MCM preview: Miles 1-13

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MCM preview: Miles 1-13

Want to know what to expect from the course of the 37th Marine Corps Marathon? CSNwashington.com's resident MCM veteran is here to give you the skinny on what to expect on race day in a two-part MCM preview.

Have a pair of old running shoes lying around?  Bring them with you to the Health and Fitness Expo at the DC Armory where you'll pick up your race day packet.  There you can donate your old shoes to local homeless shelters and receive a 5 dollar gift card from DSW in return.  The Expo will be held Thursday, October 25 from 4-8 p.m., Friday, October 26 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday, October 27 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. 

Grab your race bib in the pick-up tent across from the Armory then head inside to expo to claim your MCM long-sleave shirt and check out over 200 vendors.

The metro will open at 5 a.m. on race day and runners should use the Pentagon station to access the MCM starting line.  Race day parking is also available in Crystal City at 23rd Street and Crystal Drive with shuttle service that will bring you to the Runners Village.  Post-race shuttles and taxis will also be available at the Finish Festival, which is accessible from the Rosslyn Metro Station.  

This year's start line is located jut beyond the Pentagon, along Arlington National Cemetery.  Runners will head north down Route 110 and will pass the first mile marker directly in the heart of Rosslyn. Be prepared for a slow start after the gun --you might have a lengthy wait to reach the start but this will be subtracted from your official time. After passing that first mile marker (just 25.2 more to go!), you'll hang a right onto North Lynn Street, avoiding a very daunting Wilson Boulevard hill looming ahead. You won't be skirting an incline entirely though. Before reaching the Key Bridge you'll turn up Lee Highway and begin to ascend its slightly less-steep cousin where the course rises about 150 feet in elevation from the first mile marker to just beyond the second.

With the largest hill of your 26.2-mile journey behind you, you'll find the first water station. Now, I'm not here to tell anyone how to run their race, but chances are most runners won't need water after just two miles. If you happen to be with me on that, avoid the slowdowns on the sides of the streets and stick to the middle of the road --the second water and gatorade station lies just two more miles ahead. From this point you'll enjoy a little better than a mile-and-a-half of down hill running along tree-lined Spout Run and George Washington Parkway.  You may still find yourself cutting around other runners but the course will open up a bit more after the Mile-4 marker when you reach the Key Bridge.

As you make your way up the slight incline to the bridge (and are blinded by the morning sun) you'll hear the roar of thousands of spectators waiting to greet you as you cross into DC. From here you should find a bit more separation from other runners and will be able to begin settling into your target pace. After crossing the bridge, the course takes a turn away from Georgetown and heads into the woods along Canal Road before looping back to MacArthur Boulevard between Miles 6 and 7. The turn will also bring you through the Palisades neighborhood as you climb the second largest, but thankfully last significant, hill of the course on MacArthur. On the downward slope back to Georgetown, you'll reach Mile-8 just before hopping on M Street to make your way through picturesque Georgetown and the first big pop of spectators.

Just beyond nine miles in you'll come across the first food station: oranges!  Grab a few wedges to refuel before exiting Georgetown onto the Rock Creek Parkway, where you'll follow the Potomac River notching Mile 10 after the Kennedy Center and Mile 11 at the Lincoln Memorial, then continue along the Potomac on Ohio Drive to head out to Hains Point, a somewhat lonely and sparsely spectator-lined place.  The MCM crew seems to think of everything though: to counter the lack of traditional crowd noise you'll find several stages set up along the 3-mile loop featuring bands and dance groups -plenty of entertainment to keep you motivated out on the island.  

Or simply find your own motivation in hitting the halfway point. Your call.

Either way, there will be a band, a Clif Shots station and, thankfully, a water station to follow. Keep it up -you're half way there.

