From the Cutting Room Floor - TAR 30.11.12

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The Amazing Race, Season 30, Episodes 11 & 12: "It's Just A Million Dollars, No Pressure" - #TeamExtreme Recap

To put our experience on The Amazing Race into words is a near impossible task. The feelings of pride and joy, of disappointment, of overwhelm, and of gratitude, are welling inside of us and will be for weeks to come. But the outpouring of love and support that we have received following the final episode has truly been beyond comprehension. We set out to accomplish a difficult goal and that goal allowed us to spread a message far and wide, that women can be strong, smart, kind, and relentless. The Amazing Race gave us an incredible opportunity not only for that message to be heard, but received. For that, we are eternally grateful.

Kristi and I traveled to 8 countries that we've never been to, we got to experience new cultures, eat some different cuisine (ahem, scorpions), step outside our comfort zones, and push ourselves to the limit for 23 straight days. It was an experience that I'll remember for a lifetime and I was lucky to take it all on with Kristi by my side. While the final two legs of this race presented some challenges and the final result wasn't entirely what we set out for, we are still extremely honored to have finished this season with the lowest average of any all-female team in The Amazing Race US franchise. As a team, we never fell below 3rd place, a feat that has never been achieved by any team, male, female, or combined. It's a badge that we hold with great pride. Read on for our final recap and reflections of The Amazing Race Season 30.

Leg 11: Hong Kong

Where did your taxi take you when going to the Peak?

For the second leg in a row, we had some misfortune with our cab driver. The language barrier was thick, and our cab driver unfortunately took us to the pedestrian access area. We saw a sign that pointed to Victoria Peak (an 8-minute walk), so we decided to hoof it as our cabby was having a difficult time simply turning around. We just said, "you stay here and get turned around, we'll be right back!" I left my bag in the cab and pointed at it to make sure he understood.

The fortunate part about getting lost on our way there was that we were halfway down the mountain when it was time to race back to the detour! Haha! Also, I don't think Indy or Jody were able to retain their taxis at Victoria Peak, so that gave us an advantage getting to the detour cluebox. That's how we were able to catch up to those two teams.

What was so difficult about tying those crabs?

The crab challenge was deceptively difficult. First of all, learning how to pick up the crabs and not get pinched, then wrangle all their legs, then wrap the tie around them without a leg getting loose, was a tall-order! When we watched the demo we were told that we didn't need to do it the exact way, so we were perhaps a bit hasty when we started tying the crabs.

After a bit of difficulty we went back to rewatch the demo. That's when we started figuring out a better technique. There was a trick to twisting the rope (like when you're tying a present) so that it doesn't come loose when you change direction of the wrap. Unfortunately, the crabs that we tied at the beginning all came loose since they were wriggling to try to get free (poor little dudes). So we had about 15 crabs to retie out of 50.

Why didn't you switch detours?

Well, I suppose I should start with why we picked crabs in the first place. After our choice of detours (and switching detours) in Thailand, we felt like the crabs might be more straight forward. Especially knowing that Henry spoke some Mandarin (yes, I know that the restaurant challenge was in Cantonese) we felt that they may have an advantage. Kristi and I weren't racing to play safe and stay in it anymore. We were racing for a win.

When we switched detours in Thailand, we ended up quite far behind the other teams, so we felt it was a smarter choice to stay with the crabs. Certainly, that wasn't the case here, as Indy switched detours and still got out of the restaurant before Big Brother or Team Extreme.

What were you thinking when you saw Big Brother leave the boat?

We were freaking out. Well, I was freaking out. We knew that Indy Car switched detours. We knew we had been working on crabs for a LONGGGGGGGGGG time, we arrived to the boat slightly in front of Big Brother, so for them to overtake us was a terrible feeling. But there was nothing else we could do at that point. Kristi was staying more optimistic at this point and redirected my negative thoughts. We had about 12 more crabs to untie and retie when they left, so we just hunkered down. Kristi was less fearless with the crabs, so she did all the untying and then I'd start retying them as efficiently as possible. Our only option was to stay calm and finish strong.

How about when you got to the Roadblock?

Ugh. After we left the crab detour, we just kept saying, "we hope there is another challenge that can be an equalizer." Something akin to the song and dance in Zimbabwe, something skill based, that we might be able to gain time on. When we go to the roadblock and realized that it was a pure brute strength task and that Kristi basically had to go up against Cody, we were discouraged. We could hear Cody grunting. If it was hard for him, it was going to be really hard for us. That said, Kristi crushed it.

The reverberations through the bat into her hand caused sever pain, swelling and bruising. For two months after the race, she would wake up in the middle of the night with shooting pain in her hands. She broke two bats during that final challenge and bent a third. I was blown away by Kristi's fight through this challenge. It was so painful for her. Also, forgetting to read her clue barely affected the timing. She still had more bashing too do once she read her clue. When I saw BB leave, I started a timer on my watch. We were about 13 minutes behind them when we left the Roadblock, which was about the same gap leaving the crabs. We were just hoping our next clue didn't say "go to the pit stop."

How did you miss the Arch from Washington Square Park?

