Crazy Day in RTP with a Happy Ending

Crazy Day in RTP with a Happy Ending

 

Here is my story (warning Wall of Text incoming):

 

*** Back Story ***

 

My journey started nearly 18 months ago when I had a talk
with my wife and we agreed that I would start the quest for a CCIE in Routing
and Switching.  One never really knows
what they are in for when starting down this road to CCIEville.  I thought I knew, after all, I had read the
book “Your CCIE Lab Success:  The
Non-Technical Guide book” as well as various blogs and success stories here on
IEOC. I knew what I was getting into…right?  
You never really know until you
experience it.

 

18 months ago I approached my manager at work and told him I
was interested in pursuing my CCIE in RS. 
Working for a Cisco Gold Partner, it was definitely something that would
be beneficial to the company and to me.  My manager was on board but said that in order
to get the financial buy in (to help pay for Lab training material) I would
have to show them that I was serious by first passing my written.

 

That’s where it all started. At this time, the CCIE was
still on version 4 and there were “rumors” of moving to version 5 but no dates
had been announced.  I didn’t want to
wait for a new version and decided to jump in with both feet to at least get
the CCIE written under my belt.  After
all, how hard could the written be? I had taken and passed all the previous
written tests (CCENT, CCNA, CCNP).  There is nothing like the CCIE written. 

 

I grabbed a copy of Wendell Odom’s OCG from the Cisco
Learning Network and read it cover to cover multiple times.  I would search out blogs or free YouTube
videos to help supplement my learning.  I
purchased a few other books as well like the TCP/IP RS volumes 1 and 2 by Jeff
Doyle and read the majority of those books. 
By December of 2013 I thought I was ready.

 

I can still remember the day clearly.  I had my written exam scheduled at the
nearest testing center which was 2 hours away. 
The week before my exam, the town the testing center was in got hit with
some really bad ice and the whole place shut down. My exam was cancelled.  I didn’t want to wait until after the
holidays to take my exam so I scrambled to find a seat at the next closest
testing center, which was over 3 hours away. 
I had my exam rescheduled and I was ready.

 

The night before, I packed the car for the 3-hour journey.
My wife and I typically share vehicles but since I was driving 3 hours one way,
we decided to trade.  She was working in
a town 45 minutes away and when she left in the morning (in the vehicle I
normally drive) I forgot to get the keys for her vehicle.  I didn’t think anything about it until I was
about ready to leave the house and realized I wasn’t going to be able to go
anywhere.  I frantically called her up
and she sped home to give me the keys. I drove like a maniac for 3 hours just
barely making my scheduled exam time.

 

In the end, everything worked out and I was able to pass the
written.  It was definitely the most
challenging written test I had taken up to that point.  I remember there seemed to be several
“trivia” style questions that I was not sure I would have ever
encountered.  I still don’t know if I got
those questions right.  I must have made
some good educated guesses J

 

Now that the written was behind me, I got the buy in from my
company to help purchase some training material.  Of course, who did I look to for CCIE
training material?  The best in the
business of course, INE.  My work paid
for the CCIE RS bundle that included all the workbooks, videos and rack rental
tokens.  However, at the time, all that
was available was the version 4.5 videos and practice labs.

 

I think it was early January that Cisco announced CCIE RS v5
would be released in June/July and v4 would be deprecated.  I knew there was no way I could become lab
ready in just 4 or 5 months not to mention v4 Lab seats filled up almost
instantly after the announcement. I was kind of in Limbo. I wasn’t sure how to
study or what to focus on. 

 

I knew I didn’t just want to sit around waiting for
material, so I closely followed Brian’s Blogs about release dates of their new
material.  I started straight away
watching v4.5 videos taking notes, reviewing notes, all that stuff you do when
you are just trying to get a solid foundation of knowledge to build upon.  I knew I was in for the long haul and I
didn’t want to take any shortcuts.  The
v4.5 videos were FANTASTIC and I found myself re-watching several of them many
times.  I would even queue them up on my
Laptop so that I could hear Brian’s magical voice while I was driving to and
from work.  (I only listened to videos I had previously watched while driving.  I would not recommend trying to “watch”
videos while driving, but it is amazing how much more you can pick up from the
videos by just listening and trying to imagine what Brian is drawing or
configuring.  It brings a whole new
perspective to studying and really maximizes your time!)

