Monday, August 29, 2011

Two Contests, One Day

If there's anything I've learned from watching the cookie monster on Sesame Street while growing up, it's that there are no consequences from succumbing to your addictions.

With that in mind, I went ahead and participated in two eating contests in a single day. Since I take so much enjoyment from competitive eating, surely nothing bad can happen from eating 8 pounds of frozen yogurt and then following it up with a hot dog eating contest.

The frozen yogurt happened during the 3rd annual frozen yogurt eating contest at Red Cup Yogurt in Oceanside, CA. And when I say happened, I mean it turned into a non-stop vomit fest. You really can't expect much good to happen when you decide to ingest a gallon of frozen dairy, but they had a surprising amount of people sign up, myself included.

My competition included some of the usual Southern Californian competitive eaters; Naader, Aaron, Matt, myself and Frank. I thought about calling ourselves the Glutton Force Five, but that name had already been taken by an awesome food truck in Chicago. Together with 15 other guys, we were divided into two 30 minute rounds of frozen yogurt competition. The rules were simple, the $300 prize would be split between the three fastest finishers who did not reverse. There was also a matter of beating the 12 minute record set by the winner last year.

I prepared by bundling up with a scarf and beanie in hopes to keep myself as warm as possible while ingesting my bucket of frozen fun. From my frozen yogurt challenge experience in Vegas, I learned that despite my normal lactose tolerance, digesting this much diary would require help. So I took 6 lactaid tablets right before eating my 8 pounds of strawberry frozen yogurt. I felt prepared and confident to do well in this competition.

Though my confidence diminished after watching the first round of guys participate. Only one guy managed to finish all 8 pounds and more than half threw up what they couldn't finish. As much as I love frozen yogurt, I had a bad feeling going into my round. We started by drinking the melted "soup" from the top of the bucket before digging in with the spoon. The brain freeze soon set in and I realized just how unpleasant this task would be.

The frozen yogurt went down easily and I managed to keep shoveling spoonfuls into my mouth without worrying about choking. Naader and Aaron were also making quick work of their buckets. This prompted me to eat at an even faster pace. I felt my esophagus tighten and my heart rate increase to keep my body warm from the pounds of frozen dairy I was forcing in.

At about 5 minutes in, I was nearly done but needed a few moments to compose myself before finishing. It was a very close finish, but I had managed to edge out Naader by 15 seconds, finishing my 8 pounds in 5:53 and winning $200. We both destroyed the current record of 12 minutes as well.

Here's footage of the contest:

Red Cup Yogurt
301 Mission Ave. #301
Oceanside, CA 92054

After this, there was the business of sorting out my qualifier for the West Coast Hot Dog Eating Championship at the Derby Deli in Mission Viejo. I'm nearing the end of my first year in competitive eating and I wanted to put on a good performance for my qualifier. This was my first competitive eating event ever and I'd like to see the progress that I made over the past year.

However, going in with 8 pounds of frozen yogurt sitting inside you was definitely not the way to do it. Both me and Naader were trying out this double contest day thing for the first time and it's probably one of the stupidest moves you can make in competitive eating. Following up a high sugar and dairy meal with a high sodium one is a terrible combination.

We would face off against the newly independent Kevin Ross, Shawn Kirby and some big dude named Travis. Fortunately they would allow the top 3 to continue on to the finals on Labor Day so only two people would be disappointed that night. As usual, the Derby was nicely decorated and we had the stage set up in the lounge area.

It's hard to believe that's it's already been a year since I was stuffing my face with no technique or experience at this place. Nostalgia for an eating competition was a new emotion for me. The hot dogs came out in platters of ten and were pleasantly warm. Of course I'd be dunking the buns in water, but at least the first two hot dogs I ate were decent. Everyone seemed to have a strong start and I quickly got into my usual double hot dog eating technique. Though I already started feeling the wall at only 8 hot dogs in and experienced the strongest amount of regret for the prior contest at that point.

It would have been devastating if I didn't qualify for the finals of the event that I got my start in competitive eating in. I really ought to have taken this qualifier more seriously. To make matters worse, Kevin was putting the hot dogs away at about the same rate he did at the Nathan's qualifier back in June and Naader didn't seem phased at the fact that he just ate 8 pounds of frozen yogurt. Despite there being only 5 contestants, I couldn't slack off if I wanted to secure a spot in the finals.

It was somewhat of a relief, that me, Kevin and Naader were significantly ahead in the last 3 minutes of the contest. I felt that I could take it easy at this point. I just needed to make sure that I didn't throw up and get myself disqualified. So, I  kept pace with Kevin and we all managed to qualify for the finals.

It was very close:

1: Kevin Ross - 19.5 HDB
2: Johnnie Excel - 18.5 HDB
3: Naader Reda - 17.5 HDB

The 3rd Annual West Coast Hot Dog Eating Championship is happening in one week:

It will be a very serious contest. With $10,000 on the line and the likes of Takeru, Pete and Tom coming back to California, it will definitely be the only contest I'm doing that day. I also plan on doing a bit more than 18.5 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

So was cookie monster full of shit in teaching me that unbridled addiction has no consequence? Yes, very much so. In my adult years, I have learned that it's not a good idea to idolize someone with a fist in their ass.

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