Today’s fearless female is Candace! She is always down for an epic adventure and is always finding the hilarity in every situation. She stays active with, well EVERYTHING. She literally does all the things. Except swimming, cause that’s not her jam. But everything else. Seriously.

Name? Age? Sport?

Candace Bruins, and according to a CBC article I read the other day on a study of the “mid-life crisis”, being 47, I’m at peak despair. Huzzah me! 

I don’t have a particular sport I do, I’m just a generally active person. My husband and I have a home in Radium, BC that we bought 12-13 years ago, so we spend a lot of time out in the Columbia Valley. In the winter it’s fat biking, cross country skiing, trail running, snowshoeing, curling and snowboarding. In the summer it’s mountain biking, hiking, swimming, road cycling, and trail running. The community is just as active as we are, so we’ve met a lot of friends there over the years. We also danced at our daughter’s dance studio for 10 years in Calgary.

Do you have a nickname? How did you get it?

Candy. It sort of goes with the territory when your name is Candace. It was used a lot more in my youth than now.  Calling out “hey Candy!” may not be a good idea at my age ha ha.

What do you love most about your sport?

Most people are surprised when I say I don’t like running. “But you run all the time!”, they say.  Well, yes, I do. I like the community I run with and the trees, not the actual running. No matter what activity I’m doing, I like it more with others, trees and my dogs. So it’s really about connection to people, to nature and to myself; that’s what I like about being active. I’m the self appointed “caboose” with the groups we hang out with in the Columbia Valley and happy to be that last one way at the back calling “I’m coming!”. Oh, and the coffee/beer meeting after with the group.

Where did you start? What was your beginning?

I guess I’ve been always active. Skiing with my Dad, dancing in musical theatre in Medicine Hat for many years (the joys of being in the chorus line for theatre). In high school I would bike across town to school and curled with the high school (we were the provincial high school girls’ champions one year) both of which I continued into university. My husband is also active, so we curled (how we met), skied and biked. When our daughter came along, we bought a chariot and towed her around behind our bikes everywhere. 

I took up running when my husband got into triathlon, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. We’ve biked through France, California wine region, Prince Edward Island and Portland. I’ve done three triathlons, which I learned I’m not a fan of the swimming part. I’ve done 5k’s, 10k’s and half marathons. When we bought our house in BC I switched to running trails and haven’t looked back. I actually ran a 50k trail race, in the snow. Although I didn’t officially finish it, due to all the course changes because of the snow, I ended up doing 50k anyway (the course got lengthened by 7k). So I called that a win.

How do you ensure you are at your strongest on race day?

My life is all cross training since I don’t do just one sport. Which to me, at 47 years old, means that everything hurts equally. It also causes my massage therapist to exclaim “stretch! You need to STTTRREETCH! Then this (as she leans into my IT band, and I whimper), wouldn’t be so tight!”

What's on your playlist?

I have a play list for snowboarding. I find if I have the right beat, my carving is much smoother on my board. Hair bands from the 80’s, Blondie, Poison, Aerosmith and the list goes on. For running or biking, I don’t listen to anything but nature and my own gasping for breath as I climb yet another hill while silently wondering if I could take out the leader next time I get close with his “Woo-hoo’s !” As he bounds up said hill waaay in front.

What's your fave piece of tech or gear?

Shoes. Seriously, if the shoes don’t fit or function well, you won’t like the sport. I have trail shoes I love, icebugs for the winter, cross country ski boots that keep my tootsies warm, boarding boots that keep me carving, and old board boots for fat biking, a (strangely) large selection of cycling shoes for different bikes and weather. My curling shoes are still awesome 30 years later. I have tap shoes from my tap days. Hiking boots for hiking season. Although my husband and I are empty nesters, we have what seems like like 87 pairs of shoes at the back door, of which one or two are for work, the rest for action outside.

What motivates you? What is your 'why'?

