2014 Goals & Training/Competition Overview

I’m happy that 2013 is in the past. It wasn’t my best race year and towards the end of the season, I became unmotivated. However, in terms of health & fitness, I’ve been eating (somewhat) healthier & started CrossFit, which changed my way of thinking about endurance training.

2014 Health & Fitness goals

  • Train smarter — Rather than just going out and logging miles, I plan to focus more on improving strength, speed & power. Of course, occasional long-distances are still needed to train pacing, I don’t need to go race-distance every time out. A couple weeks ago I started reading “Power Speed Endurance” by CrossFit Endurance founder, Brian MacKenzie. It talks about the importance of strength & skill training in endurance sports. This book, along with other reading, has inspired me to think differently about how I train.
    "The unkowns" a tough WOD that I didn't finish on veterans day.
  • Make rest & recovery a priority — As I write this, I’m nursing a sore throat which is likely the result of having too much fun & poor nutrition over the holiday break. Although I feel slightly guilty about taking two days off in a row, and kind of wanted to see where my “Cindy” (a CrossFit benchmark WOD, which was what I would have done at C-TOWN today) time was, I know taking it easy is the best thing for my body & training efforts today. I’m sure I could have pushed through it, but I also know it would put more stress on my body, which is already fighting whatever I have, & increase recovery time. In the past, I would have just pushed through and made my illness last longer. I’m also using heart rate variability monitoring to gage recovery & determine when to go hard vs take it easy. This metric has been used by pro athletes for years but until recently, has been too complicated & expensive for amateur athletes. Now apps like Sweetwater SweetBeat ($4.99) & inexpensive heart rate monitors like the Polar H7 ($60) make it much more accessible.
    Sweetwater HRV
  • Continue to improve nutrition — I’ve come a long way from eating fast food daily in college until now. I’m forcing myself to try new, healthy foods and incorporating them into my diet on a regular basis. My diet is still far from optimal, but I want to continue to improve what I eat by making intentional food choices based on nutritional needs.
  • Calendar a training schedule — I typically train based on availability & what I’m feeling that day. I’d like to start being more strategic about what I’m doing & make sure I’m constantly varying the training & challenging myself.
    Bike Trainer & Computer

2014 Training & Competition Outlook

  • January — CrossFit 4-6x / week. At least one workout in each sport per week with a focus on skill.
  • February – May — CrossFit 3x / week & re-start Masters swimming once a week. Train each sport twice per week. Traveling to Vegas for work for about a week in April, will need to plan travel workouts—and might drop in a CrossFit gym there!
  • June — Continued training. Electric Run 5k. This just sounds like a great time!
  • July — Continued training. Fairport Triathlon. Will be a “B” race to get ready for GG9. That said, it’s been a challenging race for me (especially the swim) in the past.
  • August — Taper training. Gay Games 9 (GG9). I plan to compete in Sprint Triathlon + 100m Free Swimming. This is my main event for the year and likely one of the biggest competitions I’ll ever compete in.

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So I tried CrossFit…

…and I liked it!

"The unkowns" a tough WOD that I didn't finish on veterans day.
“The unknowns” a tough WOD that I didn’t complete on Veterans day. There’s more to it that didn’t fit on the screen!

I’ve run into so many people over the past year or so who do CrossFit and not one had ever had anything bad to say about it. That said, I had the misconception that it was some crazy, unsafe workout routine where people just got hurt and threw up. About five months ago I decided to give it a shot—after all, no one had anything bad to say, so why not. At that point I was a little burnt out from my tri training, so I needed a change of pace anyways.

There are quite a few CrossFit gyms, or “boxes” as they call them, in the Cleveland area and I knew people at a few of them. I decided to try CTOWN for no other reason than it was a convenient location. They offered a free “Bootcamp” classes try it out, so one warm Saturday afternoon, I showed up and gave it a shot. I arrived about 10 minutes early while another class was wrapping up. Everyone had amazing bodies, dripping with sweat and they all looked like they were going to pass out. Loud music was playing as the coach walked around encouraging everyone to keep going. A buzzer went off and everyone had a sigh of relief. Although for a minute or two everyone looked exhausted, and many laying on the ground, they all quickly recovered and started smiling and congratulating each other on a good workout.

