By Carrie Adams
Rebecca Hansen isn’t your average 49-year-old mother of three daughters. Unless racing Double Ironman Events, Death Races, and 100+ mile ultras are average. The marketing strategist and fitness trainer from Naples, Florida is charging forward with her life, living it to the fullest and making her own rules as she goes.
“I hate it when people say you can’t do it,” she says when talking about training for so many varied endurance events. “Yes, I am simultaneously training for a Double Ironman, Ironman, the Death Race, and my standard 100 milers. They are all very different races but they are all my races.”
Hansen grew up in Europe and didn’t live in the States until college. She always led a really active lifestyle, most notably as a tennis player, but never saw herself as a standout athlete. “I ran cross country, slowly, and I grew up skiing outdoors. It wasn’t until college that I started running marathons.” But when graduate school, corporate America, and her daughters arrived, she backed off of events and focused on building her home life.
Hansen changed all that around about five years ago when she left corporate America and decided to do a 50-mile race. “I crossed the finish line and I said I hated it,” she laughed. “I said I’d never do it again.” She was back less than six months later.
Her daughters, all talented swimmers, further inspired Hansen. “My oldest will be swimming for her college swim team [this Fall] and I decided I’d learn how to swim and do an Ironman. I only did my first triathlon two years ago.” But Hansen fell in love with the sport. She placed second in her age group and decided she had to try a Double Ironman which she’s looking to do in March of 2012. She’s also a fan of adventure racing and believes in trying new things, knowing that she’s not going to be good at all of them, but that she’s going to learn a lot. “I’m a jack of all trades, master of none!” she jokes.
The active runner admits that she “likes to try things I could fail at. It’s okay to be in way over my head. My first attempt at a 100-miler I didn’t finish.” Hansen is a work in progress as an endurance athlete and she continues to pursue challenges that appeal to her. “I did a 118-mile run recently,” she told me casually. “My feet are gross. My body is so fried right now.”
Her daughters appreciate her lifestyle and she’s sure that they’ll pursue their own avenues of challenge as they grow older because they see her doing that for herself. One Mother’s Day her daughters joked, “Mom, why can’t you be a mom that goes shopping and gets pedicures on Mother’s Day?” She replied, “Do you really want that?” Without hesitation they responded, “No, that’s just not you.”
Says Hansen, “I like that they have a lot of quiet confidence in seeing me try and succeed and also seeing me try and fail.”
For the Death Race, Hansen has committed to a rigorous schedule on top of the daily personal training she does for her clients. “I train people for several hours a day and I have a triathlon training team seven days a week in the morning for two hours. The track is Wednesday and the usual stuff of sledge hammers, flipping tires, running in sand, running with water, running for five miles then 50 push-ups.” She laughs, “I tried throwing logs around but the first one landed on my foot. No more log throwing.”
Hansen’s Death Race goal is to finish it this year and come back next year to place or win. But 2012 is a long way off, and she has a whole list of things to do first. “Well, other than the Death Race and my Double Ironman, this year I am going to cut two hours off my Ironman, qualify for Boston run it and then turn around and run it backwards.”