Sophomore Paige Baize lives strong for LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon

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Paige Baize crosses over Barton Creek during a training session on Wednesday for the Livestrong Austin Marathon. Baize, a pre-pharmacy sophomore, will be one of the 19,000 runners anticipated to participate in the marathon on Sunday morning.

Photo Credit: Nathan Goldsmith | Daily Texan Staff

The hardest step pre-pharmacy sophomore and runner Paige Baize has taken is the one out the door, she said.

“I think of the last mile to mile-and-a-half of the marathon and how that’s going to feel,” Baize said as she recalled her marathon run training. “The runs aren’t that bad, but getting up, getting dressed — that’s the hardest part.”

Baize works 30 hours a week as a pharmacy technician at Walgreens in addition to taking a full course load. But she has not allowed her work or academic schedules to interfere with her first marathon, that she plans to run on Sunday and has been training for since Nov. 10.

“I’m getting more and more nervous, but excited too,” Baize said. “On my run today, I was running fast because of all of the adrenaline and anticipation [for the marathon].”

The LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon will take place on Sunday. The race will begin for all marathon, half-marathon and 5K runners at the north end of the Capitol near the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum with the finish line on the south side of the Capitol, according to race director John Conley.

This year Conley anticipates 19,000 runners, with the majority being half-marathon runners.

“Running a marathon is the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest,” Conley said. “We get a fair number of people for that this is their first running event. It might not be pretty, but they just want to finish.”

Baize ran cross country and track in high school while also keeping up with basketball, softball, cheerleading and additionally volleyball her freshman year. However, she never actually ran more than six miles at a time during high school and had never run a half-marathon, she said.

This adjustment to running longer distances on her weekend workouts was her way of testing her mental toughness. Currently, her longest training run is 21 miles.

“I talk to myself a lot during runs,” Baize said. “I yell to myself, ‘You’re tough as nails.’ It’s a pride thing. It’s one of those things if I say I’m going to do it, I am.”

Baize acknowledged she wouldn’t have been able to make it through some of her tougher workouts without communicating with her running partner during practice, her 33 year-old cousin Tara Moore, who has much more experience with longer runs.

Moore said she has always loved sports and the opportunity she has to coach track for A&M Consolidated High School in College Station. However, with the added responsibility of motherhood, Moore had yet to run a marathon. It wasn’t until the recent birth of her son Champ that she decided to call Baize, who was dedicated enough to join her, she said.

“We used to hardly ever talk to each other except when the family got together, but I thought if anyone could do it, it would be her,” Moore said. “I thought she would question it initially, but she never even hesitated when I asked her.”

Baize and Moore committed to a training regime without a personal trainer or coach. Although Moore is a track coach, neither of them had someone telling them when to run, how far to run and how to listen to their bodies. Any motivation was internal or from texts and phone calls to each other.

“It would have been easier with a coach, but it made me more committed,” Baize said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now. We’re both really accountable.”

They have decided their marathon game plan will consist of running in six-mile increments, taking breaks to refuel and listen to their bodies, while keeping walking to a minimum.

“Most of my runs are in the dark without any music,” Baize said. “You have to have mental toughness to get through that.”

Although Baize has kept to her training schedule, she has still faced critics — people telling her that she wouldn’t be able to run such a long distance without first doing a half-marathon.

“Maybe I’m rash for jumping right into this, but I know I can do this,” Baize said. “I will do this.”

Meanwhile, Moore has had to juggle training her own track students and running a household. A marathon hardly seemed in the picture a few months ago.

“There are foot cramps, lost toe nails. People don’t understand why we put our bodies through this,” Moore said. “But it’s that sense of achievement you get that makes it worthwhile.”

For their last week of practice, most runners carbo-load, making sure enough glycogen has been stored in the muscles pre-run. Baize and Moore will both eat pasta, potatoes and other high-carb foods, while also taking it easy.

Although both ladies are undecided if this will be their only marathon, health permitting, they both have interest in running another.

“When I signed up, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Baize said. “I’ve really tested my guts, what I have in me. When you’re faced with something, you learn if you can handle it.” 

Printed on Friday, February 17, 2012 as: First-Time marathoner finds strength for LIVESTRONG