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.

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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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