Literally, Naoko Takahashi had bumps in the road in her career as a marathoner. But her days of glory and agony are finally over, and now she can walk in the street as everyone else.

Takahashi, arguably the most beloved marathon star that Japan has ever produced, announced her retirement from the sport on Tuesday.

"As of today, I've decided to retire," said the 36-year-old Takahashi, an Olympic gold medalist and former world record-holder, at a Tokyo news conference before hundreds of reporters, photographers and TV cameras.