Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Women have easier road to Boston (Marathon)?

So the 2013 Boston Marathon standards have recently been announced and have caused quite a stir in the running community. I have never run a marathon, but if you have been reading my post-baby training blog, I am well into my preparations for the Winnipeg Marathon in June this year.

I run with a group of men four days a week and we are constantly trying to find things to talk about other than football- so we had a very brief discussion about the Boston standards Monday. Brief meaning they complained about how fast they were and how the women's standards are by far easier than the men's. I chose not to comment on the topic, besides; I did not agree and did not feel like causing an argument over a matter of an opinion.

(Extracted from the Boston Marathon Site, BAA.ORG)
2013 Qualifying Times (effective September 24, 2011)
18-34 3hrs 05min 00sec3hrs 35min 00sec
35-39 3hrs 10min 00sec3hrs 40min 00sec
40-44 3hrs 15min 00sec3hrs 45min 00sec
45-49 3hrs 25min 00sec3hrs 55min 00sec
50-54 3hrs 30min 00sec4hrs 00min 00sec
55-59 3hrs 40min 00sec4hrs 10min 00sec
60-64 3hrs 55min 00sec4hrs 25min 00sec
65-69 4hrs 10min 00sec4hrs 40min 00sec
70-74 4hrs 25min 00sec4hrs 55min 00sec
75-79 4hrs 40min 00sec5hrs 10min 00sec
80 and over 4hrs 55min 00sec5hrs 25min 00sec
*Unlike previous years, an additional 59 seconds will NOT be accepted for each age group time standard.

Ever since I started running in High School I have heard "If only I was a women", "The women's times are so much easier" and "I would be a world record holder if I was a female." Fact of the matter is, put any man in a women's body, and he has a lot more to deal with than hormones and hips. In my opinion, men are so used to seeing a women defy the roles that nature has intended for her that they truly believe women to be their equal.

In that respect, we should be flatter. However, let’s look at some cold hard facts for a minute…..

Truth is that the female body is about 30% weaker than that of a male. Men have larger hearts and lungs and produce higher amounts of testosterone, which in turn, make them create a greater number of red blood cells. These red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body more quickly and efficiently then they would in the body of a female.
As a result, women will use 20% more oxygen than a male running at the same intensity, and (no shocker here) are designed to produce and carry significantly more body fat. Women are also more susceptible to osteoarthritis and osteoporosis and other bone related issues. And--this is all without mention of the other female issue that women face on a monthly basis, menstruation.

Thinking about the "average" adult female (of what the Boston Marathon standards are based on) most women have had at least one child by their 29th birthday, which will mean a quite significant amount of time of reduced training and additional stresses.

Now let’s not forget that the first time a female was allowed to "officially" run the Boston Marathon was 1972 (Kathrine Switzer was the first women to enter in 1967, but was almost thrown from the course by a race official, Jock Semple). This leaves only about a 40 year span that women have been running Boston (or any other marathon, for that matter). Keep in mind that Boston was initiated in 1897.

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to say that women should be cut more slack because we are weaker and have not been running as long, I am just stating facts of why male and female runners are very different and, therefore, should not be held to the same standards.

I guess my running friends are just so used to seeing women do amazing things. For example, Paula Radcliffe ran 2:15.25 for the marathon in 2008, which is just a little over 10 minutes slower than the men’s record, not 30 minutes (30 minutes is the difference in the Boston standard). Which brings up a whole other topic entirely….women have been repeatedly breaking down barriers in terms of traditional gender roles. For example, not only are more and more women entering the workplace, they are walking side-by-side with their male co-workers as CEO’s, Directors, high-level Managers, etc. etc. More often than not, women are also working, having families, and attempting to keep themselves sane by pursuing additional hobbies (such as running marathons).
This is fabulous, but our can-do attitudes have left our male colleagues thinking that we do all these things without much difficulty, therefore a 3:05 marathon should be in our reach also.

Unfortunately, we are still limited in our bodies abilities, and though many of us are crazy active and seriously fit, we are still not as physically gifted as many (not all) of our male friends.

BUT this is all ok in the end. It is situations like these that will allow us women to continually and secretly rule the world while our male friends go about their merry little lives…completely unaware of what is going on around them…..J

(kidding! )

Keep running, my friends.


Stephen Spada said...

Great post Megg! Some guys just don't get it...

Caitlyn Clark said...

I LOVE this post!

The guys I run with say that all the time! Maybe men who train with women think our standard is "easier" because they are always with someone above the average. I'm no pro marathoner (or marathoner at all-- yet) but I'd like to believe I can hit the mens standard first time out of the gate. Obviously based on your recent workout, you are well on your way to doing just that!

Men... always whining. ;)