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Farewell and Amen

Posted Dec 30 2012 12:00am

“Sometimes the light's all shining on me –
Other times I can barely see –
Lately it occurs to me –
What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
The Grateful Dead, “Truckin’ (video after post)

“Don’t let it end like this.  Tell them I said something.”
 Last words of Pancho Villa

(I couldn’t decide which quote I liked better as a last hurrah, so in true Running and Rambling fashion, I decided to go with both.)

For my final run of 2012 – and by extension, my last as a regular blogger – I took on one of my favorite challenges: a three-mile climb to the southern ridge line overlooking my home town of Carmel Valley.

Fall colors were equally vibrant on trees overhead and fallen leaves underfoot.  The previous week had brought significant rain, leaving the trails muddy enough to be adventurous, but not sloppy enough to slow me down.  And on this morning, the clouds temporarily relinquished their grip, so when I finally reached the top of the ridge, the skies were clear enough to see for miles in every direction.  It was one of those perfect California winter mornings that make me grateful to be alive.

Looking back toward Carmel Valley Village; my house is a tiny dot in the distance 

And as soon as I thought this, I realized, I won’t have anyone to share this with anymore.

More than anything else, that’s what I’ll miss the most after closing the doors at Running and Rambling.  This space has become my primary outlet of expression, and the most dependable way to process and crystallize my experiences wandering through the big, wide world.  I’m a fierce introvert by nature, but there was something about this website that emboldened me to step out of my comfort zone and connect with people in ways I never could have imagined prior to its existence. 

The whole notion was quite unsettling at first – the way I would frequently encounter someone on local trails, or in the mountains, or even in another state, and they would ask how my broken toe was healing, or if I was still  riding bikes with my son , or if I remained impressed with the  Vibram Spyridon LS , without my even knowing his or her name.  Nowadays when that happens, I find it totally cool – and my first reaction is usually to flash a smile and shake the person’s hand.  Without question, those connections have been the biggest – and also the most unexpected - benefit of being a blogger for the past seven years. 

A scene from the Western States trail during the 2009 training camp - a day when I fell in love with ultrarunning as well as with the blogging community.  Not coincidentally, a cropping of this photo has served as the title banner for Running and Rambling ever since. 

Obviously, there have been a lot more benefits along the way, and I can honestly say that having this website has been one of the most memorable and rewarding things I’ve ever been involved with.  So the decision to walk away is a hard one, and it’s a sad one in many ways … but it’s also 100% the right one.

As much as I love Running and Rambling, I’m also really looking forward to being free of it.  I desperately want to spend fewer hours staring at my laptop, and more time interacting with my family.   I’m tired of sitting at a water polo game, or watching a school concert, or playing a game of Chinese checkers and thinking about the contest giveaway or product review I need to publish later that night.  Because those moments will be gone before I know it, and I don’t want to be caught trying to remember what they felt like.

A call to mindfulness from a run to the Tassajara Zen Center : "Wake up! Life is transient, swiftly passing.  Be aware, the great matter: don't waste time."

Also, there’s one more crazy goal I’d love to accomplish.  Something I never would have had the audacity to dream of when the blog was still going.  Something I’ve heard people talk about, but never believed I had the ability to achieve myself.  Wanna hear what it is?

I want to read a book.  I know, right?  Insane.   And I’m not talking about the “3 pages at a time before falling asleep” or “Read 2 chapters and then put the book on the shelf for 3 months” kind of reading – I’m shooting for the real deal: curling up on the couch with one of the many titles - non-running-related, even! - that I’ve stacked on my bookshelf in hopes of enriching myself someday.  I made it 300 pages into a  last summer before filing it away, and I’ve yet to return (but don’t tell me who wins, because I want to be surprised).

A "recreational" run in the Sierras, circa 2009.   See the beautiful model in the distance?  That would be my wife.  I need to spend more days like this .

Of course, life won’t all be laziness and family bonding, and I’m still hoping to spend as much time on the trails as possible.  I’ve often said that I’d rather be a runner who didn’t blog than a blogger who didn’t run, and the time to put that philosophy to the test has arrived.  I don’t have any concrete race plans for 2013, but don’t be surprised to see me rambling along at some ultra or another – I’ll be the oafish guy with the moccasins on his feet and the goofy grin on his face.  Feel free to say hi; I promise at least a smile and handshake in return.

I’m not completely abandoning the writing or gear review game either, and I’m excited to continue making contributions to a handful of operations (both print and web-based) that are much bigger and more influential than I could ever hope to accomplish on my own.  On that note, if you haven’t already discovered the Feed the Habit or Gear Institute websites, be sure to bookmark them as top-notch resources for all manner of outdoor gear.  They’re both operated by amazingly cool guys who have assembled a massive collection of talent around them, and I’m confident they’ll both continue to grow and thrive in the future.

This website will remain live as well, for the benefit of anyone who wants to go through past photo tours or race reports , or Google searchers who stumble across one product review or another.  The sidebar at right has been updated to include all of the minimalist footwear reviews I’ve done over the past few years.  All of the product links will remain in place, as will the banner at top right, which I’m now calling the Unemployed Blogger Relief Fund.  If you want to shop at and feel like  (remember, it’s completely anonymous and doesn’t cost you anything), whenever I see a few cents drop into my account I’ll know that someone out there is thinking of me.

(End of shameless pandering.  Oh, wait … I also have a book you can buy .  OK, pandering over now.)

Otherwise, it’s time for me to head off into the sunset - or, to mix my metaphors a bit, into the dawn of a new year and new possibilities.  The past seven years have indeed been one long, strange trip … and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  To everyone who has shared any or all of this journey with me, I’m more grateful than I can possibly express.  I offer all of you sincere thanks from the bottom of my heart; it has truly been a wonderful run.

The Grateful Dead, “Truckin’” (click to play):

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