As athletes, we all experience self-doubt. If I sign up for this race, can I finish it? Anxiety is normal. It usually takes someone telling me, “you can do this,” for me to actually click the sign up button. In many ways, our professional and athletic lives run parallel to one another. Pushing limits in training is just like pushing limits intellectually – both require courage, a lot of self-confidence, and belief in yourself. I had neither courage nor self-confidence when my husband signed me up for the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon. I was left no choice but to train and train hard.

It was that initial training cycle that solidified my love of running. I worked hard, I woke up early, I learned how proper nutrition and training go hand-in-hand, and I came to value goal-setting. I ran a 3:24 at MCM and qualified for the 2010 Boston Marathon. I had found confidence in myself as an athlete but still lacked confidence in myself as a professional.

The magic started when my athletic fearlessness started to seep into other parts of my life. In 2011, as an adult student, I was named a Tillman Scholar. It was the vote of confidence – like running a Boston-qualifying time – that jump started my professional career. For background, Pat Tillman turned down an NFL contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2003 to enlist in the US Army. He deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and while deployed in 2004, his unit was ambushed and he was killed. Pat’s family and friends created the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) in 2008 to carry forward his legacy by giving military veterans and their spouses who embody those principles the educational tools and support to reach their fullest potential as leaders, no matter how they choose to serve.

Pat’s outlook on life inspires my running and my career: never stop, never quit, never settle. I dropped out of college in 2001, I am now in a doctoral program at George Washington University; I enlisted in the US Army in 2004 as a Private First Class, I am now a Captain serving in my fourteenth year on active duty; I treated my body horribly and was barely able to run two miles, and I am now an ultrarunner and marathoner going after my 32nd marathon. The list of Pat-inspired life events goes on! My love of sport enables me to carry Pat’s legacy forward in my own way and I am running the 2018 Chicago Marathon with Team Tillman.

Fundraising for Team Tillman gives me the opportunity to keep Pat’s passion and intensity alive while inspiring others to live up to their potential. As a community of everyday athletes, civilian and military, Team Tillman members participate as a team or individually in marathons, half-marathons, triathlons, cycling and other athletic events to honor Pat. To date, we have raised nearly $1 million to fund scholarships for Tillman Scholars, who share Pat’s commitment to service, learning and action. For someone like me, who loves to run, I cannot think of a better way to give back to the foundation that has given me so much courage, determination, and desire to push myself harder than ever before. Help Maggie reach her fundraising goal.

Learn more about the Pat Tillman Foundation: http://www.pattillmanfoundation.org/ and follow Maggie on Instagram.