Sunday, July 29, 2007

We interupt this weekend to say...


My nephew is a SMART BOY and an early TOUR Fan!!! Life is Good!


Friday, July 27, 2007


Six people opened their hearts and wallets yesterday and gave an amazing $1252.40.

I am humbled and genuinely thankful for the generosity and support that you showed me yesterday. THANK YOU doesn't seem nearly enough.

The IRON-GAL LiveSTRONG Challenge Fund is now up to $3,328.10.

I'm in Keene, NH at the moment, visiting the folks and prepping to race the Danskin TRI in Webster, MA on Sunday with Team Survivor Granite State, which was started by my good TRI friend, Johanna, a fellow TRI-DRS and CCC member.

You guys have inspired me to race hard, live up to my low bib number (#11) and "Just F*##%ing Run" ..after all it is a SPRINT race.

THANK YOU for making my Birthday WONDERFUL!!

Life is Good! Live STRONG!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


and because it is my birthday, I can be as shameless and BOLD as I want to be so ....

(if you haven't already...)

Currently, I have raised $1,971.00 and I would like to see that number at
by the time I leave LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE RIDE on August 25th.

Pretty Please? It is my Birthday...

Thank you for considering a donation and
for continuing to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation with me!

Monday, July 23, 2007

HUGE NEWS!!!!!!!

We interupt the story of London Vacation to share the following PRESS RELEASE! Spread the News, far and wide especially if you know anybody in the NOVA/DC/MD area who could benefit from this program!

JULY 23, 2007

For more information, contact:
Elizabeth Saylor, Ulman Cancer Fund
Holly Gannoe, CANCER to 5K


ALEXANDRIA, Virginia —Alexandria resident Holly Gannoe was recently honored with a Visionary Grant from the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults to start a free 12-week fitness program for young adult cancer survivors ages 18-40. The CANCER to 5K Training Program™ is a 12-week program designed to introduce and/or reintroduce cancer survivors to physical activity by providing them with the training, coaching, encouragement and support necessary to complete a 5K (3.1 miles) distance road race.

The CANCER to 5K Training Program begins its first session on August 7th and concludes with participants racing in the "10-THE RACE" 5K Run on Saturday October 27, 2007 in Columbia, MD. The program’s website, offers more information on the details of the program, how to register and volunteer opportunities.

The concept originated from Holly's own experience of marathon running and participation in the 2006 LIVESTRONG™ Summit. While undergoing diagnosis and treatment of Stage III Malignant Melanoma, an aggressive type of skin cancer, Holly trained for and completed the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon with the help of her oncologist and coach. She found, through training, that exercise significantly reduced many of the side effects associated with her chemotherapy treatment.

"Exercise became an outlet for me during that year of chemotherapy" said Holly, "Having a goal like the marathon gave me something else to focus on emotionally and the physical benefits of exercising daily definitely helped me manage side effects like fatigue and depression."

LIVESTRONG Summit 2006:
In October 2006, cancer survivors from across the country gathered in Austin, Texas, for the first LIVESTRONG Summit. Created and hosted by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), the LIVESTRONG Summit was a three-day event held Friday, Oct. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 29, designed to organize, inspire and direct the efforts of cancer survivors from across the country to change the face of cancer survivorship.

“Participating in the LIVESTRONG Summit strengthened my resolve to do more for cancer survivors,” said Holly, "The LIVESTRONG Summit gave me the resources and the encouragement to develop a personal action plan to start an exercise program geared to local young adults."

Holly Gannoe was one of approximately 700 delegates selected from more than 1,500 applicants to attend the LIVESTRONG Summit.

