Tyler Man Plans Running Seventh Boston Race at 80
By COSHANDRA DILLARD
For the past 26 years, Harold Wilson has enjoyed running and has set his sights on the 2013 Boston Marathon. He gets a little slower each year, but he says that is to be expected of a 79-year-old.
"I just enjoy it," he said. "My only problem now is my age and my knees. I'm ready to go if I can stay together another year."
Wilson ran recently in a Houston marathon, clocking 4 hours, 17 minutes. He qualified for the Boston Marathon but did not participate last week. He looks forward to running in it next year at age 80.
"It's the granddaddy of all of them, you know," Wilson said. "They come from all over the world -- top runners. I feel like I can win it when I'm 80. There aren't very many 80-year-olds that run."
In fact, there were only two running in last week's race -- an 80-year-old and an 83-year-old.
Wilson runs four to five days each week, and five to six when training for a marathon. The retired chemical plant worker has run 15 marathons, including the Boston Marathon six times. He's placed first place in his age division in the Boston contests two times and second place twice. His best time ever was 3 hours, 19 minutes at an Austin marathon. At 75, Wilson clocked in at 1 hour, 37 minutes at the 2009 Aramca Houston half-marathon, placing first in his age group.
Wilson received a wakeup call at age 54. He weighed nearly 200 pounds and his cholesterol was at a dangerous level. His doctor told him to lose some weight, and lay off the unhealthy foods. The Mississippi native grew up in the country so most of his life, he didn't worry about including extra activity. His family ate healthy because they were eating off of the land.
"I cut firewood and all that," he said. "I was raised on a farm, no money, no shoes."
It wasn't until later in life that he developed unhealthy habits. He began eating a lot of fried food and said even today, sweets are what he craves.
A few years ago, Wilson learned he has a 50 percent blockage in an artery. He admits that at times, he gets discouraged with his physical abilities.
"Everybody loses something every year, you know," he said noting the arthritis in his knee.
Standing at nearly 5-foot-10, and weighing about 140 pounds, he's a stark contrast to the overweight man he once was. Today, he hardly eats red meat, and while he's training, he eats brown rice, beans, sweet potatoes, and fruit and vegetables.
Wilson has made running a habitual part of his life. He reads Runner's World magazine and finds support in friends, family and fellow runners.
"You don't do it by yourself," he said.
Wilson's wife, Anna Fay, is not a runner, but she was influenced by her husband's healthier lifestyle.
"I try to cook the proper way," she said. "I used to fix a lot of fried food, but at the time, he was so dedicated. He's been more dedicated in the last 10 years."
"She's coming to my side," Wilson chimed in.
"I give him an A-plus as far as I'm concerned," she said. "I like him a little better this way."
Besides running, Wilson will take an occasional bike ride to Wal-Mart.
"I buy a few things, but I get my exercise, too," he said.