The Marathon is over, and Team Diabetes raised 2.3 million dollars for the ADA, that is remarkable, and wonderful thank you for your support!! (My personal goal was short by $300.)
Here’s a little about the race…
Sunday, June 23rd, 2002 was the official race day of the Kona Marathon. It began at 2:30 am, after approximately 4 hours of tossing and turning, I jumped out of bed. The adrenaline was already pumping. I proceeded to lube up with a quarter bottle of sunscreen SPF 40 and get dressed. I was too nervous to eat breakfast, but I did manage to down a cup of coffee and a tablespoon of peanut butter. At 3:30 am, I boarded the bus to the start line. It was a 45-minute drive to the beginning of the race. I used that time to pray, and think about my relatives and friends who suffer with this disease daily, and sadly, that list keeps getting longer. I thought of them and prayed for a cure. It was still dark when the first bus arrived at the start line, with a full moon lighting up the early morning sky over the Pacific Ocean. Bus after bus dropped off athletes for this race, two thousand half-marathon and full marathon contestants. Some 495 were volunteers with Team Diabetes, other teams included, Joints in Motion, Team Stroke, and The Wellness Community (cancer). At 5:15 am, we all crowded the start line, at 5:30 am the shot rang out and the crowd began to move. You could feel the excitement in the air, the enthusiasm of the volunteers, coaches and staff was contagious. Everyone cheered each other on. At mile 2 my husband and children were there to cheer me on, “Go Team D!!” was the cheer of the day, which I heard many, many times along the way. The positive feelings and emotion were overwhelming.
The racecourse was described as rolling hills. It led us through downtown Kona, and then out to the lava fields near the airport. Miles 13 through 15 were actually in the lava fields, it was HOT, HOT, HOT!! (with temperatures reaching well above 100 degrees). However, the Kona Marathon is very well organized, each volunteer organization, including the National Guard had stations along the way with drinks, ice, snacks, fruit and Emergency staff. I remained cool by filling my cap with ice and staying hydrated. I never want to drink Gatorade or Ultima again, I had my fill of a lifetime that day.
I knew I could easily complete 18 miles, I had done it before. Miles 18 through 20 I walked by myself, most of the runners had completed the race by now, and the only contestants left on the course were the full marathon walkers.
The last six miles were the most demanding physically and mentally. I was now experiencing pain in my left ankle and both feet, but I knew I would recover. It was at this time that I met Charlie from Boston, a young man with polio and his coach. The coach set pace for both of us and watched the time. I only briefly spoke with Charlie, just intros, our names and where we are from. I asked him if he was going to celebrate that evening. He answered “I’m sorry Mary Jane I can’t talk right now, I am in extreme pain and need to concentrate on walking” My legs were numb, and my pain not extreme. I walked in silence with him for a while.
Some Team Diabetes coaches carried cowbells, and I could hear the ringing up ahead. Christie from Louisiana approached me, asked how I was doing, if I needed anything. She walked with me for a mile or so, distracting me from my pain. We talked about our families, and she told me to just repeat to myself “NO PAIN” the end was just around the corner. At the next mile maker Keith from New Jersey caught up with me, again distracting me from the pain we talked about the long history of diabetes in my family and his. As I approached 24 miles, I could hear “Go MJ”, “You can do it Mommy!”, “We love you!” I waved to my family as I passed holding back the tears. Keith and I past two more beaches, and then he left my side to check on Charlie.
The finish line was just up one more rolling hill and around the corner. Mike and the kids drove by to meet me at the finish line. I stuck out my thumb for a ride, but they just kept on driving. As I approached the end the crowd was screaming, my coach was beaming, and I had a smile from ear to ear. The time was 8 hours, 56 minutes and 13 seconds. I had officially survived the Kona Marathon.