Sunday, March 19, 2017

Walk Thoughts #13: today's long walk

Some estimated stats:

Walk time: approx. 4.75 hours
Walk distance: approx. 14.25 miles/23 km
Total steps: approx. 28,500

Damage report:
      • blisters on the balls of both feet
      • blister on right pinky toe
      • achy feet in general
      • achy lower back
      • raw, sensitive crotch

Things learned:
1. This was a good shakedown cruise during which I learned some of the ins and outs of my CamelBak-knockoff water bladder (a prettier term is hydration system).
2. I absolutely need a new battery for my cell phone: my current ancient battery is in the midst of a cascade failure. I was supposed to go out and buy batteries and a portable charger today, but I collapsed and went to sleep instead.
3. My awesome New Balance walking shoes are perfect for two-hour walks, but they get tight in the toes as my feet swell during longer-than-two-hour walks.
4. We didn't make seven hours today, which had been my goal, but nearly five hours turned out to be quite enough.
5. If my lower back is responding this way to a light encumbrance, I need to be cautious about how I handle heavier encumbrance (35 lbs., 16 kg).
6. For long walks, I definitely need to get back to wearing my Spandex biker shorts to avoid the constant chafing of the inner thighs and nethers.

I began sincerely to wonder whether I'd even have the pain tolerance to withstand 20-some days in a row of this sort of walking. It's funny, too, because today's walk was largely on level ground: hills that stymied me on a bike were barely perceptible as hills when on foot. I suspect I'm going to have to reorient my training program to account for the need to toughen up my feet, and I may have to take my shoes to a shoe guy to get them stretched. Shoe stretching is apparently common and easy to do; there are, in fact, plenty of in-home methods for doing it, but I'd rather get a pro to reshape my footwear.

Brian and I met this morning at National Assembly Station way out in Yeouido, the same station where I get off to do my KMA gigs. My travel companion was as athletic as I expected him to be; I was the slowpoke during our walk, but he politely restrained himself from walking at what I'd guess is close to a natural pace of 4.5 or 5 miles per hour (I mosey along at a human-standard 3 mph, unlike most Koreans, who walk at Brian's speed).

We began at 7AM by walking toward the National Assembly building; the guards there let us through so we could walk across the property and out the back in order to swing by one of those bike-path "certification centers." Sure enough, we found it:

The term "center" seems a bit pretentious for a one-square-meter patch of ground that contains little more than a seedy, phone-booth-like structure. Still, it made for an interesting landmark, after which we continued east along the Han. Brian's vigorous-yet-restrained pace kept him slightly ahead and me slightly out of breath, but it was a good workout. While my phone had power—which came and went the entire hike—I pinged our location a few times to provide some idea of our pace.

Ultimately, as we approached the Jamshil area and my apartment, we decided to change plans and head to my place for a fried-rice lunch (Brian ended up kindly giving me his lunch as well: a Paris Baguette chicken sandwich). I had thought we might eat lunch, then head out and check out the Yangjae-cheon, i.e., my creekside route, but we both ended up too achy and unmotivated to continue. For a flat walk, the experience seemed unwontedly harsh on my feet, which is an indication of which body parts actually require more serious training.

Brian turned out to be a great font of information and an excellent conversationalist, so while we had some moments of silence along the path, there was also plenty of banter. I learned a few things about the local flora and fauna; we both had a chance to look with distaste upon a garbage-strewn grassy area being cleaned by a woefully understaffed team of men, but we also passed by plenty of clean, well-groomed areas. I learned some things about Brian's wife and son; his family leads an interesting life. Here's pic of Brian:

All in all, this was a fun—if exhausting—day. It was good to meet someone that I had known for years only through blogging, and I do believe we'll be meeting up again.


Surprises Aplenty said...

Ha. I thought you were choosing to go slowly due to your vast walking experience. I could have walked faster but but probably not as far - I would have burned out earlier.

In a long walk, I don't know how often you have to apply it or if it would stain clothes, but I suggest vaseline for your rubbing thighs. I needed it when I was running a lot.

Kevin Kim said...

Experience has taught me that I have my own comfortable pace.

As for Vaseline, I've found that a single application of Spandex works best in a "one and done" sort of way.

Surprises Aplenty said...

I looked at the map you posted here. It sure looks like you don't go far east. My impression of the dreaded Baekdu Daegan is that it is much closer to the east coast. Maybe it just starts there?
Anyway, the map seems to show you heading south just out of Seoul. I'm not sure you enter Gangwon Province at all. I know the rivers meet in the Gangwon mountains so I am surprised you don't go there. I'm not complaining, just surprised.

Kevin Kim said...

The Saejae part of the route is described as mountainous, and I know the Baekdu Daegan range actually starts in the south center, creeps north and east, then follows the east coast all the way up north (see here). Right around Mt. Sobaek is where I expect I'll be crossing over the range. That seems to correspond, roughly, to the Saejae part of the trail, i.e., about halfway down.

Bratfink said...

When I managed the shoe repair shop we stretched shoes by spraying them with rubbing alcohol then putting in the shoe stretchers. It works just as well if your feet are used as the stretchers; just let the alcohol dry.

Kevin Kim said...


That's a really good idea! Will that work on New Balance hi-tech walking shoes? Does the technique work on any old shoe?

Rubbing alcohol is actually very hard to find in bottled form in Korea. I saw a pharmacy that carried a box of individually wrapped isopropyl wipes, but for standard, bottled, American-style rubbing alcohol, you have to go on base. Lucky for me, I have a friend on base, and he already got me a nice, fat bottle of the stuff, so I'm good to go.

When I visited the shoe guy today, he refused to stretch my walking shoes because the front ends are some sort of vinyl/plastic/whatever, and he's worried that using the stretcher will rip them. So he just pulled my insoles out and said, "Now they won't hurt!" I'm still bringing him my leather Rockports tomorrow. It'd be a shame to have to send those shoes back.

Anyway, if alcohol works, I'll do it.