Five Numbers

I’m going back to THE Ohio state University. I’m pumped. I got my graduate acceptance email yesterday.

It took a few months for me to receive my final admissions decision, and I had some interesting conversations with people during that time. When I would tell people I applied to grad school, their first response was almost always, “That makes so much sense! Then, you can move into a better district and have access to more resources.”

Or perhaps even more common, “Great! Then you will be able to go back and teach / work in Dublin!”

While it is natural and reasonable (especially with the way education funding is set up) to make those assumptions, my reasons for applying actually had little to do with me, and everything to do with my students.

I applied to grad school so I could better advocate and fight for my students. Period. No strings attached. Every child deserves a quality education. And every child deserves teachers and administrators willing to run through walls to create opportunity.

Education has the power to transform lives, yet the quality of education a child receives is entirely dependent upon the zip code they are born into. My students work hard, dream big, and fight to be better day in and day out. They are all capable of achieving.

I want to go to grad school to be a better advocate for them. They all deserve the world.

I want to take a moment and share my personal statement I used for my application in this space.


Mater of Public Administration and Leadership Personal Statement

Five numbers– four, three, zero, one, seven. 43017. My childhood zip code. Five numbers determined my academic fate, influencing all future opportunities I would have in my life. My zip code gave me safe and reliable transportation to and from school. My zip code offered many college credit and AP courses, making it easier for me to obtain my Strategic Communications degree and graduate from The Ohio State University. My zip code gave me a huge head start in life.

Five numbers– four, three, two, two, three. 43223. My students’ zip codes. Five numbers that determine their academic fate, significantly impacting all opportunities, or lack thereof, they will have in their life. My students are hard working, high achieving, and hungry for knowledge. Yet, my students are provided significantly less than their cross-town counterparts when it comes to educational opportunities. They were born into zip codes where they automatically started behind. 

The fact that five numbers determine the quality of education, and therefore the quality of opportunity, a child has in life is an injustice that I cannot live with. Fareed Zakaria touched on this in his 2019 Spring Commencement Speech at The Ohio State University. He encouraged the audience to use the opportunity and privilege they’ve been given to change the injustices they see in the world. Fareed Zakaria is a huge part of the reason why I am applying for the Master of Public Administration and Leadership Program at The Ohio State University. 

My personal mission in my career and in life is to create opportunity through the power of education. I have reached a point in my career where an in depth knowledge of nonprofit leadership and education policy is necessary in order to continue to advocate and open doors for my students.

My goal as a leader in education is to influence policy at the school, district, and ultimately state level that will help to close the education gap that exists in Ohio’s most vulnerable zip codes. My next step is to obtain a master’s degree that will equip me with the leadership tools and policy knowledge to continue pursuing this goal. I want to learn from professors, such as Katie Vinopal, that have dedicated their lives to examining the racial and socioeconomic gaps in education. Since my career goals center around Ohio Education Policy, I firmly believe that the best program match for me is the MPAL program at The Ohio State University.

I currently work as a school administrator at CCA Dana Middle School, part of United Schools Network. Our network engages mostly with the South Franklinton, Hilltop, and Linden areas– some of the most under-served zip codes in Columbus. Our vision at United Schools Network is “for every child an open door.” Most students attending CCA Dana have an average family income of $13,000. Eighty-Five percent of the students I work with on a daily basis are minorities. I work to fight systems that have been in place for decades that marginalize my students. I work to fight policies that keep my kids from having the same opportunities as kids in other zip codes. I have tirelessly advocated to help close the achievement gap as an educator, both in the classroom and now as a school administrator.

 As a school administrator, I am responsible for managing budgets, influencing hiring decisions, writing school policies, and managing all crisis situations that arise. My job gives me the ability to be a constant advocate for the students and families that we serve. I get to make decisions that help our school work towards closing the education gap. I am excited to pull real data and projects from my everyday work life and use them for projects in the MPAL Program. The structure of the MPAL Program will allow me to implement my studies immediately in my work at CCA Dana. 

Five numbers– four, three, two, one, zero. 43210. The zip code of The John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Obtaining my Master of Public Administration and Leadership from The Ohio State University is a crucial step in furthering my career. I want to use the opportunity that 43017 gave me to fight for zip codes just like 43223. To continue to do this, I believe that 43210 is where I belong.


I am incredibly thankful for both zip codes mentioned in my personal statement.

To 43017– without Dublin City Schools and the education I received there, I can confidently say I would not be doing what I’m doing today (note: Having this opportunity as a result of the zip code I was born into is something called privilege. Yes, I am privileged. Yes, it is important to recognize that).

