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4 Deserts Gobi March - Stage 4 - "Eagle's Nest"

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” - Ralph Marston

It is stage 4 today, blistering hot, downhill for most of the day, and we experienced every kind of rocky terrain imaginable. Small rocks, big rocks, sharp rocks, sandy rocks, round rocks, square rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks. Now this is fun n’ all but not so fun when two days prior jamming down a mountain pass my foot landed right on a sharp rock putting my foot pad into excruciating pain. On worn shoes, now just about every 100th rock over today and yesterday jams right back into that tender bruised area. Then the foot swells and then it feels like it is going to explode. And what do you do? You think about the quote at the top and bottom of this blog and you yell at the rock and then you think about something else and press on. Now take that scenario and replace it with many other issues that could come up, including the 40+ Celsius temps today and tomorrow and you just go for it.

No complaining. No fussing.  No whining. Just change your thinking and GO! If you don’t, it will be a long day.

That is my motto in these races for the most part. Dig deep ad grind it out baby!

Today was 27.7 miles of this and that ending at an abandoned military camp which is really cool. And it is blistering hot where you can’t even think of taking a nap because your tent is a sauna. So hot that earlier almost all of the tablets in the cyber tent over heated. So hot that out dog mascot that ran day 1-3 decided to take a car ride to camp. Good news is that the race crew found a foster home for our dog mascot to go to when the race is over. Hems such a cutie. I hear you can see him ln Facebook.

Tomorrow is the big long day. I believe I am walking into it with almost a 5 hour lead for the women. Some have asked what I will do about that as far as enjoying the view and taking it all in a bit tomorrow. As a competitive lady and still wanting to place in the top 10 overall, I have thought to maybe take 2 minutes at every aid station to chat and look around vs racing through and then also maybe take my heart rate down 5 beats less. It is already in zone 1 the past 2 days but maybe just a little bit slower to just save it all for the Atacama crossing which I have really high hopes for.

A fun fact is that the 5 of us that are pushing for the Grand Slam Plus hit our halfway point today early in the day. And the most exciting stages are ahead for me in Chile. I just love that terrain and it will be nice to go to a race where I know the course and what to expect. As far as the series goes I am in the lead among all 5.

I am off to rest up for the 47 hot miles in my near future. Hopefully I am done 24 hours from now! Due to the long march going through the night for some, the cyber tent won’t open until the rest day. Until then, Live it up and go out for an adventure in your hometown as we jam out our long day.

As always, I am running the quest for the first female in the world to complete the Grand Slam Plus in honor of Lyme Disease for the LymeLight Foundation. To donate, please visit my auxiliary fundraising page that can be found in my blog roll here under “Day 0.”

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. - Joseph Campbell

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4 Deserts Gobi March - Stage 3 - "Shepherd's Haven"

HEY FOLKS!

Day three is a wrap. It tested every limit in my body, mind and spirit today. This is all a part of what this is about. Strength, stamina, positivity and grit. I had to dig deep and stay on top of my game and continue to give my best performance. This is where you find your deepest level of strength to haul on when your feet are tired, your body is tired and your mind is tired. I ended up in a win again today and I believe gained another hour for the gap from 1st to 2nd. Hoping to gain more tomorrow and then Thursday can be a day of celebration.

The day started around 1am for me with crazy winds outside making you feel like the tent was going to take off into the sky. Around 6:30 It set us all into a frenzy to pack up. The wait to start was hard with cold, wind and you could see stormy skies in the distance.

The race today was a mix of hot, cold, side wind non-stop, super technical bouts and really long sections that rolled along the terrain and you wondered if camp would ever appear. We climbing rolling hills all day with 2100 feet and down to end at the same elevation as we started. My feet were getting rocked with all of the loose rock stabbing into the bottom. They are still throbbing. That aside it was beautiful. The mountains here are so beautiful. We had one stream crossing that was fun and was nice on your aching feet due to being cold. Overall it was just an epic 26.6 miles taking everything out of you. And somehow we rest, eat and repeat.

Tomorrow we will begin to descend into the valley. Camp is at 5,800 feet md over the next two days we will eventually get to 190 meters. Some descending in the future =) we will begin our journey towards the black desert too. Temps are going to start to climb big time so we need to start to prepare for that mentally and physically.

Fuel today was a Voke Tab to start and then a Honey Stinger waffle, Honey Stinger protein chews, Dang coconut crisps, Sweedish Fish and almonds. Yummy! Hydration was 3 Drip Drop sticks.

Alright. Need to rest up folks! Thank you all so much for the emails.

As always I am doing the Grand Slam Plus quest to raise funds and awareness for Lyme Disease through the LymeLight foundation. To join me during this feat to donate please visit my auxiliary fundraising page on my blog titled “Day 0”

With love and light!

Jax

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4 Deserts Gobi March - Stage 2 - "The Yurt Village"

Hey folks!

Day two is complete. So stoked! I won the stage again and spread the gap by 2 hours 27 minutes. Just going to keep sticking to my program and race daily and see what happens =)

Getting the leader bib this am is such a special moment. Especially after stage 1. It is worn with a lot of pride.

The night was a little rough for me. The cold and damp air from continuous raining was hard. You don’t even want to leave to walk to the far away toilets because it will just be freezing so you just wait for a silent moment and jam out and back. The thunder isn’t my fave either but I held on well. I was so grateful for the extra blankets that were given in our yurt. When I can’t sleep I end up just rolling and stretching. Some sad news there is I lost my trigger therapy ball =( not sure if it fell out of my bag or I left it at camp. Out here when you bring a luxury item like that and loose it, it is full on tragedy. Back to my old tricks of finding a good rock and using s stuff sack to roll. You have to roll with the punches out here and just adapt quick.

