Truth be told, I was introduced to Candice McKnight's story after reading an article about her from the Obstacle Course Racing Media website. After reading about Candice McKnight's “transformation”, and her battles with anxiety, I wanted to share her story. To me, Candice McKnight is a Badass Woman in OCR as she has embraced change, constantly faces her fears, and is pushing herself to do more and be more. She has come so far in her health journey, and I am excited to share her story with you all.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Today, I am a proud mother of 2 amazing boys that fill my heart will joy every single day, I am a wife to the most amazingly supportive husband, he has stuck by my side through some seriously dark times and his love for me has never wavered, I am a reliable friend and a confidant to those I share my time with, I am so incredibly happy that some days I feel so overwhelmed by it I will actually take pause and weep. Unfortunately, to get here has been years battling anxiety and depression and I now feel safe and comfortable talking about it openly, quite frankly to anyone who will listen, simply because I'm finding the more I talk the more people around me are relating to me on such a different level than before.
I am 33 years old and have worked as a legal assistant In Calgary, AB for almost 13 years. I was born in Vernon, BC and moved to Grand Forks, BC when I was 12. This was a difficult transition for me, kids that age were mean and I was bullied at my new school for having space in my teeth it was around this time I developed an anxiety disorder which would influence 100% of my decisions but I wouldn't realize I had for another 5 years.
Growing up I had very busy parents, we owned a small business and it was a lot of work to keep it running, I started working at the gas station/campground when I was 12 and because of this I developed a very strong work ethic, I was taught that absolutely nothing is given to you, if there's something out there that you want you to have to fight for it. I also had the gas station (a candy store) attached to the front of my house! A kid's biggest dream right? Not so great for a teenage girl who's already getting picked on for her appearance. I got pretty chubby and even more insecure. After high school I moved to Calgary to go to college, this is where I discovered my love for fitness, I started at a small gym and I remember the payments bouncing more than they went through, but I would always make it my priority to get that bill paid.
Did you always consider yourself athletic?
No, definitely not, I mean I certainly wanted to be and I continued to try, I played Basketball, volleyball and field hockey in school but I was always mediocre at best.
How did you get into the sport of OCR?
I was first introduced to OCR when my sister asked me to a Spartan Sprint with her and I couldn't find it within myself to say yes. I was terrified of failing and because of this fear I often wouldn't try new things, I allowed it to consume me and stayed in my comfort bubble. Then my love and respect for my sister became stronger than my fear when she asked me to do a Tough Mudder with her, I had 6 months to prepare and I told myself she “needed” me to do this with her, I have always been more willing to do things for other people, so I convinced myself I was doing it for her. In agreeing to do this Tough Mudder with her I was introduced to Glenn Hole and the OCRGuyChallenge, his challenges gave me strength and revamped my entire relationship with exercise, they were really fun workouts.
What was your first race like? Which one was it?
Through the OCRGuyChallenge I won a challenge and received an entry into the X Warrior Challenge and was absolutely TERRIFIED!! This was another major hurdle in my quest to conquer my anxiety. The race was exhilarating and just full of personal bests and overcoming fears. The build-up to the race was a massive struggle between “I can do this” and “I should just quit before I embarrass myself”. Thankfully I went with the former and showed up to the start line, I broke it down into baby steps and pushed myself to achieve each one. Once I was at the starting line though, all the doubt began to fade.
Tell us about the races you have done so far.
What initially drew you into the world of OCR and adventure racing?
Peer pressure from my sister 🙂 I have always used fitness as my medication for my anxiety, this allowed me a new focus and the ability to overcome so many mental obstacles while conquering physical obstacles as well.
Do you feel that due to strong women like yourself, that others are more willing to push their own limits?
Absolutely! My sister has always motivated me to be strong and brave and without her continually having confidence in me, even though I rarely had any for myself, I wouldn't be where I am today. I am so thankful that there are columns like this to reach out to women and empower them, build confidence to get out there and be proud of who they are!
