Twelve years and one hundred pounds ago, Dina Hannah, chief compliance officer for lab testing company TriCore, was walking down a hallway at work and a bone in her foot broke, simply from trying to bear the weight of her body. The injury was the inception of an about-face of epic proportions.
“I decided I needed to do something to change my life,” she says.
Her first thought was running—and she tried—but with the extra weight, she had developed severe arthritis in her joints. Hannah realized that she would have to find something else or be limited to a life of sitting on the couch. At about the same time, a commuter challenge came up to get to work in any way other than by car. She bought a mountain bike, and the next Monday, she rode the fifteen miles to work—a trip that took her over two and a half hours.
“I thought I was going to die during that first trip, but I said, ‘I’m committed, and I’m going to do this,’” Hannah says. “That whole week, I rode into work. Everyone started to encourage me, so I decided to commit for another week, and I just got stronger from there.”
That’s putting it mildly. After joining a local cycling club, Hannah fell in love with the sport, to the extent that being hit by a car while riding left her undaunted. A 35-mile, a 100-mile, and a 206-mile race eventually followed, as she dropped all her extra pounds and built endurance. Soon enough, Hannah wasn’t just participating in the races, she was coming out on top.
Dina Hannah’s Racing Accomplishments
First place among two-person, women’s teams fifty years
and older; finished 3,004 miles in eight days, two hours,
and fifty minutes
2012 Utah State Road Race
Category 4 champion on the winding forty-seven-mile race
First place among four-person women’s teams fifty years and older; finished 2,993 miles in seven days and thirty-six minutes
Logan to Jackson (LOTOJA)
Two-time first place finisher among women forty-five and older on a one-day, 206-mile stage race from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Tour de Park City
Two-time first place finisher among women forty-five and older, as well as a third place finish in the Masters women’s division on a 175-mile stage race from Park City, Utah, through Evanston, Wyoming, and back
Finished first among women, eighth overall on a 200-mile
race around and through Cedar Breaks Mountain range in southern Utah
A string of victories in 200-mile races further emboldened Hannah to continue to search for her limits. In 2012, she did her first Race Across America. She traversed more than three thousand miles of terrain, some of it in blistering desert heat, other parts through severe climbs in the Appalachian mountains. In this time, she averaged four hundred miles a day. In 2015, Hannah and another rider entered the race as a team with the goal of breaking the fifty-and-over women’s record; they surpassed that goal and beat the women’s world record for any age.
On top of that, Hannah also has a very serious job. As chief compliance officer for TriCore Reference Laboratories—which does clinical lab testing for major hospital systems and physician offices and serves as a reference lab for individual patients—Hannah oversees multiple divisions of the company. She ensures compliance with all local, state, and federal laws, including areas like privacy and clinical laboratory operations. In addition, she oversees quality assurance, safety, and legal risk. Hannah finds the work enthralling.
“When I first got this position, everyone said, ‘You’re going to be bored,’” she recalls. “But I’ve never been bored one day in my life in compliance. It’s fascinating because you have to know the entire company, how it works, and all the details. You get involved in all areas, the lab operations, IT, finance, sales, and marketing. You have to be a good communicator to facilitate communication and build trust because you want people to bring issues to you.”
Hannah has been able to simultaneously succeed in her position and reach major accomplishments in cycling thanks in part to the support that she receives from Tricore’s workforce. While she was training for the eight-day Race Across America, Hannah’s coworkers created a wellness initiative with a metric where a period of any physical activity could be translated into miles, and the team tried to beat her as she raced, virtually. Inspired by Hannah, the company built a walking path on the grounds and now holds annual 5K races.
“People were very supportive of this event because of the motivation for the employees,” Hannah says. “It was an opportunity to bring the folks at work together under a common excitement that was long term. I just felt so invigorated and energized by the communal aspect of the experience.”
As for being away from the office for such a long stretch? “I had a team that could pick up and take over for me when I wasn’t available,” she says. “That’s critical. That’s the chain I try to build so when I do leave, I can feel comfortable and focus on the race.”
Now, Hannah has a different challenge ahead of her, something that could be looked at as another endurance race: being diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. It’s a formidable challenge, but if anybody has proof that she can do anything she sets her mind to, it’s Hannah.
“I’m still formulating how I think about the cancer diagnosis,” she says. “I did Race Across America, which is an amazing event of endurance and suffering. Cancer is kind of the same thing. I think about what it took to get to Race of America after being one hundred pounds heavier. I would do one thing, then go a little bit further. You say, ‘Here’s what I accomplished today, so what can I do tomorrow?’ You’re in it for the long run. You can’t just drop out. This is like I’m on my slog in the Appalachians: get to the top, come down on the other side, and all is good.”