When I graduated from college and started working part time at the local gym before I found my big-girl-job, I befriended a small group of guys and we spent more time together at 5am on Saturday mornings than most can imagine. Todd was also an employee of the same gym and we started running together after work from time to time. Closest to my age, we bonded quickly and it wasn't long before Rob and I found a new everlasting friendship in him and his wife. Eventually we decided that we each wanted to bring in another friend to our small running posse. Todd introduced me to Shane, the Sherpa of the group. While I brought in Russ (a member of the gym whom I saw damn near every day at 4:45am as I opened the doors), the biggest pain in the ass there ever was. Shane and Russ are both "older" than Todd and I and always refer to us as the "whipper snappers" of the foursome. Russ and Shane were also formerly in the military. Russ, the Marines. Shane, the Army. Put the 4 of us together and we are an unfiltered, determined, masochist bunch. Being the only female in such a strong group (and the youngest), I learned pretty quickly that I had to have the sass ready to fire at a moments notice.
The 4 of us were in very different stages of life. I had just graduated from college while Rob finished his degree, 3 hours away in Champaign, IL. Todd spent more time at the gym than ever as his wife was working the night shift in the ER as a trauma nurse while going to school for her masters degree. Shane and his wife were extremely comfortable with life and were about to embark on the journey of parenthood. And Russ traveled the globe at the drop of a hat for work and spent all of his time in the states running with us or with his wife and son.
So how does a group like this find a common ground? We shared one commonality. Endurance. We all thrived on the pain of a hard workout. We needed to know that after an awful week of work, traveling overseas to Sweden & Germany, working 12-14 hour days, we'd all find each other on Saturday morning during sunrise for a long run around Crystal Lake. Together, we named ourselves The Strugglebus.
|Megan's first 70.3|
These guys, they're the reason I bought my first bike.
These guys, they're the reason I can swim respectively at all.
These guys, they're the reason I started triathlon.
These guys, they're the reason I know any sort of biking routes in the Marengo/Union/Woodstock area.
These guys, they believed in me when I never believed in myself.
These guys, they watched my cry when I was such a bad cyclist that I would cry when they wouldn't wait for me. All the while they knew what they were doing. Let her cry, she's gonna laugh at herself one day. And they weren't wrong.
These guys, they told me I'd be a badass when I doubted myself most.
These guys have wives, kids, demanding full time jobs. And they found it reason enough to guide me towards a sport I never knew I needed in my life.
|Todd and Russ were my catchers as I crossed the finish line of my first 140.6|
|As loyal as they come|
Last Wednesday morning as I was finishing up a swim workout, Shane walked onto the pool deck with a mighty large gift bag. Back in the fall I had a housewarming/belated birthday/season celebration party. Unfortunately Shane couldn't make it but still had a gift to share with me. He finally put it in his car and decided to surprise me at the gym with it one day. Wednesday was that day.
The bag contained 2 items. An extremely nice zip up Sugoi Ironman hoodie that I have worn almost constantly since I opened it. And the other was a picture frame that had the phrase "The Struggle Bus Is Real" He continued to explain himself and the gifts.
"Megan I'll always have 2 pretty amazing memories with you. The reason you have the sweatshirt is because I remember more than once running through the dead of winter with you and the guys. We stopped at one of your friends houses and he had water out on his front porch for us. Weekend after weekend he always had water for us. And the picture frame is because the 4 of us will always be The Strugglebus. We were the beginning of your triathlon journey."
Don't forget, it's approximately 6:30am and I have just finished a pretty tough swim workout and I am running late for the showers to get ready for work. And here's Shane, makin' me tear up and get all emotional. Of course, he had to mention my water boy. You all remember him, right? He went on into further detail to explain how the 4 of us, the Strugglebus, we were all apart of each others Train of Life. He told me about a book he had read, and how a train can be a metaphor for someone's life. Every once in a while the train stops in different towns, different people get on and off your train, some stay on your train longer than others. And all make some impact on your life, whether it be small or large.
|Megan's pre-triathlon days, only a few months after I bought my first bike|
|Annual end of the season celebration!|
Celebrating Megan's first 140.6
|We can do more than swim, bike run|
|Where it all began, Todd and I roping Russ into race after race with us.|
|Because it's just not the same without him|