iDream Athlete Spotlight
The sport of running gives us a sense of hope and a future. A way to process life. Running races gives us the vision to set goals, and dreams, and pursue passions! More importantly running also gives us so many opportunities to give back to our communities.
And that’s exactly what the iDream Athlete Foundation helps with! From athletes like Zach and Jessica iDream exists to elevate the community through sports. From race fees, sports equipment to travel expenses they exist to serve athletes who otherwise may not have these opportunities.
Introducing Jessica Payne – iDream Athletes Spotlight Foundation Scholarship Winner
Local “coach Jess” hasn’t always been a runner. In fact, she comes from a background of little to no exercise, avoiding PE (physical education as it was called back in the 90s) at all costs! It wasn’t until her first child was about six years old that she found running! It quickly became a liberating stress reliever from the demands of working full-time in the pharmacy as a single mother.
After running her first 5k in late 2011 she decided it was time to go big or go home. Let’s run a marathon! That marathon finish line propelled her to later become a personal trainer, run coach and cheerleader for others. From running 5k training boot camps to coaching runners online she wants nothing more than to encourage others in the race of life. If she could find joy from pain through running she wanted others to find that hope as well.
Running from PPD and PTSD
Since then she has been married for seven years and added two more little ones to the mix who are four and two years old. As you can imagine her life got overwhelmingly busy, and fast! But, in-between that time she found pockets of time to train and take over an hour off her marathon time!
However, things took a bit of a nosedive after she transitioned to a becoming more of a full-time stay-at-home momma to care for the kiddos. Not being able to work left little extra for things like running but it was more so of a critical point in her life to save her mental health. Battling with postpartum depression and newly diagnosed childhood PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), running became even more vital to her well-being. During this time she decided to get professional therapy to help her cope, manage her mental stress, and to literally save her life. Through hard work and humility she has regained her mental health and continues to learn more about PTSD.
Now more than ever Jess is motivated to pursue both her personal running goals and coaching career goals.
What’s Next for Jess
Jess has some pretty big goals ahead included breaking 3:00 hours in the marathon before she turns 40. She knows that age is just a number and we can be faster as a master. Her other goals include raising her children in love (priority number one), learning how to move past her childhood PTSD, educate others on the subject and be an eternal cheerleader for others who may be wading through the valleys of darkness.
Leading up to these goals you’ll find her racing the RAD 10k this June and the Black Bear Half-Marathon in October as tune up races for her marathon this November where she hopes to break 3:10 on her sub-3:00 hour marathon quest before 2025!
“It’s not only opened avenues for personal development and growth for myself but also opportunities to help others on their journeys as well. It’s given me the chance to be a light in the community. Thanks to the team at iDaph and iDream for sponsoring me as an athlete I now have the gift to continue racing and training! This also helps me to spread the love for the sport and testimony from childhood trauma to living a life of LIGHT and love. Joy after trauma is possible with therapy and running! And I’m on a mission to spread the joy of running and how it can help teach you how to move forward.” - Jessica Payne
You can connect with coach jess over on Instagram here.
To Give or Apply for the iDream Athlete Foundation
Entering the sport of cycling, running and multi-sport can be costly. Removing the cost barrier for athletes who are interested in training for or participating in a running, cycling or multi-sport event is key to growing our WNC sports community. With iDream Athletes Foundation, we will be able to provide an approachable and comfortable setting for young adults to gain exposure, experience, and training in their sport. This allows us to support and spur on healthy, active lifestyles in our community members.
Jessica Payne was awarded a scholarship from the iDream Athletes Foundation
Scholarship Fund. The scholarship has helped fund the race fees needed to work towards her ultimate goal in the marathon distance as a competitive athlete.
Do you have a swim, bike, and/or run dream that you need financial assistance to accomplish? Learn how we can help you achieve those dreams.
To give to the iDream foundation or to apply for a scholarship visit here for more information
. No aspiring athlete should feel stuck due to finances. They are here to help those dreams come true. Asking for help can feel awkward and hard. But, please don’t hesitate to reach out via email.
RAD Half-Marathon and 10k: Fast, Fun, and Scenic
You’re new PR is waiting for you this June at the flat and fast RAD half-marathon and 10k!