Then it was time for the bootcamp class. Carl, the head coach at CTOWN, rounded up the class and had us run 400m followed by some more warmup drills. After that, he showed us the bootcamp WOD (workout of the day), demonstrated the moves it involved and pointed out how do do them correctly. He spent the most amount of time on squats. I now know why—a large majority of the moves in CrossFit involve some kind of squat movement, including wall balls. If my memory is correct the WOD that day involved rowing, pushups, wall balls and air squats. It was a 20 minute AMREP (as many rounds as possible). The workout was intense, a lot of sweat was shed and I was sore the next day.

After going through their training camp (conditioning program) I’ve continued to go back regularly. What’s great about CrossFit workouts is that they are fast but intense—most WODs are under 30 minutes of work time. I no longer have a concern about the program being unsafe. They spend so much time making sure you are doing the moves right (and safe) emphasizing quality over quantity (or weight you can’t lift). The workouts are also very scalable. If you can’t do a handstand pushup, you can do a box pushup or a regular pushup and work your way up to the full move. The vibe in the gym is nothing but positive. No intimidating body builders making you feel week—just good, encouraging people.

Although I’m currently CrossFitting 4-6 times a week, I’ll probably cut back and focus more on tri-specific training around February. That said, I’ve been read a lot of research lately that talks about how short, high-intensity interval (including strength) training can improve endurance sport performance. Just last week I had my best 100y free swim time in a while—and I haven’t been swimming much in the past few months. CrossFit is, by design, broad and general making it great training for any sport, physically demanding job or just life in general.

Cool graffiti outside the gym
Cool graffiti outside the gym

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Twelve flavors of Quest Bar in 12 days

I’ve been eating Quest Protein Bars for the past few months. I like them because they don’t contain a lot of the crap ingredients many other protein bars have. They also use whey protein, not soy like many others. I’ve read that men shouldn’t eat soy on a regular basis because it contains estrogen. Although I’ve been satisfied with them, I had only tried one flavor—chocolate brownie. I wondered what the other flavors tasted like so I ordered a sample pack that came with 12 flavors. Here’s my thoughts on each.

Day 1: Apple Pie
Should really be called cinnamon apple as there’s no real crest flavor. Tastes good, texture is a little gritty. I would buy again.
Calories: 170
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 24g/6g active (non-fiber carbs)
Sodium: 290mg
Protein: 20g

Day 2: Banana Nut Muffin
I liked this better. It actually does taste like a banana nut muffin (well, as close as a protein bar could get). I would buy again.
Calories: 170
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 25g/5g active
Sodium: 350mg
Protein: 20g

Day 3: Mixed Berry Bliss
Before unwrapping, I had expected it to be about the color of a mixed berry smoothie—somewhere between red & purple. I therefore had expected it to taste bad, but it didn’t. Not sure why, but I ate it quicker than usual. I guess that’s means it was good! I would buy again on flavor, but I’m not sure I would based on the higher non-nut-butter fat & higher sodium count.
Calories: 200
Fat: 8g
Carbs: 22g/4g active
Sodium: 340mg
Protein: 20g

Day 4: Coconut Cashew
I’m not a huge fan of coconut, but this wasn’t too bad. Kind of tasted tropical. Although edible, I probably wouldn’t buy a full pack of them.
Calories: 170
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 24g/2g active
Sodium: 270mg
Protein: 20g

Day 5: Peanut butter & jelly
This sounded weird and it was. It was like a PBJ sandwich ground up and put into a bar. Won’t be buying again.
Calories: 210
Fat: 10g
Carbs: 21g/4g active
Sodium: 340mg
Protein: 20g

Day 6: Strawberry Cheesecake 
This was more strawberry-cream than cheesecake, but not bad. I’m not a huge fan of cheesecake but I suppose others would like it. Compared to the others, it’s on the lower side of calories, fat, sodium and active carbs.
Calories: 160
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 25g/2g active
Sodium: 105mg
Protein: 20g

Day 7: Cinnamon Roll
I thought this would be strange in a bar, but it was surprisingly good. You can actually taste frosting, even though it isn’t frosted. And, although not quite as good as the real thing, if you’r craving a cinnamon roll, this is a much heather alternative.
Calories: 170
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 24g/2g
Sodium: 300mg
Protein: 20g