The first two images we found (the bull and the fez) had the colors of the race, so we were looking for yellow and red. We were repeating the locations of each leg to try to conjure images. Where we failed is we kept thinking Iceland for leg 1. We neglected to think about the fact that we started leg 1 in New York. When we saw that arc we thought it was l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which we hadn't been to. Looking at that black and white arch didn't register a THING! Now had it been yellow & red? Potentially a different story...

As for us being dismissive of the guy pointing the sign out to us, we were convinced he was drunk and had no clue... I mean, he was drunk, but apparently he had a clue! That was a big miss on our part. There were so many drunk people in this area. It was quite a mess of scene. Another drunk guy had given us terrible directions earlier, so we were a bit hesitant to trust anyone.

How did you finally solve the combination?

This was a point of contention for Kristi and I. We found the bull and the fez in less than 10 minutes of arriving at Lan Kwai Fong. Kristi had been trying combinations, in a systematic order in the cab. At this point, having two of the three numbers wouldn't have taken long to figure out. Unfortunately, we abandoned that strategy after a few failed attempts.

It can be hard to maintain your composure under that much pressure and stress. Kristi had just been put through the wringer in the Roadblock and I was trying to be sensitive to her wishes. Ultimately, it led me to unfairly implode. I just wanted to try numbers in a methodical way in case there was something weird with the locks. There wasn't. Eventually, I agreed to letting her try it her way and she was right. You didn't have to do both sides at the same time. And we got the combination: 3-1-5.

Did you know you were in 3rd place and ahead of Indy when you got to the mat?

We were hopeful, but we weren't sure. We hadn't seen Indy for about 10-15 minutes prior to getting our combination unlocked, so we knew there was a possibility that they had gotten out of there ahead of us. We also had no idea we were running to the pit stop, so we hadn't been thinking about our placement that much, we just continued focusing on racing. That's why it was so important for me to hug Kristi before Phil said a word. I just needed her to know that I loved her, that she was the best partner on this race, and that I was proud of everything she had done, regardless of the outcome.

We were devastated to see Indy get eliminated. It was a sad moment for us. We got very close with them during our time on the race and wanted to race in the final leg with them. But things can turn at any point in this race and unfortunately, this was the end for them.

Leg 12: San Francisco

Why was it hard to find the balls with the right numbers on them?

When we first paddled out to the cove, there were already hundreds of balls in water. All of us started paddling around, grabbing baseballs, trying to find some with numbers. They were all blank. At some point, Kristi noticed that there were balls splashing into the water from the ball park above. Really paying homage to Willie Mays & his home runs!

Both Kristi and I have paddling experience, so we positioned ourselves at the back of the cove facing the stadium. When we saw a new ball fly out of the stadium we paddled there efficiently. We knew the exact numbers we were looking for, but it still took some time to find them all.

You were first to get the number correct, but you made it to the bridge second. What happened?

The other teams figured that the only numbered balls would be numbers you needed in the answer. Unfortunately for us, Yale & BB got lucky in more than one way. Yale had found two 6s before they even knew the number they were looking for.  And, somehow BB managed to ask someone on the pier in the middle of the night to look up the answer for them. They managed to find their numbers quite quickly after that!

When we got our number approved by the umpire, he told us to "go to your team zodiac before you open your clue." There were no instructions about getting into the Zodiac. There were no instructions on what to do or where to go next. Nothing in our Roadblock clue, nothing in our ARI clue. We thought we had to paddle back to the pier and started to do so, until we saw BB getting into their Zodiac. Sooooo, that sucked. That's when Jessica and Cody jumped in front of us on the way to the Bay Bridge.

Did Kristi gain on Cody climbing the bridge?

The ascender wasn't just about strength. There was a lot of technique to it as well. Kristi made up some ground on Cody during the climb. She was less than 2 minutes behind him in the end. We started a timer (again) to figure out our lead on Yale as well. It's good to know what kind of time advantage you do or do not have. It was only about 12 minutes, so it wasn't a comfortable lead, but a lead none-the-less.

How did you pass Big Brother?

As I said on twitter, apparently we can now put Fortune-Cookie-Making into the life-skills-we-posses category. Haha! I don't know where that skill came from, but I was grateful to have it. We had no idea how far in front of other teams we were when we finished, we just knew we needed to get moving Asap.

The cookies were coming straight off the press, so they were HOT! Kristi was the first one to start and wasn't using gloves. It was definitely burning her fingertips, but she wasn't about to stop to put on gloves. In watching her, she was moving much more efficiently than Cody, who was wearing gloves. I figured the gloves were impeding his dexterity. Regardless, I decided to start with gloves on, since taking them off would be faster than stopping to put them on. But I was having a hard time grabbing the fortunes, so I ditched one glove.

What happened in that final challenge?

When Kristi and opened our clue, here is what we read: "Search the U.S.S. Hornet to find 12 airplane parts. Then, ONE of you must assemble your plane to show one image from each leg of the race. When you think your plane is "properly assembled," ask the Captain to check your work. If it's correct, he'll clear you for takeoff."  We read through the additional information and immediately kicked into high-gear to search for the parts. We were thrilled to see that this was the final memory challenge and that our strategy worked to put me in the position of solving the puzzle.

