61 years worth of water

When I visited Kenya for the first time in 2015, I learned about a woman named Mary. You can read her story here. She’s someone I think about often.

This morning, I found out that the pool I swim in at the White Bear Lake YMCA holds 334,000 gallons of water. So I started doing some math.


Photo cred: White Bear Area YMCA Facebook page

Mary’s family needs 15 gallons of water a day just to survive, so she walks a total of 18 miles every day to get it.

This means the water in that pool would be enough to provide water for Mary, her entire family of 9 and all their livestock for 61 years.

61 years! That’s the average life expectancy in Kenya.

Mind blown. The water that I SWIM in.

Not having to walk for water everyday would give Mary back 133,000 hours over her lifetime to do better things with her time, like play with her kids, get an education or start a business.

Because of the way that World Vision does development work – a holistic approach that is comprehensive, complex and sustainable – all these things are possible for Mary and MILLIONS of women like her.

That’s what you’re giving to when you support my Ironman efforts.

$50 gives sustainable access to one person. How many Mary’s can you provide total life change for today? Click here to give: www.teamworldvision.org/participant/sineadtris

Got Fitted

This is a pretty boring post. Definitely not the most inspirational thing I’ve ever written. I’m just journaling the journey. So feel free to indulge yourself in my musings if you want, but I promise you, you won’t be missing much if you skip this one.

I finally got my bike (aka the bike that I’m borrowing from a friend) into the shop for a fitting today. After announcing my 39 mile birthday tri, I decided it would probably be good to figure out my bike issues before April 7th.

I got my ride in early this morning – 6am. I thought the plan called for 45 minutes today. Nope, 60. Not exactly the best time to discover that which would obviously cut into what I thought was a well thought out plan for the morning –  ride early, get the girls to school, get ready for the day, toss in a load of laundry, get my bike rack on and loaded up, and head out to my first meeting by 8am. Now I’ve lost 15 minutes to accomplish all of this. I’m already thinking cuss words and I’ve only been awake for 5 minutes.

“This is only an hour, Sinead. What are you gonna do in 4 weeks when your Wednesday workouts start to call for 75 minutes in the morning? or 90?” OH CRAP! I just now realized that this Saturday’s ride is my first 90 minute ride! GAH! Why does this seems to be increasing so fast?

So I scheduled an appointment at Gateway Cycle in Oakdale and met with their manager, Steven. Cool guy. Bike expert, shop manager and a rock n’ roll musician… of course he’s a musician. I learned a lot from him and got the necessary tweaks made. There were a lot of them.

  • The seat, I mean the saddle, needed to be raised and moved forward.
  • The handle bars were raised and the stem was shortened.
  • The arm rest paddy-thingeys on the aerobars were adjusted.
  • The cleats on my shoes were moved.
  • Tires needed air… ha! and the gear shift-thingee was adjusted so it would stop rubbing the chain and making a ton of noise.

Clearly, I need to learn some new vocabulary. But at the same time, ignorance is bliss.

I will also need to invest in a new saddle here soon. I’m currently riding on a men’s saddle which is very narrow and long, compared to a women’s model, and can be kinda painful. But for now, the adjustments that were made do feel better, and will probably help my efficiency and speed a little bit, too.

Today’s bill was $140. The new saddle will be $80. I still don’t have decent bike shorts. Thankfully I have this borrowed bike, because good road bikes start at around $1,000. Yow! This gal and her church planting hubby ain’t got time for that.

Some people wonder, why wouldn’t you just save that money and give it away – skip all the swimming, riding and running? It’s a valid question.

Here’s my simplest “its-after-10pm-and-I-need-to-go-bed” answer:

It’s sorta like Matthew 25:14-29. I guess I’m aiming for a “well done”. This is an investment – one that I hope will have a significant return for kids in Africa. I make the investment of time, money and energy, with a hope that somehow my example will inspire my friends and family to make some sort of investment as well – an investment that supports and encourages me as I face this challenge daily, that reminds me that I’m not alone on this mission, AND most importantly, one that provides water, hope and life to people who really need it.

People like this little dude from Kenya, who’s future’s so bright he needs shades. He stole my heart in 2015.

$50 provides one person with sustainable access to clean water. Invest your talents. Go for “well done.”



*** UPDATE 3/10/17 9:50am

I just got a call from Gateway Cycle. Someone called and purchased my saddle. I can go in anytime and get it put on. So I’m currently out in public with tears pouring down my face.

Thank you, whoever you are. That was incredibly, amazingly kind. This goes so far beyond improving my comfort while riding. This changes my heart. This is the kind of thing that inspires me to love more and love better. Thank you SO MUCH.

