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November 5, 2006

Lance Armstrong


Q. Could you talk about the group of runners around you? Did some get in the way, and you obviously had a support crew, but how was the whole run regarding that?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Well, I started to say it was good, I wouldn't put it in the good category right now. It's more crowded than I thought. But when you have 37,000 people, I suppose that's what happened.
The people around were all very supportive. Sometimes when you're running, just like I guess when you're racing guys, they are close and when you start to get tired it's a little frustrating when they are in your space. But everyone was very respectful, very supportive. They understood that I had Alberto and Joanie and Hisham and they were all mindful of that. Yeah, it was -- well, I'm sure somebody is going to get to the question, how hard it was. I'll tell you that in a minute.
THE MODERATOR: Lance's official time was 2:36. He was 856th overall out of 38,368 finishers, the largest field in ING New York City Marathon history.

Q. I've seen you at about a hundred -- I've never seen you as exhausted as you are now.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Thank you, George. (Laughter).

Q. It's a compliment.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: You're smart but it didn't take a smart man to see that, either. For the level of conditioning that I have now, that was without a doubt, that was the hardest physical thing I've ever done.
I don't think I'm in super shape. I suppose I didn't train sufficiently enough for a marathon, but based on the way I started, I can tell you, 20 years of pro sports, endurance sports, from triathalons to cycling, all of the Tours, even the worst days on the Tours, nothing was as hard as that and nothing left me feeling the way that I feel now in terms of just sheer fatigue and soreness right now.

Q. Can you compare it with today?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Not really. You have to remember that those days are into the last -- especially the last seven years of my career, I was in the best possible shape. It was my job. I was literally paid to be a winner. And so I took it very seriously and I focused daily. It was all that I did. Whereas, you know, running a marathon was a wild goal that I had. But it's not a job. It's not something that I train hours and hours and hours every day. I do an hour or 45 minutes a day and that's about it whereas in the past I would have trained six or seven hours a day. It makes a time trial seem relatively easy; not that they are easy.

Q. How badly did you want to beat those three hours?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Before the race, that was my goal. I wanted to break three hours. But if you told me, you know, with three miles to go, you're going to do 3:05, I didn't care. (Laughter) I wouldn't have cared. I got to the last half a mile and I realized that if I could just pick it up a little, I would break three hours, and Hisham and Joanie were really supportive. Actually, I think everybody knew that was my objective. They were helpful. But honestly at the end, I was so tired, I just didn't care.
Now I'm glad I did. But at the time.

Q. Will you run next year? (Laughter)?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: I don't know. Honestly, I don't know. I would say it was one of the more -- it was one of the more special events that I've been to in terms of the support. Even I can understand community support like that for the best athletes in the world, but we were running -- I was running 800 down and the people were not just supportive of me; they were supportive of everybody. It's rare that you see that. It makes you want to come back on that level. But I don't know, now is not the time to ask that question. The answer right now is no, I'll never be back. (Laughter) But in a month, I reserve the right to change my mind in a month.
THE MODERATOR: I'm sure the invitation will be open.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: It was special and I'll never forget it.

Q. Why did you decide to run a marathon and why this one?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: It was always a goal of mine to do a marathon. I figured in retirement, running would be a much more logical mode of exercise than racing because I'm on the road so much and running is simply easier to do with travel.
But that was, again, I think I bit off more than I could chew there with that one. I thought the marathon would be easier than that. But, I don't know. In the last year of my career, I had the idea that I would do one a year; I don't know about that anymore. This is the first year.

Q. Not asking you to dissect the pain or what-have-you, but how much of a problem were your shins?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Before I started, I thought I had the problem under control. The first half of the race they didn't hurt at all. They started to hurt in the second half, especially the right one.
I suppose, though, the bigger problem, the last seven or eight miles was just the tightness in the calves and the legs. I didn't expect my calves to feel the way that they do. I mean, I could barely walk up here just because the calves are completely knotted up.
No, the shins I wouldn't say they were -- I mean, they were sore, but they weren't prohibitive.

Q. If you were to devote the level of training to the running that you did to your cycling, where do you think you would end up?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: I've run that question through my mind. I'm not -- it's funny, I walk to the start line with these elite runners and I see your pens and your pencils on your desk there; their legs are about the size of those pens and pencils, and my body will never look that way. So I'm not made to be a runner.
I suppose if I devoted serious time and really focused, focused on the diet, used the proper training, did the proper distance training, maybe I could run, you know, sub-2:30, maybe 2:25. But why would I want to do that? (Laughing).

Q. Being the competitive athlete that you are, how did you feel when so many people were passing you?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: I thought I was doing the passing at the end. Or maybe I was just seeing things.
I didn't care. I mean, I'm not -- I had a personal objective. I wasn't out to race anybody else. So it wasn't a distraction.

Q. You said at the beginning you were surprised by the crowd. Was there anything else about the whole marathon experience that surprised you and how about the "runner's wall" that you've heard so much about?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: You know, I never felt a point where I hit the wall. It was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness that really started after, I suppose when we got into Manhattan. Well, even when we were in Manhattan up First Avenue, I felt okay. Towards the end of First when we got up into Harlem, that's when I started to think, oh, I just started to feel that little twinge in the calves. The idea that you've got to stop and stretch and you cramp, is a bad feeling. For a minute there, I thought I was going to have to stop in front of the Lance Cam and do some stretching which would have been really embarrassing. It was humbling, I should say.
THE MODERATOR: We appreciate you coming and taking your time.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Very tough event. I don't know if -- I don't know how these guys do it. It's a special, special discipline.

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