40 year old Armstrong "got bored" of sitting around.
"I need a challenge in my life," Armstrong said. "I need some stuff to do. I like to train. I like to suffer a bit and today was little over the top but it's great to be back."
There was a remarkable passage in Lance Armstrongs' Autobigraphy "Every second counts" where he recalls that as a teenager he knew that to win Ironman events he would have to suffer and so he determined to suffer more than any other athlete.
It is an insight into the mind of a sporting Hercules. Pain and suffering are at the core of long cycling events and the Ironman is the cream on top of the cherry cake as far as abusing yourself in the name of sport goes.
Lance Armstrong is now 40. The winner of seven Tour De France. You would think he had enough fireside tales to tell his Grandkids.
How about the time when he famously took instinctive avoiding action:
"Yeah there was this time when Ullrich went down in front of me on a steep descent and I just took avoiding action cutting across the hairpin bend and riding roughshod over the mountain grass".
Or the famous "look" over the shoulder when he stamped on the pedals and blew everyone away on a steep ascent:
"I just looked over my shoulder and decided to kick on up the mountain, leaving my pursuers looking like they had sandbags hanging over their mudguards".
There is an endless amount of material here for an entertaining old age.
But Armstrong is no ordinary human and his willingness to subject himself to the rigours of the Ironman show him to be what he truly is – an incredibly intense and fierce competitor.
If tiddly winks was the only game in town then he would be playing and wiping your arse into the dirt with it.
This debut ironman competition for Armstrong in Panama consisted of a 2.0km swim followed by a 90km cycle and then a 21km run in Panama City.
Armstrong was leading on the final leg but got overtaken by New Zealander Bevan, himself a gold medal winner in triathlon at the 2004 Athens Olympics. 40 seconds or so was the final margin after nearly four hours of beating yourself up.