Maya Mor is a freshman at Minnetonka High School in Minnesota. This indoor season, Mor scored personal bests of 2:21.85 in the 800m, 5:09.53 in the mile and 9:55.66 for 3,000m. All were Minnesota No. 1 times and her 3K was a US No. 17 and No. 4 effort in the freshman class. Mor was hoping for her first outdoor track and field season in 2020, but continues to wait as the state decides on its next action. In this Dear Running essay, Mor writes of her early years in this sport and how she's already starting to fall in love.
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"You'd think that after a bad season or injury I'd want to hang up my spikes. However, I haven't. Because you are ingrained in my heart and soul, and you can never take the distance runner out of me."
By Maya Mor - Minnetonka High School
People have always told me that love can make you do wild things, and I think I'm starting to realize that. Although I've only known this sport for a little over a year, I already know I'm in love. I've spent hours upon hours running countless miles, welcoming laughs with teammates, and enduring emotional and tearful moments.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.
We haven't always been so close. Two years ago, I 'd sprint in the opposite direction anytime anyone asked me to run long distances -- ironic, huh? I felt that jumping and hurdling suited me perfectly fine, and quite frankly, you were a bit too crazy for me. I would see distance runners and laugh.
But soon enough, I became one of them.
Soccer had been my passion my entire life. However, in the fall of 2018 I was left without a soccer team to play for and was devastated. Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise because it led me to you.
I eventually joined the middle school cross country team.
And long story short, I fell head over heels. I love the way it pushes me to my limits, the way it makes my lungs burn. I love the thrill of the starting gun, and I love the incredible people who are around at all times. You've become my biggest passion: You, distance running.
But after successful middle school cross country and track seasons, I was faced with deciding between cross country or soccer.
Weirdly enough, there was really never a doubt in my mind. I knew I would choose you.
The hours of work and the hundreds of miles do not feel like a chore to me. There are days when I procrastinate or want to just stay in bed, but my love for you is greater than any excuse. Do we always get along? No, of course not. There are days, weeks, even months when you infuriate me.
When I was diagnosed with severe iron deficiency, I felt like I was letting my family, friends, coaches, teammates, and myself down. But I continued to celebrate my teammates' successes, because that's what teammates are for. You taught me that.
You'd think it would be easy for me to give up on you. You'd think that after a bad season or injury I'd want to hang up my spikes. However, I haven't. Because you are ingrained in my heart and soul, and you can never take the distance runner out of me. There are days when I feel tired and helpless, but I am certain I'll get through.
All the time we've spent together on those cold, blustery days; all the hours of my feet pounding the frozen, snowy ground; all of the thousands of breaths of the icy Minnesotan winter air. They were all completely worth it as I saw myself improving. And seeing my hard work pay off made me even more excited for the outdoor season when I could hopefully achieve my personal goals and help my team achieve our goals.
With all the bumps you have placed on the road ahead, it may feel easy to quit, but funny enough, it hasn't. The COVID-19 pandemic is not an exception to any other challenge I've faced.
Frankly, deep down in my core, I feel utter hatred and resentment towards the virus for many reasons. I know that it has taken much more from others than it has from myself, but the thought of it ripping my first high school track season away from me is terrifying.
I can taste all the successes my team and I could achieve, but now I might lose it all.
If my track season is taken away from me, I will be heartbroken and devastated (as all athletes will be). And I will take my time to grieve, but then I will turn to you because I know you are always there for me. Even if my track season is canceled, you can't take running away from me and I will continue to train hard. The impact of COVID-19 presents an easy excuse to stop working hard and dreaming big.
But I know that as a running community we will get through this. I encourage everyone to keep working hard because we will all get our time to shine. We must stay safe and healthy while also supporting each other and pursuing our dreams.
Finally, I want to thank you.
You've presented to me the greatest sport of all time, a handful of incredible coaches to look up to, my best friends, and professional runners that inspire me. Most importantly, you've brought me closer to my true self.
You've helped me realize the type of person I want to be and the things I want to achieve. You shine a light on any darkness in my life. You burn a fire in me that will never be put out. You've opened my eyes to a whole other world, and now it is the only world I live in. You are my everything, you are my purpose in life, you keep me sane, and you show me what it means to truly be alive.
The time when I finally get out to race on the track (or cross country course) and finally run free will come. Whenever that time comes, I will be ready. Until then it's just you, me, and hard work.
Thank you for everything,
Your forever No. 1 fan
CONTRIBUTE TO THIS SERIES
For whatever your passion, be it running, jumping, throwing, hurdling, et cetera, if you are a track and field and/or cross country athlete or coach interested in contributing to this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.