I Am a CEO Who Codes

I am the Managing Partner (CEO) of L2M LLC. Currently we own and operate three Plato’s Closet franchises and are looking to expand and diversify this year. We are a retail company – not a tech company.

By trade, I am also a software developer. I spent most of my career writing code that pushes data around and adds an efficiency exponent to the work that others need to do.

Frankly, I am really fucking good at it. I have a proven track record of creating simple to processes and problems with a lot of ambiguity and nuance. There are companies across the country that still rely on code I have written every day. Code that didn’t need a training manual and just works for years and years.

The dichotomy of being really good at writing software and running a 50-employee+ / 3-location company creates a tension – we are not a tech company. What I have learned is that while software development is not our core competence nor the focus of our business, my software development skills give us competitive advantage.

As CEO, part of my job is to set the vision for the company. My unique superpower is the ability to build things that make the impossible simple. Every once in a while these two overlap and that is the force multiplier.

Every once in a while the vision of where we want to go becomes possible if I can sit down, put on some headphones, and build a simple solution to a complex problem. It’s what I do, it’s who I am, it’s what makes me happy.

Today, I got to use my super power and create something new. I built something that will save us time, make our employees happier, and eventually, make us more money. I woke up with an idea and I am going to bed with a new asset.

It was a damn good day.

Boston Marathon Recap

I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm was set to go off on the morning of the Boston Marathon. I laid in my hotel bed for a minute and reflected back from the day before to the 16 weeks before that. I had rested well. I had eaten and hydrated well. I was at race weight.

I reflected about some of the key workouts that I had nailed. Fast-finish long runs, long tempo intervals, 20x400m repeats on the track, a good tune up half-marathon, and countless easy and recovery runs. I followed Dave’s plan closer than ever before and almost always hit my paces. I ran significantly more miles than ever before and was more consistent with my training. My uniform and gear was laid out and ready to go. Since Erica stayed behind in Nashville, I pinned her picture to my bib so that she could be with me — everything felt right.

I felt confident that I was waking up a 2:46 marathoner, but would be going to bed that night as a 2:3x marathoner. I had put in the work and was ready to go. As I got ready I sent this tweet:

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Training 2015 week 12

The plan for this week is to run close to 80 miles. I will do a longer track workout on Tuesday and then run the Music City Half-marathon on Sunday. The half-marathon could either be a long marathon pace workout (with a long pre-race warmup) or it could be a race. Either effort would be beneficial. I feel like I am in shape to PR in a half-marathon, but the goal is Boston so I don’t feel a need to race the half.

Last week didn’t go as planned – it also didn’t start with a Monday morning run. This week I started of the week like normal with a Monday morning run with Alexis (and Matt and Lee). Then Monday afternoon I had an 8 mile run scheduled with the last 3 at marathon pace. I had to run from Hillsboro High in order to make my kid’s first track meet and the route I ran ended up being just shy of 7 miles, but the last 3 were solid in 5:38, 5:59, and 5:48.

It was 38˚ for the morning run and 80˚ for the evening run. Tights and gloves in the morning and shirtless in the evening. Nashville is weird like that in the Spring.

Tuesday morning was at the track. Dave had 2000m repeats on tap for me with the goal being to run each rep in 7:05 (5:45 pace?) with 90 seconds of rest between. Koko was running a 6 mile tempo at the same pace, so I was able to tuck in behind him for the first couple of reps.

Like an idiot, I forgot to turn Auto Lap off on my watch (a must when reps are over 1500m). As a result, I had to add the mile split time plus the remaining time in order to know the total time for that 2000m split. The first rep felt super fast, but it was right about 7:00, so I just went with it. Towards the end of the 4th rep I realized that I was doing the math wrong and was actually running 6:50-ish instead of 7:00-ish. It didn’t even feel like I was pushing it that hard, so I am taking this as a good sign. I do suspect the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT WEATHER had something to do with it.

2000m splits: 6:50.3, 6:52.2, 6:48.6, 6:49.4, 6:45.8

Wednesday morning I ran with East Nasty. I planned to run a double, but ended up having to work late (and was on my feet all day). Thursday I was still tired in the morning, so I ran that evening. It was another long day at work, so I worked some shit out on the run. It ended up being a pretty hilly progression run starting around 7:15 and working down to 6:10. Not a “quality” day per se, but also not an easy day. Friday was more of the same, but was 8 miles instead of 10.

I had to work a full day in one of my stores on Saturday. I was going to run in the morning, but was exhausted. Then when I came home later than expected I only had 25 minutes before I needed to be in “dad mode” for Max’s birthday. It was all I could to to get 3 miles done, but at least I kept my 2015 running streak alive.

Sunday morning was the Music City Half-marathon. Based on the pre-registered participants, I was hoping to be able to ease into it was a couple of miles at marathon pace and then work down toward half-marathon pace and hope to eek by with a small PR and the win.

That is not what happened at all. Cristhian Villavicencio (who I didn’t recognize) and Karl Lamke were both at the start line. Karl had just run the Music City 5k Shootout the day before, so I didn’t know what kind of shape he would be in.

