Friday, December 31, 2010

Safari West

We have some friends in town and yesterday we all went to a place called Safari West in Sonoma County. We originally were supposed to sleep in their luxury tents but as it happened, the night before a tree collapsed on a tent killing someone. So - we made the decision to cancel our overnight. But it was still a really cool place and the kids enjoyed it a lot. Afterwards we went to the Russian River Brew Pub for dinner. Russian River is home to some of my favorite beers including Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. Suffice to say, I was in Heaven.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


So for the first time in five years of living in SF we did the tourist thing: Alcatraz, trolley car, crab for lunch, soup at Boudin and Chinatown. It was a fantastic day and I really regret not checking out Alcatraz earlier in the game.

San Francisco - what an incredibly beautiful City. I try hard not to take it for granted.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon


So for the first time in five years of living in SF we did the tourist thing: Alcatraz, trolley car, crab for lunch, soup at Boudin and Chinatown. It was a fantastic day and I really regret not checking out Alcatraz earlier in the game.

San Francisco - what an incredibly beautiful City. I try hard not to take it for granted.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon

Monday, December 27, 2010

That Time of the Year Again: Top 10 Albums of 2010

I'm in a music (sharing) "group" with a bunch of dudes; we've been going on for a few years now. We calls ourselves RTP and that's all y'all need to know about that. Some of these guys I know and some I have never met, but I feel like we are all good friends and I'm indebted to them for turning me on to so much good stuff (amidst, of course, the occasional clunkers). I'm the old dude in the group and I feel that by keeping me dialed into the contemporary music scene, these guys have helped keep me young - more so than anyone else in my life (including my kids. They just age me). So thanks RTP boys, for all the musical hook ups. Your respective tastes in music - and friendships - are greatly appreciated.

And so, without further ado, my top ten albums of the year.

10. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Fantasy.

Yeah, it's good. Undeniably good. And it's one of those rare records that is getting better with each respective listen. And I love the cameos. That said, not sure it's deserving of the "10" that Pitchfork gave it, or some of the many other accolades, but there's no denying the fact that though Kanye might indeed me the mother of all strokes, he is one hell of a talent.

9. Linkin Park: A Thousand Suns

Linkin Park is my dirty, little secret. I'm way too old to be listening to these guys. I get it - they are a bit of a joke. But - I really don't care. They rock and their music has gotten me through many a run. This album got panned by the critics - I suspect it won't be making too many top ten lists, but it's not NEARLY as bad as its reviews. It too gets better the more you listen and even if it doesn't measure with their earlier stuff, they are trying something different by making an album (versus most bands today that look for a few hits while the rest is filler), which I think deserves respect. So- rock on Linkin Park.

8. Girl Talk: All Day

Another band (uh, actually not exactly. More appropriate word I guess would be DJ) that can do absolutely no wrong in my book. Also might just be the greatest running music ever. This one's a free download. Too lazy to find the link but shouldn't be hard to find. If you don't already have this one, get it pronto.

7. The Bird and the Bee: Interpreting the Music of Hall & Oates

Yes, you read that title correctly. Hall & Oates. The absolute antithesis of the previous three groups. But good lord - it's incredibly listenable, particularly when having a glass of wine, catching up with a good buddy on my deck on a hot summer day (looking at you, Rob). If like me you are a child of the 80's, you have to give this one a listen. Go ahead - don't be ashamed.

6. Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song

The only genre I could care less about is country, short of the occasional Johnny Cash. Until this came along. I never heard of this dude before this year. But holy epic, batman.This guy is freaking unreal. It's a double album and I keep finding these incredible gems. If you want a taste of this one, go to iTunes and dowload Poor Man Blues. If you hate it, I'll happily refund you the .99 cents.

5. Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer

It's got a little bit of everything. A bit of funk. A touch of r&b. Some rap. And a whole heck of a lot of fun. Still need to listen to see if it stands up to the test of time but again ... a lot of fun.

4. LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening

What more can I really say about this? Like the next three, it's destined to be a classic. Doesn't seem to get at all old, and has gotten me through MANY a run. The fact that this is four on my list is pretty arbitrary; could just as easily be three, two or maybe even one.

3. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Before Today

Another dude I never heard of before this year. Still not sure exactly who he is and it's even harder to describe his music but man, it's just incredibly captivating and listenable. The more I listen, the more I think that it is pretty close to perfect start to finish.I also agree with Pitchfork that Round and Round is the best song of the year. Again, take the .99 cent risk and at minimum, download that song. The rest of the album is nearly as good.

2. Arcade Fire: Suburbs

For the record, unlike many other indie music fans, I'm not an Arcade Fire acolyte. I like them fine enough but felt that if anything, they were/are a tad overrated. And while the fanfare around this was a bit much, they sure did deliver an incredibly powerful and at times poignant album. A classic. And in my opinion, Rococo is the second best song of the year.

1.Broken Bells: Broken Bells

I guess an argument can be made that this was a 2009 album (which is when it leaked) but no matter; it was absolutely my "go to" album of the year. I honestly may have listened to it over a 100 times - and it never grew old. It's beyond solid, start to finish and I suspect that in 2011, I'll have listened to it yet another 100 times. That's how good this one is in my opinion. Always liked the Shins and always liked Danger Mouse; together, they form an unbeatable combination.

