Amani Toomer ready for NYC marathon

NEW YORK -- Amani Toomer retired from the NFL in 2009, but his competitive juices haven't stopped flowing.

So, when Timex and his former team, the New York Giants, approached the 36-year-old and asked if he was willing to run the 2010 ING New York City Marathon for a good cause, Toomer wasn't about to turn down the opportunity -- even if it meant six months of rigorous training.

"When the opportunity arose for me to do this, I figured it would be a good thing for me to do," said Toomer, who on Sunday will become the second NFL player ever to run in the New York City Marathon, joining former Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Lynn Swann. "I figured I was not only going to enjoy myself, but also give back to the community I've lived in for the past 16-17 years."

He'll be able to give back to the community by passing other runners during the marathon.

Toomer will start dead last. However, for every runner the ex-Giant passes, Timex will donate $1 to the New York Road Runner's Foundation Youth Programs.

"It's a program that's in the [city's] outer boroughs," Toomer said. "The program teaches kids how to run correctly, while fighting childhood obesity. They're able to learn a positive way to work out and that's something they can hold with them for the rest of their lives."

Even though he won't win the marathon, Toomer does have a couple goals in mind.

"I want to finish the marathon in less than four hours," he said. "I'd also like to break Lynn Swann's mark of 4 hours, 26 minutes and become the fastest NFL player to ever run the New York City Marathon."

One thing Toomer won't be doing, though, is carrying his BlackBerry. Unlike other runners who update their progress via their Facebook and Twitter accounts, he doesn't want to lose his focus.

"I just want to be able to enjoy the crowd and the two million people going to cheer us on," Toomer said. "I want to finish in under four hours so I don't want the distraction. I just want to keep moving and enjoy myself."

So what's easier, training for a marathon or an NFL season?

"There's no contact in a marathon," said Toomer, noting that his running technique has changed from "planting on his heels as a route runner in football" to "running on the balls of his feet as a marathon runner."

"You just throw on some music and start running."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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