Day 8: Chocolate Peanut Butter 
Who doesn’t like chocolate peanut butter? Almost tastes like a candy bar.
Calories: 160
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 22g/4g active
Sodium: 270mg
Protein: 20g

Day 9: Lemon Cream Pie
This kind of tasted like a lemon bar. It was good, but I’m not sure the flavor goes with the texture.
Calories: 170
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 25g/2g active
Sodium: 260g
Protein: 20g

Day 10: Vanilla Almond Crunch
Also good, but a little bland.
Calories: 200
Fat: 9g
Carbs: 22g/4g active
Sodium: 360mg
Protein: 20g

Day 11: Peanut Butter Supreme
Just peanut-butter. If you like peanut butter, you’ll like this for sure. On the higher side of fat, calories, sodium and active carbs. I’d eat as more of a treat every once and a while vs every day.
Calories: 200
Fat: 10
Carbs: 21g/4g active
Sodium: 340mg
Protein: 20g

Day 12: Chocolate Brownie
Since I had been eating these for months, I figured I’d save it for last to see if I liked it any better/worse after comparing the other flavors. After trying all the other flavors, I realized this wasn’t the best. It seems a little chewier than the rest however, if you leave it in a hot car for a while and let it soften up a bit, it tastes much better.
Calories: 170
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 24g/5g active
Sodium: 340mg
Protein: 20g

After my 12 day test, I ordered more of the Berry Bliss. Although not the healthiest, it stood out as tasting the best. I’ll probably switch it up each time now knowing which flavors are good. I’m also eager to try their new flavor that just came out, Double Chocolate Chunk!

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Two races in two weeks

Ok so first I need to confess, I’m really late posting this—been lazy about blogging lately…

This summer I competed in two sprint triathlons, two weekends in a row. Although having only one week in-between isn’t ideal, it wasn’t too bad. That said, neither were my best race.

Lake Metroparks Lighthouse Triathlon | Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fairport Tri 2013 by seanskisez

This was my second time competing in this race. I didn’t really take this race too seriously and didn’t prep as I should have. Usually I stay away from alcohol completely for a week prior to a race and I didn’t follow that rule this time. The Friday prior I had drank a little too much thinking it wouldn’t effect me. The night before I also ate dinner late & went to bed late. The race is about a 40 min drive from home and, of course, I was rushing to get there on time giving me almost no time to prep once I got there. Typically I like to get setup in the transition area, warm up, listen to music & mentally prepare for the race ahead—that didn’t happen. Standing at the starting line, I also started to feel dehydrated. I was already off to a bad start and the race hadn’t even started yet.

During the swim I felt overwhelmed and had to stop and catch my breath a few times. Thankfully there were spots I could stand as the course is just off the beach. I just couldn’t get my breathing pattern down right and I felt overwhelmed by the other competitors around me. This theme of just not feeling right continued throughout the race, although not as bad during the bike & run. I finished the race with a time of 1:35:21, much slower than last year’s time of 1:19:10.

Results (Time | Overall place out of 298 | age group (M 25-29) place out of 12)

(500M swim, 20K bike, 5K run)
Swim+T1 23:29 | 260 | 11
Bike+T2 44:43 | 151 | 10
Run 26:59 | 116 | 9
Overall 1:35:21 | 173 | 10
Full results

Cleveland Triathlon | Sunday, August 4, 2013

I’ve competed in the Cleveland tri five times now (2009 super sprint, sprint distance all other years). Disappointed by my swim in the Fairport tri, I was determined to enter the water confident and ready to race, so I dedicated a good amount of my training the week in between to swimming. It paid off! I placed 3rd in my age group (out of 14) in the swim & felt great. I got to the transition area early enough to warm up & prep for the race. I also made sure to get a good position from the start (as to avoid the starting line wrestling match in the water)! The bike went well too. I felt good the entire ride & finished a respectable 4th in my age group. Then it went down hill. I was feeling great up until the first few meters of the run. A sharp pain started in along the tibia on both of my legs. It continued through the entire run. I finished with a pace of 10:32/mi (my normal pace is around 7:30-8:30). I was able to work out the soreness after a day or two, but I still can’t pinpoint why it happened (which is the most frustrating part).

