Week 3: Climb for Clean Air – Week of Changes

The plan:

Mon: Interval + Strength Training

Tues: Strength Training with Weston

Wed: Long Cardio within Endurance Zone with 25lbs pack

Thu: REST day!!

Fri: Interval + Strength Training

Sat: Training Hike – 6 Hours Hike, 30lbs pack

Sun: Long Cardio within Endurance Zone

Oh, where do I begin.  Let see.   I introduced a lot of changes this week.  I changed my schedule around to accommodate holiday, used a new pack, hiked in the afternoon instead of the morning, have no rest days until the end and I struggled to identify what caused me to, well, struggled during the hike.   If there’s a lesson to be learned this week, I need to have compassion for myself.   I need to allow myself to fail, since failure is just a beginning to another success.  I need to learn to be more forgiving, more patient and not to introduce too much change at the same time.    As a Production DBA, I should have known better.  We hate that during deployment, yes?

In overall, this week is a week of changes.  I learned a lot about myself and my limit.   This is only my week 3, and I know I’m doing pretty awesome so far <this is me patting myself in the back>

How it actually went down:

Monday:

I had a hard time finding motivation to do my training today.  I was super sore and just plain tired, and my schedule today is a bit out of whack so I can’t really work out in the morning and have to do it after work, which is very difficult to do after full day at work.   I did do it tho.   I started the work out with a Cardio Interval Training at the treadmill.   I ran 2.1 miles in 3o minutes, with 3:1 ratio again, which means – I ran with 6mph for 1 min to push my heart rate above 163, then slowed down to 3.5mph for 3 mins and let my heart rate drop below 163.   I did okay until the last 5 minutes when I can’t really get my heart rate down, so I didn’t push it and just coasted through the end of the interval.   Shortly after, I did the strength training, new routine that Weston designed for me.  Today its routine B as describe here.   Let me start by saying, I have a LOT of work to do.   First routine – I literally cried from being so frustrated due to not able to do even one rep.   My husband John was trying to help me by holding my back and feet, but I was being a way too stubborn and wanted to be able to do this routine on my own.  Did I do it?  Yes.  I did.  Second and third set – I did them all by myself without weight but this is just another thing that I know I have a lot of work to do.   The second routine – I suck.  Again.  I can not lift my hips from the floor at all, especially my left one.   So we improvised and only lifted my leg and I had to report this back to Weston tomorrow to see if he can adjust my routine.   The rest of the routine, I did pretty good.   Overall – I am not too happy with tonight’s strength training but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m creating a baseline.  This is where I am going to look and compare weeks from now to see how far I have become.

Tuesday:

This is the day that I’m working out with Weston and I think the fact that I show up means something, or he probably just feeling sorry for me, haha, but he gave me a semi-rest day!  We didn’t really work out today, but worked more on doing a review on the plan and how I did.  I had to repeat a few exercises to him and show him things that I can’t do.  He adjusted a few things for me, showed me the right way to do a few routine. The most important thing that I took from today’s session is I have to do my repetitions slow, focused and within my range of motion. He’d rather have me do lighter weight, but complete reps, rather than heavier one.   We agreed that every strength training will consist of four hip exercises, lunges, squat, step-up, and four types of cores exercise.   Ten routines total, 12 reps, 3 sets.   We also talked about cardio and how important it is for me to build a lactic acid tolerance by doing a long cardio activity within my fat burning/endurance zone.   He used the comparison of a storm drain.   My body is trying to build more storm drains by doing a long cardio so lactic acid can be flushed faster and my endurance level will increase.   All in all, it was a very good session.

Wednesday:

I changed my plan around.   Instead of long cardio, I decided to do an interval training and strength training today.   I did the interval at the elliptical this time, no weight.   I put on the interval program on the machine and go with it.   I made sure that my heart rate is pushing to 170 during the 1 minute interval and hover around 160 for 3 minutes and I was able to keep it the same interval for the entire 30 minutes.  I noticed a big different though.   I’m no longer struggling as much compare with last week.   That.is.progress!

Thursday:

Due to my semi-rest day on Tuesday and the fact that this Sunday is Easter, I decided to move my rest day to Sunday and do my long cardio today.   I set my music on, get my book ready on my iPad and just get going.  I made sure my heart rate hovered between 148-150,  which is the border of fat burning zone and the endurance zone and I was doing great.  I didn’t feel tired at all and I knew I could carry on conversation just fine with others during it.   I kept on going and going and going…. and when an hour pass, I looked at my iPhone and it said… 4.42 miles!!   Wow!   This girl just did 4 miles.   This girl.  I smile cheek-to-cheek.   I know for all of you runner out there, that prolly nothing, but for me — this is huuuuge!!!