I intentionally stayed back a little at the start and we ended up in a pack of 5 or 6 guys running just over 6:00 pace. After about a half-mile I moved to the front and pushed the pace just a little. Christhian stayed RIGHT on my shoulder. We took turns feeling each other out for a couple of miles with both of us too stubborn to give the other an inch. I still felt pretty relaxed, but knew this wasn’t going to be the kind of race I had planned for. He fell back for a minute or two and then pulled back on my shoulder. I backed off and ran right behind him to see if he would back off the pace – he didn’t and we kept running in the 5:30s. I pulled back on his shoulder and we did slow just a little to about 5:40 pace.

Is my foot landing too far forward? Should I work on that?


After about 10k I realized this was just too hot for me. I backed off a little and let him go – beaten and broken, but not dead yet. I also couldn’t back off too much since on a small out-and-back section I saw that Karl wasn’t too far behind.

There were a couple of times that I thought I might be able to reel him back in, but every time I started to close the gap he would pull away again. Then I started doing math and thinking about making sure that I would get under my PR (1:15:34). I thought I might still be able to get under 1:15, but then I started getting a pretty bad stomach cramp on the final mile. It got so bad that at mile 13 I actually contemplated walking it in.

It wasn’t the race I wanted to run and definitely wasn’t the time I thought I was capable of, but still it was a new PR and a good effort. 1:15:14.  According to Strava it was also pretty evenly paced with the first two 5k splits being 17:36 and the next 2 5k splits being 18:08.

This isn’t the week I had planned, but at the same time I am trying to recognize that it was a high quality week even if it wasn’t as much mileage as I had hoped to run. I did some marathon pace miles on Monday evening, crushed a workout on Tuesday morning, ran faster than I should on Thursday and Friday, and then tried to win a half-marathon, and still PRed after starting faster than I could finish.

Only 4 more weeks until the Boston Marathon. Still time for some more training and a couple of big mileage weeks. I need some more long runs, but I am pretty much ready for Boston at this point. It feels good.

Mon 5 miles easy 7 miles w/ 3 @ M pace
Tue 1 mile warmup (???)
5 x 2000m @ T pace
2 mile cool down
Wed 5 miles easy
Thu 10 miles medium (6:38 avg)
Fri 8 miles medium (6:41 avg)
Sat 3 miles easy
Sun  Music City Half-marathon
2nd overall – 1:15:14

Training 2015 Week 11

The plan for this week was to run a longer track workout on Tuesday and then a 22 miler on the weekend. The goal was to total close to 90 miles for the week. Unfortunately, this isn’t anywhere close to what happened.

Last Sunday I nailed a hard long run. Monday, I paid for it. I couldn’t sleep and woke up feel sick with stomach issues. I skipped out on my morning run (sorry Alexis!). Monday evening I met up with Dave and we ran 8 miles in Shelby park. I still wasn’t feeling well, so I was glad I got some miles in and kept the street alive – unfortunately, that meant I went to bed 5 miles behind.

Tuesday was a rainy morning at the track. I still wasn’t feeling well, but my week was too full to push the workout back. The goal was to run 6 x (1200m @ T pace, 200m float, 200m @ mile pace). When I got to the track I discovered my watch battery was dead. After my warmup, Dave agreed to time my splits. After the first rep, my left foot had a sharp pain (probably due to my “rain shoes” with over 800 miles on them). I decided to punt on the workout and switch Tuesday and Thursday. I woke up 5 miles behind and went to bed 7 miles behind.

Tuesday evening I ran with Carter, my 6th grader son. He is on the track team for the first time and his practice was canceled because of the rain. We ran down to the track at East High and then I ran 7:00 pace while Carter ran every other lap with me. It was a 5 mile run for me and 6 x 400m @ 1:45 for Carter. This was my favorite run of the week.

Wednesday morning I managed to double East Nasty. We got after it in the evening run and I pushed up the hills. Thursday morning I was tired and skipped a morning run. That was supposed to be my makeup workout. Instead, I joined the East Nasty Thursday night hill repeats session. I did 7 repeats on the Shelby hill. It was a tough workout, but it wasn’t what I was supposed to do.

Friday morning I was tired again. I decided to wait to run until the evening. This was a horrible idea. I ended up going to the Y in the late evening. I was going to run 12 miles, then 10, then 8. Turns out I got to 4 miles and decided that was enough.

Saturday I joined East Nasty for their long run. I was planning to run 10 miles, but ended up running 14. I was planning to do a long run on Sunday, but I was still fatigued (and I was 5 lbs lighter than I should be). Instead I ran an easy 12 and finished off the week with 67 miles.

This was my first disappointing week in a long time. I do take some solace that a disappointing week is still 67 miles. Time to eat a bunch, drink a bunch of fluids, regain some weight, lower my pulse, and get back after it.

There are 5 weeks until the Boston Marathon. I have 3 more solid weeks of training and hope to get the miles back up above 80 this week.

Mon 8 miles
Tue 5 miles 5 miles
Wed 6 miles 5 miles
Thu 9 miles
Fri 4 miles
Sat 14 miles
Sun 12 miles

Training 2015 Week 10

This was supposed to be a down week with a half-marathon race, but it didn’t exactly go as planned.