So there you have it. Thoughts? Miss anything that is glaringly obvious?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And We Are Back

Got back late last night (after 15 hours of travel) from the DR. Sorry for not posting much, but needed to get off the grid. Suffice to say, we and our friends the Berlent's all had a great time. You know you've had a good time when a week seems to pass by in a day. All of our kids got along great as did the wives -- all good. Git in some running with Todd, quite a bit of swimming and a lot of hanging out and cerveza drinking. There might even have been a bit of oggling at the many topless women on the beach but alas, we will save that story for another day. So, all good. Read Tim Ferriss' new book, the Four Hour Body, which is highly recommended, finished the Hunger Games trilogy and am about halfway into Keith Richard's bio, which is fantastic. So, that's the week that was; I miss the warmth (and of course, our friends) already. Hope we make this an annual thing (though not to the Dominican Republic - too damn far from California).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dominican Republic

Greetings from the Dominican Republic. All good here except for a relatively minor stomach bug (the Girl). More later - and happy holidays, all.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Well, I Did It

I am officially signed up for a 100 mile race. Really not sure what I've gotten myself into, but at least I'll be in it with my main boys Todd and Payro. Understatement to say that it's going to be epic.

Also found out that I got into this one via the lottery. So my 2011 season is shaping up to look like 50k in March, 50 miler in April, 100 miler in July, a little rest/swimming in the middle, and North Face again to close things out.

A long way of saying .... there's a lot of running in my future. Before I start the season though I intend to go to every doctor in my world - deep physical, my cancer doc, etc - and make sure that all systems truly are "go" health wise.

But once I am done with 100 miler - presuming that I finish, which is a big "if" I might be done with ultrarunning for a while.

So - that's my story and I am sticking to it. For now, at least.

Monday, December 13, 2010

100 Miler?

Well, I am on the verge of pulling the trigger on the Big One - the only major milestone that's still open on my endurance resume. The mystical 100 mile run. I'm looking very hard at Vermont, which I believe is July 16 and 17th (that's right - two days> I will be very fortunate if I finish this in less than 24 hours). Payro is in and by all accounts, my man Todd is sitting here right with me on the fence. It would be spectacular good fun to do my first hundo with two of my closest friends and as it turns out, The Wife and Kids will be in the near vicinity and will be able to come out and hopefully crew, so it seems as if the stars are in alignment on this one. Unless someone offers a good reason why I shouldn't do this (aside from the obvious - that it's um, a 100 mile run), I'm going to pull the trigger in 24 hours.

Running friends on the East Coast - Gail, Neil (especially you, Neil), et al be forewarned; you might get called into pacing duty!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Race Day Photos

Somewhat cool pictures from the big race. Now that the pain has receded, I have to say that this one was a lot fun. I'll remember North Face fondly and will likely/hopefully be back next year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Music and Books

I will write a more detailed post on this in the near future, but if you are looking for a good book(s) this holiday season, I highly recommend The Wave, by Susan Casey, which is a great yarn about, uh, waves. And surfing. It's an absorbing, fast read and Casey, author of The Devil's Teeth, an equally engrossing book about great white sharks, is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. The other book that I am about a quarter of the way through is the Keith Richards bio, which is also absolutely terrific.

We are getting set to head out of town in a few weeks and I'm in the market for one or two other book; anyone have a recommendation?

In terms of music, lots of good stuff out there currently, including Fitz & The Tantrums (where did this band ever come from?), the new Kanye (which is good but not as good as the reviews it has been getting), Cee Lo Green, the new Girl Talk (which is a free download) and Warpaint. As soon as I have the time, I will also write my annual top ten album list for 2010.

In other, unrelated news: I cannot stop eating.

Monday, December 6, 2010

And That's a Wrap

The best line of the day comes form my friend Amy, who said that I look like a homeless person with a medal in the below picture. That had me laughing all day. Pretty fair statement; I look pretty bad in that picture, but it's a good reflection of how I felt.

So, my 2010 running season is a wrap and generally speaking I feel pretty good about it. Three ultras in total, two of which were inside a week of one another. Four races inside of 30 days. And with the exception of my knee injury, which came from a freak fall, I did this all while managing to avoid injury. Props and deep thanks to Coach Phil for his all-around fine work.

In regards to my last two races, the Quad and North Face, I have to say that I am pretty pleased. I finished both in relatively decent times and the just the fact that I was able to complete North Face six days after the Quad speaks to my overall fitness. This was an experiment of sorts that I probably won't repeat though; I'm getting too old to take on back-to-back races like that. I think you need at least a few weeks to recover from one of those efforts let alone two.

I haven't said much about North Face but in a nutshell, it was hard (6500 feet of climbs, most of which came at the end), epic (rain and cold, which was the theme of the Fall) and fun. The end.

So, it's a wrap. I am going to enjoy the holidays, indulge a bit, get some swimming in and then will resume running in earnest early next year. Right now, the schedule is a bit of a blank slate, with the exception of the American River 50 miler which I am running with my boy Todd. Beyond that, I am open to suggestions.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

North Face 50k

So, the North Face 50k is in the books. Finished in 6:40 which all things (all things being that I did a beast of a race in the Quad just seven days ago) considered isn't that bad. I'll write a more detailed report in a day or two but in the interim, I think these post race pictures pretty much tell the story.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Best Race Bag Ever

Editors note: North Face is a client.

But that said, this has got to be the best race bag ever. Contents include drywick North Face shirt; socks; drip off bag; race water bottle; Gu and Nuun tabs and personalized race number, which I really love.

Well done North Face.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Interesting British Style Beer

This is an interesting beer that comes courtesy of my beer of the month club. It's called Cold Hop by Boulder Beer Company and it is pretty darn good.

I'm liking this beer club. It's exposed me to some fine (and not so fine) regional beers that I'd ordinarily never know about. Hit me if you're interested in learning how to join. Suffice to say, i have no financial stake whatsoever. Just think it's interesting and a good value.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon