At 6’ 1”, 180 lbs, HAROLD WILSON is a beast. That’s meant in a good way. The 32 year old triathlete, coach, and father is one of the most tenacious competitors in the area. All who know him, respect him, immensely.
DAVID BALIS, who finished the April 19 King Tut Triathlon in a virtual 3-way tie with Harold and Pedro Trindade, says, “I didn’t know him [before the race.] But he had very good swim, bike, transitions, and run at King Tut. I had a hard time holding him off on the run. Now I know to look for him at future races. He will obviously do well.”
What makes him such a threat is he has no weak sport in triathlons. He is consistently good in all three with a half marathon time best of 1:19:50 (6:06 average pace per mile), swim times of 1:07:15 (about 1:45 average pace per 100 meters) for a 2.4 mile open water Ironman swim and 22:00 for 1500 meters, and 59:00 minutes for a 25 mile bike ride during a triathlon. He raced to a 5:30:15 (over 20 MPH average) during the 112 mile un-aided Ironman bike ride. All of this adds up to make him a triple threat in the sport.
A fan of the music of Led Zeppilin, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Beastie Boys, Tool, and Pearl Jam (“I love all kinds of music.”), Harold Wilson, born Oct 9, 1977 in Mt. Pleasant Texas, on a military base, has a younger brother and a younger sister. He’s married to Whitney and has a 6 year old son, Austin Bruce Wilson. He grew up in Grand Prairie graduating from South Grand Prairie High in 1996, after playing the usual football and baseball, idolizing sports figures such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Bo Jackson, and Joe Montana. But occasionally, he would work out with the cross country team, thanks to the football coach. It would be his saving grace a few years later.
“I tried unsuccessfully to stay out of trouble. Trouble would tend to find me in the old neighborhood.”
After high school, he moved to Austin to start at UT. “This is where I really learned how to party.” He dropped out in the 1st semester and began tending bar on 6th Street. “Until that started to break me down.”
He says he started running after coming to a “fork in the road. I remember looking in the mirror and asking myself ‘What are you doing?’ It was either get my life together, or else. He discovered that, besides the great night life in Austin, there is a beautiful athletic community. He slowly worked his way back to health and fitness.
“I went from coming home at 5 AM drunk and whatever else, to getting up at 5 AM to run five miles at Town Lake.” It was 1999 and he entered the Longhorn 5K, his first. His reason? The UT cheerleaders would be there. A year later, he ran his first marathon at Austin’s Motorola Marathon, finishing in 3:22. Not bad given his recent past. “Now I’m learning how to experience life!” he says enthusiastically.
The next year, 2001, he and some buddies decided to run all four major marathons in Texas, “Just to say we did.” They finished them all: San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and Austin, between 3:30 and 3:45. “That was a blast. I felt like an endurance athlete, and it was great!”
Quickly getting burned out on running, however, a friend suggested he buy a bike and start riding. Lance Armstrong, an Austin citizen, was in the process of winning his third of seven consecutive Tour d’France wins (2001). Cycling was becoming more prominent. “I fell in love with cycling and became a huge fan and historian of the sport. I watched the Tour. I read the books.” He even did some bike races.
Shortly after taking his first pedal strokes, he did his first triathlon (Capitol of Texas Triathlon, held in Georgetown back then) and Harold Wilson was off. He reached a peak of swimming 18,000 meters (12 miles), biking 200 miles, and running 50 miles in a the weeks before doing his first Ironman. At that 2007 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho race, marred by a dangerous 2.4 mile swim where many athletes had to be pulled from the water, he debuted with a 10:22:29. An outstanding time, ranking him as the first Texan.
His other PR’s include a 17:20 5K, and 36:40 10K.
His typical training week at this time includes about 15,000 meters of swimming with Dallas Aquatic Masters (“I love being able to swim with those guys out at SMU.”), 100-120 miles of cycling (group riding with Richardson Bike Mart and Mad Duck in Grapevine, but also focused work on the trainer indoors), and 30 miles of running, usually by himself, but enjoys joining the 6 AM Dog Park group at White Rock Lake on Sundays and TNT-Tuesday Night Track. The specifics vary each week.
But his favorite activity is bowling with his son, Austin. “He loves to show me how fast he can run. ‘Watch how fast I run,’ he says.”
During his training, Harold sometimes thinks where he’ll be in the coming years? “I think about where I’ll be in all the different aspects of my life. Sport, family, career.”
His favorite athletes include Mike Phelps for his swimming, Fabian Cancellara for his cycling (Chrintian Vandevelde in the Tour d’France) and Ryan Hall for his running. He gets really involved in watching top Ironman triathletes battle it out each year leading up to the Ironman Championship hosted in Hawaii.
Inspired on good days by people who do great things, when he gets discouraged, “I’ll buy some new running shoes. That will usually get me out for some focused training.” He says he owns about 75 pairs of running shoes. “I’m literally an encyclopedia of knowledge when it concerns running shoes.”
His ultimate goal is to qualify for the Hawaiian Ironman Championship Triathlon. “The numbers are saying I should be able to qualify within the next year or so.” He’s registered for Coeur d’Alene Ironman on June 21, where he debuted. If that doesn’t work out, he’s also registered at the new St. George Ironman in May of 2010.
As a personal trainer at Larry North Fitness in Southlake and owner of Multisport Coaching Systems, LLC (www.msport
coach.com and www.getfitgetfast.com), Harold trains by himself during the middle of the day. “I work at the gym from 5 AM until lunch, do my training, then run my coaching business.”
Though he is an accomplished trainer/coach, he has a coach. Why? “I believe that as an athlete, if you are serious about getting better, you should employ a coach. People ask me why I have a coach if I’m also a coach. The simple answer is I want to get faster, but having an outside opinion that you trust is necessary for improving. There is one common denominator among all elite athletes. That they all have a coach.”
In his spare time, he’s finishing up his degree in kinesiology, reading a lot of science text books about anatomy and biomechanics. Somehow he has also managed to read a financial book titled “Learn to Earn” after finishing “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” When out shopping, he prefers Richardson Bikemart, Luke’s Locker, and Bass Pro Shop (“Have you ever been there? It’s awesome!!). But then, there’s always North Park Mall, he says.
His wife, Whitney, is finishing her RN at the end of this summer.