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Let me start by saying I believe, very much, in the community of runners. I believe in it enough that UltraBoy regularly contributes to online forums, he blogs, tweets, trains, races, volunteers, buys the kit and even occasionally attempts to encourage others.

The real UltraBoy: I (Paul) keep the community at arms length because I don’t really feel part of it, feel uncomfortable in it and it was when the very lovely Chelsea suggested that I refused to go running with her that I realised she was probably unknowingly correct.

CG and UBR apparently live not very far from each other and run around the same trails but have thus far never come across one another. A few weeks back she suggested I should let her know the next time I’m at one of our shared stomping grounds – I said I would – but so far haven’t. This is because I haven’t been there recently but have I been avoiding it to curtail my angst over meeting my heroes? This becomes a distinct possibility.

Never meet your heroes: As I’ve discussed at length people such as Chelsea, the Emma’s and the Dans of this world are the people I look up to – real runners.

The elite or professional athletes have never really interested me because I can’t really aspire to be them, I can’t reach out and feel the joy of their achievements, it’s what makes the experience of my peers so valuable to me.

However, it pains me to admit that I don’t join them on running adventures because I would feel a disappointment next to them (and because I’m self aware enough to know I’m a complete arsehole).

It may sound stupid for a chap who has run more than 25 ultras in the last 3 years to be worried about how he is perceived by his peers – but I do worry. It doesn’t stop me turning up to the races (except the Hangman Ultra) that the others guys run but it does stop me hanging out with them. Importantly though I don’t believe I’m a social recluse or Twittering weirdo – I have tried but it never quite feels right. I always feel I wear the face of UltraBoy rather than me and inside I find I sit quietly while the character I’ve drawn takes over.

Don’t get me wrong though I’ve loved meeting all the runners from races or social media in whatever surroundings and I’ve come away from almost everyone thinking, yep you’re pretty awesome – I’ve been very lucky but I clearly have some stupid mental blocks that stop me expanding these excellent meetings of fellow runners.

I did have an ace opportunity to run with @borleyrose a little while back but a dodgy meal the night before meant I had to miss it – perhaps if I’d run with the lovely Kate I wouldn’t angst so much over the possibility of joining in. But I did miss it and despite this blog post I don’t dwell on the past (too much).

Trying the group thing: As an effort to be more run friendly I used to be a regular member of the London Social Runners group which was a very fine idea – running and brunch – huzzah!

Sadly, as I became more prominent in the group I found myself at the back, often helping other runners reach the end of the route and so I wasn’t getting much of the running element done from the Saturday and Wednesday meetings. The group was supposed to be 100% inclusive but to me it felt that leaving behind the slowest of runners wasn’t very inclusive and so I never, disappointingly, went back.

That said I’ve come across some of the guys periodically as they’ve become marathon runners and beyond and they are a lovely bunch and I’ll always say hello but I don’t let it to go further than that.

Ultra Philosophy: I suppose I also apply my ultra philosophy to training – run your own race, not someone else’s.

I don’t want someone to have to slow down for me (or speed up for me) that doesn’t seem fair and as I’ve already indicated I hate to disappoint. I did once hear the phrase ‘I thought you’d look more like a runner’ when I was introduced to a lady at a race as UltraBoy. How cutting!

As a final note, because this could come across as being a bit too self important  I’m also aware that I’m over thinking this, I mean ‘who the fuck am I?’ I’m aware I’m a nobody with a mouthpiece to the internet and the occasional completer of ultra marathons.

I’m happy to accept my nobody status but as this came up on Twitter a day or two ago it’s been nagging at me and I felt it deserved a considered response.

So I stay in my own bubble mostly but to Chelsea or Dan or anyone else I would love to go running with you some time but I might hang on until I’m less like the fat little troll hiding under the bridge.

It’s a funny thing this Twitterverse, I love the democracy of it, the sharing and the learning. I Iove the entertainment value of it and I find it alarmingly amusing. I also really enjoy the togetherness it brings, I’ve very much enjoyed meeting lots of the tweeters I follow and sometimes you’re even fortunate enough to get to know the people and form lasting friendships.

