Nov. 26, 2012
Twenty-sixth in a series of the top 30 moments from the California International Marathon’s colorful history. The 30th anniversary race is on Dec. 2. By John Schumacher
The running moms stood tall in the 2006 California International Marathon.
Midori Sperandeo had given birth 10 months earlier, giving her two young boys under 3 on race day. Jen Pfeifer was raising an 18-month-old daughter when she stepped to the starting line.
And then the two local training partners went out and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Marathon Trials.
Sperandeo went out fast and hung on for a 2-hour, 45-minutes and 56-seconds finish, beating the Trials’ qualifying standard of 2:47. She then turned and watched Pfeifer, who raced more conservatively, turn the corner onto Capitol Mall and finish in 2:46:20.
Their hug and their smiles said it all.
“I was really happy,” said Sperandeo, who lives in Folsom. “I felt I got everything out of my body that I could.
“I think for both of us really special moments in time. It was really great we both achieved our goal together.”
Pfeifer, who lives in Shingle Springs, said she still savors the achievement.
“The race is still a moment in time that I truly cherish,” she said. “I was lucky to have the support of my family and a great training group that kept me motivated after having Lauren.”
Sperandeo said the two clicked as training partners.
“Jen and I had some really great training together, just a lot of camaraderie between the two of us,” she said. “We are close friends and extremely compatible training partners.”
Midori’s husband, Leonard Sperandeo, coached the two. Pfeifer noted his belief in her ability to qualify for the Trials was a big factor in her success.
On a clear, cold day, the two moms dug deep and found a way to reach their goal.
“I saw Leonard on the course at 20 miles,” said Sperandeo, who was 40. “He didn’t think we were going to make it. She (Pfeifer) didn’t look so bad. I was in a lot of pain.”
Pfeifer, who was 35, recalled gaining strength in the closing miles.
“The early miles clicked off and I watched Midori float away from me but I stuck to my race plan,” she said. “CIM is deceptively challenging for the first 13 miles and I knew that if I wanted to be running 6:19 pace down J Street then I needed to be conservative for the first half.”
She ran with a pace group from miles 20-23, then felt good enough to surge ahead on her own.
“As I approached the turn toward the finish line I looked at my watch and knew I had it,” Pfeifer said. “All I kept thinking was, ‘Please don’t trip and fall.’
“It was just such a special moment that I will always remember.”
Sperandeo finished 89th in the 2008 Trials with a 2:49:05 effort. Pfeifer, who gave birth to her son 16 weeks before the Trials, placed 122nd in 3:06:57.
Sperandeo went on to qualify for her fourth U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Pfeifer returned to her ultra-marathon roots, winning 11 50k trail races in the last three years.
The CIM is put on by the Sacramento Running Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.
Other SRA events include the recently concluded Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 3 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 7.
SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.