I have a mechanical mind, so when asked to “properly assemble” a plane, I instantly took took this to be a two part challenge. 1) Build a functional plane and 2) solve a puzzle with the images. Unfortunately, my ultimate failure was in paying too much attention to the first part, because in the end structural plane assembly didn’t matter. The big wings were actually dimensional meaning they had a thick edge, what’s known as a “leading edge,” that faces forward on a plane.  I therefore quickly deduced that I had two left wings and two right wings, which should have helped me solve the puzzle even more quickly.  This was my fatal error.

Compare this to the pieces for the tail wings. They were constructed on flat panels of wood and could all be interchangeable. Any of them could have gone on the left and any of them could have gone on the right, from a functional standpoint.

In the end the only thing that mattered were the images.  In fact to “properly assemble” the plane, I had to put two left wings on it.  One wing facing forward and one facing backwards.  A possibility I didn’t even consider until an hour or more after the others had finished and I had deemed the challenge impossible.  See below:

Why was it a plane if the only thing that mattered was the puzzle? How could a plane with two left wings be cleared for takeoff? Why was I the only one to notice the dimensions? These are questions I repeatedly ask myself and questions I cannot answer.

Admittedly, it’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster but in the end I can confidently say I have absolutely no regrets.  Short of wishing for a new brain, there is no amount of studying or preparation that would have made me interpret that clue any differently. There's nothing I could have changed or done better. Kristi and I are so proud that we got to compete in every leg of The Amazing Race. It was an opportunity we had only dreamed of, and we couldn’t be more thankful to everyone that made it possible.  We had the trip of a lifetime. We are thrilled for Jessica and Cody, and continue to send them our heart felt congratulations.

Oh, and since I know there's just enough other nerds out there like me, here's the breakdown of my plane parts. I drew it as soon as I got home to try to figure out if I had missed something. I had not...

General Race Questions:

How many times during the race does luck of cab driver come into play? How many times did it benefit or hurt you?

Cab drivers are always a variable. Any time you need to use public transportation with a driver (taxi, songthaew, tuk-tuk), there is luck involved. We had seen so many seasons of this show where strong teams ended up eliminated because they got a bad cab. We didn't want to be one of those teams. After our bad cab in Morocco, we made sure to always get a map of our location so I could be navigating along with our driver to ensure that he/she was taking us where we needed to go. Here's the breakdown:

Belgium: Indifferent, not great, but not stellar. Still should have kept him at the Roadblock.

Morocco: Bad. Got out of there as fast as humanly possible.

Prague: Good. Best cab driver that we had the whole time. Kept him the entire leg. We profiled a few drivers to find a young driver who was more likely to have a cell phone and speak English. It helped for the former. Wish we could tip him more!

Zimbabwe (Imire): Bad (from Train station in Marondera to Imire). Despite production providing us all with vehicles, our driver was super slow. We were ~7 minutes behind all the other teams until Indy car's suspension went out and Ocean Rescue passed the Safari vehicles.

Zimbabwe (Harare): Good. He knew just enough English to get by, also knew Harare quite well. Combined with my neurotic obsession with using his phone on google maps, we were able to sneak in front of some teams. Kept our driver the rest of the leg.

Thailand: Bad. Would have gotten out if we had stayed in the city, but had no other option. Didn't speak any English. Didn't have a navigational device. Didn't know where either Detour location was despite me showing him on a map.

Hong Kong: Mixed. Started off bad, but stayed with us the rest of the night. Once we were back in the city, he was a lot better.

San Francisco: Indifferent. Made no difference in the outcome of our race. We were just glad we found him so quickly leaving the cookie factory. Still wish I could tip him more.

Did you know people were intentionally trying to give you wrong directions?

We didn't know at the time, but when the race ended, we learned that there were quite a few Big Brother fans out there trying to mislead Kristi and I. Jess and Cody's fan base protect them like it is their life's duty. When they were tracking us around the world, a lot of their fans would gripe about how much they disliked us (simply because we kept doing decently and seemed to be sticking around). In both Hong Kong and San Francisco people attempted to give us wrong directions. Fortunately, Kristi and I have enough common sense to realize that what they were telling us didn't make any sense with what we were trying to solve and where we were trying to go.

If you had the opportunity would you do the race again?

100% without hesitation, YES, OF COURSE WE WOULD! Regardless of all the ups and downs, the difficulty along the way, the trip up on the final challenge, this was the experience of a lifetime. It tops the list as the coolest thing I've ever done, and I've been fortunate to do a lot of cool things in this blessed life of mine.

What was the hardest task you had to perform during the entire race?

Jen: You really need to ask? The final challenge. It was physically demanding to find all the pieces of the plane, it was mentally exhausting trying to figure out the puzzle. It would have been difficult even if the wings weren't tripping me up.

Kristi: The TV’s in Hong Kong were by far the most difficult.  Some of the TV’s were from the 50’s or 60’s and were exactly like hitting brick walls.  I hit them dozens of times as hard as I possibly could only for the bat to bounce right back into my face sending reverberations straight though my hands.  I actually broke 3 bats, including a metal one trying to break through those TV’s.  When I got home I went for an X Ray because the pain in my hands took weeks to subside.  It’s the only challenge where I felt a disadvantage to the men on the other teams.

