Race Report: Carrera de los Muertos 5K

I have wanted to do this race for YEARS. That sounds weird, right? It’s just a 5K. But usually other races got in the way, so this year was the first year I registered. I even convinced my husband to do the race, too! His mom’s family is from Mexico, so I think he liked the idea of running with [half] his people.

Anywho, earlier in the fall, I thought I might be able to do some speedwork and put up a nice time, maybe a PR if the stars aligned. Then I got some terrible congestion, luckily it wasn’t a sinus infection, but according to the nurse practitioner at the CVS clinic, I was congested back to my ears and “if you blow your nose too hard, you might rupture an eardrum.” They spent a lot of time looking at my ears and commenting on the colors and the fact that I must have had ear infections as a kid. It’s always comforting when a medical professional wants to get a second look at something on your body, and show it to the other person in the room. Anyway, it was also causing a sore throat which was quite painful at night. So I was on a nice mix of nasal rinse, two different nose sprays, the “good” [meth] Sudafed, cough syrup with codeine, and ibuprofen. That did the trick, and a week later I was off the drugs and feeling normal, but with the expection of the 5K fun run at work, I didn’t run or work out at all for almost two weeks. [I did get a massage though.] Short story long, I went into this race with no goals and zero expectation of a PR or even a personal best 5K time for the year.

The race website recommended using public transit because parking was scarce (or something to that extent) but I’m a yuppie and usually avoid taking public transit if it’s not rush hour. I figured we could leave early and take the L, or leave at the same time and drive, and get home quicker. We got down to Pilsen around 7am (racetime was 8am), easily found a parking spot and sat in the car for 20+ minutes. I suggested we make out, but we ended up talking instead, what?? Worst date ever. But we still steamed up the windows.

We got to the race site around 7:35, once again, I was late for the Chicago Running Bloggers meet-up that I scheduled. However, the race site was pretty dang crowded. I found Gear Check, which was under a train viaduct (and blocked the wind, smart), meaning it was dark. And the gear check was a long line of tables. But Emily managed to find the Sailor and me. Probably because our bib numbers were close and we had to check our bags at the same table.

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 3.29.21 PM Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 3.29.34 PM

After pictures, it was time to take off my pants [what else is new], check my bag and head to the start. The port-o lines weren’t too long so I figured might as well stop there first.

I ran into Amanda in the start corral, she looked very festive in an FNRC tank and skull arm warmers and tights. We chatted for a bit before she headed up to the 7:00 pace sign. I lined up around the 8:00 pace sign. Which was a mistake. It wasn’t until maybe two minutes before the race was supposed to start that I looked around and realized 90% of the people around me will not actually be running an 8:00 pace. And it was too crowded to try to shove my way forward, so I resigned myself to lots of weaving. I spent the first mile weaving around people in down coats, even a woman carrying bags, children, and people walking (or running slower than me). I was able to run on the sidewalk for a bit, which certianly helped. I think by mile 2 it had opened up and was fine.

The course was on closed streets through Pilsen, and there was some fun entertainment and one water station along the way. I tried to keep my heart rate in my 5K zone. I did have to stop around mile 2 to tie my shoes, but I knew it wasn’t a PR day, so whatevs. As we neared the finish, we ran down 18th street and it smelled like fajitas which is normally awesome, but not at the end of a 5K when you should feel like puking already.

I finished in 24:15. Two minutes slower than my PR, and not my fastest 5K for 2013. But whatever, I still beat my husband by like 10 minutes. WINNING.

Post-race it was really crowded, so once I found him and he caught his breath and had some water, we headed back to the car. However, we did stop by a tamale cart  near where we parked and bought some tamales con pollo y arroz con leche and tried to speak what little Spanish Español we know with the nice tamale lady mujer. I had a couple dos tamales when we got home while my husband mi esposo was in the shower and holy crap they were so delicious dios mío, muy deliciosoI don’t think it was just because I hadn’t eaten anything else at that point.

