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The long run
on June 18, 2012
The Long Run written by Mishka Shubaly is a shocking book that describes his addiction to alcohol and drugs and the inevitable tailspin he finds himself falling into. It initially describes some of the lows he eventually fell to, "One Sunday, we ran dry and made screwdrivers with rubbing alcohol." (Shubaly, 2011 pg. 8) but then what transpires as he realizes he needs to give that life up and start running is what makes the book interesting.
The book begins; describing his drinking troubles and various moves from Massachusetts to Colorado and eventually back to New York by way of Colorado again. Shubaly finally got his undergraduate degree. It wasn't easy for him though, as he describes "More than once, I woke in the middle of the night, crying uncontrollably.....I got straight A's." So even though he was barely functioning alcohol, he still did well at school. Later his plan was to either go to rehab or grad school. He moved back to Manhattan with $300. He applied to one school, saving his last $75 for the application, which ironically he had to use to pay for an open container ticket. He paid it and then borrowed the application fee and lo and behold was accepted to Columbia University. It is amazing that someone as screwed up as he is, was able to graduate with an undergraduate degree, let alone a Master's.
Shubaly's darkest period came about at this time. He moved onto songwriting and made a name for himself (sort of) and proceeded to up his addiction to various drugs - Oxycontin, Vicodin and Opana (a narcotic made famous by the movie "Drug store Cowboy's.) The downward spiral continued. His band played their last show; he was fired from a couple of jobs and lived with reckless abandon until he started hanging out with a bartender named Tracy, who was at one point a personal trainer. She vowed to get him into shape. In 2009, Shubaly made a vow. "I quit drinking, cold turkey." (Shubaly, 2011)
This is when the book took the turn from a darker side (although his fight with sobriety had its own dark elements...maybe more so than his days he spent high and drunk) He began to run. He met a girl named Izgi, who supported his quest to run, but more importantly didn't make any judgments against him for his actions in his former life. She supported him in his first run, a half marathon which he ended up finishing in 1:46:50 which really was quite good in his opinion. He began to enter numerous more races a 50k where he met Luis Ramirez who was later to become a very good friend. Shubaly did this run in a little over 5 hours. Interestingly, during all these runs he entered, he met so many people who were recovering alcoholics, or someone who was escaping some sort of bad period in their life.
It is interesting to note that his addiction to Alcohol and drugs was now replaced with his addiction to run. His goal was to run further, harder and with more abandon.
People have said they get a "runner's high" when they run. This was the only thing keeping him from turning back to the bottle. He visits a counselor, which he claims helps him. He describes exercise as the "Worst addiction ever." (Shubaly, 2011) but he can't seem to stop doing it.
The book, after having read it, and then reading multiple reviews is quite misunderstood. Yes, the book is called "The Long Run". Is it about running? Somewhat, but I think the author's intent with the title is describing the long run through his life. His life was painful. It had many ups and downs, not unlike running. Also, helping and supporting his friend Luis make it at the end of an ultra marathon adds a little feel-good twist to the story. At one time, Shubaly was reliant on everyone around him, now someone was relying on him to help them.
Don't confuse the book as one solely about running, because you will be disappointed. This book is about life. It is about someone who makes it. The running part is just what got him through it. If you want to read about how bad someone's life is, and how they pull it off and succeed then this book is for you.