When did you feel most proud of your partner during the race?

Jen: I felt most proud of Kristi when I watched her doing the Roadblock in Hong Kong. She was in so much pain, there was nothing I could do to help and she never gave up. That would have been a really easy moment to throw in the towel, to say "I'm done." But she never did. She just battled on. And honestly, when I was watching her build that trebuchet in Chataeux Les Baux. She was up against 7 guys and got out of there in 2nd place. It was a shining moment. I was so proud.

Kristi: Gosh, I feel like we passed other teams every time Jen did a Roadblock.  She was brilliant in Iceland, Morocco, Prague, and she definitely carried our team in Thailand.  I was proud of her in all those moments, but I was actually most proud after the finale was over. Despite frustration Jen accepted the defeat with grace and humility and I am so proud of her for that.

How does it feel to know so many fans were rooting for you to win?

Jen: It feels incredible. On one hand I do still feel like I let people down, but on the other hand, I feel completely humbled by how much fans respected how we ran this race. We're honored. The greatest gift we could possibly get out of this experience was the chance to inspire even just one person. Money can never top that.

Kristi: It’s truly touching.  The letters from fans have certainly been the best part of taking of the race.  The messages explaining that we’ve inspired people, and especially women to be more fearless and face life’s challenges is the greatest gift we could ever receive.

And, for one last time, THANK YOU for being a part of this journey! We were blessed to experience The Amazing Race and sharing it with you has made it that much better. I hope each of you can find a little inspiration to dig deep when it matters, to pursue your life's purpose, shoot for your wildest dreams and break down barriers around you. YOU inspire US. So thank you. The World Is Waiting.

 

From The Cutting Room Floor - TAR 30.4 & 30.5

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The Amazing Race, Season 30, Episodes 4 & 5: "Gotta Put Your Sole Into It" #TeamExtreme Recap

My, oh, my! I think people are finally starting to understand why they're calling this season the "most competitive" season yet. Out of 30 seasons, that's quite the statement, but in the first 5 legs of this race, we haven't seen a repeat leg winner! ***Spoiler Alert*** Kristi and I did technically arrive at the mat first, but grrrrr... those head-to-heads. Guess we needed to have spent more time playing yard games like bocce ball instead of doing cool sh*t like skiing, mountain biking and wakeboarding (#NoteToSelf).

Read on to learn a few behind the scenes details about legs 4 & 5 of the Amazing Race. There were quite a few details missed in these episodes like a fender bender (our cab driver hit a car), a skipped active route info clue, half of a detour, a close call with our sound guy, and a few injuries.

Leg 4: St. Tropez, France

Why was every team on the same flight leaving Morocco, AGAIN?!

Before I get into this, I just need to tell you a little story... Leaving the palace in Morocco, there was a line of cabs along the driveway waiting for teams as we started this leg. You could hop in any old cab that you chose, so Kristi and I found one that looked a bit newer and hopped right in. Our cabby started to pull out and WHAM! Smashed into another car driving by... But, we're in a race, so we can't wait for them to get sorted. We just hop out, run to the cab in the very front of the line and tell him where we're headed. At this point we still think there's a chance of getting on an earlier flight so catching Yale & Indy was priority numero uno.

We were told we could book a more advantageous flight if we found one. Unfortunately, upon arrival at the travel agency, we learned that there were no other flights. The airlines that you can fly and the countries through which you can travel are limited. I think there are logistical and security reasons for this and in the end there were no other available flights. We asked at the travel agent for quite a while and then double checked availability on a computer later. We even discussed trying to take a ferry to Spain (only 8 miles across the sea) to catch a flight from there, but we weren't allowed. So, once again we were all bunched up.

Why couldn't #TheFirefighters figure out how to reverse their car in France?

The stick shift had a ring that you had to pull up on in order to move it into the reverse position. If you didn't know it was there, I'm sure it would be confusing. And maybe the driver's manual wasn't in english?? I had driven a stick shift like that previously, so it didn't trip me up. But they figured it out by the Les Beaux leg. I'm just glad that they didn't get t-boned while pushing their vehicle into position!

Kristi seemed to do really well at the Roadblock. Has she sailed before?

Kristi has not sailed before. She did grow up on water, but this activity was not intuitive. She understood what she was supposed to do right away, but the wind was blowing straight into the shore. They didn't show much of it, but she paddled most of the way out to the first buoy. Fortunately, she was able to catch the wind and tack all the way back into shore.

How did some teams get so lost leaving the detour?

The edit on this episode was cut somewhat short because they needed to allot more time for the head-to-head. One major detail that was missed was the second half of the detour. There was a second half, you ask?!?! Yes. After we finished making sandals (or baking bread), you had to deliver a finished pair (or baked loaf of bread) to a person in a restaurant in St. Tropez. This meant, we had another location to which we needed to find before arriving at the Place de Lices.

*There was also an additional route info clue, leaving the roadblock, that was edited out of the show. I suppose it didn't change the order at all, so they eliminated it.

