Athlete Spotlight: Shelby on Making the Resilient Comeback from Pregnancy and Running with Drop Foot
“I was going home with a newborn and was unable to walk. It was a road I had to learn to navigate.”
Meet Shelby, a resilient runner working her way from not only learning how to navigate new motherhood but also navigating that first postpartum year with no feeling suddenly in her left leg. She could have tossed her ambitions aside and given up but instead, she continues to do the work necessary to inch her closer to her goals of not only getting back to her fastest self but also crossing 50 states off her bucket list. Her resolve to get back up and keep running is incredibly inspiring. Read her story below and be encouraged. If your life has taken a turn off the beaten path to the unexpected, Shelby’s story offers us all hope.
In her words:
“My name is Shelby, and I am 27 years old. Little did I know this would be the best and the worst year of my life. At 27 years old, I gave birth to my daughter, Oakley Rae. She is quite the blessing, a blessing that caused me an injury I never knew was a possibility. After delivering Oakley, I was in awe of her and really did not pay much attention to myself or my health, but at 4 am when I went to use the restroom for the first time after delivering her, I realized that I could not feel or move my leg from the knee down on the left side. I am asked constantly if I was scared or angry, but honestly, I was not scared or upset at that moment because I was so consumed by the birth of my daughter. I do not know if it was the birthing of Oakley that caused the nerve damage or if it was the epidural, and I probably will never know. What I do know is that I was not scared at that moment, but boy did the overwhelming fear come later. I was going home with a newborn and was unable to walk. It was a road I had to learn to navigate.”
From All-American collegiate to Motherhood to Drop Foot
A little background information to put things in perspective: I was an All-American collegiate runner. My specialty and love was the 5k. My personal best in the 5k was 18:44 (5:59 minute per mile!). This was a time I never expected to reach but continued to work for. When I graduated, I continued running, and that is how I met my husband. We fell in love rapidly and raced together weekly. We competed in 5k’s, 10k’s, and half marathons. We had a goal to run a race in every state. You could imagine when this injury happened, I had no idea how I was going to accomplish this.
What is foot drop exactly?
“Foot drop, sometimes called drop foot, is a general term for difficulty lifting the front part of the foot. If you have foot drop, the front of your foot might drag on the ground when you walk. Sometimes foot drop is temporary, but it can be permanent. If you have foot drop, you might need to wear a brace on your ankle and foot to hold your foot in a normal position.” Sourced from Mayo Clinic
How do you run with foot drop?
Despite drop foot, I was going to run again and complete this goal. 7 months postpartum, I am back running in races weekly. It’s different now but so much more rewarding. I run with foot drop, while pushing my 7-month-old baby girl in her stroller. I want to inspire, but ultimately, I want people to LIVE no matter their circumstances. As my dad says, ‘There’s no crying in baseball,’ so when I found out I had sciatic nerve damage, I made a plan, I pushed myself, and now I am back competing. When I feel like I can’t, I just remember this quote:
‘Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.’
Interview with Shelby
I see you’ve been running since school years! What got you started in the very beginning as a runner?
I began running my junior year of high school when I got injured. Since I was struggling with my softball career I wanted a change. I had always ran to stay in shape but had never run to compete. My junior and senior year of high school I committed myself to running and decided I was going to make sure I was going to run fast enough to be able to run in college. I knew I wanted to be a collegiate athlete, I just always thought it would be for softball, boy was I wrong.
Do you run with a stroller often?
I train 5 days a week with the stroller. As a stay-at-home mom I have the luxury of training when it’s best for Oakley. Training with the stroller does not always go as planned though, often I go out for longer mileage runs and need to cut it short because of a toddler tantrum.
My husband and I switch off who races with Oakley. It typically depends on competition and who’s feeling a personal record or who needs a recovery run.
“Try to schedule your runs around the child’s schedule. Yes, this may not always work for you, or be your ideal time to run, but if you want an enjoyable run with your child, make them as comfortable and happy as possible.”
If so, any stroller tips for parents?
“Let go of what you HAVE to do and enjoy what you GET to do.”
Try to schedule your runs around the child’s schedule. Yes, this may not always work for you, or be your ideal time to run, but if you want an enjoyable run with your child, make them as comfortable and happy as possible.