The course today was sweet, challenging and fun. We spent stage 1-2 climbing 3k feet over the mtn pass to get to the other side where camp 3 is. It was pouring rain most of the way until the last 8 or so kilometers. I was frozen and couldn’t wait to get to camp. That aside the climb, mtn running and views were just jaw dropping. Really cool terrain. As you came down you could see the black desert in the distance. It is legit black folks. Tomorrow is going to swap to some serious heat. Thankfully I am loaded with salt tabs and Drip Drop and am pretty good about managing that scenario. Constant electrolyte mgt is the name of the game. If you get off track, you will suffer. I am sure I will finally bring out my iPod too. I use it the last stage to breeze through it.

Fuel today was a trail mix of Swedish fish, marcona almonds and Dang chips plus a Honey Stinger Waffle. I am a little more hungry today due to the altitude going over 9k feet and from stage 3 yesterday. Looks like in Atacama I should just plan to have Imodium on day one and more food on day two and roll with the punches.

Alright folks, speaking of food, I’m going to go mow down on my Expedition Foods Mac and Cheese. 805 calories for 167 grams. Legit and so tasty. I have it 5 f the 7 nights. =)

As always I am doing the quest to become the first female in the world to accomplish the Grand Slam Plus in honor of the LymeLight foundation. There is a serious lack of awareness on the fastest growing infectious disease in the world and I am honored to push to help fix that for Lyme Disease. Please join me in donating to my auxiliary fundraising page that can be found in my blog post titled Day 0.

THANK YOU to all that have send blog comments and emails. It means so much to me and really helps me to keep going!

With love and light,

JAX

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4 Deserts Gobi March - Stage 1 - "Beyond Hami"

Hey folks!

Day one is done! Leading lady and stoked! It took 4:13 and was both super fun and challenging. My body gets a little rocked every time day one comes and a combo of jet lag, nerves, etc makes my tummy a bit unsettled checkpoint 3-4. Besides that I just jammed along smooth and steady. The terrain was absolutely beautiful. Loved every part. Many parts reminded me of Jackson Hole back home which is fun. Rocky and technical, meadows and fields, and then out of nowhere a massive sand dune like a mini mtn to climb up and traverse over. Epic. I am so happy to begin in the lead this race with a nice gap. I feel blessed. And to top it off we arrived to a yurt camp where we will stay. We even all have blankets and pillows. I am going to sleep so well. Last night I was quite cold so this will be awesome.

I loved Lance’s quote today in my DAY 1 note: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”

Sometimes I feel this feat is on the border line of that quote for sure. And then my coach Eric Orton wrote this in a message today:

Be the runner you want to be and demand the impossible!

That’s some great inspiration!

And now it is one of the most important days to kick off the habit of rest, food, recovery.

Thanks to those that have already written notes and blog comments. It means the world to me!

For those jut joining my blog, I am trying to become the first woman in the world to accomplish the Grand Slam Plus. I am running in honor or the LymeLight foundation to raise awareness and funds for Lyme Disease. Please join me as I go to help by donating to my auxiliary fundraising page located in my blog post here on “Day 0”. You can follow the whole journey on Instagram @wonderwomanjax

Until tomorrow!

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4 Deserts Gobi March - Day 0

Another day zero is upon us. Athlete meeting, shake out run, and now finishing up on work emails before I hop off the grid with the crew to camp 1. Camp one begins up in the mountain region of the Tian Shan mountain range. I am really excited about this part. Although it will be cold, and it could rain, I am prepared for it and cant wait for the technical running and some hilly terrain in altitude.

It is really fun as a returning competitor to see all of my friends out here. It is like a family reunion every time. Old friends that for some you feel like their sister.

I am so blessed to be out here and accomplish this epic feat to raise awareness for the LymeLight Foundation. I cant tell you how much being out there and fighting through the elements matches what the Lyme patients that have to fight through daily in treatment protocols and to try to just get out of bed. It is the fastest growing infectious disease in the world and it is not getting enough attention out there among the masses. It has been reported in 49 states and 6 continents and is a serious issue out there. I hope that my feat will help raise more awareness and help to provide grants for children and young adults that are desperate for the medical care that they need. To check out my auxiliary fundraising page click here

I cant thank my friends, family, and sponsors enough for helping to make this journey possible. On my shake out run just now, I recalled many memories of running with friends, Loki, Meredith, track work with my new coach Eric Orton and Scott riding his bike along side while I pushed through a hot and humid 10 mile run. Thank you to DripDrop, Salomon Running, Zeal Optics, CEP Compression, VOKE TAB, AVEX Outdoor, Exepdtition Foods, Honey Stinger, Stoked Roasters and Beet Performer.

Reflecting back on training for the past 6 weeks, I took a solid recovery and then built right back up in volume. I ran two races during this past 6 week break from Namibia and placed 2nd female in both half marathons which was a confidence booster considering I am in ultra shape and still rocking a 1:31 half. Mileage was good topping at 80 miles a week and eating good food. I also worked a ton on really exciting opportunities for Stoked Roasters and we moved for the 4th time in 6 months! in our current hometown of Jackson Hole.

T-minus 1.5 hours until we hop on the buses to the start. It will be a 3 hour drive out to camp 1. I can't wait to get settled and begin the race tomorrow. There is so much anxiety that builds until the first gun goes off to start. And then you settle in and begin your rituals for success.

Cheers folks and enjoy the journey. I will keep in touch with you out there daily.

With love and light,

Jax

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4 Deserts Gobi March - The Other Ultra Marathon - Travel To And From Gobi

Hey folks. I am officially on the blog grid for the Gobi March.