What are your thoughts on the Head-To-Head now?

Ugh. The head-to-head. Blah. Well, this was a frustrating one, as you can imagine. To have run a really strong race leg and then have a few rounds of bocce (pétanque) determine your entire day, really sucks. Our thoughts remain consistent with what we said after the Belgium leg: we would be fine with the head-to-head if there was an opportunity to pick up time after it.

Kristi and I were waiting for about 25-30 minutes before IndyCar showed up. But our start times for the next day show us starting about 20 minutes after IndyCar. Had the head-to-head been upon arrival at the Roadblock, we would have had to play the same two teams, in the same order. Even with the same results (a loss to Indy & Jody) we may have been able to overcome it and still win the leg... Make sense? Another alternative would be to leave the head-to-head where it is, but if you're there for more than [xx] amount of time (say 10-15 minutes) before another team arrives, then you can check in. If there is a team right on your heels, you have to play them in a head-to-head.

Ultimately, I like the head-to-head, but think that there are better ways to implement it as to not nullify virtually everything else that had happened in the leg.

Leg 5: Les Beaux, France (Pronounced 'Lay Bow', not 'Lesbo')

Did you have any issues finding the castle during your drive from St. Tropez?

We had a great map of France, but it was of ALL of France. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite zoomed in enough to provide a comfortable level of detail to Les Beaux. Kristi did a great job navigating and found a route there, but it was not the most direct. We decided to take it anyway because the more direct route had road junctions that we couldn't clearly identify because of the scale. KRISTI & I DIDN'T WANT TO GET MAJORLY LOST. We arrived in 2nd, about 35 minutes behind Indy. So we lost a little bit of time, but still jumped in front of Jess & Cody. Guess they should have continued following us after they followed us to the highway ;).

What did you do when you arrived at the castle at 5 a.m., but it didn't open until 8:30?

When we arrived and found the IndyCar guys, we tried to hunker down and sleep on the cobblestone. That lasted for about an hour. It was FREEZING! Chomp arrived, then Well-Strung, then Jody (something like that)... we all discussed the idea of going to sleep in our cars for a couple hours and honor our arrival positions. It was very broken sleep as we kept waking up when other teams would arrive. Finally, around 8 am, we noticed that Yale was just arriving and decided to walk toward the gate. Holy bananas, they got REALLY lost. But they seemed to maintain their composure through all this adversity (frites race, chipped tooth, lost for 3+ hours...). Props.

This roadblock seemed cool, how did Kristi get it right on the first attempt?

This was a fun roadblock. Kristi joked on twitter that she "trained" for the Amazing Race by assembling IKEA furniture. It certainly wasn't intentional, but it probably did serve as excellent practice. There were no instructions, just a pile of parts and one complete trebuchet that you had to replicate. Kristi was thorough in examining the finished product before she started assembling it. Not just looking at what parts needed to go where, but in what particular order.

She also made a smart move with the big basket thingy (see photo)... Kristi anchored the long arm down with chains before trying to slide it on. She appeared to be neck-and-neck with some of the other teams at this point, but jumped way ahead with this move. I think we actually got out of there in 2nd, but I can't be certain.

Was it difficult to find the bull Arena? How cool was that place?

It was a bit challenging to find the Arena. The clue that we received from Cafe de la Fontaine only said the name of the arena and the town. According to google maps, it was about a 25 minute drive if you navigated directly there.

We found the general area quickly, but we wasted about 15 minutes just looking for the marked parking area... Turns out, the marked parking is easier to find when there are teams in front of you. Ocean Rescue saw us park and then the 4 of us started running through the town to find the arena.

The trickiest part was that the main staircase drew you straight up, but all the arches were gated closed. We ran all the way to the back of the building before realizing we weren't getting any closer to finding the entrance. At that point, I figured we should go back toward the main entrance to see what we missed. On the side of the stairs, there was a marked entrance, but it was quite hidden.

*This part of town was mainly a walking village but some of the roads would alternate between walking & driving paths. When cars were allowed in or out, these cylindrical barriers would get lowered into the earth. Then when it was back to a walking path, would pop up out of the ground. One of these popped up right in front of our sound guy, Mickey, and totally took him out! These guys are the most badass people I know. Mickey just got right back up and kept on running.

Were you in front of OceanRescue after the detour?

Once we completed the challenge at the Arena in Arles, it was a footrace back to the parking lot. Kristi and I went out a different exit and got in front of Lucas & Brittany. But we made the ultimate Amazing Race error and didn't fully read our clue. We were so used to being given very little information about where we were going, that we stopped to ask someone for directions. You can see it happen in this BTS video here. I guess we don't have compasses in our hearts, Brittany!

Brittany & Lucas realized that they had directions all the way to the pit stop, so they cruised on by and got themselves a well-deserved W. It was only upon getting back in our car after asking directions that we realized we had all the information in our clue. Our bad! Won't be making that mistake again...

What do you think about Brittany & Lucas' engagement?? Jen, why did you ruin the moment?!?!

