Dear Running: You've Taught Me To Trust The Process

Hannah Miniutti is a senior at Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, Georgia. The two-time Georgia state champion across cross country and outdoor track and field won a Georgia Meet of Champions XC title in 2019 and also qualified for Team XC Nationals, where she placed 75th. She opened her final season this fall with a PR of 17:38.67 for 3-miles. In this Dear Running essay, she writes about her first start, her big accomplishments and what she's hopeful for as her career continues. 

By Hannah Miniutti - Blessed Trinity Catholic High School

Dear Running,

Wow, where do I even begin?

You and me, we go way back.

As if it were yesterday, I still remember the day you came into my life. There I was, sitting in my fifth grade math class eagerly awaiting the bell to ring. However, this was no ordinary day of school. It was club day. This meant that the second the bell rang to end the school day club sign-up sheets would be posted online. There were only a limited number of spots in each club, meaning I had to hustle if I wanted to hitch a spot in one of the top clubs.

I did not want to sign up for any ordinary club, though; I wanted to sign up for running club. Never in a million years did I think I was going to sign up for a club fully centered around running. At the time, I was part of the softball team and had been for about five years. Softball was really all I had ever known when it came to playing sports.

Then why did I want to join a running club? Well, you see ... my favorite teacher, Ms. Leonard, was the one who organized the running club in the first place. She was my reading teacher at the time, so I got to hear all about the club during class. She talked about how they would get to play all sorts of different running related games such as Pac-Man tag, Sharks and Minnows, and they would even get popsicles at the end of every practice.

I was sold.

Ring! Ring!

There it was. My cue to go. I opened my computer at a record fast speed and pulled up the signup sheet as if my life depended on it. I raced to the outdoor clubs category, selected running, typed in my name and pressed enter. I had done it. It was sealed.

After weeks and weeks of outdoor games and treats, the end of my fifth grade school year was quickly approaching, and with it the running club ... but not before the time trial day.

On the last day, Ms. Leonard lined us up at the starting line of the track and told us to run four laps as quickly as we could. And I sure did, with a time of 6:46. To me, this time didn't mean anything, but Ms. Leonard saw the potential I had and after much persuasion, she was able to convince me to join the cross country team in middle school. That eventually carried over to high school as the sport had gained a special place in my heart.

Fast forward many years later, and here I am sitting at my desk reflecting on the impact running has made on my life. It all started with a silly little club. And now here I am, a senior in high school who has been running ever since, trying to decide which college I am going to spend the next chapter of my running career at. As Thomas Rhett once said "ain't it funny how life changes."

* Miniutti posted a state championship in the GHSA Class 4A 3,200m in 2019 as a sophomore

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Running, I owe you more than I will ever be able to repay. You have given me endless smiles, miles on top of miles, incredible coaches, and above all, lifelong friends.

I have gone through some of my highest highs and lowest lows with you. But through it all, you have always been there for me to cheer me up. You haven't always been easy, but that's what keeps me coming back for more.

Despite every injury and every setback, you are still there. You have shown me that there is no amount of doubt that can't be overcome. You have taught me what it's like to want something so bad that you are willing to change your whole world to get it.

As I write about you, running, I find it hard not to talk about just how much you have shaped me as a person.

Looking back at my freshman and sophomore cross country and track seasons, I went through a little bit of a rough patch. I found myself struggling with one injury after another. At the time, I did not understand what I was doing wrong and why I could not seem to stay healthy. Looking at it now, it all makes sense. Without that rough patch, I would not be the runner that I am, nor would I have gained the knowledge that I did throughout that period of time.

* Miniutti won the GHSA Meet of Champions in 2019

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That rough patch taught me just how much recovery, positivity and patience can help a runner out. I was able to get through it all and come out stronger than ever.

I like to credit that period of time for many of the accomplishments I have now. Thanks to the rough patch, I learned through lots of trial and error just what works for me and allows me to excel in this wild sport.

It led to my junior cross country season. And to me, this is the season where everything finally started to come together. It helped me realize why I went through such a rough patch, and it that taught me to believe in myself. Above all, the season showed me that all limits are meant to be broken. I was ready to not only prove to those around me what I was capable of but also prove to myself.

As a runner, I was making a common mistake that many runners continue to make daily: I  was setting my own limits. I found myself avoiding taking risks. I learned quickly, however, that risks are what lead to breakthroughs.

Thinking about it now, I don't remember how I felt during that race or what was going through my head. All I remember was that feeling of taking a risk and having it pay off.

Everyone has a golden race, one they will never forget. And for me, it was The Wingfoot XC Classic. Every year the top runners and teams in the state gather at this race to throw down some fast times.

Going into the race, my big goal was to place in the top ten. I felt that was a reasonable goal given the runners that were signed up.

The gun went off and I placed myself into the top ten by the mile. I was in perfect positioning, or so I thought. That was up until I passed by my coach. He shouted out to me,  "Close the gap on the girl ahead of you!" I thought he was crazy -- I mean I had the perfect placement for what I wanted, and it was still early in the race, right? I found myself thinking about how much quicker the girl's PR was compared to mine.

However, one of my competitors who I was very used to racing with, surged forward. I had to make a quick decision, Would I go with her, or hold back to stay safe?

Sure enough, I followed and next thing you know, I was breaking the finishing tape in first.

Thinking about it now, I don't remember how I felt during that race or what was going through my head. All I remember was that feeling of taking a risk and having it pay off.

Fast forward, and my teammate Kelly Ann Sutterfield and I went No. 1 and No. 2 at state. I set new personal records, and I even qualified and got to race at Nike Cross Nationals. Through it all though, the memories are what I cherish the most.

Running, thank you for the runs upon runs with my teammates talking about our strange inside jokes, the early morning workouts, the pasta dinners and team sleepovers. If not for you, I would not have any of these things nor the confidence to take risks and above all trust the process.

So, to you running, thank you for everything!


Hannah Miniutti

Blessed Trinity High School senior, '21

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Photos by Georgia MileSplit/Submitted

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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, or to your local MileSplit editor in your respective state.

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Read the series here