I A-M S-T-I-L-L R-U-N-N-I-N-G

It’s been nearly eight months since I posted a blog.

Can you believe it?

I’ve thought about and wanted to write every week. Heck, I’m a product of  Mizzou’s J-School. Writing’s in my blood!

Even though my busy work and family lives have precluded regular blogging, there is good news: I’m still running.

Not as much as I’d like. But running, nonetheless.

One of my recent jaunts, Community Services League’s Circle the Square 5K on and around the historic Independence Square, made something abundantly clear: I need to have a race on the calendar, something I’m training for, to keep running at the top of my priority list. I finished the 5k with no problem but was well off my PR because of the hillier-than-usual route and my lack of readiness.

So, after doing a slow-but-steady seven miles Sunday on the Manhattan Beach Wood Chip Trail during my layover at LAX, I made a promise to myself: I’ll have a future race on the calendar in the next week and a plan in place to train for it.

Kate and I have talked for years about tackling Kansas City’s venerated Hospital Hill Half Marathon, which in 2014 is on June 7. And if not it, then something.

Keep your eyes on Kansas City Runner in the days ahead for more information on my next race. And in the meantime, check out its updated links.

I’ve written before that running is my ballast. I look forward to returning to the road and posting more regularly.

Happy running!

Kansas City Runner

Posted in All posts, April 2014 | 7 Comments

A great day for a bike ride

With temperatures in the upper 70s and unseasonably low humidity, Tom and I ditched Saturday’s running plans for the chance to enjoy a long bike ride on Eastern Jackson County’s Little Blue Trail. In the end, it didn’t disappoint — though there were a few bumps along the way.

I was excited about the ride, too. Little did I know...

I was excited about the ride, too. Little did I know…

Tom was all grins as we hit the Little Blue Trail Saturday afternoon.

Tom was all grins as we hit the Little Blue Trail Saturday afternoon.

We headed south around 3 p.m. from the trail’s Ripley Junction Shelter parking lot. The idyllic weather drew a slew of runners and cyclists, and the trail was buzzing with fellow fitness freaks.

We rode eight miles out and eight miles back for a total of 16 miles. The final eight were tough for 10-year-old Tom.

Tom enjoyed the first eight miles of our ride.

Tom enjoyed the first eight miles of our ride.

The first eight miles were fun for me, too.

The first eight miles were fun for me, too.

He was certain the ride was uphill both ways. And he couldn’t understand why there was so much afternoon sunshine — more than usual, he was certain.

As we relayed the trail adventure to Kate several hours after returning home, Tom looked back on his moaning and groaning with a grin and chuckle. But he was a real bear those last few miles.

During our final few miles, Tom just wanted to get home.

During our final few miles, Tom just wanted to get home.

And wasn't eager to talk to Dad.

And wasn’t eager to talk to Dad.

All in all, though, it was a great day on the trail. Tom’s already talking about our next ride, on which he wants to set a new record and log at least 17 miles.

Kate and Tom’s half marathon training plan calls for a five-mile LSD today, which we hope to squeeze in after church. I’m looking forward to another nice day on the road.

He'd eventually remember, however, that I was his ride home.

He’d eventually remember, however, that I was his ride home.

Where are you running, walking and cycling? What races are you preparing for? Let us know by clicking the “comment” button below and replying to this post.

Happy running!

Kansas City Runner

Posted in All posts, August 2013 | 2 Comments

A good running week

It’s been a good running week … and the weekend is just beginning.

Kate, Tom and I after last Sunday's Little Blue Trail run.

Kate, Tom and I after last Sunday’s Little Blue Trail run.

If you read my last post, you’ll remember Kate, Tom and I planned to hit Eastern Jackson County’s Little Blue Trail last Sunday for their first Long Slow Distance (LSD) run. We’re preparing for this fall’s Big Sur and Gobbler Grind half marathons, and LSDs are an essential staple of every distance training plan.

We ran two miles out and back. It was a great afternoon to hit the trail: The temperature peaked around 85, but it was nice in the shade. A light breeze blew off and on.

Tom, a capable trail partner, chattered the entire time. That’s what I love about running with our 10-year-old: There’s never a dull moment.

Tom, who ran a 2:35 2012 Rock the Parkway Half Marathon, is a great running partner.

Tom, who ran a 2:35 2012 Rock the Parkway Half Marathon, is a great running partner.

If you hit the Little Blue Trail in the warm months, I recommend going north from the Missouri 78 Shelter. Even in the afternoon sun, more than half of the trail is shaded, making outings bearable in the heat and humidity.

Speaking of trails, I recently learned through Rails to Trails of a 2.91-mile stretch of abandoned railroad in Lafayette County. Look for more information in future posts on my efforts to create a trail on the former railroad between Lexington and Myrick, Mo.

The Beem Team will run the De-Feet Hunger 5K in September 2013. It benefits Harvesters and is coordinated by the Heartland Central District of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The Beem Team will run the De-Feet Hunger 5K in September 2013. It benefits Harvesters and is coordinated by the Heartland Central District of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Looking forward, Kate and I decided today to run the De-Feet Hunger 5K Walk Run on September 7. The race, which benefits Harvesters, begins at 8 a.m. at 55th Street and Paseo Boulevard in Kansas City. It’s sponsored by the Heartland Central District of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church. Participants are invited to stay after the run to help pack lunches for area kids.

What races are you planning for the late summer and fall? Let us know by replying to this post.

Happy running!

Kansas City Runner

Posted in All posts, August 2013 | 3 Comments

Enjoying the weekend runs and new fitness home

It’s been a few months — again — since I blogged.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write. I simply haven’t had time.

