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The Jenson Button Trust Triathlon. I made it!

I did it! I did the Jenson Button Trust Triathlon. And incredibly I made the cut for the final (the top 20 from each heat went through and I came 18th!). I am now bathing in the afterglow of achievement and still slightly incredulous that I managed to haul myself around the course twice. I honestly, truly wasn’t sure if I would even do it, but the day just came around (time stops for no prevaricator) and then all of a sudden there I was on the side of a lake with 43 other women in my heat about to get in and swim. There was no backing out so I just got on and did it.

At the end of my heat with a delicious Chobani smoothie

At the end of my heat with a delicious Chobani smoothie

It was made about a zillion times easier with the help and support of the other Chobani bloggers, Jen, James and Sophie and the lovely Caroline a fellow mum who’s positivity on Twitter made me realise it was not all doom and gloom. And the Chobani team, two of whom did the triathlon too which I thought was great, who were really supportive and so helpful all day.

Me, Jen and Sophie looking lively pre race

Me, Jen and Sophie looking lively pre race

So now I have to talk through it. I have to do this so I have a record. If you’re bored already then that’s fine, I won’t be offended. You’ve read the best bit. I actually did it and I finished. 34 out of 77. Something I would NEVER have achieved in my youth. 40 rocks!

Here are the distances and my times:

300 m open water swim – 8.33 minutes
Transition 1 – 1.50
9k bike ride (really bloody hilly by the way, they didn’t tell me that) – 22.41
Transition 2 – 53 seconds (no socks and trainers to get on so it’s quicker)
2.5k run – 15.52

Total 49.58

750m swim – 19.40
Transition 1 -1.58
20k bike ride – 38.09
Transition 2 – 59 seconds
5k run – 27.41

Total – 1.28.21

The heat

The swim was bloody awful. Honestly I didn’t think I’d finish. I set off far too quickly, front crawl, got kicked a few times, was on track to miss the first buoy completely (I’m rubbish at swimming in a straight line) but managed to finish. Getting out of the lake is tricky when your legs have turned to jelly too. Not a great experience. But I made up time on the bike. The first leg was a bitch of a hill (sorry if you are easily offended but it was), but with the ups come the downs and I felt like my 10 year old self freewheeling down a huge hill really fast with no fear (well a bit actually).

Proof I did it. That is all.

Proof I did it. That is all.

The run took a while to get into. My legs were beaten by this point but I got into my rhythm and I guess all the running I do is set in my muscle memory and I was happily surprised that I found it okay.

I was even more surprised to find out that I’d made the final. Surprised and scared. I hadn’t trained for those longer distances (I hadn’t really trained at all to be fair), so it was a Very Big Deal.

The very lovely Jen who writes a blog called 2 Itchy Feet made it too. So we ummed and ahhed and thought and pontificated and in the end it was James, who writes a wonderful blog called What James Did who said to me that coming 40th out of all the competitors (ie: last in the final) would be an achievement in itself, or words to that effect. He gave me loads of support and encouragement and is clearly wasted in whatever it is he does for a living because he should absolutely be a professional motivator. I also just thought that I’d made it and so I owed it to myself to do it. I was pretty sure I had it in me. And so it came to pass that Jen and I gamely set off for the final…

So we were standing in the queue for the loos (as girls do) before getting into the lake and we saw a superfit triathlete in front of us. She turned and said congratulations for making it and we said “oh we didn’t really expect to, we haven’t trained, we’re terrified” and she reassured us that it was just for fun. Which I’m sure she meant, but she was about 20 years younger than me, super super fit, in a team GB tri suit (jesus) and certainly had her game face on. I died a little bit then and there. I said to Jen that my legs were shaking, I felt nauseous. She said we’d be fine. Bless her.

The final
The swim was more than double but was strangely better. I set off at a pace I could manage. I did lots of breaststroke and a bit of crawl to make up some distance when I felt too far behind, but I did it. I got out of the lake second to last and my legs were destroyed but I did it and that’s the point. For someone who’s not really swum much since pregnancy I was pretty happy with that.

I got to my bike thanks to a few friendly people shouting my name as I was rather disorientated at that point, and started up the big hill. The hill of doom. The hill of pain. The hill of no return. I caught up with Jen (who is a very good cyclist) and then I lost her again. We did pretty much twice the route we’d done before. It was painful and the hills were horrible, but there were some lovely people to keep us moving on. I was lapped several times by the proper triathletes but we just kept shouting at each other “we made it, we’re doing great!”

I came flying down the final hill, stopped suddenly to walk into transition (you’re not allowed to ride) and set off running.

Holly Cycling JBTT

My legs were strangely better than before. I was able to set off at a reasonable pace and maintain it all the way around. It was extremely hot and the sun was beating down on my uncovered head, but I kept thinking that this was only 5k I could do this, I could do it.

Actually I did a lot of talking to myself. Telling myself I could do it. It’s important and it works. I did it before the races and during them. It could well be the first sign of madness. It could be desperation, but it worked so I’m going with it.

So finally I came in to the finish and I felt amazing. I think at that moment I thought that childbirth was possibly marginally more painful than a triathlon, but at least you get to rest after a triathlon so on balance it’s probably slightly less of an ordeal. And yes I am using childbirth as a benchmark. When you’ve done that you can pretty much do anything. This is one of the things I will tell my children about. You can work hard, be a mum and you can achieve things like this if you decide you want to. If I can, believe me, anyone can.

So happy it was over!

So happy it was over!

So here are my top tips for doing a triathlon as a total beginner:

- Don’t underestimate it. Train for the bits you are worried about (swimming for me) but also try and put two of the bits together. I didn’t and I wish I had.

- Bear in mind that everyone apart from Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton feels fat in a tri suit. Wear one though. They are extremely practical.

- Talk about your worries with other people. I did this alot with family, friends on Twitter and with the Chobani team and it really helped to keep me going. I did have several moments where I just wanted to give up. I’m glad I had good support.

- Accept that you can’t train like a triathlete but do the best you can. Anything is better than nothing.

- Know that when it comes to it, you will get through it and you will find reserves of strength and resolve you didn’t know you had. Adrenaline is very powerful in these situations.

- Enjoy it. Seriously do. I know that’s corny and not all together believable but it makes it better.

So there it is. I did a triathlon. Next up a 10k I think. Something I’m used to, then I’ll start gearing up for another 1/2 marathon. Possibly another sprint triathlon. But not for a few months…..

I must say a huge thanks to Chobani, the delicious yoghurt people, for giving the opportunity to do the race. It was an amazing experience.



  1. WOW…. amazing, well done!
    I do not have an athletic bone in my body, and admire what you have achieved.

  2. Fantastic achievement WELL DONE!
    You will do another one, and then another, and just one more… trust me!
    Amazing stuff, very proud of you!

    LCM x

    • itsamummyslife says:

      Thanks! As soon as I finished I was thinking never again, but then gradually i’ve started thinking ‘well maybe…’. Slippery slope!

  3. Well done, Holly!

    What an achievement to make the final on your first tri, wow!

    We had so much fun, we’re thrilled you did too.


  4. well done Holly! you are amazing x

  5. claire reid says:

    WHOOP WHOOP!!!!! i think perhaps you are super human after all- who’d have thought all those years of trying to bunk off PE would lead to this…and you look ‘well fit’ in every sense of the word xx

  6. Go Holly! Go Holly! Xx

  7. Wow, You did fantastically well – a complete inspiration – well done. Thank you so much for linking to PoCoLo and sorry I am so late!


  1. [...] the London Marathon in 2011. Plus PR executive, Holly, ran her first triathlon this year and her blog is inspiring to any looking to start [...]

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