Change #48: Plunging Into An Ice Bath

I read it somewhere. I’m sure of it. It was suggested that prior to the polar plunge, in order to reduce the “shock effect” that I should do at least 3-4 ice baths in the last week before the plunge as preparation. To me it seemed reasonable; you wouldn’t just dive into a half-marathon or marathon without doing any training. Certainly, I could manage a few ice baths.

I know I’m a little early given that my plunge is in exactly 14 days tomorrow. That’s 14 days before I dive in costume off a slippery dock, hurtling myself into icy cold water. In Canada. In the winter.

Again, who’s idea was this? And why, oh why, did friends and family not stop me from registering?  Never mind – I know it was me, all me. Even if hubby under the cover of darkness, wiggled his way into my office and stole my computer; shrugged his shoulders in mystery with a look that said – I really don’t know why the internet isn’t working for you; or submerged my phone into the toilet and unilaterally declared we couldn’t afford to purchase me a new one – I would have found a way to register for the plunge.

They know it and I know it. That’s just who I am.

Enter ice bath.

Actually, now that I think about it – DON’T!

Today was a fairly mild day, and as I purchased two bags of ice from the cashier my thought was this – I should really save the ice for drinks. Martinis. Margaritas. Cosmopolitans. All are perfectly good drinks. Instead, I paid the cashier, carried the bags of ice to my car, and placed them in my grocery bag. Then, I turned my car on and made my way home and for the full duration of the trip, I worried I would have a puddle in the grocery bag by the end of the drive.

When I arrived home, I found my ice fully intact. Originally, I was going to wait to do this challenge tomorrow (the ever present demon procrastinator in me) but then I voted to just get it over with.  Once through my door, I decided time was of the essence. If I waited, there would be no ice bath for me tonight due to melting ice, and a disintegrating concern for completing this challenge.

I filled my tub with cold water (I must confess I thought briefly about turning the hot water on) and around the half way mark, I dumped one of the nearly 6 lb bags of ice into the tub. I watched as ice floated  on top of the water and NEVER dissolved. Once the tub was full, I emptied the second.

LBM (everyone knows this acronym right? This stands for little brown monster and is the affectionate term we use to describe our greying, wise, eight-year old chocolate lab) shimmied himself through my bathroom door as I filled the tub, and hung his head over and looked into the tub as water rushed into it. (I don’t know why, he just likes to watch me fill the tub.) When I dumped the ice into the tub he gave me a sideways glance as if to say, Ma, what are you doing?  I looked at him and answered the question, I’m taking an ice bath.  

When I was finally undressed, I stuck my foot into the icy water, swore and said, holy **** that’s cold!  Then, I tried again, swore some more, and yanked my reddening foot out.

This was a challenge and by god, I would make it into that tub with my body immersed if just for a second. With a new resolve, I stuck both feet in and sunk into the tub with my shoulders arched forward, shivering and saying, ****, **** that’s cold!

I lasted a full 3 minutes.

No. No way. According to the rules about pre-dunking in an ice bath before the polar plunge, I was to stay in the tub for 3 minutes. I lasted a second. Maybe, two.

I then flew out of the tub.  LBM was standing right there, staring at me as he clung to one of my stray socks,  and there was no stopping what happened when the wave of icy water splashed in his face. He gripped the sock tightly between his teeth and bolted towards the exit, as if to say, holy woof! that’s cold!!!!

As I stood in my bathroom shivering, I felt a new dread pass over me as I mumbled, oh my god, what have I done?  I stared down at my red foot with toes that were curled together. I couldn’t move my foot at all; and stood in horror as I realized that both my foot and calf muscle had cramped up with pain. I  wondered, how on earth am I going to pull myself out of the water if I can’t move my foot, calf or my hand?  (Yeah, that’s right. My right hand had also cramped up.)

I tried a few more times to get into the tub, but with each attempt the right foot/calf cramping persisted and became increasingly painful. After multiple attempts, I managed one final quick dunk and then I was out. As the rules of polar plunging came rushing into my mind, I remembered a part that said you should take a hot shower as soon as you can. As I drip-dripped icy water all over my floor, I looked down at the tub.

And then it occurred to me. In order to release the ice water from my tub, I was going to have to stick 3/4 of my arm into the tub in order to be rid of it. I wanted to cry. But then I decided not to think too long about it.

With a rush, I forced my arm into the tub, hit the switch, and heard the swirling sound of water rushing out. This challenge complete, I entered my shower and proceeded to take a well-earned 25 minute HOT shower.


Things you should know about me:

  1. When I trained for half-marathons and marathons I read repeatedly that it was recommended that after long runs, a runner should take an ice bath. This helps reduce swelling in your joints and increases the speed of recovery. I NEVER DID IT. EVER. Why you ask? Because, it was too damn cold. Small cold baths, no problem. (Well, mostly.) Ice baths. PROBLEM
  2. I hate the cold.
  3. I hate taking cold showers. Oddly enough, after a gym workout yesterday, that’s exactly what happened.  And IT WAS FREEZING!
  4. I like to complain.
  5. We’ve completed 25% of the entries for this blog.  Happy 1/4 of the way! Stay tuned – more fun to come!

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