Friday:

Another long cardio day.     I had to cut down the work out time today to 45 minutes due to the limited time I have due to an event I was attending at our church.   I hopped on the elliptical machine and just started walking.   My iPhone app said I did 3.42 miles in 45 minutes and I was right on the border of fat burning and endurance zone the entire time.   I felt great and hopped off the machine.   Shortly after, I immediately felt this sharp pain on my right thigh.  I stopped walking and somewhat puzzled and kept walking.   Did my thing, went to my event and when I finally lay in bed, I realized this is not just “I’m sore and my muscle hurt” kinda feeling.   Few peeps on the twitter told me that this might be an injury or some sorta strain.   I kept stretching it, took some Advil and went to bed.

Saturday:

View from Top of Mt. Si

Hike day.   I had planned to go to Mt. Si for today’s hike.   With 3,700 feet elevation changes, I thought this would be a great hike to test how my training been preparing me.   I also switched my day pack and used what I called my “summit pack” and I put my usual 25lbs weight plus my 10-essentials.   I can’t ask for a better weather to do a hike!  It was one of the best weather!days so far this year!   I still felt the pain on my left thigh but I shrugged it off and headed out.    Due to an Easter Egg hunt activity in the morning, we didn’t start walking until 1:30pm.   It was pretty hot and even with the cold breeze, the sun is warming the whole mountain out!   Within 10 minutes of walking, I noticed a significant different on my strength and energy.   I was struggling.  My right thigh hurt, my shoulder hurt, I was breathing heavy, it was hot, and I can’t get my breathing or my pace right.   I slowed down, tried to find my pace but it wasn’t working.   Half hour into it, I gave up.   I looked at John and told him that I had to dump some of my weight (I put extra water as a weight on my pack) since I barely can walk.   It was very hard for me to do that mentally.  I felt like I’m moving backwards.   One step forward, two steps backwards.

Me at the top of Mt. Si

We hit 2 mile mark about 1hr 45 mins and decided to keep going.   As we went higher to the mountain, the air was getting cooler.  I breathed better, and was able to focus more on my walk.   I wasn’t struggling and managed to walk slow, focus and steady.   At mile 3, the trail was covered with ice.  It was slippery and I was quite amused to see others who walked on this trail with tennis shoes and slip and slide on this ice.   I didn’t bother to put my Yak Trax on and just kept walking since my boot had a good traction and I had my good hiking poles with powder basket on them, so I was on a good shape.   The only problem, the pain in my thigh was getting worse and I had to even walk slower.  3 hours and 45 minutes later, I was finally arrived at the top of Mt. Si, about an hour longer than I was anticipated.     Heading down the mountain turned out to be more challenging than I thought.    It was by far, the worst descent I ever had for the history of my hiking (and I did a lot of hiking in my life-time!).    My leg hurts every time I took a step down, and I used my poles to shift my weight to it and my left leg and I literally limp my way down to the mountain, for entire 4 miles!  It took me almost the same time we hike up to the mountain to come down.   It was a long day, a long hike.   I was soooooo happy when I took off my hiking boots and elevated my leg.   I did an 8 plus mile hike, for 7 plus hours.   That’s huge.   Yes, it wasn’t my best day and I was a little discouraged by it,  but as I write this post, I know that I accomplished something.    And I’m pretty darn proud about it.

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#SQLHike – SQL Fun before Portland SQL Saturday

Karen Lopez (blog | twitter) started this event throwing an idea of having a bunch of SQL peeps to run a half-marathon together (or walk it) at Portland Marathon on Sunday October 9, 2011, which is a day after SQL Saturday Portland.   I’m not a runner, even though somehow I was dared talked into registering to the event and I know it will be a lot of fun and we can just walk it.   It’s an 8 hours event, so just like Karen said – you can walk it, run it, take a nap, do a little shopping and still finish the course  🙂

Snow Lake Trail

Snow Lake - One of the famous trail around

That’s a weekend activity.  There is still the Monday prior to SQL PASS that has no activity prior to the conference itself if you are not attending the pre-conference, so being a local and avid outdoor enthusiast, as well as a hiker – I would like to propose… a SQL Hike!  Well, you can call it whatever you want, but I would love to organize a hike to a local trail that is not too far, not too strenuous and will have an awesome view.   We are very blessed here at Pacific Northwest since there’s gazillion trails around.   We can do a little walking, a little picnic at the top/end, have a good outdoor’sy Pacific Northwest Experience, a little bonding, good work out and a good beverages and food for post-hike ot the chosen-joint afterwards.

