OMG I am finally back for the 3rd Shoeless Joe Interview! To appease my growing number of fans (We need to think of a name for you guys! “Vibram-holics”? “The Never Shoe’ds”?), let me satisfy you by presenting my new interview with one of the hot, young, and new talents in the world of trail running, Sage Canaday!
Sage has built an impressive resumé of racing and non-racing accomplishments. He was the only collegiate runner to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2008. He’s since run a 2:16 marathon, a 1:04 half, written a book (“Running For The Hansons“), and won the competitive (and straight uphill) Mt. Washington Road Race. But he really caught my attention since deciding to take on the trails and those epic miles found beyond 26.2. Sage has only run three ultramarathons. A 50k in March (Chuckanut), White River in July, and the UROC 100k in September. But heading into the NorthFace 50 Mile in a couple weeks, Sage’s name will be among those listed as pre-race favorites.
Shoeless Joe: Welcome one and all to another edition of the Shoeless Joe Interview! Today we’re rolling deep with a young man named Sage (looks at card) Can…a-day…? Sage ran track and cross country for Grinnell University and he’s also twice run the marathon Olympic Team Trials!
Sage Canaday: Wait, wait, I’m going to have to stop you right there. I went to Cornell…not Grinnell *College.* Big difference. And I’m not talking about Cornell College in Iowa or wherever that is…I’m taking about Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where we bleed Big Red and walk up 15% grade slopes in 10 feet of snow both ways to class. Ever heard of it?!
SJ: Ohhh! Yeah, my friends Clint and Sarah Wattenberg went there, I think. I should have known that! Only 26 years old Sage, you’ve since become an immediate presence in the trail ultrarunning circuit. In your first-ever ultramarathon, a nasty fall and an extra 1-2k kept you from winning the competitive Chuckanut 50k in course record time. I was there! About an hour behind you.
SC: Actually let’s not speculate too much there. A certain other former-Cornell runner named Max King also got lost and if that didn’t happen, there was a good chance he would’ve taken it to me in the last flat (and slightly downhill) 10k. But we were on pace to better Geoff Roes’ course record before getting lost…even in the snowy, slippery conditions.
SJ: Right. And in his first-ever 50 mile, Sage stayed on course and did not fall and easily beat Anton Krupicka’s (pronounced not even close to correct) White River course record. What’s the future have in store for Sage? More ultras? FKTs? Beer miles? Let’s find out!
First off I should note that in a departure from previous interviews, this one will be conducted over the phone, since Win Van Pelt refused to foot the bill for a flight out to Boulder, Colorado, where Sage is currently residing. Hopefully you won’t even notice!
So yeah…Sage, let’s get started. How are you, it’s great to finally speak with you!
SC: I’m pretty tired and cranky because I haven’t had enough coffee and beer today…yet. Anyway, thanks for your call, I’m always up for interviews and putting everything out there on the table, so this is good. How have you been doing?
SJ: Wow, thanks for asking! I’m doing ok!
Now, you’ve burst onto the scene and I’ve seen a few interviews here and there. Most of them discuss your college background, running with Hansons, marathon success, transitioning to ultra-marathons, et cetera. But no one really seems to touch on your high school career. What was that like? Did you run in high school? Or play football or some other sport?
SC: I actually started running pretty seriously in middle school and continued every year since then. I quit soccer in 7th grade because my coach told me I was better off running up and down the field as a decoy without the ball at my feet. From then on I pretty much devoted myself to year-round training for track and cross country.
In high school I had some decent success, running about 4:30 in the mile, but I never qualified for the Oregon state championships in track. In cross country I was a lot more competitive, although a certain someone named Galen Rupp was a good 50 seconds ahead of me for 5k at states.
SJ: Galen? That’s a funny name!
SC: The only other sport I seriously considered going pro in during high school was disc golf. I played in some monthly tournaments here and there across the northwest and got 6th place at State in the PDGA “throw-run-catch” event, clocking over 100 feet. Of course back then I wasn’t old enough to get a beer company sponsor so I gave up on the dream and just ran more instead.
SJ: Was your high school cross country team a meat market like mine? Guys and gals hooking up left and right? By which I mean holding hands shyly and doing homework together? And is the disc golf circuit similar in that regard?
