August 31, 2004
It begins so anti-climatically. I'm on the couch, about to eat ice cream, about to read the Slow Fat Triathlete web site in the hopes that Jayne Williams will say something that will inspire me to have a brilliant blog name. Sigh.
This is a blog about working out. I'll talk about food too, but not about dieting. I'm a serious, but terribly slow, walker who weightlifts, and is starting to bike-ride for the first time in years. I'm training for the Portland Marathon which takes place in 33 days. So far, the furthest I've walked is 19 miles.
Like a lot of people, I've come to this place via a mid-life crisis. At 41, talking to a coworker, I realized that my self-image was of myself at 27 -- in great physical shape, strong and robust. And yes, still fat -- but ready to walk or ride my bike across town, ready for anything. 6 months ago, I really wasn't ready for anything. I was exhausted, had uncontrolled heartburn, stomach trouble, depression, and walking a flight of stairs winded me.
When I made that realization, a friend mentioned that she had joined a marathon training organization, PortlandFit, and right then I decided that I would too, even though she was running, and running was out of the question for me. And I did join. A month later, I did a half-marathon, got heat exhaustion, but by then I had the bug. I knew I loved walking, and I knew I loved events, even though I was so slow that I was never going to be a "winner". Since then, I've done a second half-marathon, a 5K and two 10Ks, and I love events -- love them.
My whole self-image has changed. As well as my health, my energy levels, and my stress tolerance. And I'm here to spread the word that exercise and eating right makes all the difference. Yes, the media says that fat = illness, but it's not so cut and dried. Fat people who exercise are healthier than "normal" people who don't exercise. And everybody could use less processed food, and more veggies and fruit.
Now, the name. Athena is a weight-category for larger women in running and triathlons, starting at 150 lbs. Mind you, I would consider myself skinny at 150, and I'm nowhere near that. But that's all the concession that these sports give to heavier women. There are also Bonnydales and Lady Clydesdales, and it's about the same schtick.
One of my favorite songs is Tales of brave Aphrodite by Beat Happening, and so Tales of Brave Athena came immediately to mind. Mind you, Athena is not a goddess that is associated with sport like Diana, Atalanta, or Calliste. Friends suggested Slow Moving Vehicle and Tortoise tales and Athena's Chariot and Built for Comfort, not for Speed, which are all great, but they just aren't me.
As a fat woman, here I am, competing and training with women who mostly are much, much smaller than I am. And faster. I went out first in cotton pants, then long running shorts, before I finally bit the bullet and wore shiny spandex bike shorts that emphasized every bulge. (I've since discovered Terry skorts, which combine matte bike shorts with a little wrap around skirt and pockets -- a perfect combination of utility and modesty) I feel like my presence at races and events should attract negative comments -- but none so far to my face. Everyone has been very supportive.
I know that's not always the case. I know some runners look down on walkers, and I know other organizations in town look down on PortlandFit because they are so embracing of slow runners and walkers. And I know of other organizations that are further down the pecking order because they are all walkers and all female.
Enough of all this -- time to read Jayne!