Mr. Shilling, Mr. Bringardner, Mrs. Zimmerman, Mr. King, Mrs. Williams, and Mrs. Keating– you each inspired me to be a math teacher. Math was (and still is) my favorite subject.

Mrs. Clark– you are the reason I went into education after college. Even as a 4th grader, I used to play school in my basement with my sisters, and I would literally pretend to be you.

Pat– you showed me that a teacher is someone you can trust. I can’t even count the number of hours I spent talking, crying, or laughing in your office.

Ms. Z– you are the reason I can write. Everything I learned about writing, I learned from you. You pushed me to be better in every possible way.

Mr. Ewing and Gantz– you taught me how to make learning fun. There are three of us at my middle school that were former DCHS Rocks, and we all three talk about your class still to this day.

Mr. Ulring– You are the reason I joined our Admin Team at CCA Dana. You’ve influenced my career in more ways than you will ever know.

My goal for my students at Dana is that one day, they too will have a long list of people that helped them, advocated for them, and were in their corner every step of the way. Every student deserves this experience.

To 43223– You have given me the best job in the entire world, the best students in the entire world, and the best coworkers in the entire world.

I am so excited to continue in my role at Dana while attending graduate school. I can’t wait to keep learning and growing so that I can be better for our students and staff.

Finally, there is no better Grad School (in my unbiased opinion) than THE Ohio State University. I can’t wait to walk across The Shoe again in a couple years 🙂

Go Bucks Forever ❤


Giving Tuesday | Run With Me

I’ve been running some different kinds of races (off the track) over the last year and a half. Races against injustices. Races against flawed education policies. Races against a system that has been stacked against students like mine for decades.

I’ve had the opportunity to run these races both as a classroom teacher and now an administrator at CCA Dana Middle School. We are part of United Schools Network. Our network engages mostly with the Franklinton, Hilltop, and Near East Side communities– some of the most academically under-served zip-codes in Columbus. Our vision at United Schools Network is “for every child an open door.” I strongly believe that a student’s zip code should not determine the quality of education, and therefore the quality of opportunity, that a student has in life.

This work is challenging, but insanely rewarding.

There are days when I spend hours on the phone, trying to obtain transportation for my students when traditional busing fails to show up for them– an issue that occurs at a significantly higher frequency in lower income areas than affluent ones (thus widening education gap).

There are days when non-academic barriers prevent my students from coming to school rested, nourished, and ready to learn.

There are days when I feel like I can’t possibly work hard enough to give our students everything that they deserve.

But Then…

There are days that a student works insanely hard to bring a C to a B, or B to an A, and they rush to my desk to tell me because they are SOOO pumped.

There are days when a student is having a hard day, but they are able to persevere through and show resilience– a skill many adults I know are still struggling to develop.

There are days when a group of students walk 6 miles to school through the snow (yes– this happened) because their bus never showed up. Then they say, “school and education are important, so we found a way to get here,” when they arrive to school. Talk about grit.

USN believes that every student should have the opportunity to go to college– not just students that come from high performing traditional public school districts. Our students want to go to college. Their faces light up when we talk about it.

The other day, I taught a student how to throw up an “I-O” response to my “O-H.” He told me he wanted to be a Buckeye.

One of my students told me she was going to go to Alabama because she wants to say, “Roll Tide.”

Even though it nearly killed me, I learned the Michigan fight song (yes, the real version– not the Columbus version) because one of my students has a goal of attending U of M to become a “teacher or a doctor or both,” in his words.

A 7th grade student looked at me deep in thought the other day and told me he was going to be the first person in his family to go to college. He was so proud. So was I.

As I drove East on 70 this morning, I was smiling the entire time. I love my job. I love our students. I love our mission. How lucky am I to have a job that makes getting up the Monday after a Holiday break fun? 

I believe our students are worth it. I believe a quality public education is a right, not a privilege. The zip code a child is born in should not determine their academic opportunity.

If this is something that resonates with you, I encourage you to give and support our students this Giving Tuesday. Give with me. Run with me.

You can support USN students by donating to Brain Boosters. Check out the Brain Boosters Video our students helped create below.

Choose Resilience.

I ran 10 miles today. All at once. Totally healthy.

It’s been one year since I got stuck in the cycle of sickness and injuries. And today, on Earth Day, I got to enjoy 10 gorgeous pain free miles. What a beautiful reminder of God’s redeeming love and grace.

happy earth day!

