Not pathetic at all my friend. Welcome to the world of WinRunner. This is just the beginning (nothing against the tool, but how you are using it).
Try a one/ or more of the following:
1. Start WinRunner first and then your browser
2. Ask Merc support for all the latest patches
3. Contact support for registering certain dlls which the tool expects
As qasleuth points out, you always need to launch WinRunner before you launch any browser windows with which you want WR to interract. Apparently if you do not WR cannot set up necessary "hooks" into the browser in order to recognize its objects.
Once you record your script, you may want to edit the section where you launch the browser to use the web_browser_invoke() function if the recorder does not do it that way.