Mia Barnett is a senior at Crescenta Valley (CA) High School in La Crescenta, California. The highly-rated CIF runner lost her junior track and field season due to concerns over COVID-19, and her cross country season has been put on hold until the winter, but she remains uplifted by the idea of progress. Barnett is a two-time CIF Division 5 state runner-up in cross country, the defending Foot Locker West champion and a Foot Locker Nationals qualifier. Here, she begins another round of Dear Running essays for MileSplit.
By Mia Barnett - Crescenta Valley
I remember the day so clearly. I was about to watch a movie with my family, and my dad presented me with the idea of running my first track meet. Soccer was my favorite sport, and I could just never see myself stop playing it. But in the back of my mind, I believed I had potential in track and field, and I wanted to give it a shot. I won my first race and set a local community record in the process.
A couple more races later, I was hooked. And so looking back, the decision I made that night to give track a chance changed my life. Who knew I could love a sport so much?
Running has taught me that beyond the surface, there's always something deeper inside. Potential is everywhere if we just give it a chance. Since then, I've won seven California Interscholastic Federation titles, made two podium finishes at the California State Meet, and won a Foot Locker West championship. While I am so proud of those accolades, what defines me as a runner is competing against my own potential.
Running always convinces me to come back for more. The bad races that where you want to quit for good are always countered by the voice of running that says, "Give me one more try." I've had the thrill of winning a Foot Locker West championship, followed by the disappointment of placing 39th at nationals. However, here comes running again whispering, "There's another season down the road in a few months."
Running is the call to be great. The call for everyone to be great. Whether you're competing for the state title or you're going for a sub-six mile, the unknown is always the thrill of it all. The days where you feel awful and run great, or the days where you feel great and run bad, are both worth it.
Running, you teach me how to be a fighter and to find the silver lining in everything. You bring out the hopeful side of me.
In California, we haven't practiced as a team in a long time and we won't race in the fall. This could be the season to make excuses and just stop, but my friend running keeps me lacing up and going out. Also, it has taught me that even though I'm dealing with the frustrations of a canceled season that the best thing I can do is encourage others even though I need to be encouraged. So much has been out of my control but there's one thing I can do, and that is help people by delivering food to those in need and serve others in my struggle. Running has taken so much of my time, that it disconnected me from the harsh realities of the extreme poverty and overwhelming need in the city of Los Angeles.
* Barnett in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 Finals in 2019
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This summer I found refuge in handing out meals at a drive thru for families in need through the Los Angeles Dream Center relief work, which was started by my family. Running has taught me the discipline of fighting self pity and countering it with productive things.
Running, I'm so glad I gave you a chance. You have given me a life beyond anything I could imagine.
You have allowed me to travel the nation and meet wonderful people and new friends along the way. You've taught me how to overcome fear and nerves, which will be a life lesson that will prepare me for the rigors of a complicated world.
Running, I'm glad I gave you a chance because you've taught me that saying "yes" everyday in the pursuit of something adds up to a lifetime of memories. I didn't get a chance to race for the state championship this past year, but who knows what the future holds? With every setback, my good friend running will be so close, gently challenging me to get up for one more day and explore what is possible. This is the beauty of running.
Crescenta Valley High School senior, '21
Photos by California MileSplit
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CONTRIBUTE TO THIS SERIES
If you are a cross country athlete or coach interested in contributing to this series at the state or national level, please send your essay to MileSplit USA editor Cory Mull at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to your local MileSplit editor in your respective state.