Brighter Days.

We’ve all been here. That moment when you care so much about something and you attempt to hold on to every thing you have left, so you can maintain total control of your emotional stability…and then it somehow all falls apart.

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My world cup tour has ended this past week, with 4 new World Cups under my belt representing my home country of Romania. We started in Harbin, China in November and then travelled to the Olympic City of Nagano, Japan for the second one. We skipped the one after, in Astana, Kazakhstan so that I could get two solid weeks of training in before racing in the skating capital of the world, Heerenveen, Holland. I had also qualified for the first ever European Sprint Championships in History, and made the smart yet tough decision to stay at home in Calgary and train through the 6 weeks leading into the last Berlin World Cup. This was by far the most important race for me, as it was the qualifier for World Sprint Championships which are held in Calgary at the end of the month.


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I started the year racing internationally with some high expectations but now that it is all over I can sit back and reflect on the entire process. Aside from the political aspect of the game, and the total lack of support from the federation, all else was in my control. It is funny how things can change so quickly, be deceiving, or turn on you 180 degrees when you least expect it. This year has definitely been a year of mental training, if anything! The highs and the lows definitely define who you are as a person as well as an athlete, and I am grateful to learn these lessons, even though when it is in the moment, it is the hardest thing. My performances on ice have not only disappointed me, but have left me sometimes questioning a lot of things, including the golden question – why do I keep skating? But then I snap out of it within 30 seconds and remind myself that this is just one year of many, and we have a main goal, the 2018 Olympics, and by the time I get there, I will be back to where I need to be. But oh man, it can be awful.

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If I learned anything this year, it is that you have to be nice to yourself, and love yourself, because you are all you have. When you sink into a dark place, ask yourself strategic questions instead of feeding yourself negative thoughts that only drag you deeper.

I am lucky to be surrounded by an incredible team of individuals who have believed in me when I did not, but also encouraged me to push myself even more when I was comfortable. (Both on ice, and at home) You always have to raise the bar; I live by that. They have truly helped me work through things in my head and keep it straight on. I did achieve a lot of the short term goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year, including improving a little every time I went out there, which I did. Whether it was in rankings, or time…regardless of coming in dead last, or top 10, I know I gave it my absolute best and fought until the end. So I have no regrets, although I was totally embarrassed at certain moments but that just proved that I wanted more and knew I was capable of SO much more.

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I was happy to have decent performances this year at home in Calgary, setting a national record in the 500m, and also finishing the world cup with a top 8 finish in the 1000m which scored me points for next year’s rankings. I have 4 or 5 more competitions here in Calgary left this season, and I feel like I am still moving upwards so I look forward to finish the season strong, relatively speaking.

Thanks for reading, and believing in me.

xo Alex

 

(Picture credit: Schaatsfotos and  小笠原昇)

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Perspective

 

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There are certain things in life you have to experience, or go through, to truly figure out what your purpose is in all you do. Maybe it is because I’m getting older (wiser? hah), or maybe it just the simple fact that I have become so good at mentally handling the challenges that come my way, that I am turning every thing thrown at me into a lesson and try to figure out what the best outcome would be and how I can create it. That was a long sentence.

I’m going to elaborate. It is now September 2016. Two years ago, if you looked at my 1, 3 and year goals, you would have definitely bet on the fact that I would have achieved every single one of my objectives. Everything in my personal, career and health aspect of my goals. Well, guess what? Everything actually went the opposite of everything I set on paper. And that is fine.

I am currently sitting in my basement office, listening to ABBA, drinking tea with a candle on like a little old lady, after a crazy weekend of racing, writing this blog. Looking back at two years ago, I was where I wanted to be; racing the best I ever have, had my life in control and was in conscious charge of my decision making and approach to everything. Obviously that all fell apart last year when I felt my entire life fell apart and I burnt out in my career.

