Drought: A prolonged absence of something. An extended shortage. Water related.

Last week was a recovery week for Ironman training – a prescribed period of reduced training intensity and volume to rest and replenish. Only 9 hours and 15 minutes of training was prescribed on the plan. Only 9 hours… I know, right?

I was thankful. It was going to be an extremely busy week at work. I hosted an event for 250 people on Thursday night to celebrate the beginning of the Twin Cities Marathon training season, and then flew out to Detroit on Friday morning to help with the Global 6K, where over 900 people were in attendance. So, with everything going on, I fully expected to miss some workouts and I was OK with that  – to this point, I’ve been super consistent, not missing a single workout for 3 weeks in a row.

What I didn’t factor into the equation was a) how exhausting event prep and execution is and b) how much even short trips wear me down. While my IM training was significantly reduced, I really didn’t rest much and sleep was at a minimum. My recovery week did not provide me with much replenishment.

So it’s Sunday night, and I’m staring down a new week of training, back to the full-on grind.


This is what I have to look forward to this week. 12 hours & 45 mins.

I feel
and alone.

It’s drought season.

I’m looking at the week ahead of me and questioning everything. To be honest, I don’t want to do it. The motivation is just not there. I haven’t received an ounce of financial support in 3 weeks, so what’s the point? I’m not doing this because I have a dream of finishing an Ironman. If people in Africa aren’t receiving clean water, why bother?

But I committed to doing this, and people have already given very generously. For that, I am so thankful. That is not lost on me. Not at all. But in these moments of radio-silence, when I’m not receiving those blessed emails or texts that scream “SOMEONE DONATED!!” … I feel alone. And the negative voices takeover. They say…

“Nobody cares anymore.”
“Nobody cares about your training anymore.”
“Nobody cares about YOU anymore.”
“Nobody cares about kids in Africa.”

“Give up.”
“It’s not worth it.”

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

So I look to Jesus.
Because apparently he knows something about abandonment.
In the midst of unimaginable physical pain, abandoned by all but a few of his friends and followers, and facing his imminent death, when it would be almost impossible for anyone to think clearly, he called out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?”

And yet, through all of this, he endured out of deep love and devotion for you and for me. Strangely, he had hope. He knew that God was going to do something amazing. That, although he couldn’t see it and he certainly wasn’t feeling it, there was joy coming. He knew that because of God’s promise, there was resurrection and LIFE on the other side – for him and for all of us.

Mother Teresa saw these lonely experiences as invitations to unite herself more closely with Jesus in his abandonment on the cross and with the poor, who also feel abandoned.

Drought in KenyaIMG_5638

Speaking of the poor, there’s a severe drought in Kenya currently and it is affecting the community where my sponsor child, Daniel, and his family live. In Baringo County, household distances to water is now three times longer than usual (the usual is 6 kilometers, or 3-4 miles). What does this mean for Daniel? Is he missing school because he has to walk farther? How is this affecting their food supply? Are they being forced to drink dirty water again? Have they been sick?


Does Daniel’s mama, Egla feel abandoned? To have seen so much progress in her community since 2007 when World Vision began their work there, wide-spread development and growth, clean water flowing and her children thriving, feeling blessed and hopeful, and then this happens? The water goes away. Is she wondering where God is now?

There’s a lot I don’t know, but I do know this – if my family didn’t have clean water, I would do whatever it takes to get it for them, and I would be on my knees everyday, praying that God would provide somehow.

This drought has been declared a national disaster in Kenya, and yet, we don’t hear about it in the news. It’s a silent killer that’s easy for the rest of the world to ignore. But it’s taking the lives of nearly 1,000 children under the age of 5 every day. That’s more than all the war and all the violence we see in the news today.

It remains the #1 preventable cause of death.
The #1 preventable cause of mothers and fathers suffering through the loss of a child.

Today, I’m writing to Daniel and Egla, and I’m praying this prayer from Psalm 63 with and for them.

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.

And our faith – their faith being far greater than my own – will remind us that God is good and there is a joy coming, so we must endure.

Oh God, pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; Pour out your Spirit on your offspring, and your blessing on your descendants.

$250 will provide clean water for a family of 5 in Africa.



I always struggle to find the right words in the days after these big events. One, because I’m so exhausted in every possible way, and two because how can I reduce these moments to words when there’s so much emotion and so much meaning. It’s hard to explain until you experience it.

So this is a start, but I’m nowhere near done.

There were several times yesterday while swimming, riding or running where doubt consumed my thoughts – I’ve worked so hard over the last 4 months just to get to where I was yesterday. How will ever be able swim nearly 3x what I swam yesterday – 4x what I biked – nearly 3x what I ran??

This is how.
By being surrounded.
People. Community. Friends. Support. Love.

I’m still scared out of my mind, but people step through fear with me.

I am being emptied, only to be refilled.

To every person who showed up so far THANK YOU. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve needed you, and you being there has sustained me. A hundred million thank yous.

