and hours of being alone. I thought of all the wonderful support I’ve been so fortunate to receive from my family, my girlfriend, my friends, my sponsors, and the running community. There was a lot of emotion and relief when I made the final turn onto the homestretch of road that led to the finish line in the last half-mile of the race. I drew energy from all these thoughts in my head and was even able to pick up the pace a bit and finish at a stronger clip.

Sage Canaday - 2013 Bandera 100k

Sage winning and setting the course record at the 2013 Bandera 100k. Photo: Rick Kent of Enduro Photo

In closing, I’d like to thank the Tejas Trails, volunteers, and RD Joe Prusaitis for putting on a memorable race. The support I’ve received from readers/fellow runners is also phenomenal and very much appreciated– I couldn’t do this without you guys! Also, I’d like to congratulate all the runners out there who participated last weekend.

Sage Canaday - Joe Pursaitis - 2013 Bandera 100k

RD Joe Pursaitis and Sage after the race.

Sage Canaday - Sandi Nypaver - 2013 Bandera 100k

With my amazing girlfriend, who is quite the ultrarunner herself!

See you on the trails,
Sage

PS. Here is some video footage of the finish-line area (I had just crossed the line.):

There are 52 comments

  1. Fernando N. Baeza

    Sage,

    Fantastic run! I was there at the beginning aid station, you came in looking fresh and like you had just run a warm up loop, simply amazing composure!I even took a picture with you at the end, congrats again on taking the win! I hope your TAT gets better.

    Fernando Baeza

    San Antonio, TX

    1. Sage Canaday

      Fernando,

      Thanks so much for being out there! I really appreciated all the support at the aid stations and meeting all the local volunteers and runners. Great event!

        1. Ben Nephew

          Really lame product placement, Sage, you must have been hanging out with the Hansons too long. Since Yeti and homer didn't provide any advice on how to be a cool ultrarunning star, I'll try and help out.

          1. When you go to a press conference or give an interview on camera, don't wear a shirt with any sponsor info on it.

          2. Don't wear your sponsor's shoes during the race. Wear shoes from another brand during the race, but make sure to put on your sponsor's shoes for the award ceremony. Even on epic training runs, wear shoes that works better for the run, and save your sponsor's shoes for the commercial shoots. At the very least, only race in prototypes custom made for you, and try to convince everyone else to buy whatever gets sold in stores.

          3. Don't thank your sponsors publicly, it is a sign of weakness. Everyone should know who you run for.

          4. Don't pick up the pace at the finish. Hug some babies, throw a cartwheel or two, spike your water bottle, and make an S with your arms.

          Congratulations on your win and CR in slow conditions.

          1. Yeti

            Thanks for clearing that up Ben, especially #4, but a little redundant considering the article you penned yesterday, don't you think? I just didn't realize irunfar gave away free ad space to the fastest runner. Man, I really shouldn't have smoked all those cigarettes in college, I'd be loaded!

          2. JD

            What are you guys talking about? Is IHOP sponsoring Sage??

            BTW Sage, it's nice you listed what shoes and calf sleeves you were wearing, since you otherwise would repeatedly get questioned as to "what's the secret"?

            1. Yeti

              The "secret" is no secret. Sage's superior work ethic, dedication and talent is why he wins races, not shoes or calf sleeves. And if anyone should be sponsored by IHOP, it's me, I'm like there best customer!

  2. Brett

    The running performance was pretty fair ;) … but a 2:17 800m run with 18+ pancakes and 2 eggs in your belly? You gotta take a run at the beer mile with an iron stomach like that.

    1. Sage Canaday

      I have a very modest beer mile PR of 7:20-something from back in college. I'd need a lot of speed work (and a beer sponsor…jk…but not really) to practice that one again!

  3. Anonymous

    What kind of courses would you like to try to win in the future,fast and "easy" ones or thecnical and tough (UTMB,Hardrock)?

    At this very moment you and Max are the fastest runners of the world

    1. Sage Canaday

      ah, I don't know about that… I think the 100 mile distance would be hard enough on just flat, "easy" trails. I'd probably have to do something like WS100 first before even thinking about doing a more technical 100…but that is totally different and takes different demands. More runnable is still probably better for me (as are the shorter distances under 100km). I do like uphills though and so the mountain running scene in Europe sounds nice!

  4. Jonathan F

    Congrats once again Sage. You had a fantastic race and it was awesome watching you speed past me on your way to the line. It was a pleasure meeting you at Diamond H Lodge – thanks for the picture. Hope you get to come back down next year. Hope your season continues to be successful.

  5. sck

    Sage- Great run! Congrats on the win and CR.

    Product placement aside…what is that belt you were wearing? I don't think I am seeing anything similar on the Ultimate Direction website.

    Clearly, I am looking for a new gel/toilet paper belt to compliment my handheld :). And the one around your waist looks great.

      1. JD

        Why not 'The Sage Endure', since you're the 'proven' beta tester?

        'The Canaday Endure' doesn't have the catchy rhythm; too many syllables.

        heehee

  6. Andrew K.

    That was a really impressive performance. Ultra race reports never do justice to the brutal effort required to achieve results like that. Congratulations.

  7. James Brennan

    We did a Japanese Hibachi challenge in grad school…full Japanese dinner, no bathroom trips allowed, fried banana dessert, 2 mile run home. After watching the IHOP challenge it reinspires me to do some crazy stuff like that again. Way to keep it fun Sage even in the wake of an Epic 100k day. Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out of it alive!

  8. Sage Canaday

    thank you! it is imposible to capture the feelings of emotion and physical toil in words (at least for an amature writer such as myself). Everyone who does ultras know this though – we share those memories of the struggle out there on the course… going the distance and pushing ourselves

  9. Mic Medeska

    I think the most important question that everyone seems to be missing is, what AWOLNATION song was stuck in your head? I've had "not your fault" looping through my brain on multiple runs.

  10. sck

    Thanks Sage- I think I speak for a lot of people when I say we are looking forward to seeing how you do at Western States this year.

  11. OOJ

    We're passionate about our beer, and beer miles, here in Oregon. Both Hal and myself have PRs in the low 6s. I really think I can break 6 (not so sure about Symmond's low 5). We'll keep you posted on the next "race". :-)

  12. Lucia

    Sage, congratulations! I read your book – thanks for sharing your experience, it was really interesting! Sounds like all the hard work is paying off for you! Congrats again on the race well done, and (referring to your book) I am glad you have a girlfriend now :)

    1. Sage Canaday

      Hey thanks so much for your support! I realize "Running For The Hansons" is a little rough around the edges (that was a very different period in my life) so hopefully you didn't find it too boring and/or offensive. Ha ha, yes I'm very thankful she decides to put up with me!

  13. Buzz

    Sage was testing the "Jurek Grip" (bottle holder), and the "Jurek Essential" (belt pockets). Both are uber-light and comfortable, designed by Scott Jurek, and available in May.

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