You know how the day job is — always nudging its nose between you and life’s most rewarding pursuits. Writing ranks near the top of my list of personal pleasures.

As does running. My crazy schedule’s squeezed my trail time in recent months, too.

Even as life gets busier, though, running will remain a constant. Hitting the road, whether solo or with Kate and the kids, keeps my motor purring.

Joe, Maggie and Tom enjoying a bite at MCI.

Joe, Maggie and Tom waiting for dinner at MCI.

Friday’s jaunt is the latest example. Not sure of my path, I hit the road as the sun set. I altered my typical five-mile loop, and the resulting route covered hills and terrain that pushed and rewarded me.

It was a great outing. Pounding the pavement in the ‘hood was just what I needed after a week of travel.

Running outdoors in August in the Midwest can be difficult. Unless you do it between midnight and 6 a.m., it’s usually downright hot.

Until recently, the Independence YMCA was my running respite during the summer heat. It opened early and closed late on weekdays and had reasonable hours on Saturday and Sunday.

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City’s decision earlier this year to close its Independence, Raytown and Kansas City, KS locations — which I wrote about briefly in my last post — was a real disappointment. Without warning, my bad-weather running roost evaporated — along with the fellowship it afforded.

Maggie, Tom and Joe in Grayton Beach, FL.

Maggie, Tom and Joe in Grayton Beach, FL.

Yet what initially seemed a loss has ultimately become a blessing. Many former Independence Y members — including the Beems — canceled their YMCA of Greater Kansas City memberships and chose more community focused, less expensive options.

I’ve found a new fitness home at the City of Independence’s Roger T. Sermon Community Center at 201 N. Dodgion Ave. Although we paid $89 a month for a family Y membership, the Sermon Center costs just $30 a year for individuals and $90 a year for families who live in Independence. It’s closed on Sunday and has limited Saturday hours, but the trade-off in price and benefit are well worth it.

The City of Independence's Roger T. Sermon Community Center.

The City of Independence’s Roger T. Sermon Community Center.

One of the Sermon Center’s downsides is its lack of a pool. But not to worry: The indoor swimming facility at the Henley Aquatic Center at Jim Bridger Middle School is open to the public all year, and the City of Independence’s Adventure Oasis beckons in the warm months.

The Sermon Center has a lot to offer. There are weight and locker rooms with showers in the basement, and a nice cardio area overlooks the gym. A range of Yoga and fitness classes are offered most days for a few dollars each.

What’s most rewarding about my new warm weather running haven are the people. Although I miss my Y friends, someone new lends a helping hand or offers a tip on using a piece of equipment every time I visit the Sermon Center.

I’m grateful to the City of Independence for providing and maintaining the Sermon Center. It’s enjoyable, affordable and convenient.

And it’s been a lifesaver in the warm months since my last post. I’ve logged most of my in-town miles on a Sermon Center treadmill, striving to maintain my fitness as Kate, Tom and I prepare for half marathons on consecutive November weekends.

Kate and I before a trail run last winter in Ladahl Park.

Kate and I before a trail run last winter in Landahl Park.

I mentioned in my last post that Kate and I will run the Big Sur Half Marathon on November 17 in Monterey, CA. Last month, Tom — who turns 11 in October — decided to tackle the Gobbler Grind, his second half marathon, on November 24 in Overland Park, KS. Kate, Maggie and I have run the race before, and Tom’s following a training plan that would carry him over the finish line in under 2:30.

To keep our preparation on track, I enjoyed an eight-mile run in the neighborhood Saturday, and Kate, Tom and I will do five miles on the Little Blue Trail Sunday afternoon. It’s been a cool August weekend in Kansas City, and we’re hoping the running gods keep smiling on us.

Tom chilling on the beach last month in Sanibel, FL.

Tom chilling on the beach last month in Sanibel, FL.

Where are you running and what races are you preparing for as we head toward fall? Leave a comment below for fellow readers.

Happy running!

Kansas City Runner

Posted in All posts, August 2013 | 4 Comments

Happy Father’s Day

It’s been three months since my last post. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to blog, nor is it because I haven’t been running.

I simply haven’t had time to write.

Yet even as the Beem schedule has gotten busier with two kids in high school — one of whom will be a senior next year — and another entering his last year of elementary school, running remains a constant. Hitting the road, whether on my own or with Kate and the kids, is my ballast.

Today’s jaunt exemplified running’s equilibrium in my life. Not sure of our path, Kate and I set out to log four miles before the day’s heat set in. We altered our typical South Main Street course by several blocks, and the resulting route was more challenging and satisfying, with ups and downs that pushed and rewarded us.

Speaking of rewards, the Independence YMCA’s closing — which initially seemed to deliver a debilitating loss — has ultimately led to a positive alternative. Many former Independence Y members — including the Beems — have canceled their YMCA of Greater Kansas City memberships and chosen other, less expensive local options, including Planet Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness.

The Beems have opted for an annual family membership at the City of Independence’s Roger T. Sermon Community Center at 201 N. Dodgion Ave. We paid $89/month at the Independence Y, but the Sermon Center costs just $90/year. Although we’ve lost the benefit of a year-round swimming pool, we can access a superior indoor swimming facility at the Independence School District’s Henley Aquatic Center at Jim Bridger Middle School and enjoy the City of Independence’s Adventure Oasis in the warm months.

Another precedent is Kate’s and my decision to register for our first destination race. We’ll run the Big Sur Half Marathon on November 17 in Monterey, CA.

We’re really looking forward to it. In addition to providing a good goal toward which to train, it will afford us several days to explore Monterey, Carmel and surrounding California seaside communities.

What fun and challenging routes are you running these days? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Happy running!

Kansas City Runner

Posted in All posts, June 2013 | 3 Comments