I have decided that I am going to start reviewing some of the books I read. My plan is not to review every book, but the books I find to be really good or really bad. There are so many books out there now that I always find it helpful when other people can strongly recommend a book or strongly discourage me from wasting my time on a book. Hopefully, you will find my book reviews helpful in deciding whether to buy, open, and read a book you have heard about! So, here is my first review.
The Long Run by Matt Long with Charles Butler
It takes a lot to bring tears to my eyes. As my wife likes to say to me, “you don’t like the way your emotions make you feel.” She is right of course and over the years I have learned to control my emotions. Therefore, it has to be very powerful to make me tear up. That is exactly what Matt Long’s story did to me. On more than one occasion my eyes welled up with tears and the words became blurry for a second or two.
In The Long Run, Matt Long does a wonderful job telling his story of being an elite athlete with a finely tuned body who meets utter devastation one day only to have his friends, family, doctors, and therapists help him recover and learn to run again.
The story starts in 2005 with Long successfully running the New York City Marathon. So successfully, in fact, that he qualified to run in the Boston Marathon. As many of you know, this is no small feat as the only way to qualify for Boston is to run faster than a specific time for your age and gender. The fact that Long did this shows what a great athlete and how well-trained he was.
Long was also a firefighter, a member of Ladder 43 with the FDNY. He had also completed an Ironman. That’s right, he swam 2.4 miles, then rode a bike 112 miles, then ran a marathon (26.2 miles). As Long tells it, he loved to run and work out. It was something he tried to do everyday.
All of this changed on Dec. 22, 2005. It was the third day of a public transit workers strike and Long had to get to work. It was cold and he had a long way to go, so he jumped on his bike to ride to work. It was on the way that his life was literally changed forever. A chartered bus that was rented to get people to work during the transit strike made an illegal right hand turn. Long never saw the bus and the bus didn’t see him as it ran him over and trapped him underneath it.
The injuries were extensive and can be read about in much greater detail in the book, but they included a shattered pelvis, multiple broken leg bones, a broken shoulder, and a rectum that was all but obliterated by the bicycle seat that impaled Matt and split him in half. The story of the emergency crew and trauma teams saving his life is a story all by itself and a miracle too. Doctors told Long’s family he had a 5% chance to survive.
Even with the terrible odds and 69 units of blood, Long managed to survive. He underwent multiple surgeries and reconstructions. He was told he might not ever walk again. But people didn’t give up on him and Long decided he wanted to do more than walk. He wanted to run! What started as a goal of completing a 6 mile loop in Central Park turned into a goal to become the athlete he once was and complete another marathon.
That’s exactly what Matt Long did. He learned to run and completed another New York City Marathon and then went on to once again complete an Ironman Triathlon. Amazing, truly amazing!
While the story in and of itself is remarkable, what makes this a great book to read is the way it is told. Matt Long and Charles Butler do a wonderful job interweaving the events of Long’s disaster with stories from his past. They give the reader so much more than a story about a man recovering from terrible injuries. They open up the world of Long’s supportive family, his “live life to the fullest” attitude, his wonderful friendships, entrepreneurial spirit (owning several bars), and wonderful job as firefighter. As you reader you connect with Long and cannot help but continue reading this book so you can find out how he made it back.
The reader gets a picture of all the things Long did before his accident and then goes on a journey with him to overcome his injuries and get his life back. Bitterness and depression most definitely find Long. He even asks the question, “Why would God do this to me?” But, his family and friends help him to recover and get his joy in life back. It was not only Matt running a marathon after his injuries that brought tears to my eyes, but also the people who helped him do it. This is a true comeback story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Anyone who enjoys comeback stories, especially those involving athletes will love this book. It is not only motivational, but it is a reminder of how important family and friendships are both physically and mentally. If you are looking for a good book to read, pick up The Long Run and you won’t be disappointed.