Also, expect toys and snacks to be thrown out of the stroller. Expect long runs to become short runs, expect recovery runs to become sprints just to get it over with because your child is crying. Let go of what you HAVE to do and enjoy what you GET to do.
Do you ever get frustrated out on a run and how do you get past that if so?
“What keeps me going is I know that I will feel better at the end, I will feel ACCOMPLISHED!”
I get frustrated often on runs. I train with the stroller but also I run with an AFO (ankle foot orthotic) because I have paralysis from the knee down. My ankle has zero dorsiflexion which makes running a little difficult. I have practiced enough that it feels natural again, but I still have days that my leg is really tired and my baby is screaming and I just want to quit. What keeps me going is I know that I will feel better at the end, I will feel ACCOMPLISHED!
What are you most excited about for the rest of 2022? Any fun races coming up? 🙂
My husband and I run a race every weekend, and sometimes find mid week races. Each weekend is fun for us because we race and then celebrate with a good brunch and likely a good beer. It’s our date morning plus Oakley. My step son also has started running more with us, so sometimes it’s a family affair which is awesome. My family means the world to me.
Speaking of races, which iDaph event has been your favorite to date and what made it so special?
The Running of the Goats 5K. I raced this run without the stroller and knew the beginning would be difficult with the stroller. My husband had the luxury of racing with the stroller at this 5K. I loved the course, it was an honest course, and also loved the family feel of the race. The awards were unique and awesome. I love a race that has good medals and awards as memorabilia.
What advice would you give to anyone struggling to get back into running after a surgery or new physical limitation?
BE RESILIENT! As much as I hate being paralyzed, when I race, especially if I win, I get to say “I did that, and I did that paralyzed” like come on! How many people get to say that!
Stick with your goal, as little or as big as it may be.
Music or no music when running?
Music during training for Oakley and also when I race with Oakley, but as racing without a Oakley, NO MUSIC, it’s the collegiate runner in me.
Favorite running shoe?
Saucony Speed Endorphins (they fit my AFO the best and have the best support for my leg I have to compensate on)
Shelby is a source of inspiration for all of us. If there is one thing for certain in this world it’s that change is a guarantee in our lives. It’s not what happens to us but rather how we respond to the changes. Thank you Shelby for showing us all that we can still achieve great things in spite of some not-so-great things being thrown our way. We are cheering you on!
Athlete Spotlight: Meet iDaph Ambassador Betsy B.
Meet our very own iDaph Ambassador. She is a champion for others to find their finish no matter what level they find themselves at. Below she offers a few tips for getting started (or started again!) such as linking arms with a running friend to help keep you accountable to signing up for some races to give yourself something to work towards. Read her story below and see if you can relate to starting and stopping then finding that motivation again!
In Betsy’s Words
About 3 years ago my friend and I were doing a walk for JDRF through our work and I mentioned that it was on my bucket list to do a half-marathon. She went home that day and found the one that was at the Biltmore House
in March. We trained for about 6 months and did the half-marathon. I immediately signed up for another and did that one a few months later. Then we stopped doing anything at all for the rest of the year…
We both felt absolutely awful and missed the way we felt while we were training for the half so we decided we would have to sign up for races throughout the year to keep us going.
Over the past few years, the majority of events I have done (mostly running and triathlon
) have been put on by iDaph
I absolutely fell in love with iDaph Events!! They are geared towards everyone at every fitness level from the folks that are lightning fast to people like me who struggle to make it to the end. They are so well organized and so much fun I decided this year that I wanted to play an even bigger role which is how I became an Ambassador. Oh and I won’t lie…I have signed up for a couple of them just because of the awesome finisher medals!!!
Interview with an iDaph Ambassador
So you started running later in life. Is that right? Or did you run any during your school years?
Yes, I started later.
What is your favorite part of the triathlon: swim run or bike?
What are you most excited about for the rest of 2022? Any fall races coming up?
Completing the trilogy with the Black Bear Race. Black Bear & possibly the trick or trail again.
Now that you’ve run a few half-marathons do you plan on running the Asheville full marathon in 2023?!
