The Running Whys – Anna Bernard

Anna Bernard of Mazerolle Settlement finished second in the women's half marathon during the 32nd annual Fredericton Accreon Fall Classic. Photo Submitted

Anna Bernard of Mazerolle Settlement finished second in the women’s half marathon during the 32nd annual Fredericton Accreon Fall Classic. She’s enjoyed distance running since her first marathon in the 1990s. Photo Submitted

Here is the latest edition in The Running Whys series that ran in the Daily Gleaner in late September (note the time references). It features Anna Bernard of Mazerolle Settlement who treats every run – training or race – the same. It has paid off with a long and positive running career. Here is her story.

Prior to every race, Anna Bernard of Mazerolle Settlement visualizes her regular morning runs.

Her goals revolve around effort and routine, not a specific time. So when she lines up at an event, such as the 32nd annual Fredericton Accreon Fall Classic last weekend, she treats it like her usual outing, one filled with appreciation and gratefulness.

“It is about a happy heart and a happy soul,” said Bernard of her consistency on the roads or trails in and around the city. “It makes me feel like such a rounded person when I can get in a good run and feel good about things. It extends to every other part of my life.”

Bernard grew up in Fredericton and during her teens, she competed regularly in cross country races under the watchful eye on coach Rick Stocker and others. After school, she got married, had two children and when her husband Marc was posted to British Columbia by the RCMP, she found her running legs again in her new surroundings.

“I went out one day and ran for miles and miles and miles,” she explains. “I came home and told my husband I think I can run a marathon.”

The first major goal was the Vancouver Marathon in the early 1990s and she eventually completed four straight marathons on the west coast before returning to New Brunswick in 1999 with the family – first in St. Andrews, then to Grand Falls and ultimately to her current home.

She kept running as well, and after a successful race inthe

2000 Marathon by the Sea in Saint John, she qualified for the 2001 Boston Marathon with a time of 3:39.28.

And since then, she’s continued on, year after year, enjoying the peace of her solo efforts and the satisfaction of her race results, all the while maintaining a high level that sees her at or near the top of the women’s 50-59 age class in the province.

“It became very spiritual and very uplifting,” Bernard said. “There is a great combination, mentally and physically and it makes me very thankful to be alive. It has gone past the running.”

At last weekend’s race, she was the second woman to cross the line and won her age class in 1:42:22. This year alone, in five Run New Brunswick Super series events, she’s won her age class three times and finished second in two others.

“I still have the same head space for each run,” she says. “People ask me what time I want to finish in but I have no answer, because I never plan that way.

“I head out like I am heading out my door at home. There is a start line and there are people around me but in my head, I am going out the door in the morning and no one is there.”

She loves the trails in Odell Park, hits the roads regularly around her home and admits to being a bit of a loner on her runs, which usually take place early in the mornings, “usually when the moon is still out.”

One exception occurred when she ran with her daughter Stephanie, but that changed recently when Stephanie moved to Saskatchewan, where she is hopeful of becoming an RCMP officer like her father.

Anna and Marc’s son Christopher is currently studying dentistry at Dalhousie University.

As for memorable runs, she cites her experience in Boston, a major event where runners are corralled prior to the starting gun and therefore, with a large number of competitors, it takes a while to get into a routine.

None of that mattered for Anna, though, as she experienced everything the race had to offer.

“There was a little anxiety because we were penned like horses, Marc was not right there with me and I did not know a soul,” she said. “Once it got going, it was surreal. There were the girls from Wellesley College screaming so loud you could hear them mile away, little kids cheering you on, you really felt like a super star.”

“Crossing the finish line, I broke down into tears. I don’t know why but I was overcome with emotion. I never cry but it was overwhelming.”

Those memories stay with her, as she puts together her running schedule that includes regular races around New Brunswick as well as Maine.

Later this fall, she expected to compete at the Dam Run in Perth-Andover and she is considering other events as the fall racing season winds down.

While she has competed in the sport’s biggest race, she approaches all events with equal passion.

“Every race, I feel pretty spectacular, just that feeling of doing it,” she says. “You do a lot of running and it is fun to test it out in a race.”

Kevin Barrett’s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at kevinbarrett16@gmail.com or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com.

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