 

 

My subscription to INE allowed me to attend some of the live
recordings for the new v5 material.  I
tried to catch as many live sessions as possible.  My approach was usually to have my INE Lab
topology up and running so I could follow along with Brian as he was going
through each video.  This really helped
me stay focused during the videos and didn’t give my mind a chance to
wander.  I think my retention level of the material was much higher studying in
this fashion.

 

After many weeks/Months of doing INE’s ATC labs I started to
realize that I was forgetting little details about technologies that I has
previously learned.  I would go back to
redo an ATC lab and it was almost like doing it all over again.  How in the heck was I going to pass this test
if I couldn’t remember half the stuff I was studying?  That’s when I turned to INE again.  I found a wonderful blog on INE by Petr
Lapuknov:  http://blog.ine.com/2009/03/22/how-to-study/
and this is where my studying really took off. 
I followed the suggestions in that blog and developed a study plan
around the “Active Reading” with “Supermemo” techniques.  I would recommend reading the blog, but in a
nutshell, Supermemo is just a specific reviewing technique spaced at exact
intervals for permanently committing knowledge to memory.  After 2 months of this I realized I was
retaining technologies in my head and could recite them like my ABCs.  This was fantastic.  I even
created my own spreadsheet that would randomly generate a list of INE ATC labs
that I would complete every day before starting any new technology. 

 

At this point, I was really gaining momentum on the CCIE
Train headed straight to CCIEville. 
However, I was still finding that I was having difficulties with some of
the more in-depth and advanced technologies. 
I would post on the forms and get help here and there.  One day when I was posting on IEOC, I noticed
another post asking if anyone would be interested in a small online study group
via Google Hangouts.  I quickly messaged Chad
and went through a little trail to make sure I was committed and active and got
in the group. Looking back, joining a
study group was probably one of the single most important things I did in
preparation for my studies.
 

 

The few of us that were in the group didn’t want it to grow
too big and become one of those groups where nobody knew anyone. We talked CCIE
stuff all day long.  We kept each other
motivated.  If someone was struggling in
a technology, we would fire up a WebEx and work through it together.  We learned how to teach each other and became
more familiar with all the technologies. 
We were all on a slightly different pace but it gave us a place where we
could “nerd-out” on CCIE stuff no matter what time of day.  Half of the time, we were on our mobile
phones chatting here and there while at work or wherever. The group kept me on
pace and hearing about 3 of the guys getting their CCIE since joining really
motivated me to continue. You have probably seen their success stories here on
INE. I’m talking about Michael Zsiga, Chad Stambaugh, and Kyle Barnes.  Great guys who know their stuff! 

 

I spent nearly every free minute studying CCIE and before I
knew it, I was eating CCIE, drinking CCIE, and dreaming CCIE.  I was really living it.  That’s how I knew I was getting close.  I moved on from ATC labs to foundation labs
and I was doing pretty well so I decided to hit a Full Scale lab. I was in for a surprise.

 

Holy Smokes. Those INE full-scale troubleshooting labs were
BRUTAL.  I was crushed.  I was almost thinking I was a failure.  I could only solve about 3 tickets in those troubleshooting
labs.  I began to question myself and how
I was preparing.  I eventually went to
the solution guide and started digging into tickets that I was unable to solve.
In do so, I was gaining an even a deeper understanding of the
technologies.  My advice here is - don’t give up if you get crushed by INE mock
TSHOOT labs.  Those things are seriously
tough and will make you an expert.  If
you can do those, then the real lab will be a cakewalk - no doubt
.

 

 

Around November, I was starting to feel pretty confident so
I actually locked in my official Lab date for Feb 23.  I put my nose to the grindstone and studied
as much as a husband with a 2-year-old daughter and a job with a Cisco partner
could study.  I studied every night from
8pm (after my daughter went to bed) until 12 or 1 am.  I would wake up the next day and immediately
be thinking about technologies that I had labbed the previous night.  It
was about this time that I went into full blow Lab prep mode.

 

I worked out a schedule where I would do a full
troubleshooting with review each night Monday through Friday and a Full Scale
config (sometimes 2 if I could fit them in) every weekend. I think this is a
critical part for any CCIE candidate.  You need to practice with a timer and know
how long you can afford to spend on a particular topic in Tshoot and in Config.  It will be crucial to develop a process that
becomes second nature and stick to it. 

