904’s Fittest: Kacie Cleveland
World Record for fastest crossing of America on inline skates, beating the previous record by more than 22 days
First female to inline skate across America
World Record for most elevation climbed in a stairwell on a team of 4 in 24 hours. Total elevation: 76,440 vertical feet (Mount Everest 2.5times!), 5,880 total floors
Competitive Tower Climber
Boston Marathon Qualifier
If you’ve been reading our magazine for a while, you might remember Kacie from a short blurb we did about her crossing the country on inline skates last year. Yes it was an amazing feat but we didn’t want to take anything away from what our local athletes were accomplishing here in Jax.
Why the feature now?
Well after Kacie traveled across the country and having had the opportunity to visit so many different cities along the way, she realized just how awesome Jacksonville was and decided to move here! Her words not mine…
You wouldn’t know it by looking at her but just a few years before deciding on skating across the country, Kacie was in the hospital with doctors trying to figure out why her heart had stopped. There was no clear explanation and they didn’t expect her to live much longer. Fortunately after some research and process of elimination, Kacie quit taking a prescribed medication used to regulate her hormones. The heart complications had ceased but it wasn’t long after Kacie was plagued with another issue. Compartment syndrome. There are a number of things that can cause this but essentially what it is, is a swelling of the muscle within its fascia compartment. This swelling can cause permanent muscle and nerve damage. Kacie believes her case was caused by overuse having been a cross country runner for a number of years. Her case affected the legs leaving her unable to walk at times because of the excruciating pain. She was not to walk, run, or stand on her feet for any extended period of time. This left her alone in the swimming pool hauling her legs behind her for exercise and on the couch or in the bed the rest of the time. Over time, compartment syndrome can subside or go dormant when the affected muscles aren’t used for an extended period of time. This eventually happened for Kacie but to this day she occasionally suffers.
Often after traumatic experiences people do great or unthinkable things but Kacie said she’s always just wanted to live a life with no regrets. She recalled a summer of cliff jumping with family and friends where she was the only one who opted not to jump off of the cliff into the water below. Later that night she lied in bed wondering what it would have been like if she had jumped. She hated that feeling! The next day she demanded that everyone go out to the cliffs again so she could jump and she did.
“One feeling I hate having is the feeling of regret or doubt. I am driven by the power of accomplishment, and LOVE of empowering others through my own actions!”
Ok, I get it. Who wants to live with regrets? But what inspires someone to skate across the country?!
“My original inspiration for long distance skating was The East coast greenway. It’s a 2500 mile traffic-free path linking East Coast cities from Maine to Florida.” (www.greenway.org)
“From there the plan and route changed a number of times from driving to Maine then skating to Florida to skating from California to Maine and finally from California to Florida.”
“The only people that thought this trek would even be doable was my sister, Melinee Fischer (who drove the support vehicle for weeks through Texas and Louisiana) and my husband Adam Cleveland, who left his job as a quality engineer at a medical device company to support my dream and goal of skating across the country!”
What type of training did you do to prepare yourself?
“At the time I didn’t even know how to skate. I mean skate like I’m going to skate across the country! I ran and did CrossFit until I actually got some skates. I called a skate store called Inline Warehouse. I told them what I planned to do hoping to get 15% off and they ended up giving me a pair of skates that day!”
“Eventually after some practice I skated 66 miles to my friend Brittney Tanguary’s BBQ with my friend Kira Malone on a bicycle next to me! I did this one year before LiveGiveSKATE to prove to myself that skating long distances was possible! Painful, but possible! It was shortly after this Adam proposed after a 12 mile hike on the Na Pali Coast trail in September 2011. We both agreed that any of our time, effort, or money should all go towards LiveGiveSKATE and help us cross the country on inline skates!
Before actually leaving for the trip the longest distance I had gone was 72 miles with my 72 year old skate partner/friend: Esteban Ebenoza on his 72nd birthday!
Where did the LiveGiveSkate idea come from?
“If I was going to do something great, I wanted it to benefit a great cause. I coached Track and Field for the Special Olympics in College because of my cousin, Matt Gard, who is autistic and loves competing! The Special Olympics does this for millions of children and adults around the world!”
What was the hardest part? Did you ever feel like you weren’t going to make it?
“In El Paso Texas the side of the I-10 has deep rumble strip across the entire shoulder. I had to walk with my skates on because they wouldn’t roll over the deep grooves! I remember just crying and Adam would hold me for a while when they pulled up to give me water and I’d start again.”
“There were parts of the freeway with no shoulder at all, so I would have to jump into brush when cars came by. It’s hard to skate and watch for traffic at the same time. My friend and Professional Tower Runner Kevin Crossman would yell out when cars were coming – he selflessly rode a bicycle next to me throughout my ENTIRE trek! He protected me and did whatever he could to keep me focused.”
Kacie and her crew eventually made it to Jacksonville Beach June 15, 2012, more than 2,800 hundred miles and 47 days, 23 hours and 34 minutes after leaving Solana Beach, CA on April 29, 2012.
She has only been here since July and has already helped put Jacksonville on the map in promoting fitness. Last month she and 3 other tower climbers, Kristin Frey, PJ Glassey and Mark Trahanovsky set a world record for climbing the most elevation in a stairwell for 24 consecutive hours. They did this at the Bank of America building downtown, to help raise awareness for the North Florida American Lung Association.
Before we finished up our coffee, she had tea… I asked her what she planned on doing next. She wasn’t exactly sure but said she’s always working on her top ten.
Kacie’s Top 10 Things To Do
Qualify for the Boston Marathon
Run up Machu Piccu
Ride in a hot air balloon
Inline Skate across the country
Run 100 mile race
Complete an IronMan
Swim with Sharks in South Africa
Raft the Grand Canyon
Run the Hills of Ireland
If you happen to see Kacie and her husband Adam around, be sure to welcome them to Jacksonville!
You might be surprised how quickly you run into them or see some of their work. They helped start Speedy Banana.
Special thanks from Kacie to her husband, family, and supporters for ALWAYS encouraging her – Without Adam, none of this would have been possible!