What motivates me? My partner in crime, Nikki Mountford. Mostly because she comes up with these crazy ideas and I answer “Ok! Let’s do it!” Then it’s some maniacal laughter and we’re off! Although sometimes its the crazy in the office that gets me out the door to get rid of it. Sometimes its the dogs who look at you and seem to say “can we go for a run now?”. Sometimes its a sunny day that cries out for a bike ride. Or the perfect snowy day for a ski. The mountains can call any time they like. Although a beautiful open prairie may need to be run some days. A picture of a friend of mine with a head lamp, a shot glass and a fat bike will send me out the door in a flash! Bikes? Night ride? Shot glass? I’m in!

How do you deal with race jitters?

You know, I don’t know if I’ve ever had pre-race jitters. Since I don’t take racing very seriously, that helps I guess. Even when I toed the line for the 50k in a ridiculous amount of snow, I wasn’t really nervous, I just thought, “this is so stupid, oh well, here we go….”. I guess I had either low expectations or the giggles thinking of how ridiculous this whole thing was going to be and the stories we could tell “we tried this 50k, but there was 63cm of snow see, and it was a slog see, by the afternoon the hills were ice and we were sliding down them calling ARGHARHGAH! And we lived to tell this tale!”

What is your favourite thing to do after a race?

Laugh. Seriously, I’m usually laughing when I come through the finish line (usually in pain, true, but laughing none the less). Even in a trail race when I’m dead last, I’m laughing and calling “I’m coming!”.  If Nikki’s around, we have started our “dead” pictures where we lay down at the finish line, face down, giggling (mostly because we need help to get up you see). You can see I don’t take racing very seriously, it’s more like a day out with like minded people for me.

What one word describes you? What word motivates you?

Weird. Or maybe “unexpected” would be the new ‘politically correct” term. I’m a scientist by training (physics, and yes I understand the stuff they refer to in the TV show the Big Bang. And since you asked, I relate more to Leonard in the show). I’m an artist by design. I live in a world where science and art intersect which is a weird and wonderful place to be. 

What are you most proud of?

Our daughter has picked up our active lifestyle and uses it in her life as well as she enters adulthood. She may not run, but she works out, has tried fencing and kick boxing. She likes to  bike, snowshoe and cross country ski. It’s so important to be an active person all through your life and it’s nice to see her at it. Her partner has also picked this up from us, as when he’s out in BC with us, we drag him all over the mountains, and like a trouper, he keeps coming back.

What challenges do you struggle the most with?

This year I discovered that burn-out is an actual thing when I ended up in the ER after collapsing. Who knew? I didn’t.

My career is in the oil and gas sector, and it’s hard not to notice that the last 5-6 years has been a struggle. Before that, it was go go go. I’m what could be called a “high octane” woman. I had read a book named “the high octane woman” which pretty much described me and those of us in the O&G world to a T. All my career, I’ve put the pedal to the metal and I finally paid the price, a trip the the ER and 3 months off work, of which I slept for the first month and a half. Even being back at work, I still get tired more easily than I should, which means I hadn’t really recovered 100%, but being that high octane woman, went back anyway to save face in front of my (mostly) male colleagues. I’ve lost a lot of my stamina, which is really annoying. Runs that were easy, now take some work.  I’ve learned a lot about burnout in the time I’ve been off, like apparently it is getting to be more common in our fast-paced jam-packed lifestyle.  I need to make some changes in my life so that it doesn’t ever happen again (trust me, burnout sucks). Change is hard though, at 47, because somethings are you’ve just “always done”, and other things are scary to change (what will other think if I make that 180 degree turn?). You’re too young to actually retire, and there’s debate if you’re a bit old to start a new career. I’m lucky because I have an awesome husband, two sisters and several close friends who are cheering me on as I figure out what happens next.

As a good friend of mine pointed out, sometimes life smacks you across the face because you aren’t listening. Smack, life did (a little hard, but hey, I REALLY wasn’t listening), now I’m listening.

You are one kick ass woman Candace! Thanks for sharing your journey!

The content of this interview was only edited for clarity and length.

Wednesday’s Warrior – Candace
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