 

This is when I started seeing the BIG picture of the mock
labs.  I started seeing how things worked
together and I was able to start doing my config labs in chunks grouping
multiple sections together. I didn’t realize it, but this was how I was gaining
speed in completing the labs faster and faster. 
I have always heard “when you know the technology, then you can focus on
speed”.  I always thought that meant you
would be able to type faster but it doesn’t. It comes from being able to see
the BIG picture and group things together like your IGP, MPLS, and BGP and
seeing where the potential issues could happen and how this works with
that.  It just all starts making
sense.  I can’t really explain it…all I
know is that you will know the feeling when you get to that point.

 

January quickly came and I was sitting right at a month out
from my Lab exam.  It was actually
getting a little harder to study because I was sick of configuring some of the
same technologies for the 1000th time.  It is fun to configure OSPF the first 100
times with all its nice little nerd knobs here and there, but after a 1000 I
thought I was going to throw up if I had to configure it one more time J  I labbed until my fingers bled and then I
labbed some more.

 

Towards the end of January, my company landed a big project
with a customer and my manager wanted me to lead it.  It was some a large migration from 6500 to
Nexus 7Ks .  I was excited until he said,
“…oh and the only time the customer can do this, is the weekend of 2/20-22”.  It just so happened to be the weekend I was
supposed to be flying out for my CCIE RS Lab in RTP.  My only option was to move my lab date.  I didn’t want to move it any farther out so
my manager worked with me and gave me the next couple weeks off as I prepared
for a Lab on Friday 2/6.

 

I prepared like a mad man over those last two weeks.  I was labbing nearly 12 to 16 hours a
day.  I was labbing anything I could get
my hands on.  Luckily, I had my own
server that I could fire up 40 + CSR1000v routers on and I just went to town
doing all kinds of different stuff.

 

*** LAB DAY ***

 

So here we are. If you are still with me, this is where
things get really good!

 

I flew out to RTP on Thursday 2/5 and stayed at the Holiday
Inn as recommended on Cisco RTP Lab site. 
As you can imagine, I was pretty nervous.  I didn’t sleep very good Wednesday night
before my flight and all day Thursday I felt like I was in a fog or some kind
of daze.  Even now, writing this 2 days
later, I can barely remember Thursday - the day before my lab.  It almost seems like it didn’t happen.  I can remember getting to the hotel and
checking in, taking a little nap and eating at Cracker Barrel. I tried to take
a hot shower to relax and I think that helped a little but my mind was going a
hundred miles an hour wondering what Friday was going to be like. I scheduled a
shuttle for 6:30am from the hotel to the Lab testing center for Friday and then
tried to go to bed.

 

It was a pretty awful night as I think is the experience for
most first time candidates.  I finally
fell asleep around 10:30pm but I kept waking up about every hour either in a
panic thinking I had over slept or thinking about some weird corner case
technology that I may not know how to configure.  I even remember having a couple CCIE related
dreams about going to the lab with people who knew my friends who had already
passed.  It was a very difficult time and
I’m not sure how much sleep I actually got but I felt decent when I woke up at
5:30am when my alarm went off and I received my “wakeup call”.

 

I actually brought my own breakfast (cup of oatmeal) because
I didn’t want to rely on what the hotel was serving. I sat at a table and
quietly ate my oatmeal and drank a couple glasses of water.  I didn’t really feel like eating but I knew I
would need the energy later so I managed to get it down.  I also ended up having a banana.  I stayed away from coffee because I didn’t
want to have “one of those” moments early on in my lab especially with time
constraints on TSHOOT and DIAG. 

 

I rode the shuttle with another CCIE candidate (SP TRACK) in
silence all the way to the famous Cisco Building 3.  When we got there, it was about 6:45 and
freezing.  Luckily, there was another
candidate already there inside and he let us in. We sat in the little
lobby.  When I get nervous, I like to
start talking so I started some basic conversation with the two other gentlemen
there with me.  They were receptive and
we had a good talk for about 15 minutes. 
One guy flew all the way from Switzerland to get one of the last SP
seats available.  He said he failed in
December, and because this was the only available seat, he had to pass this
time or retake it when it switches versions later this year.

 

 Other candidates
started rolling in and before we knew it there were 10 of us in the lobby.  Most were somewhat talkative asking what
track each of us was there for and if it was our fist time.  I was starting to get calm and
confident.  In my head I was getting
focused.  Talking was helping calm the
nerves.  I think if you can, talking is a great way to
really shake the nerves off.