I know October it still way away, and I probably need to re-post this later, but want to just get an idea if this is something that you guys are interested.   If so, leave me a comment and I’ll start thinking about the trail and location.

October will be a FUN month!

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Week 2: Climb for Clean Air – Pain Equal Gain

Week 2 Plan:

Mon:  30 mins Cardio (plus 25lbs weight) + Strength Training

Tues:  Strength Training

Wed: 45 mins Cardio (plus 25lbs weight)

Thu: REST day!

Fri:  Strength Training

Sat:  REST day!

Sun:  3 hour hike with 30lbs weight

Another week that I get to cross of my calendar.  Wow.  16 more weeks to go and I am in a whole world of pain this week.   It’s a good (really?) pain though, the kinda one that make you do ‘ow-ow-ow’ whenever you get up from your chair or going up the stairs (or down!).    You know the ol’ saying about No-Pain-No-Gain?  Well, I better gain a whole’ lot cause this week is about a lot of (muscle) pain.   This week, I also decided to contact my good ol’ trainer that I love and hate.   Weston Williams who train at Outrageously Fit studio is helping me by creating a specific program just for me.

This week is an exhausting week for me and I’m having ‘why in the world that I am doing this again’ moment tonight, but Karen Lopez tweet me this quote that totally lit fire under my behind:

The miracle isn’t that you finished, it’s that you had the courage to start  — John Bingham

Thank you Karen.   I need to hear that.    I’m doing this because I want to help American Lung Association to raise money to find the cure, but most importantly, I’m doing this because life is short, and I need to have a courage to start an adventure.   Any adventure.   I choose this one, because it so close to my heart and challenge me physically.

The actual:

Monday:

I did the same routine as last Tuesday’s strength training.  Check the routine on my Week 1 for Tuesday post here. The only difference this week was I consistently used 10lbs dumbbells on each of the routines and I did pretty somewhat okay (or so I thought) on most of it.  Lunges still made my heart rate jump to the roof and I think it always going to be that way and I always going to love and hate that routine no matter what.   Keep in mind, this was a day after I went to Little Si, so I was feeling the pain.  For cardio,  I put 25lbs in my pack and did elliptical machine for 30 minutes after a 10 minutes warm up.

Tuesday:

Today is my assessment day with Weston.   Note to self:  When your trainer told you that  “today, we’re not really going to work out since I’m going to just do an assessment on you, he lied”  Oh-my-golly.   If this is a no-work-out day, I’m not even sure I want to know what the work-out day look like.   After a 10 minute warm-up, we did cross training on all lower, upper and cores.   Start with, yes, a triple step-up/squat/lunge.   Then we did cores routine that involved some plank, bridges and side oblique crunches (which I suck big time). We ended the day with upper body routine.   I don’t even remember what the routine was, however, I do remember one thing.   I suck.  Again.   Upper body strength is my biggest weak link.    After the “non-work out” day, Weston told me that he wants to to focus on cores and upper body work out for the next 4 weeks as well as hip exercises.   Apparently, my left hip is weaker than my right and it showed from the way I did the squat routine.   My cores, well, do I really have to say anything on this?   You get it, right?  I.have.a.lot.of.work.to.do.  The end.

Wednesday:

Long cardio day.   I put 25lbs weight inside my pack and I did a hill climb program on the elliptical machine for 5o minutes plus 10 minutes warm up.   I walked for total 2.17 miles today and I stayed within my endurance zone (which I’m tellin’ ya – it’s so not easy to do).   Thank you Jes for the tweet during the work out.   For Erin, who made sure I was up and at the gym.  It made me smile and it helps.   This is what I love about my circle of friends.   They pump you up.   They cheer you on.   They made this whole journey easier because they are with you every single way, well in spirit.