This is now a year later, after having one of the most empowering summers both physically and emotionally (back skating with Gregg), and naturally, I am putting pressure on myself for my racing. As it has been affecting all areas of my life, it has come to the point where I was about to grasp onto anything that I thought would work, and I did. This weekend of racing (specifically today), has made me step back about 18 steps and realize that I am so grateful for just loving what I do. It has also hit me hard with the reality stick, that I need to stick true to what has worked in the past and just TRUST the journey and my program. I am not skating anywhere near where I WANT to be, and more importantly where I SHOULD be. So as I am totally embarrassed of my performances, I am also happy that it has brought me back to square 1. It’s teaching me to slow down and focus on the process. It is teaching me to have trust again, and to pursue what I love, and to go at it full speed.

Yes, I am 6 seconds behind where I should be in the 1000m, and yes I am behind approximately 2 seconds of where I’d like to be in the 500m, but it is okay. It is okay because I am improving each race I am out there, and maybe this has a whole new meaning to things. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten to where I will be two years from now, if I rushed it and tried to jump steps and phases. So this weekend has given me a lot of perspective on life, and made me appreciate the little things again. It has also slowed me down enough to notice little things around me in my race environment and go back to the old smiling Alex, who encourages younger skaters, and talks, jokes, is relaxed and fierce. It has NOT been an easy journey back, but along with Gregg I am confident that we will be back in business 6 weeks from now, prior to my World Cup debut as a Romanian National Team skater. No one said it would be easy, but it is DEFINITELY worth it all.

Thanks for reading.

Alex

 

(@Schaatsfotos – Picture)

Life changing decisions

FOCUSSSS   I made a life changing decision this week.

When I look at goals, I find myself in a neutral position, looking at what I want to achieve as the only thing that truly matters. As humans we put so much pressure on ourselves or what groups we represent or associate with because of how much media plays a part in our lives (if you let it). In the past few weeks I found myself back at square one; remembering why I skate, what got me into skating in the first place and what kept the motor running. Those reflections sparked something inside that I thought I lost a few years ago when politics kept getting in the way of my performances.

As you all know, my mom was a speed skater on the Romanian team in 1988 and she is the reason I started to skate. I first began doing long track in 07-08 with the Romanian National Team where I was first introduced to the sport while doing school on the go and travelling the world like every other 15 year old on that team. Obviously loved it or I wouldn’t be here writing this blog and still skating.

This last week I made a decision which will change my life forever. I got my official release from Canada and will be following my dreams of skating at the Winter Olympics in 2018, for my homeland of Romania. I had to step back, and look at the big picture and for me to achieve my goals and to be the best athlete I can become, there was no other way. This will give me a chance to train full time, participate and perform at all fall and winter world cups and ultimately to ensure that I have a fair chance at qualifying for the Olympics. I am grateful for the unreal support Romania is giving me and for the offers they have made me. I am also so grateful for the love and support I have been getting from my friends and sponsors in Canada, that truly support me for who I am and what I want to do; thank you for understanding.

I am feeling so excited to follow my dreams and get closer to them than I had started to imagine in the last couple of years. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me while I continue to train in Calgary, alongside my coach Gregg Planert, with my training partners, my sport psychologist / mentor Dan Perdue, my strength & performance team and my friends and family. It’s time for fresh focus, new motivation and time to #CrushIt even harder now.
xo Alex

Looking forward

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With just 624 days to go until the 2018 Winter Olympics, I find myself in a spot I haven’t been in, in 3 years, to the day. I woke up this morning and logged onto Facebook, only to find a 3 year memory photo (you know, the ones they bring up) of me in downtown Tokyo during my 3 days off within my 6 week training camp by Mt Fuji. After reflecting on that year and the success I’ve had with my coach, Gregg Planert, and with my training partner, Tomomi Okazaki, I realized this is the first time I have felt this excited and motivated and to have an end goal.

I learned many things this past season that I will take with me and apply to my daily routine and life. I learned a lot about my body, staying true to who I am and trusting the people around me. I learned more about my limits, the things I can and cannot do, how to execute more efficiently and how to talk and express myself when things aren’t going well. I learned it all the hard way. I now know that really valuable lessons either come when you’re a sponge and willing to learn, listen and be excited about everything you hear, or when you have the shit kicked out of you and it takes you 6 months to recover after being burnt out.