 

OK - now is when it really, really starts to get good if you
are still here!

 

At 7:15 - out popped a lady. 
She informed us that the normal proctor, David, was on vacation in
Puerto Rico and that she would be our proctor for the day.  She asked us to get our Drivers License out
and she would call our names to come up and get signed in.

 

I waited patiently as the first person was called and he did
his thing, then the next, then the next, and the next, and then there was just
me and one other person.  She called his
name and he went to check in.  Then the
Proctor said “OK everyone, follow me and we will get started”.  That’s when I started to freak-out. I blurted
out “…but you haven’t called my name!” The proctor asked me my name and then
said “You are not on the list, are you sure you are supposed to be here
today?” 

 

I was shaking and my stomach was in knots. Had I really
scheduled the lab for the wrong day in my rush to reschedule for work?  Had I booked the wrong travel dates?  What had I done?! I panicked and I couldn’t
think.  The proctor asked me when I
scheduled my lab for and I (incorrectly) blurted out “February 9th”.  Everyone in the room almost in unison said,
“Today is February 6th”.   I was so
freaked out I couldn’t even remember the right date.

 

I said, “No. I know I booked the lab for today no matter
what the date is”.  They asked me if I
had received a confirmation e-mail and I said ‘yes’, but I was shaking so bad
that I could not find the e-mail on my phone. 
I couldn’t remember if it came to my work e-mail or my personal e-mail
or if it got deleted…I just could not find it. 
Finally, she asked me to check my CCIE portal.  There I was, barely able to hold my phone because
my hands were shaking so badly. I couldn’t even type on the small iPhone 5
screen. It took me about 5 tries to log in to the Cisco website.  All kinds of crazy thoughts were going
through my head like ‘what have I done’, ‘what if I messed up’, and ‘what was I
going to do’.  It is without a doubt the
most frazzled and nervous I have ever been.

 

Finally, I was able to pull up the CCIE portal. However, it
was at this time the proctor said for everyone to follow her and that she had
to get them started. I first opened my CCIE portal on the right hand side and I
saw where it said my Lab exam expired. 
That freaked me out even more because now I thought I had scheduled it
for an earlier date and I completely missed it. 
I frantically zoomed in and there on the lab date was Feb 6th,
2015, which was that day.  So why wasn’t
I on the list and what was going on?!  It
was a very long 15 minutes as I had to wait in the little proctors office and
watch all other 9 candidates go in, take their seats, get logged in and start
their exams.

 

The lady came back and they took my ID and called someone at
Cisco to figure out what was going on with my lab.  Finally, they put the guy on the speakerphone
and I could hear him ask for my name.  He
couldn’t pronounce it right so the guy on the phone asked them to send it to
him in Jabber.  My heart was pounding in
my chest, my stomach wanted to hurl up that oatmeal, my head was filled with crazy
thoughts while the guy on the phone look me up in the system.

 

Finally, I hear the guy say, “Yeah, he is right here in the
system. He is supposed to take his lab today. 
I don’t know why he isn’t on your list. Let’s get him signed and ready
to go”.  Oh I was so relieved.  Still a nervous wreck, but at least I was
going to be able to take my lab.  Come to
find out later, the normal proctor printed out all the lists of candidates for
each day before he left for vacation and I must have re-scheduled my exam AFTER
he printed the lists to give the stand-in proctors and so my name wasn’t on
that list even though I was supposed to be there.  It took about another 15 minutes for them to
get all of my paper ready, blank sheets, find a seat, power on the PC, get me
logged in, etc. 

 

That was the most agonizing 30 minutes of my life, but
finally, I was at a PC and I was ready to begin my lab.  The proctor said they would give me 30
minutes extra to make up for all the time I lost getting set up.  I was still so nervous with all that had
happened I had no idea how I was even going to do the troubleshooting
section.  I took a few deep breaths,
stretched my arms for a minute and just tried to gather myself. I had to tell
myself that it was no big deal and to just do what I had been practicing the
previous 3 months.  I had a plan and all
I needed to do was stick to my plan.  “Stick
to the plan” is all I kept saying in my head as I clicked the green button that
read “Begin Lab”.

