There are times when you get into a run and you realize, with more than a little trepidation, that you’re no longer running. No, you’re along for the ride. This happened this morning. Last week I broke into double digits, if barely, with a 10.2. Today’s plan: same route, but go for an extra 5+ minutes. It’s a nice course, along the Bronx River Parkway. I get to the path at about 1.75. There are a few street crossings, but I generally, as today, avoid having to stop. Pretty flat, with one steep but very short hill.

I concentrate on keeping things easy, particularly after yesterday (where I got in 6+ at a 6:42 pace, on the same course). A little tired but OK and am running smoothly. Turn around at Scarsdale Train Station, just past 6 at about 42:40 or so, and heading south again.

Then it hit me. Solid pace and my quads begin to feel it. Not hurting, but feeling it. Through 7 and I realize that I’ve entered the passenger zone. I am going at a certain pace at a certain rhythm and become disconnected from my body. As if I have no control over what it’s doing. I have two choices:

  • Go With It
  • Stop

There’s no intermediate “slowing down.”

Pace picking up. “You think this is a good idea? We’re pretty far out.” This at about 8.

9, 10, 11, 12.  Every step, not of my doing. Go with it.  Or stop. Has it become a Hobson’s Choice? I like to think so.

Now this passenger stuff happens in races too. Unfortunately it happened early in the 2006 ING NYC Marathon, and it couldn’t be sustained, so with dread I headed up the 59th Street Bridge hoping I’d at least get to the Bronx before I crashed, and I actually got back into Manhattan, barely, before I did. It often happens in half-marathons, which I always negative-split. In the 2007 Manhattan Half, each of the last four miles had exactly the same split. Along for the ride.

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Note: the Bronx River was not always as it is today.  Indeed, for many years it was essentially a sewer littered with waste from tanning factries along its border.  Here’s an article (PDF) from the Times in 1906, before the extensive clean-up took place, which led to the wonderful park we have today.