Tuesday, March 06, 2007

To Athena or Not to Athena...

I'm at a little impass, so I thought I would put this out there for y'all. I went to sign up for my Half IM in West Virginia yesterday and got stuck. I couldn't figure out whether to click "Age Group" or "Athena." You see, I kind of fit it both.

I definitely meet the weight requirements for the 150 plus category -- in fact, I meet them by about 15 pounds! I don't really look like I'm 165, even though I'm relatively short (5'4"). Pretty high weight, but oddly it's a whole lotta muscle. For some reason though, my genetics have blessed me with ridiculous muscle bulk and tone in my legs. I got this from my Dad, who looks like a power lifter from the hips down, but (in reality) is actually a musicologist. Don't worry -- I'm not bragging. I also have the propensity for a little belly from that very same side of the family.

Anyway, point being is that I've never really considered my weight as being part of my triathlon equation, since it never really represented itself as either a limiter or part of my goals. It just is. Wherever the scale number lands, I find it kind of interesting and then move on to other things. Not a luxury that many have, but I think my plate is full enough with other issues to keep me busy enough!

So, the question is, do I sign up for a triathlon in the Athena category? I really, really am stuck on this. The main reason why is that I can't really figure out why we have an athena category. I guess this designation matters if you're going to compete and are looking to place in your category or rank. And if that's the case, then perhaps it's an equalizer of effort or body mechanics. That makes sense, but I don't really enter to compete...I'm still entering to finish.

And then there's the question of identification. I don't feel like an Athena, but I couldn't even tell you what an Athena would feel like! I know when I toe the line I feel like a woman. I know when I'm there I feel like a 33 year old (actually, to be more precise, I identify most with my age at the end of the race!). I know that I identify as someone in recovery and a newbie to the sport. I know I identify myself as a lot of things, but none has ever been associated with my weight.

So, is it offensive to those racing Athena to put myself in that category based only on a number on a scale?

I realize this post is a wee bit meandering and I hope it doesn't put anyone off. I just genuinely started to consider this category and realized that I don't have a feel for its place. And, as I've often found, you guys DO have an idea of many more things than I do!

So, chime in if you have some time and let me know why you would, or maybe wouldn't, sign up as an Athena when the scale puts you squarely in that territory.

Thanks!

17 comments:

Nancy Toby said...

I'd say, if you don't want to compete in a certain division, don't enter it. But why not compete if there's a division in which you're competitive? Would you be avoiding the competition, and if so, why?

Most women that are in the Athena category are not competitive in the open age group competition because it simply takes more energy and power to move a body with a larger mass (regardless of body composition).

Bolder said...

i don't really understand why they don't let you enter both.

if someone in Athena won both categories, then, would that be a crime?

i mean, we have computers. they can easily sort out all the race details...

stronger said...

I think if you re-read your post you'll find your answer. Sounds like you want to sign up "age-group".

IM Able said...

I think my hesitation is really an artifact of the comparison. Not Athena versus Age Group...more the comparison of me to anyone else in the race, regardless of category. And that - of course - could be an artifact of me not considering myself as competative. Which could be because I've always been slower than the masses. Which could be because I'm always signed up as an age grouper.

(sigh)

So, maybe I'm just not asking the right question. Maybe the real question should be "Do I want to compete?"

TxSkatemom said...

i always choose athena if it's available, only because as Nancy said, it takes more effort and energy to move a 168-lb body than it does to move a 135-lb body. How I got here to this weight and the fact that I'm working on being non-Athena is irrelevant -- on race day, it's going to take more out of me to finish than it will a similarly-trained 135-lb athlete. I long for the day that I wont' qualify, but as long as I do, then I'll take it. Whether you want to categorize yourself as such is up to you, but the more important thing is really that you enter and race at all.

Jeremy said...

I believe you answered the "Do I want to compete" question a long time ago! Whether it's against your age group or Athenas, the only real competition is the one with yourself.

Scott Hughes said...

I agree with what Jeremy said. It's more about your own race and not the others. On the other hand, you might feel discouraged if the people you race with have a weight advantage. Thanks!

Oh yeah, you might like the Triathlon Forums.

jbmmommy said...

When I signed up with a friend for my first triathlon she told me we were Athenas. I didn't even give it a second thought, I just checked the Athena box. For me it didn't matter either way, I was out there only to compete with myself. I suppose if some day I were to be competitive it would have to be in the Athena category, although by then I might be old enough that my age group numbers go down- I think the 85+ group is usually pretty small so I could place! I figured, since I qualified to be an Athena, that's what I raced as, I also like to joke about being one of the "big girls". Good luck deciding whatever you decide to do. You're only real category in the race is "triathlete" anyway.

Triteacher said...

I think you're thinking too much. Keep it simple; if there's a way you could score hardware, go for it. Hardware's nice. And shiny. :)

LBTEPA said...

if they had Athena here I would enter it. Sometimes I feel very discouraged having to race the 'gazelle' women! (Not that I would place as an Athena either LOL, I'd still be slow!)

Donald said...

I'd go Athena. I'm within 10 lbs of Clydesdale, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it if I qualified. You can still compare yourself against age-group peers, but there is definitely a difference in abilities for larger runners/triathletes.

Go big or go home!

Wrenching Winz said...

There are usually less anthea's and clydesdales. However many of them can kick the living crap out of us poor age groupers but like the smaller group. Athenas also are usually the last wave to go out. AG has more people in general. Choose what you want!

mishele k said...

I'd strongly consider competing as an Athena. 5 or even 2 years ago the Athena category was an easy way to score hardware, but it's getting harder as more women enter the category-- so you don't have to feel like you're cheating just to place. I've done it a time or two but choose not to now since I hover at 150 and it's not fair to "real" Athenas.

At the end of the day it takes Athenas and Clydes a lot more effort to push through the race, and having weight divisions is a small way of recognizing that. I agree with Bold that it'd be nice to be in both (like the Collegiates taking over the 19-24 age group in IM Wisconsin), but we're not there yet. Whether or not you identify with "Athena" is a personal thing and only up to you. Good luck!

TriShannon said...

Definitely a personal choice for you.

Myself, I have issues with the category name Athena... brings back too many bad memories of being called amazon girl since I grew way earlier than anyone else my age.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you asked this question! I am in the exact position you find yourself. I have yet to enter a race that has the choice for Athenas but I have seen some advertised. I just started doing triathlons and just finished my 2nd one this weekend! I would like to compete with young (30-35) age group females that are in the Athena category, but I would be embaressed if I found myself to be the only fit 165er in the group. From the responses to your question, it seems that is not the case. Thanks for asking the question!

Holly said...

thanks for posting this blog. you matched my google search best. and the responses from others helped me. i am new to tri and had not ever been in a race with the option. my first is coming up and i wondered if i should enter as athena but didn't know if 155 was really athena. i hope by the race i might be 150. i think i'll continue to enter as age group. maybe one day i'll be under 150 and won't have the option.

Anonymous said...

I have a totally different opinion. I tri and have completed my 3rd tri and 1 aquathlon this 2009 season. I weigh 254 lbs. My issue with the Athena situation is competing against 155 lb women who have no clue what it feels like to do what I do when I tri. I am competitive in the swim and can hang in the bike. Forget the run though. When they announce winners and I see this 6'2" women who probably weighs 150lbs soaking wet standing on the podium I get angry. Ask yourself why are you really there. Are you there to compete or complete? Right now I am completing but it would be nice once in a while if poser athena would race in their age groups (where they would still win) and give the real athenas a chance to shine.