700 Miles and an Orange Moon

It was about this time last year that I wrote a blog detailing a recruiting trip that I took in the fall of 2017.  Unfortunately, that trip was not successful, as that talented athlete chose to attend another institution.  But, I enjoyed writing it and I heard back that it was a fun read – so I thought I would write about a trip I took this fall.

I planned a trip of 700+ miles to see one of our top recruits recently.  I did it all in one day, and it was pretty exhausting.  But I get pumped up for the adventure and would like to share some of the trip with you.  A timeline for that trip follows:

6:30am- Woke to a warm morning.  Got a quick lift in, checked some email and re-checked my bags and small cooler for the trip (as my dad taught me, you pack the night before so you are ready for the adventure).

7:15am – My daughter awoke and we spent the next two hours putting puzzles together, riding bikes and shooting hoops on our basketball court in the driveway.  I knew I wouldn’t see her until the next morning, so I planned to spend some additional time with her before I left.  I value that one on one time with my beautiful little girl.  I love her more than anything and want to be present in her life as much as I can.

9am – Depart for the cross-country meet.  I have about 6 hours in the car, and I am ready for the adventure to begin.  At 10am, I ate a small bag of pretzels and started rehydrating for a hot afternoon run (if I can get there early enough).

10:35am -I cross from Pennsylvania into a second state.  Shortly thereafter I pass into a third state.  Around 11am, I run into boredom and hunger again and eat one of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I have over 20 ounces of water in me so far!!

11:50am- My first rest stop.  It’s beautiful outside, so I decide to fill up my water bottle and write some recruiting letters on a picnic table at the rest stop.  It’s going to be a long trip, so I decide to break it down into a few parts.  I thought I would spend 30 minutes or so doing something other than driving the car.  I enjoyed the sun (it was 87 degrees already), wrote a few letters and checked in with my wife.  After that, I was on the road again….

12:13pm – Ate my second peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drank a ton more water.  I didn’t plan that out very well, as I had to use the bathroom pretty quickly.  I planned a stop at the next fast food restaurant, and around 1:30pm I pull into a McDonald’s to use the restroom and grab a cheeseburger (I just had to buy something).  The clerk was very nice and told me that she likes punk rock and that the music in the restaurant is pretty “lame”.  I almost have 50 ounces of water in at this point.

2:33pm – I cross into my third state.  I stop around 3pm for another restroom break.  Prior to that, I spent 20 minutes on a speaker phone with my assistant coach who was preparing for practice that afternoon.

3:45pm – I stop for gasoline and a snack (more food).  After I pull out of the gas station, I realize a police officer also pulled out of another gas station and he/she trails me for the next ten minutes.  I was nervous, but I obeyed all the laws and kept within the speed limit.  Whew….

4:30pm – I arrive at the race site, but there is nothing going on.  No race, no runners, no sign of life…..I pulled up a few other local schools on my phone and think I have the right spot.  Thirty minutes later I pull into a middle school and see some runners preparing for a race.  I think I found it.  I finished my water bottle and realized I had almost 80 ounces of water in me and I prepare for a mid-afternoon run on the course.

**I didn’t take notes on the rest of the trip, but here are some highlights:  completed a 4-mile run, met the meet official and the head coach of the host school, talked with few parents and watched a great high school race.  After the race I got to talk with a few high school runners about their future and met a few more parents.  The trip was successful in my eyes and I head to the car ready for the 6-hour trip home.

On the trip home, a few things stood out to me.  One, a large orange moon appeared on the horizon as I was about half way home.  It was one of the coolest things I have seen in a while.  Secondly, I stopped a few times for breaks and food and had an ice cream cone around 9pm.  It was a reward for the long trip in the car and it was delicious. Third, one of my athletes from the college was sick and I got an update from a coach.  It’s tough being a few hours from home and feeling like you aren’t able to help them in a time of need.

I arrived home around 1:45am and was pretty tired.  But it was worth it.  Recruiting can be stressful, time-consuming and daunting.  Other times it is exciting, and is the reason I do what I do.  I become re-energized from talking with young men and women about their plans for the future.  I take mentoring really seriously, and I know that this trip could bring another gifted young man or woman to campus.  They could be the next superstar runner or the next person to “change the world”.  That is so cool.

I head to bed, ready to do it all again the next day.

Chris Hardie is the Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach at Waynesburg University.  You can follow him on Twitter @Coach_Hardie_WU or follow the team on Facebook at Waynesburg University Cross Country.

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