I used to run at school, any distance, as long as I was outside. Hurdles, 200m, 400m, cross country, well to be honest, anything that involved sports and I wasn't too bad even if I say so myself.
School sports days were something that used to give me butterflies, excited knots in my tummy, although I am aware that for most sports day was a thing to be loathed and dreaded. It was like an extra Christmas Day or Birthday.
As in life there is always someone that is better than you, and there was one particular girl, Alison (she moved like a gazelle) that I tussled with, more in my mind than in reality, all through my school years. Some she won, some I won.
Then one day I went to a schools county competition, held a Watford Harriers ground and I was entered in 60m Hurdles....
My mindset as I lined up against five other girls was one of youthful arrogance. "I am gonna win this... no sweat !!!" Well I didn't, I can't even remember where I placed, all I can remember is the crushing sense of defeat, of failure, of not being able to comprehend that my best just wasn't good enough.
I took myself of behind the stands and cried, our teacher consoled and patted but I never did run in another competition.. EVER !!
I don't think I entered any other kinds of competitions through school, and I most certainly haven't throughout my adult life, until now.
Photography was my hobby but photography became my way of life.
I have been a Fieldsports and Dog photographer full time for the last 4 years and I can't think of anything that I would rather do.
I can't remember when I last thought " I don't want to go to work" .. even when it is bitterly cold and lashing with rain, clients will tell you I am still smiling.
At home my hobby is photography, landcapes and family, street photography and even the odd wedding, but things change and I was asked to do more and more lifestyle work and received praise for my landscapes.
So at the back end of 2015 I joined The Guild of Photographers. Like in life, people, and in this case photographers, all have different opinions on who is and who isn't "recognisable" or "fair" or "the right type" or ..... on and on.
For me The Guild are a great bunch. They are willing to help, offer some wonderful mentoring opportunities with the aim of becoming a Qualified Member or more.
But for someone that hasn't entered anything competitive in nearly 30 years, The Image of the Month Competition was where I had to start.
So I entered and I entered at the wrong time of year and ended up having to wait two months for the results. A month is long enough believe me but two .. by the time the results were due I had those butterflies, but not the excited kind.
I did ok. I achieved a Bronze Bar, some graded's and some UN-gradeds... but overall I felt happy with the result.
Then I became a little slack and didn't enter again for a long while but I had this niggling urge to have another go. So I entered again. Now my first submissions were a mixed bag or landscapes and portraits, not a dog to be seen. I was worried that if I entered what I thought was a great dog image and it came away ungraded that it would shake my confidence and I would worry about work ...
I bit the bullet ... I entered some wedding images and some dog images. Bingo, Bronze for my favourite wedding shot and bronze for a "work" shot of a dog retrieving.
And now I have the bug... I have been quietly entering over the last few months and last month I actually felt a sense of personal achievement.
I achieved a Bronze Bar for some landcape images, bronze bars for my "work" images and I received a Silver Bar for a Fine Art style shot of a Clumber Spaniel. Recognition across my genres.
I have learnt that the only person I need to compete with is myself. That I need to be a fair judge and gently critical.
Of course it is amazing to receive recognition from your peers, and to have the support and input from professional friends and colleagues.
My next step .. if I say it out loud, I have to do it, is to aim for my Guild Qualified Member Status ....