Saturday, February 25, 2012

Two Long Runs

I got bitten by the bug of reading books about running, marathon and Ironman training and inspirational stories about people who managed to go beyond their limits. I think I'm still in the honeymoon phase with this triathlon thing even though I am still not done with my first goal of running a full marathon. 2012 will be the year when I'm going to do both, there's no going back now. So I am ingesting as much motivation and training tips as I can to keep me going and look past my little boo-boos. It all started with reading "Born to Run" last fall when I travelled to France for my dad's funeral. And that book was my escape, my buoy. For having failed to participate to my first full marathon due to emergency surgery and my dad's passing at the same time, I needed something to lift my spirits and boy, that book got me all pumped up.

Now that my feelings have settled a bit, I am on my way to running my first full marathon just a few months from now on May 6. A friend from Runkeeper gave me Matt Long's book "The Long Run" and I could not put it down. It took me just 4 days to finish it. Here's the description from Amazon:

On the morning of December 22, 2005, Matt Long was cycling to work in the early morning when he was struck by and sucked under a 20-ton bus making an illegal turn. The injuries he sustained pushed him within inches of his life. Miraculously, more than 40 operations and months later, Matt was able to start his recovery. In spite of the severity of his injuries, Matt found the psychological consequences of the accident nearly as hard to process. He would no longer be able to compete at the highest level.  
In the 18 months before the accident, he had competed in more than 20 events including several triathlons and marathons and had qualified for running's most prestigious race, the Boston Marathon. After the accident, his doctor told him he'd be lucky if he could even walk without a cane.
The Long Run is an emotional and incredibly honest story about Matt's determination to fight through fear, despair, loneliness, and intense physical and psychological pain to regain the life he once had. The book chronicles Matt's road to recovery as he teaches himself to walk again and, a mere three years later, to run in the 2008 New York City Marathon--a gimpy seven-and-a-half hour journey through the five boroughs. "Running saved my life," Matt says, and his embrace of the running community and insistence on competing in the marathon has inspired many, turning him into a symbol of hope and recovery for untold numbers of others.

I couldn't recommend this book more. I absolutely loved it and now I feel ashamed to talk about "injuries".  Saying "my little boo-boos" is so much more appropriate. Just after finishing this one I marathoned my way through another book called "The Long Run" by Mishka Shubaly. I quickly discovered this to be rather a short story for having finished it the same day, but no less fascinating.  Below is a quick review from Amazon.

What happens when an out-of-shape, drug-addled, 30-year-old alcoholic goes running for the first time? Read on. In the Kindle Single, The Long Run, Mishka Shubaly chronicles his misspent twenties with intoxicating language. "Alcohol," he says, "is a great aggregator: when you are drinking to excess, every problem seems to fall under that umbrella." And Shubaly had problems aplenty, including self-loathing, an appetite for self-destruction, and a disdain for sobriety (which he experienced as relentless anxiety, agony, and amplified boredom). When the author accidentally discovers that running puts his demons at bay better than top-shelf bourbon, he begins to shed his old life and becomes something he never wanted to be: a runner, an ultra-distance runner at that. If running is a substitute addiction, Shubaly says, it's "the dreariest, most painful, least thrilling addiction I have ever experienced." The charms of Shubaly's writing are many: his adoring metaphors for drinking reveal it as his true unrequited love; his self-examination has Thoreau-like depth; and his exposition transforms the pedestrian into the sublime. What's more, Shubaly is earnestly obstinate, yet capable of change; a nihilist, and yet he seeks meaning; a walking contradiction and a joy to spend time with on paper. --Paul Diamond
Very different writing styles and stories, however I thought several times how far from one another are these two men, both living in NYC and running miles around Manhattan. The world is small, how many times have they crossed paths, I wonder?

In the end, it feels like this sport brings us all together as I truly want to meet these guys one day. Maybe at the starting line of the New York Marathon, I will look for them and tell them thank you for the inspiration.

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