So many times over the past year, I’ve been faced with the decision to choose resilience or choose despair. I fought like heck each and every time to chose resilience. As I was finishing up mile 10 today, I couldn’t help but smile through my spit-filled face.

I was so glad I battled to choose resilience.

I believe that finding something we are passionate about is a unique and fragile gift. Along with passion, though, comes real life. And in real life, obstacles get thrown at us to test our passion. I think the true test of passion is whether or not we choose resilience over despair.

It is often far too easy to curl up in a ball, play the blame game, feel sorry for ourselves, and binge on Netflix and Chocolate ice cream– essentially holding up a sign for the world to see reading, “I choose despair, please feel bad for me!” It is far more difficult to choose resilience. Resilience is choosing to hold on to hope, despite the fact that we might get kicked in the face and run over EVEN if we are doing all the right things– a lesson my former coach taught me all too well.

Recently, I’ve been reminded of something that makes it much easier to choose resilience.

Nobody, including God, promised me a great outcome even if I’m working hard. God didn’t promise that this life would be easy.

God didn’t promise us that if we did everything we were “supposed to do” and “played by the rules” that life would be #awesome and #blessed all the time.

What He did promise is that despite all of the pain, brokenness, and heartache that we face in this world, we get to spend an eternity with Him. Despite our sinful nature, Jesus still died on the Cross so that we could inherit The Kingdom of Heaven. Cue Easter.Bitmoji Image

I’ve tried to make a habit of writing down promises I’ve made up in my head verses promises that are actually true.

For example:

Made up promise: I am loved because of my athletic talents and outgoing personality.

True Promise: I am loved solely because Jesus died for my sins. And that love cannot be broken.

Here’s another example:

Made Up Promise: If I work hard and do the right things, I will not get injured, get sick, or be forced to take days / years off.

True Promise: I live in a sinful world and will experience heartache. I will only be in a perfect world in Heaven.

I think calling out fake verses real promises in life makes it easier to choose resilience, even when my brain would rather choose despair. This practice is a good reminder to me that ultimately, I am not looking to inherit the Earth, but rather the Kingdom of God. Knowing that one day I’ll get to spend an eternity with Jesus makes choosing resilience a no brainier. Every. Single. Time.

It’s been a battle. Choosing resilience has required me to fight tooth and nail through some pretty tough days.

But it’s been so worth it.

I know The Lord much better as a result. And I’m that much more passionate about the fragile gift that I chose to protect: running.

Doing a mini celebration right now because… I mean… 10 miles. It’s been a long time coming. God is restorative.

There is still a lot of distance to go, quite figuratively and literally, before I am back to where I was at before getting sick. But until then, I will continue to choose resilience. It’s totally, unequivocally, worth it:)

Happy Easter, Happy Earth Day, and Happy 70 degrees and Sunny!

~ Rachel Weber<3

Bitmoji Image


Not About The Circumstances.

A few weeks ago, Minori emailed the CRC Elite team reminding us to post our 2019 goals. This was the email I was absolutely DREADING.

A year ago, I made some pretty gutsy running goals for 2018. I didn’t achieve any of them. 2018 was filled with many, many athletic disappointments due to the state of my health. Drawing up new goals for a new year was the last thing I wanted to do.

After battling mystery health issues, getting sick with Mono for 2 months on top of the mystery health issues, and spending more time at doctors’ offices than I spent in a pair of running shoes, 2018 left me feeling exhausted, empty, and depleted.

Bitmoji Image

The past 12 months have challenged my love for this sport more than ever before. I’ve had feelings of negativity, bitterness, and frustration. I’ve felt like a failure. I’ve wondered how I was ever able to do half the workouts I was able to do a year ago. I’ve felt the tease of being able to run for a few weeks, only to encounter more health issues and sidelined once again. I’ve felt sad. I’ve felt embarrassed. I’ve countlessly questioned my ability to step up to a start line again, knowing that right now, I’m not the athlete I used to be.

I spent a good deal of time in 2018 trying to avoid situations that would require me to use the platform God has given me through running to influence the lives of others. I falsely believed that if I wasn’t running, God couldn’t use me. I thought that if I was failing to meet my 2018 goals for running, that somehow made me less valuable to the Lord. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t stay healthy. I was frustrated that we couldn’t figure out how to stop the autoimmune flare up cycle that my body seemed to be stuck in.

After lots of doctor visits, a scope of my intestines, and trying and failing of different treatment techniques, a Gastroenterologist recently asked if I had ever been treated for anxiety.

Anxiety? What does that have to do with anything?

Apparently a lot….

