Rollerblades bring us back to our childhood. Zipping down the boardwalk on hot summer days, gliding through our neighborhood, feeling invincible as the wind breezed through our hair. While most have left their skating days in the dust, Kacie Fischer has chosen to do just the opposite: embark on a cross-country journey with only inline skates strapped to her feet. Faithful advocate of the Special Olympics and survivor of heart disease, this record-breaking athlete chats with The Chalkboard about fitness, failure, and fearlessness.
The Chalkboard Magazine: Most people think inline skating is reserved for roller derby or the skate park. How did you originally get into long-distance inline skating?
KF: “My family built and owned a local ice arena in Bellingham, Washington where I learned how to skate playing ice and roller hockey with my older brother Derrik (who is an incredible ice hockey player). Endurance skating started when I was in middle school. I would visit family in southern California during the summer, and the only way we were able to spend the day at the beach was to find our own transportation – so skating 20+ miles each way was the fastest way for us!”
TCM: You suffered from heart failure at a very young age. How did your health scare affect your athleticism, and moreover, how you now live your day to day life?
KF: “When I started having heart failure, I had to stop all training and competition for my university’s track and field team at Cal Poly SLO. I wore a heart monitor for months while doctors were still trying to determine what was causing my heart to fail. Walking up stairs started as a challenge, and eventually I developed external compartment syndrome in both of my legs, which kept me from walking altogether.
That was in 2005. Now that I am strong and healthy, I really cherish every day, take advantage of any opportunity and ALWAYS listen to my body. I am stronger now than I ever was before any of my health issues started, and I believe it is because I decided to never give up! I hold my title as a Promax DOer very seriously as I truly am an everyday warrior.”
TCM: How did you first become involved with the Special Olympics, and why should more people champion this amazing organization?
KF: “My cousin, Matthew, has been a Special Olympics athlete for years, which first introduced me to the program. I have seen him become more engaged with people, make lasting friendships and stay focused on improving himself on and off the athlete field because of this organization. People want to do something that makes them proud of themselves – Special Olympics provides this opportunity!”
TCM: How did your organization, LiveGiveSKATE, come to life?
KF: “My fiancé Adam and I started a non-profit called LiveGiveTrain Charities with a goal to encourage others to be more active, give to others and live a life they are proud of. LiveGiveSKATE is our first event highlighting my cross county inline skate trip, while raising awareness for Special Olympics.”
TCM: What do you find the most exciting thing about long-distance inline skating?
KF: “So many things! Seeing the country at 5-20mph really allowed me to appreciate the different landscapes and enjoy myself, rather than racing through towns unable to really capture the uniqueness of each town. I also love rediscovering how far I can push both my body and mind while staying strong. Skating 8-15 hours a day really showed me that I can handle a lot of pressure – and will make every workout after this seem so much easier!!”
TCM: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from inline skating?
KF: “ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. I am much more vulnerable skating than I am running because of the rough road surfaces– so no zoning out! I have to be aware of small rocks, twigs, animals, cars and highway rumble strips while rolling on my tiny 110mm wheels – one small rock can be catastrophic!”
TCM: What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years? 10 years?
KF: “Anything that seems ‘impossible’, so my list gets longer every day! I hope to complete a 100-mile road race – maybe even Badwater (135 mile race in the desert), an Ironman, EXterra World Championships… and I want to start competing in more endurance races!”
TCM: What is your favorite healthy meal?
KF: “I eat pretty simple and like to stick to the same foods. Breakfast is usually Greek yogurt with half of a banana with almond butter and dinner would be asparagus, mushrooms and chicken!”
TCM: Favorite way to cross-train?
KF: “I have yet to specialize in one sport! I always encourage people (especially athletes) to cross-train to strengthen the entire body. Swimming makes me a stronger runner, skating strengthens my endurance and legs, Crossfit helps me build strength and quickness, cycling is low impact and helps with leg strength and yoga keeps me loose and keeps me from getting injured from all of the other sports I do! I will never specialize!”
TCM: Favorite fitness clothing brand?
KF: “I am in love with Nancy Rose Performance fitness clothing for the unique tops, and of course the new racing gear I am working on – Speedy Banana – which is a fun way to express yourself through fitness and competition!”
TCM: Personal motto?
KF: “Once your body accepts what your mind has decided to do, you become unstoppable! I tell myself this all the time – reminding myself that I am stronger than the temporary pain I am feeling, so keep pushing, and the end result will be SO WORTH IT!”