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.
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
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.