I am now in my second week of training for the Plymouth Half Marathon, and things are indeed hotting up. I did about two miles today (half walk, half run) and my fitness is already starting to improve. And bizarrely, I actually really enjoyed it. I mean yes, it was hard, I thought my legs were going to fall off and yes, I did have to really push myself, especially at the end. But I found myself smiling once I'd finished, and I was deliriously happy and rather hyper for about 2 hours afterwards. In fact, it felt almost exactly like being on ecstacy, I should imagine.
Afterwards, I tried a new thing, which I was tremendously excited about. I tried an ice bath. You have to remember, I haven't run since, well, never. And after the first couple of training sessions, my poor underused muscles were screaming. Not just afterwards, I'm talking about three days later, when it was time to do the next training session. Then I remembered Eddie Izzard got through his marathons with ice baths, so I did a bit of research. And apparently ice baths really do help.
So I emptied a bag of ice into the bath and filled it with cold water. I'm thankful that no-one was in the house at that time, they would have thought I was being raped by an eskimo. I have never experienced anything quite like it. It wasn't too bad once I got used to it, but the first five minutes or so - well, it would have been less painful if I'd punched myself in the nuts. With a hammer. With a spike in it. Whilst on fire. With a steam iron tied to my cock.
However, the effect was simply magical. My throbbing legs hurt no more, there was no stiffness whatsoever (not surprising in water that cold). And the best bit of all - an hour later, when I had a hot shower, every single nerve in my body tingled. It was exactly like having a shower on speed, I should imagine.
I think the biggest surprise of all of this is that I'm actually starting to enjoy it and incredibly, I'm actually looking forward to the next one. I always thought that getting fit was something you sort of felt you should do, but it wouldn't be much fun and would probably hurt quite a lot. A bit like having sex with Madonna or punching Bono.
And that's the reason why I signed up for the marathon. I thought if I signed up for something and then told everyone I was going to do it sponsored for Samaritans - I wouldn't allow myself not to do it, for fear of letting people down and the shame of admitting I actually have no mental grit or discipline. I never thought for a second that I'd actually enjoy any of it.
Oh, and smoking? Yes, I do still think of it from time to time. And I'm not quite ready to be surrounded by it. But it's a lot easier and I have without a doubt cracked it. Yup, all in all, 2010 is shaping up to be a good year.