[caption id=“attachment_3931” align=“aligncenter” width=“500” caption=“Tracey Holtshirley runs in the Marine Corps Marathon "shadow race” on Al Asad Airbase in Iraq, October 2009. (Courtesy photo)“][/caption]

Who are you? I am Tracey Holtshirley, a reserve Marine Corps Major and civilian lawyer.  I have served in the Corps for 14 years and deployed to Iraq twice in support of our nation’s efforts to assist the Iraqi people. I live in Chicago with my wife of eight years.

Why do you run? Running has been a tremendous source of solace and recommitment to succeed in the face of life’s challenges. Running keeps me healthy, fit and sharp. Though my running has not always been fun or easy, but the rewards are inexhaustible.

Why do you support the USO? The USO has been a wonderful friend to me as I have served in the Marine Corps, whether I was deployed or at home.

For those on the fence about joining the team and running the MCM, what encouragement/advice would you give? I would encourage those who are on the fence to join the team because of the double blessing they will receive and the untold blessing the servicemembers and their families will receive from that effort.  As a Team USO runner, you will be helping to support a proven organization as they support our nation’s brave men and women in uniform; you will also reap the benefit of healthy living and help to inspire others to live healthy as well; and don’t forget that you will strengthen your inner resolve to tackle life’s multitude of challenges with the confidence that you can prevail.

[caption id="attachment_3930” align=“alignright” width=“200” caption=“Holtshirley is all smiles after completing the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon. (Courtesy photo)”][/caption]

You have run the Marine Corps Marathon before. What advice would you give to those running it for the first time? Don’t underestimate the challenge, but don’t shy away from it. Like anything in life you must prepare…TRAIN! The MCM course is a beautiful course, steeped with history. The more trained you are, the less time you’ll spend with your eyes glued to the pavement. You can look around and enjoy the scenery and the awesome crowds that have come out to support you.

What is your favorite post-run snack/meal? Hmmmm, that’s a tough one. I’ve run many a long race and can get by post-race with some Gatorade, bananas, and something salty! I’m never too hungry initially, but a few hours later it hits me. I definitely try to grab a protein shake as soon as possible and then chow down that evening on the traditional meat and potatoes (and veggies)!!

What is your most memorable race experience and why? Topping the list has to be the MCM in 2009. I was deployed to Iraq and had the “pleasure” to coordinate a shadow race on Al Asad Airbase. I have a new found appreciation for those that put these great events together. I had a great group of volunteers and colleagues to make this happen. Then I had to race and then I got to support and recognize the participants and volunteers. Amazing time!

If you could send one message to our men and women in uniform serving around the world, what would it be? Stay true to your corps values at all costs. Challenge yourselves daily and challenge those around you to be better than they were yesterday!