SC: (Audible laughter!) I’d say it was more like a vegetable market, unfortunately. My college team was more down the lines a meat market though–
SJ: At Grinnell?
SC: No, Cornell. University. In the past I’ve only dated runner girls on the team and there is no way to get around the drama associated with that. In fact, one of my main motivations for starting running was to pick up a girlfriend. It’s worked out well at times and it’s worked out quite poorly at times. I can’t say the disc golf scene had very many young women to hold hands and play catch with…plus I have “speed goggles” for runner girls only! Also, just to throw this out there for the ladies: I’m currently single.
SJ: I too only started running to date a girl! Hopefully SRC can hook you up with a potential wife. How would you compare/contrast high school female runners, collegiate female runners, female marathoners, and your new experience with female ultrarunners? Are there any ultrarunners in Colorado?
SC: Now I don’t want to get in trouble here, so I’ll just say that all runners in general are crazy. Absolutely insane! And college runners probably are the most high-strung. Anyway, since crazy attracts crazy, I’m still holding out on the hope of finding that cute and fast runner-girl that will put up with my shenanigans and meager race winnings. From what I’ve seen there are hardly any ultrarunners in Colorado. I’ve seen a ton of disc golf players and roller skaters and BMX bikers though. Can’t say any of the female disc golf players have caught my eye…yet.
SJ: (laughing) I like your confidence! I’ll keep on the look out for hot women disc golfers around Seattle and report back if I find any. It’s too bad about the lack of ultrarunners in Colorado though; you’d think the state would be full of them. Can you describe your living situation there? A lot of roommates, or are you living alone? Do they have grocery stores in Boulder, or is it just one big farmer’s market on Sundays?
SC: I live off of the land…and with coffee from Starbucks. There are a lot of co-ops and communes with vegetable gardens and solar-powered clay huts. However, I try to simplify my life beyond that, with a meager existence in a 2-bed, 2-bath apartment next to the University of Colorado cross country course. I have one apartment-mate who used to cut the 10k in 31 minutes. He still jogs a bit with me. I don’t know about any farmer’s markets around Boulder, but if there were some they’d probably only sell fried rattlesnakes which I’m not interested in, being vegetarian.
SJ: Are there any training styles, theories or equipment that you simply cannot do with or without? For example, I know I will CrossFit for the rest of my life, and I will always wear Vibrams even if it means I’m always injured. I also started shaving my legs but wow that takes a lot of time so I’m not committing to it for life. Plus I bled a lot and almost fainted.
SC: First of all you need to get laser hair removal for your legs if you’re a guy. It’s just not worth the risk using a Gillette Mach 5 razor around the knees, getting a cut and losing some precious blood. I thought the Vibrams were too cushioned so I cut the heels off of them so I could have a *true* zero-drop for natural running. For my aerobic capacity I swear by the Powerlung since I have asthma and can’t breathe. Oh yeah, I also do 16 minute abs while holding a 10 lb weight across my chest. With weights, it’s not just about curls for the girls you know!
SJ: Good tips on leg hair removal! I’ll look into that. You don’t really see advice like that for guys on other running websites very often.
If you’re ready I think it’s time for the world famous Fleet Feet Fast Acting Lightning Round! Sponsored as always by Fleet Feet Seattle! We keep it short and sweet, and work as fast as we can. Ready?
SC: Let’s do it.
SJ: Ok. What are you wearing right now?
SC: Just my my whole birthday suit and a pair of shoes.
SJ: Really? Wow! What kind of shoes?
SC: The SCOTT Sports Race Rockers. They weigh next to nothing and they really rock! I feel naked when I have them on because they are so minimal. It’s good though. I like the whole idea of natural running.
SJ: If you have not yet raced in them I would highly recommend the Vibram SeeYa!
SC: Yeah I’m here.
SJ: Ok. How many Facebook fans do you have, and does that number satisfy you?
SC: At least a couple. I am never satisfied!
SJ: Rate these activities in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest: Setting a 9-minute course record at the White River 50 mile, writing a book, qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in the Marathon, reading posts on a typical letsrun.com message board thread.
SC: Reading LetsRun.com posts is by far the hardest. It is such a chore because you can’t tell if people are trolling or are actually being totally serious. After that: writing a book (too many words and not enough numbers), the Olympic Trials Marathon and then the White River course record.