Monday morning started the week of as it should, with a 5 mile run with Alexis. That evening I went out for a solo 7 miler around the neighborhood.

Tuesday morning we were back at the track with a short and easy tuneup workout before this weekend’s half-marathon race. The workout was 5-6 x 1000m at 3:33 with 60 seconds jog recovery. Then we would do 5 x 200m fast with 90 seconds jog. We nailed this workout with splits of 3:27, 3:29, 3:26, 3:27, 3:29, 3:27. I had fun running fast on the 200s and ran 0:32, 0:31, 0:31, 0:30, 0:29.

Wednesday morning I ran nice and easy with East Nasty. That evening I joined Greg on the indoor track at Vandy. At this point the weather started to look like it might affect the half-marathon, so I kinda hedged my bets and ran a few extra miles in case we ended up not racing. I didn’t want to do a mini-taper for nothing. I ended up running 10 miles including 5 x 100y strides barefoot on the turf. Running all out is fun and I can tell that my stride is getting more powerful. :)

Mile 5 of the Tom King Half-marathon course on Thursday afternoon.

Mile 5 of the Tom King Half-marathon course on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday the snow hit. I spent the morning driving to all three of my stores to shovel their walkways and make sure everything was ok. I wasn’t able to run until 2pm, so I missed the chance to run during the snowfall. I did lace up my trail shoes and at least run in the snow at Shelby. It wasn’t as magical as I had hoped though since things were starting to get slushy.

Friday was a planned easy day, so I just ran 5 on the treadmill. At this point it was totally clear that we would not be racing Tom King. Dave wanted me to keep it easy since we would still get in a hard effort this weekend and I was already at about 50 miles for the week.

Saturday morning I met up with East Nasty and joined their long run for 10 miles. It was essentially Bongo to Bongo (again), but on the way back we stopped at the stadium and cheered on the top finishers at the Tom King 5k. There were some seriously fast times and I kinda wished I had raced. Still, I don’t think racing a 5k would help my Boston training, and I haven’t done any 5k workouts. It sure did look fun though (in a really painful way).

Sunday it was time to put in a hard effort on a long run. The plan was to run a 10 mile warmup and then run 8 miles alternating between 6:00 and 5:45 pace. Variations of this workout are a staple of Dave’s training plans. This is a hard workout and I failed to complete a 12 & 6 version of this 2-3 weeks ago. Looking back, it looks like I haven’t nailed this workout since the buildup for CIM in 2013.

I was not feeling very great going into this workout. I felt like I could have stomach issues and my legs were pretty heavy with cumulative fatigue. I do believe in the power of positive thinking, so I tried to focus on just running easy through the warmup and trusting that everything would come together.

The first mile of the hard stuff wasn’t too bad. We started a little fast, but were able to back off and be within range when we went through the 1 mile mark. Shifting gears into half-marathon pace is always tough, but we got it done and nailed that mile too. Easing back to marathon pace is the great part of this workout. All of the sudden it starts to feel much easier to run marathon pace since at least it isn’t half-marathon pace. But after that 3rd mile, I started going to some dark places. I didn’t think I could get back to half-marathon pace and almost wimped out. I started telling myself it would still be a good workout if I only hit marathon pace for the rest of the miles. Somehow I was able to stay positive and keep pushing. This was about when I saw NRC teammate Matt Pulle running the opposite way. He was cheerful and waving hello as I was grimacing and was only able to muster a grunt. (sorry Matt!)

Anyway, I was able to fend off the demons until the end. The last hard mile was half-marathon pace and I was with a second or two of being on pace, but I was cramping really bad on my right side. It was the worst side-stitch I have ever experienced in my life. Each exhale was accompanied by a moan as I tried to push on. Eventually it got the best of me at 17.96 miles as I stopped the watch and couldn’t go another step. I had to walk a half mile to get it to go away. After a few minutes I rejoined Greg and we ran a couple of miles to cool down and make it 20 for the day.

This was a successful workout for me in spite of stopping a tenth of a mile short. Yeah, physically I hit the paces, but it was mentally that I feel like I really broke through today. It is easy (easier?) to nail a workout when feeling positive and confident. It is much more rare for me to fight through the demons and get it done. And now I know what it feels like for a cramp to be so bad you have to stop, so hopefully I can push right up to that line if need be when racing.

Splits for the hard miles: 5:56, 5:42, 5:59, 5:45, 5:56, 5:45, 5:53, 5:47

So, it was a weird week. Instead of racing Tom King and running 69 miles, I put in close to 80 miles and had a breakthrough on a long workout. This training cycle is definitely looking different from any build-up I have done before. Really looking forward to the Boston Marathon in 6 weeks.

Mon 5 miles @ 8:18 7 miles @ 6:56
Tue 2 miles warmup
6 x 1000m @ T pace
5 x 200m
2 miles cool down
Wed 4 miles @ 7:39 10 miles easy incl
5 x 100y strides
Thu 8 miles @ 7:02
Fri 5 miles @ 6:53
Sat 10 miles @ 7:12
Sun  20 miles w/ 8 fast
(averaged 6:32 pace)