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Follow This Mother!

Lexie and her family after she completed her first half-marathon.
Lexie and her family after she completed her first half-marathon.

Canadian mother runner Lexie Hanna, 31, and her husband Leigh are training for a 50K relay—thanks in no small part to Lexie’s mom who is helping watch the couple’s two boys, ages 4 and 2. “We are lucky to have my mom, who watches the boys when our runs are 20 miles or longer,” says Lexie, whose family lives in Guelph, Ontario. This race--the Sears Great Canadian Run--is more than just their first ultra--they're raising funds to benefit children fighting illnesses. "Having been inspired by the care we received at the Hospital for Sick Children when our son Cooper required heart surgery, we searched for a way to give back. We will run 50K each with each step being dedicated to the families who need help to get through a tough time."

Best recent run: A couple of weeks ago my husband and I ran our first long run of this training cycle—20+ miles. We waited for my mom to arrive to watch the boys, and then set out later then usual. The sun was high, and it was hot and very humid. We started out on a trail that was new to both of us, and then my husband took me on a tour of a few other trails he frequents.  During the run I fell twice (rookie trail runner), we clamored up steep rocky hills, we stopped to fill our fuel belts and still ran out of fluids, and we arrived home muddy, sweaty, and higher on endorphins than ever. I felt like a kid playing outside!

Lucas cheering from the sidelines at the 2012 Toronto Women’s Half Marathon. "He said RUN LIKE A GIRL to every runner."
Lucas cheering from the sidelines at the 2012 Toronto Women’s Half Marathon. "He said RUN LIKE A GIRL to every runner."

From 26.2 to 50K: The Ottawa Marathon on May 26, 2013 was our first marathon. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we registered for our first 50K prior to registering for our first 26.2. Despite at one time considering myself very injury prone, I had a perfect training cycle—no injuries, no illnesses, never missed a training run, and hit every pace. I approached race day with equal parts excitement and trepidation. Once on the course, the trepidation disappeared. I loved every second of that race. It became very clear to me that this body is built for endurance, not speed.

Running for a Cause: When Cooper was born, he was diagnosed with a perimembranous ventricular septal defect. To put it simply, he had a hole between the two lower chambers of his heart. We were told that it was likely that the defect would correct itself. At his two-year echocardiogram we learned that the defect was causing structural changes in his heart, which if not surgically corrected would lead to heart failure. His community cardiologist referred us to Sick Kids, where we learned that Cooper would have open-heart surgery on December 13, 2012. From the moment we set foot into Sick Kids for his first tests, throughout the most terrifying moments of our lives, to his follow-up appointments, we realized what a truly special place that hospital is. The care that Cooper and we as his parents received there was extraordinary. So many families are struggling with childhood illness in far worse ways then we did. We have a deep desire to give back to that community, to help others in their journey, and what better way to do it then through running.

In front of Niagara Falls after the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon.
In front of Niagara Falls after the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon.

From Gym Rat to Runner: I used to be at the gym six days a week for two hours a day, and then I had kids. Early morning nursing, and an early discomfort with leaving my kids in the gym childcare left after bedtime as the only time I could get to the gym. I quickly grew tired of this routine.  After bedtime I wanted to sit down and relax with my husband, not sweat it out at them gym. Enter the jogging stroller. I was able to exercise during the day with the kids! Since then running has become so many things. It is solitary time to think, it was an outlet for the fear and sadness that gripped me as Cooper’s surgery approached, it is a way to appreciate my body for what it can do instead of what it looks like, and as we can all attest it makes me a better, more patient mother and wife.

Running with Hubby: When we both decided to step up to 26.2 we weren’t sure how the logistics of training would work. The best tip that I can offer is that both partners must be flexible. Each week we discuss when each of us will fit each run in. Knowing who is running in the morning, who is running with the kids, and who is ‘runching’ makes it work.  It is great to have a spouse who really gets running, and it has strengthened our relationship.

Chasing Boston: I ran my debut marathon in Ottawa in 3:48:17, putting me 13:18 over a Boston Qualifier. We are lucky to live 45 minutes away from Canada’s top Boston qualifying race, The Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon. Not being sure how my body will handle our Fall 2013 50K, and with the races being only six weeks apart, I am planning to run Hamilton in the fall of 2014 and gun for a BQ, which would be my ultimate running dream.

Follow This Mother at her blog.

7 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. You’re an inspiration Lexie! Most Moms would say there’s ‘no time’ in their schedule once children arrive, but you have proven otherwise…..we’re amazed at the dedication both you and Leigh have given to running, not to mention your health, and we wish you both all the best in the 50K.

  2. The Sears Great Canadian Challenge is a 100K race, they are running as a relay 50K each. So proud of these two. They have put their heart and soul into this.

  3. Love this featured mother from the bottom of my heart 🙂 We have literally grown up side by side and while we may now live provinces apart we continue to encourage each other in our individual running journeys. Keep it up Lex!

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