Going Big with Ari Hendrix-Roach by Dan Fitzgerald (Photo by Bayshore Marathon)
Ari Hendrix Roach is Heartbreaker Flyer living and training in Michigan. She's been a fan of the brand from a afar for some time and when we finally opened up our Flyer team during a recent national solicitation, she jumped at the chance to join-up. One of her focus races this spring was the TCTC Bayshore Marathon in Northern Michigan. She earned herself a PR (Goodbye 2:44, hello 2:42!), a podium spot (3rd among the women), and notably become the "5th fastest US born African American woman of all time". I had to hear how she's feeling after such a big day.
DF: You just popped off a monster day. How are you feeling?
AH: Oh man, I am feeling good!! It's still hard to believe that it happened and that I did it. Three weeks ago, I wasn’t even sure I was going to run this race. I had been dealing with alot of self doubt and was scared to put myself out there. But thank goodness I did, because it was such a great day. Not just because I hit my goals, but also because the running community was so amazing. I had a lot of friends out there running and on the course and hearing people yell my name and cheer me on was so incredible.
DF: Knox Robinson, a notable running community member and friend of Heartbreak, recently shed light on how few American born Black women have broken 3:00 and set out to create change. What does it mean to you to be at the vanguard of that movement and represent Black women's excellence in the marathon with your 2:42 (now 5th all time)?
AH: It feels unreal, really. Every woman on that list is amazing. I got the chance to meet Sika Henry and Shawanna White at the Flying Pig Marathon Expo and they were both so kind and encouraging, which was really awesome. To be 5th on that list is something that means so much to me. I want to be a role model for all african american women in the running community and show them that anything is possible. Some of the names on this list have been on it for a long time and my hope is that in the coming years we see it change over and over. That there are different names because we have more African American women coming out and running fast and going for it.
I’m not someone who has had a long history as a runner. All my life, I played basketball; I played all the way through college. In basketball, African American women are represented so strongly but it isn’t the same in distance running. I would love to see more African American women out there. I want to be that person that young girls and women see and think to themselves, “That could be me. I can be out there.” I want to be a positive and uplifting person for all runners, especially African American women. I would love to be someone who helps shed light on us in the running community.
We all have to start somewhere. I started running while in graduate school as a way to connect with my dad who passed away my senior year of college. In 2012, I ran my first marathon in 3:57 at the Bismarck marathon! It is still hard to believe. It took alot of work, determination, drive, heartbreak, and tears to get here, but I wouldn’t have it anyother way and I am loving it.
DF: Did you have a mantra or a refrain that kept you mentally focused during your performance?
AH: It may seem odd, but during races I refer to myself by my last name so I say a lot to myself by starting with, “Hendrix you gotta….” But one thing I said to myself during Bayshore and before is “Be brave.” That’s my mantra during races.
DF: What was your post-marathon celebration meal?
AH: I LOVE a good burger and fries! That is my go to for sure! (It’s also my pre-race meal believe it or not. Well, two days out.)
DF: What's next for you?
AH: I am planning to spend the summer competing in some shorter races. I would like to get my half time down before I start training for my next marathon in the fall. And then I will run either the Indy Monumental Marathon or CIM with the goal being to OTQ, so big goals going for that sub 2:37!