Running with a Police Escort: Tales from the Back of the Packby Jill Grunenwald

Hardcover, 252 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by Skyhorse Publishing
4 Stars

Synopsis: In the fall of 2012, quirky and cat-loving Cleveland librarian Jill Grunenwald got an alarming email from her younger sister: her sister was very concerned with Jill’s weight and her overall mental and physical health. Having always struggled with her weight, Jill was currently hitting the scales at more than three hundred pounds. Right then, Jill looked in the mirror and decided that she needed to make a life-style change, pronto. She enrolled in Weight Watchers and did something else that she—the girl who avoided gym class like the plague in high school—never thought she’d do; Jill started running. And believe it or not, it wasn’t that bad. Actually, it was kind of fun.

Three months later, Jill did the previously unthinkable and ran her very first 5k at the Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo. Battling the infamous hills of the course, Jill conquered her fears and finished—but in dead last. Yep, the police were reopening the streets behind her. But Jill didn’t let that get her down—because when you run for your health and happiness, your only real competition is yourself.

Six years and more than one hundred pounds lost later, Jill is still running and racing regularly, and she is a proud member of the back of the pack in every race that she has entered. In Running with a Police Escort, Jill chronicles her racing adventures, proving that being a slow runner takes just as much guts and heart as being an Olympic champion. At turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Running with a Police Escort is for every runner who has never won a race but still loves the sport.

My Review: I picked up this book because of it’s title. Jill Grunenwald could be any number of people. She is a woman who has struggled with her weight all her life. She talks about her sedentary lifestyle from the time she was a child and the kickstart she received from her younger sister to get her to start some kind of exercising program. This is a body positive book, but in a very real story and way that many people will be able to relate to. I did not expect to read this book as fast as I did or enjoy it as much as I did. Jill’s writing style is very conversational. It felt like we were friends talking about our successes and failures. She does use some profanity in the book so be prepared for that. Jill tells about her struggles to start a running program and her challenges along the way. She is not apologetic about being a slow runner, and gets angry at one point when the finish line of a race is basically torn down, they are running out of medals, spectators are walking all over the course and there are still people to finish, including herself. The point she makes about it being okay to come in last, at least you ran and finished the race is so empowering. Yes, she loses her mojo at times, yes she actually gains back some of her weight and yes, maybe her goals are not as lofty at others, but she kept at it, she did not give up and she makes the reader and others feel that it is okay to be slow, to come in last and to have a normal, not perfect body. I learned a lot about running and found myself feeling a bit enthusiastic for a topic I never found interesting. While this book isn’t exactly focused on body size, there is a body positive message to this book: no matter what size you are, you can accomplish your goals. I enjoyed this book very much and think maybe even I might be able to start a running program. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.