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December 30, 2012

Farewell and Amen

“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 Civil War history book 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 Amazon.com banner at top right, which I’m now calling the Unemployed Blogger Relief Fund.  If you want to shop at Amazon.com and feel like clicking there from my site (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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49 comments:

Alejandro Mares 12/31/12, 12:36 AM  

thanks for inspiring so many of us to keep going. I definitely appreciate the work you put into making a relevant and readable blog. best wishes in your future endeavors.

James 12/31/12, 4:02 AM  

Happy for you, sad for me! I absolutely loved following you this past year or so. Happy trails!

Nell at njschout 12/31/12, 4:12 AM  

Thank you, I enjoyed your site!

PepeLp,  12/31/12, 4:55 AM  

Thanks!

Anne 12/31/12, 5:12 AM  

I'll still think of you whenever the National Spelling Bee is on TV. Best wishes in your many years of running and living ahead of you.

Pinkcorker (Renee) 12/31/12, 6:22 AM  

Donald,
Thank you for sharing yourself with the rest of us! It has been a joy 'getting to know you' and I wish you the best in all you do.
Renee

JimDog 12/31/12, 7:36 AM  

Thanks for all of the great product reviews. Now go out there and enjoy the extra time you've made for yourself!!!

Lisa 12/31/12, 8:07 AM  

Thank you! I've enjoyed reading your adventures and loved your Random Shots of Beauty. Good luck!

Stuart 12/31/12, 8:18 AM  

Thankyou and good luck!

JBK in CA 12/31/12, 11:45 AM  

You have done this well, and sign off with class. Best wishes for 2013. See you on the trails.

Jean 12/31/12, 12:29 PM  

Farewell Donald! Thanks for everything.

Justin_P 12/31/12, 2:01 PM  

Thanks for all the great posts, Donald! Good luck!

Jeff Gallup 12/31/12, 2:04 PM  

Thank you Donald for such a great blog, I've enjoyed this last year+ of following it. And thanks for keeping the reviews up! I refer people here all the time because of your comprehensive reviews. Best of luck and enjoy the books and the trails!!

Take care,

Jeff
http://barefootinclined.com

Andy 12/31/12, 3:19 PM  

Farewell and adieu fair Spanish ladies
Farewell and adieu our ladies of Spain

Peace and Love,

Andy

Unknown 12/31/12, 3:53 PM  

Thanks so much. I have really looked forward to getting your blog in my email for the last few years. Enjoy your free time !

RD Jim 12/31/12, 4:05 PM  

Don, I felt the same way after Race Directing the Wakely Dam Ultra for 10 years. I loved it, got a lot of benefits from it, but in the end, it consumed a portion of my life I was no longer willing to give up. So enjoy your new freedom and best of luck with your free running career. Hope to hear from you sometime.

CK 12/31/12, 5:09 PM  

Thanks. Enjoyed your blog. Enjoy your books.

Malcolm Lau 12/31/12, 5:10 PM  

THANKYOU for sharing your insights, experiences & piece of the world! Enjoy the 'Me' time. You will be missed here in Manly, Australia.

Spokane Al 12/31/12, 10:30 PM  

Good bye old internet buddy. I have thoroughly enjoyed your pleasant, gentle writings on running and living.

Take care and may the coming new year be your best ever.

Sarah 12/31/12, 10:34 PM  

I've enjoyed reading your blog! And thankfully I finally won something a few weeks ago before you stopped. ;) Happy Trails! :)

Carrie 1/1/13, 3:42 AM  

7 really good years.

Questionably Texan. 1/1/13, 6:18 AM  

I rarely commented, but I regularly read Running and Rambling. Enjoyed it tremendously. Best wishes to you as you start the new year blog-free!

Tricia Salcido,  1/1/13, 8:41 PM  

RIP(Run in Peace!)
Thank You!! Will miss reading your blog!

Kevin O.,  1/1/13, 9:15 PM  

Great blog by a humble and spiritual guy. You will be missed.

Martin 1/2/13, 3:14 AM  

Thanks for everything Donald. I'm going to miss your words of wisdom.

Aranan 1/2/13, 5:57 AM  

I found your blog about a year ago and have been enjoying it ever since. Thanks for all the effort you put into it and I hope you enjoy your new blog-free life!