Aside from the run, I was generally happy with my race. My overall time was slower than last year on the same course (2012 > 1:33:03), but I’m sure I would have been at least close had it not been for the sharp pain in my legs.

Results (Time | age group (M 30-34) place out of 14)

(0.5mi swim, 16mi bike, 5K run)
Swim 10:21 | 3
T1 3:46
Bike 54:26 | 4
T2 2:33
Run 32:38 | 10
Overall 1:43:45 | 6
Overall place 50 out of 159
Full results

This season I suppose I just wasn’t as motivated as I had been in the past—and it showed in my performance. I think I’ve been a bit bored with tri-specific training & didn’t spend enough time doing it. I plan to compete in sprint triathlon & 100M freestyle swimming in Gay Games 9 when they come to Cleveland in August of 2014. I’m really looking forward to that competition & hoping to come back to tri training in a few months with a renewed motivation for the sport. A few weeks ago I started going to CrossFit and it’s been a great change of pace for me. I look forward to the workouts (even though they kick my ass!) and feel much more motivated to workout than I did prior.

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Google Glass Pickup Experience

A few months ago I applied to be Google Glass Explorers—a group of only about 8,000 who would be the first to get the opportunity to purchase and experience Glass. My entry was selected and a couple months later and I received an invitation to purchase Glass and travel to New York to pick and receive a one-on-one introduction to the device with a Glass Guide.

Glass is a head-mounted display that displays information right in front of your eye—similar to a heads up display in a car or cockpit. It can display and read incoming text messages, place calls, give directions, answer questions via Google search, take photos/videos and share on linked social networks.

Glass On Head

July 10, 2013

6:30 a.m Woke up and hit snooze.

6:40 a.m. Actually got up and put on running clothes.

7:00 a.m. Arrived at the park, ran 5K. Run started cloudy and rainy but ended with a blue sky. Lake was calm and secluded.

Edgewater Beach in the Morning

7:45 a.m. Back home, showered and got ready.

8:26 a.m. Arrived at the Rapid station. Checked my flight status through the United Airlines iOS app.

Westbound Airport RTA Sign

8:36 a.m. Boarded Redline train.

RTA Redline

8:45 a.m. Got off Redline train by mistake at Brookpark station because conductor said “last stop”—which meant last stop before the airport, not actually the last stop (very confusing!).

9:02 a.m. Hopped on another train and arrived at the airport 3 minutes later.

9:15 a.m. Went through airport security, which had no line, got a compliment on my shoes from one of the TSA officers.

9:20 a.m Grabbed a whole grain bagel & latte (skim and extra shot) at Breugers. Got another compliment on my shoes! Found a seat by an outlet to camp out until boarding and started this log.

iPad & Breakfast

10:29 a.m. While walking to the gate I received a push notification from United app shows up on my Pebble smart watch notifying me of a gate change.

Pebble Push Notification from United

10:35 a.m. Boarded flight. Having a mobile boarding pass and no checked bags really saves time!

Mobile Boarding Pass from United

10:55 a.m. Flight took off. Had a single seat to myself. Took vitimins then read magazines.

12:15 p.m. Flight landed at LGA.

12:30 p.m. Took a cab to Chelsea market. No wait!

1:10 p.m. Arrived at Chelsea market, the Glass pickup location, which is right across from Google’s NYC offices. My appointment wasn’t until 2:00, so I walked around a bit and got a quick lunch.

Chelsea Market

Google NYC Office

2:00 p.m. Once I found the right elevator, I headed upstairs. Immediately when the elevator doors opened I heard music playing, looked in that direction and saw an illuminated “Glass” sign. Walked that way where a receptionist, wearing Glass, checked me in.

Glass Sign

2:05 p.m. I had short wait in the reception area then my Glass Guide, Brian, walked out to greet me.

Glass Waiting Area

2:05-3:30 p.m. We walked into a large room with around 15 stations where Glass Explorers were being trained by Glass Guides. Somewhat loud music was playing and there was a bar with drinks and snacks. Everyone was wearing Glass, even the bartender.