About the Ulman Cancer Fund and 10-THE EVENT:
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults enhances lives by supporting, educating and connecting young adults, and their loved ones, affected by cancer. Through its Visionary Grants Program the UCF strives to cultivate the next generation of community based outreach and support programs for this often overlooked population. The goal is to provide seed money to projects like Cancer to 5K Training Program, ultimately building a grassroots network of young adult support services throughout the country. For more information, visit

10-THE EVENT embraces the concept of using sports to overcome cancer. The race is a day of cycling, running, and walking to celebrate a decade of helping young adults fight cancer. Athletes of all levels will get a chance to participate in a 5K Run, a kid’s run/walk and 20 and 60 mile bike rides on October 27, 2007. 7-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong, will kick-off the celebration at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. For more information, visit

About the Lance Armstrong Foundation:
The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) inspires and empowers people affected by cancer. From the moment of diagnosis, the LAF provides the practical information and tools people with cancer need to live life on their own terms. The LAF serves its mission through advocacy, public health and research. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the LAF is located in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit

# # #

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Congratulations Linae!!

My good friend and TRI Blogger Pal - Linae - had her Doctoral Defense today!!! That AND training for her first IRONMAN!

Now that is a prime example of a way to "Live STRONG"...

Why not go over and send some congratulations her way!!
There is a blog just for that!


London, BABY! Days 3 & 4

FRI: July 6th

We woke up and headed down to breakfast which was included in the price at the Luna Simone Hotel. Breakfast was always the same: Your choice of coffee or tea, followed by orange juice or cereal and milk, choice of soft boiled eggs or fried egg, bacon and beans - all served with toast, butter and jam.

The first morning, Jim and I went for the OJ, fried egg, bacon and beans and coffee - and that ended up being our breakfast of choice every morning with just a few slight variations there after (scrambled eggs instead of fried and some mornings we skipped the beans....)

The weather was overcast and super windy. So we grabbed our rain jackets, umbrella and camera and headed off to Victoria Station to do a Double Decker Bus Tour of London. We figured we could ride the bus all morning (2 hour tour) see the sights and then decide where we would go back to later in the week. Despite the chilly weather, we sat ourselves on the top of the bus, were given our complimentary rain slickers "just in case" and rode around London, listening to the tour guide when the wind and traffic didn't drowned her out.

It was on the bus tour that we got our first look at the Tour de France: Le Grande Depart signs that were all over London. Jim and I observed the from the top of the double-decker bus, if somebody had some kind of scissors, somebody might be able to get a banner. Alas, we had no scissors and didn't want to be deported prior to actually seeing the start of the Le Tour. But one of those banners would have looked GREAT in our newly painted basement...

After a stop for lunch (crusty baguettes with ham and cheese for Jim and brie, spinach, bacon and raspberry jam for me!) Jim and I wandered down to Buckingham Palace to visit the Queen. Buckingham Palace is apparently what Queen Elizabeth considers "office space". It's a far cry from my government cubicle, that is for sure! We had a grand time taking pictures and watching people. We wandered through Green Park, getting familiar with the area, since the Prologue would be there the next day. Then we walked from Green Park down to Trafalgar Square where they would be holding opening ceremonies for Le Tour de France.

Trafalgar Square was already full of people when we got there around 4PM. Rather than risk the crowds later, Jim and I decided that we would find a good spot to view the stage from and simply "stay put" We pretty much chatted and people watched for the next two hours as the Square continued to fill with Tour enthusiasts and just about 20 minutes before the opening ceremonies started, we were surrounded by people. There was no moving... it was enough effort just to stay within 1 foot of where we originally started. I found myself amazed when I realized that I had been moved, simply by the constant shuffling of people around me.

Thankfully, the opening ceremonies started on time with a cool music video that showed footage of great Tour moments and great Tour riders. Then began the announcing of the 21 teams, 9 riders each and their Team Managers. We took some video and it was great to not only *see* my favorite riders but also realized that I *knew* more riders than I thought. As they announced names, I was cheering like a goofy fan and when the Discovery Team came out ... well let's just say that everybody around me knew I was FAN! It was great fun!

Still after nearly 5 hours of standing, both Jim and I were tired! We made our way back to the nearest UNDERGROUND station and headed back toward Victoria and some dinner, then off to bed to get some sleep before the day of Le Tour de France!