I had no idea that untreated anxiety could literally cause your body to shut down and start attacking itself, producing an autoimmune response. And this Gastroenterologist thought that treating me for anxiety would help stop the autoimmune cycle. Stop the inflammation. Stop the stomach issues. Stop the hair falling out. Stop the headaches. Stop it all.

Bitmoji Image

I’ve always had the Type-A, go-getter, slightly high strung personality. I’ve also always worried slightly more than my peers (See my worry worry poem published in first grade writing class). This anxiety stuff was something that probably should have been addressed a while ago, but my stubborn competitive attitude pushed it out of the way and under the rug.


While I saw a counselor in college to help deal with anxiety, I never did anything beyond that. I thought that since I was a relatively happy and positive person, I didn’t need medicine to help me deal with my anxiety. Besides, I decided taking medicine for anxiety would mean risking potential side effects I deemed detrimental to my performance on the track– a risk I “didn’t have time to deal with.”

I thought I was fine. I was tough. I didn’t need the help of medicine.

Turns out, I wasn’t fine.

I might have been tough, but the human brain is powerful! I did need the help of medicine. I needed to stop being stubborn and address the problem head on. For some reason, I felt as if addressing the problem head on would give me less of a competitive edge. I thought it would be an imperfection, somehow making me “less tough” and “more vulnerable.” So, I (wrongly) let it go.

That is– I let it go until things spun out of control, and my own body started attacking itself. The result of not addressing the problem started to have some really nasty physical effects that reared their ugly head all of 2018.

I’ve been working closely with my doctor to follow a game plan. I am happy to report that as of last week- I could take showers without my hair falling out! I have healthier joints. I have MUCH healthier (and more solid) digestive habits.

Bitmoji Image

I know that this is something I’ll have to continue to address and work through. I’ve pushed it aside for a while– there’s a lot of work left to be done. But right now, it feels like I have the ability to feel healthy for the first time in over a year. And that is an amazing feeling.


I wish I could be positive and cliche and and say that I “learned so much about myself in 2018” and I “wouldn’t change anything because everything happens for a reason,” but that wouldn’t be real. While I did learn a lot, and I firmly believe that God has a reason for everything, even pain and sorrow, there are a lot of things that I wish were different about 2018. I won’t dwell on those things. But, I would be remiss if I wasn’t transparent. Despite having many things to celebrate this year, it has been a tough season of life.

Sometimes, life stings. Sometimes, our circumstances really stink.bye 2018

What I DO know is that God worked in 2018 even through the tough parts. Even when I felt tired, depleted, and run down, He was working, planning, and providing. One of my favorite authors, Bob Goff, writes it best:

“God invites us to be part of His plans. Not approve them.”

-Bob Goff.

God doesn’t need my approval on 2018. He’s God. But He does invite me to be part of those plans. And that’s an invitation I will always accept.

Ultimately, accepting this invitation instead of being mad that God didn’t ask for my approval led to a few things that I can honestly say changed my life.

1. I get to marry my best friend in 2019.

2. I have the honor of teaching math to 100 6th graders in Franklinton. I work for a network where I get to help fight the social injustice that many children in this country face. I firmly believe that your zip code should NOT determine the quality of education you receive. I have the best job ever.

3. I know that I am loved by friends, family, Sean, and most of all The Lord NOT due to my athletic talents, but because of my heart.

Amidst all of the pain, anxiety, and frustration this year, I’ve also felt love.

A tremendous amount of love. Love from my former college teammates, who let me sit on their couches, drink coffee, and cry. Love from my fiance, who reminds me every single day that I am loved because of who I am, not what I do. Love from friends, family, co-workers, and sisters. Most importantly, I’ve felt love from a God that cares about me regardless of my circumstances. He loves me because He loves me. No strings attached. And in the midst of the most trying year of my life, that is the hope I chose to cling to.

Bitmoji Image

One of my favorite things that God did in 2018 was protect my passion for a sport I love, even when I felt like I was hanging on by a thread. Even when looking at a pair of spikes or flats made me bitter, frustrated, and filled my eyes with tears. Somehow, God protected that passion, fragile as it was. He protected it. 

My love for this sport extends far beyond a couple PR’s, US Qualifiers, and awesome workouts. My love for this sport is not circumstantial. My love for this sport exists because it has made my faith stronger. My love for this sport exists because it is how I’ve made life long friendships with the people I love the most. My love for this sport exists because God gave me a heart for the people in and surrounding it.

It’s not about our circumstances. It’s about our hearts.

God is busy creating a beautiful heart in each and every one of us. But sometimes, that can be really painful, hard, and frustrating. 2018 was hard. Really hard. But that didn’t stop God from doing beautiful work in my heart. And it never will.

