Chandler Self’s Dallas Marathon Recap


Photo credit: Ryan Lange

Last Sunday, I ran the BMW Dallas Marathon. With a little more than 1,000 female finishers, and just under 2,000 male finishers, it’s a small marathon in a big city. I started with 10 “elite” (sub-3:10) females 40 minutes before the rest of the participants started. Also at the elite start was one high school female relay runner who would pass the baton every 2 miles to the next high school female. With eleven of us on the starting line, cameras in front of us, and the live feed on the jumbotron above us, I think we all felt like a rockstars.  

When the gun went off, everyone sprinted. I was in last place for the first 1200 meters. Slowly, a few of the girls caught sight of their watches and slowed down. I continued to hang back at about 6:35 pace for the first few miles, which put me at about 5th place around mile 6. For the next few miles, I just ran my race, without worrying too much about anyone else, though I did try to keep Caitlin Keen in my sights.

I knew Caitlin had run a 1:20 half recently, but I also knew this was her first marathon at age 24. I was worried. She had good running form. But, I had both experience and age in my favor, and I knew it.

Taking the advice my teammate Francesca had given me the night before, I began to trail Caitlin by about 20 meters. Though not marked on the road, I ran the tangents of the course. With so many turns and curves to the road, I found it odd that she didn’t as well. Although looking at our Strava’s now, I see she only ran 0.1 meters more than me.

I surged twice to catch up to Caitlin during miles 10-15, because I thought it might be helpful for us both to run together. However, when I caught up to her, she and I “one-stepped” each other. I knew it was too early to push the pace, so I told her I was backing off. She said “I hear you. Totally understandable.”

Around mile 15, I caught up to her and ran next to her. I asked her how she was doing, and she asked me. We both said “good.”  Then I told her, “You and I have 1st and 2nd place for sure.” And she responded, “Yes, definitely.” We ran quietly together for the next 3 miles. The go-cart with the camera was in front of us. I wondered if the exhaust was affecting my breathing. I wondered how I looked on camera. I could see out of the corner of my eye that her form was still pristine.

Throughout the marathon, I saw my family and friends at multiple places along the course. They had big signs and cheered really loud.  The course was very hilly and because I hadn’t studied the course very closely, each hill was a surprise. But I did know about the Winstead Street hill at mile 20, which is longer and steeper than Harlem Hill. I knew that if I was in a position to make a tactical move, I wanted to do it after that hill.

However, I saw my parents at mile 18. Seeing them made me smile, and I felt strong. I continued running the same pace. But now Caitlin wasn’t next to me, she had fallen back. I got worried–now I was in a vulnerable place. She could hunt me down on the hill. I’m not a strong hill runner. I decided to tackle the hill slowly and steadily.  I’d make up for it after the hill was over.

When I saw my parents again at mile 22,  my dad made a hand gesture to show that Caitlin was far back. I couldn’t believe it. This was the first time I realized I was going to win the Dallas Marathon. I was so excited!! Then I looked at my time, and thought, geez I might even get a PR!! I declined fluid at the aid station. I was running so well, I didn’t want to interrupt my pace with silly water! It wasn’t hot outside and I didn’t think I was sweating much.  My nutrition at that point was 3 clif shot block packages, one at 10K, one at 20K and one at 30K.

Then I was coming into the finish! I saw the finish line! And it was UPHILL. My legs gave out. Ariana Luterman, who was running the last 2 mile leg of the female high school relay team, saw me fall and came to help me. I asked her to stop touching me. I got up, and kept running. It felt like knives stabbing into my quads. The rest is on video gone viral.

Caitlin Keen is likely going to run a faster marathon than I’ll ever run. My marathon years are numbered, hers are just beginning. But for this race, I got to win a marathon. Which is probably about the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.

P.S. While I understand that Ariana was acting instinctively, I wish I had been able to convey that I didn’t want any aid during my finish.


More about Dashing Whippets Running Team

The Dashing Whippets Running Team is a New York based running team that is founded on, and driven by, the diversity of our team members. With team members from all over the city, the country and the world, and with greatly different running goals, we find unity in recognizing and appreciating each others differences and our mutual enjoyment of running and participating in the New York running community and beyond.

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