Morning in Alaska.

In 1984 Ronald Reagan's campaign slogan was "Morning in America". As a suburban teenager at the time, I think I was more interested in MTV and girls than the presidential election. Reagan was fine by me, because the alternative was Walter Mondale and a presumptive return to the years of Jimmy Carter "crisis of confidence". As far as I could see from the mall's food court, we were riding high as a nation. When you believe in something, generally things trend that way. Belief is a powerful thing.
The last couple years I've been in a bit of a "malaise". Some of it comes with getting older. My body doesn't respond like it did years ago to the same things. Losing weight is harder than it was a couple years back. Recovery times are longer. A+B=C has become A+B almost, kinda-sorta, maybe if you squint just right, graded on a curve equals a reasonable facsimile of a C-. It just doesn't add up anymore. Next year it will be a solid D.
However, a lot of it is between my ears. The discipline to do the work, to push away from the table, to live my life in a reasonably structured way... that's all in my head, and while my FTP is weak, my resolve is far weaker. Keeping momentum going through the dark months can be difficult, especially when faced with baked goods, pork fat, and toddler-borne illnesses. The struggle is real.
Goal-setting has been a challenge as I've reached certain plateaus in performance and realized where I fit in the food chain. At a certain point you realize that you can devote every waking moment for the next year to improvement, and at the end you're still going to suck. I'm good with that, because I can compete with the guys on my level and have fun, while still having a life, going to McDonalds, and generally being me.
Still, within my plane of existence there is room for improvement.
It's time to change things up and see how bad I can screw the pooch.
The first and probably most significant change will be my coach. I've been with Janice going on six years now. That's the only consistent perspective I've had over the years, and that's the only voice I've had in my head. If I've made any strides as a cyclist over that time, it's been largely thanks to her. I honestly can't say enough positive things about her. If you're looking for a coach to take you to the next level, she's the one I'd point you to.
However, when I was learning to become a horrible tech skier, I learned that there were certain coaches I responded to more. A coach could tell me something a thousand times and I wouldn't get it, then another would come along, re-phrasing the exact same information, and I could internalize and apply it. A different approach to the same goal also intellectually invigorates me, as I have to corroborate what I thought I knew with what I am being presented. It's a shock to the system, and I think that's what I need the most. 20,000 volts straight to the lady parts.
So, when new teammate David Arteaga said he was coaching, I threw out a casual inquiry to see if it would be a good match. I allowed him access to my Training Peaks data so he could see what sort of sludge he was working with. He immediately jumped in and threw in some new workouts that were very different than I was used to. The "language" was different when describing each component, with different sets of ranges to adopt. The structuring was different. It was just... different. And that is a good thing, I think. We're still in the evaluating stage. He's seeing what sort of sloth I am with following a plan, and I'm seeing what kind of jack-booted thug he is. Eventually we'll figure out the balance.
I think I'm ready to go. The sun and miles of tire wear recently have brought the fun back into riding. Detaching from associations that don't contribute to my enjoyment of my precious saddle time helps too. Maybe a fresh outlook from a new coach will help nudge me towards the upper edge of mediocrity.
It's morning in Alaska.


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