We welcome you to the brand new RAD Half Marathon & 10K! The race run through the best parts of the city of Asheville, North Carolina. Including downtown city streets, River Arts District, along the French Broad River, and through the park for this city-style, point-to-point race. This fast race is a dream come true for runners looking to get a personal best in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The majority of the miles are ‘flat’ running along the river on the greenway and through the city parks. Endurance runners will have an opportunity to ‘break in’ the brand new section of the newly completed greenway section of the French Broad River Greenway on Riverside Drive and Lyman Street. Enjoy mostly paved surfaces throughout the entire event with a few dirt sections within the French Broad River Park.
Flat, fast and downhill
Both the half-marathon and 10k distances are point-to-point starting in downtown Asheville running downhill into the River Arts District. Both races finish on Foundy Street in the River Arts District.
Not only is the nInaugural RAD Half-Marathon & 10k both fast the races are also incredibly scenic! You’ll be greeted with a complimentary beer, a one-of-a-kind finisher medal, live music, and a free shuttle back to the start line after the race.
Both the half-marathon and 10k courses are USATF certified and sanctioned. Which means you can trust that the course is measured to the exact distance and set an official record for the books.
Cash prizes are up for grabs for the overall male and female winners. Hand crafted local glass awards will be given to group award winners.
And the post-race party is one you’re not going to want to miss!
- Live music
- Post race vendors
- Complimentary beer
Cheers to your new PR!
The RAD Half-Marathon also qualifies as a part of the Appalachian Trilogy Series. Get ready to check another half-marathon off your list while running your best this spring.
If you’re looking to soak in all the sights and sounds of Asheville while achieving a new PR, this is the race for you!
See you at the finish line!
Running with Heart
How Jenna Fought for Her Heart’s Wholeness to Run Free
Imagine being an athlete your entire life, running with heart as much as possible and yet still feeling like every day was a struggle. Like you knew you had more to give but your body seemed to keep failing you no matter how disciplined you were. If Jenna’s story doesn’t inspire you to move I’m not sure what else could.
As an athlete for most of her life, Jenna always felt breathless at times and like she just physically couldn’t push harder despite wanting to. It turns out it had nothing to do with her athletic ability or intrinsic motivation, she had and still has both of those to the max! But, as we find out below in her interview it was a missing piece in the most vital muscular organ in the body: her heart.
I did not know that I had two holes in my heart that prevented good oxygen flow, which was why I never could enjoy running to its fullest potential.
Today she thrives as not only an athlete but also as a mom to two active kids and as a middle school teacher.
Running with Heart: Jenna’s Interview
How did you come to love running?
I have been interested in sports and played them for as long as I can remember. I came to love working out as more of a hobby after I had my children who are 8 and 10 years old. It was a great way to relieve stress and have some “me” time. As much as I have always wanted to love to run, I never did enjoy it until recently. I did not know that I had two holes in my heart that prevented good oxygen flow, which was why I never could enjoy running to its fullest potential.
How did running feel before surgery?
Before I had heart surgery in August of 2021, every time I would run for any length of time I would get winded quickly and dizzy. It did not matter how in shape I was. I kept pushing anyway and figured that this just must be what it feels like to run. Doctors in the past said it was due to asthma, but we came to later find out it was due to heart defects.
When did you discover your diagnosis?
I have suffered from stroke symptom migraines since high school. I kept having an increase in the amount of migraines I was having and the severity of them. No migraine medicine I tried was working so I started doing my own research. Since I also had breathing/oxygen issues I decided to make an appointment with a cardiologist and asked for a echocardiogram. It was there that we discovered the holes and also discovered that I suffered from severe hypoxia upon exertion. A lot of my blood was skipping being filtered/re-oxygenated due to the holes which was causing the hypoxia and migraines.
How has your life changed since surgery?
On the way home from surgery I kept saying to my husband that I couldn’t believe how easy it was to breathe. It felt so smooth. Such a hard feeling to describe but it was amazing. I have not had a migraine since surgery over 6 months ago and I can also breathe and do not get dizzy while I workout. It has completely changed my quality of life. Hard to believe I went 34 years not knowing what was impacting my life so much. I can not thank my cardiologist in Hendersonville enough and my surgeon at Duke. They listened to me, found the issue, and fixed it. Also very thankful to God for pointing me in the right direction and for pushing me to find the answers. I am beyond thankful.
What are you most excited about for 2022?
I am just so excited to be able to enjoy life more and see what all my body can do now. I have loved lifting weights since having my children, but now I am enjoying running as well! I have signed up for a 4 mile race as well as a 5K this spring. I am still not the best runner, but I have always given it my all! Looking forward to seeing what all I can accomplish.
