Ninian finished her first triathlon sponsored by Fund Her Tri UK on 06/08/2023 at Challenge London.
From a young age, I’ve really been interested in triathlon, having watched it in the Olympics in 2012 with the Brownlee Brothers. I have a twin sister and our surname is Schmeising, so we always said that we could be the Schmeising Sisters if we took part in a triathlon. The Olympic dream never quite took off, but I think it definitely sparked my interest in the sport.
And why now? Last year I did my first half marathon and I really felt the structure of training for a race helped me to focus and commit to the challenge. I’ve decided that I want to give myself a similar physical challenge each summer to motivate me and when, I heard about Fund Her Tri UK, I decided this years would be an Olympic distance triathlon (1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run)! I felt confident with the bike and run distances, but, for me, the challenge was the swim. And then putting it all together…
I was really nervous for the swim on the day, but I was absolutely fine in the end - if not better than anticipated! I think speaking to those around me really helped - they made me feel relaxed but also gave me useful tips.
About halfway through the swim, I realised that I was doing fine and that I could do it! I remembered what many very wise triathletes have told me throughout my training and started to “really take it in and enjoy it”. The number of people, the buzz, the support all around was just amazing. I think there was a smile on my face at all times once I left the water!
It went so well that I believe it was the best discipline for me. Not only did I complete it WAY quicker than planned, it was such a journey to even be there swimming in an Olympic triathlon that it made it feel ten times better!
I’ve always swam, but mostly breaststroke, and I could hardly do four strokes of front crawl when I started training. I had a swimming lesson from a friend who taught me breathing and some other techniques that really helped, but I’ve just shown up every week and swam. After that swimming lesson, I could just about manage 25m of quite terrible front crawl. On race day, I swam 1500m pretty much non-stop and felt confident throughout. What a turnaround!!!
After a stellar swim, my worst moment was probably the bike. I felt confident about it but being on a busy course with lots of very speedy men and not really understanding drafting rules put me on edge. I think I was also worried I’d burn out, so didn’t push myself to my full
potential on the bike. Paired with my chain coming off at 30km and a pedestrian very annoyingly stepping out in front of me, despite the marshall telling them to stop, it probably deserves the award of worst section. Nevertheless I still really enjoyed it!
During training, I felt like running was my best discipline, but on the day it felt very average.
Struggles during training
The lows, on the other hand, were mostly during training. The first was a bike accident back in February, when I first started training. I was hit by a car and it really shook me. I didn’t get on a bike for a month and I’m still cautious around cars to this day. It was definitely a difficult one to overcome.
I also had a bad ankle injury in May which took me off training for another 3 weeks. This was scary for me, as I’ve never really been an injury prone person and it took much longer to recover than expected. It felt demoralising after an already hindered training plan.
To make matters worse, I think I had a motivation dip around a month before the race. Triathlon training is a huge commitment and very isolating at times. I also was really struggling to fit it in around the rest of life. I got frustrated that training was taking up so much time and it really got to me at one point, especially because I knew it was self inflicted and I couldn’t do much about it so close to the race, with the fee already paid!
But having raced now and felt how great it feels I think I will capitalise on that memory next time training feels like it’s taking over my life. I also think I’d definitely try to train more with others, either through triathlon clubs or just roping friends in where I can, to make it feel less lonely.
The best part of the race: the race!
When I think about it, I believe my main high was the whole race itself. I was so nervous but, once I started, I realised I had everything in me to smash it. I felt so proud to have trained to the stage that I could confidently complete the race and that really fueled me throughout the race. Knowing my family and friends were there to support, as well as others from the FHT UK community, really pushed me along too.
If I could give anyone thinking of doing their first triathlon some advice, it would be the same wonderful advice I was given before going in: the hardest part is over - the training. You wouldn’t be there if you weren’t ready. Trust your body, it knows what to do, so all you have to do is take in everything around you and enjoy it. Plus, since it's your first tri, you are guaranteed a PB!
Oh, and also chat to those around you loads, especially before the swim, it so reassuring! In fact, I was speaking to lots of other competitors on the day and got some great recommendations for my next tri. I can’t wait to feel that same finish line feeling again and, now that I know I can finish an Olympic distance triathlon, the next question is: how quickly can I do it? We'll find out soon!
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