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Hi, I’m Sarah Canney

I believe everyone has a story, here’s mine…

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 born and raised

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Growing up in the Granite State, I spent so much of my childhood outside hiking, cross country skiing, playing basketball in the snow drifts and building sandcastles in the summer. There was something about the freedom of being homeschooled that made it seem as if I could do or be anything I wanted. It’s part of the reason why my husband and I have chosen to homeschool our own kids. Maybe my entrepreneurial spirit was unearthed while constructing forts in the backyard, and my stubborn self-belief in seeing how far I could make it down the road on my bike before being called home? Either way, I love this little state and it’s tiny coastline, big mountains, glistening lakes and rural dirt roads. New Hampshire is home and it’s where I love to run.

love + a mountain

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He asked me what I was doing to recovery from an eating disorder. It was the first time I had met him. The only talking we had done was on the hike up Mt. Washington we just finished. He didn’t know me and his bold question caught me off guard. At first I was pissed, then I knew he was the one. Somehow, deep inside I knew he was right, what was I doing to recover from my eating disorder? I knew that if I was ever going to change I needed to have people around me who wanted more for me too. Mark wanted more for me, he believed in me before I believed in myself. That was 2001 and here we are all these years later, still in love, still challenging each other (and occasionally pissing each other off;) to become better versions of ourselves.

We keep going back to that mountain-it’s a monument in a way. We’ve hiked with our kids and now, every year I run up it at the Mount Washington Auto Road Race.

miles to go

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“I want to be healthy enough to run a marathon.”

That’s what I told myself just after I was diagnosed with anorexia in 2001. I thought if I was healthy enough to train for a marathon, then surely it would mean I had overcome my eating disorder. I ran my first marathon in 2003, and at the time I was in a healthy place, but shortly after I spiraled into a nine year battle with bulimia. During that time I struggled through more marathons, each time trying to reach my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon and each time falling short by a greater margin. My days were filled with the shame and darkness that comes from battling an eating disorder, but I wanted so desperately to be healthy and I though running could help me.  In 2007 I ran 4:11 at the San Diego Marathon (31 minutes slower than the Boston qualifying time) and I gave up. “I’ll never be a runner, I thought. I’m too sick and this is too hard.”

Three years later, with my eating disorder behind me I returned to running gradually I built back they physical and mental strength I needed, except this time I was nourishing my body. I made a return to racing at a local half marathon, running 1:55. I’d reached my goal of running under two hours, but I believed I could do better and for the next four years I set about improving myself as a runner and in the process gained confidence and an unshakable self-belief. In 2014, I ran 3:25 at the Sugarloaf Marathon, besting my marathon PR by 23 minutes and proving to myself that I had it in me all along. Since then I’ve gone on to win countless local races, finish on the podium at a National Championship in 2018 and represented the USA at the 2019 World Snowshoe Championships in Italy. If there’s anything I know to be true, it’s that you belong wherever you believe you belong, and you have the power to put yourself there.

embrace the hill

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I always had to walk the steepest hill on the outskirts of town. Every time. Except the day when I decided to change my attitude towards the hill. “If I hate this, I’ll never be good at it,” I thought. And then I tried to think of ways to not hate the hill: like it, love it, lean into it. “Embrace it. That’s it. Embrace the hill.”

That was 2010, two years later that mantra would become a life mantra as we face the most difficult year of our lives after our son was born with a congenital birth defect. Moments after Jack arrived we knew there was something wrong, after I’d had a chance to snuggle with him, the midwife informed us that he had been born with a giant melanocytic nevus--a potentially cancerous congenital mole that covered 80% of his back. In his first 8 months of life, he underwent an MRI, two planned surgeries, a third un-planned surgery and fought off a post-op staph infection. It was a difficult time that tested our mental and spiritual resilience and the strength of our marriage. It was during that time that I remembered the #embracethehill mantra.

I threw myself into raising money and training for the CHaD Hero Half Marathon, the fundraising event for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock where our son had his surgery. Putting the mantra on a t-shirt seemed a great way to help raise funds and since 2013 we’ve raised over $25K for CHaD. I’ve gone back to that race every year with the dream of winning it. I haven’t achieved it yet, but I’ll keep embracing the hill until I do.

Struggle isn’t a sign of failure. It means you are a beautiful work in progress.

I hang out on Instagram every day, come join me! @runfargirl