Kristi and I are so happy for Lucas & Brittany. I love how clever Lucas was with his hiding spot for the ring and that he asked for his headphones at such an awkward time. Haha! I still want to know why Brittany thought this meant he must be cold?! They had a tough few legs leading up to this, and it was great to see their strengths shine.

I don't know why, but I knew as soon as Lucas opened his mouth that was about to propose. Brittany didn't even register what was happening. She was just gazing at Lucas in awe. That's when I realized that I shouldn't be gasping out loud and tried to hide my face by turning toward Kristi. Ooops! Too late :) Selfishly, it was an honor to be there to witness this. It was a beautiful moment. And even if Brittany wasn't fully listening, the words Lucas had to say about her truly melted hearts. I'm glad they have it on tape!

Quick Summary of Legs 4 & 5

Overall, legs 4 & 5 of The Amazing Race were incredible. The South of France is one of the most stunning places I've ever been and I hope to return to explore the mountains at greater length. We've still managed to stay in the top 3 for 5 legs (the only team to do so) and are feeling stronger with each step. We know that there is only one #1 that we need and that's where we're focusing our attention. We made one major mistake in Leg 5 that likely cost us the win (e.x.- not reading the entirety of our clue, which gave us exact directions to Hotel Benvengudo), though we have no regrets considering how that leg turned out!!

On To The Next!

Next week, The Amazing Race heads of to Prague, Czech Republic (my great-grandparents moved to the US from here), so I couldn't be more excited to see this country up close and personal. There will be a lot of beer references and a throwback to a legendary roadblock from season 15. Tune in 8/7 c on CBS!

From the Cutting Room Floor - TAR 30.3

The Amazing Race Season 30 Episode 3: "It's Gonna Be A Fragrant Day" #TeamExtreme Recap

Hope you had fun watching Amazing Race Episode 3 - and if you haven't yet had the chance to watch yet, you definitely should! This was my favorite leg so far. There were so many lead changes, the scenery was stunning, and the Roadblock was really well thought out. Once again, Kristi and I end up in country we've never been to (no skiing challenges yet) and got to cross another one off the list! Morocco was stunning and the architecture was so intricate. I'd love to go back and explore when I'm not running around with a gnome under my arm ;) ***Spoiler Alert*** Kristi and I are now 3 for 3 with top 3 finishes and are learning from our mistakes in every leg. We're the only F/F team left and are stoked to keep on running! Share your favorite moment from Leg 3 in the comments below!!

What was the deal with your cab driver?

Great question. He definitely didn't speak any of the languages that we speak, and I don't think he much enjoyed having the cameras in his cab. According to some Race experts, if you're in a bad cab, you should get out and find another one. While agree with this, it's not always that easy. We left from a hotel 10+ miles from the medina/fish port area of Tangier. It was mostly residential and cabs weren't aplenty, so hopping out to find another cab was a tall order. We tried communicating with him in French, Spanish, English & fish-face...to no avail.

Once we got to the Petit Socco, we decided to jump ship and ask the locals. We obviously knew we weren't at the port, but needed to separate from our cabbie. Using sound reasoning, we decided that fish ports must be on the water, so our first goal was to run down the hill to the shoreline. Once there, we found a gentleman from Spain who spoke English and was able to point us to the fish port.

TeamExtreme cruised through that fish challenge - what was your strategy?

Well, arriving in last place readily adds fuel to the fire. There was literally no time to be squeamish about the smell or texture of the fish, we just needed to get in and out asap. Kristi saw other teams there, but I didn't, so I thought we were in last, last, last the whole time. We quickly fell into our roles at this challenge. Kristi just started scooping out masses of fish and I started arranging them. I noticed that the example was extremely precise. Not only were the heads facing up, but also their bellies, and the fish were formed into very neat layers and rows. We made a base layer with fish so that the angle of our presentation layer was a bit easier to form.

Fortunately, we got the task done before Indy (love you boys!) and Kristi's french proved to be very helpful for getting directions to the next location. We actually lucked out, in that the Souk was up near the Petit Socco where our cab driver wrongly let us out earlier in the day. Also, we got to run up some hills, which I think is one of our strengths compared to other teams. We were the 5th team to get the Roadblock clue.

What did you think about the situation with Jess, Brittany and the Gnome?

Listen, it's a race. Both Kristi and I bonded with Jess and Brittany on this race. They are fierce, strong, smart women. Things get crazy in this race. When you are out there, it's pure survival. This was the first leg in which there was a TON of interaction between the teams during a challenge. We were all collaborating at various points and somewhat leapfrogging off of each other.

For example, I started out at the back of the pack on the Roadblock and worked with Brittany to get to the first zip line. After that, I spotted a sign for the Kasbah, which allowed us to make up serious ground. Arriving to the Kasbah, we ended up with EVERY OTHER TEAM (except Cedric, who was still out front). When I saw everyone else, I had to split from Brittany and run my race. Then I linked up with Chris from Well-Strung to find the tele-boutique and after that, Conor from IndyCar to make our way back to the Souk.

In the case of Jessica and Brittany, I don't think that Jess took the gnome from Brittany's hands with the intention of having her forget her gnome. If they weren't at the back of the pack, maybe Jess would have said something to Brittany. But, you never know what's coming in this race. For example, your next clue might tell you to run to the Pit Stop or it will send you into a challenge that doesn't play to your strengths. Every second counts.

