What happened in Vegas may bring Lea Cure '16 to Boston.
Cure, who represented Salve Regina in 29 cross country meets between 2012 and 2015, raced to a new personal best in the REVEL Mt. Charleston Marathon on April 27. Her finishing time of 3 hours, 25 minutes and 26 seconds is well under the standard – 3:30:00 – for the 2020 Boston Marathon.
But it was no stroke of luck that carried Cure to the fastest of her five career marathons, and an improvement of nearly seven minutes over her previous personal record for 26.2 miles. Months of diligent training spelled success on the course.
"I came into this one much more prepared than in previous marathons. My training was more structured with longer mileage throughout the week," Cure said. "I had a lot more confidence and support when I got to the starting line, which helped me stay positive throughout the race."
The course in Nevada proved to be far different than her previous marathon runs, which include the Walt Disney World Marathon in Florida and the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in New York. The point-to-point course starts on Mount Charleston, at 7,600 feet above sea level, and sends runners downhill toward downtown Las Vegas.
The temperature at the start, where snow lined the mountain tops, was all of 45 degrees. But when runners reached the desert, it was 80 degrees with no cloud cover. Cure was apt not to roll the dice on her pacing – especially over 20 consecutive miles of downhill running – even when her opening half was a faster-than-expected 1:42:30.
"Throughout the first half, I was well under my goal pace, which made me nervous, but I had faith in my training," she said. "I was smart about fueling and my training prepared me for running on tired legs."
As she continued to post even splits in the second half, it was clear to Cure, that, on this day, the odds were in her favor. Her second half – 1:42:56 – was nearly the same as the first. And the finish line at the Thunderbird Family Sports Complex came with a particular sense of accomplishment.
"I had a feeling that everything was falling into place and that I was going to get across the finish line with a PR and a BQ," Cure said. "It was an awesome experience crossing the finish line knowing I had a cushioned BQ time."
Cure knows, from experience, that a Boston-eligible mark is no guarantee of a spot on the starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, next April. Her previous best – 3:32:34, in 2017 – was eligible for the 2018 running of the world's oldest annual marathon. Cure was one of more than 5,000 runners to miss the cut that year.
The Boston Athletic Association adjusted its marathon qualifying standards last year, moving the mark for Cure from 3:35:00 to 3:30:00. She is 4 minutes, 34 seconds clear of the standard. When entries open for 2020, she is content to let the chips fall where they may.
"This time around I trained smarter, put in the work and achieved my goal," Cure said. "While it's not guaranteed that my time will get me in to Boston, I am still really proud of my training and accomplishments that came from this fifth marathon."