Lance Armstrong Struggles in NYC Marathon

11/06/2006 at 07:55 AM EST

Lance Armstrong Struggles in NYC Marathon
Armstrong after the marathon
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty/Newscom
Lance Armstrong, who knows a thing or two about tough competition, got more of a challenge than he expected Sunday when he ran the ING New York City Marathon.

"For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done," the seven-time Tour de France winner said after the race, according to the Associated Press. "I never felt a point where I hit the wall. It was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness."

Armstrong, 35, placed 856th in a field of more than 35,000 runners. His goal was to run the five-borough course in less than three hours – a feat he accomplished, though barely, crossing the finish line in 2:59:36. Visitors to the marathon's official Web site could watch his progress live on a special "Lance cam."

The week before the race, Armstrong told the AP, "I've been training some, but I wouldn't call it serious. It's just something to fill a void in my life after I quit competing as a professional cyclist."

That approach may have come back to haunt him.

"I think I bit off more than I could chew. I thought the marathon would be easier," he said on Sunday. "(My shins) started to hurt in the second half, especially the right one. I could barely walk up here, because the calves are completely knotted up."

Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil won the men's race in a time of 2:09:58. Defending champion Jelena Prokopcuka finished first among the women, with a time of 2:25:05.

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