SJ: I recently dropped my phone in a public toilet and had to use a pay phone. When did you last use a pay phone?
SC: Hmm. What is this “pay phone” device you speak of?
SC: I have no idea who or what these people are. I’ll just go with Lisa because she sounds kinda hot.
SJ: Saved By the Bell man! You’re not *that* young are you? (singing) “When I wake up late for class, the teacher’s gonna be mad, nuhhh nuhhh NUH…cause I’m Saved By The Bell!”
SC: Oh really?! Well, I guess you must be really old then! I’ve heard the title but can’t say I’ve ever seen that show. I grew up in the backwoods of Oregon and our TV only had 3 channels so I didn’t really even bother watching it as a kid.
SJ: Wow. Ok. Well, so you know, you picked the rich spoiled one so good luck at your next few races! Umm. Where was I…oh. Usain Bolt: Inspiring or annoying?
SC: Annoying! He may be the fastest man in the world at sprinting, but he could probably win by a larger margin and set better records if he didn’t celebrate so much.
SJ: You wanna go halves on a pie? I only have enough cash for two toppings, what you got?
SC: At first I thought you meant a dessert pie, so in that case whipped cream and chocolate chips. But now I think you actually mean a pizza pie, so I’d go with extra cheese and extra cheese (they used to call me “Plain Cheese Canaday” at Hanson’s).
SJ: That’s crazy, a friend of a friend of my brother only liked sausage on his pizza. So I hear they called him “Sausage Party Paul”.
SC: Well, I think that’s kinda gross because I’m a vegetarian.
SJ: Oh I know. Totally gross! Back to you though, has Sage Canaday ever been to Canada, eh? lol get it?
SC: Not all all. I think you are making fun of my accent and that is not very funny to me!
SJ: (pause) Who, aside from Dean Karnazes I assume, inspires you as a runner more than anyone else?
SC: The Penguin.
SJ: What course record (any distance, any terrain), aside from Dean Karno’s South Pole Marathon course record I assume, is the most impressive to you?
SC: I’m not even sure what the time was officially, but I’d have to go with that sort of recent video of someone setting a world record in the beer mile. That is one tough event that requires a really special talent!
SJ: That was Nick
y Simmons Symmonds and it was just a Oregon state U.S. record. But still, 6:31 5:19 was his time! If you have his home address phone number, I’d love to have it , or his social security number.
SC: I don’t have his digits, but maybe you could ask Paris Hilton for them?
SJ: Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t a runner, I’d be ___?
SC: A fighter pilot, duh.
SJ: Cool! Finally, we have to ask…Pretty Woman or Dirty Dancing? And explain.
SC: I don’t remember seeing Dirty Dancing all the way through, so I’d have to go with Pretty Woman. They say that money can’t buy you love, but this movie seems to be hard evidence that money actually does talk, and it wins the heart of Julia Roberts.
SJ: Mark a yes vote for Pretty Woman, its first one so far! That does it for the Fleet Feet Fast Acting Lightning Round…nice work, Sage, and over the phone too! Enhanced degree of difficulty! Did you have fun?
SC: Thank you! And, it was ok.
SJ: I’m probably going to be fired from my non-paid position if I don’t ask you about White River, seeing as how it’s an SRC-related race and one of our most exciting times of the year. But you absolutely destroyed that course in your first 50 mile attempt and I was wondering if any aspects or parts of the course and race stood out as particularly enjoyable….maybe beside crossing the finish line of course! Or any parts of the course particularly unenjoyable?
SC: First of all, I’ll say that I’m really glad that I chose White River as my 50 mile debut. My Pacific Northwest roots really enjoyed the wooded trails and views of Mt. Rainier. It was a great crowd to run with as well as the race director put on an awesome event! I’d have to say my low-point in the race was in the middle of the big climb around mile 32. I had to make a pit stop in the bushes and before that I had started walking because my legs felt numb. It seemed like I had forever to go still and I was sure that I would be hitting some sort of wall. Then, the next aid station near the top of the climb, I felt great again because I got some Coke in me and the friendly aid-station volunteers snapped a picture with me; that was a high point. After that I was able to rally and I felt more confident as the downhill miles clicked off and I stayed under course record pace.
