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Last year, I shared with you all here at Vinylmation Kingdom a goal I set for myself, with the help of a Vinylmation Daruma Genie. My Daruma Goal for running the Walt Disney World Marathon 5K started March 1st of 2013. The ultimate goal was to successfully finish the 5K down at WDW on January 9, 2014.

In May, I did a brief update of my progress, which was going quite well… but since then, you have not heard anything about it. In October, a series of injuries caused me from taking a breaking runnning 1-2 times a week. Then the cold weather started to settle in here in Upstate NY. That being said, when I boarded the plane on January 7th to head down to Disney, I remained confident that I would finish, but since i didn’t complete a successful running session over 1 mile for over 3 months, I was a little concerned.

The runDisney Marathon Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports

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Prior to the race on Thursday, I headed over Wednesday morning to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to take part in the Expo. Why? Well, in addition to needing to pick up my race bib and t-shirt, I wanted to pick up some of the special merchandise for the event, which was exclusively sold at the Expo. Two of these items were pairs of the official 2014 runDisney shoes by New Balance. This year they were featuring four designs, two men’s designs and two women’s designs. The men’s designs consisted of Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey and Goofy, and the women’s designs took inspiration from Minnie and Cinderella.

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While I was on line to schedule a time to buy the shoes I was looking for (I wanted a pair of Mickey and a pair of Goofy), I met a bunch of people who were going to be running the Inaugural Dopey Challenge. For those of you who are not in the know, the Dopey Challenge consisted of running 4 races in 4 days: the 5k on Thursday, the Inaugural 10K on Friday, the 1/2 Marathon on Saturday, and the Marathon on Sunday. I gave these men and women so much credit for going after it. More importantly, they were just as excited and proud that I was running the 5K (one and done! as I put it). When I started out that day, I was telling people I was “just”running the 5K. With their words of encouragement, I dropped the “just”… they made me feel even more proud that I was running the 5K.

Character statues at the new balance booth, representing the four shoe designs.

Character statues at the new balance booth, representing the four shoe designs.

Once I got my shoes (woohoo), of course I had to go get the 2014 runDisney Vinylmations. This year, instead of an open window design, they went with the “Eachez” concept: the yellow “common” design was ratio-ed 7/10, while the green “variant” design was 3/10. They were also bringing back the race medals for 2014. The Mickey head represents WDW Marathon Weekend. As luck would have it, I was able to get one of each design, and a medal. Pretty sweet.

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While I was at the Expo, runDisney had a fun photo op for Instagram followers… I became Pluto!

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On my way out of the Expo, I came across the 2014 Medal banners. After I took my picture next to the Pluto 5K Medal banner, I got pics of all of the banners, which showed the awesome medals being given out throughout the weekend.

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All in all, I had a fun experience at the Expo. I met some great people, tried some fun and yummy snacks offered by Dole and Clif Bar, and ended up with some fun mementos from the weekend.

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Walt Disney World Family Fun 5K

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I woke early, got my Figment hat and running gear on, and headed on the Monorail from where I was staying (The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort) to Epcot, where the race was being held. The crowds gathered, 10,000 in all: 7,000 participants taking part in the Dopey Challenge and the other 3,000 participating in the 5K alone. The vibe was electric as we gathered and prepared to race. Among my fellow runners I came across a lot of awesome costumes: most notably a handmade Olaf hat and Snow White with her Dwarves.

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Finally, it was time to start the race!

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Ready… Set… GO!

First stop: meeting Flik and Atta from A Bug's Life.

First stop: meeting Flik and Atta from A Bug’s Life.

Mile 1... just under a 1/3 of the way done!

Mile 1… just under a 1/3 of the way done!

Entering World Showcase.. beautiful in the early morning light.

Entering World Showcase.. beautiful in the early morning light.

Fuzzy picture, but it's Norway Daisy!

Fuzzy picture, but it’s Norway Daisy!

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Random World Showcase Pictures

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Inspirational quote on the walls of the new Spice Table Road in Morocco.

Inspirational quote on the construction walls of the new Spice Table Road in Morocco… which is now open.

By now, the rain had started falling more steadily. Up until now it was spritzing, but nothing major. At this point, I decided to not even try to run. I did not want to slip and fall, injuring myself prior to the rest of my vacation. I continued on…

Emile and Remy greeting guests in France. The line was too long for me to wait... especially in the rain.

Emile and Remy greeting guests in France. The line was too long for me to wait… especially in the rain.

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Pictures from the International Gateway Bridge.

Mile 2! at the International Gateway.

Mile 2! at the International Gateway.

Figment had to take a picture in front of his home!

Figment had to take a picture in front of his home!

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Various pictures of Spaceship Earth and the course circled around it.

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Almost there! Mile 3.

Almost there! Mile 3.

Finish line just after I crossed it. Pay no attention to the timer... I started a good 20 minutes after that. :)

Finish line just after I crossed it. Pay no attention to the timer… I started a good 20 minutes after that. :)

I finished! Yay!

My with my medal. WOOHOO for Pluto!

My with my medal. WOOHOO for Pluto!

After you cross the finish line, they run you through some photo booths to get your official end of race photo, and then they give you a nice snack box and some drinks in order to build back up your energy. After you collect your belongings at check in (assuming you dropped anything off), they have a DJ playing music in an area where you can meet up with friends and family, and take pictures with characters on hand.

Celebrating my win with Donald Duck... he had the shortest line out of all the characters.

Celebrating my win with Donald Duck… he had the shortest line out of all the characters.

I was feeling tired, and the lines for some of the characters were probably about an hour long, so I headed back to the room to shower and get ready to spend the day in the parks with friends. However, before doing so, I just had to fill in that left eye of Daruma Wishes Genie… something I was waiting over 10 months to do.

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And that is my runDisney 5K experience… a very enjoyable one at that.

Aftermath

So, what’s next for me? Well, I have decided that next year I am going to try and run the 5K AND the 10K down at WDW Marathon Weekend. I am looking into joining a local gym (Planet Fitness), so I can work out in addition to my run/walk training outdoors. This will give me the ability to strengthen my upper body (which has been lacking since taking a desk job) as well as my ankles (which hurt the most after the 5K). What’s great is that my friends who ended up not being able to run with me this year are already planning on running with me next year, so that is even more of an incentive.

Unfortunately, I do not have a new Daruma Wishes Vinylmation in order to help facilitate my goal keeping this time around… and the main driver for me reporting about my 5K and everything here at Vinylmation Kingdom. So, chances are you won’t be seeing much regarding my 2015 WDW Marathon Weekend goal on this site. However, Matt has started up a Facebook group called VK Running, where members of the Vinylmation/ Disney community can get together, share stories, and support one another. I am already a member over there, and will be reporting on my 5K/10K goal. I invite you to join our growing group over there. It’s a wonderful group of supportive people.

As always, I would like to thank all of my supporters, both in “real life” and virtually through Vinylmation Kingdom and Facebook, for the support I was given over the past year. I still have a long ways to go until I am truly a healthier me… but I am on the right track, I think. Best thing? I now have a renewed strength about myself… that if i just put my mind to it, I can do it. That’s the best.

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, everyone… and thank you again.