Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Till We Meet Again

"My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me."  - Henry Ford


Best Buds; March 2011

Last Thursday I said goodbye to my closest friend & confidante; my partner in crime and my fellow Ironman training partner; Sue Cadman.  I had been dreading this day for months, ever since she told me about "The Move" back in February.  Her husband Rick had been offered a great opportunity to work in the U.S so they would be re-locating to San Francisco for 2 years.  Very sad news for both of us. 

Some people come into your life in the darndest ways and Sue was no exception.  We first met in 2001 on a rather nightmarish shoot at my studio.  She was the account executive and I remember sitting at the big table in the studio chatting away with her.  I had just run my first marathon and she was telling me about her boyfriend Rick who was training to run either New York or Chicago (memory is fuzzy here!).  The shoot wrapped up and we went our separate ways.

Fast forward to 2003.  Gary and I had been dating for a year and had just moved in together.  I had been introduced to the world of multi-sport racing, having done my first duathlon the previous September and I was now focused on working on my swimming so I could do my first triathlon.  Gary convinced me to join the St. Lawrence Masters Swim group that he trained with.  So in early 2003, I showed up at the pool and got put in the slow lane.  Slowly but surely I got to know the group.  I quickly moved up a lane into the lane beside Gary.  I remember being introduced to Sue and thinking that she looked really familiar but I couldn't figure out where I knew her from.  The group did a fair amount of socializing so we got got know each other a bit better.  I remember saying to Sue "You look so familiar, I'm positive we've met before."  She said the same of me.  We started going over places we might have met when I asked her where she worked.  As soon as she said Carlson Marketing, I remembered exactly where we met.  When I told her she laughed and we reminisced about what a nightmare that shoot was.  What a small world. 

We continued to swim at St. Lawrence for a bit until we bought our house out at Lakeshore and Islington.  St. Lawrence wasn't so convenient anymore but we still hung out with the group on a regular basis.  We joined the Bally's at 427 & Dundas on the recommendation of some of our swim group that had moved out to the West End.  There was a pool there so that's where we started swimming.  The west end members of the group socialized a lot and we got to know Rick and Sue quite well, especially at the annual Thompson Birthday Pasta Parties where the wine flowed and the pasta was plenty.  There was an awesome New Year's Bash at the Thompson's as well that involved more wine, lots of great conversation and the loss of our camera in the short cab ride home.  Those were some good times.

Despite all the social interaction, the real bonding didn't start to happen until just after Sue's 30th Birthday in 2005.  It was a birthday extravaganza of Epic Proportions that involved drinks and cake at the Madison, followed by a chartered street car ride to the Gladstone for some drunken karaoke.  That was followed by another ride on the chartered streetcar to some bar off King Street.  I don't remember the name but I remember it was tiny and packed.  Rick figured that all the triathletes would bail after the Madison, which was pretty much the case, with the exception of Gary and I.  And John Hahn.  We stuck around to the bitter end.   I remember there was a lot of beer, tequila shots and some shirtless dancing by John.  I'm pretty sure Rick kept his shirt on, which would have been a first. 

After that evening, the true seeds of our friendship were planted.  There were many nights on the town with the Cadmans and company.  Sandwiched between their Ironman training of course.  Those two know how to work hard and play hard.  They had been bitten by the Ironman bug and were training to do Ironman Lake Placid in July of 2005.  We had spent a couple of training weekends with them in Lake Placid and it was logging those long miles on the bike with Sue that our friendship truly blossomed.  Gary and I weren't able to go down and cheer them on on race day as we were racing in Bala that day but they had a big group of the tri-gang  there to cheer them on.  Gary and I signed up for Lake Placid  the very next day.  Our A-race that year was the Canadian Half Ironman in Ottawa on the September long weekend.  In true Cadman fashion, Sue & Rick came out to cheer us on while they were up visiting Sue's parents.  That's the kind of people they are.  Always ready to support their friends, no matter what.

2006 saw us spending even more time together.  We had signed up for Lake Placid and Sue & Rick had decided to tackle Ironman again, this time in Coeur D'alene, Idaho.  We were invited up to Cabana Cadman in Dorset with bikes in tow, to spend the weekends swimming, biking, running, drinking and helping out around the cottage.  Just weeks after their race in Idaho, Sue & Rick were there in Lake Placid to cheer us on.  We have a ton of great photographs from that day courtesy of Rick.

We spent much of the summer of 2007 hanging out at Cabana Cadman and it was after a few cocktails on one of those hazy summer afternoons, that I got roped into doing another Ironman.  The selling points were many:  Sue as going to do it so we could train together and, the really big deal, it was going to be a European race so we'd get to travel together.  IM Austria had just sold out so we opted for IM Switzerland a couple of weeks later.  That summer was a fun one.  There was the crazy August Long Weekend bash that garnered me my nickname (Lady G) along with many other good times up at Cabana Cadman.  Rick and Sue also bought a house in the West end that summer and joined the rest of the club that had moved out that way.   The party that they hosted on New Year's is legendary and is hands down the best New Year's party I've ever been to.  That was the night that ILYM was born (ILYM=I Love You Man, said many a times that night while dancing drunkenly in the basement) .  A nickname that still stands to this day.

A whole new Ironman adventure awaited us in 2008.  We bought matching bikes, the first of many matching things; most of which were bought completely separately of each other, without either of us knowing the other had it.  This was typical of Sue and I.  Two peas in a pod when it came to picking out matching workout gear.   They started swimming with us at Bally's so we pretty much took over the pool when we were training.  We also did some of our weight workouts together.  When the warm weather came, we started riding together up at Cabana Cadman.  No topic was taboo on our long rides.  We talked about everything.  Sometimes we didn't talk, we just rode and sat in the comfortable silence that comes with friendship.  We invented silly songs to get us through the miles.  I'll never forget singing a rather crude song about Emes Hill and some woman named Pitter who I always said was in the shitter whenever we rode by that sign. 

Switzerland arrived and I think all 9 of us that were racing were on the same flight.  We did all our workouts together (including a great swim workout in which I perfected the "taper time" dance in my wetsuit), met for dinner with our coach who was also racing.  Race day came and we scrambled to find each other race morning.  We couldn't start the day without wishing each other luck.  We ended up making our way over to the water together  as the women had to start on one side of the pier and the men on the other.  We stood side by side, and gave each other a hug and wished each other the best of luck.  It was an emotional moment.  Sue totally kicked my ass that day.  She put together a great race.  I saw her once on the run and I remember saying "As much as I love you, I am NEVER doing this again, no matter how many cocktails you give me!".    She laughed.  That was easily one of  the hardest races of my life.  I had a tough time all day and I was so happy to see Gary, Sue and Rick waiting for me at the finish line.  I hugged them all and broke down, vowing never to do another Ironman again.

3 years later, I still feel that way.  Although I suppose if Sue decided that down the road, she wanted to do another one, I'd probably join her.  That's what friends are for, after all. 

I know that this move is only temporary but it's still not easy.  Despite the fact that our lives have taken different paths since that Ironman and the training miles are no longer shared (at least at this point), we have remained close friends.  There is no reason that should change.  That's what Skype and Face Time are for!  The positive side to this is that we have a place to stay in San Francisco and I know my partner in crime would jump at the chance to join me in running the Bay to Breakers so, I won't say goodbye, I'll just say, 'till we meet again.
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