Bitmoji Image

So these are my running goals for 2019. If they happen, great. If not, I’ll continue to accept God’s invitation. And I know he will continue to make my heart beautiful.

1. Help the CRC Elite Women to a Top 2 Team Finish at the 2019 Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago, Illinois.

2. Place top 3 at the Cap City Half-Marathon on April 27th, 2019.

3. Help start the first Track & Field team at CCA-Dana Middle School. Help at least one kid fall in love with the sport that has given so much to me.

4. Run under 2:45 for the marathon or 1:13 for the half @ the Columbus Marathon in Fall 2019.

5. Run a 5k with my future Husband. (He doesn’t know about this one!)

Happy New Year, Friends! Have fun chasing 2019 goals, but don’t forget that whether or not we achieve them all, God gives us an invitation to join Him even in our perceived failure. God is busy doing work on our hearts and making them beautiful. Ultimately, that is what matters the most.


~ RunRach

Re-Routing a Dream

I got caught in the rain yesterday. I was driving East on 270. It was sunny and beautiful outside. There was not a cloud in the sky, that I could see. If I would have checked my rear-view mirror, I would have noticed the dark and daunting clouds approaching from the West. Instead, I was focused on the sunshine and blue skies ahead of me.

Then, the rain hit. It caught me off guard. After all– I hadn’t seen any clouds. As far as I was concerned, I was driving into what seemed like a perfect summer day. But the rain came from behind. It was the kind of rain that slicked up the road in 30 seconds or less. It was the kind of rain that required the turbo-speed on my windshield wipers. It was the kind of rain that required all of my attention, all of my focus, with zero distractions if I wanted to safely navigate my car out of the situation. It was the kind of rain that required me to pull over at a gas station, put my trip on hold, and decide whether or not the conditions were safe enough for me to get back on the road.

Yesterday’s rainstorm felt like a real life metaphor of my past 10 months.

The Time I Was Looking Ahead But Should Have Been Checking My Rear-View Mirror:

Last November, I began to struggle with some health issues. I lost a lot of weight very suddenly. I was on and off sick most of November, and had the flu for three weeks in December. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I brushed the weight loss off as a natural byproduct of more intense training and the sickness off to a really bad flu season that was impacting everyone. Training had been going well, and I was excited to get off the roads and onto the track. I was looking at the sunshine and blue skies ahead. I probably should have checked my rear-view mirror.

January hit, and I still couldn’t shake off the sickness. I was over the flu, but was still spiking fevers in the afternoon. Despite these sickness bouts, I ran my fastest indoor season opener of my life, so I ignored the fact that I wasn’t feeling well because clearly my health was not impacting my running– or so I thought.


Indoor Track Season Post-Flu races (not the most fun).

As February (and the Indoor US Championships) approached, my health continued to spiral. I was exhausted all the time, felt sick constantly, and had some pretty achy joints. I chalked all of this up to “Indoor track is hard, I’ll feel better outdoor!” I was relentless in pursuit of my goals, and stubborn to the fact that my body was trying to tell me something. My friends and family were worried about me. One of my friends in medical school encouraged me to go see a doctor saying something about “auto-immune” or something… I didn’t listen. I should have listened.

Outdoor season started in March, and my coach began to pull me from workouts. I was not myself. At this point, I weighed significantly less than I weighed the previous year. A couple times over Spring Break, I had to move workout days because sometimes I would wake up, and my knees would be so swollen that even getting out of bed was difficult. I vividly remember being down in Raleigh, stepping off the plane, and feeling incredibly sick. That same weekend, I did something to my knee during pre-race and DNF’d my first race of my entire running career.

After all of this, my natural thought was that I was over-training. My coach and I sat down and made a new training plan. I took a few days off, then a few weeks for cross training. When I returned to running, my workouts were not much harder than they were when I was in high school. Even after these extreme changes to my training, my health continued to worsen.

The Time When I Finally Checked My Rear-View Mirror, But The Rain Had Already Hit:

I was in the middle of a workout one afternoon in April when I sat down on the track mid-500 and started crying. Everything hurt. I was tired of being tired. I was tired of having swollen joints. I was tired of having stomach issues and losing weight. I was tired of being 100% committed to keeping my body healthy, but feeling like my body gave me nothing in return.

Running, the thing that I used to love so much, was now the cause of pain, hurt, and frustration both physically and emotionally.

It was time to go to the doctor.