 

I had a plan that I would read the entire tshoot lab ticket
by ticket marking the points of each one on my point tracker piece of paper and
make any notes about the first thing that popped in my head about each tickets
problem area.  I was going to spend no
more than 10 minutes reading through the lab and making notes.  Then I was going to pick 2 or 3 tickets that
appeared to be “easy” and start with those spending no more than 10 minutes per
ticket before moving on whether it was solved or not. 

 

This is where I think the turning point happened.  It was at this moment that the lab could have
gone one or two ways; really good or really bad.  The first ticket I picked to solve ended up
being a very quick fix.  The issue
appeared to be exactly what I thought it was with my first guess.  I quickly made a configuration change and
executed the ping on the required host and BOOM it completed successfully just
like the output of the ticket wanted. 
SWEET! I solved the first one in less than 2 minutes.  I took another deep breath and quickly moved
on to the 2nd “easy one” I had singled out.  Again, right where I thought the issue might
be.  I quickly realized what was wrong,
fixed it and verified and had 2 tickets down in about 5 minutes.  Now I was starting to calm down a
little.  Then I got a 3rd
ticket in just a few more minutes. 
That’s when I realized that I could do this.  JUST.STAY.FOCUSED.

 

It’s amazing what just picking and solving a few “easier”
tickets did to help calm my nerves and get me in the mode.  I strongly suggest this method.  Get
some confidence and bank those extra minutes. 
You are gonna need them. 
I
kept working through tickets and there were 4 that I didn’t solve on my first
pass.  I picked up a couple more on my
second pass and had a 2 pointer and a 4 pointer left.  I knew I needed to get at least one of them
and the 4 pointer was in one of my stronger areas so I went for that one.  I ended up finding a solution to get the
required output but worried that it may not have been the answer that Cisco was
looking for.  I had about 10 minutes left
in my original 2 hours to work on the last ticket.  I wasn’t able to solve it and I decided to do
a quick verification on the ones I think I had solved.  After that I was right at the 2:10 minute
mark so I clicked end session and headed into Diag.

 

Diag was well, Diag.  Not much I can explain here except be
prepared for a lot of reading.
  Two
questions were pretty straightforward when you read all the material and I had
a pretty good idea of what to choose as answers.  The third ticket was OMG crazy. I am not sure
if I got it right or wrong, I just ended up making a best guess.

 

I went right into CONFIG with about 90 minutes until
lunch.  I had a goal that I wanted to get
through my L2 tasks and into my IGPs before lunch.  I opened the lab and just like I did in
TSHOOT, I made a point checklist with all the sections, point values, completed
check box, and notes making sure to read the entire lab.  I then briefly opened each network diagram
(They have one for L2, IGP, BGP, VPN, IPV6) trying to get the BIG picture in my
head of how the lab was set up and what it was trying to accomplish.

 

After reading through the lab I looked at my notes and
quickly saw areas of tasks that I could group together.  I opened notepad and started writing out my
config.  I was able to finish my L2 tasks
in around 30 minutes and I was on to my first section of IGP.  Managed to get IGP, BGP, and MPLS up by right
as the proctor came in and announced we had 10 minutes until lunch.  I did a quick verification of what I had configured
and prepped notepad for the next sections I would tackle after lunch.

 

For lunch they crammed all 10 of us into a little office
type room, and fed us something that resembled fried fish filets, tator tots,
and coleslaw.  None of it tasted all that
good and I didn’t have much of an appetite anyway.  We all know you don’t go to the lab for the
food any way!  The proctor tried to help
ease the tension by asking who traveled the farthest to come to the exam.  The guy from Switzerland won but there were
several people there from Canada as well. 
Lunch was only 20 minutes but it felt like 5.  We were back in the lab before I realized it.

 

Once back in the lab I picked up right were I left off
getting basic IGP and BGP connectivity up for each section.  That went pretty well but I found myself
making silly notepad mistakes over and over that I had not done before in my
practice labs.  I would copy a section of
BGP from one router to use for a different router and would forget to change
the router-id or the remote-as or something. 
Most of the time I caught it right away as the router would start
barking.  I think the pressure and the
time constraints got me out of my element a little bit causing self inflicted
errors. 

 

With about 2 hrs left I had pretty much all the core topics
complete and everything appeared to have reachability where it needed to
be.  Was starting to feel pretty good and
I caught myself thinking that I just might actually pull this off.  However those thoughts made me more nervous
cause at the same time I didn’t want to screw it up.  My hands started shaking more with each task
that I completed.

