Monday, April 15, 2013

The Long Run Book Review

The Long Run by Matt Long with Charles Butler.

I thought it was fitting that we are reviewing The Long Run on the day of the Boston Marathon.
The next time you think you're having a bad run, think about Matt Long.
Matt Long was a New York Firefighter, a 9/11 responder, and a Boston Marathon qualifier when he was hit on his bike by a corporate shuttle bus making an illegal turn during an illegal transit workers strike. He went from being in the best shape of his life to a 5% chance of living, having been literally torn open as the bus ran him over and dragged him and his bike, ramming his seat post up through his body and crushing his pelvis.

Through the heroic efforts of surgeons, doctors, and nurses, he lived, but that was only the beginning of his struggle. He had to learn to walk again, a goal that many physical therapists told him was noble but unattainable. He didn't give up, finding therapists who believed that his competitive nature and his peak physical fitness at the time of the accident gave him an excellent chance of not only walking again, but running another marathon and ultimately an Ironman.

Most of the book is about his recovery, which was slow and ponderous at times. Matt doesn't skimp on the medical details of his injuries or recovery. At times his descriptions are graphic and cringe-inducing, but there's no other way to communicate the horrible damage to his body and what he had to do to recover. Sometimes its a bit hard to read. He also doesn't hide his periods of  depression. It's not feel-good inspiration on every page. Even without his specific goal of running, this book is a guide through recovery to whatever your goal might be, which Matt carries on with his IWill Foundation.

Matt eventually got himself fit and capable enough to run the New York Marathon in 2008 (the same year the Lance Armstrong run, who beat a cancer that gave a 50% of surviving, which were much better odds than Matt was given). Matt's legs didn't completely work yet and the pain in his feet were excruciating, but he kept going. Matt hadn't returned to his Boston qualifier time, but he finished the race. That would be remarkable in itself, but it wasn't enough for him. He trained up and went on to compete in an Ironman finishing just in time for Mike Reilly to say "Matt Long, you are an Ironman".

I really enjoyed this book and found it hard to put it down.  I found myself telling my husband all about it, and some parts he did not want to hear!

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