This morning I took the plunge and officially signed up for my half marathon. I’m excited! And scared. (Well, excited and scared!) I’m thrilled that the proceeds for marathon is going to benefit the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, which is dedicated to providing local military veterans with services and programs. Not only is this an important issue, but the benefits are for veterans who live right here in my area.
Before I registered, I did all the things you probably do before signing up for your first half:
- I checked out the route on the map. (I’m familiar with the area so I’m comfortable that it is mostly flat and pretty scenic)
- I downloaded advice from Runner’s World for first time marathoners. (Some things I knew, but there was really good info here.
- I put in for time off for the day before and the day after. (I think I’m going to need a buffer!)
- I checked the Frequently Asked Questions and was pleased to see I could change from half- to full-marathon if I change my mind later. (Hey, you never know?)
Then I signed up. Only there was a funny thing on the registration. It asked me for my “weight class”. I had never heard of this before in running. Sure, there are weight classes in boxing and wrestling, but running? Apparently for men, they call the heftier runners “Clydesdale” (OMG, really?) and the more zaftig women “Athena.” I had to check this out. Is this really a thing?
Yes, apparently it is a thing, (although much more prevalent in triathlons) and I guess it makes sense biologically. All things being equal, a person carrying around an extra 50 or 100 lbs of weight is expending more energy. From my research, it isn’t about fitness or fatness. You can be heavy and short and not make the “Athena” cutoff weight. You can be very thin, fit, and tall and still qualify.
Generally speaking, having a larger build means you must expend a greater effort to get the same result. Take running – if all other fitness factors are held constant, a 6’4”, 230-pound guy will struggle to run as fast as a 5’10”, 180-pound competitor, simply because he’s hauling more weight. [link]
I was shocked by the weights they consider “heavy”. It seems like there are variations from race to race as to what constitutes an “Athena.”
For my race, they have two divisions; I am, of course, in the higher division – I guess you could call it Athena-plus! Even if I lose 15 lbs between now and race day, I’ll still be in the highest category. Here’s the thing: at my absolute thinnest (in my 30s) I was about 145 lbs and a size 6. I can’t imagine ever as an adult being under 140 unless I had a serious disease. I’m tall, but not very tall, but I do carry more weight. I’m one of those body types that defy BMI (and proves BMI is junk-science). Mostly, I am concerned about what this might say to people who are much heavier. I would hate to think that someone would be discouraged by this and not want to run.
Anyway, the weight division is optional; you can choose to participate or not. After looking at a lot of websites that discussed pros and cons [here and here, for example] I decided to do it. The only person I’m interested in competing against or comparing myself to is me. I have my own personal goal (I’d like to finish in 2 hrs. 40 min) but even just finishing would be great. Still, I always like to see how other women my age do in races, and it might be interesting to have another point of comparison (i.e. weight).
I’m just really, really glad I don’t have to be a Clydesdale. That is the worst name ever.