SAT: July 7th - PROLOGUE, Le Tour de France

Saturday was just perfect, weather-wise! 65F and partially sunny, not a drop of rain in sight! We started the morning with eggs, bacon and beans and then headed out the door to do some sight seeing. The morning was spent wandering back and forth over the Westminster Bridge. We wandered in and around the neighborhoods of Westminster Abby and The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Because the PROLOGUE of the Tour would go over the bridge, the bridge was closed to traffic and was the staging area for the London and Paris Motorcycle Police Patrols that would escort the riders during the Time Trials.

It was great fun walking down the middle of the Bridge and again, there were plenty of people to watch and sights to see. We crossed the Thames River and wandered over to The London Eye (a huge Ferris wheel), making note that we would come back on Monday for that and to see the Salvador Dahli exhibit. We stopped into McDonalds (for shame, I know) for some lunch and then made our way over the Finish Line for the PROLOGUE.

The FINSIH LINE was already two people deep on both sides so we wandered over to Buckingham Palace to try to get closer to the CARAVAN to get some free stuff! For those of you unfamiliar, the CARAVAN of Le Tour de France is a 100 Vehicle - PRE RACE MOVING ADVERTISEMENT. It is loud, it is crazy and if YOU ARE LOUD AND CRAZY, it is your chances to pick up free t-shirts, hats, candy, water, and whatever other self-promo piece the advertisers can come up with. But the CARIVAN is full of 18-24 year-old, model-beautiful Men and Woman who will hold their free stuff close to them, unless you make some NOISE and that fact was definitely LOST on many of the local Londoners.

Jim and I found ourselves two LOUD and CRAZY Americans in a crowd of quiet Londoners who were probably being respectful because we were in front of Buckingham Palace. BAH!! We came for some FREE LOOT!! So we quickly found and settle behind a German Family with CSC jerseys on who seemed to know what the Caravan was all about.

We came away with a Pizza Fan, a t-shirt advertising a French Vacation spot, a Team Telecom cycling hat and a Team Telecom pink inflatable hand. Our conclusion. The Caravan is much better in the French Alps!

For the PROLOGUE itself, Jim and I decided to settle in about 100 feet past the finish line. First of all there were no crowds and second of all, we got to see every single rider as they cooled down from there Time Trial effort. It is amazing to see these guys up close. Our biggest coo? Being less than 2 feet from Stuart O'Grady as he was interviewed after his crash on the PROLOGUE course. He looked pretty bad, with rips all over his skin suit and his number dangling off. While we couldn't hear what he had to say, we did video tape him. It was our best Tour encounter yet. We even got a chance to oogle our favorite Versus TV commentators, Al Troutwig and Bob Roll - who were up high in the mobile Versus studio. Saddly we didn't see Phil Liggit or Paul Sherwin in this Tour.

After about 2 hours at the finish line, we wandered across Green Park and down the the START line where we sat along the street near a big jumbo-tron and watched the big names start Le Tour. We were there are George Hincappe took off and raced his way into second and we were there when Andreas Cloden took second and finally Fabian Cancellara blew the whole pack away by over 13 seconds to win the PROLOGUE.

We finished up the day by walking to the nearest UNDERGROUND, heading back to Victoria and walking to the nearest pub where we both put away two Guinness, Fish and Chips for Jim, Venison style Bangers and Mash for me AND the most incredible Sticky Toffee Pudding (a la mode) for desert. Then we stumbled back to the hotel and straight to bed!

London, BABY! The first two days...

Well I am home! Actually I have been home for a week now but thanks to the recirculated air on the plane ride home, I caught myself some lovely germs and have been sick - BLAH! VACATION was worth this cold though!

Here is a summary of the trip broken in to 2-day segments or I will never get this all out ! Pictures to follow this weekend...

WED: July 4th

After a 24 hour delay (Nice try terrorists) we finally found ourselves sitting in the terminal at Dulles International Airport, waiting to board BUSINESS CLASS on British Airway! We had voluntarily paid more for Economy Plus having flown in coach in 2004 on AIR FRANCE and decided more legroom was worth a few hundred dollars over two trans-atlantic 8 hour flights.