We first headed over to a display holding one of each color of Glass. He asked me to try on the charcoal one, which I had chosen, to make sure I liked the color on myself. After checking it out in the mirror we walked over to one of the stations.

20130713-115735.jpg

He asked someone else to bring over a charcoal Glass and a beverage of my choice—red wine. First step, unboxing!

Glass Box

After taking it out of the box, he instructed me on how to adjust it to my face. The nose pads adjust allowing you to raise or lower it on your nose. Ideally, you want it to be about at your brow line. Once adjusted, I took it off to turn it on. After a short booting period, an image was on the display. I had to adjust the angle of the display (it tilts in and out) to see the entire image.

Using the MyGlass Android app Brian showed me how to login to my Google account and setup the WiFi. This can also be done through a web browser if you’re on iOS or just rather do it that way. After the initial setup, a QR code appears on the app (or website) which you scan with the Glass camera to configure your account on the device. Next step was a quick Bluetooth pairing between Glass and the Android smartphone I was carrying. The app or web app is also used to connect Glass with all your other accounts like Facebook & Twitter. Unfortunately it does not support Instagram yet.

After a few minutes, the setup was complete. He walked me through the basic operation of the device. Tap, or tilt your head up, engages the device. Swipe forward or back to move through cards, tap to select, swipe down to go back. A quick press of the top button takes a photo, long press takes a 10 second video.

We then walked through how to do some basic tasks—take a picture/video, search Google, share on Google+ and Twitter. Sharing is heavily tied to Google+.

Knowing some people back at thunder::tech were standing by, we decided to do a quick Google Hangout (called Video call on Glass XE7). I first had to create a Google+ circle with just the people I wanted to include so I did and added a few t::t people. I think some were having technical difficulties, but Justin was able to answer. We had a quick chat, I showed him around a bit, then it as back to learning about Glass.

We also went over how to do a basic Google search. You can ask it pretty much anything and it will answer. On a Chrome Book, we logged into my account to link up some other social accounts. Brian also showed me how to find 3rd party (not officially supported) Glasswear (kind of like apps) in the developer section of the Glass site. He also told me that every Glass Explorer’s account is automatically whitelisted for developing Glasswear and that I could add team members to the account!

I had asked a few more questions about Glass—

How is the battery life? — Can go a full day with basic tasks on a charge. Video and navigation are huge drains on the battery. Recording video, it only lasts about 45 minutes.

How long does it take to fully charge? — About an hour.

Will the Explorer Edition be supported after the consumer release? — Yes, they want to treat their early adopters well.

What are the limitations when tied to iOS vs Android? — No text messaging or navigation. Can still make calls and use Bluetooth Tethering (assuming your wireless account supports it). There is no MyGlass app for iOS but you can the web interface to configure.

We wrapped up and I walked around to take some shots of the space.

Realizing the battery was almost dead and my Glass wasn’t running the latest version of the software, he let me plug it in for a bit to update to the latest software (XE 7) over their WiFi and charge. The update took about 10 minutes to complete. Brian and I chatted while this was happening and he gave me the third compliment on my shoes.

On the way out, I noticed that one of the Google Now cards on Glass had automatically pulled in my flight status based on a confirmation in my Gmail account. It showed that my flight was delayed by 23 minutes. Google Now (LINK to google now) is a service that displays “the right information at the right time.” It will analyze information from your Gmail, calendar and other Google services and show “cards” with information such as directions to your next appointment, drive time to work in the morning or drive home in the afternoon, weather, package tracking, sports scores, flight status and other information when it is relevant.

3:40 Left the Glass pickup location, too a cab to the airport. Shot a few shots with Glass, then the battery died. Realizing there’s no reason to wear it with a dead battery, I boxed it back up.

4:25 p.m. Arrived at LGA, went through security. Got some coffee and found an outlet to sit by and charge up Glass. Went through some emails on my phone and updated this post. At this point I realized how much technology I was carrying (an iOS smartphone, Android Smartphone, iPad tablet, Pebble smart watch and now Glass).

5:43 p.m. Received an alert from United app, also pushed to Pebble, that flight was canceled and rescheduled for the next morning. No flights out due to weather.

