To qualify, she ran a race in Fredericton with a time of 3:44.19 in May 2011. Registration for the Boston Marathon was in September, and Anita couldn’t register until the fifth day because of qualifying rules.
After registering, Anita had to wait for a couple of days for confirmation.
She says it didn’t seem real when she found out she was definitely in.
“It doesn’t even seem real now,” says Anita. “I ran it, and it seems like a long time ago already, but it was just last Monday.”
Acadia First Nations sponsored Anita in the race. When campaigning, they told her if she qualified for Boston, they would sponsor her.
Anita is an Acadian First Nation band member and may have been the first to run the Boston Marathon. She says the chief and council aren’t aware of anyone else who has run it.
Heading into her training for the marathon, Anita says she was injured. She got a 14-week personal training program, which she followed for about seven weeks before getting injured again.
That’s why Anita decided not to focus on finishing the race with a certain time. Rather, she went with the goal of completing the marathon.
When she and her husband, Michael Howard, brother, Cory Francis, and brother’s girlfriend, Shelly Croft, got to Boston, the city was so busy they parked their car and didn’t drive again. They took public transit everywhere.
She describes the lead up to the race as nerve-wracking.
“For any run that you’re going to do, especially long distance, you pay very much attention to the weather, as to how you have to prepare.”
“I would say the latter part of the race was survival.” - Anita Howard
In the forecast for race day was a heat wave. The day before the marathon, people were told they could defer their registrations.
“They wanted people who weren’t trained for the heat not to run,” she says.
As Anita and other runners were getting on buses to get to the start line, Michael was taking the subway to the 17-mile mark to watch.
When the big horn made its sound signaling her group’s start, Anita began to run.
“That’s the best part,” she says. “My body just knows what to do, and everything goes away.
As she ran, Anita says the carried ice in her hands to keep cool. When it melted, she would grab more and keep running. She also dumped water on herself at each water stop.
“I would say the latter part of the race was survival,” she says.
Then, four hours, eight minutes and nine seconds later, after running 42.2 kilometres, she reached the finish line.
That’s how she describes feeling.
Anita started to run about four years ago. Though she was relatively new to the sport, she says she was always “cardio-fit” and went to the gym regularly.
There’s a good chance Anita will see the streets of Boston again. She says she plans to run the marathon in 2014.
She hopes to get her qualifying time at the MRSB Marathon on Prince Edward Island set for Oct. 12 to 14.