Armstrong says Heartbreak Hill as tough as advertised

Updated: April 22, 2008, 12:23 AM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Lance Armstrong heard different stories about Heartbreak Hill during his training for the Boston Marathon. Some told him it was as tough as the name indicated.

But others said, no sweat, it's overrated.

"They were wrong," Armstrong said shortly after finishing his first Boston Marathon on Monday in 2 hours, 50 minutes, 58 seconds.

Heartbreak Hill, the last in a series of hills between miles 18 and 21, is a key test for runners nearing the end of the up and down course. The first of the hills was the worst, Armstrong said, and the heartbreaker lived up to its name.

"They are harder and they do come at a difficult time in the race," he said.

Other notables who ran Boston were astronaut Suni Williams, who finished in 4:20:42 and Jane Swift, former acting Governor of Massachusetts, who finished in 4:57:21.

Boston was Armstrong's third marathon after running New York twice. Boston was a harder course, and a much different experience because of the closeness of the spectators, Armstrong said.

"It's just much tighter," he said. "It's louder and more intense and I think it plays well for all the runners, not just the leaders. ... Everybody feels that."

Armstrong said there's no comparison between running a marathon and cycling, either physically or mentally.

"You can't compare the pounding or running with the efficiency of a bicycle," he said. "Nothing even comes close to comparing the pain, especially it seems like this course, with a significant amount of downhills ... that really take their toll on the muscles."

Armstrong said he planned to run Boston again, though he added he's too busy with other things to get more serious about running.

"It is a hobby, it keeps me fit on a daily basis, it keeps me inspired and motivates me to go out and run," he said.

Armstrong added he regrets not training harder when he's suffering in the middle of a race.

"Every time I come out here, I swear to myself I'm going to train harder for the next one," he said. "But I never do."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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