To start, I am on a quest this year to become the first female in the world to complete the Grand Slam Plus. In the entire time the 4 Deserts race series has been taking place, only 3 men have accomplished this epic feat. I am running in honor of raising funds and awareness for Lyme Disease through the LymeLight Foundation. Learn more here! The first race was in Sri Lanka where I placed 2nd female. The second race was in Namibia and I was the female champion! I am hoping to accomplish a repeat here in Gobi =)

Before getting to the starting line, there is what I refer to as the "other Ultra Marathon". Many stages and legs of travel and preparation to move your body across the globe with all of your gear to make the adventure even begin.

For this stage of the series, I am traveling for a total of 63 hours. This began yesterday with a 4.5 hour drive from Jackson Hole to Park City, UT. I ran many errands there and finished up many work tasks and had a wonderful dinner at my favorite restaurant in Park City called Handle with my friend Sierra Quitiquit.

The journey resumed this morning with a 3am wake up call to catch a 6am flight to Dallas. From there I am now on a plane to Beijing. The travel will continue with a last flight to Urumqui and then a 3.5 hour high speed train back to Hami where the host hotel is. It is tiring to type.

As you travel, you just hope that your luggage is traveling safely on each belly of each plane and that there will not be any flight cancellations, delays or weather issues. It is stressful to say the least. Especially with this round and all of my food being in luggage. In this case with customs, all of my food is still in packaging and traveling along underneath.

In Namibia, many racers lost their luggage and so this is a stressful memory on my conscious. You just have to have a positive outlook and relax and let the universe do it's thing.

As much as I can, I try to immediately transition to the time zone I will race in. In this case it is 13 hours ahead of pacific time. That is just wild! So you try the best that you can. I end up working a lot, napping, snacking and watching a lot of movies. This round, I will also enjoy reading my coach Eric Orton's (From Born To Run) book that he wrote called The Cool Impossible. Check it out. Especially if you are just getting into running.

Time to get back to work. I cannot wait to share this journey with you all for race #3 of 5 this year. To visit my blog posts from the past two races and also from Chile last year, click here!

Cheers!

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4 Deserts Race Series - Sahara (Namibia) - Stage 6 - Female Champion

Hey Folks,

Just like that I am typing this final blog post from my own laptop en route to Cape Town to rest for one day before continuing the transit over to the USA. The moments after the race are so surreal and magical as you reflect back on what you have taken yourself through in mind, body and spirit over the past week. At times, you almost wonder if it even really happened. Yet, then you feel your chapped and sunburnt lips or little aches here and there as well as many rocking tan lines, as well as taking peeks into your travel bag to see your awards and know it really did!

The last stage was totally surreal for me. I had the normal athlete nerves kick in the night prior as I listened to the wind rocking out tent and I could not sleep. Those thoughts when you are so close to victory that you can almost taste it but you still need to successfully make it through the last 6 miles. Those fears that something totally wild would occur cross, or that you would wake up and be sleeping in your bag and everyone is gone. Those thoughts come and go and you keep visualizing the finish line as the champion to allow them to pass.

The last stage was actually one of my favorites. I love project running along the rocks, rolling sand dunes and granite fields. The wind was mighty strong, but the scenery was epic. And the finish line was one of the most magical moments of my life. My last goals for the race were to maintain my positon as 6th overall with the guys, and run the last 10k in less than an hour. I wanted to break 30 hours as well when the cumulative time came together. In the end all of those goals came to life. I was the female champion officially by a lead of 53 minutes, secured 6th overall, ran the last 10k in 57:41, and had a total cumulative time of 29:10.20. So epic! I cannot believe it!

That moment crossing the finish line was absolutely surreal. I cannot believe it. I am so honored to have the opportunity to inspire the masses with this accomplishment and raise funds and awareness for the LymeLight Foundation. It is truly magical to begin to login to social media and see how folks reacted to Lance's posts. It is the best award ever to see the inspiration grow like wildfire!

As an end to this blogroll, I will leave you with a rough version of the speech I gave at the awards ceremony when accepting my female champion award:

First and foremost, I would like to give a huge round of applause to the Racing The Planet event staff, volunteers, medical team, local ground crew in Namibia, and so many more that worked relentlessly behind the scenes to make this event possible for all of us to accomplish. To my friends, family, sponsors, husband Lance and pup Loki, thank you near and far for supporting me through this quest to achieve my goal today. To tent 16, thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement to help me believe that this was really possible. To the 4 top ladies, including Maki, Kathia and Magdalena congratulations on your hard work this week. The competition was not easy out there. In fact, it was a race all of the way until the last day where Kathia caught up to me. At that point I had to decide how bad I wanted to win. I had to dig so deep and put my head down and for the last 26 miles that day push the pace in order to increase the gap vs reduce it. It took all of my will and might and ended with me completely famished and exhausted as I collapsed at the finish line. To win this race, I could never take a moment to walk and had to run the entire course. I additionally had to speed through every check point and constantly keep pushing nonstop. All of you are incredibly strong, beautiful and talented ladies and runners. To all of the competitors in this room, today all of you are champions. What you have completed less than 1% of the world will ever do. Each and every one of you will come home to your friends and families and even strangers as beacons of inspiration. To Mary and the entire Racing The Planet team, thank you for creating an event that is so epic that it tests our limits in mind, body and spirit. Thank you furthermore for creating the opportunity to compete the Grand Slam and the Grand Slam Plus. I am so honored to attempt to become the first woman in the world to cross the finish line in Antarctica accomplishing the Grand Slam Plus. This opportunity is allowing me to inspire the masses to move their bodies as a way to prevent disease. Additionally, it is allowing an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Lyme Disease through the LymeLight Foundation. I will leave you with a quote that my husband wrote in his note to me on day 5 from Albert Einstein. “There are two ways that you can live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle.” Thank you all for enjoying this miracle with me. Namaste.

Alright folks. Now we go full steam ahead to recover and then put in 4 weeks of solid training to prepare for the Gobi March that is slated for June 19-25th in China. It will go very quickly so preparations must be right on que. All of my blogs from the 4 Desert races are re-uploaded to my website http://www.wonderwomanjax.com under journal as each race comes to an end. Please also enjoy my daily training and preparations by following me on my Facebook fan page at /JaxMariashKoudele and on Instagram @wonderwomanjax

Cheers!

