"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Are some of us born to eat?

I've had a few days to think about my performance (or lack thereof) at the Lancaster hot dog contest and I've decided to chalk it up as a learning experience and move on.

First of all, thanks to everyone who commented on the last post and offered some encouragement. Last night I was talking to my friend Jeremy (the guest mega muncher who wrote about the in-school pizza eating contest) and our conversation helped me realize a few things about my future in competitive eating.

We mainly talked about how I can't really beat myself up about eating only 9.5 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes because it was my first time ever eating hot dogs in a timed contest and, most importantly, I didn't train and I don't stretch my stomach (except for two attempts at drinking a gallon of water about two months ago). So basically, the contest was a test of my inherant, natural eating abilities in comparison to those of 19 other competitors. The fact that I finished fifth should actually be somewhat encouraging. It means I'm in the top 25 percent as far as natural potential is concerned. I guess.

We also talked about whether or not the "average guy" (or gal) off the street could stretch their stomach and refine their technique enough to be competitive on the pro eating circuit. In other words, is there hope for me? That depends on what you consider "competitive." Jeremy and I agreed that the upper eshelon of eaters--the Joeys and Sonyas and Kobayashis of the buffet--are probably genetically predispositioned to be better eaters. (For example, Koby's gastroptosis condition which places his stomach much lower than most human's, allowing it to expand with minimal obstruction from those pesky ribs.) Basically these "super eaters" have larger than average stomachs (made even larger by stretching exercises) and/or better-than-average natural abilities to override the "fullness" feeling that causes most eaters to slow during the latter half of a contest.

The rest of the competitive eating field is comprised of people who push their bodies and work their asses off to gain every advantage they can. Some, like Eater X, train harder and want it more than just about anyone at the table and are therefore able to put up amazing totals that sometimes rival the super eaters numbers. Though it should be noted that a super-trainer like X can, on occasion, take down a natural born super eater if the super eater neglects to train (or is just having an off-day). Some argue that this is what is happening to Sonya, a woman who's gone on the record as eschewing formal eating exercises.

So that's where I am. Competing without training on nothing but raw ability. Like a guy who decides he wants to be a NASCAR driver but has never driven anything but his three-speed Hyundai and never more than 70 miles per hour. And he wonders why he keeps crashing and burning in turn two.


Blogger Scooter Pooch said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:03 PM

Blogger Scooter Pooch said...

S#%t or get off the pot!

MegaMunch, as we discussed either do or don't. You are beyond the "testing the waters" stage. That ended after your first local competition.

You need to practice -- not just moderately -- but aggressively.

Document your practice and your success.

And in the wise words of my dad, "Don't just try. Do!"

In order to grow in anything or any way we must committ ourselves and change.

-- Jeremy

8:06 PM

Blogger Scooter Pooch said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:06 PM

Anonymous philly guy said...

If you wana come to Philly, I'm always up for putting up some sort of

8:07 PM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

I intend to. Shit, that is.

I'll also take you up on your offer of coming to Philly for an eating challenge. I'd like to take a cheesesteak tour. Eight of the best cheesesteaks in town in eight hours. That's not really a challenge though. Maybe we just go to Pat's and order 10 each and chow down. We could get Wing Tut, Wing Kong and Steakbellie in on it too. That's 50 steaks. We might have to call ahead!

8:21 AM

Blogger steakbellie said...

Eating that many would necessitate that we bring our own pot as well!

3:22 PM

Anonymous savage said...

Got it, BYOP- I know Tony Luke's has a burger challenge, and arguably the best steaks in the city, Jim's has a record to beat. I am also over the bridge in South Jersey, there is a ice cream dog bowl challenge, and a 50 dollar bounty on 20 911 hot wings in 14 minutes-at Tony Soprano's. Keep me posted if this goes down, it would be an honor and a blast to join such elite competition.

-Mega-I am taking some time off to re evaluate. I got spanked recently and decided to try to get back into shape. I think at some point you have to step back, evaluate the fun vs. factor and then decide if you are going to go big, or just compete recreationally. Best of luck with your decision.


4:15 PM

Anonymous savage said...

sorry, that should be fun vs. health factor.

4:16 PM

Blogger Gustad said...

how many contests haver you been in?

3:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, a Philly tour before a Denny's assault for the first outing of the original members of UEPa?

Sounds pretty good to me.

6 footlong cheesesteaks in 15 minutes... i did it early this summer in Pittsburgh.
Check in the news on competitiveeaters.com... there's a good picture too.

5:37 PM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

Gustad - Only two IFOCE "pro" contests, but four or five local contests (with a win in a wing contest).

Tut - That's 72 inches of cheesesteak in 15 minutes! Hmmm...an "eat your height" challenge sounds interesting.

6:56 PM

Anonymous Eater X said...

Nerz asked me how quickly I can drink a gallon of water, and I told him. But it doesn't mean I drink the water regularly.

I don't believe much in the Nurture Theory. The training methods I tried never seemed to do much for me. I do what Sonya does now: I do a few sprints with the food in question and then call it a day. And then I try to visualize the contest unfolding as I hope it will.

10:51 AM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

X - YES! The mental aspect of the sport so huge. If I were to rank the five tools of a competitive eater (which I will in a future post), I'd put the mental edge at number one.

For anyone who's not familiar the site, there's a great discussion going on at eatfeats.com on this subject. Check it out here: http://eatfeats.com/nature-vs-nurture-for-competitive-eaters-new-poll.html#comment-6805

1:52 PM

Anonymous Philly Guy said...

The other week we did a mini tour cheese steak tour. Tony Lukes(the Best), then Pat's, then a local joint.
Afterwards I felt like I could easily go on so I'm sure we can do some good damage.

12:46 PM

Anonymous beautifulbrian said...

A good hot dog eater separates the men from the boys.Ive been involved with them for 10yrs. I know. If you excell at Nathans you dont need anything else to succeed in competitive eating. They rank you based on hotdogs most of the time. The reason why some people can eat 8lbs or more of food at a buffet but only 2lbs or less of hotdogs is that the brain welcomes a variation or a change of foods instead of eating the same thing for 12 min. Failing in hotdogs can damage ones self esteem and future in the sport . It eventually led to my downfall . The worst part is that some eaters whom i considered friends stopped being friends with me because my eating wasn't up to par with theirs. Screw them!

10:29 AM


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