Thursday

REST Day!   Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

Friday:

If I have one word to sum up this day.  It would be ‘Disaster’.   Wow.  The new routine kick my behind big time.    I started with an interval training at elliptical machine with 25lbs backpack in me. Since Weston determine my cardio zone heart rate is 163, I did as much as I can to push my heart rate above 163 for one minute straight and slow down for 3 minutes.   I used the interval program on the machine with resistance 8 on the high interval and 4 on the lower for 30 minutes, and that felt like forever!    I also did my new strength training routine as designed by Weston, my new trainer.   I did routine A, as listed here.   Just for the record, whoever invented single legged squat – they were out of their mind since I can’t do that routine for the life of me – so I substituted that with regular squat with 10lbs dumbbell.   The hip abduction cable, I have to lower the weight on my left leg to 10lbs since I couldn’t move it but other than that, I did the whole routine (with a lot of grunting and groaning) somewhat okay.    Note to self:   I did NOT stretch afterwards which gave me a world of pain the next day.   Stretching is important and I tend to skip them afterwards since I just want to be done.

Saturday:

Long Cardio Day.   If you notice on the plan that I listed above, this is NOT listed as the day that I’m doing anything, but my trainer changed my plan around and told me that I need to do long cardio this day, so I dragged my behind off the couch, dropped my girls to the day care for a couple hours and hopped on the treadmill.   I did not put any weight on me since the objective of today is endurance training.   I need to be on my endurance zone based on my heart rate which is 134 and I was VERY VERY hard to keep it on that zone.   I felt like I wasn’t doing anything.  I wasn’t even sweating!  I felt like I want to do more, run a little bit faster, increase the cross-ramp higher, but that made my heart rate jump – so I had to slow down.   After 20 minutes being frustated, I finally got it.   I started sweating and able to keep my heart rate on that zone and really understand what it means to do an endurance cardio training.    I walked on 2% ramp, about 3.7mph speed for an hour.

Sunday:

West Tiger Mountain Summit

West Tiger Mountain Summit

I choose West Tiger Mountain as today’s training hike. With total elevation gain of 2,042 feet (start at 480 feet, summit at 2522 feet), I know that I would have a good work out for me.   I haven’t been on this trail for 7 years, but this trail was not a strange trail for me.  This was one of my favorite.   We were at the trail head around 6:30am and pretty much the only car on the upper parking lot.   I paced myself really well for the entire hike.   Slow, but steady.   Too slow for what I’m used too – but I kept my heart rate on my endurance zone (or hover around it), and I wasn’t struggling at all.  For those who’s been to this trail know that you are facing with steep trail from the get go for pretty much 2/3 of the way, and get a bit of flat area, and nothing but steep trail.   With 25lbs pack on my back, I thought I did really well.   About half mile from the top, it started snowing!   It’s a combination between hale and snow and I was COLD.   I didn’t want to stop and put my hard shell since I knew the summit is 15 minutes away, so I started to walk faster which totally screw my pace.   I was a bit struggling in the last 5 minutes, but I knew why.  My impatience got the best of me!   We reached the top short of 2 hours (1 hours 54 minutes to be exact) and I made a mistake by taking my glove off so I can tweet from there.   Big no no.  My hand was immediately numb since my gloves was wet from the sweat so when I put my gloves back in, it made it even colder!  Anyway, an hour and 16 minutes later – I was back in the warm car.    Big thank you for those who tweet me during my hike.   You guys made me laugh and it help on the motivation department.   It really did.

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Week 1: Climb for Clean Air – It’s a start

Week 1 Plan:

Mon:  Rest

Tues: 30 mins cardio + strength training

Wed: Rest

Thu: 45 mins cardio

Fri:  Strength training

Sat:  Rest

Sun: 2 hours hike, 20lbs weight on the pack, low elevation gain

How it actually went down:

I suck.   Let me just start by saying that.   Yes, yes I know.  My slate is clean and I’m not comparing myself with my old-self.  Got it.  It still really irritates the world out of me.   I need to learn to be patient with myself and a be a little forgiving.

Tuesday:

I started with a 10 minutes warm up on the treadmill, no incline, and just run at 4.0 mph.   Enough to get my juices flowing while I was listening Pump It from Black Eyed Pea.   Then I did my strength training.   I did dead lifts with 5lbs in each hand (which totally kicked my behind), Push Ups (a girly version of), Step ups and Lunges with 5lbs on each hand, Snow Shovelers with a 10lbs weight to simulate a shovel, Lateral Pull-downs with 40lbs, and Standing Calf Raises.   I did 10 reps of each exercise, 2 sets total.   My heart rate shot up to 172 (my max heart rate is 187, so that’s above my high zone) and I got a bit dizzy during dead lift.   Yes.  Out. Of. Shape.   I have to keep reminding myself that this is my baseline and I need to pace myself.

