My dad had been second twice in national marathon titles in the 1930s. He said he could manage to win half marathons, but he was invariably pipped at the post by rivals in full marathons. So near and yet so far, from being the winner.
Personally, I think anyone who can even run that epic 25 miles, without collapsing is a champion and coming second is something worth celebrating, it is a feat achieved only by an elite group of humans, but my dad thought otherwise. In his terms, he remained a loser on the marathon front!
He had trained his hardest, followed all the feeding and drinking practices for distance athletes of the day, which included only washing your mouth out with water during the race, rather than risking cramping, which they believed would be their fate if they quenched their thirst. To meet nutrition during the race, the marathon athletes would partake of chewing very rare steak, again spitting out the steak, once they had extracted some nutrition from it.
As for training, he was accompanied on his long distance runs, by his brother who kept and sometimes set the pace on his bicycle, worked the stop watch and no doubt offered encouragement. Membership and support from The Ballarat Harriers, was as close as he got to professional coaching, let alone the kind of scientific and career development support the Institute of sport offers distance runners in Australia today.
Distance runners may have come along way since, with best practice training, hydration and nutritional gels, but the disappointment of coming second has not. A silver medal, is not a gold one, the media will focus on the winner and the winner's time will be the one recorded for the event and remembered through history.
Some time last year, TripAdvisor, notified me that I was in the top 10 of Ballarat reviewers. I checked out the work and output of my "new rivals". I added more reviews and discovered I had climbed to number 3. Then those tears for those that ran second, shed by my dad imploded within my memory. I was determined to make it to the number one spot!
I could feel my dad behind me, as I scribbled out reviews in the wee hours. "Has travelled or tried, will review", became my motto and motivation. I expected to maybe make it to second place this year, but, recently I surpassed those expectations. There would be no tears for coming second for me, because, I was now, according to their official update, Ballarat's number 1 reviewer!
Whacko I can hear you say, so what, who really cares about some pathetic review on a travel advisory site?
Yep, Trip Advisor is about as trivial as it gets in the winning stakes. There is no cup to place on the mantlepiece like an Oscar. There is not even a ribbon or rosette to hang on my wall. There is certainly no prize money or glory. Just an email stating I made it to NUMBER 1!
It doesn't mean my reviews are any better than my rivals, but my output was sufficient to eclipse their success at this point in time. I put in the travel, tasting and experiencing, as well as many hours and effort reviewing and made it to first place.
As for writing Trip Advisor reviews, they were the things that reopened the door on semi-professional writing for me. They have proved a vehicle to offer my opinion based on experience, exhibit my travel photos, rather than bore my friends with long showings. They boosted and kept my confidence up as a writer and reviewer. They prevent me from ever suffering long term writers block, kind of like a warm up exercise for my blogs. According to TripAdvisor, I have helped the 72,198 travellers who have read my reviews. That is quite an audience!
I know my dad would be proud of me. Perhaps he would even shed a tear for his "winning daughter"!
The challenge now, is to hold this number one spot and maybe aspire to becoming number 1 TripAdvisor reviewer for Australia...hmmm, I wonder where I actually sit on that list!
It would be just my luck to be SECOND!