Monday, February 02, 2009

I'm back! And I'm annoyed.

No really, I am. I've been admittedly lax. I've been stressed, I've had a lot going on in my life, and I gained all the weight back that I lost. And I'm not happy about that, not one little bit. In fact, I'm a bit over the line. I'm at 250. So I finally said, this has got to stop, and I'm back on the wagon. Part it it was realizing, "I really don't want to have to do the Danskin Triathlon carrying an extra 25 pounds. I just don't. It's bad enough I slowed down in the run this year." I was training in the pool this weekend thinking, "I really don't want to have to buy a new tri suit."

So get this: the Danskin for the Chicagoland area (because even when it's in Wisconsin, it's still Chicagoland!) is TBD this year. It's usually the weekend after July 4, and that's fairly convenient. I'm wondering why they haven't published this yet and I just learned the answer today: the Trek Women's Triathlon is that weekend in Kenosha. I was actually quite happy to see such a thing -- so somebody besides Danskin is sponsoring a women's series. Cool!

Except for one thing.

See, on of the reasons I felt totally at home at the Danskin was that, as a large woman, I wasn't called out. We're separated by age and that's it. There's one more wave that's called out (besides elite competitors, which is standard for any race), and that's the Survivor wave, and that seems to be more of an honor than an advantage/disadvantage. They get to go first (after the elite racers) after all. But as a large woman, I'm in a heat with other women my age, we're all together, and, as I posted after my first Danskin Tri we're all considered athletes.

But the folks at Trek seem to have missed this very important point. There's age and elite and survivor designations, but there's also "Athena." Do I need to tell you what "Athena" means? Neither did Trek. C'mon, everybody knows that when you use any ancient western goddess besides Aphrodite, it's code for "the fatties." (Note to Trek -- it's usually Juno/Hera that gets designated for the "large/mature" woman. )

That in itself wouldn't as bad (yes it would but I'm saving the best for last), guess what the cutoff weight is to be eligible to compete as an "Athena." 150 pounds! What, if we weigh more than 150 pounds, we couldn't possibly have a chance against the other athletes in our age category? Because, Trek, consider this -- in the bike portion, yes that's YOUR main product, I've finished in the top 11 percent of all people in that category when I raced the Danskin the past two years. I went flying past plenty of women who were definitely under 150 pounds. I had younger and smaller women come up to me afterwards and say, "You are an awesome cyclist."

And, when I lose the weight (c'mon, I admit, I'm still trying to lose, but frankly, my goal is still above the 150 pound cutoff...) I'll still be "eligible" to compete as an "Athena." I have broad shoulders. I have thunder thighs. My goal of ~160-180s is appropriate for my age, build, and lifestyle. But according to Trek, the BMI scale, and a bazillion blowhards who have nothing to do but hate on women who don't meet ridiculous standards of weight, we're still "Athena." That's fat. As in, "too fat to compete with the real athletes." But really, if I drop 100 pounds from where I am today (at 250) you can bet my fat percentage is going to be way down. It's going to be way down, probably near the "Average" place if I hit 175, for chrissakes.

I'm glad that Trek (as well as other companies, such as woman-designed and woman-run Terry Bicycles>) makes bicycles with Women Specific Design. (Even though, with my relatively long torso, broad shoulders and relative long wingspan, WSD bikes solve problems I don't have!) I'm glad this whole industry has begun to notice that women love bicycling as much as men, and is catering to that market.

But Trek, if you're going to take the place of my beloved Danskin, a race I entered and enjoyed without being separated out because of my weight, you need to understand that one of the big points of a women's triathlon is to unite us all as athletes, to make us really believe that we all belong out there, that we are all participating in an athletic endeavor. At this point, I'm still waiting to find out where Danskin will end up having the "Chicagoland" race, cos frankly, I'm a little reluctant to do yours, and certainly I won't be registering as an "Athena." If I do the Trek (because Danskin Chicagoland is unavailable for me), I'm entering in the 45-50 age group.

4 comments:

Rebecca said...

welcome back!!

we've all been there!

Staci said...

Do you think that you may be redirecting some of the anger you feel towards yourself for regaining weight on to the race organisers?

Does your race category *really* matter?

V'ron said...

Fair question, but no, even if I hadn't gained back the weight, I'd still be at around 200 pounds or so -- qualifying for "Athena" status.

No, its the whole idea that there's a "fat" category in the race at all -- that somehow we need to be sequestered from the rest of the racers. The Danskin never had such a thing (and it doesn't now) -- and in talking to other fat racers, its a big reason many large people even had the guts to do it. Frankly, it's patronizing. And remember -- if you're 150 pounds -- which many professional female athletes are -- you're Athena. Who picked this number?

Jen said...

Hey V'Ron! How's it going? I just signed up for the Trek, and spent some quality time with my brain deciding if I wanted to put myself in the Athena (fat) category or join my age group. I decided that since I am doing two races this year, I will pick Athena for Trek just to see what the difference is, if any. But if I weren't doing the Danskin, I would have picked my age group instead. Looks like many races offer Athena categories for women - maybe Danskin is the odd one out? Men get the Clydesdale option - I'd rather be a goddess than a horse!!! It could be worse...they could call us Heifers. Hope you signed up anyway!