Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Man in Yellow
I heard some runners complaining about all the attention Lance Armstrong was getting at the Boston Marathon. It wasn't really a dig at Lance, although for some people it did morph into that. Mostly, people thought there might be other cool stories to explore beyond the famous bike rider. But the Boston Globe did capture many of those stories the day after the race, so I didn't mind seeing one about Lance's day. And reading the story, I was struck by how closely the views of a seven-time Tour de France champion running a 2:50 marathon paralleled those of a 3:18 plodder (me). Lance totally got Boston.

While he's scaled more challenging heights in the Tour de France, Armstrong was surprised by his first encounter with Heartbreak Hill.

"There's hills all around that area, so I when I went up one, I thought, 'Boy, that must be it,'" he said. "Then we went to the next one, and this guy's next to me, he said, 'Well, that was Heartbreak Hill,' and I thought, 'Well, that wasn't that bad,' but another guy said, 'No, it wasn't that one, it's coming up,' so we eventually got to it.

"But the very first one of that series of hills seemed to me to be the hardest. It's interesting because people always talk about Heartbreak Hill and everybody sort of led me to believe that that series of hills was so difficult.

"Then I had this period where everybody seemed to talk them down - 'They're not that big a deal, running the hills of Boston; don't worry about it.' They were wrong. They are harder and they do come at a difficult time in the race.

"For me, it's hard to run on the downhills. Perhaps my body weight comes into play; 175 pounds running downhill really takes a toll on your muscles, and then all of a sudden you hit another uphill.

"Where's the flat marathons? Anybody know?"

No one had an answer. But there was another question: Does he plan to come back?

"Yeah, oh yeah," Armstrong said. "If they let me come back. But there's a lot of other reasons to come back.

"I really love the event, the spectacle of a marathon and the challenges of a marathon. This is a landmark event. This was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a beautiful experience, but the crowds here made it 10 times what I expected."

1 comment:

Dan Brekke said...

Hey, dude -- you and Lance on the same course!