I have a LONG way to go to reach my goal of bringing 500 people clean water this year. I didn’t hit my short goal yesterday, which only means I need to get better and bolder about advocating for the women and children I run for. And I will. I promise I will. I will do more. I will do better. I will do better. For all of you, and for all of them.

For all of us.
Join me.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

A look back…

Last night, right before bedtime, I received a text message informing me that someone had made a donation that provided clean water for 5 children (AMAZING!) The gift was from a family who has given every single year I’ve been with Team World Vision, starting back in 2010 when I ran my first half marathon.

textI sent them a text right away to say thank you. I said, “You’ve been with me since day 1.”

He replied, “It’s our pleasure. Pretty crazy where God has taken you on this journey. Grateful to be a part of it.”

It got me to thinking how thankful I am for those people who were with me in the beginning. For the people who gave; whether their gifts were large or small, these were the people who, without their encouragement and support, I might not be here today, and I would’ve missed all that God has done.

Friends who have given at any point in the past – I need you to see and understand all that your gifts have done. So let’s take a look back…

  • My first race ever – I mean EVER – was the Minneapolis Rock ‘n Roll 13.1 in August 2010. I wasn’t a runner when I started, and when I finished, I swore I’d never do it again. But today, I couldn’t tell you how many half marathons I’ve done. Too many to count.
  • Every time I finished a half marathon, I would say “I will never double that distance. People who run marathons are nuts.” I have since completed 4 marathons, and twice, ran the Twin Cities Marathon course, not on the day of the race, just because.
  • For the past 2 years, I’ve had the best birthdays of my life, running my age in miles, from Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater where I was born, to somewhere in Minneapolis, 37 and 38 miles west, respectively, surrounded by friends and family.
  • Last fall, I had the hair-brained idea to run a 50K race. I finished, but it wasn’t pretty.  Regardless, I have challenged my body in ways I never imagined possible, and I have achieved my goals.
  • I swore I’d never attempt a triathlon. I just wasn’t interested. I wasn’t a swimmer and cycling terrifies me. Yet, here I am, taking on Ironman, because I’ve learned that with God, anything is possible. I know I can’t do it on my own, but I know I’m not alone. That gives me just enough confidence to step out of the boat and try.
  • I was hired by World Vision in 2014, carrying a fire that I believe God gave me (in 2013) to grow the Twin Cities team to 500 runners.
  • In my first two years on staff, God did exactly what he said he was going to do. In 2015, my first year, the team’s total impact grew by 212% over the year before. Last year, our impact increased again by 147%, and we became the first city outside of Chicago to raise over $1M.
  • I’ve traveled around the country and around the world – 2 trips to Africa w/ 16 teammates to witness the work that is being done because of your generosity.  One of those teammates was my husband, Dan.11221604_1030437937000888_5489625573777140422_o (1)
  • Our marriage has changed for the better because of this ministry. We’re both healthier – physically, mentally and emotionally. But beyond that, this ministry has given us a shared experience through the ups and downs of training, through pain and exhaustion. Having him with me in this is a priceless gift.
  • Together, we’ve went from doubting that we could give $39 dollars a month to sponsor a child in need, to now sponsoring 7 children in 4 countries. We’ve met 3 of them in person… and one may be coming to visit us here in the US next year. Generosity begets generosity.
  • The ways in which this ministry has personally blessed and changed me are innumerable. I won’t bore you with all of them, but they are real. I am not the same person I was 7 years ago. Not. At. All.

Best of all, and this has been the primary goal all along… because of the generosity, faithfulness, and compassion in your heart … because the Spirit of Jesus is alive and well, living through you, my friends and family, 1069 people have access to clean water. Over $53,000 raised since 2010.

Your gifts have had a ripple effect.
They’ve created a tidal wave of love, changing the lives of countless individuals, making the world a better place in every way imaginable.

I am in absolute awe, and so, so grateful.

I urge you, with all that I am, to continue in your generosity. You are making an incredible difference. As long as I know you’re with me, I will continue to run. Let’s see end an to the water crisis, together.

Thank you so very much.

To give towards my goal to bring clean water to 500 children this year alone, visit my website: www.teamworldvision.org/participant/sineadtris 



Warning: graphic content.

I haven’t had a running related injury in a long time. My secret – wearing the right shoes and staying diligent about proper stretching after every run. Triathlon training’s been surprisingly kind to me physically. While I’m working a lot of new muscle groups, they have ample time to recover between workouts. For the most part, my body has felt amazing.

But I’m pretty frustrated right now and actually, in a lot of pain. I’ve had to take the last few days off of training because my feet are very sick.

I visited the doctor last Wednesday and was diagnosed me with a severe case of athlete’s foot, a common fungal infection that can be contracted in pools or public showers. They gave me an oral anti-fungal and a steroid and said I should start to feel better in a day or so (she also told me I had to wear shower shoes for the rest of my life. Hilarious). Unfortunately, things haven’t gotten any better. In fact, they have been getting progressively worse.