Jax

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4 Deserts Race Series - Sahara (Namibia) - Stage 5 (the long march)

Hey folks!

The end is near! Wahoo. I am so pleased to announce that the long stage ended with another win! Yea! I was 6th overall with the men =) I cannot believe it. I am currently sitting at the cyber tent watching the last 10 competitors finish who are currently at the 24 hour mark. Cutoff is at 11am today. It is very emotional to see the last ones come in. They have so much tenacity and strength.

Yesterday I had to pull into my own bag of grit, stamina and determination. The ladies field has been pushing nonstop here. It has been very hard. The day yesterday started with a 33.5minute lead over Kathia. To stay ahead, I had to have a perfect day. I began easy and steady and to help with the anxiety of the thought of running 48 miles after running a marathon a day for 4 days prior. To ease the nerves I came up with the idea to run each mile thinking about someone I love and cherish may memories together. It was actually really fun. I would find myself laughing and smiling thinking back on so many amazing times. This program worked until mile 22.24 when I saw someone on my tail. It was Kathia. And then the race began. We exchanged a hello and I had to decide at that moment what I wanted to do. Did I want to settle and run together ad risk something happening where she could obtain the lead again? Did I want to be 2nd? Or did I want to secure my place as the leader. This was the moment to decide what would come to be. I thought about how badly I have wanted to win vs 2nd female at a 4 Deserts race and I imagined myself once again at the top of the podium and then I thought about how hard I would need to push for the next 26 miles to make it happen. I decided I wanted to win! And so I put my head down and increased my heart rate by 5 beats and went back to looking at only heart rate and time and hammered. One foot in front of the other thinking about being a champion and pushing deep. Step by step I charged ahead with a tunnel vision on the finish line. Knowing I could not stop for a second or slow down. At th last 800 meters I was literally crying as I saw the finish line in sight ad was still too afraid to look back. My legs were in so much pain and my mind was nearing exhaustion. Low and behold I finished and collapsed with shock and exhaustion at the finish as 1st female. In the end I gained at 12 minute lead over Kathia in those 26 miles. mind over matter eh?!? So stoked! And even more stoked to relax today.

The course yesterday was much more difficult than expected. It was a mix of gravel, sand, sand dunes, and a 7 mile finish in deep sand. The sand works your legs like no other. Although challenging the scenery was EPIC! On the ridge of the sand dunes you could see dunes for miles and miles to the right. It was magical. Although the beach segment was extremely exhausting it sure is amazing to be running along the coast in Africa non the less. It really is special what we are seeing out here.

Today we get to rest, talk about all of the food we will eat when we get back as we eat our final scraps of freeze dried food that we have. On this day we enjoy the company of everyone as we watch the waves come in to shore. It is a peaceful day full of congratulating each other on such an amazing feat!

Tomorrow we will run a final 10k to the finish line. I am so stoked to do this as the leading lady and none the less in the top 10 overall with a competitive group of men. And then we will eat, and celebrate all day! I hope to break 30 hours total tomorrow which would be a HUGE personal best. Accepting 1st place at the awards will be an extremely emotional moment for me. I am so honored and excited!

Thank you everyone for your notes and emails. They mean the world to me and helped me get to the end goal.  I hope that this journey inspires you and that it has raise awareness for Lyme Disease and the LymeLight Foundation. To donate please visit my facebook page at /JaxMariashKoudele or on Instagram the link is in my profile at the username @wonderwomanjax

Cheers!

jax

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4 Deserts Race Series - Sahara (Namibia) - Stage 4

Hey folks!

Day 4 is complete and with anther WIN! So stoked. I can’t even put it into words.

I began the day with a minute and a half to catch the lead woman Kathia overall. At the finish of today I unofficially can announce that I am the woman’s leader. The gap today was 35.5 minutes making the lead in my favours roughly 33 minutes going into stage 5. Today I was also 6th overall I believe with the boys =) This is the long day so I conserved my energy today for the second half to prepare and conserve. The long day will be 48 miles with mixed terrain, some sand and word on the street is some dunes too. It will be long, hot and an adventure so please keep me in your thoughts. I still can’t believe at the morning briefing I will pin on the yellow leader bib. Yeahoo! Slow and steady has been my mantra and it seems to be working great!

Some have asked what a day in the life of multi stage ultra-racing is like, so here is the scoop for me:

5:15am: wake up and immediately prepare oatmeal and muscle milk for breakfast – 470 calories

5:45-6:40: Take a morning siesta and digest

6:40-7:30: pack up and prepare my race snacks: Honey Stinger waffle and chews, almonds, coconut strips, 2-4 sweedish fish and a VOKE TAB. Then Drip Drop for every check point as well as a salt tab for every estimated hour I will be running.

7:30am: Morning meeting and course briefing

8am: Race start

8am to roughly noon or 3 and the long day probably 6-8pm =)…hopefully

Arrival to camp: chug ultragen asap and enjoy a VOKE TAB.

Arrival to 5:30pm: Clean my feet and take care of any blisters. Set up my spot in the tent asap to be able to nap. Blog and email. Then nap or stretch until 5:30 or 6.

6 to 6:30: Dinner of Expedition Foods, my fave is mac and cheese.

7:30pm: Bed time. Some nights I get a solid sleep, others it is just almost 10 hours of lying there. Snoring is all around you so that can be hard to sleep, even with ear plugs. As the days go on, snoring gets louder! Here in Nambia it is autumn so the days are getting shorter with sunrise at 6:23 am and sunset at 5:42pm so going to bed at 7:30 actually becomes easy.

