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On the verge of 8 weeks to go and a week out from my major fitness test in the Gold Coast Half Marathon, it was the right time to test myself on against one of my benchmarks. Newcastle racecourse is located pretty neatly in the centre of Newcastle locked in by suburban streets. These streets a long and straight and with only 4 left hand turns, an accurate 3000m rectangle. Wayne Bristow who was a talented junior and later became a coach measured it to 3015m with a trundle wheel, twice. I am happy with that buffer and call it 3k.

Before the days of parkrun and the Fernleigh Track ’the racecourse’ was where any road time trials were held by local coaches, usually well planned to avoid peak traffic times as we use the shoulder of the road.  I was first introduced to the venue in 18 years ago by Ian Leitch and Hans Tiller. There has been some great performances around there too. Clinton Mackevicius, a sensational athlete who won national titles as a junior and senior athlete, ran a superb 8:10 for 3k one day while Hans has used it as a selection trial for cross country relay events. I was present at one such time when Aaron Royle had to race off against some of his mates to make the relay team.

My coach Ian Leitch had me doing a wide variety of workouts around the said 3k loop during my early 20’s. My favourite of all of these was the 6k / 2 lapper, short rest then a 3k / 1 lapper. Interestingly I have never used this session anywhere else. It just suits the venue. It was this session I wanted to hit pretty hard on this day in my planning.

Given recent hamstring tightness I backed off from my “all or nothing” approach and instead worked my way into the session allowing confidence to grow. The first lap of 3km was conservative running comfortably with the group of young men I coach, (who are all looking forward to a weekend in the Gold Coast next weekend too.) After a 4minute break Guy Walters set up the 2nd 3k effort at a higher intensity. By midway through the first 3k lap I was running freely and feeling just like I was 22 again. With this now positive mindset I completed the second lap whilst maintaining the same pace.

It’s amazing the difference a week makes as a week ago my capabilities and mood were very different. Thankfully everything is back on track and the sun, surf and a solid half marathon at the Gold Coast are now only a week away!