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Panzer conquers ultra marathon

Is already training for a 31-mile run on May 12

Staff writer

Everyone deserves awards for an accomplishment. What were Kodi Panzer’s gifts to herself after completing the Cedro Peak Ultra Marathon April 7 in Tijeras, N.M.?

She bought:

  • Three new pairs of running shoes. She said the shoes she wore for the 45-mile race were destroyed by the rocky terrain. They have been relegated to mowing duty.
  • Two cases of high-calorie goo for snacks for future runs.
  • Gator ankle protectors. The rocks on the course had the tendency to leap up from the track and lodge in Panzer’s socks and shoes.
  • Knuckle lights. Starting before the sun rose and crossing the finish line as it set, Panzer used a head lamp to combat the darkness. She wasn’t a fan of the way she had to hold her head to illuminate her path.

These purchases are designed to aid Panzer during future ultra marathons. She said she immediately started thinking of running another after she crossed the finish line in New Mexico.

When she arrived home in Marion, she signed up for two more ultras — Rock Lake Perry 50K (31 miles) May 12 in Meridian and the Lunar Trek Night Race 50K July 27 in Scandia. She is also planning to run the Heartland 50-mile course in October in Cassoday.

If she completes four races in a year, she feels she will have the resume to run a 100-mile trek in 2013.

Panzer had trouble getting up after sitting in the half hour car ride from the race. She could not sleep the night after the race because she was extremely sore. She struggled getting on and off the plane. Other passengers would pass by as they were deplaning to ask if she was OK.

She rested one day when she got back to Marion, just mowing her lawn which helped break up the lactic acid built up in her legs. The next day she ran four miles. Two weeks later she is back to running 55 miles a week.

What has taken ultra marathons from a bucket list item before she ran in New Mexico to a habit after the mountainous race is confidence born from overcoming extreme obstacles.

“For you to come from Kansas, get lost, and finish it. You’ve got guts,” Panzer said.

The obstacles started at the beginning of the course. The terrain was filled with jagged, sharp rocks.

“For the first five miles, I feel like I kicked every rock possible,” Panzer said.

The rocks tore up Panzer’s feet. After the race, she learned she lost three toenails. She felt the nail on her big toe rip off after one impact.

“It was the worst pain ever,” Panzer said. “It was battle scars.”

As the miles racked up, the pain in her feet started to dull. At mile 32, her feet were numb.

The second immediate problem was trying to breathe, drink, eat, and run in combination. Panzer said breathing and drinking were difficult with the high altitude. She drank 150 ounces of water during the 13-hour run, way less than suggested. She took in 900 calories of food but burned 6,000.

Because of dehydration and hunger, Panzer had minor hallucinations in the later portions of the race. She said she saw lions, snakes, and vehicles along the road. She told herself that she was on a mountain; it was impossible for vehicles to be up here. She would shake her head, and they would disappear.

However, the largest hurdle was getting lost. Instead of running the prescribed 45-mile distance slated for the race, Panzer ran 50 miles after she was detoured at the 12-mile aid station. She followed two other runners down a path. She figured she was going in the right direction. She soon started to believe something was wrong when she stopped spotting flags along the trailside. When she saw a forlorn flag in a tree, she decided to keep going in the loop. She had heard that flags had been vandalized and moved.

When she arrived back at the 12-mile aid station, Panzer was scared and frustrated. She and the other two runners coordinated with the station volunteer who found out the runners could switch to the 28-mile course instead.

Even though she had wasted a tremendous amount of time, Panzer still wanted to finish the race. She decided to run until the 28-mile checkpoint and assess her progress. Above all, she wanted to avoid a DNF designation — did not finish.

“I’m glad it happened to me,” Panzer said. “I was able to power through it.”

Even the strongest people have doubts. Panzer seriously contemplated quitting twice. Before she reached the 33-mile marker, her 38th mile, she said she would consider dropping out when she reached the aid station. Waiting for her, were friends Jason and Anna Taylor. Jason completed the race and finished fourth. They encouraged her to keep going to the station at 40 miles.

A small part of Panzer wanted to finish the 50-mile run just so she would have bragging rights over Jason Taylor that she had run a longer race.

In reaching down deep to finish the race, Panzer ran her fastest stretch in the final 12 miles. She made it the finish line at 7 p.m., an hour before the time limit. She ran 45 miles in 11 hours, 38 minutes.

“Gosh, should I go back and do it again and see how fast I can go?” Panzer asked herself after the race.

Why did Panzer go through all that punishment? Why is she already training to go through it again?

Panzer said there was an incredible feeling of joy and accomplishment after completing the race. She could not wait to recount the events of the race with her patients at Panzer Chiropractic in Hillsboro.

“I don’t think I stopped smiling for a week,” she said.

Last modified May 3, 2012

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