You guys. We made it to leg 5 of The Amazing Race that airs tonight at 9pm EST on CBS. While you’d think by the fifth leg of The Race we’d be more comfortable, we had an unprecedented 19 month break in filming so we felt like we definitely had those “first day of school” jitters all over again.
We are getting so many thoughtful questions, so I wanted to respond to as many as possible without any spoilers!
1. “From what we’ve seen, what has been the hardest part?”
If you’ve been around here for a minute, you know I struggle with anxiety. So balancing my anxiety with my desire to have this life experience was a battle. But I will say when it comes to the race day itself, the hardest part has been the self-driving aspect. It doesn’t always translate on TV, but remember, we don’t have cell phones or navigation systems so finding our way over long distances can seem downright impossible. I can read a map and Penn is a great driver, but it was still so mentally exhausting.
Once we found a task successfully, you could be asking us to tie our shoes and it would be a mental challenge. So if you see someone on TV struggling to assemble bagpipes or twirl a flag, know there was an hour or two of sheer panic before this task. While self-driving isn’t new to The Amazing Race, it’s typically one, maybe two legs. In an effort to keep us safe from Covid, this season will almost exclusively have contestants navigating themselves.
2. “You guys look more in shape after the 19 month break, what did you do to get in shape?”
Believe me, I get how cringey this is going to sound, but we were already in pretty good shape before we left the first time. The first three shows didn’t showcase all the running we actually had to do, but we felt like we were prepared. In the break, we were all in our very first pandemic and gyms all closed. We did what we could to stay in shape doing at home workouts but about 6 weeks before we were set to return we worked out at a gym with a trainer who designed specific workouts. We never told the trainer what we were training for, so when we said we wanted to be stronger and prepared to carry weird things up flights of stairs he must have been really confused.
As you may have seen in the last episode Penn passed several people while running up a mountain at a high altitude. I would say we were able to maintain our fitness over time. Some teams used the time to get in much, much better shape. I was definitely intimidated seeing everyone on the starting line.
3. “How did your strategy differ going back after the break?”
Going in the first time, we had such precise plans on how we were going to attack The Race. We knew what type of challenges we wanted to stay away from and how we’d attack roadblocks (the challenges you do as individuals.) All of that went out the window on the very first day.
Looking back, I feel like we chose the more time consuming tasks. We had time to regroup, but then the first day back … we chose wrong again. In our defense, you only have the limited information on the clue sheet with no visual clues. In a way, it gave us more confidence knowing even if we chose the more time consuming task we could manage. We said from the beginning, we’d help other teams if we could, and that didn’t change.
4. “I want to apply to be on The Race, but I’m an average runner. How important is it to be fast?”
Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt you to be fast, but speed isn’t the only way to be successful. Speed has never been my strength, but I will say I have great endurance. You must remain with your partner so Penn’s 5:45 mile pace is wasted on me. I can run an 8 minute mile, but then I’m toast. When we trained, I ran about 5-6 miles several times a week with a nine pound backpack. I would maintain a 9 minute mile pace the entire time. It’s not like I’m slow. The rest of the teams were just so freaking fast! We knew going in that we would have to find other ways to make up time on the legs where running was a factor. We had to be precise in getting directions and dialed in at the challenges.
5. “When did you eat?”
This isn’t Survivor, so we are fed. Pre-pandemic we were given a (small) stipend we would use on cabs and expenses during the race day, including food. After each leg, the production offers food and snacks. Penn and I packed a lot of protein bars the first time, but felt there was enough offered along the way so we didn’t add the weight this time around. I got SO nervous before every leg that I never ate before a race day. I would stash a granola bar from the snack bag the day before and nibble on that if I needed, but my stomach was always a wreck.
The pandemic version of the race we weren’t allowed to order from restaurants because of Covid protocols, so we would eat provided food when the day was over back at the hotel.
6. “Did you get time to sightsee?”
I feel like we got to see both versions of the Race: A “normal” race and now this pandemic version. In either version, there’s no time to relax and sightsee. I was near panic at most moments during the race, so even in Switzerland, one of the most beautiful countries on earth, I had to force myself to look around and appreciate the opportunity. Without a doubt, the main goal of the show is to keep us safe. Remember, we didn’t have cell phones so a bunch of people wandering around a foreign country without a way to contact us would never work.
After we were done racing for the day, we would go back to hotel rooms or other sleeping situations and quarantine. Though I was with my favorite person, my husband, I struggled with that part of the process. I know it was always to keep us safe, so it was hard to argue with the protocol.
7. “How long are you actually racing?”
It depends. Some are designed to be only a few hours and some will last all day into the night. We have been doing more self-driving than in previous seasons so that always, always adds more time.