I never imagined being in this moment, training for my first full marathon. I wasn’t always a runner. When I first came to wear blue, I struggled to complete one lap around the track. On 23 August 2010, my husband, SGT Brandon Maggart died of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire. In the months that followed, I began to notice small American flags lining McNeil Street. A community member, wearing a wear blue shirt, told me this group runs to honor fallen service members and invited me to my first Circle of Remembrance. I wanted to be a part of anything and everything that would honor Brandon.
A few wear blue runners reached out, asked about my story, and encouraged me to keep coming. Soon after, I was in training for my first 5K. I crossed the finish line and my initial instinct was to call Brandon and share that moment with him. It was bitter sweet. I was excited about this great accomplishment, and at the same time remembered that if it wasn’t for Brandon’s sacrifice, my family’s sacrifice, I wouldn’t be having that moment.
I met some of my best friends today through wear blue; they encourage me to push for longer distances, revealing the possibilities that I’m not always ready to see. Running a half marathon was something that I never thought I could do; I didn’t really want to either! But, I started running longer distances preparing for a purposeful 10 miles on Memorial Day. After completing 10 miles, I thought to myself, ‘If I can run 10 miles, then I can run 13.1!’
It was time to run my first half marathon… Rock’n’Roll Seattle was on my radar! wear blue runners encouraged, supported, and ran with me to get me through my first half marathon. After completing three half marathons, wear blue encouraged me that I could run a full. If running a half marathon was something I never wanted to do, running a full marathon was definitely something I would have never imagined myself doing!
I took the first step of courage and entered the wear blue lottery, believing if it was meant to be it would. I received my confirmation email congratulating me on being chosen to represent wear blue at the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon. So many emotions at once: fear, anxiety, nerves, and a little bit of excitement. I set my eye on the prize and training began; no turning back! Each week I’ve celebrated some of my longest runs with wear blue athletes who run with me, getting me closer to the goal, finishing 26.2 miles!
This Sunday, I will proudly set out on my biggest challenge (and then accomplishment!) with my husband’s name on the back of my shirt, each step in his honor. Even though Brandon wasn’t an avid runner, it came naturally for him. Running has never been easy for me, but I’ve pushed through each goal in gratitude for someone who gave all.
Brandon’s passion was being a young leader and guiding his soldiers. He was a part of something bigger than himself. He believed it was worth it to give his life so you and I could be free. His family was his priority; he wanted nothing more than to spend time with our son. I’m grateful for the time we had together and heartbroken for the time Blake is missing with him. It is my heart’s desire that Blake knows the kind of man and soldier his daddy was and emulate that character. Blake proudly helps put up the flags each week for wear blue runners to remember that freedom isn’t free, and brave soldiers like his daddy paid that price for them. I want Blake to grow up strong in his faith, knowing his daddy loved him very much and would be proud of the obstacles he’s overcome at such a young age.
“How will you know just how you can go if you can’t find it in you try?”