 

It was during these last 2 hours that I hit my first real
snag.  I had a task to configure a
technology that should have been very simple and straight forward but I could
not get it to work.  I wasted over 30
minutes troubleshooting, removing config, replacing the same config, starting
services and restarting services.  I could
not get the desired results and I could not figure out why.  Finally I told my self 10 more minutes then I
am moving on.  The entire task was only
worth 3 points and there were not any other tasks dependent on this one.  So I finally moved on.  In hindsight I should have only spent a total
of 10 minutes trying to fix it because it was such a low point value.

 

With about 30 minutes left I had all but two tasks solved,
one was a 3 point task and one was a 1 point task.  I decided to use the last 30 minutes for
re-verification.  In my opinion this was
the difference between passing and failing. 
As I was going back re-verifying tasks and matching output to the Lab
workbook I started to find several little mistakes that I had made that would
have cost me the points for that task.  I
had a couple traceroutes that were working but upon closer inspection they
didn’t match exactly what was in the lab traceroute.  I found the places that needed modifications
and made the correct changes.  I verified
again and all looked good.

 

I had around 10 minutes left and I was doing verification on
DMVPN and it all looked good, Hub was talking to spokes, spokes were talking to
spokes, everything had reachability.  I
decided to just take a peek at the tunnel interfaces and as I was going line by
line I realized I had created all the tunnels with the wrong nhrp
authentication key.  The lab asked for a
specific key and I had left one character off. 
I started to panic.   Opened
notepad, copy and pasted config, made changes to fix my errors.  As I went to paste it back in I accidently
pasted the wrong config on the wrong router causing even more problems.  This DMVPN was a very critical piece as
several other tasks depended on the connectivity.  I took a quick second to calm myself, made a
few more changes and then finally pasted everything back in.  I watched on the hub and tunnels came up,
IGPs came up and neighbors formed. 
Everything looked good.  I had
enough time for a couple quick pings and a save of the configs before the Proctor
said I had to stop.

 

So there I was, it was 3:40pm and the lab was over and I was
handing the proctor my sheets of scratch paper to be shredded.  My head was filled with thoughts, did I do
enough to pass, were there more silly mistakes that I didn’t catch that would
cost me too many points.  I felt good in
a way, but was still very scared that I had committed too many silly mistakes
that I didn’t get a chance to correct. 
My mind was racing about things that I could have done differently or
what if Cisco wanted it this way or what if I broke some rules I didn’t notice
were in place.

 

Now all that was left to do was wait for the official
results.  Upon leaving Building 3, the
Proctor said we may not get our results until Monday because our proctor was on
vacation.  I think waiting for the
results is more agonizing than waiting to start the lab.

 

It was a pleasant ride back to hotel on the shuttle as I
chatted with the guy from Switzerland. 
We both were pretty much in the same boat.  We both thought we were close but not sure if
we were all the way to CCIEville.  Since
we were both staying at the same hotel we decided to go have dinner and a beer
thinking it would be quite a while before we received our results.

 

I had been told my a couple of friends that took the lab
exam recently that they had to wait until at least 2am the next day for their
results.  I had also heard that if you
got your results back very quickly it was more than likely a fail due to it not
making it past the grading script.

 

So I went back to the hotel to relax for a couple hours
before going to dinner. I called my wife to let her know I was finished and to
give here a little bit of info on how I did. 
Still didn’t know if I had got enough points to pass.  Then had to call my manager and let him know
how things went.  Then I figured I would
just lay on the bed and relax a little and rest a tired and fried brain.  I can remember laying there and my iphone
dings with the “new email” sound.  My
iphone only dings for my work e-mails so I thought I had better check it.  It was 5:25pm at this point.  I opened up my e-mail and there was an e-mail
saying my CCIE score report was ready and to view my results I had to log into
the CCIE portal.

 

My hands started shaking so bad. I thought I had
failed.  The results came back so
fast.  It was less than 2 hours since I
had ended the exam and I already had my results?!?!?!?!  I was sure I failed now, the script must have
detected too many mistakes and kicked my lab back with a fail.

