We were on the beach, just playing around, and Will said,"Let's race to the Pier!" Will, Erin and I had been running short sprint races on the sand for the past 2 days, but this was a much longer distance than anything we had yet run. From where I stood, it looked to be about a 1/4 mile to the pier, but when you're running in sand that can seem like a lot more.

Now, Erin and Will are very close, but they're also very competitive with each other and neither one of them can bare the taunting that inevitably follows a loss of any kind, so I knew both of them would not take this event lightly - each would consider it a mandatory victory. Although Erin is about a year and a half older then Will, she's smaller and willowy and probably a bit faster than Will, who is larger and quite muscular for a kid his age. Erin is the speed guy and Will is the strength guy, and in the sand this would be a good race, although I suspected that Erin's speed, endurance, and age would probably give her a slight edge.

Although Will and Erin both play soccer, which builds endurance, I wasn't sure if they would be able to pace themselves so that they wouldn't flame out before we reached the finish line, so I decided to set a comfortable pace.

We started the race with Will on my left and Erin on my right, running with the 3 of us staying side by side, both Erin and Will content to stay neither behind nor ahead of me. As the race progressed, either Will or Erin will start to pull ahead slightly so I picked up the pace in order to catch up. We hadn't yet reached a pace that seemed too exhausting, so I wasn't concerned.

As we closed in on the finish line I could feel both of them straining to go, so when Will made the first move I decided to go all out. We were still about 50 feet from the finish line and going pretty much full speed, and I kept moving my head from left to right in order to make sure I would stay with the leader, but Erin and Will were fairly even, with Erin perhaps a few inches ahead of Will and starting to accelerate.

It was a breezy day, and when I was about 15 feet from the finish line my hat blew off, I could feel it blow up and then behind me. The hat wasn't important, but It distracted me enough so that I momentarily lost track of Will and Erin, and just before I crossed the line I first saw that Will, on my left, was just inches ahead of me and would beat me to line. I glanced to the right to find Erin, whom I assumed would be in front, and as I crossed the line .... she wasn't there!

As winner, Will immediately went into his victory dance and I turned all the way around to see about Erin. Just as I finished my turn, Erin - this highly competitive kid - walked up to the finish line, held out her hand to me and said, "Here FranPapa, you dropped your hat."