This week I decided to stay in LA for a few days before heading to Dallas for the Toyota Cup Lifetime Fitness Triathlon this weekend. It was either that, or head back to Seattle right after the race, train at home for a few days, then fly to Dallas. The extra travel time would probably negate the benefits of being at home for training, and since I was able to stay with a former roommate / teammate / lab partner (current friend) in Los Angeles I figured it was better to enjoy some California Sun. Training away from home can be logistically challenging, but I have a few pointers for making your travel training a success.
Finding a pool is pretty easy. Look at the swimmers guide and find the pools closest to where your staying. The search will tell you if the pool is public or private, and often will have admission fees and lap swim schedule. Sometimes the pool is at a health club, which can be costly, and gym pools are not normally the greatest aquatic facilities. When I was in Miami I swam at a Ballyâ€™s Fitness Center where my host was a member. He gave me a free 7 day pass and I used their 2 lane 25 yard pool for four days without any trouble. In Austin I scored a 7 day membership to Life Time Fitness, where the pools were all really nice. In Hollywood last week I used another 7 day free pass to 24 Hour Fitness, but had to put down a credit card deposit because they were going to charge me if I didnâ€™t cancel after 5 days. When I called to cancel I was given a new number to call four times before talking to a â€œmembership cancelation servicesâ€ person, then the conversation went life this:
â€œHow can I help you?â€
â€œI was using a 7 day free membership while I was staying in Hollywood, but Iâ€™d like to cancel it because Iâ€m no longer in Hollywood and Iâ€™m not going to be using that pool anymore.â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry to hear that sir, can I ask why you are canceling your membership?â€
â€œReally? Like I just said, Iâ€™m not in Hollywood anymore and Iâ€™m not swimming at a 24 Hour Fitness anymore.â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry to hear that sir, is it alright if I put your account on hold for 6 months instead of cancelling it?â€
â€œNo, I would rather cancel it now.â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry to hear that sir, your membership will continue for 30 days, and will be cancelled after the next bill.â€
And so on until the guy finally gave in and gave me a confirmation code and said I would not be billed for my free pass.
When I do these passes Iâ€™m always up-front with the gym employees. I tell them Iâ€™m only in town for a race, and I would really like to use their pool for the week. Then I ask if they have a 7 day pass I can use, or if thereâ€™s a way I could use the pool for less than the standard $15 – $30 day pass fee.
Here in Dallas I went into the Downtown Dallas YMCA where thereâ€™s an eight lane 25 meter pool. When I called it seemed like it was unlikely that I could use the facilities for less than their $20/day, but since it was my only option I rode my bike over to check it out. When I came in the lady at the front desk, Gracie, recognized my voice from the phone and â€“ seeing me walk in looking like a beach bum, wearing board shorts and a yellow Rudy Project backpack, sporting an afro under a helmet and carrying my bicycle â€“ offered to make me her guest for the three days I would be using the pool. Now that was unexpected and wonderful!
The YMCA pool is really neat. Itâ€™s a converted parking garage, so itâ€™s 9 lanes wide, but only 8 lanes are usable because there are big rectangular pillars in the center lane. Out the windows you can see the Dallas Skyscrapers, and rather than giving me weird looks for my pink splish suits, the lifeguard gave me a ticket to the Texas State Fair! She told me if I went I could get just about any kind of fried food I want: fried butter, fired snickers, fried banana, fried ice cream, fried marshmallow, etc. Makes me wish I were staying another night after the race!