The Time When I Decided The Safest Thing To Do was Pull Off the Side of the Road at a Gas Station (Or a Doctor’s Office):

It was hard to email all of the meet directors on my spring schedule and drop out of meets that I had worked hard to get into. But I had to take a break– I had to “pull over”– to figure out how to get healthy again.

After lots of blood-work, tests, and doctor visits, we figured out why I felt so terrible. I had a high presence of Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) in my body. Simply put, these are antibodies that attack your own healthy cells and tissues in your body and cause inflammation. No wonder I felt so awful!

These types of antibodies are present during cases of autoimmune diseases. My friend in med school was right. I had an autoimmune condition. There are HUNDREDS of autoimmune diseases, but a couple common ones are Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. After further testing, doctors did find some specific antibodies associated with each of those diseases. Doctors went back and forth, but since my organs were properly functioning (YIPPEE!), they decided to leave my diagnosis unspecific as “an un-diagnosed autoimmune disease.” Autoimmune diseases are SUPER WEIRD, and sometimes it takes years of continuing flare ups to pinpoint exactly which disease a person has 😦

The Time I Evaluated Whether It Was Safe To Get Back on the Road (or Back to Running):

Throughout this process, I attempted to train when I could. Unfortunately, high intensity running made my symptoms much worse. I would go to work out and come back with swollen ankles, swollen wrists, or a high fever.

Stress on the body causes autoimmune flare-ups (increased disease activity). Running– especially anaerobic 800 meter training– causes lots of stress on the body. Autoimmune diseases do not go away, so I knew I would have to figure out how to navigate this whole running thing without putting too much stress on my body. For me, that meant that while running could still be part of my life, I was going to have to chill out a bit if I wanted to stay healthy and flare-up free.

The Time I Got Back on The Road, But On a Slightly Different Route:

I talk a lot about athletic goals and dreams on this blog. I talk a lot about having the courage to take risks and chances. But I don’t talk as much about goals and dreams or risks and chances outside the scope of running.

My goals and dreams have always been to end up in education after I was done racing and traveling every weekend. Not just education, I wanted to end up in urban education teaching math. I thought that would probably happen later in my 20s. Due to the state of my health, I really started to think about what it would look like to teach this year.

Since I knew that running was going to look different for me moving forward, I also knew that I no longer wanted my work-from-home digital marketing position. That job was great for me while pursuing my on-the-track running dreams. But since racing most weekends and training at the intensity I was training at was no longer in the cards for me, that digital marketing position didn’t make much sense anymore.

I literally googled something to the tune of “Urban teaching jobs, Columbus.” I was able to obtain a form of an Ohio Teaching Licence due to all of my math and sciences classes in college. I took a huge risk and went through a lengthy interview process for a teaching position at Columbus Collegiate Academy (CCA). I eventually got hired to teach 6th grade math at CCA-Dana through United Schools Network. 

I accepted the position– my dream job off the track.


The amazing group of educators at CCA-Dana 🙂 Photo Credit: CCA-Dana Insta

This summer, I have been going through intense training, coaching, and professional development to get ready to welcome 100 6th-graders on August 22nd. I could not be more excited to be part of the passionate team of educators at CCA-Dana. I strongly believe that a student’s zip code should not determine their educational opportunity. I love that I get to teach alongside coworkers who feel just as passionately as I feel about closing the opportunity gap that exists in today’s education system.

This summer, I also started taking medicine to suppress my immune system from being over-active and attacking my own body. At first, this was awesome! I stopped having joint pain, joint swelling went down, and I felt much better overall! But then, I got mononucleosis due to having a suppressed immune system. I decided that being on medicine had some pretty nasty side effects, and I wanted to find a more natural remedy outside of medicine to prevent my immune system from going rouge.

My doctor talked to me about cutting gluten out of my diet. At first, I was not a huge fan. How could cutting gluten out of my diet help me actually gain weight back, fix the joint and fatigue issues I was having, and bring my immune system back to normal again? But after looking at the research on it, I bought in.

It made the world of a difference. I gained all of my weight back in 4 weeks, and the joint issues went away almost entirely. I still have flare ups every once in a while (and usually it happens when I push my body too hard on a run), but minor flare ups once in a while are something I can deal with in comparison to what I felt like prior to figuring out what triggered these flare ups.

I am (slowly) trying to get back to training. I know that running will never look exactly the same as it did before. But I am okay with that. This health hiccup allowed me to pursue another dream, a dream off the track.