SJ: And recently you got 2nd at UROC (the Ultra Race of Champions), finishing about 15 minutes behind Max King. This was your 100k debut, yes? Was it hard to have such a disappointing race following your Chuckanut and White River 50k/50 mile ultra debuts? You seemed to handle Max easily at Chuckanut. Was it just an off day for you?
SC: Yeah, it was my first 100k. Max ran really strong and I was with him until about 35 miles when I felt the sudden calls of nature. That cost me a good 60 seconds or so. After that it really just turned into a matter of survival and I turned my focus from trying to win to just trying to make it to the finish line without walking. The parasites I had in my gut from Europe had curtailed my training and strength for ultras. I averaged only 60 miles a week for the previous 6 weeks. All I could do was muster up a weak jog for the last 20 miles. Max pulled away quite convincingly at a high rate of speed.
SJ: Aww man, that’s a shame. I had to pee during a 10k once and it definitely affected my race. So I can sympathize.
SC: Oh if it’s pee, I just let it flow. No use in losing 20 seconds when you can just wet yourself, get more chafeage, and test the fluid drainage in your shoes. This was a number 2 pit stop, which, in my book, does require an actual break from running. As a matter of fact right now I feel something brewing in my intestines so I’m going to have to hang up on you soon!
SJ: Ok, no problem! One last question then! In ten years…you’ll be 34 or 38 or…wait, how old are you?
SC: If years were miles in a marathon…that’s my current age, although I turn 27 in a few days.
SJ: Ok, so you’ll be 35. Wait, how many miles in a mara–36! Sorry! Lol. Anyway, what kind of accomplishments would you like to have achieved in this sport? Like, if we’re reading a biography about you in 2022? What is your “accomplishment bucket list,” I guess is what I’m asking.
SC: That’s easy! Of course, first I’d just like to still be alive in 2022 as that sounds like the very distant future. Athletic goals are easy to come up with though: Obviously a sub-6:00 in the beer mile and a sub-27:30 in the Kripsy Kreme 8k Challenge. It’s going to take a lot of dedicated training and a little bit of luck, but those are the two big ones I have in mind for the rest of my career.
SJ: Well I may as well throw in a plug for a race that sounds like it’d be right up your alley Sage, the 2013 SRC Fat Glass 50k! Six 5.2 mile trail loops, chug a beer before each loop! The Balanced Athlete’s Eric Sach is the defending 2-time champ. You keep improving as quickly as you are and I bet you could take him! There’s no prize money but there’s a potluck afterwards. You can stay at my house and I’ll give you a ride to the race! Are you allergic to cats? I have seven.
SC: Sounds like a good time as long as the beer is nice and hoppy! I’m all up for provided food and lodging at a race too. Not sure about staying at your place though; I’m kind of more of a dog person so I think I’ll pass. Anyway, I really gotta go! Last time I took my cell phone into the bathroom with me it drowned in the toilet!
SJ: Been there, done that Sage! Before you go…any questions you’d like to ask me?
SC: Yeah, I guess I just have just one question, and I’m only asking you this because it’s really important. When are you going to get that laser hair removal for your legs that I recommended earlier? You can tweet your answer to me @SageCanaday if you need more time to think about it! That’s all, I’m hanging up right now!
SJ: Ok Sage, thanks, just one more–
Many many thanks to Sage for letting me call him on his friend’s phone! Sage will be winding up his 2012 season at the uber-competitive NorthFace 50 Mile in San Francisco, a little over two weeks from now, and as one of the contenders he will most likely be interviewed by irunfar.com. You can also enjoy his blog at sagecanaday.com and his running-related media ventures at vo2maxproductions. And like many people his age, he twitters and facebooks in lieu of watching Saved By The Bell!
Call for Comments (from Joe)
- Which SBTB character have you fantasized about going steady with?
- Isn’t Dean Karnazes great?
- Are you a single female who would like to date or marry Sage?
Call for Comments (from Sage)
- Do you like beer?
- A lot?
- What is your favorite type of beer?
- What is your favorite brewery?
- Any single ladies?
Call for Support (from Joe)
- If you thought this was at least “ok,” please consider either becoming a member of Seattle Running Club or renewing your membership. Sage said if he lived here he’d totally do so himself. Fast slow and everyone in between, please join our community of running nerds!
- Did this offend you? 🙁