 

I opened my laptop, signed into the CCIE portal with
trembling hands, waited as the portal loaded, and then there it was, my
results.  I didn’t know where to look, I
couldn’t see the results.  Then finally I
saw in the bottom corner, a “PASS”, but where was my number?  Had I really done it?  As my eyes are flying all over the page I
spot the small lines at the top “Your CCIE status is Certified (CCIE#
46810)”. 

 

I let out a small scream of Joy.  I was trembling all over, my mind was going
crazy.  “I did it, I did it, I did it” I
kept repeating.  I immediately called my
wife to give here the good news and to thank her for all that she had done, all
that she had sacrificed so that I could study, all the support she had given me
during the last 18 months. WE DID IT, TOGETHER WE DID IT.  This was OUR CCIE, not mine.  I started getting emotional and allowing
myself to have a few little “man tears”. 
I was so far beyond happy. 
Besides my daughter being born this was one of the greatest feelings I
have ever experienced in my Life.

 

Even today, its still hard for me to believe this part of
the journey is over and I have my digits. 
I finally made it.  I know that
the learning does not stop here and that this is just the beginning of a new
chapter, but I am so thankful to have finally arrived in CCIEville where my
friends Kyle Barnes, Chad Stambaugh, and Michael Zsiga are living.  I plan on staying here for a very very long
time.  We will be here rooting on the
rest of the members form our online study group!

 

Thanks to INE, Brian Mcgahan, for all of the videos and
training material.  This journey would
not have been possible without all the very detailed videos and through
labs.  INE really are “Experts and making
you an Expert”!

 

Best Regards,

Steven CCIE# 46810













































































































































 

Comments

  • Congrats on passing. This is very interesting and surely would serve as an inspiration for someone on this journey.

  • JoeMJoeM ✭✭✭

    Blog worthy story.  Great detail.

    Thanks for the pointers and inspiration.

    Congrats on the number!

  • Congrats and I hope you get a chance to take a little vacation or rest !

  • Congrats!!!!.. now you can change your logo to CCIE :)

  • Congrats dude and great read!!

  • Congratulations!

  • The best detailed story I have read describing the CCIE Journey!! Congrat Steve, very well done. Enjoy now with your family [:)]

  • I read every words of that and I'm glad I did. 

    Congratulations Steve. 

    Amazing comeback from the exam hiccup earlier, too.

    Mind asking me what's next for you? Another cert?

    I envy guys with study group, being in a very different timezone makes people reluctant to take me.

     

    Cheers.

    Andy 

  • Congrats Steven!! I was the candidate that let you in that morning :).. Really nice meeting you that day! Congrats!!

  • Hi Steven,

     

    that's half a book you wrote there ;-)

    congrats again also from me! was really pleased meeting you. I'm currently enjoying my skiing holidays here in Flims.

     

    all the best

    Manuel (aka the guy from Switzerland ;-)

  • Renzo and Manuel, 

    Thanks for the congrats.  So glad to hear that you guys passed as well.  

     

    Renzo thank you so much for letting us in, it was soo cold outside.  Also thanks for talking with us before the exam to help calm the Nerves.

    Manuel,

    I had such a great time at dinner and then out for drinks.  You were an awesome friend to meet and I really enjoyed our chats about Switzerland and US and life in general.  So gald to hear that you passed as well on your SP exam.  Enjoy our Skii trip!

     

    Best Regards,

    Steven

    CCIE # 46810

     

  • Contrats.

    Fantastic read!

  • Congrats, well done! You got your life back ;)

  • congratulation

    Congratulation Steven, and thanks for sharing your CCIE journey; You made it really balance in so close calls. 

     

  • congratulations, an amazing story [Y]

  • any reason my comments is not published ? 
    thank you,
    Haroon

    On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 12:25 AM, mos981 <[email protected]> wrote:

    congratulations, an amazing story Yes




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  • Steven,

     

    Congratulations!!!!

    Your story is so close to mine I was laughing, though not at the time it was happening. There was a problem with my lab (DC) and had to wait 1 1/2 hours before I could start my lab. As you said all turned out good as I passed as well. I think we all have those same fears going into the lab. I found myself days afterwords checking my status over and over again. In the end I yelled at the top of my lungs in my car with my wife who was there with me. It was one of the most staisfying days of my life (besides getting married and having kids).

     

    Congrats again.

     

    Rick McGee CCIE#51090

     

     

  • Crazy story! What an ordeal when you arrived, glad they took care of that fairly quickly. Even with that stress test, you still passed. Nice work! Congrats!

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