I do not enjoy driving. I have never enjoyed driving and I will never enjoy driving. It’s not that I’m a bad driver (although my husband wouldn’t agree) I’m just entirely too uptight to find enjoyment in the driving experience. I cannot do two things at once. I cannot be expected to fix my hair, look at my pores in the mirror AND stay on the road. It's just not a possibility.
Other than rolling down the windows on a nice day and listening to awesome Lady Gaga and/or Justin Bieber music, one of the only things I enjoy while driving is cruise control. To me, it is one of the world’s best inventions. What is cooler than getting in your car, hitting a button and only having to worry about steering and staying on the road? Instead of three tasks, you are instantly upgraded to being required to perform just two. Your brain and foot get a brief rest from juggling these items and you can relax and enjoy the ride. As someone who needs one of the major driving tasks removed from the equation for proper driving, I like cruise control.
Cruise control, however, is not without its faults. It quickly falls down the “best invention ever” list when some jerk in front of you slows down and refuses to get over and then you have to hit the brake and the process of setting cruise control starts all over again. It is not a perfect system by any means, which only makes it awesome like 40% of the time.
Its near-perfection comes with moving the concept of cruise control to another task, allowing it to run its course without interruption. My favorite occasion to throw on the cruise control is while running. As a creature of habit, I run and walk the same four or five paths day in and day out. This is something I never tire of—ever. I am thrilled to take the same roads, see the same sights and nestle in the comfort of familiarity that the same path provides. My feet know the way—they have been here before. I throw on the cruise and let my brain drift to whatever bothers, intrigues or ails me at the moment.
Some of my best work and my most profound thoughts are the product of a cruise-control induced run. I consider ideas and mull over plans I do not have time to contemplate when I’m juggling the multiple tasks of daily life. There is nothing else to consider during this time—it is just me and the road. Skipping a run or foregoing a walk with the dog always comes back to bite me, no matter what I tell myself from a comfortable spot on the couch. I’m calmer, more focused and much more pleasant to be around after I’ve given myself 30 minutes of time to exercise my mind and body. The same goes with the dog—she is a different pooch without our evening runs to calm her.
My exclusive use of “running cruise control” often offends people I know who think I’ve chosen to ignore them while I’m out on a run. Truth is, I gave up a long time ago on attempting to identify those who wave, honk or yell from vehicles going over 35 miles an hour. More often than not, they have already passed me by the time I realize who they actually are, which really defeats the purpose of being friendly. Or, I automatically wave, only to realize that I do not know the old creepy person I just warmly greeted. So, for the sake of being consistent, I just ignore everyone who passes in a car. I go off into my own little world, a place where I can’t hear car honks or random things screamed by teenagers. My own personal cruise control drowns it all out.
But really, I just don't understand the appeal of screaming, hooting and/or hollering at a woman while she's running. Do you think I'm going to stop and give you my number? Do you want to go on a date? Do you realize that I am sweaty and you have no interest in knowing what I'm cooking?
When my cruise control cannot drown out aches and pains of a trying event, such as the triathlon my husband and I recently completed, I resort to what I call my “crazy phrase.” I chant this mantra repeatedly, like a crazy person, until the event is over. I held out as long as I could, but finally resorted to my crazy phrase as my body began to rebel against the 4-miler I ran after completing a 3-mile canoe and 15 mile bike ride. I think every occasion deserves a new phrase—the half marathon crazy phrase is “Pain is temporary.” The triathlon, though, required a different vibe—“You’re almost there,” because, well, you are. Almost.