You may know this guy, as his rendition of Gollum doing a Taylor Swift song went viral on Youtube Last year. If you haven’t seen it you should check it out, it’s hysterical. But what you likely don’t know about Ian is that he is perhaps foremost a phenomenal writer, and a lifelong athlete and exceptional climber. And look at that face..
When I told people my plan to have a guest athlete/writer/foodie post on my blog pretty much everyone gave me one of three responses. “Oh, I’m not really an ‘athlete,'” or “I have been eating horribly lately” or “I really know nothing about food.” I wasn’t choosing people because I thought they were god’s gift to nutrition, cooking and athleticism, I was choosing them because I thought they had a story to tell, or a lesson to share. The secret is that athletes are real people, and real people are athletes, we have bad and good days, months, and years, and I couldn’t think of a better first story to represent that than this awesome story from Ian. Thanks Ian!
My name is Ian. I wear glasses, I can’t multi-task. I am a climber. However after 14 years I stopped climbing in early spring of this year when I hurt my knee bouldering on the California coast. While my knee only hurts once in a while now and I could have continued climbing months ago, I chose to stay out of it, clear my head, and see where I had ended up.
I grew up in athletics and lived, for all intents and purposes, a sport-centered lifestyle throughout college. My sister taught me to rock climb at 10, but I began climbing in earnest to balance and strengthen my core after a pole-vaulting spinal injury at 15. Climbing was the only thing that allowed me to continue vaulting (my passion then) and the better I got at climbing, the better I got at vaulting and the safer I felt in my body. Climbing trips, competitions and pole-vault meets filled my weekends, and eventually I began to talk to different schools about vaulting in college. Though I didn’t much care at the time, as I burned up everything in my body seemingly instantaneously, I could always feel the effects of my diet on my performance in both sports, and at the end of high school I ate carefully. Unfortunately I re-injured my spine weeks before college and had to stop vaulting entirely, and began the slow slog through dorm-food, pasta and PBR to reach the other side of college. Looking back, climbing and the obsessively athletic, body-centric mindset it engendered was probably the only thing that kept me healthy as I sunk deeper and deeper into the various excitements of school.
I’m making another transition now, and perversely my spring knee injury has given me advantages over my former body-obsessed self. For 14 years climbing commanded a massive portion of my brain, coloring weekly experiences, friendships, relationships. I felt (and still feel) that where pole vaulting was my passion, rock climbing was and is my addiction, and I never truly felt comfortable with the lack of choice I perceived in that arrangement. I am transitioning now into a life of teaching. I fell into a job at a prestigious private school in the Bay Area and I am trying like hell to keep up. I am invigorated daily not by my own physical performance, but by the happiness and growth of my students and the inspiration I discover in my colleagues. I treat school like my sport now, and while my diet is by no means improved, I am certainly curious about the effects of store-bought sandwiches, jambalayas, breakfast burritos and liters of coffee on my energy level (spoiler: don’t do it). I still take my dinners very seriously, though, making sure to eat a small amount of varying proteins and vegetables with each meal. While I feel as though I have fallen into the necessary mental space to navigate a high-stakes professional environment, I laugh every time I realize I can reach down and pinch my very own mini-love-handles, or my “teacher tire” as a friend put it. I’ve never had a belly before! It’s so exciting.
I have forgotten my body for the time being, and have chosen to learn guitar and teach my ass off. Fortunately for my body, I am hopeful that I can climb again soon, when I am sure that it is something I have chosen to do.