Speaking of races, which iDaph event has been your favorite to date and what made it so special?
My favorite has probably been the Hendersonville Triathlon and the Trick or Trail because my daughter ran that one with me and I won the costume contest. I’m a slow runner so I have to take the wins where I can get them. Lol
What advice would you give to anyone struggling to get back into running after a running hiatus? Sign up for more races!?
“…sign up for a new (longer, harder, different) race. One that you are questioning if you can even do it. That will force you to really feel like you have to work hard to achieve it. And when you do (which you will) it’s so worth it!!!”
Well, that is my own personal struggle so it’s hard to advise on that one. I would definitely say sign up for a new (longer, harder, different) race. One that you are questioning if you can even do it. That will force you to really feel like you have to work hard to achieve it. And when you do (which you will) it’s so worth it!!!
What made you want to be an iDaph Ambassador?
I love the events so much I really wanted to help out and be behind the scenes as well as an iDaph Ambassador!
Music or no music when running? Definitely need music!!!
Favorite running season? Winter! I’m an odd ball. I love a cold run!!
Favorite running shoe? I still love Brooks even though I have been trying out others recently.
Running solo or with friends?
“…it definitely helps knowing she is there and striving to catch up. It goes both ways. When she is having a bad run day I motivate her by not allowing me to pass or catch up to her.”
I typically run solo because my running partner is faster than me but it definitely helps knowing she is there and striving to catch up. It goes both ways. When she is having a bad run day I motivate her by not allowing me to pass or catch up to her.
We are cheering you on Betsy! Thank you for working behind the scenes as an iDaph Ambassador. Keep up the good work!
Running to Lose
When you think of competing in a race you’d probably think: run to win! However, for Gina, the goal was the opposite. Running to lose weight was her original mission but through the course of her 100-pound weight loss journey what she gained was more than just a new, lighter frame. Read our interview with Gina below and be inspired by her journey from her first 5k to now being a regular weekender warrior!
“At the time it seemed like a challenge. After running a few 5ks and actually enjoying it, things escalated quickly…”
Meet Ambassador Gina Stanley
Where can we find you outside from running?
During the day you can find me working as a salon coordinator for a busy salon downtown. In the afternoons you may find me doing home renovations or hiking. Some weekends I may be doing a Spartan race.
How long have you been running and how did you come to love running?
I started running in 2018, my goal was to complete my first Run Disney 5k. At the time it seemed like a challenge. After running a few 5ks and actually enjoying it, things escalated quickly and I began trying longer distances.
How were you able to fit running into your schedule?
Fortunately my kids are older and I would go to the gym after work.
How did your life change after running?
“The more I ran the more I enjoyed it…the sense of accomplishment after every race.”
Running became a huge focus. The more I ran the more I enjoyed it. On weekends we tried to find any event we could to run in. There also was the sense of accomplishment after every race.
Which iDaph race are you most excited about?
I just completed the Jump Off Rock Half Marathon and shortly I will be doing the RAD Half Marathon. The Black Bear Half in the fall is one of my most favorite.
Which iDaph race has been your favorite to date?
Last year’s Jump Off Rock was my favorite. I finally ran an under 2 hour half.
What about the events make it fun for you?
I love the race atmosphere, watching people challenge themselves. The look of accomplishment people have when they cross the finish line.
What brings you back to the iDaph event races each year?
iDaph races are by far the most organized and fun. Most races have levels for all abilities.
What advice would you give to anyone struggling to get into running or fitness?
Just start! I first started walking 3-4 times a week and eventually it turned into running. Also, I suggest the 10,000 steps a day goal. I try to have 10,000 in every morning before 10am.
Personal race day mantra?
“Just keep going. Don’t give up; Don’t ever give up.” (Jimmy Valvano)
Music or no music when running?
Music, yes! Got to have a good playlist.
Running with a group or solo?
I run both.
Favorite running shoe?
By far Hoka Bondi or Rincon
“My biggest advice to motivate someone is just give it a try. Do it a few times before you decide you don’t like it. If someone had told me five years ago that I would have been running marathons I would have thought they were crazy. Once I started running I found out I loved it and the challenge.”
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!