I ended the training day by doing 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical machine, cross ramp at level 10, 8 on the resistance scale.   I had a hard time maintaining my heart rate within endurance zone (for me, it max out on 152) and I was going over all the time, but overall, I feel I did really well on the cardio.

Note:  I went to climber meeting.   It was nice to meet the other climbers and listen to Mark, our awesome trainer/guide for his tips/tricks.   Laura, our event coordinator, wanted me to share my stories of why I climb to remind everybody on why are we doing this since we can easily loose focus with all the training and equipment.   So I did.   It was pretty good.  Turns out, one of the gals in this years climb team was on the same 2005 climb team I was involved with before.  In 2005 she had a different summit day and rope team, but we shared many memories.  Small world.

Thursday:

Long Cardio day.   I decided to take it up a notch.   I put a couple 10lbs dumbbell’s inside my pack so I could add 20lbs to it and wore it through the workout.   I started walkmeter and streamed Vertical Limit on my iPad2 (what better movie to motivate me than this one, right) out of Netfix.  I started with a 10 minute warm up on a treadmill, set with 2% elevation grade for 2mph.  Then I upped the grade to 12% for 45 minutes.  Initially, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything – or at least my heart rate monitor seemed to fail to show me accurate results, so I bumped it up to a 15% grade and boy, was I wrong.   Note to self – check heart rate monitor and make sure it was working before your work out!  Goes to the point to check your gear before your climb.  Above 12k feet on the side of a mountain is no place to discover that your gear is faulty.  I was huffing and puffing on the 15% after only a few steps so I quickly brought it back down to 12% and stayed there.  Overall, I did quite all right.   After 5 minutes of cool down, my heart rate returned back to somewhat normal.

Friday:

Started out with a ten minute run on the treadmill as a warm up and boy, did I get warm!  After the warm up I started the strength workout with a rear-foot-elevated squat hanging onto a 5lbs dumbbell in each hand.  Thanks to u-tube and an iPad in the gym or else I would have no idea how to actually do this.  I did okay on this, and was able to maintain my posture even though my heart rate quickly went to the roof.  I could feel every muscle of mine scream in pain, but I know I did this one okay.   Second one is a One-leg Deadlift and I have two-word for this.  I suck.  I can’t balance myself, let alone to go down with an extra 5lbs dumbbell in each hand.  Quickly, I got frustrated and was a little discouraged when I wasn’t able to do a complete set without stumbling all over the place.   Yes I know, patience… patience… patience.  It just the beginning.  Next one was One-arm Bent-over Rows.  I did these with 10lbs dumbbells and did okay, followed by an overhead press with the same pair of 10lbs weights while sitting on a balancing ball instead of weight bench or standing up.   Next one was a seated medicine-ball twist with a 4lbs medicine ball (yes, I know – baby medicine ball) and this one kicked my behind.  It just seems so easy, but oh-my-golly, this work my cores like no tomorrow.  Well, maybe like no rear-foot-elevated squat is supposed too.  I ended up the set with dumbbell shrugs hanging onto a 20lbs dumbbell in each hand.  I did 10 reps – 2 sets for each of the exercises and then went to work.

Sunday:

Me at the top of Little Si.

I decided to go to Little Si Mountain.   With a 1,576 ft summit and a 1,100ft elevation gain, about 2.3miles one-way, I thought this would be a good Sunday afternoon hike.   I packed 25lbs of weight in my backpack.  It’s all water weight so I can rid them at the top to preserve my knee on the descent.    It was raining and I was slightly cold so I put my fleece vest and wear my hard shell on top of my inside layer.   I started music on my iPhone, started my Walkmeter and off I went.    For those who never been to Little Si – the first 10 minutes is like a wake up call.  It was steep, really steep and rocky trail.   My heart got a good work out right off the bat but then the trail was really flat.  I did really well and pace myself until about an hour when I thought we were in the last switchback.   I noticed the trail became a really steep again and my heart rate went to the roof.  I had to slow down and finally stopped for a minute to take a sip of water.   I got really frustrated since I had a hard time getting my heart rate stabilized and had to walk really slow.  All in all – I think I did okay.   Note to self:  Put gaiter on.  The trail was wet and muddy and I had no gaiter on me.   Good thing was the rain wasn’t really bad and I was able to keep my socks dry.  Every hiker know that wet socks are hiker worst nightmare.   I got up there in 1:15 mins.   Not to shabby, I think.  And no, I am not comparing this with  my old-self.   Let me say it again.  Not too shabby for someone who just started training this week.     At the top, it was cold and windy so we only stay for 10 minutes or so and head back down.   We got down in 1:05mins with no weight on my backpack.

