"Distance" running

January 31, 2017

"Who was that?"

 

"Oh, I was on the phone with Megan."

 

"Who's Megan?"

 

For the better part of 14 months, I've been on the phone with Megan O'Brien.

 

Plotting, planning, and preparing, not a day goes by when Megan and I don't talk about the Boston Marathon. In 11 weeks, Megan and I will toe the starting line in Hopkinton together, and I'll be one of the lucky few to run my first Boston Marathon side-by-side with one of my closest friends.

 

Still, if you asked most of the people close to me who Megan O'Brien is, their best guess would be "that girl that Kerry is always on the phone with." 

 

Three summers ago, Megan and I met at the Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game.  That summer, I served as the play-by-play voice of the Bourne Braves, while Megan worked as the field reporter for our "across-the-bridge" rivals, the Wareham Gatemen.

 

As first pitch at the All-Star Game approached, about 15 of the league's broadcasting interns were gathered down the first base line when I heard a voice echoing, "Man, wouldn't it be awesome if we could just fill a cooler with Coors Lights and sit down here and watch the game."

 

Yep, that was Megan.

 

It took a second summer interning in Cape Cod for Megan and I to become close, but the first memory I have of Megan should set the tone. 

 

When we returned to Cape Cod in the summer of 2015, Megan became an unofficial member of the Bourne Braves' media team, spending countless nights with our brigade of interns at bonfires, gatherings, and the like despite working for a rival squad.

 

After the summer ended, we pledged to reunite at the Major League Baseball winter meetings' job fair in Nashville in December, which would serve as a reunion of sorts for a lot of the media interns around the league and double as an opportunity for us to get a head start on the job market. 

 

Four months after departing Cape Cod, I arrived at a local McDonald's in Nashville, ready to greet Megan. 

 

By the time I walked in, I was hours removed from enduring a breakup and Megan was still in the midst of what she calls, "the worst hangover of my life." What a way to kick off the week.

 

So together, Megan and I decided to run. Even though we had never run with one another in the past, Megan and I both know how therapeutic running is for each of us.

 

Plus, I had six weeks left until my first marathon, and Megan still had a bad headache. So off we went. 

 

Six miles later, myself, my broadcast partner Chris Jones, and Megan's broadcast partner, Mike Monaco, had all managed to keep up with Megan, which was no small feat.

 

A Division 1 scholarship cross country runner at Northwestern, Megan is as talented of an athlete as I'd ever met, and even if she was taking it easy on us that night, the thrill of running at a blistering pace in a new location raised our spirits.

 

With eleven weeks remaining until Boston, that run remains the only run Megan and I have ever taken together. But we've been side-by-side in our training process from the beginning.

 

After our run that night, our group was thoroughly exhausted. With a day of travel behind us, and a three-day job fair ahead of us, we needed our rest. So we promptly went out, bought a round of Long Island Iced Teas, and hit downtown Nashville until 2 a.m.

 

Six weeks after our trip, I ran my first marathon, qualifying for Boston. I distinctly remember my phone buzzing in my pocket late in the race, and when I finished, I checked the messages. They were from Megan, who had been following my progress online, pushing me to finish as fast as I possibly could.

 

Three months after I raced, Megan raced in her first marathon. Unsurprisingly, she qualified for Boston with ease, and on April 17, we'll finally get to run together again.

 

Though it's been 13 months since I've seen Megan, not much has changed since our time together in Nashville.

 

Megan lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, and she's making her national TV debut on Fox Sports 1 as a sideline reporter next month. I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and four months ago, I learned how to make a really good chicken casserole.

 

On an almost daily basis, though, Megan and I are chatting on the phone.

 

Here's a few one-liners from our conversations in the past few months.

 

Megan: "I ran 18 miles today."

 

Me: "Finished my half marathon at 1:21:50, then we went to Mill and got mimosas."

 

Megan: "I made a horrible decision on Saturday night."

 

Me: "You're not going to believe what happened Friday night."

 

Megan: "My friends asked me what my favorite type of wine is. I'm like, uhhhh Coors Light."

 

Even though Megan and I live more than 2,400 miles apart and haven't seen each other in over a year, we're linked by our quest to go step-for-step with one another in Boston in April.

 

In a sport defined by its singular nature, a sport where solitude is the norm, not the exception, having Megan there to push me from our first run in Nashville through our 26.2-mile venture in April has made the training process --regardless of how we finish-- an incredible ride. 

 

From left to right (Chris Jones, Megan O'Brien, and myself) 

 

 

Nothing says "job seeker" like breakfast at Waffle House. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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