It's My Life... And I Choose It

As a kid, I wasn't active at all.  As an adult, I had created a 345-lb body marred with co-morbities that were direct results of my life choices thus far. I was asked to share a little bit of my story and my journey to health, fitness, and ultimately, Harlem Run. Well, here goes…


September is Suicide Prevention month so I want to share my biggest secret. I have attempted suicide. But see, not in the typical way.  Suicide doesn’t always look one way. Here’s how mines looked. I continued to choose things that I knew were killing me. I couldn’t breathe while walking up a flight of stairs, but I continued to smoke. I had diabetes, but I continued to eat sweets and highly processed foods. I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but I added salt to everything. I was out of shape, but I did not exercise. You see, I attempted suicide for years without even being conscious of the fact that I was choosing death. I was depressed. I was angry. I was living everyday letting go of life little by little.

One day, a friend of mine tried to commit suicide by swallowing a whole bottle of pills. I got asked this question: "In what ways are you killing yourself?" In that exact moment, I realized it. In that instant, I realized that up until that very moment, I really was killing myself. But bigger than that, I realized that I was actually choosing death. The choices I was making on a daily basis were all evidence to my “attempt”. But thankfully, I was being given a second chance.

That day, after being asked that question and given multiple “aha” moments, I walked into the hospital room of my friend who was recovering from his own “attempt” and I told him, “You may have chosen death, but you still have the opportunity to make a new choice, you always do”. It was a wake-up call for both of us. He recovered fully and went on to seek help for his depression.  That same year I had gastric sleeve surgery and soon thereafter I discovered running. My runs were solo and while running, I would have conversations, speaking life into myself, constantly asking, "What are you choosing?" And constantly answering, “I’m choosing life, I’m choosing life”.


Before I found Harlem Run, I had never really ran with anyone else. I was invited and introduced by my friend Amir. My first time running with HR there were about 5-6 people and it was awesome. I met Alison and my first impression was that everyone was so welcoming that I didn’t even have to say what was on my mind which was... “Ya'll look fast, Ya'll gonna leave me?”. Once the group started going, I knew that we were in this together and they wouldn't leave me- or anyone- behind. I knew that the journey that I had been through and the runs that I had done in the past were leading me up to this. That day Harlem Run and I found each other. 

Since then, I have watched the community grow beyond my biggest expectations. Over the past 9 months I have gained friendships, a family, and a newfound joy of partnership because I get that we are all partners in living now. We are all partners in choice now. We are all partners in choosing life NOW. When we run through Harlem, I am clear that we are the example for many. People see us and they see what’s possible. So when people come and they say, "I’ve never run, but i saw ya'll and i want to try", it’s like inviting others to choose living, too. People see me and they say, "Hey, your from Harlem Run right?" And with pride i answer YES I AM...


See,  I started running to live, but i kept running for life. It’s my life. And I choose it!


*NOTE: If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call:
Suicide Helpline:
1800 – SUICIDE
Suicide Prevention Hotline:
National Suicide Hotline:

If you are in an emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Amir Figueroa11 Comments