Part Two: Miles 14-26.2

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VIDEO: Dee Gordon homers in Marlins' 1st at-bat since Jose Fernandez' death

VIDEO: Dee Gordon homers in Marlins' 1st at-bat since Jose Fernandez' death

As the Marlins' leadoff hitter, Dee Gordon was the first to step into the batter's box on Monday night in the team's first game since the death of superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez.

It was an emotional moment after the team embraced at the pitcher's mound in his memory. Gordon began by imitating Fernandez' stance on the first pitch from Mets starter Bartolo Colon. That was great, but what happened next could not have been scripted.

Gordon hit his first homer of the season to the upper deck in right field and broke down into tears as he rounded the bases. He was then comforted in the dugout by teammates as he stepped off the field.

See it for yourself:

That's just amazing.

[RELATED: Thoughts on the death of Marlins star Jose Fernandez]

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Nats offer first reaction to playing the Dodgers in NL Division Series round

Nats offer first reaction to playing the Dodgers in NL Division Series round

The Nationals do not yet know where Game 1 will take place, but they do know for certain that they will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series beginning Oct. 7. They have seven games remaining on their schedule and four off-days after that before their playoffs begin. That's 11 full days to ponder their opponent, a Dodgers team that just happened to pummel them this season 5-1 in head-to-head games.

The Nats, though, see an evenly matched foe. Keep in mind that regular season records sometimes mean very little in the crapshoot that is October. The Mets, for instance, went 0-7 against the Cubs last year, only to sweep them out of the playoffs in the NLCS.

"I think we match up pretty good against them," manager Dusty Baker said of the Dodgers, a team he spent eight years with as a player.

"Anybody that’s gotten this far, there’s not much difference between the teams and talent. It just depends on who’s hot and who’s not and who gets the best pitching, who gets the most clutch, in particular two-out hits. Some of the challenges they present is they have a pile of a left-handed hitters and powerful left-handed hitters, and they hit the ball out of the ballpark. They got a good team. They got a good bullpen. We haven’t even seen [rookie pitcher Kenta] Maeda yet."

The Nats have almost two weeks to prepare for the Dodgers. But really, they have had them in mind for longer than that. Once the San Francisco Giants started slipping in the NL West race, L.A. emerged as the clear favorite to win the division.

"It will be a fun series," reliever Shawn Kelley said. "I think for a while now we've known it was going to be us and the Dodgers. Now it's just about are we going there or are they coming here first."

"First team we've gotta try to beat," center fielder Trea Turner said. "It's a matter of formulating a gameplan to beat those pitchers who have been really good all year. Especially, [Clayton] Kershaw now that he's back. Their lineup is deep. They've got a lot of veteran players and a good mix of young guys that have done it all year."

The Nationals enter Monday night 1 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers. If they are to finish with the same record, the Dodgers will get home field advantage based on their head-to-head series record.

Baker offered a measured take on what home field advantage would mean to the Nats.

“It’s not necessary because you’ve seen sometimes the home field doesn’t really matter. It depends on who’s hot during that series," he said. "But sure, anytime I can get home field advantage, we’ll take it, especially because you don’t have to go back to the Coast twice. Let them come to us. Right now we have the lead over them and so there’s no sense giving it up. Sometimes it can be taken from you, but that’s up to us."

Baker said he plans to give some players rest during the final seven games of the regular season. He does not know yet whether Max Scherzer or Tanner Roark will be asked to pitch on short rest in the playoffs. He also said the team has not decided how they will handle the four-day layoff next week. They will hold at least one workout either at home or on the road, but whether fans or media will be permitted to attend has not been determined.

It's an inexact science, trying to keep players fresh but also sharp after a playoff spot has been secured. It's even harder to navigate through those four off-days without losing momentum. The Nats remember all too well back in 2014 when they finished the regular season winners of 17 of 22, only to fall flat offensively in the playoffs against the Giants.

Baker has to figure out the best way to handle the Nats this time and he is still determining the best course of action.

"It’s a thin line between playing a whole bunch and not playing enough," he said.

[RELATED: Thoughts on the death of Marlins star Jose Fernandez]

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