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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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At long last, finally some good news for Alex Smith and Redskins, per report

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USA Today Sports

At long last, finally some good news for Alex Smith and Redskins, per report

Since breaking the tibia and fibula in his right leg in mid-November, Alex Smith endured an intense recovery that included surgeries to fix the spiral fractures in his bones as well as multiple procedures to fight off infection in the leg. 

The good news, finally, is that Smith is now out of the hospital and his prognosis has improved to the point that he might be able to return to the football field in 2019, ESPN reported.

Without Smith, the Redskins have been in a tailspin.

The team has lost four straight, including an embarrassing home loss to the New York Giants where Washington trailed 40-0 in the second half. 

After losing Smith, backup quarterback Colt McCoy broke his leg two weeks later in Philadelphia. Without a third QB anywhere on the roster, McCoy's injury forced the Redskins to turn to QB Mark Sanchez, who played terrible in his only start against New York. In the second half of that game, 'Skins coach Jay Gruden turned to Josh Johnson, another journeyman who has played on 12 teams in his career. On Sunday, Johnson will make his first start since the 2011 season when the Redskins face the Jaguars. 

On a personal level, Redskins fans should be happy that finally good news is emerging for Smith.

On a football level, Redskins fans should be equally happy that Smith might be able to return to the field next year. He will count for more than $20 million against the salary cap next season, healthy or not, and then $21 million in 2020.

Washington would be wise to add another QB in the 2019 NFL Draft, but with the type of money committed to Smith for the next few seasons, the team would face significant financial hurdles if he's not on the field. 

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Even with everything going right for the Capitals, the penalty kill continues to struggle

Even with everything going right for the Capitals, the penalty kill continues to struggle

It’s hard to punch holes in a team that has won five straight and 12 of its last 14, but if there is one cause for concern in recent days for the Capitals it is the penalty kill.

Washington gave up three power play goals to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday and another two to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. In fact, Buffalo’s power play actually scored three times, but the first penalty to Michal Kempny on Saturday expired just as the goal was scored, literally exactly two minutes after the penalty was called. Officially, it was not considered a power play goal, but with the door just opening for Kempny to return, the Caps were still obviously shorthanded when the goal was scored.

Washington struggled on the penalty kill at the start of the season, but things improved dramatically when Tom Wilson returned from suspension. From Nov. 13 – when Wilson made his season debut – to Dec. 14, the penalty kill managed to kill off 85.-4 percent of the power plays it faced. The last two nights, however, the PK managed only 44.4-percent and that’s not counting the Sabres’ third goal that came as the penalty expired.

“We’ve got to continue to get better there,” Reirden said. “We had a stretch where we were doing a better job and then now it's finding its way, multiple ways, different ways into our net. That's not a winning recipe for success.”

So concerned about the penalty kill was Reirden after Friday’s game that he broke up the team’s red-hot fourth line in an attempt to add in another penalty killer. Reirden said before the game that the team’s metrics indicate Chandler Stephenson – who was a healthy scratch on Friday – is one of their better penalty killers. In order to get him back into the lineup, Reirden scratched Dmitrij Jaskin despite the incredible stretch he, Nic Dowd and Travis Boyd have enjoyed in recent days.

Washington may have gotten the win on Saturday, but in terms of improving the penalty kill, the move did not work.

The numbers from Saturday may be bad, but if you are looking for a silver lining, it is the fact that none of Buffalo’s three goals seem to have come as a result of a defensive breakdown. Jack Eichel netted the kinda-sorta power play goal when goalie Pheonix Copley gave up a rebound right to him on the far-side. Eichel then made a great individual effort to score the second goal, victimizing Dmitry Orlov with some fancy stick work and tucking the puck into the net just over the shoulder of Copley. Rasmus Dahlin scored the third goal when a Jeff Skinner shot from the slot was blocked and came straight to the rookie defenseman.

“They weren't exactly tic-tac-toes,” Devante Smith-Pelly said. “It happens. We’ve just got to stay the course and continue to get better.”

Of those three goals, the only one that looked like a bad play was the third as two Caps collapsed on Skinner leaving Dahlin open, but the point remains that the penalty kill did not appear to be egregiously bad.

Regardless of whether the goals are the result of breakdowns or bad luck, however, the fact is that the penalty kill is charged with keeping the puck out of the net it is has not been able to do so of late.

The Caps are off on Sunday, but will have two days of practice before Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, plenty of time to shore things up on a suddenly leaky PK.

Said Reirden, “It's an area that we've got to work on here while we've got some practice time this week before we play Pittsburgh.”

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