Last weekend, after my long run of 6.5 miles, I decided that I wanted to do an ice bath.
Now, to most of the population, let's say 99.2%, the above statement sounds so ludicrous, like an anti-sado-masochistic form of self-torture (anti, because there can be no pleasure found sitting in an ice bath, can there?).
Of the remaining 0.8% of the population, 0.6% shudder knowingly, nod their heads, and understand. The other 0.2% I think actually enjoy ice baths. There have to be a few real wackos out there.
Ice baths are the realm, I suppose, of those athletes who have pushed themselves far enough and need the cooling relief that ice provides sore and overused muscles. I write that a bit self-depricatingly since I don't really lump myself in with "athletes" like Lance Armstrong or Kara Goucher. But, in this case, I guess I fall into that category, at least for ice baths.
Here's how my ever first ice bath went. I arrived back at home after my run sweating so profusely I left an icky schmeery mark on the glass of our front door. My legs felt great, but I pushed them a bit, and for once, I actually had time. That, really, is the key element to taking an ice bath. I need time, say an extra 20 minutes, to perform this ritual and since I'm a slow runner, the 20 minutes adds onto my already climbing number of minutes I'm occupied with the activity of running in some way.
Anywho, I grabbed all the ice in the freezer - 2 whole trays worth - and head upstairs. I run the cold water into the tub about half way and crack the ice into the water. Then I lower my legs into the cold-ish water.
I have this crazy mental snapshot of me, sitting there in 5 inches of water with about 40 ice cubes floating around in there with me, melting pretty quickly in my cool bath. I'm pretty sure that when Paula Radcliffe takes an ice bath, she's got way more than 40 ice cubes. I've gotten the water temp to luke-cold, I think.
Claire comes into the bathroom and sees me in a tubby and gets sssoooooo excited, in the way that only 4 year olds can get excited about a bath. She puts in baby dolphin and mama whale, 2 ponies, and a boat and takes off her clothes. She ignores all my warnings about how cool the water is, until she's standing there in the water with me. "Mommy!" she yells, eyes super-big, "you forgot the warm. Let me turn it on for you." I don't let her, so she just settles in to the cold-ish water, hands me mama whale, and gets me to play with her.
That was last week. Tonight's bath went a little better. I had 5 whole trays of ice cubes and I felt only a little less silly than last week. I huddled under a purple bath towel for warmth and read 11 pages of a book.