Simultaneously, I understand where Brittany is coming from. It's hard to not be suspicious of another's intentions when you're competing against complete strangers in a game with very vague "rules" for $1,000,000... This race certainly brought out paranoid thoughts in me. Only Jess knows her own intent.

What didn't we see during the Roadblock?

First of all, Kristi and I had no idea that we were in 5th when we got to the Roadblock. Since Brittany was right there with me, I asked her if she wanted to collaborate to find the American Ligation Museum. To which she responded, "as long as you don't run off on me once we find it." Fair enough, I thought. It took us forever to find the museum, but Brittany found someone who spoke Spanish and was willing to show us. Except that he was about 75 years old and just walked (walking might be generous) the whole way there. I was freaking out. I think we were the last two teams up to that first location, and I sent my Gnome off first and stood by my word and waited for Brittany to send hers off. Then we worked together to retrieve it and find the Kasbah.

When I split from Brittany after we got meshed in with the other teams I was so worried that she was going to be pissed that I ran off. But, then the whole gnome thing happened... After retrieving my gnome from the 4th rooftop, we had to find the tele-boutique. I worked with Chris to find the phones. What they don't show is that I used all my coins on the first call and then was trying to juggle the gnome and the coins and hold the phone to my ear with my shoulder... The recording played, then there was a dial tone, and I was like, "uhhhhh, I have no idea what that just said and I have no more coins."

Fortunately, Conor showed up right then and didn't know where to get the coins. So, I told him that I'd tell him where to find the coins if he told me what the phrase was. He agreed. Then we worked together to find our way out of that crazy maze and to find the detour.

Why did you choose "Shake It Off" and not "Drop It Off"?

Honestly, despite being tired from the Roadblock, our decision was more about the complexity of the tasks than physical exertion. Running around that town during the Roadblock, made me very aware of how difficult it was to navigate in the medina. However, Kristi does not dance (I mean, neither of us really does) and we weren't sure how stringent they would be with our dancing. But, I didn't feel like getting lost anymore, so we opted for "Shake It Off"... Fortunately, they weren't too strict with our dance moves! After seeing the show (and talking with teams that did the other detour) it's clear we made the right decision. But, as I said on the show "no one will ever cheer for my dancing like this again!"

Oh, side note. Funny story, Amazing Race production gets our measurements before we come on the show so that our costumes "fit." However, my hip to waist ratio is a bit insane because of my skier's booty. So, when pants don't have a zipper, it's really challenging to get them on. It was quite the process to get those pants on. Kristi was attempting to lend a hand, but I basically had to do hip circles for a few minutes to make it work...

Amazing Race Episode 3 #TeamExtreme Summary:

We got to the first task in last, left there in 8th (2nd to last) surpassing Indy. Then we arrived to the Roadblock in 5th, hopped around from 2nd to last to tied for first. We finished the roadblock in 2nd. Then we went to the detour where I had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction. Ultimately, we finished the leg in 3rd. Our third top-3 finish in a row.

Next week we head to St. Tropez, France! Kristi FINALLY gets to play in the water and I get to continue working on my cheering game.

From the Cutting Room Floor - TAR 30 .1

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The Amazing Race Season 30 Episode 1: "You're A Champion, Prove It" - #TeamExtreme Recap

WOW!!!! I can't believe the time is finally here. Amazing Race 30 made its debut last Wednesday night (1/3/18) and ***SPOILER ALERT*** Kristi & I couldn't be more proud to have taken home the W on the first leg of the race! My heart was beating so fast watching it last night that I felt like we were running the race all over again! I've been excited to see the edit for months now (I do realize we didn't have to wait nearly as long as most other seasons) and was curious to see how they fit all that action into 45 minutes of television. If you do the math, that's only 4 minutes per team in the first episode...

Unfortunately, that's a tough task! The production team for the Amazing Race is absolutely extraordinary, but there is no way to introduce America to 11 teams and fit in an entire competitive leg of the race. For Kristi and me, this made us appear to be out for a casual walk in the park and conveniently landed on the mat in first place. Haha! However, there is a LOT more that goes on behind the scenes. During our viewing party last night, friends were asking some common questions, so I figured I'd share my insights into what went on. Like, how we got to that first route marker in 5th place and worked our way to the front of the pack.

How did you get from NYC to Iceland?

One minor detail that this episode didn't discuss was that there were in fact 2 different flights to Iceland. As we left Washington Square Park it was a race to the airport to get on the first flight which would land 30 minutes ahead of the 2nd flight. We didn't know how many seats were on that first flight (turned out there was room for 7 teams) and we were lucky to get to the airport first and secure our seats. Flight 1 was Jody, Indy, OceanRescue, the Twins, Yale and GoatYoga. Flight 2 was NBA, RingGirls, Well-Strung and Hot Dog.