Just so blown away. I didn’t see that coming.

*** UPDATE 3/10/17 2:42pm

All done. My sit bones are SO THANKFUL.


I wanna quit

I wanna quit!

It’s a thought that comes into my mind usually several times during a workout. And often several times a week during the mundane, everyday challenges of life. I’ve thought it a lot lately about a lot of different things.

I thought it again this morning as I ran the trail between Huntington beach and the Pacific Coast Highway. I was only out for 45 mins, but it came once around mile 2, and again and again every quarter mile after.

Until I heard a small, familiar voice. It’s the voice I’ve been waiting for and longing to hear. It said Love perseveres. It never gives up. It endures every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It’s not just a reading for weddings.

It’s a verse that defines, in case you were ever wondered, how love behaves. How to love your neighbor. How to love your enemy. How to love the poor. How to love yourself.

It also describes how you are loved by Love himself. It points to the everlasting, faithful, and sustaining love of God.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

I needed that hope-filled encouragement today. Maybe you do too.

Keep your ears and eyes open. God is still speaking to us.

I’m the Slowest Biker

After a 2.4 mile swim, the Ironman continues with a 112 mile bike ride.


I learned how to ride a bike on my sister’s blue banana bike. One of my dad’s boys scouts, Jim Lagios, was the one who actually got me up and going on my own for the first time. I remember it so vividly as one of the best days of my life to that point. Out my dirt driveway and to the right, down the small hill on Wildwood road, where now 4 generations of Barry’s have lived.

I spent the rest of my childhood biking EVERYWHERE. My mom didn’t drive and dad was gone at work all day so it was literally my only way to get anywhere fast. Ahh, the 80’s. They were pretty perfect, weren’t they?

Leisure biking is great. We’ve got beautiful trail systems here in MN. The Divvy’s that have sprouted up around the Twin Cities and Chicago make seeing a city fun and efficient.

But for exercise? Eh. I could leave it.

I don’t know why – I just don’t like it all that much. It hurts my butt and lower back. I REALLY don’t like riding with traffic – drivers are dumb these days and I find myself constantly worrying about someone clipping me from behind.   Because of this, I picked up one of those rear-view mirrors for my bike helmet, but that snapped in half the day Dan used my helmet to get the attention of a car speeding through our neighborhood.

Add that to the fact that I’m over my need for speed. In fact, straight up, I don’t like going fast on a bike. I am constantly braking on downhills, apparently a big no-no when you’ve got a limited amount of time to get a long way. img_2053

Ironically… as I’m typing this… I’m still stewing from my last ride, frustrated to no end about how freakishly SLOW I am on the bike trainer. While my friends are pedaling around 17-18 mph, I can’t seem to push past a 12 mph average. I have my cadence up where it needs to be. I’m working hard and sweating profusely. But my progress is as slow as the wheels are turning.

Which means, right now, my doubts are on overdrive. If I struggle to maintain 12 mph for 60 minutes, how the heck can I even fathom hitting the 13.9 average for 112 miles (that’ll take about 8 hours)? I don’t remember that last time I was so unsure of myself. It is not a good feeling.

I need to just stop right now, and as humbly as possible, ask that as you read this, to please resist the temptation to launch into a bunch of “helpful” ideas. The amount of unsolicited advice I’ve been receiving has been a bit overwhelming. It’s one thing when it’s from experienced Ironman finishers – even that can be a lot to consume. But I’m not your typical Ironman competitor. For one, I’m doing this on a very limited budget. I’m on a borrowed bike (thank you, Jeremy). I bought my shoes on ebay. I simply can’t “afford” the advice people like to give.

Rest assured, I have a great team of trusted friends around me, some of which have completed several Ironman. Beyond that, Team World Vision provides us with a professional coach. I know where to go when I have questions.

People are well meaning. I know I am loved. I appreciate the support.

But when I wrote my first swimming post and someone, who has never done an Ironman, told me to make sure I got some open water swims in before the race (that was then 9 months away)… I felt patronized. I’m already extremely vulnerable in doing this. I need to be able to share my struggles without even well meaning people making me feel like I’m an idiot. There I said it.

I do welcome your prayers.

I’m also feeling extremely tired lately. “Duh, you’re training for an Ironman.” A nice sentiment, but I feel it’s a bit early for that. The training I’m doing right now isn’t any more intensive than the marathon training I’ve endured thus far. Something else is going on.

So prayers. Yes, please. Prayers.
For energy.
For patience.
For vitality.
But most of all for Africa, and children, and clean water.