Camp life is also great here. Each camp has had epic views and the local camp staff is amazing. And get this! We have port-o-potties vs a hole in Sri Lanka. And they even flush! Super luxury.

Alright folks! Until tomorrow.

Jax

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4 Deserts Race Series - Sahara (Namibia) - Stage 3

Hey folks

Today was a great day and ended with a stage win!! So stoked. This also reduced my gap to Kathia by 15 minutes! I am guessing I am roughly a minute behind now =)

It was a perfect day enjoying dry heat again. 33deg Celsius today and in the direct sun it feels even hotter. The terrain started with the first stage of 7.5 miles in sandy / rocky terrain. It was followed by rocky terrain through an area that looked like a different planet again. Moments of rocky rolling terrain reminded me of the Atacama Desert as well. The course notes for today titled the day as The Red Planet which was quite fitting. As a guy said to me just now, if you were to film a movie in mars, it would look like this. So epic. It was fitting that Lance’s note today spoke of how the terrain we are seeing today only 99.9% may see. I am so glad as I raced that I looked up to enjoy the view. It was epic. Many mental pictures were taken.

Fuel today was the same as yesterday enjoying my trail mix of honey stinger chews with nuts, coconut flakes and some Swedish fish. Each day when I get back I enjoy 2 VOKE tabs. Sometimes I eat them in the last stage. And immediately upon finishing I drink ultragen asap.  

My Salomon S-lab ultra race trail shoes are rocking in the terrain here and still netting out at zero blisters!

Today I thought a lot about those that are pushing through Lyme disease. They are struggling though challenges each day and this experience in so many ways parallels that. They have to be so strong and mighty day in and day out. To learn more about the LymeLight Foundation and Lyme disease and my auxiliary fundraising page , please visit my facebook page at /JaxMariashKoudele

Today’s stage is dedicated to Marissa who had to pull out at stage two due to a nagging injury that flared up. It is also dedicated to my tent mates in tent 16 who have been so supportive, and encouraging each day. Once again my tent has quickly become family to me. They are all so special and make the experience out here much more fruitful.

Thank you also to so many friends and loved ones sending messages to me. It means so much and really keeps me going out there!  

I am full of appreciation!

Jax

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4 Deserts Race Series - Sahara (Namibia) - Stage 2

Howdy folks,

Day two is in the books! It was a very gruelling stage. There is word that it may be one of the most challenging of them all. The beginning was really pretty and traversed up and down over the ridge by the beach. At about 5 miles in we arrived at the coast where we followed it along in deep beach sand for over 25k. It was rough. The highlight was seeing a seal colony and a shipwreck at checkpoint 3. From 3 to 4 it was noted to be difficult with wind and uphill and undulating terrain. Nothing a little black eyed peas, salt-n-peppa and many other artist couldn’t help me rock out to jam it out with no problem. I actually enjoyed it. I also thought a lot about my husband and dog loki helping me along during the points that seemed to never end in the gruelling sand. Today Kathia and I were together again until cp1 and then she scooted ahead. I managed to stay only 5 minutes behind. What is even more impressive was that Magdalena was 4 or so minutes behind me and Maki was 3 or so minutes behind her. Competition for the ladies is steep and day by day it looks like it could be anyone’s race.  It is that much more important to stay focused on recovery each afternoon. Legs up!

Fuel today was similar to yesterday with honey stinger waffle, dripdrop, salt tabs, honey stinger protein chews, coconut shavings, marcona almonds, and two sweedish fish. Its working great! Breakfast is the staple oatmeal and muscle milk. Dinner is full of expedition foods varieties.

Camp is full of sunshine and folks finishing as I type. Everyone crossing the line today seems to be relieved!

Tomorrow will be filled with easier terrain and hot heat. It is here! Stoked to sport my desert hat look. Ha! It looks so funny but it sure helps!

Cheers,

Jax

 

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4 Deserts Race Series - Sahara (Namibia) - Stage 1

Yo folks

Day one is complete. Wahoo. In  a flash blogging begins again here at the cybertent. It is surreal how fast time flies. It feels like just yesterday I was in Sri Lanka blogging at the beach.

The course today was an easy one traversing along the coast in a windy day. The field took it out quite fast today. Maybe a little too fast. I fell victim to it for a bit as my heart rate was setting around 7-8 beats higher than my heart rate cap. Nervous runners all pushing out the cob webs. At around 10k Kathia caught up to me and we jammed along for a while and I approached that moment with myself where I looked at us and realized we were pushing it too hard. Both of our heart rates were too high and her breathing was too prominent. We chatted about it for a bit and even thought to both slow and settle in and run together. In the end as hard as it was to do I settled back to my heart rate cap rule and settled in on my own and let Kathia go. There are so many days left and day one is just a blimp in the radar and it is critical to not put the whole race out in day one even if that means you lose the lead. I also have a day 1 jitter that happens and still can’t seem to shake an upset tummy. So for a bit I dealt with the results of that with bathroom stops. All good but not so fun. Still need to figure out what is the deal with that coming up day one of each race. The good thing is even with that happening the gap between us is significantly less than I have been in past races. I seem to be one that gets stronger and stronger each day. Positivity and staying to my regimen are critical.

The desert here is beautiful. Especially along the coast. Epic terrain for sure. I look around and try to figure out where mad max was filmed a lot. Lance’s notes are always so special out there. Todays was great mentioning to pretend I was with max mad and I had a posse of hot ladies helping me to overcome obstacles as they come. Thanks ladies!!

Fuel for today: honey stinger waffle and a trail mix I made of honey stinger protein chews, coconut shavings, almonds and two sweedish fish =) I actually strugged a bit to eat so I had half of it while I recovered.

Blister check: zero so far! Yay! I have a little rubbing on my back so we added another piece of tape to prevent further chaffing there.

