It’s been a hot minute since I’ve raced with the Athena category option which means I was thrown into deep consideration about the big question. Register Age Group or Athena?
If you are in Facebook groups or triathlon forums you’ve probably seen the topic come up and it sometimes gets heated with a lot of different points of view. If this is your first time hearing about this “Athena” thing basically it’s an additional category some races provide. The USAT standard is if a woman weighs 165 pounds or more they can choose to race in the Athena category instead of their Age Group. Men have an equivalent Clydesdale category and qualify at 220 pounds. If you qualify it’s a personal choice how you want to register and compare yourself. You are not obligated to sign up one way or the other and you ALWAYS have to opt in and choose to register as Athena.
I’ve seen a lot of view points over the last few years of women projecting when it is or is not ok to register as an Athena. Common stances I’ve seen are to register as Athena until you are competitive in your age group and “graduate” to your age group, look at results and see where you are more likely to podium based on historical trends, or only register if you “look” Athena meaning if you qualify because you’re tall that is considered “cheating” (this one totally confuses me because I’m not quite sure what an Athena is “supposed” to look like).
At one point when I was a novice on my triathlon journey I could understand some of these opinions but there is so much more to being an Athena. What it truly means to BE an Athena is to accept yourself as you are now and race to the best of your ability. It’s more about self-acceptance than it is about a scale. In fact you should throw that damn scale away. I’m heavier now than racing a few years ago but FASTER because I’m STRONGER. A scale only tells you the earth’s gravitational pull on your body. What it doesn’t tell you is how much muscle is in your quads, how much faster you made it up a hill yesterday, and especially what your composition is. I have had quite a few friends ask me in the past few months how great I look and how much weight I’ve lost, zero since twelve months ago. Yep, big whopping ZERO but my body has sure changed a lot as I’ve built more muscle.
So did I register Athena? Yep, and I will unless I no longer qualify but I will always be Athena at heart. Because Athena represents overcoming the battle of hating myself in the mirror, looking at performance as a gauge instead of a scale, knowing that no matter how much I weigh or how much I may battle my thyroid I’m on a journey to become stronger, faster, and healthier. Any form of transformation needs to start from a place of acceptance. No amount of change will help your state of mind if you don’t accept yourself now. This has been a hard truth to understand but it’s true for any transformation in life.
Did you know Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war? She’s considered “the wisest, most courageous, and certainly most resourceful of the Olympian gods.” (Mark Cartwright ) Yeah, she’s pretty kick-ass. Who wouldn’t want to race in a category named after a goddess? #AthenaProud #CreateALifeYouLove