This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


That's what happened to me and Tim's last leg of the Amazing Race - Did Not Finished.

The game started where we left off the week before, which was at (what my work actually calls) the natatorium. In that previous week, Tim and I came in *14th* place. It was horrible.

In that leg, uur task was simple enough, on paper, which was to build a structure to support two tennis balls 3" off the base of the table. Our building tools? Gum drops and toothpicks. Let me tell you, that was not easy.

When we finally finished that task, the next task was: one person (Tim) slides on a slide while the other (me) had a band tied around their ankles and walked side-to-side...both of us doing it simultaneously for 3 minutes.

So in this task, there is no way to move ahead. Everyone had three minutes to do the task and then run to the finish. So, that's how we ended up in 14th place...those damn gumdrops.

So yesterday was the last leg for all but the first three teams to check in. I truly wanted to be one of those three teams, even though Tim was not as gung-ho about that as I was.

It wouldn't be the best day to feel competitive. One, because it is an extremely busy, stressful week for me. I worked until the wee evening hours at work the night before (at work, walking in the dark to my car in the far parking lot...paranoia even where I work); I had just walked away from a big test to make it *to* the amazing race; and I had a lot of shit waiting for me when I was done with the race.

Two - ditto for Tim. He had driven from Chapel Hill to do this leg, only to have to quickly leave this race (when we were done) to get both kids, at two different schools, and come BACK to get flu shots. All by 3PM. The amazing race goes from 1-2.

This was not an issue until about 30 minutes into the game.

The first clue was a map of eight locations around work in which we could find puzzle pieces. The course included Building V, Building H, and locations around the lake near The Umstead. We did very well until one clue at the lake. It was impossible to find. Most teams gave up and left, while others stayed and wasted precious minutes trying to find that puzzle piece.

To me, the clue seemed to imply that we didn't need to have all puzzle pieces. There was something like 'some locations have more of an advantage than others'. I can't quite remember. it was a long scripted clue. LOTS of reading. And despite Domino's incessant "Read the clue! read the clue! read the clue!", reading is not all that works in this game. One has to actually _process_ the words into meaning that the brain can understand and react to.

This hasn't worked well for me. So we gave up looking for that clue and we decided we would try to put the puzzle together and see if we could figure out what the clue in the puzzle said.

Amy and her partner joined forces with us to see if we could come up with a solution. The clue stated something about 'where to find what is sung by' two named birds that I can't remember. Amy thought it must be something at the wellness library, meditation garden, or the book exchange, which is back at the gym.

So we raced back to the gym, which isn't really far *but* it isn't an easy walk/run to the lake either.

When we get there, Domino is there to let us know we are wrong, we aren't done. So Tim and I turn around (after Tim gets a bit aggravated with Domino and his clue) and attempt to put our puzzle together to figure out what we are missing. At this point, Domino comes down and notices we are missing two puzzle pieces and quickly dismisses us "You don't even have all your puzzle pieces! I'm not letting anyone check in unless they have all their puzzle pieces. You need to go back through the course, read the clue, and figure this out."

Aw, fuck. I am so sick and tired of 'not getting it'. I was done. I knew three teams had already bypassed us and were in the gym doing something, so they were ahead of us and here Tim and I had to go back to the lake for our other puzzle pieces. We had already felt like we SCOURED one location and came up empty...and Tim reminded me that no, it's not just the puzzle pieces we need to get, but after that, we may have to go through the course to figure out the answer to the clue in the puzzle.


All the excitement drained right out of me. It was no longer fun because, as we have since learned from the previous legs, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ERROR. Once you screw up, there is NO TIME TO MAKE UP. It's a 45 minute game. We were 30+ minutes into it and there was a good 15 minutes AT LEAST to find two puzzle pieces, figure out the answer, and do more tasks.

So, as we were walking back towards the lake, feeling defeated, I askedTim "do you just want to throw in the towel?" I felt bad asking, as Tim is more competitive in me and doesn't like to quit, but hey, it's a game that has a time limit that just wasn't going to work for us that day. After the past few weeks of disappointment and frustration, there just wasn't any life left in us to even want to come in any place...especially when only 1st, 2nd, and 3rd were the only meaningful ones.

So we did - we quit. Domino told us it was too early, we had time to make up. I still felt like I could get back into it but then the day ahead of me reared its ugly head: work, kids, flu shots.

I would later learn that, not only would it have been possible for us to make a come back, that a couple of teams were actually disqualified and lost their first and second place positions.

But I also learned that most did not finish until _after_ 2. One team had to leave because one member had a meeting to get to, so it is very likely that we would have done the same thing.

So I was very disappointed. This game has made me realize two things about myself:
1. I am very competitive. I used to not be. Many of my friends can vouch for that. But I am in it to win it.

2. I suck at puzzles. This was the most humbling experience for me as I am a puzzle master. I LOVE puzzles and pride myself, no, I fricking think HIGHLY of myself, as being the best puzzle solver in the world. OK. Maybe not in the world, but I feel like I am pretty good. I get so cocky solving cryptograms that I think the CIA and FBI missed out on having me work for them.

But in this game? I got NOTHING. I overthought the clues, or I just didn't get them. There were times that I literally felt like I saw words without comprehension. I. Just. Suck.

In the end, my BFF and her partner placed, as well as my workout buddy Ken and his partner. I was thrilled to hear this as Ken was behind Tim and I, while Patti was in 13th place the week before. The fact that they made it into the top three was pretty cool. The top contenders were OUT.

So the finale is tomorrow and I plan to be at the finish line, if I don't give in to all the shit I still have waiting for me at work.

Would I do this again?

I don't know. The first few times were so much fun, with less frustration the last few weeks. There's a lot of judgement calls from me regarding the clues, and the very fact that I don't have hours to make up for mistakes, like the real race has, is very disconcerting, given the fact that I am as competitive as I am.

But most of all, Tim said he was tired of it. He hated the puzzles because he didn't feel like he could get them. Unlike me, he has labeled himself a non-puzzle person. He was banking on this game being more physical, like the adventure races he competes in and did I mention, he is more competitive than me?

And I can't imagine doing this with anyone else but Tim. We made a great team and I felt comfortable, ecstatic, competing with him. If only I could have figured out the damn puzzles, "I coulda been a contender".

1 comment:

  1. aw well! sometimes we just have to settle for LOOKIN' GOOD!