I am grateful for the lessons I learned and the timing of it all, because I made one of the most important decisions of my career last week. I decided that for the next two years I am back training with Gregg, and will stay to train with him throughout the Olympics. I switched teams last fall and it ended up hurting everything we have worked on for 4 years.

Feeling motivated has been something I have not been feeling at all in the last 10 months, so you can imagine my excitement now that the good emotions are all back.

I’m looking forward to training with my buddies again on ice when they arrive for summer training at the oval, and looking forward to having my Norwegian Viking training parter, Rikke, back for some team work if she decides to return this season.

I am very thankful for those individuals who have had my back in this journey, and I look forward to this year as an ambassador for RYU apparel and Genethix. I will also start to look for financial support a bit later this summer (with extra to give back!) as I am not a carded athlete this year due to coming back from injury. Only two years to go and going at it full on.

Thanks for reading.

XO.

A.

For Sale

I have mixed emotions writing this blog. I’m having the best summer training season I have ever had so far, but it is bittersweet. After an unfortunate turn of events, I find myself with the best backup option anyone could ever have: on #TeamGregg for the fourth year in a row. Yes, I will elaborate.

In early December after having returned from the World Cup circuit, my coach at the time, Gregg Planert (who has been coaching me on the side as a hobby as he works full time at the oval as competition director) told me that after this season (14/15) I should finally accept the National Team invite and start skating with them, as he can not give me 100% of his time. (He did not travel with me this past season for the 5 week World Cup trip around the world, and I relied on late night Skype conversations with him and also on advice from international coaches who I am friends with.) After talking and finalizing a solid plan for the upcoming year, things destabilized within Speed Skating Canada. As they continue to restructure, more than a few of us have fallen through the cracks left without any communication of what is next. I cannot wait any longer, I need to carry on. Currently, without Gregg I would be on my own.

Anyways, I am back and pretty darn excited to be stronger than I have ever been, and at peace mentally now that I have a plan moving forwards with Gregg. It has been a very unsettling feeling being left in the dark without a known path from above. I am now in a great space, and ready to go. Jeez, only took me like 3.5 months!

Photo Cred: Dave Holland

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Here’s what’s next:

I need your support. No I am not that starving athlete that wants to milk you for money and tell you I can’t live because I don’t have enough to live off of – because you all know I’ve been able to slowly get by year by year. Going to make this as real as I can, and just tell you straight up that I need help to just pay for food, rent and little things that add up, like gas, ice fees and the odd haircut once every five months. I’m pretty good at getting deals everywhere so I am already saving dolla’ bling y’all. I have been working part time for over a year for an amazing company that is very flexible with my hours as I train twice a day, six days a week. Working twelve hours a week definitely doesn’t give me nearly enough money but I’m covering expenses to some extent.

So yes, I AM for sale, I’m putting myself out there and I am NOT embarrassed to ask. ‘Cause those who don’t ask, don’t get. And I am desperate (wouldn’t you be?) or my next sentence wouldn’t sound so cheesy…but I will take anything you will give me, because it all adds up. I am here right now, skating as fast as I can, and all I want to do is skate in circles like a crazy person and just get better, and better, and better. That’s it. And I am good at doing it alone on the ice but not off the ice. #OneManBand

I do thank those of you who have supported me in the last few years. You know who you are. I could not have done it without your donations through my paypal, or the surprise cheques I found in my mailbox. Thank you.

Support Alexandra




 

Here are my past achievements from last season:
3rd fastest in the 1000m in Canada.
4th fastest in the 500m.
Fall World Cup racing team.
Winter World Cup racing team.
Qualified 3rd spot for Canada for World Single Distance Championships (unfortunately didn’t skate as I got sent home)

I want to skate faster than I ever have.To do that, I need to commit fully to training and skating. Please become part of #TeamGregg this year and let’s do this together.

 

Alex

 

 

 

 

 

Contact

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