Pack notes: I added a few luxury items back in last minute and I am SO GLAD I did even though the weight is now more. The sleeping pad that I was on the fence about came and boy is it luxurious! Best decision ever! Lance will be so happy that I kept it. I also kept my tin cup since the bottles here are too big. It is aweeeesome for oats, my powders and chugging water. I still carry a heavier load but the food in it works so well rested nights and a happy belly win.

I will leave you with Lance’s quotes that he gave me today:

“Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” – Basil King

“If you are going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Cheers and lets close this 8 minutes gap tomorrow!

Jax

 

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4 Deserts Race Series Namibia - Day 0

Hey Everyone!

Day 0 is here. The hustle and bustle of folks preparing to ditch all of their belongings and take one pack out into the desert to make magic happen in mind, body and spirit. The nerves are high as the meetings take place and gear check in occurs.

I am so glad to be here after 24 hours on planes, and 24 hours of lay overs combined. It feels so great to see so many familiar faces here and feel the positive momentum among the masses. There is a sold out roster of atheltes here topping at 223 from all over the world. I am honored to run alongside each and every one of them.

It was extra humbling to see Thanh who is also trying to make history like me for women. We love being roomies before the race goes off and I am so glad she is pushing to be the first female for Vietnam and Southeast Asia to complete the Grand Slam. That means that the two of us will now get to be together at each of the rest of the 4 races.

It is wild to think that this race will be the 2nd of 5 in 10 months. With Atacama crossing added from last year, it will be 6 races in 13 months. WOW! One step at a time right?!?

Athlete checkin was a breeze today. My pack came in at 8 kilos, which is 4.2 kilos lighter than it was at the Atacama Crossing. Yeahoo. I feel fit, strong, healthy and the best that I have felt so far for a race.

So here we go for race two of the journey to become the first female in the world to complete the Grand Slam Plus with stage 2. I am stoked for the conditions, and the climate is my style all of the way with hot and dry and cool at night.

I will blog each day from the field. See ya out there in spirit.

Jax

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PRE RACE STOKE - 4 DESERTS RACE SERIES - NAMIBIA

Hey Everyone!

Just like that a new blog roll begins for the 4 Deserts Race series this year to become the first female in the world to complete the Grand Slam Plus! I cannot wait to get to the starting line in Namibia. With just 6 days to go, I will entertain you in this post with a summary of the final preparations before I jump on my flights starting the travel to Africa on the 27th at 8am.

TRAINING: Training has been spectacular for this segment. The most prepared yet I would say. Yesterday I finished up my last week of higher volume training resting at 84 miles. This week I will taper up until the race with small runs and pack walks until race day. I am sure I will go totally stir crazy with the dramatic drop in volume but it is necessary. I have continued to implement in my core work and daily squats and side shuffles with resistance to stay strong and injury free. This last segment of training has been great to put a 100% focus on running as the ski season commenced. Training between Sri Lanka and Namibia began with 1 week totally off, then 4 with a mix of skimo training / ski touring and then 4 weeks specifically running, 1-week taper. For Gobi it will be full on run mode.

TRAVEL: Our travel has in a way already began for the adventure. A drive to SLC then on to Hood River to see my coffee roasting business – Stoked Roasters and then on to California for the last stop before the International flights begin on Wednesday. Travel will meander through Seattle, Paris, Cape Town and on to Walvis Bay before arriving in Swakopmund, Namibia. I love the travel portion. The jetlag can be a bit tricky on day one of the race, but I just love the cultural differences, and meeting many individuals from all over. This is also a favorite feature of an International race as 40+ countries tow the starting line. Personally, I am proud to run for USA and Canada as a duel citizen.

FINAL PREPARATIONS ON MY PACK: As of now, my pack is 90% dialed with a few more tweaks and additions here and there. Currently, it is sitting at 16lbs which is great. I will add a couple more items and hope for it to rest around 17-17.5 on day one which seems to be a sweet spot for me. For Sri Lanka, I removed almost every luxury item that I could think of and almost took it too far where I really missed certain items such as a sleeping pad, and an iPod. I still have quite a few luxury items which each day something seems to still come out as the competitor list is sent through to us and nerves kick in. =) I will continue to walk around and run with it until I fly out to manage and more tweaks. My favorite items continue to be the OMM 25L pack, Rough Country bottles and holder,

FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR MY FOOD:
Food is all set for the race. I am so honored this year to be sponsored by Expedition Foods. They have a great assortment of high calorie foods that are light weight. A favorite for me out there is their mac and cheese (804 calories / 161g). This round I am also taking 4 crave items for emergency. These include coconut shavings, jerkey, Fritos and Sweedish Fish. My staple electrolyte plan includes Drip Drop and Salt Stick salt pills. For running fuel I use a mix of marcona almonds, salty almonds and then Honey Stinger energy chews, Honey Stinger vanilla waffles, and Honey Stinger gel with caffeine.

LYEMLIGHT FOUNDATION: This year I am running in honor of the LymeLight Foundation. Their mission is to provide grants to enable eligible children and young adults with Lyme disease to receive proper treatment and medication as well as raising awareness about Lyme disease. Like me their journey is not a sprint as they fight through relentless symptoms and treatment protocols. Please help me this year to raise awareness and funds for this organization. We have an auxiliary page set up here (http://lymelightfoundation.org/auxiliary-event/4-deserts-grand-slam-plus/) where you can donate to each km along the Grand Slam Plus journey, each event or come up with your own amount. I cannot wait to provide grants for these grant recipients so that they can heal and have the opportunity to get back outside to explore.

So there you have it folks, race 2 of 5 is just 6 days away! I cannot wait to share the journey with you and inspire the masses to hop outside to move their bodies and explore. Follow along on my blog, Instagram @wonderwomanjax and Facebook at /JaxMariashKoudele. Lance will update them daily.