6:45 p.m. While waiting in line at a customer service desk I launched the United app to discover that my flight was automatically re-scheduled for the next morning. After an hour waiting in line and hearing others in front of me unsuccessfully try to find another flight out that day, I just asked if they would pay for a hotel room. They wouldn’t since it was weather related. I took out my iPhone and quickly booked a room through Expedia and took a cab back to Mahnattan. On the way to the hotel, I snapped a few shots of the city with Glass.

Manhattan from Glass Manhattan from Glass

7:30 p.m. Checked in to Pod Hotel. It was almost like a nice dorm room. Bunk beds and there were 4 shared bathrooms per floor.

Pod Hotel

8:00 p.m After quickly charging the electronics, I headed out to grab some essentials since I didn’t pack anything. By the time I walked to the subway and took it to Canal and Broadway, it was 8:45 and stores close at 9. Quickly went through Top Man, bought shirts, underwear, body spray and socks. Then went to Duane Reade to pick up antiperspirant, toothpaste and a toothbrush.

Duane Reade essentials

9:30 p.m. Hopped on the Subway to go back to the hotel.

10:00 p.m. Back to the hotel and cleaned up for dinner. Luckily I found a good place open late and only a block away.

10:45 p.m. Made it to the Restaurant, The Smith, had dinner and a glass of wine. Got the fourth compliment on my shoes for the day (really, four in one day, they aren’t that great!).

11:50 p.m. Back at the hotel, I was ready for bed.

 

The next day, July 11

6:45 a.m. Back up again.

7:30 a.m. Checked out, went to Starbucks (paid with the Starbucks app) and caught a cab.

8:05 a.m. Arrived at LGA, slight line for security. The TSA agent checking boarding passes asked what kind of glasses I was wearing. I briefly explained that it was Google Glass which is sort of like a wearable computer. She advised to put it through the x-ray machine.

8:30 a.m. Got a bagal, more coffee and water for breakfast.

9:00 a.m. Arrived at the gate. Boarding time was supposed to be 9:03 but the aircraft hadn’t arrived yet.

9:35 a.m. Boarded aircraft. Took a quick video with Glass as I walked to it.

9:45 a.m. Takeoff. Finally on my way back to Cleveland.

10:00 a.m. Got out my iPad to work on this post.

iPad in-flight from Glass

10:30 a.m. Decided to turn on Glass for a second to take a quick in-flight video.

10:45 a.m. They are asking us to turn off electronic devices

11:00 a.m. Touchdown in Cleveland. I took the Redline back home, dropped some stuff off then headed to the office.

 

Initial Impressions

At first I was impressed and amazed by the device. It’s like wearing a small computer that you can glance at just by looking up and interact with using voice or touch. It’s light-weight, comfortable to wear and more durable than it looks. The frame is made of titanium and can bend and twist without loosing it’s form. It’s also water resistant so a light rain won’t bother it. It comes with a polarized “shades” attachment turning them into a good pair of sunglasses.

Although my flight cancellation was somewhat of a pain, it did give me a little time to experience Glass as a traveler in New York. Surprisingly I didn’t get any strange looks! Only one person on the subway asked if I was wearing Glass. I mostly used it to take photos and short videos, which is my favorite feature of the device. It’s great to have a camera that’s always aimed in the direction you’re looking and ready to take a photo or video with a quick button press or voice command.

Unfortunately, I started to become slightly disappointed in the device. It consistently gave me totally wrong answers to questions. I asked how to get to a specific subway station and which direction I was walking—neither of which it couldn’t answer. Upon landing in Cleveland I asked when the next train left the airport, which it also couldn’t answer—and Cleveland’s public transit system is linked up with Google Transit. Another odd thing I found was that the videos you take, which get synced to your Google+ account while the device is on wifi and charging, can’t easily be shared on YouTube—a Google property. And as far as fitness applications, like I had envisioned in my application video, nothing yet.

Overall it’s a very interesting technology that’s in it’s infancy. Although it’s not perfect today, there’s a lot of potential for it moving forward. Google continues to improve the software and is taking feedback from Explorers on how to make it better prior to the consumer release later this year. I also wonder if the average person will be willing to wear it. Although sleak, it does look a bit odd. Hopefully their partnership with Warby Parker will make it more appealing to a general audience.

 

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