By now, everyone who wants to know about the Boston Marathon course knows about it. The downhill start, the Newton hills, the towns we pass through along the way.

And I was privileged to enjoy the whole journey, from Hopkinton to Boston, running side-by-side with the lovely Francine.

Saturday morning started with a bump--from our US Air flight over to Northwest, which got us to Boston an hour later but with extra tickets for the next trip. We took a taxi to the home of Joe Bator and Julia Kim, good friends who happen to live only a few blocks from the finish line.

After a nice lunch down the street at the deli, we went up to pick up our race packets and visit the expo. What a madhouse! But what fun! We bought the obligatory jackets, and collected the normal amount of free stuff that we didn't need in the first place.

The evening meal was the Dead Runners "dinner" at Big City. More like a pool hall atmosphere, with great food and many people I've known for years via DRS but few I had ever met in person. Lots of nice conversation ensued.

Sunday morning Julia was up early, cooking some pretty amazing food for the DRS Bagel Brunch, and kicking me out of the kitchen any time I would venture anywhere close to try snitch a bite of something. Meanwhile Joe was off doing the Freedom Run, pacing the front of the pack so they didn't run too fast the day before the marathon. Cathy & Bob Fenton from back home joined us for the brunch, where again I met a few old friends for the first time.

Around noon we ventured off to be Boston tourists, taking the T to Quincy Street Market, shopping and watching the street performers and enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

Meanwhile, it was Joe's turn to cook, and it turns out that he ain't bad at it either! Spaghetti and meatballs with just the four of us at their house. A bottle of red wine and pleasant conversation. An early bedtime, anticipating the main event.

Monday morning we walked about half a mile to catch the bus to Hopkinton, and after about an hour-long bus ride arrived at athletes village. We found the spot Dr. Rick (the pickle juice guy) had described where we would meet to hang out prior to the noon start, and before long were joined there by Rick and Cathy and a couple other friends. With a noon start, there's lots of time for pre-race fun. People wrote names on each other with markers, we drank and ate, enjoyed the sunshine, put on sunscreen, relaxed, and visited the portajohn lines.


At 11:30 a.m. we started for the corrals where we would line up for the start. Francine and I started in corral 19, probably over a quarter mile from the starting line. From the noon starting gun until the time we crossed the starting line was over 26 minutes! We determined to run within the day--making sure we stayed relaxed, hydrated, and nourished on a sunny 70 degree run. We took a camera to record our journey, from the start to the finish, alternating taking pictures of each other in front of each city limit sign we passed.

Little kids along the side of the road would hold out their hands to high-five the marathon runners. One little girl slapped Francine's hand and said, "Ninety-six." She was keeping track.

We ran into Wellesley and the screams from the girls leaning over the temporary railing were overwhelming. I stopped for a picture, and about two-thirds of the way down the line I high-fived a girl who had her hand out. Then the next one, the next one, .... until I finally pulled back and fell in beside Francine again and said, "Ninety-six." Just one more stop for a sign that said "Stop here for a kiss" where two girls waited to plant a kiss on each of my cheeks.

As we approached Heartbreak Hill, we stopped for a picture with the Johnny Kelly statue. Then start the first of a series of hills collectively know as Heartbreak.

Water and Gatorade were plentiful, both from official and unofficial water stops. Beer from the Hash House Harriers as we approached the top of Heartbreak Hill was a welcome site. I downed two glasses.

We finally ran into Boston, still feeling fine and cruising toward the finish. The Citgo sign, marking one-mile-to-go came into view about a mile and a half away. We kept our pace steady as we approached it, running past traditional Brownstones toward the end of our journey. Past the 25 mile mark, past the Citgo sign, a right turn onto Hereford then left onto Boylston and our first view of the FINISH LINE. We looked at each other and knew we would accomplish our mission. The 26 mile mark, less than a quarter mile to go. We approached the line and joined hands, finishing with a net time of 4:44:05, celebrating a great run, celebrating being a part of history, and, most importantly, celebrating the joy of doing it together.

A post-race celebration dinner with Joe & Julia -- at a restaurant this time so somebody else could cook, topped off a great weekend. We would return home Tuesday with memories of good times, great friends, and a great marathon.