If you are having physical issues from exercise, I urge you to research and find a doctor who will listen. Advocate for yourself, get second opinions if needed, and keep trying your best!
What advice would you give to anyone struggling to get back into running or fitness?
Keep pushing everyday to do your best. It is ok to take a rest day and take it easy as long as you don’t give up. Find the time for yourself. Life can get crazy busy, but it is important to value yourself. If you are having physical issues from exercise, I urge you to research and find a doctor who will listen. Advocate for yourself, get second opinions if needed, and keep trying your best!
Music or no music when running?
Most definitely listen to music. I won’t lie, some good 1990’s and early 2000’s pop/hip hop music are my favorite to run to. It helps me get that initial energy/motivation that I need to push into a workout.
Favorite running shoe?
Still trying out different shoes since I have a flatter foot. I love Brooks. Glycerins are super cushioned but a bit heavy for me personally. Revels are super light but lack the support that I need for longer runs. Recently I went back to Ghost and it seems to be the overall shoe that I am looking for that is light and supported.
Thank you to Jenna for sharing her story and continuing to show up daily for herself, kids and the community.
I hope her story inspires you to give your all today and to be your own best advocate for your health! Don’t ignore the warning signs of potential heart health issues. Seek your primary care physician asap if you feel like any of the symptoms you’re experiencing feel like something more than just a hard exercise effort.
And remember: run with heart.
Celebrating Women’s History Month: Meet Our Race Director
For Women’s History Month we are celebrating the leading ladies of road races… in particular our leading lady behind the scenes here at iDaph!
If you do a quick internet search for “female marathon race directors” you will come upon a few articles reading, “first-ever female race directors in over X-amount of years!”
We may all know by now that women were not allowed to officially participate in road races like the Boston Marathon until 1972 (which isn’t that long ago) but trailblazers like Switzer in 1967 and others have paved the road for us. Since then there have been plenty of women who go on to run and race at a very high-level performances like Felix making history with gold in 2020 at Tokyo even after having a baby. So clearly the uterus falling out when running was a fallacy. Women are fiercely capable of running and so much more!
While the history of women running in road races has made much progress it’s fairly fresh and still full of hurdles in many ways. So what about our leading ladies behind the scenes? Not surprisingly enough it’s mostly been dominated by men. But, today we are shining the spotlight on one of our most beloved and inspirational females locally.
Since 2002 she’s been dreaming up incredible races for athletes to enjoy. From persevering through cancer to directing in-person and virtual races through COVID-19 she’s no stranger to struggles. But, one of her many highlights is the strength she demonstrates by leading with courage, pursuing greatness in all things, and serving others above herself well.
Interview for Women’s History Month with iDaph’s Race Director: Daphne
Have you always been an athlete or runner?
DK: I have always been very active and a lover of movement! My childhood memories are all of being outdoors, playing, creating and moving. I have very few memories of being inside and/or not moving. I swam on a summer league when I was 11-12 and played basketball in high school for a couple years. Other than that, I didn’t do sports in college and running wasn’t something that I knew anything about until I started running in 2001 after the birth of my first child.
When did you first dream about directing road races?
DK: I am from a family of Entrepreneurs so I knew that someday I would own my own business. It was always modeled to me at home through hard work, determination and dedication that you could have your own business. I went to school and got my Bachelors Degree in Business. I just didn’t know at the time what that business would be. I just trusted that someday I would figure that part out. And I did… a few years later.
When I completed my first 5k in the fall of 2001, I immediately fell in love with the sport of running and events. It wasn’t long after that starting in 2002 that I began integrating myself into different running clubs, boards and volunteering to help behind the scenes with different aspects of races. I started running groups in Asheville and led those during this time too. I was fascinated with the events and also intrigued at why races did some of the things that they did. I wanted to learn more about it and figure it out. My business brain was in overdrive!
What year did you host your first race and which race was that?
DK: I worked behind the scenes on several events starting in 2002 or 2003, the Hot August Night Race in Montford and the Biltmore/Kiwanis 15k/5k races.
The first race that I helped support a non-profit to build from scratch was the Dig the Du (run/bike/run) event and the first event I was hired to be the Race Director was the Biltmore/Kiwanis 15k/5k races. Dig the Du happened for just a couple years and the Biltmore/Kiwanis races I helped for a few years as their RD.
I hustled events on the side while I was working a full-time job for years… then in 2011, I knew it was time to “Take the leap and build my wings on the way down!” So I officially came up with a business name, formed an LLC and started full-force into the world of entrepreneurship.