But what Twitter doesn’t do is give followers a real insight to my real life, the person I was, am or will be. UltraBoyRuns is a character, a sweary, annoying, supportive, arsehole type of character and for those that interact with him I hope we all have a cheery enough time. Twitter connections are fun, but they have, for the most part, limits. Obviously, occasionally my real personality will slip out on subjects like politics, mental health, ethics or something else dear to my heart but I can’t articulate the full nature of myself on complex subjects in 160 characters and if I could I suspect I’d be an idiot. My Twitter me isn’t the complete me and I’m sure the same can be said for most users of this very open social media platform.

Interestingly, I adopt a very similar approach in real life, those who meet me are given a version of me, much like we all do I suspect, but I will give out anecdotes and more personal information where I deem it necessary. To point the spotlight on an example of how private I can be – I chose not to inform my workplace or my colleagues (at my previous employer) that my partner was pregnant, I considered this a private matter and therefore not the concern of my colleagues or employer. However, there have been occasions in the last few months where personal information I have shared has been used as a gossiping point. Where information I have shared on Twitter has been used in the real world as a commentary to my skill as a runner, as a designer, as a guide to my tenacity and to make judgements as to the person I am. 

People are entitled to their opinion but when it gets back to me that this is happening and you’re attempting to influence others opinion of me – well you’ve made a mistake, a big fucky type of mistake because in reality I’m an angry, raging, bastardy type of person with few redeeming features and I despise those who need to live their lives through other people’s personality and/or achievements.

To make it clear, if you’ve read this piece then the chances are it wasn’t you who has been irking me, this is one individual who couldn’t respect the idea that conversations do not need to be spread. So, despite this, I doubt I’ll change being the person I am but I thought it would be interesting to share this rather personal insight in such a public way. Happy Wednesday.

IMG_3783.JPG
Description: UltraBoy. 5’9, mid to late thirties, dark hair, grey eyes, size 31 waist, weight 72kg with waterproof bag, Mac laptop and a 13kg BFold 7 folding bike.

Description: Twatty McDangle. 6’2, shaven haired, bit smelly, noticeably well shined shoes, at least a size 44 inch waist, beer gut, double chin (maybe multiple), shifty with shoulder bag.

TMc: that your bike?
UB: yes it is
TMc: going to continue to fucking take up all that space?

Let me explain the state of the train – half empty, lots of seats remained and there was nobody else by the doors.

I usually park my folded bike by the doors on the opposite side to the platform therefore not causing a problem for my fellow commuters getting on and off the train. I tuck the bike as tightly to the door as possible, usually making it as compact as possible. I then stand opposite so that if it comes loose or is in someone’s way I can move it and minimise the offence. Moreover I tuck myself in as tightly as possible with my bag wedged between my legs.

Twatty glared at me as I put my phone away. On the off chance this was going to end in a punch up I didn’t want my phone smashed.

UB: perhaps you’d like to stand here fella?
TMc: Yeah

I took position by my bike and gave the space to the stupid fucker but so angered by him I then positioned myself in what would be clearly considered his personal space and glared directly at him and continued to get ever closer. He was a big bloke and had my passive aggressive behaviour aggravated him enough and fisticuffs ensued I might have had a difficult time but I figure the enclosed space might make for a bit of a leveller but he did nothing other than stare at his feet and despite being significantly taller than me I loomed over him menacingly. He slinked off at London Bridge never once meeting my gaze, I got the feeling he was a coward who didn’t know how to respond to the fact I’d been polite to him or the fact that I was clearly pissed off enough to see if I could get under his skin.

The bit that irked was that he had been rude, that there had been tonnes of space just inches away on the train and I wonder if tomorrow I might have to tell him to go fuck himself – should I see him.

According to South Eastern Railways I’m allowed to transport my folded bike with me – hell, the mayor wants me to cycle, my heart wants me to cycle, but this man took offence to the fact that I commute on his train with my bike. However, if you happen to see me on a train with my bike and this offends you please don’t hesitate to let me know, I really enjoy it, can’t you tell?

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