The Time I Found More Peace With Being Re-Routed:

It took a long time for me to have the courage to sit down and write this post. Part of me feels like I’m quitting on a dream I’ve been relentlessly pursuing and working towards for a long long time. The realistic part of me knows that even if my heart and my attitude are in the right place, it would be foolish of me to keep beating my body and putting it back in the position it was in five months ago– sick, unhealthy, and weak. And the emotional part of me feels like putting this into words has a sort of finality to it that I wasn’t quite ready to face.

Yesterday, my sister tagged me in a post that gave me the nudge I needed to share about what The Lord has been doing and teaching me in my life.

The post was from the wonderful Olympian Abbey Cooper (D’Agostino). First, she referenced Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever amen.” – Eph. 3:20

Then, she wrote this:

“#tbt to exactly two years ago when God put this ^ verse center stage. Often, the detour hurts. Always, the result is far more abundant than we ever dared hope.” – Abbey Cooper (D’Agostino)

Capture1 (2)

^Pursuing this dream led to the pursuing of my ultimate dream, even though there was a lot of pain.

I still have dreams, lots of them. My detour hurt. A lot. But it led to another dream. A dream that I might not have had the courage to pursue had I not, quite literally, been forced into it due to my health. A dream that God put on my heart far before I ever dreamed any of my lofty running goals. A dream to help close the education gap. A dream to teach kids how to dream.


While my body cannot handle the type of training required for the 800 (anaerobic training), my body has been able to handle some forms of aerobic training. My hope is that as my health continues to get better, I’ll be able to get to the point were I can at least run every day again.

It will be slow, and it will be a process, but I firmly believe that my story is not over… it just looks quite different now. While I never want to put myself back in the position I was in five months ago, I cannot help the fact that I am a competitive person 🙂

Health willing, I am shooting for an Olympic Trials Qualifying Time in the half marathon. Considering I was a half miler- this is a CRAZY BIG goal. I understand this might not happen. I greatly respect the difficulty level of the US B-standard in the half marathon. Half miler to half marathoner– that has a pretty interesting ring to it! But considering the fact that aerobic half marathon training is the only thing my body seems to be able to handle right now, I am going to take what God is giving me.

Ultimately, what God is giving me is the opportunity to pursue my dream of teaching with the level of effort, tenacity, and relentlessness that I used to pursue my track dreams with. I have the opportunity to focus on the kiddos I’ll be teaching, while also dabbling in my passion for running as much as my body allows.

download (2)

Shout-out to Coach Rob Myers for teaching me how to dream, and walking through parts of the storm with me.

The past 10 months have brought moments of extreme sadness and extreme happiness, moments of piercing pain and sorrow, moments of elation, moments of frustration, and  every emotion in between. I am so thankful to those in my life that chose to walk through a really tough season with me, hunker down, and face the storm I never saw coming.

Sometimes, it rains, and you know the rain is coming because you are facing West. You can see the clouds in the distance. You can anticipate how bad the storm will be. You can gather your things, go inside, and hunker down– ready to face the storm.

Other times, it rains, and you are facing East. The rain comes, and it totally takes over. You are unprepared. You get soaking wet. You can barely see. This is what happened to me. Literally, it happened yesterday. Metaphorically, this has been my life for the past ten months. I was facing East. The rain consumed me. I felt caught in a storm, trapped and unprepared.


Major shout-out to this guy. He saw the messy parts of the storm and still decided he wanted to marry me 🙂

All times, when the rain comes, Our God fights. He fights for us. He fights with us. He fights when we cannot see, when we are barely breathing. He fights when we are sick and do not know our next move. He fights when we are pulled over on the side of the road because we can barely see the road ahead of us. He fights for our dreams, and then re-routes us towards His dreams, for His Glory.

I am thankful my journey was re-routed, no matter how much pain the process caused. There is so much to be celebrated.

-Ms. Weber, 6th Grade Math, CCA-Dana 🙂


Shout-out to former roommate, Bianca, for the shirt 🙂 

There is Joy in the Rain; Learn to Dance.

Two days ago, I watched an American woman win Boston for the first time in 33 years.

I watched the live-stream during class. I usually am always attentive in class, but historical moments, like Desiree Linden winning Boston, call for temporary lapses in normality.

I could watch that race 100 times more.

I want to be like Des. I want to push on and persist in the rain, the cold and the snow. I want to grit my teeth over the hills. I want to enjoy the peaks and get through the valleys. I want to die a thousand deaths but keep fighting strong. I want to cross the finish line at the end of the day and collapse in exhaustion, elation, and joy. I want to have grit that overlooks my present pain and circumstances.

I want to dance through the rain and have grit like Des.

That’s what Des did. In her own way, she danced.

