Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lance Is Still The Man

So, watched the Versus coverage of the Boston Marathon yesterday. After the completion of both elite races, they covered about the last 3 or 4 miles of Lance Armstrong's race.

For those of you who don't remember, he did the 2006 New York Marathon and pretty much thought that his years of bike racing would make the run a piece of cake. Well, it was pretty much all he had to squeeze in under 3 hours and afterward he said that it was among the hardest things he had ever done athletically.

He trained better going into the 2007 New York race and ran a respectable 2:46+.

Well, he decided that he ought to give beantown a try and see if he couldn't run Heartbreak Hill into submission. But, he admitted that he hadn't trained like he should have and was dreadfully short of long runs. His weight was up to 175 pounds and he definately looked heavy, especially compared to how he would look during his Tour de France races.

But, the dude put it out there. He ran a solid time of 2:50:58 (6:32 pace) to finish in the top 500 (out of some 25,000 entrants). In fact, he ran a negative split with half splits of 1:26:52 and 1:24:06. And, for anyone that has ever run Boston, running negative splits on that course is a challenge for anyone, let alone someone who is short of training.

Two things really impressed me about watching him over those last few miles. First, he was a hurting unit; but, the dude is tough. He had the chin out, the eyes were set and he was really working it to stay on pace. He clearly loves to compete and is willig to suffer some pain to get the best performance possible.

Second, over those last few miles he had anywhere from 10 to 12 guys hanging around trying to get camera time or looking to be able to say that they ran with Lance. But, at the finish, he took time to shake hands or high 5 virtually everyone of the guys that came up to him in the finish area. It was a classic gesture from someone who I'm sure just wanted to get to the VIP tent and get off his feet.

The final item that caught my interest were a few comments that he made during the post race interview. He indicated that he was goin to do New York again; and, he suggested that he was going to consider putting in the training necessary to run "quite a bit faster" than his race last year. I almost got the sense that he was going to take up the challenge of trying to run a sub 2:30. Maybe I'm reading more into it than it deserves; but, it would be cool to see him give it a try.

In the end, the guy impressed me once again with his raw physical talent, his tolerance for pain and his competitive determination.

I've always been a Lance fan and he did nothing at Boston to change my view.


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