There are pictures below. If you don’t like feet or don’t want to see them, don’t look. They’re pretty ugly.

The thing is, I could run. I ran 5 miles on Thursday. It hurts, but not that much more than walking. The problem is that the friction and pounding aggravate the skin. It would probably make things worse.

I could bike, but my bike shoes are very narrow, and don’t have a lot of spare room. With all the swelling, my feet won’t even fit into the shoes.

I could swim – no shoes, no pounding, and nice cool water – but I don’t wish this on my worse enemy. Assuming I picked this up at the pool from someone else, I don’t want to propagate this any further.

I’M SO FRUSTRATED. I have been SO GOOD with my training. I’ve seldom missed a workout – primarily because I’m terrified of this race and I want to be as well prepared as possible.

While all of this has been happening to me, my husband Dan has been sick with pneumonia (his story is here), and our water heater broke. Water in his lungs, water on our basement floor, and if you consider the fluid inside of blisters to be water, than I have water irritating my feet.

I love how Dan put it – “if you are a pray-er, please pray for healing and that if there is something here for me to see, learn, or notice, that i would.”

My perspective is usually pretty good and I can usually perceive if/when God wants me to learn something from an experience, but with this, so far, I’ve got nothing concrete (I’m also not asking for opinions).

I have a feeling it has something to do with patience and dependency.
Or yet another experience with the effects of contaminated water.

For now, I deeply appreciate your prayers. Before I was up to speak at the Team World Vision National Leader’s Gathering on Saturday, I texted Dan because I was in a lot of pain and starting to get anxious. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it or distract anyone’s attention away from the event, but I was desperate for prayer. So I asked Dan to reach out to some people privately. Within in minutes, my phone was blowing up with words of love and encouragement. If you were one of those people, I can’t appropriately expressed my gratitude. While I am obviously not healed, I did not think about my feet once while I was speaking. Not once. And I was dancing to “I Saw The Light” about an hour later. You made a difference. Thank you so much.

Please continue to pray for a fast(er) healing and clarity, if there is something more that I should take away from this. I plan to make an appointment with the dermatologist in the morning.

And PLEASE continue to pray for the children of Africa who are without clean water today, and how you can help this year.

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Quoted from “The Ability to Endure” by Michael Chitwood


There is always a temptation to turn our focus onto ourselves and wallow in our own problems. But that’s not me. I point you back to the unheard, unseen people in the margins. I share my stories with you, for them.

Click here to give: www.teamworldvision.org/participant/sineadtris

Lord Jesus, have mercy on us.

Ok. Stop here if you don’t want to see pictures of my progressively worsening feet.


UPDATE: Monday, March 27th17436182_10155230688717835_7525843391272704437_o

I went in to the ER this morning. Got diagnosed with cellulitis and was prescribed some mega-dosages of 2 antibiotics. Glad we caught it. I guess it’s the kinda thing that can make you really sick. With all these medications, I feel more like a geriatric patient. I’m doing fine otherwise. Thank you for your prayers.

UPDATE: Monday night. Two friends have sent me this verse within the last hour. This is the kind of encouragement I needed.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭52:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬ http://bible.com/116/isa.52.7.nlt

UPDATE: Tuesday, April 20th

It wasn’t athlete’s foot after all? What the heck?!


Base training complete!


This is my “YAY!!” pic.

My Ironman base training is complete!

Actually what I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year is more like the base training before the base training, necessary for non-triathletes, like myself. But I did it. I made it through my first 10 weeks, with 91/100 workouts complete since January 1!

The official training begins tomorrow.
Ever wondered what week one of Ironman training looks like?


It’s 9.5 hours total, which is about 1 hour and 50 mins more (for me) than week 15 of marathon training (week 15 is the most intense week of marathon training, which includes the 20 mile long run).


I just realized that the easiest week of Ironman training takes more time than the hardest week of marathon training.

Oh Lord, help me.raised

Fundraising is off to a solid start, too. $800, which will provide lasting clean water for 16 kids! My goal is 400, and I want to get to at least 200 by my birthday – April 7th. On that day, I’m going to tri to tie all three disciplines together for the first time and do a 39 mile triathlon – 1 mile swim, 28 mile bike ride, and 10 mile run. It’ll probably take me about 5 hours – which, even that, is more time than most of my marathons have taken.

[[ You’re invited! You can swim. You can ride. You can run – as much or as little as you want. Or you can just be there to watch it all go down. Doesn’t matter, as long as you’re there. People make these birthday runs great. RSVP here. ]]

26 weeks to go ’til Sept. 10th.
Ironman Madison. 2.4 mile swim. 112 mile bike. 26.2 mile run. Here we go.

Want to read more about my journey so far? Click here.

Don’t need to read more because you can see I clearly need help? 🙂  Click here.

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.