Dave Griffin on Running – The Carroll County Times – Sunday, October 28, 2012
Caitlyn O’Flaherty came into my life like an unexpected gift.
When she first sent me an email, there was no hint of the apprehension I usually feel in the typical “send me some information” requests. Her message was detailed, and I could feel her excitement as she reached out to me.
She told me that she was twenty-two and had been running on her own for two years. She’d already completed several half marathons and a full marathon, but she kept getting injured. She was seeing my chiropractor, Jeff Wallace, who suggested she contact me.
She had registered to run the Green Mountain Half Marathon in Vermont on October 14th, and was hoping that I could help her prepare while avoiding the recurring injuries.
She let me know she started running for self-improvement and because she felt happier when she ran. Then she told me something that turned out to be untrue; “No one thought I’d ever have much to offer sport.”
When I got to the group run on September 13th, Caitlyn was there waiting. She introduced herself, and we chatted for a few moments before I gathered the group. I was already glad to know her.
There was an easiness about her, something you don’t typically feel when you meet someone for the first time. She was friendly, warm and eager to learn.
As I came to know more about her, I began to understand the experiences that colored her personality. She graduated with a Communications degree from St. Mary’s College this past May and then spent the summer backpacking in India and Alaska.
Though I never learned the details, I could tell Caitlyn’s life hadn’t always been easy. I felt a hint of self-doubt, and I wanted to rid her of that. In the first few weeks, her runs and workouts got progressively better; she began to see the potential she had somehow missed before.
Just more than a month after our first contact, Caitlyn ran another excellent workout with the group. When it was over, I spent some time helping the other runners. Caitlyn was waiting; I could tell she wanted to talk.
She told me that she had been offered an internship with Trail Runners magazine. As soon as her half marathon was over, she would be traveling alone to Colorado. She wouldn’t have time to come to any more group runs.
She emailed me after her race. Icy rain had fallen the night before but subsided just before the start. The cold air and hard winds pushed against her, and the hills in the final miles made the course challenging. Despite all that, she ran her fasted half marathon ever.
At the end of her email she said goodbye.
Time is a poor measure of a relationship. Influence, good or bad, is a better one. And on that later measure, our time together was well spent on both accounts.
And, should anyone ask you, Caitlyn O’Flaherty has much to offer, sport or otherwise.