The only electronic equipment we're allowed are radios and digital watches, small stuff like that, which means I have to leave my Powerbook at home, in other circumstances this could have been a big reason for not taking part, but the first leg's been so hectic I haven't had time to miss it.
We are allowed to keep a journal, so I'm going to revert to 20th Century method of pen and notebook and type this up when I get home. I can't publish it in any shape or form until the series airs anyway, they made us sign all these legal papers which boils down to say nothing unless and until told by CBS, otherwise we get sued for $10 million.
Perhaps I should start at the beginning. I saw the casting call for the race and knew I wanted to enter. Not only that, I knew who I wanted to go with. It then took me every trick I had in my book to persuade Tara, I can't remember how much I spent on phone calls and flowers; I begged, I cajoled, I sulked. Finally it took a surprise appearance at her doorstep and some serious mooching. She probably said yes to placate me, though I think she's come round since then and is as excited as me.
I'll be honest, the prize money is secondary. My personal first prize is Tara. All I want is to spend time with her, to have her no more than a few feet away from me for a whole month. One whole month! I want to get to know her so bad, sometimes I wish we can move a little faster in our relationship. It's like relationship, what relationship? Even in the beginning when we were working together, deadlines were so tight and the producers pushed so hard we didn't get time to pee, let alone sneak kisses. Sure, that long weekend in LA after the wrap party was just heavenly, but all we did was talk the night away, held hands in the restaurant and snuggle up at night.
I want more, and I'm beginning to sense it in her, but we're too scared to talk about it. I don't know why. I guess it's difficult with us living in different cities, every visit we spend the first few hours catching up, the next day relaxing around each other and when we finally feel comfortable or things heat up it's time to say goodbye again. It's frustrating.
Hopefully the race is the catalyst that brings us closer. I really hope so.
They flew us to New York the day before the race, we had a long briefing session, met Phil and Mr Bruckheimer and the other producers. We were told that there'd be no communication with friends and family until the race finishes and they reminded us of our pledge of silence. We can't tell anyone who won and where we placed until that episode has aired.
The teams were introduced over a buffet dinner. It was kinda tense at first, everyone was trying to feel out the other teams, what makes them tick, what may be their weakness.
There are a few couples our age, an older couple who has a son, 2 Moms, a pair of twins and like 3 all-guy teams of differing ages. Oh, and probably the most famous couple in the US after J Lo & Marc or Jessica & Nick: Buffy and Riley. Seeing them in person is totally different from seeing them on TV. Buffy seems really nice and friendly, at least to me, we had a good chat, she seems to be someone I would have liked to be friends with if we met in high school. Except she's a famous athlete and from a different universe, so it's wishful thinking on my part.
Tara talked a lot with this girl Anya, who is married and is co-owner of 5 shops. She seems tough, I didn't feel comfortable with her, but Tara did. She told me later that she was too shy to speak to some of the other contestants, cos it was tricky trying to tell friend from foe, but Anya was really direct and she had no trouble reading her.
They put us up in a very nice hotel overnight. It was the first night Tara and I spent together since she said yes to the race. I briefly thought of jumping her but the night before the start of the race wasn't very appropriate, in any case she held me all night and it was the best feeling on earth.
The next morning we boarded limos that brought us to Connecticut and the race started at Stamford. We aced the first task, it was computer related, I was really pumped up. The next stop was England, it was when we got on the flight that it finally hit us, that we were on a race around the world.
I slept very little on the plane, we tried strategizing a little but mostly we basked in being together. I held her hand almost all the way through and she leaned on my shoulders as she tried to sleep. I spent a lot of time fantasizing about how it could feel, being together all the time. I should focus on the race, but I can't help thinking about her all the time.
We were on the same flight as Rupert, his son Randy, Adam who is this very tall guy and his team-mate Oz, who is one of the shortest guy I've met. Rupert is the oldest and he cpmes across as competitive yet gentlemanly, though I think he doesn't know what to make of Tara and me. Adam and Oz together mustered about 20 words, they're a physically strong team and we'll have to watch them.
We did okay on the Detour, Roadblock and other tasks. I took the Roadblock and lost some time, eventually we finished as team number five. I was kinda beating myself up on the boat challenge, but she was so incredibly supportive.
The Pitstop is Sandringham Castle, where the Queen of England stays on her vacation. Tara and I walked around the grounds and a part of the house and it was simply breathtaking, the wealth, the antiquity, the culture. I'm going to add England to the places we have to come back to visit.
In this Pitstop we get to stay at a cute B&B, they tell us the building is 300 years old, that's so awesome. The rooms are tiny but at least we have an ensuite shower. Initially the hotel gave us a twin room, and I was this close to losing my temper. Tara went to the crew and got us a double, I hope this isn't going to be a pattern, we have enough on our plates for the race to have the additional stress.
I feel drained, running the race is physically demanding and this is only the first leg. I just had my shower and I needed that hot water to take away the stiffness in my shoulders. It's her turn now and I can't wait for her to come to bed with me, if I count the overnight flight to London, this makes 3 nights together and it's a new milestone for us.
We have a very early start tomorrow, we need as much rest as we can get. So it's Willow the Racer signing off on Leg #1.