July 15, 2006

On my honor I will do my best...

...to run even though it means sacrificing sleep.

Yesterday, I woke up in Gordon, Nebraska at 4:30 a.m. and proceeded to put in a little over 3 miles. It was quite peaceful jogging down a dirt road with the sun coming up and then chasing my shadow back to the hotel as it stretched out ahead of me.

Not so easy this morning. While Gordon, NE was 50-degrres at that time (quite bracing), down in the valley where Rapid City resides, it was 75 at 5 a.m. this morning. Still, I got in nearly 4 miles. And, amazingly enough, I have had no leg pain until today after the run. I'm feeling generally sore and tired all over and it is easily attributed to the many days of hard riding.

Now, considering the heat wave that's sweeping the country, where do you think the focus is? Where do you think the sun's almighty rays have caused temperatures to approximate that of a forced-air convection oven? Yep, right here, baby. Driving into town yesterday at 7 p.m. after a long day's ride through the Black Hills, the temperature was 103 degrees. And right now, at 5:00, it is:

The last six days have been hard riding, especially as I had certain responsibilities to fulfill as one of the more experienced riders and one of the few with a CB. For three days I've led the whole group through the vast spaces of Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. We were all very tired once we reached this town, Rapid City, SD, but the meal at Golden Corral was very good and the go-carts were very energizing. (I've never driven a go-cart before and these little guys can go up to 40 mph; it was an adrenalized 20 minutes! We're going again tonight!)

So can you blame me for taking today off? Actually, getting up again at 5 a.m. so I'd be done with my run in time to head for the Harley dealership doesn't make it feel like a day off. No, I wasn't the one getting service for my bike. I needed new summer-weight driving gloves, as I have destroyed the Kona cycling gloves I brought. They were comfortable, but not built to stand up to a week of motorcycling. I look out the window of the hotel room right now and congratulate myself for being all kinds of the smart: I also picked up a small spandex shade that I can stretch between my handlebars and sissybar and keep my tank and seat out of the sun. This is good as shady spots are few and far between in these parts.

Anyway, I'm not with the group right now - they all went to an invited party - but I felt I needed to catch up on my therapy, get a good shower, rest and relax, wash the bike, not drive. I am headed home tomorrow and will attempt a BunBurner Gold: 1500 miles in 24 hours. This is not for the faint of heart. It is something that, if I succeed, I will not attempt to do again. It is the distance rider's equivalent of a marathon, maybe even an ultra. I plan to leave very early in the a.m., before the sun is up, so that I may get a couple of hundred miles in before the heat really hits. I will be headed east, and so "leaving" the worst heat - but anything above 85 degrees is uncomfortable. I might have some company doing this; have to talk with that rider tonight.

So. A word about On my honor, I will do my best....

This is the first and most important line of the Scout Oath and the one that occurs to me most often, particularly at the starting line of a race. Honor is something that is difficult to have, difficult to maintain. We live in a society that encourages us to compromise our honor through a thousand small pricks. Each one may not seem like a big deal, but we soon find ourselves so compromised that it is hard to say we have any honor at all.

Honor, of course, is more than merely not doing evil. Honor most often requires stepping up to the plate, doing what others hesitate to do. I have no good definition of honor, only a vague notion of what it is not. At the moments when I have a chance to maintain my honor, it is then that I know what it is, but cannot define it anytime else. In this, it is like pain, which we only know when we are visited by it in the moment, but can barely recall the concept when the moment is gone.

On my honor... A lot of my self-worth resides in my ability to operate honorably. This means adhering to much of the rest of the Scout Law and Oath, most notable honesty. My honor is my badge, my shield, my mandate to do the right thing at the time, every time. And to do it right...

I will do my best... This is the hardest thing of all, particularly when my best just isn't good enough. I am left with doubts as to whether I really did do my best, or whether I caved. And I don't always give it my best anyway; I feel pretty stupid and useless at those times, so I try to minimize how often that happens.

On my honor, I will do my best. Together, the two phrases equal a directive to BE the best I can be. It leaves no room for excuses, no room for failure. If my best wasn't good enough, then it wasn't my best, now was it? Because "best" ALWAYS gets the job done. In running terms, this means sticking to the schedule, running each run conscientously. This is really very hard right now, but should clear up once I'm back in Brooklyn. Over the last few months, it has helped me with my health, career, housing. But it requires that constant mantra: On my honor, I will do my best.

No comments: