Spokane’s Jewish marathoner

Jody Shapiro is part of the small Jewish community in Spokane. As far as I know, he’s the only Jewish runner of the hundreds of people I’ve met in Spokane running clubs.jody at TC 50 (1)

One of the founders of the Manito Running Club, he’s a prime example of how the running lifestyle can be so beneficial. Though a runner in his teens and early twenties, he stopped during his last year of college, and over the course of several years, gained weight until one day in the shower he noticed his belly was sticking out so far he couldn’t see his feet.

He resumed running in his thirties and over time got more and more into it. He started doing marathons and since turning forty, has run four sub-three hour marathons, his best being 2:52:16.

Our 2011 Spokane to Sandpoint relay team. Jody is on the far left. I'm at right, wearing the white T.

Our 2010 Spokane to Sandpoint relay team. Jody is at far left. I’m at right, wearing the white T.

On occasion, after our group runs, topics have come up that touched aspects of Jewish culture, and Jody has been a great resource. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who was Jewish, and my views of Judaism were shaped by things I’d read and watching movies and TV.

Jody with fellow Jewish runner Deena Kastor, Olympic medalist and American women's record holder in the marathon and half-marathon.

At a road runners convention last year, Jody met fellow Jewish runner Deena Kastor, Olympic medalist and American women’s record holder in the marathon and half-marathon.

Among the things Jody has taught me is the meaning and origin of the word Jewish. He says the very first synagogue in ancient Israel had to call themselves something, so they came up with an acronym – Just Enjoying Weekly Interesting Sermons & Hymns.

Most of us know the menorah below is a symbol from Jewish culture, but I didn’t know its meaning. Jody says long ago, way before NASA existed, there was an extreme shortage of kosher food on earth. A Jewish astronaut was sent to each planet of the solar system to search for kosher food. Each candle symbolizes the flame used to light the fuse that blasted the rockets into space.menora-297125 (1)

I’m delighted I’ve become so versed in aspects of Jewish culture. I can have conversations and come across as educated and intelligent. And I know Jody is very happy to share his knowledge and wisdom. I thank him profusely whenever he does, and he always breaks into a smile and has to work hard to stifle joyful laughter.

There’s a zombie in my garage

Don Aslinger, a fellow Flying Irish Running Club member should have read the very first post of this blog.Don racing

(Photo by Benjamin Boldt)

In that post, I explained how zombies attempt to convert runners to their team, and how I’m able to avoid it happening to me. Unfortunately, Don has become a victim.

Don is young, healthy, and a pretty fast runner. For him to fall prey means it could happen to anyone.

At a Halloween party, I got photo-bombed by a fun-loving, goofy Don. He's not like that anymore.

At a Flying Irish Halloween party, I got photo-bombed by a fun-loving, goofy Don. He’s not like that anymore.

This is so sad because Don had an exciting career possibility – acting. This is true – I was watching TV one evening and a commercial came on, and Don was in it. He didn’t have a minor role – he was the featured character. In addition, he was in the below print ad.Don in print ad (1)

Unfortunately, Don was doing a late-night run, turned a corner, and ran straight into a pack of waiting zombies. He fought viciously, but was subdued. His brain was quickly eaten.

There is one bright spot since Don’s zombie transition. Though it seemed his budding acting career was over, it so happens the Syfy channel films a zombie series in Spokane entitled Z Nation. Don was hired as a zombie, and the show’s producers are very happy having an actor who doesn’t have to spend so much time in make-up.Don the zombie

Being a friend of Don, I took it upon myself to care for him and prevent him from attacking others. Don lives in my garage out back, and is always tethered with chains. Our relationship is similar to that of Shaun and Ed in the movie Shaun of the Dead.Garage home

Zombies are easy to care for and somehow, sitting in a garage all day with nothing to do is not mind-numbing for Don. That’s understandable since Don no longer has a mind. However, I allow Don some entertainment. On occasion I let some of his zombie friends come over for cards.Don playing cards (1)

As well, I take Don to Flying Irish runs on Thursdays.Garage door

As you can see in the above photo, I have to bring a rope to keep Don tethered beside me and a club to remind whenever he lunges at someone that the Flying Irish is a social gathering, not dinner.

To prevent yourself from becoming a zombie, I very especially urge you to read my post, Zombies vs. Runners.