Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom. According to Wikipedia, she was also the goddess of "courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill" as well as being the "patron goddess of heroic endeavor." In other words, she was pretty much the goddess of AWESOMENESS.
In the world of triathlon, Athena is a division in which women who weigh more than 165 pounds can compete instead of competing in their age group. It's always optional -- they don't force us big girls into a separate group against our will, to separate the fatties from the real athletes. Instead it's a choice some women can make to compete against "our own kind," so to speak. Many women who qualify for Athena still choose to race in their age group; some of them are still competitive despite their size, and some simply want no part of publicly acknowledging what they weigh. I've read that for some races, you have to weigh in at check-in to verify that you meet the weight requirement for Athena, and many women are very uncomfortable with people seeing what they actually weigh.
If you've followed my blog in the past, you know that I have no qualms about Owning My Number. I know I can't compete with the fitter women in my age group (and honestly I'm probably slower than most of the big girls too!), so I figured I might as well race with my fellow Athenas! We have our own wave for the swim start, and maybe some of us will stay close to each other throughout the course. Solidarity, ladies! I will step on a scale proudly this weekend if I need to prove that I weigh over 165 pounds, though it ought to be obvious just by looking at me.
Just thinking about all this tempts me to go on a rant about our society's crazy obsession with weight rather than fitness. I currently weigh about 225, the same as when I started training for this triathlon. This means my BMI is the same as well. But my BODY is not the same. My FITNESS level is not the same. My HEALTH is not the same. I have more muscle mass than I had a few months ago. I am stronger -- muscles, heart, lungs, etc. I still want to lose weight, because the heavier I am, the greater the strain on my joints when I'm active. But other than that, my weight is just a number, not the main indicator of my health and certainly not the source of my self-worth. I'm a few days away from completing a triathlon, and I'm thrilled to be doing it as an ATHENA, goddess of wisdom and all that other awesomeness!!
Of course, there are some other drawbacks to being tall, large-framed, and heavy. For instance, shopping for my triathlon attire was no picnic. Luckily I had done my research, and I knew going in that there was a good chance I'd have to try the men's suits in order to find a size that fit me. I was a little nervous about shopping in the men's section, but fortunately the tri clothes were all on clearance and grouped together at REI the day I went. I tried a few items, both men's and women's sizes.
So on Sunday I will be an Athena in a Clydesdale (the men's equivalent of Athena, for those 220 pounds or more) shirt. Works for me!