That’s something I’m learning to do right now– dance. Both literally and figuratively. I think everyone who knows me knows that I’m one of the worlds worst dancers. My arms and my legs don’t move in sync unless it’s in an athletic setting like running, basketball, or soccer.

But in a more figurative sense, I’m learning to press through trials and grit my teeth, knowing there is meaning and purpose behind them. A few weeks ago, I got an in-season-injury for the first time in my entire 11 years of being a track athlete. I was doing a pre-race warm up drill that I’ve done thousands of times before, and I came down on my knee the wrong way. Before I got imaging, my knee was presenting as an injury that was much more serious than what the MRI results wound up showing.

Turns out, I just sprained my MCL (I didn’t even know that was a thing) and I was only out for a couple weeks. I maintained fitness in the pool and I’m back to working out on the ground already. I got lucky. Really lucky.

While the time I was sidelined was short-lived, I still spent every single one of those days staring at the black stripe on the bottom of the pool for two hours straight, wishing that I was anywhere else. I spent the time in my day that I wasn’t cross training feeling bad that I felt bad about being injured. At some point along the line, I realized that being mad about the situation I was in was only inhibiting my ability to be the best I could be on a daily basis. If I couldn’t be my best, both physically and mentally, during times of rain, then how could I expect to be ready for tough races?

I didn’t have to like the fact that I was in the pool, but I did have to embrace it.

I had to dance even though it was raining. I had to find joy even through my frustrations, because finding joy in the rain and continuing to dance made me tougher.

My coach is a big believer in this. One of his fundamental values is toughness. Rob told me that when he was a kid, he would fill two buckets with heavy rocks and see how far he could carry the buckets without stopping. He also used to drink raw eggs just so that he could be tough like Rocky. It must have worked, because he eventually ran 3:34 in the 1500.

I look up to my coach a lot. He, like Des, has a relentless ability to press on even in the midst of tough conditions.  He has the figurative part of dancing in the rain down. He once told me that the reason he got emotional when he stood on the podium wasn’t because of how awesome making a podium was, it was due to the amount of toughness and grit he had to achieve to get to that position.

I could be off base, but I imagine that’s part of the same reason Des was emotional on Monday. Her relentless ability to dance in the rain inspires me.

In addition to the small injury hiccup recently, the past 10 months required more dancing in the rain than I ever thought running would ask of. Between running and life, I’ve had to re-calibrate my emotions on more than one occasion. I’ve learned that, to a certain extent, running is a lot less about who is more talented and a lot more about who can manage their emotions and fight harder.

The funny thing is that  I’m really excited about the rain I’ve had to dance through this year. Some of it was minor, like being injured for a couple weeks. And some of it was a little bit more serious.  Regardless, it’s all made me tougher.

I know that God gives me the strength to fight, be tough and be gritty no matter how minor or serious the storm. And I believe that He truly has an intentional purpose behind every moment I have to learn to dance through.

I’m still here. I’m still willing to bet on myself. I’m still dancing. In Desi’s words, I have to keep showing up, even if it takes me 13 years.

I know there is joy in the rain, and because of that, I am learning to dance.


Thank you, Des, for the Rainy Day inspiration. Photo Credit: Michael Scott


Beneath My Feet

Written for #RunReadWrite– Lauren Fleshman’s five minute writing prompt, “Beneath my feet…”

/ … /

Beneath my feet, there is purpose. Every step has a meaning. Not one is an accident.

Beneath my feet, there is power. Literal actual power being transferred to the ground from the force at which I hit the ground multiplied by the velocity I am traveling.

Beneath my feet, there is joy. Joy from knowing The Lord. Joy from new opportunities. Each stride causes my heart to dance just a little bit, knowing that I’m getting better, knowing that I’m getting stronger.

Beneath my feet, there are blisters and calluses. Lots of them.  Blisters that reflect the pain that I willingly put myself through to push my limits. Calluses that reflect the hard work I put in day after day, week after week, month after month.

Beneath my feet, there are miles. Many many miles.

Beneath my feet there is love. Love for Jesus. Love for this sport. Love for the people in this sport.

Beneath my feet there is strength. Strength that gives my feet the ability to withstand the force of my body pushing down on the ground every time I strike.

Beneath my feet, there is faith. Faith to chase my dreams. Faith to take more risks. Faith in the gospel of Jesus.

Beneath my feet there is passion. Passion for racing. Passion for competing. Passion for life.

Beneath my feet, there is a story. A story of a girl with a dream. A story of trials. A story of triumphs. A story of heartache. A story of breakthroughs.

A story that is not finished.