So how did we end up in BUSSINESS CLASS? Luck of the draw, sympathy for a re-booked flight, the booking agent at the desk was in a good mood? We don't really know but we were very happy! Needless to say, the flight was perfect! The champagne flowed freely, our meals were served with silverware and glasses and the seats reclined to a bed. I actually slept comfortably on a plane for the first time in my life. Definately a great way to start our vacation!

THURS: July 5th

We arrived at Heathrow at 7AM London time (2AM EST), we expidited through customs quickly (another Bussiness Class perk) and went straight to baggage claim. As we waited for our bags, we talked with some fellow passangers who were also upgraded to Business Class. Turns out they lived less than a mile from us in Alexandria AND they were in London to see the Tour as well. It's a small world after all!!

WIth bags in tow, we stopped by the AMEX Currency Exchange, got enough cash to get us started and followed signs for the UNDERGROUND (aka the Tube or the London Metro system). Being savy DC Metro commuters and having mastered the METRO in Paris, Jim and I had no fear of the UNDERGROUND. We bought ourselves two seven-day passes for Zones 1&2, where we would spend most of our time while in London, and a one-way fair to get us to our hotel and off we went.

We were at Victoria Station in less than 40 minutes and Jim pulled out the Garmin GPS to get our bearings and very quickly we were walking the half mile to our hotel. The Luna Simone Hotel was exactly what we had hoped for. While the room was small (one double bed and a private bath), it was clean and the price was just right. Our room was on the front of the building so the traffic was a bit loud at times but most nights we were so tired, we never really heard it for very long. The other perk to the Luna Simone was that is was a 10 minute walk to the Metro, there was a BUS stop right outside the hotel and it smack dab in the middle of Westmister-Victoria section of London. It turns out, this is quite the expensive little neighborhood to live in, even now a days, because back in the day, anybody who was anybody lived in Westminter to be near the Queen. (Queen Victoria that is....). Even today, the neighborhoods we strolled though were riddled with nothing but BMWs, Volvos, Mercedes and Porshes. Jim had no lack of verhicles to admire.

We took it very easy on Thursday, choosing to simply wander the neighborhoods, finding the local Bank ATMs and the grocery store. We knew it would take a little time to adjust to the time change. We wandered about for a bit and then went back to the room to consult our guide books and decide on dinner. We picked a local Wine Bar & Resturant that was listed in our book, called ahead for a table, and then headed out into the London weather. It was classic, 60F and light sprinkles of rain. With umbrellas in hand, we made our way to the resturant. We sat and had an excellent dinner. We both got glasses of a great Argentinian Malbec and Jim had the fixed price meal while I went straight for my first serving of "Bangers and Mash" (Pork and Herb Sausages with Mash Potatoes and a Onion Gravy). The meals were wonderful and our waitor gave us some great tips on how to adjust to the time (stay up as late as you can manage tonight) and the recommendation that we stick to the local, small resturants and pubs if we want to have some great meals.

We managed to stay up until 10:30pm, not too bad when you consider that the sun sets at 10PM when you are that much closer to the north pole in summer.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mind the Gap

Well after a 24 hour delay due to a canceled flight, we are in LONDON Baby! We were upgraded to BUSINESS class on the flight out and it was fantastic. So good, that we wish we didn't really know what it was like because Economy Plus on the way home will pale in comparison. Let's face it, after you have been able to recline your seat to the bed position on a transcontinental flight, nothing will ever be good enough again.

We had no problems navigating the London Underground (the Tube) and when we popped out at Victoria Station, what should we see but Le Tour de France carrivan vehicles on their way to Trafalger Square for the opening ceremonies later tonight! We had lunch in Victoria Station, wandered around the local neighborhood, took a 2 hour nap and went to the local Wine Bar and Restaurant for a great glass of wine and some Bangers and Mash (Sausages and Mashed Potatoes).

Our hotel is in the midst of Victoria/Westminster area of London. It is a little diamond in the rough at less than 90 pounds a night including Breakfast every day. The neighborhood is plush and high end - lots of BMWs and Porsche parked on the streets.

Today's plans: Playing Tourist on the DoubleDecker Buses and going to the opening Tour Ceremonies tonight!!

London BABY, Le TOUR Baby! Life is Good! Live STRONG!