After 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running, Matthew Lundeen crossed the finish line, triumphant for accomplishing his goal.
The 34-year-old Cambridge man competed in the Ironman triathlon in Madison, Wis., on Sunday, Sept. 9, finishing in 15 hours and 24 minutes.
“I felt awesome when I crossed the finish line,” said Lundeen, a 1996 graduate of Cambridge-Isanti High School. “Now that it’s done, I still can’t believe I did it. I can’t believe it came true. It just seems so unreal.”
Placing 250 out of 270 in the men’s division ages 30 to 34, with an overall rank of 2,042, Lundeen had fierce competitors. His goal was to complete the race in about 15 hours, and he said he was happy to come out of the race successful.
Lundeen, who lives in Cambridge with his wife Melissa, said he first started running in 2009 when he was out taking his dog for a walk. His dog chased some ducks into water, and Lundeen said he thought he would dry off faster if they ran home.
“We ran a mile and a half,” he said. “I thought it felt good, so I started running more and started losing weight.”
Eventually he competed in a 5K race in Cambridge and worked his way up to triathlons by the end of the year.
Soon enough, competing in triathlons became a passion for Lundeen, and he and a friend started talking about racing in an Ironman.
Knowing the running portion of an Ironman is a marathon distance, Lundeen ran a marathon first, then competed in a half Ironman in 2011. That’s also the year he volunteered to help at the Ironman event in Madison, Wis.
It was the day after last year’s race that he and his friend signed up for the 2012 race.
Leading up to the race, Lundeen said he was training 15 to 20 hours a week, always taking at least one day off per week.
His typical training schedule included weight-lifting and swimming on Mondays, biking on Tuesdays, weight-lifting and running on Wednesdays, weight-lifting and swimming on Thursday or Friday, a long bike ride on Saturdays and a long run on Sundays. Some days he would combine running and biking to get used to doing both in the same day.
“All the training is probably the most challenging part of the whole thing,” Lundeen said. “It’s kind of a cliche, but people say getting to the starting line in Ironman is harder than getting to the finish. It’s putting in the time because I would come home from work and have to hop on the bike for a 16 mile ride or 10 mile run. I was very lucky my wife was so patient. The training is hard. It’s so time-consuming.”
He visited Madison twice before the big day, biking the course in preparation.
“I felt I had trained hard enough, but I was getting nervous on Saturday and Sunday morning because a lot of my family and friends came out to watch, and I was worried that something would go wrong and I wouldn’t finish,” Lundeen said.
Finally, in the middle of the race, all of the hard work of training paid off. Lundeen said he ran most of the first 13 miles in the running portion, changed his socks and knee brace, then ran most of the second half.
“I’ve had a runner’s high before but I’ve never had it for as long as this,” he said. “I was just smiling the whole time. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to do it.”
For more information on Ironman events around the world, visit www.ironman.com.