So, race is entered, number's arrived in the post already - no backing down now.
In somewhat of a blind panic, I visited The Gym. Gyms have been my nemesis in the past - places of torture, and insanely sweaty, unpleasant-looking people in lycra (alright, 'nemesis' might be an exaggeration. I can't forgive Gym for relieving me of 6 months' fees in 1997, just because I wanted to sit prettily on a rowing machine and leer at the young men who worked there. How was I to know you had to pay through the nose for that).
I arrived for my induction last week, all outwardly cheerful at what I thought might be just a little sight-seeing tour round the hallowed exercise pits of David Lloyd Cheadle. Picture my dismay as Herr Gym Instructor signalled me to 'jump' onto a machine which I imagined could easily have been used to interrogate prisoners of war. Turns out it was a cross-trainer. Well, I don't know, do I??
An hour later, I collapsed to the floor, finished off by something ironically called a 'medicine ball'. An hour of galloping from one instrument of torture to the next, with HGI cheerily engaging me in a one-sided conversation, all the while scribbling worryingly on a clipboard. Our 'chat' went something along the lines of: HGI: 'How's that speed for you?'
HGI: 'Oh really? Well, you won't mind if we just sneak it up a bit then, will you?'
It really was every bit as bad as I'd secretly anticipated. I had some Know-It-All Gym'ed Up twonk waffling on in one ear about interval training, blah blah blah, resting heart rate, blah blah bah, while my face turned the colour of Revlon ColourStay lipstick no.6: Scarlet Harlot.
Surprisingly afterwards, I didn't ache in every crevice as I'd expected. I braced myself for days afterwards when getting out of bed, waiting to be hit by the bodily aches and pains which tell you loud and clear that you've been a tad ambitious with your poor bod. But they never came, and I immediately convinved myself that this was the sign of a latent Paula Radcliffe in the making. I've been four times since then, and am enjoying the post-gym buzz enormously. I always thought it was an urban myth.
I'm also enjoying the Costa Coffee they serve at the gym (two birds, one stone), and the people-watching. I've nearly come a cropper off the running machine several times, trying not to snort at some bloke strutting by, towel over arm, approaching the weight machines. I have to look away so as not to become an RTA on my treadmill as he pulls a variety of sex faces whilst wrestling with a weight which is clearly several kilos heavier than is healthy. Then there are the ladies in the -shall we say - autumn of their youth, trotting daintily away on treadmills to my left, neither of whom are in danger of working up a sweat if they stayed on it from now till Christmas.
Soon the warm weather will kick in, my fitness will pick up, and I'll be out on the roads, pounding my poor knee joints to a pulp. But I'll miss the daily soap opera that is The Gym.
* Hmpppsshhhffttttt = eff off, you cross-eyed ginger twonk. Go near that button again, and I'll get your effing clipboard, chop it into 75 pieces, and feed it into an area on your body south of your mouth.