What has been your favorite obstacle and why?
Oh, my absolute favorite is the X Dragon, this obstacle kicked my ass, I fell down the initial ramp 3 times, I think? I had slivers falling out of my forearms for weeks! In the end, though I beat it and it was my first real encounter with grit, something just came over me and I couldn't quit or let that one beat me, I love it not only for what it taught me about myself but also how fun it was!
What has been your least favorite obstacle and why?
Oh boy, the spartan multi-rig, I failed that one 3 times and all of them were the exact same way! I kept kicking off from the foot ring and spinning in circles on the ring I was hanging on to, it was a spectacular fail each time.
Is there is an OCR or endurance race that you will never do?
I'm not really interested in the ultras at this point, but my philosophy is “never say never!”
Are you someone that plans your race schedule in advance (to take advantage of things such as early bird pricing) or do you sign up for things on the fly?
I'm definitely a planner, but it's not so much for the pricing as it is the scheduling, as part of my continued growth these things need to be on the calendar or they just won't happen.
With so many amazing women on course this year, do you find yourself becoming more competitive, inspired or both?
I'd say I'm more inspired and a little competitive. I'm continually in awe of the women and their strength in this sport. I was listening to Rose Wetzel give birth on the Spartan Up! podcast and it was incredible! For someone to open up like that and be so vulnerable and strong, was truly inspiring. I think I will try to race more competitive this year simply as a challenge and it seems like the natural progression in my personal growth at this point. My boss once told me that it's important to have a goal, which may seem obvious to most people but for me, at the time I was living in a very complacent state, I was content just surviving day-to-day and wasn't really working toward anything. Last year my goal was to finish, this year I want to be faster than I was last year and maybe a bit faster than a few other people my age 🙂
What type of training do you complete for OCR training?
I'm currently nursing tendinitis in multiple tendons in both knees as well as IT Band issues, there's a reason they say “consult a physician before starting any new fitness activity” I have recently started working with Josh Stryde who has designed a plan for me to build strength while continuing the rehab required for my knees. Unfortunately, I am unable to run for now so rowing and cycling has become a big part of my regime as well as yoga. I continue to follow the OCRGuyChallenges and participate in those because they are always a good time. I'm pretty lucky to have an amazing facility like cor.fit here in Calgary, where I can train on many obstacles and under the guidance of incredible coaches.
For someone that is newer to the OCR sport, what is one solid piece of advice that you wish to pass on?
Because I'm fairly new to the sport, I'd like to start with the person who has been watching Spartan or American Ninja Warrior on TV and thinking “that looks fun, but … “, I want to say NO BUTS! This sport is literally for anyone and everyone, last year I witnessed the most seemingly out of shape people get out and slay these races! So my advice is to sign up! Find something in your area and just sign up, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Who inspires you?
Every single day I watch my boys and marvel at their sweet innocence, they help me strive to be my absolute best because they are depending on me, they inspire and push me to try new things and to show them that being vulnerable and being afraid is ok, we can talk about these things and work through them together. I swear they teach me more than I teach them.
Another big inspiration in my life are my sisters and my mother, I am thankful to come from a long line of Badass Women who have shown me how to be strong and stand up and fight for myself and other people. They inspire me to persevere through the hard times and relish in the good times.
What is one your one A race/bucket list race you want to do?
My bucket list race is World Championships, I hope to make that happen for 2019. My A list race, and a race I will never miss is the X Warrior Challenge Stadium Sprint, (I'm aware I said “never say never” above!), that race has taught me more than any self-help book could even touch on.
Is there anything else you want to share with us?
I just wanted to say, to anyone reading this if you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, please know you're not alone and there are plenty of resources available to gain the strength and confidence you deserve! I am so happy to talk more in depth about my personal journey if anyone needs someone to talk to.
Whats the best way to reach you on social media if someone wants to reach out?
I can be reached on instagram as @mcknightcandice