Have you ever thought to yourself, "I think I want to inline skate across the country!"?
Well, me neither, but when I heard that inline skater and Promax DOer Kacie Fischer was doing just that, I had to learn more. What I discovered made me want to track her progress and cheer her on every glide of the way! For a young woman who was once told by doctors that she'd never run again, she's now setting world records and doing all she can to give back.
Sidelined by heart failure
GirlsGoneSporty (GGS): You’ve always made sports and fitness a priority in your life, but you also had to deal with significant health issues at a very young age. Can you summarize some of your story, and how sports and fitness helped you regain your healthy lifestyle?
Kacie Fischer (KF): I have been a competitive athlete all my life. While racing on California Polytechnic State University's (Cal Poly’s) track team, I started having heart failure at only 21 years old. My health started spiraling into a domino effect of negative side effects over the next two years, leaving me with external compartment syndrome which made it difficult to walk for several months.
I forced myself to swim for mental sanity, but because I was still unable to use my lower body, I had to drag my legs through the water like two lifeless stumps. I believe my life was saved because I made the decision not to give up.
Unofficially diagnosed and still a mystery to every doctor and specialist, I regained my health and strength after removing myself from a birth control I had been using. I am now stronger and more competitive than ever before. I am currently a world ranked tower runner, racing to the top of skyscrapers by stairwell, and I am training to break five world records by inline skating across the country to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics. My big trip starts in April 2012!
GGS: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, but young, active women often think they’re protected. What advice would you give to women who may be overlooking symptoms of disease?
KF: Pay attention to your body and never take “no” for an answer. If something feels strange or wrong with your body do something about it and fix the problem before it becomes something serious. I have learned that the worst thing to do is nothing!
GGS: Birth control may have played a part in your health struggles – I was taken off hormonal birth control at 19 because my doctors feared it could lead to stroke. Many women don’t seem to be aware of the cardiovascular risks associated with birth control. Did you have any symptoms before your first fainting episode that could have indicated something was wrong?
KF: I had no symptoms before taking my medication, and I collapsed for the first time one month after I started taking it. We have not been able to determine if birth control was the main contributor to my health issues; however, one month after discontinuing the medication I felt like my life had restarted for the better. I urge every woman (and man) to listen to their own body and make decisions based on what their body is telling them, keeping in mind that doctors are regular people who sometimes make mistakes. If you are unsure about a diagnosis, seek a second, third, or eighth opinion!
Finding triumph after the trials
GGS: When you were in the depths of your struggles, how did you continue to press forward and not give up?
KF: The sports I compete in have taught me how to fight through pain, and to never give up. Accepting that I might die at any moment was the worst I have ever felt, but coming out the other side, I can honestly say I am glad this happened to me because I truly believe I can do anything, no matter how difficult it may seem.
A Helen Keller quote I love and something my parents always taught me: "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved."
GGS: Despite being told you would never run again, you’ve participated in dozens of races and are ranked worldwide in tower climbing – how long did it take you to return to competition after dealing with your health issues? What accomplishments are you most proud of?
KF: Nine months after my doctor told me I was “never going to run again” I completed my first marathon, where I also qualified for the Boston Marathon. Finishing that race confirmed that I could accomplish anything if I had the right mindset. When I decided I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything stand in in my way, I became unstoppable.
Skating across the country
GGS: This spring and summer you’re skating across the country to raise money for Special Olympics. Why is Special Olympics so near and dear to your heart? What inspired you to decide to skate across the country? Why skating vs. walking, running or cycling?
KF: I was first introduced to Special Olympics through my cousin Matthew who loved participating and cheering others on. I saw Special Olympics give so many people an opportunity to experience the joy of sport and pride in accomplishment, which is what LiveGiveSKATE hopes to emulate.
I started inline skating when I was young and remember thinking that skating the two miles to my friend's house was so far away! Now I am attempting to break a world record by skating more than 280 miles in 24 hours! I am motivated by challenges, and I have to say that this is going to be my biggest challenge so far!
GGS: How can GirlsGoneSporty readers help support your cause?
KF: Donating to LiveGiveSKATE, joining us along our 4,000 mile route, supporting us at an event or simply waving hello as we “roll” through your city! All support is greatly appreciated (and will be needed after months of skating)!
Challenged by CrossFit
GGS: You recently became a CrossFit Coach. What do you find so appealing about this form of training? Do you have a favorite CrossFit-style exercise?
KF: I was introduced to CrossFit by my fiancé Adam, who had been doing it for years. I was initially intrigued by the sport because of all the exercises I was absolutely horrible at! CrossFit continues to challenge me mentally and physically every time, leaving me humbled after each workout! I would have to say I love squat cleans and box jumps the most; however, my double unders need the most work!
Check out these videos that show CrossFit box jumps and double unders>>
Tools of the trade
GGS: What’s in your gym bag?
KF: I have an emergency workout bag in the back of my car equipped with two sets of workout clothes, two pairs of running shoes, two pairs of skates, two helmets and two Promax bars! I always have two sets of everything so my friends have no excuses when I ask them to workout with me. Then, we have healthy snacks for afterwards!
GGS: What’s your must-have workout gear?
KF: Spandex (duh), and my new fluorescent orange Brooks running sleeves.
GGS: Do you have any favorite fashion or beauty items?
KF: Glitter nail polish! I love painting my nails bright, fun colors with wild designs!
GGS: When you’re not training, how do you rest and relax?
KF: That question doesn’t exist in my life right now!
GGS: What’s your favorite healthy dish?
KF: Grilled fish and asparagus with roasted tomatoes made by my amazing fiancé Adam.