Just a few days short of the anniversary of his first ultra, Sage Canaday is in New Zealand for the 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon. In the following interview, Sage talks about running the Bandera 100k in January, taking two weeks off from running, a film project he’s working on, his parents’ support of his running, and being vegetarian most of his life.
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Sage Canaday Pre-2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Sage Canaday on the North Island of New Zealand. How are you doing, Sage?
Sage Canaday: I’m doing awesome. I’m happy to be here.
iRF: It’s pretty awesome you’re sort of new (a season in) to the whole ultra scene—actually, less than a year because Chuckanut is this weekend.
Canaday: Yes, one-year anniversary.
iRF: Yes, and you’re already at the point where you get to travel to awesome opportunities like the Tarawera Ultra.
Canaday: Oh, I feel really fortunate for that.
iRF: You probably didn’t think you’d hop right into the trips to New Zealand.
Canaday: No, I did not think I’d end up here. It’s a dream come true.
iRF: It’s pretty awesome. It’s not really the first big race of the season. Races used to start in March with Way Too Cool and Chuckanut, and it’s March here with Tarawera, but you already raced Bandera. How did that go?
Canaday: It was great. I had a really fun time. I didn’t get lost. I didn’t fall either.
iRF: Good job!
Canaday: That’s always a major concern. I felt a lot better and a lot stronger doing 100k at Bandera than at the UROC just because I had more experience with the distance. It’s still a really long way for me to go. I’m still learning the ropes on that. It’s manageable enough. It still sounds far. But as long as I don’t go off course and run extra distance, that’s a main goal always.
iRF: Did you win that one with a course record?
Canaday: I did, yeah. I didn’t get lost and I snuck under Dave’s time by a couple of minutes.
iRF: Who had the course record? Mackey?
Canaday: Yes, Mackey had it. I got under it by a couple of minutes, so that’s an added bonus. It was muddy. There was rain down there. I don’t think it’s usually that muddy. There was some mud on the rocks and there are a couple of really rocky sections. That made it kind of challenging for me, too.
iRF: It is technical in some of the sections.
Canaday: Yes, some of the sections are technical.
iRF: So two months since then—what have you been up to?
Canaday: Mainly… well, I had to take two weeks off after that. It was really my first injury scare that I’ve had in my whole running career. Going into that race, I was kind of injured with pretty bad shin splits. About two miles into the race it started hurting really bad. After the race, I was so beat up I could barely walk. I was just like, I’m going to take two weeks totally off and not run, which is the longest break I’ve taken in about five years from running. I did do some biking and had fun with that. I did some snowshoeing—my girlfriend got me out for that. It was really fun to change it up. When I returned to running about six weeks ago, my shin was 100%.
iRF: That’s good.
Canaday: Is there any wood to knock on here?
iRF: My head. Did you find it refreshed your drive or your desire at all?
Canaday: Oh, for sure. Being in Colorado and not really being a skier, it was good to get out and experience the snow, the snowshoeing, from all those different angles. It’s so mild in Boulder that you could go out and ride your bike still. The roads are clear most of the time. It was good to recharge mentally, too. I think it’s good to change things up and take that break and slowly get back into shape.
iRF: You took your break and now it’s time to hit the ground running. How do you see your competition here?
Canaday: It’s a loaded field. You’ve got all these international athletes coming in. Not knowing the course, it’s kind of hard to say how things will stack up. I know the weather is going to be an issue, too. I came from Colorado running in a hat, gloves, and jacket. Here it’s probably going to be in the 70s (Fahrenheit).
iRF: You’re in a sweatshirt now.
Canaday: Yes, but you get out in the sun and get running and you’ll be sweating. Yesterday, I was running shirtless, and I wanted to go for a swim in the lake after about an hour. That will make it interesting. The trails will be fun to get out on and explore. There’s a lot of single track and a lot of rolling hills, so we’ll see.
iRF: Aside from your running, you have a video project. You’re always doing your videos with VO2 Max Productions. What are you working on this year? It’s kind of a big one.
Canaday: I’m hoping to put together a little documentary. It’s kind of unofficial right now, but I’ll do some highlights on YouTube. I’m hoping to film throughout the year if I get to travel to Europe a couple of times maybe. The scenery here I’ve been filming. I’ll get some race footage and some interviews hopefully with key players like you and some of the top athletes. I just want to introduce a new perspective of how the sport has evolved with sponsorship but also with runners moving up in distance. You’ve got runners like Max King, Anna Frost, Ellie Greenwood—they mix it up on the roads, too, and in shorter events, and they’re moving up in distance. That’s kind of changed the dynamic of the sport.
iRF: Even in the last six months with Trent Briney and Emily Harrison…
Canaday: Exactly. I’d like to interview them because it’s changing so fast and it’s growing so fast. Some of the changes I think people like to see and some of them they don’t. It’s good to get different perspectives on that and also capture race footage from around the world and my experience with running and trying to make it as a living basically.
iRF: One thing that I could tell last night that hasn’t changed—you’re still new to moving up into the ultra scene for a year now—your parents came all the way to New Zealand to be part of your experience. What’s that like having them here?
Canaday: It’s really nice. They’re so supportive. They’ve always been so supportive since I started running in middle-school track even—they came to my races. Really, it was a great surprise that they were going to come out here and support me. That helped me improve a lot in running in the last decade—my parents’ support and everything they’ve done for me. I’m really thankful that they could do that and that they put in the time and effort. Big thanks to Mom and Dad!
iRF: Enjoy your time here in New Zealand and have fun this weekend!
Canaday: I will. It should be awesome.
iRF: Bonus question: I don’t know how I didn’t know this having known you for a year now and having seen you at a bunch of races. You’ve been a vegetarian for your entire life. Tell us a little bit about that.
Canaday: It’s my parents’ fault. I should say I was born and raised vegetarian (ovo-lacto), and I’ve tried meat on and off, but it tastes like a foreign cuisine and it’s weird. I think I can get enough protein basically without it, and I’ve been doing well. I’m basically built out of cheese and peanut butter. Those are my main protein sources. I try to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible. I took a couple nutrition classes in college at Cornell, so I’d like to think I know a little bit about what I’m eating. It’s been an experiment. You always have to monitor your iron and B-12, and as an endurance athlete I think anyone does. That’s kind of what I’ve taken away from that. It’s easy to find stuff to eat in Boulder.
iRF: Do you take supplements for those key nutrients?
Canaday: Yes, I’ll take vitamin D, B-12, iron—I don’t take as much iron now, though. My iron levels have gone up. I just try to eat a balanced diet and eat healthy. I’ll take those vitamins just in case because I know I probably don’t eat as balanced as I should. I indulge in sweets a lot… pizza, pasta, pancakes…
iRF: You run a lot of miles.
Canaday: Yes, I can get away with it.
Canaday: It’s part of my lifestyle.
iRF: You run well with it.