He felt the full weight of middle age shake his exhausted frame as the fog poured across the muddy blanket of ground his feet were soaking on in the early morning haze. The attendant marked his wife, first on the upper arm, then on her lower calf making sure to caress her flesh with meaty paws that deliberately stroked his love a little harder than necessary for the benefit of the onlookers. In the midst of the confusion, he ran into a childhood friend. They embraced, not knowing when their paths might cross again. The embrace reminded him that life was coursing through his body, if only to soon be tested in a way that it had never been tested before. The muck of the wet ground added to the stench of slaughter and decay coming from the makeshift toilets all the gape eyed men and women were clamoring to use before they submitted to the pain and anguish that they all had hoped to avoid but knew was on the horizon in the hours to come. As he turned to walk to the edge of the icy water to see her wife herded into a bitter cold bath along with a torrent of writhing bodies, he thought he might be in hell.
What do you think? Nice start to first chapter of my Holocaust novel?
Nah, this is just my take on my participation in this past weekend's Spirit of Racine Half Iron Man Triathlon.
Organized triathlons and Nazi run concentration camps have so much in common it's scary.
True, I've never really been a prisoner in a concentration camp, but the horror that was The Spirit of Racine race for me might approximate what it would have been like to be a Jew in Germany in the 30s and 40s.
I've reached a point in my life as a person who agrees that exercise is a good thing that I have come to the following conclusion about organized events that require training and discipline: "Enough is fucking enough!" I don't come at this understanding without some knowledge. I have run a marathon, I've done something called an adventure race (trapped in the woods with running shoes, a bike, a map, and several other sweaty friends), I've ran several charity type races and trail runs, I did a 200 mile relay run from Madison to Chicago in the pouring rain sleeping two hours in a fart filled van over a 24-hour period, and now I can claim that I have been part of a relay team for a half marathon. My love affair with training is over. My experience at the Spirit of Racine Half Iron Man Triathlon proved that to me last weekend.
For those of you who don't know what this all entails, a Half Iron Man Triathlon consists of a 1 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13 mile run. I was the runner for our team, my friend Brad was the biker, and my wife (and I point a finger of blame at her for the groin cramps I had as I finished the run on Sunday) was our swimmer and the mastermind behind the plot to get me to do this crazy thing.
If Paula was the kapo for our relay, I believe she was only a pawn in this tawdry way to spend an entire Sunday because of two evil geniuses. The Joseph Mengele and Adoplh Eichmann of the group were our friends Andrea and Claudia. These two ladies did the entire race. They submitted fully to the master plan. So fully that there is now talk of completion of a full Iron Man Triathlon a year from now. When I first married my wife and she said it would someday be a dream of hers to do a full Iron Man someday, I very adamantly told her that I believed her next husband would cheer loudly for her as she crossed the finish line. Now, I'm stuck like a stuck ass sucker. I'm not about to divorce the broad because she wants to compete in an organized sporting event where the really good people get so messed up by the end of the race that they poop in their pants and keep running, but I may have to have her head checked.
Maybe she's not seeing what I saw so clearly. Anything with "Iron Man Triathlon" in the title means one thing: DEATH CAMP.
Maybe I'm taking this a bit too far, but let me submit for you the following evidence.
In Racine, we were not branded or tattooed like Polish Jews, but we were Sharpied. Sharpieing leaves scars. Deep scars. Trust me, it took me four days to remove my marking. Then again, I'm not a very good washer.
Here's my wife getting her calf stroked by one of the volunteer strokers.
Mind you, this was one of the first people we encountered when we arrived at the race staging area. A strange man feeling up my wife's leg in front of the world with me looking on impotent to do anything at all because it's so early I haven't even had a cup of coffee yet? That's just cruel and demented. If I'm not mistaken, those concentration camp prisoners were greeted in a very similar manner.
They didn't just go after the ladies. I had to roll my sleeve to get marked. Like anyone even wants to see me with my shirt off! Come on! The pain was excruciating I can tell you. I'm still trying to shake off the humiliation.
Look at this crazy shit.
Does it look like anyone has any idea what is going on? If some Kraut would have said, "Let's all go to the showers!", I think this picture just would have ended up being a memorial shot that tried to convey a final moment of life before mass extermination. It was foggy, it was messy, it was like one of the really depressing scenes from "Schindler's List". And this was Racine. This is a place where people have cupboards full of Kringle. This shit is not supposed to happen in Racine. Have we not learned anything from the past? Is the tragic history of persecution being perpetuated again in the form of an organized triathlon? Look at these little wet suit lambs being led off to the slaughter.