Fundraising Note:

I sent out my fundraising email out this week to all of my contacts.   Big shout out to Brent Ozar (Blog | Twitter) for announcing it out on Twitter and Facebook for me AND generously donate to my cause as well to Robert Davis (Blog | Twitter) for including the link to my fundraising page on his slide deck during his presentation on SQL Saturday 68 at Olympia and asked everybody to support my cause.     Because of you guys, I raise total $375.00 this week alone.   From the bottom of my heart, thank YOU!

Update:  Jen McCown started a ‘Get Hawt Friday’ (read her post here) and it’s a way to post your progress and make it accountable to public (just like what I did here).   So here’s my contribution for Get Hawt Friday#001. It’s a summary from my week 1 (I publish mine every Sunday, so I will link that to your series on Friday).    Love the idea!

 

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Open Box DBA

Keyboard - golden key Success

Success is Key

There are some (maybe “alot”) of perceptions that DBA’s work in a silo, or a black box. There are a lot of folks that don’t really know what exactly we do, well, until something goes wrong that is.   Then, all of a sudden, we suddenly have the spotlight on us, and a big red X in our back.  But when we work hard to be proactive and make everything “just work” (that is really possible, you know) somehow others question what we really do on daily basis.  Yes, it is true, you have done your work, the systems will alert you before the customers call and things are so quiet, that the people around you can’t help but wonder, what does that DBA do?  Careful, because when that happens it isn’t far from: hey our numbers are down and we need to make some cuts.  That DBA, they don’t really do a lot, maybe we can afford to let them go…  it is true, it can happen just because you not only do your job, you do your job well. Well, only if you forget how to show your real value; the bonus they got when they hired you and might not have even known it.

Here are a few tips to make yourself, your team, more visible to others:

1.  Make an effort to know your customers and educate them about what you do.  Keep in mind, your customers may be more diverse than you realize at first.

Some of your obvious customers:  The folks that develop and/or install applications that use SQL servers; people that use (users) the applications that the developers have made that use SQL servers; and the members of the group that administer the core systems your SQL server runs on, including network and storage.

Some not so obvious or customer “joins”:  Your peers, your boss, your bosses boss, and anyone that knows someone/anyone in a category above that may also know your peers/boss/bosses boss.

Here’s one example.  If your DB team is involved in code reviews for the developer teams before production changes are made, especially if you have a go/no go influence, when you are sending your feedback, don’t just say – “this code is bad; go rewrite this.”  Instead, help your customer understand why you’re pushing back by making an effort to help educate them on your decision.   I know, they are developers, they are supposed to know how to write a good code but hey, they are probably under a deadline, just need to make something work, and had no idea the global impact of their individual change.  Given infinite resources and time, they could probably have written it better.  But just like you, they don’t have that luxury.  Instead, you have the opportunity to train and coach your developers by sharing your knowledge and experience.  Partner with them, the effort you make here will go a long way to show your value and as a bonus, the next time the developer is working on a similar project, they will already come to you with code you know is pretty good because you coached them. How you communicate your feedback to them and make your points also equally important.  You should not be afraid to share with them your sources including sending them a blog post or including an example on how to write said query/code.   If you give them enough information to take action on and learn from without boiling the ocean by telling them to go read a book, they will see you as a huge value as opposed to being pain-in-the-you-know-what DBA who like to just criticize their work.  Time you invest in your developers here will reward you in the future and paint you as a positive DBA.  Don’t be surprised if you try this and they first are suspicious (to cover for their shock) and then transition to acceptance and finally will start coming to you for advice.  Talk about value!

2.  Automate your repeatable processes.  Document and publish them in the place that others can access easily.

Ok, automating the repeatable processes is pretty straightforward (right?)  But once you have automated it, document it.  First so you don’t have to reinvent it when it comes up again, but as equally important, to share with others.  If you document something that your going to share with others, you will probably do it a little different (better?) than you would if your were writing notes to yourself.  And since your writing this to benefit someone else, it makes sense to put it someplace where your audience can find it.  That blog your so proud of probably is easily findable and that is a good thing, right?