I’m doing this for children who have struggles far greater than mine.
God, I wish I could keep this in perspective at every moment.

The best way to keep me motivated and encouraged on the long journey ahead of me is by providing clean water to children like these.

Give here

“Whatever you did for the least of these my children, you did for me.”
Jesus, in Matthew 25


The percentage of my workouts I completed this week! This is a big deal for me. Because confession time:  last year, I got way too lazy with my marathon training. I had a really cocky, really passive attitude.

I know I can finish a marathon. I’ve done it countless times now. I can just run/walk it. I’ll just run with someone who has a slower pace than me.

Sure God. I’ll give you my body. I’ll run for you. But I’ll do it completely half-assed.

A blemished offering.

So I slacked off. Big time. And I felt like complete garbage.

I thought about quitting. I thought about quitting a lot, in fact. I’ve been running back-to-back marathons now for almost 3 years. Isn’t that enough? I deserve a break! My body must need a break, because it clearly doesn’t want to do this anymore. I’m tired. I’m bored. I’m not motivated. I should quit.

So that’s why signed up for the Ironman. WHAT?!

You see, I needed something to challenge me. I needed something that actually caused me to doubt myself and my ability. Something that required FAITH and dependence on God. Something that would force me to give 100%. Because that’s what my Jesus deserves.

All of a sudden, I’m alive again.

Now, I know I’m only 2 weeks into base-base training. This is the easy part.


This is what the first 3 weeks of base-base training looks like.

This is especially easy for me who likes to start things. I’m an Activator (according to Strengthfinders). A really, really good one, at that. Got a great idea? Let’s make it happen. Need something jump-started? I’m your girl. I’ll dive into just about anything, with or without a plan. Let me loose. Let’s go!

It’s follow-through and finishing that I’ve struggled with my whole life. I get bored and distracted, or under-challenged, and I quit.

But I can’t quit this. 

Not when I’ve got this much skin in the game. Not when it’s personal. Not when I have relationships with people in Africa that have even more skin in the game than I do. Not when I know the suffering. Not when 1,000 children die everyday. Not when over 6 million people STILL don’t have clean water.

Not when I’ve seen the incredible, sustainable change that World Vision is making in the developing world (Oh my gosh you guys – I need to bring you up to speed, but what I saw when I was in Africa last was MIND-BLOWING. More on that to come).

And not when I have this great cloud of witnesses who have faithfully supported me over the last 7 years.

And not when the transformative work of God has never been so evident and potent in my life. This one thing – running for Team World Vision – has taught me more about God and his love, and has brought me deeper into his fold, than anything I’ve ever done or been a part of.

So I’m back to giving 100%. And I like it. It’s what’s required of me.

And it’s what’s required of you too. 

“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Jesus in Luke 12:48

To support my efforts financially, please give to clean water here:

To join my team at the Twin Cities marathon, sign up here:

The Swim Story

The Ironman Triathlon begins with a 2.4 mile swim.

Growing up less than a half mile from the eastern shore of White Bear Lake, I spent a lot of time in the water as a child. First at tiny Willernie beach, nestled at the corner of Ash & Wildwood Beach Road, and later, as I grew old enough to walk or bike, at Mahtomedi Beach, which was a little over a mile away. That’s where I took swimming lessons during the summer, and where I successfully  graduated every level, all the way up to Junior Lifeguard. I would’ve considered myself a good swimmer, but that’s because I was an arrogant child. Let’s be real.  All I ever really did at the lake was play. Swimming for any length of time or distance never really happened.

Until about 9 years ago. I was on a staff retreat with Eagle Brook’s worship team at Camp Kingswood in Minnetrista. Upon our arrival at this quaint camp on Little Long Lake, a few of us quickly tossed on our swimsuits and headed down to the water. It wasn’t long before I came up with an awesome idea… “Let’s swim across the lake!” It didn’t look that far across (in fact I measured it recently – only .16 mile). It would be easy, after all, I’m a good swimmer... and fun! Only one of my coworkers was brave enough to take me up on it (or maybe he just didn’t want me to die). We swam for about two minutes before I was totally wiped out. I basically back floated the rest of the way, then sat on the beach on the other side for about 10 minutes catching my breathe, and trying to figure out how I was gonna make it back. Apparently swimming distance is a lot harder than it looks.


Little Long Lake, Minnestrista, MN. The lake I (tried to) swim across in 2008. Photo cred. Suzie Katusky.

