In the Stanley Kubrick film "Full Metal Jacket," former Marine R. Lee Ermey plays the hardcore drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. His portrayal of a tough Marine molding young men into "killing machines" earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
In one scene, Hartman is attempting to "motivate" one of his privates to complete pullups. He asks for one for the Commandant, and then one for the Corps (his "beloved Marine Corps"). When the private is unable to complete the last pullup, Hartman barks, "Well, I guess the Corps doesn't get their's." As I came to the end of my long swim, this weekend, that is what was running through my head. After completing what I believed was 4500 yards, I dug deep to do an extra 100 yards, just in case I had messed up somewhere along the line.
I had gotten everything correctly. For that swim, the Corps got their's. 4600 yards completed in 1:46 and change. As I climbed out of the pool, I felt like I had just spent an hour getting cycled by Senior DI Hartman. Few events in Navy bootcamp pushed my limits as this swim did.
There is a lot to be learned from pushing ourselves, and testing our limits. We grow the most when we are at the bounds of our abilities. I can learn about myself from a 500 yard swim. I learn more when another zero is added. The same can be said for the bike and the run. We improve ourselves in our routine, daily training. We learn about ourselves when we go outside the bounds we thing limit us.
And just like in boot camp, we have to leave a bit of ourselves behind. That part that says "I can't do this" or "This is too hard." If we those gremlins with us, they'll bite us in the butt come race day.