It was fun to do last year's list, to relieve the moments as I reflected and wrote them down. But what I didn't expect was that the list shined a light on what is important to me, and the kind of moments I want to create in the future.
I learned that setting big goals creates big moments. I learned that many favorite moments happen with friends. And I learned that many best moments happen randomly, and it's up to me to be aware and grateful enough to realize what just happened and soak it all in.
So in that spirit, I'm setting out to create the list again. This year's list has both life-changing and heart-breaking moments, a big accomplishment, and lots of adventures.
1. Proposing to Ash
9-19-19 was the perfect day. It was Ashley's birthday, and we were staying at The Cape in Cabo. The day started with room service, pancakes and coffee. Then we drove over to Costa Azul to surf, it was firing and Ash snagged some good pics of me.
I had roses waiting for us when we got back to our hotel room as a little birthday surprise, and Ash started crying and said that she's never been surprised like that before. She had no clue what was coming later!
We hung out by the pool for the rest of the day, and I surfed again in front of the hotel. A cool couple at the pool (also from Costa Mesa) asked Ash and I if we were married, to which Ash said that I was lagging haha! They gave us some good marriage advice, something along the lines of, "still go on surf trips and don't lose yourself."
A hurricane was due to hit Cabo the next day, so we decided to move our dinner reservations up a day. Flora Farms, our favorite restaurant in Cabo, was going to be the spot I would propose.
We had an amazing dinner. There was a couple next to us celebrating their anniversary, and Ash said, "I love her ring, beautiful oval cut." About 15 min later she would find out that a very similar looking oval cut ring was in my pocket.
After dessert, I asked Ash if she's had a good birthday so far, and she said that it was the best ever and still couldn't believe that I surprised her with roses. "I have one more surprise for you," I said, and then I can't really remember what I said next except for it ended with, "will you marry me?" Ash thought I was kidding until I insisted that the ring was real and she should put it on. She didn't even cry, probably because she was in shock and couldn't really process what just happened. She was pretty certain that there was no way I would propose on this trip, so she was truly surprised!
The most epic way to end an already perfect day, and so excited to spend the rest of my life with Ash!
2. Less than a week after proposing to Ash, we found out that we were pregnant!
I remember waiting in the bathroom for the pregnancy test to give an answer, and finally seeing a YES and thinking, Oh My God. Ash's initial reaction was panic. I can't even describe how I felt. I was immediately filled with love, and lots of nervous excitement knowing our lives were about change in a huge way.
Then there were so many special moments as things progressed.
The first Dr appt, hearing the heartbeat and seeing the ultrasound and having the Dr tell us everything looked good.
Telling our friends and family was so fun! We told Ashley's sister first. Then my brother and Maddie. And then my parents, and her parents, and then our friends one by one, mostly in person. I'm so glad that we decided to slowly tell all our friends in person because each of those moments were special in their own way.
I had this vision that in Oregon on our camping trip, Derek would tell me that him and Tina were pregnant and I would explode and say, "Us too!" But that never happened, which is ironic now because Derek and Tina were in fact pregnant at that time and we were both just keeping secrets. When we finally told each other over FaceTime, I was so freakin' stoked!
So excited to have Lil'P join the family in May 2020, and I think I know what the #1 moment of 2020 will be.
3. Honey passed away
I got a call from my Dad who said that Honey wasn't doing to well and that I should come over. Twenty minutes later I walked into my Dad's house to see Honey in her bed barely breathing. I got down next to her and she felt very cold. I knew this was the end. Over the next 30 minutes or so we got to pet her, kiss her, and smell her for the last times. Her breathing got more and more shallow. Finally, I whispered in her ear, "I love you so much, you've been the best dog any family could ever have, we're all here with you and it's okay to leave us now." Then she went to doggy heaven, and I had a good cry.
4. Becoming an Ironman
Ironman means so much to me. It's about chasing dreams and achieving big goals. It's about endurance, and proving to myself what I'm capable of. It's about health and fitness, and a milestone in my own personal transformation of the past few years. It's about being an athlete, something that I've wanted to be since I was a kid. And it's about all the people that have supported me and helped me get to this point, because I couldn't have done this alone. It meant a lot to have a bunch of close friends at the finish line, and many more following along on the Ironman app.
The first 127 miles of the race went very well. The last half marathon I got my ass kicked and my money's worth. Cam Hanes said, "Man, is there anything better than giving a full effort and being spent?" Crossing the finish line, completely spent, 21 minutes behind my goal time, is something I'm so proud of.
The overall Ironman experience for me extended beyond the race itself. It was so awesome to have Ashley and a crew of close friends there all weekend. It felt like I had a badass team out there, from the family dinner the night before the race, to the cheers and cowbells out on the course, to the surprise gift after I crossed the finish line that made me tear up… it was such an epic weekend.
5. Summiting Mt. Whitney
A 100% inexperienced crew of me, Jordan and Adam. Everyone's first 14'er. Everyone's first time with spikes and axes. 3am start. Adam forgot his glasses, which would cause us some altitude sickness problems later on. We got a little lost in the dark. An epic sunrise, pictured below.
