Holly is our latest Doer of the Month; her contagious enthusiasm and determination drove her from Couch to Triathlon, raising a whopping 64 pledges of support in the process. We caught up with her to hear her story and advice on inspiring friends to live more sustainably through Do Nation.
Read on – it’s inspiring stuff.
Holly, what were you raising support for? Any particular reason for choosing this challenge?
I’ve been worrying about climate change for years but at the start of this year I thought it was time to do something, so in January I decided to the London triathlon.
I’m a bit hazy about why I thought that was a good idea… I was starting from a pretty low base: cycling a few miles to work a couple of times a week, swimming once or twice each summer, occasionally running for the bus. The London triathlon seemed like a pretty impossible feat – somehow that appealed!
What made you decide to ask for support through Do Nation and how did you hear about it?
I’d heard about Do Nation a few years ago, and it just seemed like such a cool idea.
Climate change is a tricky problem, and one of the most important things we really need is for people to engage with it and start seeing it as an important problem that we can solve.
So instead of raising money for an organisation that would direct it towards raising environmental awareness, it seemed smarter to just cut out the middle man – go straight to people and get them involved directly.
I’ve made pledges on Do Nation before and have found it so useful in working out what I can actually meaningfully do.
What was the most surprising or exciting pledge someone made?
All of them, frankly.
The people who pledged – I can’t really describe how much love I have for each and every one of them. I was – I am – incredibly touched by people’s pledges. Old friends, new friends – even a dear friends’ mums who saw it on her daughter’s facebook and signed up her support. That was especially surprising and encouraging. I am still so happy and excited and grateful for all the pledges people made – their names will stick in my head for a very long time to come.
The tri itself – how did it go?
It was hard! I knew the running was always going to be the toughest part for me – I still find it a challenge at the best of times, and 3pm in the August sun is not the best of times.
I also managed to panic in the swim and fall off my bike on the first lap (of four) – so actually it was all quite tough! Sort of fun too though, in a weird way!
A very wise triathlete friend told me that it would make a massive difference seeing familiar faces in the crowd, and she was completely right. I nearly burst into tears the first time I spotted my friends! And it made the whole thing about a million percent easier and more enjoyable. If they hadn’t been there, I’m not sure I’d believe I really did it!
Keeping going requires grit and stamina – what motivated you to keep pushing on?
It really was just thinking about the people who had pledged – I just can’t describe how motivating that was.
The thing about the Do Nation is that people don’t just give you money and disappear. They take on a commitment to do something and stick with it. They’re trying to do something for the environment and do something to support you, and you don’t want to let them down. It feels a bit like you’re part of this group effort that you kickstarted, and you need to make sure you play your part as well as you can.
There’s this saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together’. I don’t think there’s any way I would have made it through the slog of training if I didn’t know my friends and family and colleagues had pledged, and were sort of part of it too.
That made me take my running shoes and go for hungover runs on my summer holiday. It got me out of bed for early Sunday morning swims. It even made me choose rainy 50km bike rides over going to the pub with my friends – something I never thought would happen.
I had asked people to join me in this initiative and I wasn’t going to let them down. Quite frankly, I don’t think I’d have made it otherwise!
And once done, how did you celebrate?
A quick trip to the medical tent to patch up my bike crash injuries then I went straight to the pub for a drink the awesome friends and family who had come to support. Nothing has ever tasted so delicious!
Finally – any top tips you’d share with someone else raising support on Do Nation?
Firstly – remind people! People like to go away and think about which Do Action to choose – make sure it’s easy for them to remember to actually pledge it!
Secondly –it’s definitely worth spending some time reading through the Do Actions, and why each one is important. I found that people were really keen to talk about what they were doing and how much impact it could have. The sponsorship format opens the doors for all these amazing conversations, so if it’s something you’re into – take advantage of that.
Thirdly – if you’re thinking about it but not signed up yet – DO IT!! It was such a brilliant experience and has given me so much hope that we can really make a positive difference to the world. If I can make some small differences to my life and end up doing a triathlon (I did!) – then there’s no such thing as impossible. We can definitely fix climate change, and the Do Nation gives you, your friends and family, the encouragement and tools to start do it. It was so awesome how much people got involved, and it’s left me feeling so hopeful!