Jen Pfeifer is an amazingly talented runner that spent much of her youth right here in Half Moon Bay, CA. In last year's HMBIM she ran the marathon in 3:05:55, 6th place overall and 1st place female! A quick search on marathon results reveals that Jen's marathon PR is at least a 2:46:20! Needless to say she is not only amazing but consistantly amazing through the years. She also runs ultramarathons, recently completing the Western States 100 in a PR time of 21:31:20 (yes, that's 21 hours)! Locals, if you're looking for a favorite to cheer through the finisher's chute to the victory, Jen is your woman. I had the great pleasure of asking her a few questions about the 2011 and upcoming 2012 HMBIM:
Jen, it's great having you back for the 2012 HMBIM! Last year's inaugural event was wonderful fun; so much so we're doing it again. The staff and volunteers have countless memories that fuel our smiles for this year's race. What was your fondest memory of last year's marathon?
I had a wonderful time running the HMBIM last year. There were many great memories but the best was heading out to the Montara Lighthouse and running through the neighborhood where I grew up. Also, my parents were working at the [Fitgerald Marine Reserve] aid station so it was fun to see them at that point in the race.
You're so thorough when preparing for races - the evidence is in your amazing finish times at CIM (2:46:18), HMBIM (3:05:54), and numerous ultramarathons. Because of its unique differences from a standard marathon course, the HMBIM may require modifications to a normal training routine. What modifications did you make? Can you give us a little hint on how you trained (without giving away your secrets of course)?
When training for the HMBIM I definitely took into account the varied terrain of the course. I spent the summer training for some trail ultra races and then in August I added some marathon-pace work into my routine. In my opinion, one of biggest challenges of the marathon is to train your body to handle running the same goal pace for 26.2 miles. I am a big believer in practicing that pace during training by including 8, 10, or 12 mile segments of marathon pace into my long runs. For HMBIM training I did these runs on routes that included some road, runnable trails and hills.
I know you have a history with Half Moon Bay outside of the race. Can you tell us why HMBIM is so special to you?
HMBIM is special to me in many ways. HMB is my hometown and I grew up running on the same trails that we run on during the marathon. I also look forward to the cooler weather and beautiful views of the ocean after training through the summer in the hot valley.
Last year you took first place in the women's marathon, a full 26 minutes ahead of the second place female! Congratulations! With the increased exposure of the HMBIM and larger field I'm sensing you'll have more competition in 2012. Are you running to win this year?
I am looking forward to testing myself on this course again this year. That said, I have had different training this summer compared to last year. This year I ran the Western States 100 at the end of June which meant that I didn't do much training through July. I am not sure how this will impact my race this year but I am still looking to run my best and go for the win!
And finally, given that you're a veteran of the race, what advice would you give a first-time HMBIM runner?
My advice to a first-timer running HMBIM is to be mindful of running too fast early in the race. In addition, I would recommend keeping a steady, comfortable pace on the hills. There are plenty of flat sections to make up some time and being conservative on the hills will keep you running strong during the last part of the race.
If you could describe your 2011 HMBIM marathon experience in one song, what would that song be?
I had a hard time picking just one song to represent my HMBIM marathon experience. I have many fond memories of running on sections of the course during summer cross country practice. I can remember blasting 80's music in my car while driving to and from practice with my brother. Therefore, I am going to pick the entire 80's decade of music to represent my experience.