There were countless memorable moments during the Runner’s World weekend, but the most inspirational was, without a doubt, meeting Matt Long. For those of you who aren’t familiar with his story, here is the blurb on the RW website that prefaced his presentation:
“In December 2005, Boston marathoner and NYC Firefighter Matt Long was bicycling to work when he was crushed and nearly killed by a 20-ton bus. Miraculously, three years and 40 operations later he finished both the NYC Marathon and an Ironman triathlon. Matt first recounted his incredible story in Runner’s World, which led to the book The Long Run, written with RW Executive Editor Charlie Butler. In this inspiring keynote address, Matt will detail how he overcame a devastating accident, extraordinary physical pain, and crippling emotional despair to reclaim his life as an elite athlete.” (source)
During our pre-race pasta dinner, Matt Long was dining at the table next to us. Before he began his presentation, some of us FitFluential Ambassadors had the chance to meet and talk with him for a bit. He even offered to take his shirt off, but then was quickly reminded he was due on stage in two minutes. Boo! At least I got a great picture!
Like I said in the vlog, he’s a hottie, right? I must have a thing for good looking bald guys. Heh heh. Anyway, Matt’s presentation was absolutely phenomenal. It began with a short film describing his life, accident, recovery, and accomplishments. I hung on to every word Matt said as he was filled with so much wisdom. Plus, he was hilarious and had the entire auditorium laughing during the anecdotes he shared.
As Matt was recovering, he explained that he had lost the will to live. It wasn’t until one lunch with his mother that he snapped out of it when she finally said, “Enough is enough!” She then went on to scold him for feeling sorry for himself as his entire family (8 siblings!) had been in the hospital along his side each step of the way. Something in that conversation clicked for Matt, and he vowed to make changes.
The first marathon Matt completed after his accident took him over seven hours. But he did it. He proved that he had the will to overcome his injury and the 26.2 miles. Matt spoke about how when people say, “I can’t,” they’re failing from the beginning. Itz saying, “I will,” and believing in yourself that helps accomplish goals and succeed.
During the half marathon this past weekend, I began repeating a couple mantras in my head when the course got tough. Jonny often tells me, “Do it because you can.” This helps me focus on Jonny, his perseverance in life, and lifts me up to push myself a little bit harder. Now I’ve added, “I will” to my short list of powerful race mantras. When I realized that I might PR (again), I first thought, “I wonder if I can?” Then, Matt Long and his speech popped in my head, and I instantly told myself, “I will.” It must have worked as I not only PR-ed, but took six minutes off my time!
Matt’s book, The Long Run, was available to purchase after the presentation, and I actually snuck out a minute early to buy a book, and get in line to have the book autographed before the rush came. This was genius as I was tenth in line with a mass of people behind me. Since there was such a time crunch, we all had just a few seconds with Matt as he signed the book.
I’m not staring at what he’s writing, I’m just so intent on getting in a million words a minute to let him know how moved I was by his presentation. I think Matt put his hand on mine to try to calm me down, slow me down, or just let me know he was listening. I was fine with it, either way. ;) I’m only a couple of chapters in, but already itz left me wanting to read more.
Matt created the I Will Foundation. The mission: “The I WILL FOUNDATION is a non-profit organization established to help people, with the will to work hard, overcome adversity and challenges caused by life altering illness or traumatic injury. Our primary goal is to provide motivational and inspirational support through hands on training, coaching, and financial support when necessary. We believe the will to survive and accomplish all tasks, great and small, is present in all of us whether we recognize it or not. If you have the desire to live your life to the fullest, we can help you.” (source)
I think itz awesome. I think Matt Long is awesome. I’m inspired and have two new, powerful words to repeat as needed. If he can, I can; I can, and I will.
Fill in the blank: I will __________.