Thursday, October 3, 2013

The View at the Top is Nice, but it's Not Bad on the Way Up Either.

I’m just going to say it.
I am so proud of my boyfriend, Sage, for finishing 6th at UROC. Not because he managed to finish 6th on a bad day, but because of how he reacted to it. I had never seen Sage train so hard for a race before. He gave it everything he had. Then after all that work, he had a bad day. While others (by others I mean me) would have been upset and down on themselves, Sage was okay. Sure he was disappointed, but he was still happy with his life and a race wasn’t going to change that. In fact, we had a great time on Sunday as we rode our bikes to Pearl Street to have dessert instead of dinner.
                What really amazes me is that Sage almost always has this great sense of what matters in life. Even as people who have never met him say mean things about him through a computer, Sage just shrugs it off saying that they just don’t understand his situation and that’s okay.  I have never seen someone handle negativity, in any aspect of life, with so much grace.
                It’s been said that certain people come into our lives for certain reasons. I understand now that Sage came in my life not only to make me happy but to help me change how I see things. As Sage can attest, I often don’t handle things very gracefully, but I’m learning through him.

                To celebrate his 6th place at UROC, I want to share a fun interview I did with him earlier this summer. It may not be magazine worthy material, but it was a fun way for me to work on writing skills and so I’m happy with that. (I'm completely okay with the fact that it might be lame that I thought it was fun to interview my boyfriend to work on my writing skills.) 

The View is Worth the Climb

Trail Runner Sage Canaday Climbs His Way Up to Become One of the Best.
Written by Sandi Nypaver

To be honest, I really didn’t like Sage Canaday very much when our paths first crossed. I posted a Facebook status on my page looking for guidance on deciding between two races I wanted to do and his advice was “Go for the money!” He was joking of course, but I still thought he was insensitive and certainly not someone I wanted to represent the sport of ultra running. But when he swung by my small mountain town for a run, he quickly changed my negative opinion.  These days he’s playing his guitar for me in our small cabin overlooking the Rocky Mountains.

At the age of 26, Canaday left the renowned Hansons – Brooks post collegiate training group after running a 2:16 marathon in order to pursue his trail running dreams. Before he left the team, he told his coaches and teammates his future plans in trail running and they all laughed, thinking he was joking. Thankfully, Canaday knew it was time to trade in his road running shoes and pick up a pair of trail shoes that could take him through mud, streams, and snow. His decision not only led to an improved lifestyle, but ended up paying off big time as he became the US 2012 Mountain Runner of the Year and won a handful of competitive ultra marathons, often with a course record in tow.

                The idea of trail running as a career hasn’t always been complimented with an excess amount of praise and admiration for the now 27 year old Oregon native.  Canaday’s been scrutinized for his speed, and has been accused of taking performance enhancing drugs.  He has also been dubbed as one of a handful of runners who is changing the good nature of ultra running by being a full-time runner with plenty of sponsors. When asked about the topic, he responded by saying that while the comments are hurtful, it’s only a small glimpse of how harsh the elite road running scene can be. Despite the harsh comments, Sage is happy knowing that most trail runners will do what they can to support his dream. He goes on to admit that he still realizes it’s a privilege to be able to live off the money he makes from running, as many people have tried and failed.  Though the statement “It’s a dream come true” might be a little corny and an overused, I often hear him say it and mean it wholeheartedly.

                Running isn’t Canaday’s only passion.  He picked up a video camera when he was 8 years old and has been making videos ever since.  As I listened to him talk about his ideas for his YouTube channel, Vo2max Productions, his eyes lit up as it was clear his passions for running and filming are intertwined. As he edits film from a trail run or a training discussion designed to help others with their own running, he often loses track of time as the clock goes from PM to AM.  The creative process captures the attention of his mind, a mind that seems to be able to move even faster than his legs, which has ultimately helped his videos reach over a million people. Canaday scarcely mentions to anyone that he also uses his filming success as a catalyst to help others in need by donating a portion of his earnings to charity a few times a year.

                Canaday, is constantly busy, yet he is determined to keep improving his running in addition to all other aspects of his life.  Behind every runner is a lot of sacrifice, sweat and untold stories of failure and pain, and Canaday is no exception.  He lives for the sport and all the pain that can come with an ultra or running up a mountain. I can’t help but smile as I watch him bound up a mountain like a dog that doesn’t know the difference between uphill and a downhill, because I know he has yet to show the world his full potential.