We took a red-eye flight out of JFK and turns out there was no food on flight #1, but flight #2 did have food (lucky ducks!). I don't think we landed a full 30 minutes ahead of those other 4 teams, but we definitely did have a solid head start. However, head-starts disappear quickly when you're too rushed to stop and get a map during a self-drive leg, you don't have your own cellphone to use for navigation, you hand-drew a map from someone's computer, but drew the map and wrote down directions starting at the domestic airport, which was 45 minutes closer to our final destination than the international airport where we actually flew into... and then, you take a wrong turn when you already don't know where you are.

 

You can try this yourself by looking for Reykjavik Airport (domestic airport) and Keflavik Airport (international airport). Get directions to Husafell. where we were was a bit beyond Husafell, but this will give you a general idea of the route. Not to mention, the road signs in Iceland are very confusing (they show business routes differently, so I kept seeing signs for route 1 pointing in every direction and couldn't figure out which Route 1 I was supposed to be on). What you don't realize is that, without a cellphone or map, if you get off course a little bit from your handwritten directions, you get VERY DISORIENTED, which led to the following:

Thanks, CBS, for keeping this out of our edit :) and Kristi, again, I'm sorry I yelled at you, especially because YOU WERE RIGHT and I was wrong. So, despite finding our car quickly and heading off with Yale and OceanRescue, we ended up lost and got to the first challenge in 5th place. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge NBA for their phenomenal navigational skills because they beat us to that first Route Marker challenge despite being on flight #2.

It seemed like you made it through that first challenge quickly? T/F

True. But you could only gain so much time because there were only two zip-line stations. We got there as IndyCar was going out on the line, but had to wait for them to finish before we could begin. Kristi was smart enough to realize that it would be easier if we sent the lighter person out on the line (aka: Kristi), which was advantageous. She didn't drop the line as far as some of the heavier competitors which made it easier to pull her back in. Plus, I understood the dynamics of using my leg strength in addition to my upper body to pull her in.

What was so hard about the buggy challenge?

Well, first of all, we haven't slept for, um, I don't know 30 hours or something... secondly, no food for nearly the same amount of time, third, you have a dude driving you in a buggy around a course filled with puddles and it is his intention to drive insanely fast and ACCELERATE into the puddles, which then splashes all over you while you're trying to spot letters in random locations, out of order, that have numbers on them and you can't write anything down. I was happy to see the edit and realize that Henry and I took the same approach. We both repeated sounds out loud to help us remember the order. We also asked the driver to slow down, so that we could get our bearings. To which his response was, "No, I'm not allowed." It was like the movie Speed.

Ultimately, I made 3 laps down in the river bed and still hadn't found 2 of the letters, but it was the first two letters _ _ GOLFSTORG. So I was riding round chanting, golfstorg to myself for a few more minutes until I decided to go try my hand at the puzzle. I had everything right and decide that 'IN'GOLFTORG sounded more Icelandic than 'NI'GOLFSTORG, so I guessed, and fortunately got it right. Picking up 2 places, putting us in 3rd on our way to the square.

What was up with those shots??

Well, as you saw, Kristi and I each had to take a shot of either Cod Liver Oil or Brennivin, which they also maybe call "Fire Wine" but there is nothing wine-like about it. Apparently. I wouldn't know because I drank the cod liver oil. However, the people who drank the Brennivin said that it was more like rubbing alcohol than wine. It burned something fierce, and caused several people to either vomit or nearly vomit. Kristi fell into the "nearly" category along with Conor. We'll spare details.

How did you end up in first??

I'm still not sure what happened to Henry & Evan on their way to the square, but I assume they must've gotten lost along the way...? Kristi and I decided to stop and write down detailed directions from someone's phone - we still didn't have a map. This paid off, despite being a 10-minute stop, because we didn't get lost going to the square. We found our answers to the questions easily by asking locals. We used the same approach to find the pit stop. Ask-a-local is to the Amazing Race as phone-a-friend is to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. We got solid information from our local friend and I saw the lake as we were driving to the square. So, we made our way to the Pit-Stop pretty quickly.

Kristi and I truly believed we were in no better than 3rd place when we landed on that mat. We were absolutely thrilled, shocked, honored and proud when Phil told us we won the leg! The Amazing Race isn't simply about not making mistakes (though that would be nice), but about recovering quickly when you do. Not a single team ran a flawless race this leg. Some excelled at navigating and struggled in the challenges, others struggled navigating and excelled at the challenges. In the end, we seemed to mitigate our issues better than our competition. We leaned into each other's strengths and even managed to learn from mistakes within the leg to help us reach the pit stop first. The timing of our issues allowed us to continue to climb the ladder instead of fall further behind. Leg 1 carried with it some HUGE learning opportunities that we carried into Leg 2.

Other questions received:

Why were #TheRingGirls and #GoatYoga carrying those bags?

Production gave us some gear to wear in some of the challenges (boots, rain jackets, wool socks, hat, gloves, etc.). Our additional information told us to bring all our belongings with us when we park the car in Ingolfstorg. These ladies took that a bit literally... Kristi and I put the boots on our feet, tied our sneakers to our bag and left everything else behind. We already had clothes for cold weather, so we didn't need the products they provided. Given that we weren't sure if we'd be doing more tasks in Iceland the next leg, we chose to keep the boots. We didn't keep them for the rest of Amazing Race, however.