It got really tough around 11k'. I experienced altitude sickness for the first time. Adam got it way worse than me. Our pace slowed, and we even debated pushing on. Jordan and I made it to the summit a bit before Adam, and when he finally appeared over the final ridge, he had tears in his eyes. He truly thought he wasn't going to make it to the summit, but pushed through and made it, so his tears were those of overcoming and achievement. His tears gave me tears. We all made it, barely. But we made it.
6. Summiting Mt. Shasta
A couple weeks after Whitney, Jordan and I flew up to Norcal to meet up with Derek, Matt and his dad Bill to climb Shasta. Bill had just gotten back from summiting Everest (his 6th of the 7 summits) less than a month prior. He was our guide, and no better person to teach us some proper mountain safety and skills.
I'd say that Whitney was more type 2 fun, while Shasta was more type 1 fun. Bill told us some epic climbing stories while making sure none of us did anything too stupid. I didn't get altitude sickness. The climb was challenging, in a fun way. There were a few false summits, and once the actual summit was in view Derek tried to tell us that he was okay not going to the summit. We all laughed like he just told a hilarious joke, even though he actually wasn't joking. We convinced him to keep going, and we all made it to the summit that day. All-time crew and an epic day climbing in the mountains!
7. Finishing North Face 50 with Jordan
North Face 50 is a 50 mile trail race with over 10k ft of vert that starts in Sausalito, runs through the Marin Headlands over to Stinson Beach, through John Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail back towards SF and finally over Golden Gate Bridge and into Chrissy Field.
Jordan and I were both VERY undertrained going into the race, battling with injuries (see #8) and really being unsure if we were even going to start the race let alone finish it. It was also Jordan's first 50 miler. Despite this, we still showed up to the start line, curious to see what would happen that day. The plan was to run together for the first marathon, but Jordan had to take a dump around mile 13 so I left him, never to see him on the course again. We had very different days after that.
I finished the race in about 11 hours and 21 minutes, over an hour faster than my previous 50 mile time. Considering I wasn't even sure I was capable, based on injuries, of even completing the distance, the fact that I crushed an 11:20 was a huge accomplishment for me that day and I really surprised myself with my performance.
But Jordan was having a very different day. He was fighting the cut off of 14 hours. They were yelling the cutoff time at the last couple aid stations he was at. He called me with about 7 miles still to go saying he wasn't sure if he would make it, and if he did it would be very close. I watched him finally cross the finish line with less than 10 minutes to spare in the cutoff. He was one of the last people to finish. So savage that he beat the cutoff and finished. The first thing he said to me at the finish line was, "that took everything I had, there's nothing left." I'm pretty sure the second thing he said to me was, "fuck this ultra shit, I'm never doing this shit ever again." He cried a little bit. There is something so sick about crossing a finish line with nothing left in the tank. What a moment!!
PS. A couple days later he asked me what the next ultra is we should do. lol
8. Ankle sprain in Mammoth
Was in Mammoth to do some trail running with Jordan and some run crew buddies. I took Jordan out onto the JMT to retrace some of the trail from last summer's JMT backpacking trip. It was a 19 mile loop northbound on the PCT and then southbound on the JMT passing Thousand Island Lake, Emerald and Ruby Lakes, Garnet Lake, Ediza Lake, and Shadow Lake. At mile 13.5 on a fast decent, I rolled my ankle on a rock and went down hard. I felt a pop, and knew immediately my ankle was done in. My first thought was how long the recovery would be and if I'd have to drop out of North Face 50 3 months later. Then I realized that I could barely walk and I was in the middle of the woods. Jordan found 2 good sticks that I used as crutches and it took me over 3 painful hours to hobble 5.5 miles over technical terrain out of the woods and back to my car.
As I hobbled back to the car, I remembered a time as a young kid hiking with my Grandpa. I gashed my shin open on a rock and my Grandpa had me take off my shirt and he tied it around my leg to soak up the blood. Then we hiked back out. I thought that was really badass. He taught me toughness, and the only thing we were afraid of was my Mom's reaction.
The whole experience also reminds me of two quotes:
- "When everything goes wrong - that's when adventure starts." ~Yvon Chouinard
- "Look down and you miss the beauty, look up and you trip and fall. A quote about life and trail running." ~me based on an Ani DiFranco quote
9. Getting paid to ski more pow in Jackson
It had snowed a couple feet while we were in Jackson. Ashley was supposed to fly home a day before me, but her flight got cancelled due to all the snow and she couldn't fly out till 2 days later. I was jealous! There was still really good snow and I would have loved to take Ashley's place and stay an extra day. When I went to the airport the next day, Delta was looking for passengers willing to give up their seats and willing to pay. So of course Jordan and I put ourselves on the list. We sat at the gate as the flight was boarding, hoping that there were enough passengers needing to get on our flight that we could give up ours. They finally called our names and paid us $2Gs to stay in Jackson for 2 extra days! We literally got paid to ski powder for 2 more days! And because Ashley had to work remotely the next day, Jordan and I were free to explore whatever terrain we wanted and we definitely did the best skiing of the trip that next day. Below is Jordan in the Hobacks for our first time.
