All the hours put in, the tears, the tough decisions made, the digging deep within: meshed and worked together and made it clear that all those moments are totally worth the investment for precious moments such as the several I experienced on Sunday. The good, the difficult, the challenging ones, the uplifting ones during this 2017 season…all of them. Worth it.
Also, having most of my close family and friends there cheering is a a special type of AMAZING that is impossible for me to describe. This race was my sister and niece's first time seeing me compete. When I learned it was my sister's voice I heard LOUD and clear shouting "PUSH IT! DON'T LET UP! PUSH IT, ROBYN! PUSH IT!" on that final 250m stretch as I overtook Katie [Burnett] for the 3rd position, that realization gives this moment an extra sparkle for me in my memory--the voice of my sister revving my engine to utilize fuel left over within me to grab that third place position. I was so focused and in 'The Zone' during the race that I was only vaguely aware of what was going on around me. The voices of loved ones are who I heard: My mom sweetly reminding me of my arms and how strong I look, Claudia and Terri doing the same but Claudia's with a much louder and coach-like voice, my little niece jumping and yelling "Go Auntie! Go Auntie!" with her sweet excited voice, Andreas' (my coach) enthusiastic "THIS IS YOUR DAY ROBYN! YOU GOT THIS! YOU LOOK SO STRONG. THIS IS YOUR DAY! GO!", my dad suddenly appearing at the fluids station (taking over) so that Andreas can coach and because just seeing his arm reach out I can feel him cheering me through with full belief in me and my abilities; my stealthy yet casually suave boyfriend snapping photos as he shouts "Go for third! Come on Robyn. Do it for me!" then my sister chiming in "No, do it for Sierra!" haha....I think I catch my Skechers Performance rep snapping a photo or two as he roots me on, I hear voices of mentors and other friends and family of competitors filled with encouragement and vigor as I passed by them. Everything else are blurs that could have been a water color painting.
This moment of moments creates for me a feeling of quiet bewilderment and gratitude...and it harnesses a striking significance for me. What creates this humble gift of assuring wonder is this: Three years ago I stood on the sideline shouting encouraging cheers for all the women who were racing that year in the Women's 20km Race Walk on a course outside of this very same stadium. I had no intention of returning to competitive sports--none, whatsoever. If you had asked me that day, "Do you plan on returning, Robyn?" I'd have politely (and confidently) smiled and told you that I am completely retired with no plans to return. Mostly because it's too expensive and also because I keep myself too busy with production type work and other creative projects. I came to cheer that year because Sacramento was my backyard during my adolescent years. Making an appearance on the sidelines to cheer was, for me, proof that I had gotten past the disappointment I felt about having to sit out of the 2004 Olympic Trials (hosted, also, at this very location) due to an Achilles injury. But mostly, it was an opportunity to say hello to ol' friends in the Track & Field circle, a number of whom I hadn't seen for several years. The only goal I set for myself that June day in 2014 upon leaving Hornet Stadium where I cheered for the Women's race walk, 800m and 5,000m was this: make sure my abs are more like Susan Randall's (especially when I'm her age). It's a work in progress.
Now...here I am, three years later: Standing on the starting line. The gun goes off. After one hour, 38 minutes and 34 seconds I cross the finish line. I hold the flag up over my head as I stand on the third place podium position...a goal I had set for myself earlier this year! I told my boyfriend and family: "I want to hold that flag over my head while standing on the podium. I want to wear a big beaming smile that spreads from cheek to cheek as my entire spirit is overcome with waves of immense feelings of gratitude." I have secured a spot on the World Championship team as long as I meet the 1:36:00 IAAF (Olympic/World) Standard before July 21st. Thinking about this tickles me. As I prepared for that starting line and the race that proceeded I had made no plans to be in London...I know, seems appalling. Wha--? Don't get me wrong: Of course making the Worlds team is preferred and my ideal but the ongoing discord accumulating in particularly England and France turned me off of the idea...until I crossed the finish line with over a three minute personal best and still had excess energy to play on the slip 'n' slide with my niece and nephew a few hours afterward! The Pacific Association Outdoor Championships two weeks prior to this race opened my eyes to how strong I am (and increased my faith in the training program my coach provides me). This race opened to my eyes to the very real possibility that the A-Standard CAN be reached much sooner than I have initially expected. I believe in myself. I can feel the fire burning within, a knowing lion with her eyes on her prey. With a strong support system anything is possible. Especially when not only do others believe but YOU believe in you, too. And I mean truly BELIEVE. That feeling...it feels so good...a sense of inner knowing and trust. A sense of unconditional love and gratitude. Exhilarating.
The journey isn't over. Each day is a fresh, new day. As the pages turn the goals continue to develop and mould. The mission: stay true to myself and maintain the discipline necessary for these type of accomplishment....and, to nurture this trust I'm feeling within (this sense of inner KNOWING--the truly hearing and feeling). I have a magnificent team of people who inspire me. Fortune often wears a disguise. I feel fortunate to have the family, friends, and personable professionals in my life--all of whom lift me up and keep me strong. I can only hope I do the same for them in return.
FULL RESULTS POSTED here (all events): http://results.usatf.org/2017Outdoors/
Women's 20km Race Walk
Men's 20km Race Walk
Outdoor USA Track & Field Nationals
PHOTOS: (C) Eduardo Corvera 2017
(more photos available on in his Facebook Albums: Vol1, Vol 2, Vol 3
PHOTOS: (C) Douglas Stillinger and Robyn Stevens
(more photos will be available on 'Robyn Stevens US Racewalk' facebook albums)