Saturday, February 23, 2019

the 50K challenge

Male discourse is almost always about one-upsmanship, according to linguist Deborah Tannen, who has made a study of male/female discourse. Male one-upsmanship is linked to male hierarchical thinking because of an unconscious focus on things like status, reputation, etc. Feminine discourse is more devoted to creating social bonds: the literal content of what women say is, according to Tannen, far less important than the use of communication as a gesture of care, empathy, concern, etc. For Tannen, men engage in "report-talk" (which is what I'm doing by writing in this lecturing tone right now); women, meanwhile, engage in "rapport-talk" to create and reinforce ties of friendship and sisterhood.

I once wrote a blog post about a TEDx Talk that actually changed my behavior. The talk persuaded me to stop using so many paper towels after washing my hands in a public restroom. Charles read my post and commented that he normally never uses more than one paper towel, and that "I will often go without paper towels at all. I shake and then fan." You see the one-upsmanship: I'm down to one paper towel, and proud of myself for it, but Charles is (often) down to zero. He couches his good deed in modest language, but it's one-upsmanship all the same. Because men. (I'm not saying I mind this, by the way; that would be hypocritical seeing as I've played the one-upping game myself.)

At dinner yesterday evening, we were, at one point, talking about distance walking. I mentioned my recent 35-kilometer walk, and fellow guest Patrick said he once had to do a 50-kilometer walk as part of a company function. He resented the hell out of doing such a walk, but he did it, and apparently without breaks. So: Patrick outdid me.

I once did a 30-some-mile walk from Troutdale to Cascade Locks, Oregon, back in 2008. This was part of my abortive attempt at crossing the mainland USA. That's a bit over 50 kilometers, but I had a 60-pound pack on my back and did take maybe a 90-minute nap after I'd gone roughly two-thirds of the final distance. So I can't say that that walk trumps Patrick's.

In 2017, during my trans-Korea walk, I had a day where I walked over 60,000 steps. Had I been going at a steady pace all day long, I'd have said that that converted to about 50 kilometers of walking, but I know myself well enough to know that my walking speed drops off as the day progresses, so despite the 60K steps, that almost certainly wasn't a 50K day.

Therefore, as the human ego demands, I hereby challenge myself to do an over-50-km walk, with no breaks, in a single go. I think I already have a route that I can walk: the same 60-kilometer Seoul-to-Yangpyeong route that I just did over two days. I'll walk the route from early morning to nighttime, and by the time I reach the River House Motel, I'll be exhausted and will probably need to stay there for two nights to give my feet a chance to stop screaming. I might do this walk this coming March 1st weekend (we're off on Friday, I believe, although my company doesn't always believe in giving its employees the national holidays), but rain is forecast for Saturday and Sunday, so I'll have to think carefully about this, especially as the weather forecast might suddenly change, as often happens in mountainous countries. I could walk on Friday, then spend Saturday and part of Sunday convalescing, training back to Seoul Sunday morning or afternoon. At a guess, I'll end up with one or more blisters after such an abusive walk, but the challenge has formed in my head, and now I want to do it.

Just so I can lord it over Patrick. Heh.

I've plotted out the route from my apartment to the River House in Yangpyeong: 57.71 km, or 35.86 miles. Guess I've got my training cut out for me this coming week.


John Mac said...

For the record, I will NEVER even attempt to one-up your 50K walk. I did 50k steps once and that was more than enough for this lifetime.

Still, I'll be happy for you and admire your manly dedication to not being one upped...

Kevin Kim said...

A thousand thanks.

Charles said...

Yeah, I'll stick with paper towels, I think. Good luck.