JAX

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JACKSON HOLE NEWS AND GUIDE FEATURING THE GRUELING FEAT TO ACCOMPLISH THE GRAND SLAM PLUS

Howdy Folks,

Please enjoy an article that came out today from the Jackson Hole News & Guide featuring the epic feat to become the first woman in the world to complete the Grand Slam Plus. Participating in any 4 Deserts foot race is not an easy feat. Especially when adversity comes on within day one and in the first 12k. Most can't really understand exactly what we placed our bodies through out there. Atacama Crossing last October was a lucky race in the end taking the silver for women and 14th overall with little adversity. Sri Lanka showcased a new layer of challenges and mental grit that I dug into to again take silver and 9th overall. Enjoy a story by Jackson Hole News&Guide that takes you into the grit the one must endure to come through the finish line and in my case take on 4 more challenges this year in honor of the LymeLight Foundation. Zeal Optics CEP Compression USA Drip Drop Stoked Roasters VOKE TAB Honey Stinger Beet Performer Salomon Running LymeLight Foundation Photo Courtesy of www.4deserts.com / Myke Hermsmeyer

Cheers!

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/sports/features/woman-hopes-to-complete-grueling-footraces/article_c2a4873c-c445-5f19-99d8-a745aa24f3c6.html

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Leaping into the new year with the next training cycle for Namibia and Gobi

Howdy Folks,

The jetlag as surpassed (for the most part), my body is fully rested and thus, I took advantage of the leap day by leaping into the next training cycle. The next segment of training will jump off from my kick start of racing into running shape with a cycle that creates consistency in each week to compound to make the race weeks seem easier. The weeks will look like this:

  • Monday: DAY OFF
  • Tuesday: Long run with pack 15-20 miles depending on the week in the cycle
  • Wednesday: 2nd Long run without pack (10-12 miles)
  • Thursday: AM speed / tempo work (up to 8 miles), PM 3 mile shake out fun run (in the summer ending with ice cream or a smoothie)
  • Friday: Long run with pack 15-20 miles depending on the week in the cycle
  • Saturday: 2nd Long run without pack (10-12 miles)
  • Sunday: AM speed / tempo work (up to 8 miles), PM 3 mile shake out fun run (in the summer ending with ice cream or a smoothie)

I will also squeeze in a hut trip to BC as well as, NYC half marathon and the Grand Traverse skimo race. #bringiton

Cheers,

JAX

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Racing The Planet - Sri Lanka

As a finale post for the journey in Sri Lanka, I leave you with my speech at the awards banquet. I will move all of these blogs over to my website so that as the year goes along folks can follow the entire journey of all 5 deserts in one place. Please enjoy the journey by following on my instagram and Facebook pages as well. And lastly, please take a moment to visit my fundraising page on the Lymelight foundation. We will be raising funds the entire year. I cannot wait to help a child/ young adult with the medical grant they need to heal from Lyme and provide the ability for him/her to get back outdoors. Cheers and be well!

So my husband said something to me in a note for day two:

Here is my parting words at my speech for getting 2nd female and 9th overall =)

"A river cuts through rock, not because of its, power but because of its perseverance." I would have to say, all of us flowed like a river this past week. Whatever the outcome was, we pushed through. These past 7 days have tested every part of our physical and mental beings. We have had to dig deeper into our levels of strength, tenacity, determination, and mental grit than any of us ever knew was possible.
A race like this allows us to approach life struggles and skip the panic and sort to the solutions. A great life lesson to acquire.

It teaches us to bond to another human without judgement and allow our full self to come forth.

It also teaches you that the impossible, is in fact possible. For me, as soon as day one, stage one, in race one as I had already experienced equipment failure, a fall tweaking my knee and was lying down on the trail vomiting I experienced a moment of fear of success to complete the grand slam plus. Mind over matter and I was back on my feet finishing the stage as second female.

What we experience with our team mates here at camp is often more intimate than experiences we might have with our best friends at home.

To Sandy, thank you for your comradely. To Carlos, thank you for lifting me up when I began to fall yesterday. To Ralph, thanks for getting me through the home stretch. To the medical staff, thank you for your countless efforts through my bodies struggles to keep up. To Mary and the entire RTP staff thank you for creating an event for us to experience the ultimate level of human strength and tenacity. To the volunteers, thank you for your countless efforts supporting us. To Olivia and many other individuals thank you for your love, compassion and support. To the entire Sri Lankan community, thank you for the escorts, special excursions and beyond. And to my husband, friends, family, sponsors, thank you for overwhelming support from afar.

And lastly to tent Kandy, I love you all! Thank you for your friendship, love and support. We are a tight family and I cannot wait to cross paths many times in our future adventures.

Please take a moment in the next few days to visit the Lymelight foundation that gives medical grants to children and young adults suffering from Lyme.

I leave you with a quote my husband gave me to take along with me for the challenge to become the first female ever to complete the grand slam plus: "Courage and preserverance are a magical wand, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into thin air."

To all of you I wish you the best on whatever journey is next for you. God bless and namaste."

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Stage 7 - Racing The Planet - Sri Lanka

Hey there folks!

After 61 hours of travel back from Sri Lanka I am stoked to settle my thoughts for a finale post on the epic journey at Sri Lanka. It is a wonderful moment when you find yourself sitting back in your office chair at home at 2am, jetlagged, and you turn on your computer and wonder if that all just really happened or was it a big dream. But then you dip into your social media pages and see the overwhelming support that took place while you were away, peek at event photos from the website, see donations that occurred during the journey for the Lymelight foundation and realize it was not a dream.

My body really went through an epic feat through the jungle, heat, humidity and terrain of Sri Lanka. Those epic moments of highs and lows really happened and all of the love and support from new and old friends out on the course helped carry you through to the finish line.

