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Fitness

Mel Homer, Niva Retimanu and Kerre McIvor's half-marathon goal

These radio broadcasters have teamed up to support each other.

By Kelly Bertrand
When The Mix radio host and The Café presenter Mel Homer decided to take the plunge and sign up for her first-ever half-marathon, the broadcaster immediately turned to a couple of colleagues who have been there and done that.
Newstalk ZB’s Niva Retimanu and our own Kerre McIvor have both documented their marathon journeys in their books, Leading from Behind and Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner, and have managed to amass a mountain of tips and tricks for anyone who wants to start running – regardless of age, weight or circumstance.
We sat down with the trio of hilarious ladies as they talked spirit, motivation and why Mike McRoberts might just hold the key to success!
Mel, why have you decided to take up running?
Mel: Well, I was going to do the Queenstown Half-Marathon last year and then I got toxoplasmosis, so I was as sick as a dog for four months. This year, the Tauranga Marathon contacted me and asked if I would be an ambassador, and I said, “Hell, yeah!”
Tauranga is a special place for me – I met my husband in Tauranga, lived there for three years and started my radio career there. And they said it was fast, flat and fun. That’s their tag line. It’s like me all over!
But now I need some professional help. And new shoes! So I’m turning to these two. I’m like a Padawan and they’re Jedi masters!
Kerre and Niva, how are you two planning to help Mel get through her first half-marathon?
Kerre: Well, shoes are definitely vital when it comes to running. But I think the biggest piece of advice I could give is you’ve got to train with a group.
Niva: Yep, definitely.
Kerre: There’s no way you’re going to train as well by yourself. There’s no fun in heading out by yourself, especially in winter.
Mel: Maybe that’s why it’s so bloody hard at the moment!
Kerre: There’s nothing you’ve done that someone else hasn’t. It’s the only way to get through it. You meet all sorts of people and you have no idea what they do. Everyone’s sweaty and in Lycra.
Niva: Once you’re in Lycra, everyone’s the same!
Are there any tips you think make it easier to get you through?
Niva: It’s the simple things. When I first started running seven years ago, I was bigger than what I am now – and I’m still big. But it’s learning how to do it properly. I could barely walk at first, but then I got a running programme. When you’re over 40, you’ll get injuries if you don’t do it properly. And, a) get a good bra, and b) be prepared for chafing!
Mel: Chafing? I haven’t had any yet.
Niva: Oh, girl! Legs, thighs, any rubbing.
Kerre: Nipples!
Niva: You don’t have to run fast, though. People think you have to run really fast for 10ks to train properly. But no. You’re supposed to be able to chat.
Kerre: Exactly, that’s the proper training run.
Niva: If you can’t chat to somone, you’re going too fast.
How is your training going so far, Mel?
Mel: The thing is, I think I’m relatively fit, but I’m not finding running easy.
Kerre: I found Pilates really helpful. I always thought that was for ladies who lunch, but it builds core strength.
Mel: That’s what I have to do – after three babies, there’s no core strength there now! And my knee started hurting, but the doctors worked out it’s my butt that’s the problem! I have lazy-butt syndrome!
Niva: Yeah, where you don’t switch your glutes on.
Mel: Do you ever reach that spiritual place where you feel like you’ve got a whole lot of zen going on?
Niva: Yes! It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
Kerre: Oh, my God, yes! It will happen. I had to lose quite a bit of weight to get there, though. Taking these double Fs for a trot around the park is hard work.
Niva: Sometimes when I’m running down Dominion Road, I think I’m looking pretty good – and then I see myself.
Kerre: In the bus shelter! Yes! God, watch out for bus shelters, that’s another massive tip. I’m thinking I’m looking like I’m running to Chariots of Fire and then I see my reflection – and l’m like, who’s that monstrosity?
Do you find running is as much of a social thing for you as well as physical?
Niva: Oh, yes. In our group, we treat it like a social thing. When you’re training for an event, you spend more time with runners than your own family. You’re running with these people four, five times a week. With our group, you do yoga together and circuit training.
Kerre: And there’s shared triumphs. It’s so much more fun sharing someone else’s joys.
Niva: And the pain!
Why do you still run?
Niva: For me, I need a goal. I don’t play sport or anything, so I do it for health reasons. That’s why I started, to get off the couch. It’s never been about running a certain amount of marathons, but I need an event to work towards because I need the accountability and a goal.
Kerre: I’m running because all of that weight I lost when I turned 50 and ran the Queenstown Marathon piled back on again. I threw out my big-girl clothes, so I have all of these snazzy, size-10 Sass & Bide dresses and I can’t get into them, which is ripping my nightie. So I’m going to get back into them and I’m going to be the snazziest nana in the whole world. And I missed all the personalities at our running group Get Running.
Mel, do you feel a little more confident now?
Mel: Yeah, it makes me feel better!
Kerre: You can have us on speed-dial. Your goal has become our goal now.
Niva: Yes! We’ll be there to support you too. I’m getting an outfit. And I’ll make one of my signs.
Kerre: She’s brilliant with the signs.
Niva: Before we’ve had, “Run like you’ve stolen something”, and, “Run like there’s a hot guy in front of you!”
Mel: I saw one at a six kilometre run I went to that was, “Run? I thought you said rum!” I liked that one. Oh, and, “Run like Dan Carter’s at the finish line.”
Kerre: I wouldn’t run for DC.
Mel: Who would you run for?
Kerre: Mike McRoberts!
Niva: Ryan Gosling holding a puppy!
Mel: Mine’s Dave Grohl. He’s my free pass.
Kerre: Mine was George Clooney, but he’s aged a bit. But I’ll tell you what, I’d do a bloody Iron Man for Idris Elba!
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