10. Camping in a hail storm in Oregon
The annual boys trip with me, Derek and Evan was in Oregon this year. Day 1 we hiked the Trail of Ten Falls trail in Silver Creek State Park, and as the name suggests, saw ten waterfalls.
The plan for the next two days was to hike up the PCT and camp, despite the weather forecast. We knew that we were going to get pretty wet. We woke up that morning and it was pouring rain, comically heavy rain. We set out anyways and once we got under the canopy it actually wasn't that bad. The wind was blowing pretty hard and we heard tree branches cracking and falling. We got up to the plateau where we wanted to camp around dusk, and as we were setting up the tents we started to get pelted by hail. We all started laughing, and tried to finish setting the tents up in a bit of a frenzy so we could get some shelter. Once we were sheltered everything was chill and we drank some beers even though we knew it would be miserable to wake up in the middle of the night to pee and have to brave the below freezing storm again. It was an adventure for sure, and now I can say that I've hiked through a massive storm and set up camp in a hail storm.
Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- Couple solid Mammoth powder days - Early-ups at Mammoth my birthday weekend, deep pow laps off Chair 22, and in December doing the Avy Shoots with Chris Pedersen.
- Stagecoach was pretty sick, glad Ashley convinced me to go, this solidified my transition to a country-music-lover and if you look at my Spotify top songs of 2019 they are mostly all Luke Combs.
- Getting out of debt. It felt so good to click the button for my last credit card payment. Releasing myself from the shackles of my debt enabled some of the other big moments on this list (like buying an engagement ring).
- Closing a my biggest commission ever the day before Ironman. I was in the car with Ashley on the way to drop my bike off at Lake Sonoma, I answered the phone call on the car bluetooth so Ashley heard the confirmation that the deal was closed, we were fist pumping and it was awesome sharing that moment with her.
- The Broken Arrow mountain triathlon, Squaw Valley, late June - summer snowboarding followed by climbing the Tahoe Via Ferrata, then the next day smashing the 50k Skyrace.
- Ironman 70.3 IWLQ with the boys. Running races with friends is the best. I crushed a PR and then got to cheer the rest of the boys through the finish line and have a couple beers after.
- Countless great surf sessions, scored K38 a bunch of times and had a super fun 3.5 hour session at San Miguel in early December. But the sessions that sick out the most are the ones in Oahu right before New Years, surfing some waves of consequence on the North Shore and Westside, being a little scared, getting rolled and cut up on the reef at Ma'ali.
What a way to end the decade! I'm engaged with a little baby girl on the way. Life is a trip, and it's hard to think how it could get any better.
Last year, I learned a lot from this exercise. I learned that I love the progression and serendipity with surfing, snowboarding, and racing. I learned that many of these best moments are not solo moments, but moments that are only special because of who I share them with. And I learned that failure is meaningful.
So, what are my takeaways this year as I reflect on all these experiences?
I realize that special moments are created when someone pushes themselves to the edge, as far as they think they can go, and then they keep going. When Adam said, on the summit of Whitney, "I really didn't think I was going to make it." Or when Jordan said, at the finish line of NF50, "that took everything I had, there's nothing left." And during the marathon of my Ironman, when I was searching within myself and realized that sub-12 just wasn't there and the voice in my head said, "forget sub-12, just finish." These are the moments.
It was hard to chose #10 on the list because of all the great honorable mentions. If I think back to the moment where I was the most stoked in-the-moment, I'd have to pick the fist pumping in the car with Ashley after I closed the big commission. If I were to pick the moment based on how important it was to my life, I'd pick making my last debt payment. But I decided to pick a moment that has a better story to tell than those 2 moments. I imagined telling the stories to my future kids, and "closing a big commission" or "getting out to debt" just isn't as cool as hiking a portion of the PCT in the rain and setting up camp in a hail storm.
I guess that I'm just really into type 2 fun. Fun that isn't really fun in the moment - the last miles of an Ironman, altitude sickness on Whitney, painfully limping out of the woods, backpacking during a storm - but it's fun after, when thinking about the adventure and telling the story. Type 2 adventures are like trophies of the soul.
Meaningful moments are 50% about creating them. It's about buying the ring, signing up for the race, planning the excursion, rallying the crew, putting in the work and trying to execute on the plan. They are to some extent, partly in our control.
But the other 50%, I believe, is out of our control, so it's more about being open and paying attention. Many beautiful moments happen to us, or for us. It's about noticing them. It's also about perspective, how you see them. It's up to us to realize if something is special or not. One of my favorite quotes is by Albert Einstein, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." When everything is a miracle, gratitude fills us up and these moments are everywhere.
I believe this is especially important for me, going into 2020 with a baby girl on the way. The best moments probably won't be "Jarric doing cool things," but rather her doing something completely normal, like rolling over or saying a word, that in my eyes as a first time dad seem like the most awesome thing ever.