Here is one example.  Say you have QA or Development environments that need data from your production environment.   You probably hear this quite often, especially if a new project is spooling up or reaching a milestone (hint, hint) ‘can you refresh my environment with prod data please?’ Because this was happening a lot, you had taken the time to exercise your crafty PowerShell or T-SQL magic and built a script that you could do this for you.  You tweaked it, tuned it, and were actually impressed by your own ability to make it work really well.  Every chance you got for a performance improvement or more automation, you took it.

Heck, it was your baby and you probably bragged about it in-between SQL Saturday sessions about how you made the thing scrub production data so only test data was transferred, the logins we synchronized and mapped to the appropriate test accounts, there was error checking and alerting built in if anything went awry.  Wow, you even realized that by running this auto-magic process, you were validating and testing you production backup, copy, restore process all while supporting the QA or Developer teams.  On the surface, your customer loves you because they have fresh data to test for every iteration they may ever need, on demand, when they need it. Maybe they can even do it themselves with the push of a button and you just get the report and put a check mark in your SarBox list that back-ups have been tested. You lean back in your chair, with a satisfied look on your face, knowing that you really are that good.

Hey, hey, before you put your feet up on the desk and wait for you nomination to the IT choice awards, your not done yet.  Why?  Because only YOU know what you did and how good it really is, no matter how many bragging sidebars you win at PASS, your not helping yourself unless your customers know what you did.  Before your feet approach the top of your desk, take the time to document what you did with the intention of showing people, who may not be as good as you, what it takes.  Your scripts and paths to them are good things, but they are not the only things.  Some of the folks that benefit from your work and what you did to make it happen are more inclined to understand a flow chart or diagram of your processes.  English may be widely spoken, but pictures still are more universally accepted and understood.  Simple flowcharts are an amazing communications mechanism to help other understand what it is that you really built for them and how it works.  Show of, but don’t became too enamored by your own work, let someone else do that for you.  Keep in mind that you should publish them on the place that your customer can access, like your team SharePoint page (if you have any), or just a simple document that you distribute that among your team and your customers.  Be open to going through it and ideas, comment, and even criticism, from those that view it.   In the end, the learning you gain and the doors that it opens will help ensure your known for not just building the button, but remembered for being open to and helping everyone understand what the button “is”.  Helping your customers know what you do is a good thing.

3.  Quarterly Report, before and after.

Before you are all thinking that I’m going bananas on you, please hear me out.   We DBA’s love performance tuning.   We like to keep making things perform better and faster, and if your shop is one of the shops that have a short iteration deployment cycle like, say, every two weeks – things are changing constantly.  This means, new code is introduced quite often and, if your data also changes a lot, you will have a never-ending performance-tuning task on your hands.   It’s fun and exciting but how do we make others see the difference?   Those 300,000 reads that now changed to 90 reads – how is that translate to the upper management?  They won’t see it the way you do, and this is why it’s important for you to do some sort of quarterly report.   Every beginning of quarter, capture a baseline of your database performance.   Erin Stellato (Blog | Twitter) has excellent resources and a strategy for how to use them here.  If you don’t have third party tools to build repository for you, I suggest you follow her suggestion and invest in building your own.   Then at the end of the next quarter, capture another baseline and so you have something to it compare with.  Bam!  You show improvement, well that is the goal, and even if you show the opposite, that can trigger actions for the next quarter with justification.  Oh, and maybe a review of the change management process, but that is a different story.  Oh, and some may think that creating a fancy graph is a waste of time, I would highly encourage you to spend to the time to learn how to turn your columns of data into a “fancy graph or pie chart.”  Why?  Take a look at an executives schedule in Outlook this week.  Do you see a lot of time open in there?  Probably not, it is far easier to quickly grasp what a graph or pie chart is trying to convey than it is to run through a laundry list of numbers and listen to you verbally explain what it means.  Again, the time you take to put a little extra effort in it will pay off.

Speak your customer’s language and you will not just be heard, you will be understood.  Speak techno gibberish to the wrong group, and you might as well offer to configure your execs VCR (iPad) while you’re at it.  It is an investment in yourself; just like reading this blog is an investment of your time in an effort to improve.  I hope that my sharing was worth your investment.

Make yourself, your team, visible; it will reward itself back to you, your career, and your customers

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