SN: When did you first think about doing an ultra?
SC: When I was on the Hansons- Brooks team I saw an ad for The North Face 50 mile Championship and really wanted to do it. I knew the longer the distance the more competitive I could be, especially off the road. I wanted to train differently and was extremely motivated when I began ultra training.
SN: Is training for trails harder or easier than road racing?
SC: It’s different and I’m still learning just how different it is. I’ve recently found out I need to focus more on the time I run and how much vertical I do rather than miles. It is easier to be motivated to start a run with such great trail access but I find it a challenge to train for the different race courses because of the differences in elevation, terrain, etc. Running is definitely more enjoyable on trails!
SN: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced switching from road to trails? What have you learned?
SC: Staying on course and being able to run technical downhills. I’d rather have a big uphill at the end of the race than a technical downhill because I feel almost out of control. I started focusing a lot more on running downhill and getting in more climbing rather than worrying about how many miles I run.
SN: What do you miss most about road running?
SC: I miss knowing the course will be well marked and it’s rare to get lost. I also enjoyed being able to run even paced miles.
SN: What’s the best part about running ultras?
SC: Drinking beer after the race with other competitors and people! I really enjoy the sense of accomplishment from running ultra-distances as well.  Then there is the variety of trails, animals, the sunrise, and race challenges. It’s hard to choose what the best part is.
SN: You’ve trained with a team since high school. How’s running solo?
SC: I sometimes miss the camaraderie of a team but then again I feel like I get that from the ultra-running community. It’s nice to run my own pace on easy days. Always running with a team can get too competitive and we could run each other to injury.
SN: Is it true you once considered going pro in another sport?
SC: I played disc golf in high school and traveled to other states for tournaments and was pretty good. I thought about going pro so I could travel and even make some money. My dad, brother and I even built a course in our backyard. I also really wanted a beer sponsorship but I was too young to get one. (Canaday finally got his beer sponsorship with Avery Brewing this year).
SN:  What are your future goals?
SC: I really want to see what my full potential is and get the most out of my body that I can. Hopefully this will allow me to keep travelling and competing with the world’s best.  It’s also my goal to keep my life balanced and running in perspective. Hopefully I can always be involved in the sport and still be running in my 70s!
SN: Has success always followed you in running?
SC: No, I actually didn’t think I could run in college because I regressed so much my junior year of high school due to an iron deficiency. I had to use my sophomore times to send to college coaches. Then when I got to college at Cornell I gained 20lbs and went home for a semester to figure out what I really wanted to do. I struggled with my first year on the Hansons-Brooks team as well. I trained the hardest I ever had and ended up running a disappointing marathon. I felt too tired to compete.
SN: What foods keep you going?
SC: Cheese! And peanut butter, sweets and beer! I also eat plenty of organic veggies, fruit and grains. No meat though since I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life.
SN: You have some family history to be very proud of. In fact, a book was written about your ancestors. Can you talk a little bit about that?
SC: The book Stubborn Twig tells the story about the triumphs and tragedies of my Japanese American family. My great, great grandpa Masuo Yasui traveled from Japan to America in 1903. He built a life for him and his family from almost nothing and became a prosperous businessman and orchardist. Because of my family’s hard work, they broke race barriers in business, schools and sports while excelling in almost everything. Then during WWII my family was put in internment camps along with thousands of other Japanese Americans and they lost everything. Thankfully, my family endured and once again built a life they were proud of.
SN: What’s an odd fact about you?
SC: I can ride a unicycle and juggle at the same time.


  1. I liked it! :)
    ...Sage you should do a unicycle video on yt for cross training! ;)

    1. I agree! Although I think his unicycle is in Oregon so it might be a few months. :)

  2. Simply great, What a good girlfriend you are to help, learn and stand by Sage. UROC was really a very tough race, and I for one am proud to say he did very well, among the competition. When in an ultra, sometimes, you have to look at it, as racing among yourself and that's what he did. It was great to meet you two and I hope you enjoyed the small gift from Texas. I was most happy to see how his family was out there crewing, cheering him on and being a part of his race. That is what matters, Sage has family, friends and you that are there for him. That is what matters in life. Sure, winning is great and so is prize money but when you come home to Family/Friends and You, His Happiness is complete. Those moments are priceless,not everyone has family/friends that are there for them 100%. Best of luck to you both in all that you do. I do appreciate the blogs, training videos and everything you guys do to help other runners in their pursuits of running ultra-races. Thank you for all that you do.

    1. I'm so glad you posted a comment! Sage and I really wanted to say thank you! That was so nice of you and we loved the present! Congrats on the 50k- I believe it was your first too? What an awesome accomplishment on a hard course. That's awesome! :)

  3. Cool interview! Thanks for sharing!

    I was at the UROC finish line taking pictures this year; thought you might like this one!



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