The next time I decided to give swimming a try was about 4 years ago. I had been sidelined from running due to a hip injury, so instead of bearing the shame of a water aerobics class, I decided to swim some laps. I could barely make it the 25 yards to the other end. I had to stop to catch my breath and bring my heart rate back down. That didn’t go so well. I think I did 2 whole laps that day, and promptly quit for good. Swimming sucks!  I started water aerobics a few days later.

That’s it. That sums up my life in swimming.

So why on earth would I even consider trying to take on what’s known as the World’s Toughest Triathlon, which includes a 2.4 mile open water swim in Lake Monona that needs to be completed in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes?

Well, we all know the reason why. More on that later.

So I jumped back into the pool on Sept. 16, 2016. That day I swam 700 yards in 30 minutes, mostly in 25 yard intervals. It was rough. Really rough.


Photo cred: Daniel Lukas

But I’m sticking with it, and much like I did when I started running distance 7 years ago, I have begun to see small, incremental progress. I took some lessons and have been reading through a book called “Total Immersion: A Revolutionary Way to Swim Better, Faster and Easier“. I have swam a (very slow) mile – 1650 yards, which told me that if I could maintain that (very slow) pace, I could complete the Ironman swim in 1 hour and 50 minutes – that gives me 30 minutes to spare. Ha! And last week, I was able to complete 1200 yards in 30 minutes, doing 100 yard intervals. PROGRESS!

I have a lot of work to do. Though my confidence is growing, I’m still pretty terrified. Open water. Thousands of people swimming at the same time, splashing, kicking, & hitting me. And probably worse than all of that is the 93 swim workouts I need to do in training before race day. Do I have what it takes? Do I have the discipline, the time, and ability to endure?

The truth is I don’t know. Maybe that’s the scariest part.

But for 7 years, I’ve placed myself in these situations where I don’t know what the outcome will be, and every time, God has faithfully been by my side and carried me through. He’s provided every thing I need and so much more. I live for that joy.

But for the joy set before him, He endured…

So here we go. Following Jesus all the way.



Gabi hopped in my lane with me tonight. She’ll be swimming better than me in no time, I’m sure. In the meantime, she provides me with a decent simulation of race day, and what it’s like to have arms and legs flailing next to me as I swim.

Don’t we look precious?

Human Trafficking // Sexual Slavery and Child Sacrifice


Two weeks from today, I will attempt to run my 4th (official) marathon. I started running for clean water back in 2010, but I’ve decided it’s time for a change. For this one, it’s going to be about human trafficking – sexual slavery & child sacrifice. You’re thinking WHAT?! I thought you were completely sold out for clean water?!

I am. That hasn’t changed. In fact, I feel more passionate today about clean water than I ever have before. Here’s why.

Women and children throughout rural parts of Africa walk, on average, 6 kilometers every day  to collect water for their families. While they walk, they are left completely exposed and vulnerable to predators – wild animals, yes, but worse yet, human predators. Sexual predators. This water walk is one of the greatest sources of kidnapping and rape on the planet.

A few weeks ago we had a guest in the office, a colleague from World Vision Child Protection. He spoke to us about his work in the field, specifically as it relates to child sex slaves and child sacrifice. The more I heard him speak about these heinous practices that target women and children, the more my blood began to boil. This is pure evil.

It is an evil that we can help prevent when we work to provide water to these rural African communities. When the water walk goes away, the risk of someone being kidnapped, sold into slavery, raped, tortured, it’s drastically decreases.

I can’t shake this. WE NEED TO END THE WATER WALK! NOW!!

My beloved friends, water changes everything.

Last week, we mourned the loss of Harambe, the beautiful silverback gorilla, while at the same time we rejoiced that the life of little Isaiah Dickerson was spared. Thank God that precious child survived! But right now in Africa, about 1000 children under the age of 5 die EVERY SINGLE DAY due to diseases caused by unsafe water.

Thankfully, through your generosity, World Vision is currently providing one new person with clean water every 30 seconds.

You see, water is foundational. It transforms. When you give clean water, you set off a chain reaction for good. Children are freed from deadly water-related diseases. People become healthier and more productive. Girls get to go to school rather than trek long distances to gather filthy water. Less money is spent on medicine, which means more savings and more investment in things like education. With better health and more time, parents can start small businesses.

Water promises a bright future, and a full life—the kind of life God intends.

Let’s continue bringing forth God’s will, God’s intentions on earth, in Africa, as they are in heaven. Let’s end human trafficking, and so many other injustices. Let’s do it by ending the water walk.

Please support me in the final stretch of my journey to Grandma’s Marathon on June 18th. Give here: www.teamworldvision.org/participant/sinead2016

Thank you so much!