What are the top 4 stressors when directing a race?
DK: 1. Things happening that as a RD you don’t have control of such as weather, sign thefts,
volunteers not showing up, pedestrian and vehicular traffic volume, COVID, permits
being pulled that were originally signed and agreed upon by host locations.
3. People pleasing (participants, host locations, cities, officials, volunteers, sponsors, the list goes on and on.).
4. Criticisms and Complaints that may come in that I am not able to respond to without looking defensive or without putting a host location, sponsor, vendor, staff person, etc reputation on the line. Keeping my mouth shut, putting a smile on my face and getting “punched around” through comments, feedback, unsolicited emails, race surveys and social media can be tough and stressful. I love to be happy and to make people happy!
Top 4 joys of directing a race?
DK: 1. Creating life-changing and memorable experiences for participants
2. Being part of giving back to the community - this encompasses a LOT of what I get to do…
- helping athletes (or novices just trying it out) in our community to achieve and accomplish dreams
- supporting local non-profits with funds and awareness about their cause
- boosting local and regional economies by bringing in folks to the area and booking hotel rooms, restaurant visits and other fun activities.
- Showcasing to locals the amazing small businesses that care about the community too and support athletes too!
3. I am passionate about what I do, and am all in. I love to be organized, to check things off my to-do list and to get to be creative! It is very fulfilling to give every single ounce of yourself in your work, and I do that with every single event.
4. I am an athlete too, so I get both sides of the event - the participant side and the event planner side… that has been super valuable for me as I have made my decisions along the way. I put on both hats ALL the time. It is important to be a Race Director but also to be an athlete that does events so you know how it feels on both sides.
What has been your biggest hurdle specifically as a female director? Or do you feel expectations are now more equal as a female leader?
DK: I look young (good genes) and am a female. When I started this business it was very much a man’s world and typically it was an ‘older man’s’ world… I have seen this shift with time, thank goodness!
It has taken years and years to be taken seriously and for people to realize that this is a legit business with someone working behind the scenes on it full-time and more, every single day. Plus there is a team involved in the planning and on race day too… it is not just a hobby!
Great events don’t just ‘happen’… Over the years people have just assumed that I (and my team) only work on weekends (when there is an event) and that during the week I am free to do whatever I want and probably just hang out with my kids and have endless hours to exercise. That is so far removed from the truth. But now participants (thru social media especially) are seeing more and more what it takes for an event to happen. So I don’t get it as much as I used to… but the comments are still funny when people ask me - ‘Is this what you do full-time?’ And - “What is your job at iDaph?” Oh and my favorite is ‘What does iDaph mean, where do you get that from?” 🙂
What has been your greatest accomplishment to date both personally as an athlete and professionally as a race director?
DK: Raising two kids as a single mom from the time they were 5 and 3 (they are 18 and 20 now) and launching, creating and running this business simultaneously. Being able to support me and my two kiddos on my own without any outside family or investor financial support. I started this business by putting all the money I earned from it back into it, minus what I needed to eat, pay the rent, gas and expenses.
- Continuing to keep the event business happening through cancer and 2 1⁄2 years of treatments.
- Finding a way to keep in person events happening safely during COVID19. It was so important for our community to have these during such unprecedented times.
- I personally have had some great races in my life… too many to count really. My most success was in triathlons where I raced on an elite triathlon team for several years in my late 20s and early 30s. Conquering the fear of open water swimming during big triathlon races was an awesome one for me for sure!
- Creating races from scratch and seeing the entire planning process through from start to finish.
Which race are you most excited about for 2022?
DK: I am really excited about the Appalachian Trilogy this year. That is the series of 4 half marathon events and runners can pick three to participate in. They are all going to be unique, fun and full of energy and love from the communities, I can’t wait to see them take shape and take place this year!
What’s your favorite race distance ro run?
DK: I love the weekday 6-7 mile runs… Racing - I love 10 milers and half marathons. But I love the variety of swimming, running, biking… so triathlons were my go-to sport before I got cancer.
Favorite go-to playlist for running?
DK: I make my own… when I hear a great song I will add it to my Apple Playlist. I love music with a good beat, hip-hop, electronic/techno music to run and workout.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about iDaph’s incredible race director, all that goes on behind the scenes, and that you’re inspired to pursue your dreams and passions in life with all your heart as well.
As Daphne says:
Take the leap and build my wings on the way down!