Amsterdam was windy, grey, onstuimig, a Dutch word I love, meaning something like wild, unruly. The road seemed hard and unforgiving. The distance intimidated me. The silence I often love seemed ominous at this moment, at mile 7 in my first half marathon in years. I struggled with my breathing and posture, and wondered about this intimately familiar question: why?
In 2010 I conquered Amsterdam with a p.r. on the marathon. That’s how it felt, to return to my home country, skinnier en stronger and smoke-free, and run 26 miles in about three hours. Victory was mine. This time, my sister had a friend who had an extra ticket to start the half marathon. Of course, I blurted out “I’ll take it” before realizing whether my body and mind were ready.
They were, sort of. After going out too fast in the packed Amsterdam streets I settled into an easy pace, set by two strong runners running like clockwork. I followed and drafted, calming down as we glided toward the Vondelpark.That’s when I allowed myself to ask why. There is no answer, there are countless answers. My book is filled with them.
But the best way to look at the question —why run?— is in this beautiful little film. I’m late; it came out in 2013. But no matter. It’s amazing how these English filmmakers captured something like the essence of running. It will be well worth 11 minutes of your time.