Nathans Qualifier 09

      This contest was like picking out the biggest Christmas present and opening to find it filled with progressively smaller boxes and the engagement ring box filled with a rabbit turd.  My expectations were high going in but my hopes were crushed after tearing off all the natural casing wrapping paper.  I had set a goal/ birthday present to myself that I would eat 50 hot dogs on my birthday then go out and celebrate taking in all the fruity fishbowl cocktails Minneapolis had to offer.  I knew after practice that I was good for at least 50 but it would depend on the day and the dogs.  Preparation and abilities may be peaking but if you wake up feeling groggy and unmotivated and eat leathery encased steaks there’s really not much you can do.  A true competitor will eat at his top level no matter the circumstances.  Until recently I didn’t quite understand this.  Also, practice is useless if you can’t motivate yourself to carry over lessons and skills learned.  Anyone can look good in batting practice off of a 46 year old lobbing in rainbows.  I’ve hit Cecil Fielder-esqe home runs in practice but does anyone really want to hear me talk about that after I fail in competition?  My outlook on practice now is you practice so that on bad days you still produce and have a good showing.  And on a good day you can do extraordinary things.  You may even surprise yourself on a good day and wonder if a feat could ever be recreated by yourself or another.  One should never bank on having a good day to carry you over the threshold.  I’ve done that in the past but too many things are up in the air, it’s a game of hot dog roulette with a ¾ full pack of hot dogs in the chamber. 

            The only thing in the air on June 6th 2009 was a chilling rain and an air temperature hovering below 50 degrees.  Not to mention a lingering smell of nitrates and rancid garlic.  Hot and not humid are my preferred temperature because room temperature at 90 degrees is better than room temperature at 55.  Plus frigid weather puts a damper on the loosening up and circulation in the body.  I started out slow and progressed to a tortoise crawl.  I wouldn’t have caught the napping hare at that pace.  It could possibly have been the worst eating performance of my career; I hit the wall harder than a rookie and have nothing special to show for it.  Qualifiers are the perfect practice and should not be taken lightly; I go into all with the intent of kicking some smoked pork butt.  I don’t have the gene to half ass it, it’s all of nothing.  You are eating the food that will be before you on a larger/ national stage at a later date and it’s best to take it serious and go all out.  Talk of this qualifier sickens me, getting over zealous and suggesting the sponsors assure all the dogs are warm and fresh led to a complete meltdown of dog quality.  They sat in the warmer for hours rendering the skin inedible; I have no one to blame but myself.

                 Aside from the dogs I had a pleasant night out on the town, hitting up the bars in Minneapolis that serve fish bowls and have members of my favorite band(what I listen to during contests); Dillinger four as employees or owners.   A lot is owed to my better half for setting it up.  And thanks are due for all that braved the elements and the rotten noxious odors that crop dusted and encompassed all areas around me for the remainder of the night.  Hot dogs are the never-ending gift.    Make sure to check out espn at noon eastern this July 4th for all the coverage of the Nathans famous contest. 




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