Michael Shane Helton 1/2/13, 8:45 AM  

Farewell R&R. Donald, welcome to the rest of your life!
-Michael

HP 1/3/13, 7:15 AM  

Dear Donald,
Thank you for the good reads and best wishes going forward! I enjoyed "getting to know you" through your blog, and also being one of those who recognized you out on the trail at the TRT race last year. Look me up next time you are in Truckee/Tahoe at TahoeRunningCompany.com. It's great to shed what no longer serves us ~
Helen

Anonymous,  1/3/13, 7:20 PM  

Donald,

Thank you for a great blog.
Wishes for the best in your new adventures

Ran

Benjammin' 1/4/13, 12:38 PM  

Thanks again for sharing your time and insight with us. Best wishes going forward.

Adelyn 1/5/13, 9:04 PM  

Donald,

It's been wonderful reading your blog ever since I started blogging myself and discovering the world of ultras. Thanks for everything you've shared on here. Your writing here will be very much missed.

Good luck with everything!

Addy

Stacy,  1/6/13, 6:47 AM  

Classy end to a classy blog. I'm really happy we've had our association. A great example of what's great about internet-age "loose ties." I'm sure our paths will manage to cross a few more times in the years to come. I'll look forward to that. And hope we can keep in touch from time to time in between. Keeping first things first is always a great thing, but I'll be keeping the subscription in my blog feed so I'll be among the first to know if you ever decide to ramble on. Take care Donald!

Richard 1/7/13, 8:09 AM  

Thanks for those amazing years Donald. I've really enjoyed reading you and admire your decision of putting your family first.

Good luck with your book project ;) and happy running!

Stephen Boulet 1/8/13, 2:42 PM  

Good luck and thanks Donald!

Ric Munoz 1/8/13, 4:56 PM  

It's the end of a (very) terrific era, Donald. You're the ultimate all-star among running blogs (and all other blogs for that matter).

Thank you again for the profile/interview you so kindly wrote about me - I will treasure it always.

Have fun catching up on your reading. I was able to read 65 books in 2012 (my favorite avocation, by far). I expect you to double that amount yourself for 2013 (your brain is MUCH bigger than mine).

JS 1/14/13, 10:00 AM  

thanks for sharing your stories, runs, and revelations. best of luck

Scott Dunlap 1/14/13, 5:51 PM  

A belated thanks for all the hard work and humor you put into Running and Rambling over the last few years. You are one of the runblogger greats!

All the best in 2013, and I hope to see you on the trails.

SD

tes 1/15/13, 12:44 PM  

The National Spelling Bee play by play/coverage you had on Running and Rambling got me hooked (although I stumbled on your site only the past year. Thank you for sharing you running stories peppered with music and quotes.

Cody R.,  1/16/13, 2:51 PM  

thank you for giving me stuff to read, and help me on decisions about buying certain items

although i never won anything from you, glad i was able to take part

shame i found you 3 years ago and didn't get to enjoy all 7, but i hope to see you around somewhere

i'll be coming back to check things
and i wish you the best

Johnny R 1/23/13, 8:41 AM  

Donald, good luck in 2013

Allan 1/24/13, 6:37 PM  

So funny. I came across your blog for the Camelbak Ultra LR then suddenly saw this post. Appreciate reading your other posts and yes, you will really enjoy reading a book given you're a writer. I'm juggling both with work on the side (lol). Hope you'll continue to write for the gears in case you can manage your time soon. Thanks again!

Clipping Path 2/1/13, 1:12 AM  

I am inspired by you. Thanks for your tips and sharing your life story. Pray and hope you will be always best runner.

ProKPR 2/1/13, 9:35 AM  

End of an era. I wish you all the best.

Francisco Dentista 2/8/13, 3:04 PM  

Wonderful site, Keep up the good work, greetings.

Fernando 2/9/13, 6:18 AM  

Thanks Donald! Good luck and GOD bless you!

Olga King 2/13/13, 3:41 PM  

Wow, my man, I missed on that whole thing by, like a couple of months? You're right. I thought that the inspiration was leaving this site when the reviews came and gear contests and the whole promo stuff. I always turned those down. I was afraid if I HAVE to write, I won't be able to. So, I only write when the sun strikes. Sorry to see you go. Hope to see you on trails one day. But family and "you" time is by far more important.

Andy Green 4/30/13, 9:41 AM  

Looks like I have come to the party far too late. You blog has some wonderful stories and pictures - you really do convey a great sense of being there with you.
Still, I really do understand the need to move on.
Enjoy having your life back. My bet is you are missing both the running and the blogging?

Alicia 11/6/13, 3:22 AM  

This is really quite late now, but I've just come across your blog and really enjoyed it. I especially love all the beautiful scenery that you would have gotten to run through. It would make running even more special.

running efficiency 11/20/13, 9:10 PM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this Post... I appreciate your transparency. Keep running and blogging

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