The last 1.5k for myself and my tent mates was enjoyed in a team walk/jog to the finish. Joining together as a "tent family" we crossed the finish line to what has become a beautiful week as friends and a group of 8 that looked out for each other.

When you reflect back on another 7 days moving your body through rough, rugged, terrain, with everything on your back, you find yourself moving back to the "real world" with a different perspective. Something as little as a "real" toilet vs a hole in the ground with a tarp around it becomes an extreme luxury. It also makes you realize how little you really need to survive and to be content and happy in life. Thus, it also gives you a perspective on consumerism and sheds light to how much one really needs to buy to survive. Lastly, it gives you a perspective of how important and unique your friendships are with your friends and family that have been in your life at various times and new ones made along the running journey. You build a deep appreciation for your relationships near and far.

Looking back at the journey in Sri Lanka it was a huge success for the first step in 5 races this year to become the first female ever to complete the grand slam plus in honor of the Lymelight Foundation and all while scoring 2nd female overall and 9th overall when presented this time with a vast amount of adversity during my journey. It was awesome to hear stories along the way from competitors that have been affected by Lyme in one way of another and sharing how the foundation can help. Reflecting on the last 7 days is one that is a tall tale of stories that include many highs and many lows. The journey becoming one where you almost forget how often you thought on the fly to problem solve to revert your focus to a positive effort to succeed. As if you did not do so, you would fail.

There are many moments along the way that make one realize how large of a feat the Grand Slam Plus really is. It is a meticulous dance with your mind, body and spirit to have your body stay in 100% shape, injury free, strong and healthy for each race over the 10 months. Then within each race it is a process to ensure that each day you push only so hard as to make sure that you can get through the next stages in that race and the next stages all year long. It is a total of 35 race days that need to end across the finish line each time. And of course, I hope to land on the podium each time as icing on the cake. There will be highs and there will be lows as it is naturally expected to be. As those highs and lows come, it is a process to be strong and mighty and ensure that you are successful. Large measures can take place that can remove you from the game such as a big injury or fall, or your body giving up in the climate or terrain. And then the small and unexpected items can happen such as a dog bite, falling in a bathroom hole (sorry that is gross but it was a constant fear out there), eating something bad, a random accident at camp and the list goes on. Furthermore, between races it is additionally a dance to ensure your body stays strong, training is met to stay fit and fast and your mind stays in it.

And most importantly through the whole journey there is the passion and desire to inspire others to get outside and explore as a means to prevent disease and to share my passion to create awareness and raise funds for the Lyme community.

I will leave you with a quote that Nate wrote to me at Zeal Optics while on the course, "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." Hold fast and Explore More!

Go get ‘em folks! And enjoy the journey.

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Stage 6 - Racing The Planet - Sri Lanka

Hey there,

We are sitting in the cyber tent enjoying a beach breeze at our tents are pitched right next to the ocean. Today was long, humid, hot and undulating but we made it through with success. I am happy to finish the final stage as first female today. It was the icing on the cake to handling so much adversity and making one last push. Just thinking about the adversity on this race and pushing through just makes a tear drop down my face. The last 1.5 miles were very hard and hot and it has been tough running alone most of the week. I dug deep and decided to think of someone special in my life every tenth of a mile. 15 special people thinking of our relationship and how much I love and appreciate him or her. One was for my grandma Rose too who I felt was with me today. During this time I also ran past a huge Buddha statue around 20 feet high. It was magical.

After the clock stopped today at 30k, we continued in groups of 8-10 through the national park for another 13.5 miles. They allowed a special circumstance for us to have an escorted walk/run through the park. I hoped to see an elephant but we didn’t end up seeing anything. Our group was the top 8 of the day and we pressed on the brakes and enjoyed the time. Not to say that moments were very hot, and had struggle but we pushed through and around 2:45pm we finished 52.4k for the day and were greeted by the beach. I am grateful for Ralph that kept m company to the end. Yay!

It’s all I  the bag now. Tomorrow our tent decided to run the last 4k as a group to the finish line. We are stoked. Family run. And from there food and celebration and a stinky 5 hour bus ride back to Kandy to a shower!! Yay! We will celebrate tomorrow evening at the banquet together.

My ankle is in one piece. Swollen but all good. I am not sure how I just blocked it out and carried on. Last night I could not take the compression bandage anymore and cut it off. Today it survived just fine but there is another blister and more heat rash. Ack! The day started at 99% humidity and not sure how hot it got but it was hot and sunny.

So now we sit back as the beach breeze blows and congratulate each other on finishing a seriously epic feat this week. It has been a very hard race and my heart and thoughts go to any that had to drop out.

To the finish line tomorrow!

With love and light

Jax

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Stage 5 - Racing The Planet - Sri Lanka

Howwwwwwdy,

Just like that stage 5 is in the books. We have arrived at the town of Yala and everyone is looking forward to the last 55k tomorrow that will take us to the beach at the Indian ocean. We cannot wait. So excited.

Today was smooth sailing with stage 3 being a bit hot. Other than that it rained a ton which was very refreshing. We traveled over a hanging bridge which was cool. The scenery is so beautiful and the terrain is so plush.  I decided to cut a hole in my shoes today due to my foot swelling from my ankle and a gnarly blister underneath from being squished. Worked like a charm. There are so many moments out here where you must problem solve in a snap to stay successful. It is a good life lesson when the issue arise to skip the panic and just go into solution mode.

I am stoked to keep solidifying my position as 2nd lady as well. Not too shabby off of ski training and minimal running.

Our night was very long with non-stop rain at our camp site. It makes things like even going to the bathroom a wet struggle and everyone started today wearing wet clothes but with a smile. It all just adds to the experience to make you tough. Our tent banded together like family to get through. Our tent rocks.

We are having slight moments of rain here at our new camp but mostly sunshine and everything is drying. It is a good reminder that everything shall pass.

Until tomorrow, at the beach!!

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