Just wish to share this interesting report on the debut marathon run by the world famous figure - Lance Armstrong. Read on:-
He Came, He Cramped, He Conquered
Cycling champion Lance Armstrong calls the ING New York City Marathon “the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done” Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong did what he wanted to do on November 5 – run the ING New York City Marathon in under three hours. Armstrong, 35, stepped over the finish line in Central Park just under his goal in 2:59:36. His dark green shirt soaked in sweat, the superstar cyclist admitted that the last few miles of the race were a struggle. “Even after experiencing one of the hardest days of the Tour nothing has ever left me feeling this bad,” he said at a post-race news conference. “[My shins] started to hurt in the second half, but the bigger problem the last 7 or 8 miles was the tightness in my calves and thighs. My calves really knotted up. I can barely walk right now.”
Armstrong called the race “the hardest physical thing I have ever done.” While he competed in triathlons as a teenager, Armstrong had never attempted a marathon.
“I think I bit off more than I could chew,” he said. “I never felt a point where I hit the wall; it was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness.”Armstrong was relaxed at the beginning of the race, pointing to the crowd and smiling as spectators yelled, “Go Lance.” Armstrong fans along the course buzzed with excitement at the news that he was due in their area.
The millions of fans didn’t go unnoticed by the cycling champion. “It really was one of the more special events I have ever been involved with,” Armstrong said. “Certainly without the support of New York City I would have been three and a half hours. It’s rare that you see that kind of support from fans. Everyone who was cheering out there was cheering for everyone in this race, not just for me.”
The Armstrong entourage was hard to miss. It included a press vehicle, NBCSports.com on MediaZone.com’s dedicated “LanceCam,” Lance Armstrong Foundation athletes, and a contingent of world-class runners who paced him, including Alberto Salazar, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Hicham El Guerrouj, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in track and field.
Armstrong ran with Salazar in the first half of the race. Salazar certainly knew the course: he won three consecutive New York City Marathons in 1980, ‘81, and ‘82.
“I had to hold him back,” Salazar, 49, said of Armstrong. “Cardiovascularly he was fine. He could speak sometimes better than I could while we were running. I knew that the challenge for him would be the pounding on his legs. So, I tried to keep us at a decent pace but knew he wanted to make it under three hours.”
Samuelson, who won gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, paced Armstrong for the last 16 miles of his marathon. Acting like a cycling domestique, Samuelson muscled runners to the side giving Armstrong a clear path.
“I had to use my elbows more than I ever have in a marathon, just keeping a clear path for him,” Samueslon said. “In the last few miles, I had keep the reins on him and just remind him to loosen up his arms and stretch them every once in a while.”
Armstrong needed Samuelson’s advice to loosen up. “Toward the end of First Avenue in Harlem, I thought ‘uh-oh, I am in pain,’” Armstrong said, but he did not stop. “That LanceCam is humbling,” he said. “At one point I wanted to stop and stretch but with the LanceCam on me, I thought that would be embarrassing.”
Armstrong is not the first Tour de France cyclist to tackle the five boroughs. Laurent Jalabert ran last year’s ING New York City Marathon in 2:55.39. Armstrong said he was aware of Jalabert’s result and it was one of his goals to beat that time.
“Before the race that was my goal, I wanted to break three hours. But if you asked me that with three miles to go, I wouldn’t have cared,” he said. “Honestly, at the end I was so tired, I couldn’t care. I don't know how these guys do it.”
Armstrong wore a hat bearing the date of his diagnosis of cancer: 10/2 (in 1996). His struggle to overcome cancer and go on to win seven Tours de France has been an inspiration for others. The Lance Armstrong Foundation, which funds cancer research, raised about $600,000 at this year’s ING New York City Marathon.
“What Lance does is bring more people into the sport of running,” Salazar said. “He is good for the sport and he creates excitement.”
Will Armstrong return next year?
“The answer to that right now is ‘no,’” Armstrong said ruefully. “But I reserve the right to change my mind.”