So, if you do the Carerra de los Muertos 5K in 2014, my advice:

  • Get there early to find parking
  • If you plan to actually race, no matter your pace, line up in the front
  • Make sure to buy some grub off a street cart before you leave the neighborhood

Overall, it’s a pretty fun race in a different neighborhood than most races in Chicago. Also, the shirt is pretty sweet.

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18 Comments on “Race Report: Carrera de los Muertos 5K”

  1. Maggie, it was great to see you and Robert yesterday! I had so much fun at the race! By the way, thank you for telling me about the event since I’d never heard about it until you mentioned it to me at the Chicago Half Marathon. I loved this recap, especially the Spanish phrases. =) And Iouldn’t agree with you more about the crowdedness, the walkers, the shirt, and the food. Tamales, yummmmmmm…..

  2. Did you have to use Google Translate for those translations? 🙂 Anyway, glad you did not get sick at the end of the race. I think a lot of these big races have the problem of “runners” not lining up correctly. When I see a dude wearing jeans and rockin’ a cassette Walkmen lined up in front of me, I know I’m in for a lot of weaving. Mmm those tamales sound delicious. Oh yeah, that is a cool shirt.

  3. I think I would do that race only for the shirt. Holy crap, that is awesome.

    I hate the fajita smell – that’s my least favorite part of the Chicago Marathon course, I always feel like I am going to vomit, lol.

  4. Oh god, a down jacket. It’s like the random person I always seem to see wearing either jeans or flannel PJ pants at races. It’s usually my goal to beat those folks 😉

    Nice time for just coming off being so sick! Glad to hear you’re feeling better!

  5. I had a similar experience as you. I lined up between the 8:00 & 9:00 pace groups, and it wasn’t until a few minutes before the start when I noticed the people around me were in fleece pajama pants. There was no way I could make my way up to the front at that point. Even right at the very start people were walking and right down the middle of the road, not even off to the right. Needless to say, I had to weave for the first 1.2 miles. I didn’t even think to go on the sidewalk, but that would have been smart. I think I also saw the lady carrying the bags. Did you see the kid on the scooter? That is still a good time considering the craziness! The shirt was great, and I LOVED the food smells at the end! Those sopes were bien! Next time I’d definitely start further up. And here I was trying to be fair and honest with my projected pace!

  6. That shirt IS schweet! Holy cow! I wonder why so many people were lined up wrong at this race! I am happy you still had a speedy time and were well enough to run at all.

    And I REALLY hope you get that make-out date!!!!

    1. I think this was more of a “community” race, and I wonder if it had a lot of people participating because they were affiliated with the charter school it was benefitting. So, probably LOTS of newbies/non-runners who don’t know usual race etiquette. It reminded me of the first Turkey Trot I did.

  7. That shirt is ADORABLE! Also- great time for coming off of the disgusting cold! I still feel tired from mine… I think it’ll be another week before I feel 100%.

    Um, I also laughed out loud twice at this post. First about the pants and second the “winning,” clearly I am very mature.

  8. You know, I heard so much about this being the fastest 5K in the CHI that I just assumed people would line up correctly. I subconsciously noted a huge void between me (7:00 pace sign) and then the 6s were virtually empty and a ton of people were up at the front in the 5s. I was so excited and wanting to run fast that it never really hit me until we started. Then I was like, “oh my gosh, this is not where I need to be”. And it was too late. I literally split parties in two, multiple times, by tapping two people on the shoulder(s) and asking if I could please squeeze thru. I’m not sure I’ve ever weaved so much in any other race. Then it finally thinned out about 1.5 mi in and I think I lost my “give a damn” by then cuz I started slowing down. I wasn’t tired. I didn’t run too fast in the beginning, I was just over it, knowing my chances at a skull were long gone. LOL!

  9. I love this report. Sweet shirt indeed! My team friends went for the skulls (awards) which are sweet, too! So bummed that this race is always NYC Marathon Sunday and I miss it! Maybe after next year I can stick around and do it!

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