And if you think it wasn't slaughter, you should have dipped your toe into the water. This is Lake Michigan we're talking about here. This wasn't exactly a trip to St. Bart's, okay. This was some fascist ploy to preserve the organs of these innocent men and women by a flash freezing so that the bodies could be used later for heinous scientific study. I'm sure of it. Sure of it.
YOU SEE OLD FRIENDS IN THE CONCENTRATION CAMP AND AT THE TRIATHLON
I bumped into a friend I hadn't seen in almost 20 years. My friend Steve was there with me in the final moments.
Steve is a survivor. He's escaped a couple of other forced labor camps shaving time off of his transitions and runs and bikes and swims with each new assignment, only to once again land in this nightmare. Steve started doing triathlons, so I was told by his dad who was there with him to see his son try to escape one more time, because he started biking or running to work. This is how it starts. Just by little windows of opportunity. Hitler was nothing more than a frustrated painter, but Germany was in such a mess in the early 30s that he took some chances and got the ball rolling. Hitler may be gone, but we can see the legacy he's left in events like this.
I mentioned that Steve's dad was there to support him, but where were Steve's two children and his wife? Where were my two children? Not with us. Separated. If you don't believe me when I say triathlons are the organized concentration camps of our generation explain that to me historical revisionist!
OUTDOOR TOILETS SMELLED BAD IN THE CAMPS AND THEY DO AT THE TRIATHLON, TOO
No picture, just this observation. When you put a group of nervous Jews together in a camp run by Nazis they need to go potty in the worst possible way because of jitters. When you put a group of triathletes together who are all jittery about finishing a race, their tummies do funky things. In both cases, the outdoor toilets don't conceal the fact that shit on a hot day smells like double shit. Yew. That's all I'm saying, now let's move on.
Look at this mad eyed mother fucker. A smile like this greeted the prisoners when they arrived at Dachau, I just know it.
You put a German helmet on him, and he's comfy in a beer garden kicking back with some other Hitler youth before the midnight feast of Knockwurst and Schnapps. He's so German crazy, he's got beer socks.
I'd like to think that he was one of the race organizers, but I admit that he's my friend Brad who was the biking member of our relay team. Yes, I worked with the enemy. I'll have to live with the fact that cooperating with these types of mad men might have cost lives. Or at least toe nails, because triathletes loose toe nails from all that chaffing on their feet from too much of the good thing called exercise.
LUFTWAFFE IN THE HOUSE
Here's one of Hitler's elite Luftwaffe soldiers in full regalia.
Here's three hot chicks (my wife and our friends Andrea and Claudia) in their Luftwaffe inspired wet suits.
Okay, this is the one thing I wouldn't change. Bring on the Luftwaffe outfits. These ladies are hot. It has been suggested that my own wife in fact might have been the hottest lady there in her wet suit since her lady's figure was shown off to full effect. She stood out in a field of women who all kind of ended up looking like 14-year-old boys in wet suits. Then again, I'm told the Hitler fellas liked 14-year-old boys, so maybe that is just all part of the master plan.
In any event, I hope you agree that the hotness of Paula, Andrea and Claudia is one thing that you can applaud the triathlon Nazis for bringing to everyone's attention.
Here's Andrea just about to cross the finish line.
Just as she did, someone walked up to her with a Luger and blew her brains out. Sick bastards.
Really she just started weeping with joy and we all had a group hug, but I felt like I needed a stronger closer to make my thesis more sound.
Andrea survived. Claudia survived. Brad survived. Steve survived. Paula survived. And I finished. And when I say finished, I mean finished. No more big training plans for me. I'm not giving up another weekend morning to 10 mile runs that need to be accomplished when there are pancakes and bacon waiting for me on a plate to be eaten somewhere. I applaud my friends, and I imagine if we had all been prisoners of war, they would be telling our story while standing around my grave. My wife is going to do a full Iron Man in a year, and I will support her fully in that, but for now I bid the organized racing adieu. I'm not stopping exercise, but I am stopping this training madness. Call me a loser, call me a coward but one thing is certain. I'm keeping my toenails.