Sage Canaday (Scott) is having what might be his most successful running season to date following transition from road marathons to the mountain/ultra/trail scene this year with his win at Mount Washington and course record at the White River 50 (in his 50 mile debut, no less) standing out in particular. In the following interview, find out how Canaday thinks his fitness differs from his road marathon days, some details about his White River race, and how he plans to race his first 100k at the UROC 100k.
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Sage Canaday Pre-2012 UROC 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Sage Canaday before the 2012 UROC 100k. How are you doing, Sage?
Sage Canaday: Good. How about yourself?
iRF: Doing well. We’re in from the rain; it’s pouring. But tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day out on the trail and the roads.
iRF: You’ll be kicking around some new shoes. You just joined Scott [Sports].
Canaday: Yeah, I’m really excited for the opportunity to represent a good brand. It fits good, and I really like the company. It’s a new development, and I’m really excited.
iRF: Congratulations on that. Even larger congratulations on one heck of a year so far!
iRF: You’ve run two ultras now. You did great out at Chuckanut despite getting lost, and …
Canaday: And falling and stitches…
iRF: And falling. You were still second, right?
iRF: Then the White River 50 mile course record.
Canaday: Yeah, that was a good experience. I kind of got lucky that I didn’t bonk out there.
iRF: Tell us a little about that.
Canaday: It was my first 50, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I did write Anton [Krupicka]’s splits on my arm for each aid station because he had them up there. So it was kind of in my mind, but I really just wanted to get a good 50 under my belt, not bonk, and … you know, I had a low spot after 30 miles. I was like, “This is really far. I’ve never run over 4 hours before.” But then I felt better after that, and you’ve got a big downhill. Then I lost my GPS watch signal in the last 8 miles and it started showing that I was running a slower pace. So I thought I was off the course record and I wasn’t going to get it. I was like, “Well, 6:30 is still a good finish.” I was discouraged. But then with a mile to go, it picked back up, so then I was going to run a faster time than I thought. So it was a good experience.
iRF: Well, that was a heck of a 50 mile debut.
Canaday: Oh, thanks.
iRF: Now, you have an extra two hours on your longest run.
Canaday: Yeah, another half marathon almost.
iRF: Any thoughts about stepping up another distance in the ultra spectrum?
Canaday: Well, I’m a little nervous about that. I think the extra time on the feet is going to be maybe a challenge for me. I think the course is good because it’s a good mix of roads. The vertical isn’t insane. So hopefully I’ll be able to get through it without bonking too bad. We’ll see.
iRF: Aside from ultras, you were at Pikes Peak. That went well for you as well?
Canaday: That was kind of a rough one actually. I wasn’t… I hit the wall pretty bad in that actually. I think it was the altitude. I don’t really have an excuse because I live in Boulder now, but 12,000 feet will crush you.
iRF: Yeah, that’s no 5000 feet.
iRF: You’ve had a couple years where you really concentrated on road marathons and road racing. How would you compare your overall fitness now to those days?
Canaday: I think it’s hard to compare because the speed’s not quite there. I did have to do some speed training because four weeks ago I did the mountain championships. That race was 14k, and it ran more like a cross-country course. So I kind of got more in touch with my speed there. I kind of worked on the turnover. It’s a different type of fitness really. It’s more about fat-burning, spending time on your feet, getting in tons of vertical versus doing track workouts. I haven’t touched a track all summer and spring. It’s a refreshing change of pace I’d say.
iRF: How are you enjoying being in Boulder and spending a lot more time in the mountains?
Canaday: It’s great. I’ve never really been in the mountains. My parents went to school in Boulder, so they kind of know the town. But it’s a good running community, lots of trails. I don’t have to touch pavement everyday like I used to. It’s fun. I’ll see how I survive my first winter. I’m used to the snow; I ran in upstate New York and Michigan for a couple years, so I’m not too worried about it.
iRF: How are you going to approach this first 100k? It’s a big race with lots of top competitors.
Canaday: Conservatively. I’ll just key off of Max [King] even though it’s his first 100k, too. Maybe I’ll key off the more experienced guys, too—guys that have actually done 100k’s and 100 miles, guys that have run here before because they have a lot more experience. It would probably be a good idea to learn from them on the fly. It’s going to be a challenge for sure.
iRF: Speaking of Max, I just interviewed him awhile ago. You’re his pick as the favorite.
Canaday: Uh-oh. I don’t know about that.
iRF: That’s an unusual position for somebody who’s a rookie at a distance. Do you feel—you’ve come into the sport and had some great results—do you feel pressure to perform, or what are your thoughts?
Canaday: I guess there’s a little pressure. I kind of like that. It’s going to be hard though because it’s such a long way compared to what Max and I are used to. I don’t know a lot about the trail running scene yet, but it seems that each course challenges different runners differently—if you have a bad day, if you get really epically bad. So I think that makes a big difference… weather and things like that…. There are just a lot of variables.
iRF: For one thing, you’ve never dealt with a real low in a race before. I was talking about that with people this morning. You ran a 50k and it went pretty well. You ran a 50 miler and aside from being a little down about knowing where you were, you didn’t really have any rough patches.
Canaday: No, not like epic.
iRF: Have you thought of what you would do if you have a down patch?
Canaday: Try to be mentally tough… I mean, I’ve run some pretty bad marathons before that got pretty bad. I did a 30-mile training run two weeks ago that was pretty bad. Basically, I decided walking was too hard, so I had to sit down in the middle of the trail. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back to my car. Hopefully that won’t happen.
iRF: Just realize you can come out of those places.
Canaday: Okay, yeah, you start eating more, right?
iRF: Yeah. It was awesome because after Chuckanut, we talked and your enthusiasm about ultrarunning and trail running just poured out. And here again, you just seem so excited six months later into the sport. Has your passion grown? Or how has it changed in that half of a year?
Canaday: Oh, it’s definitely grown. I’m just learning more. I think it’s a big learning curve. So it’s a great experience to travel around to different courses, different races. Racing in Europe three weeks ago really opened my eyes to the mountains over there. You’ve got all these different events with great people. So it’s really exciting to me.
iRF: Is this the end of your season or are you going to keep riding that wave a little longer?
Canaday: I’m hoping I can ride the wave. The North Face 50 is definitely on my calendar. I might pick up a race in between this one and that, but definitely the North Face 50.
iRF: Well, best of luck learning and out on the course tomorrow and good luck with your season!