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Running with a Police Escort: Tales from the Back of the Pack

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  391 ratings  ·  99 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 252 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by Skyhorse
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3.49  · 
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 ·  391 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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Heidi The Reader
A Cleveland librarian chronicles the emergence of her inner road warrior. Jill was very unhealthy- tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds when an email from her younger sister convinced her that she needs to change her ways. Self described "slow runner", Jill often finds herself at the end of races with organizers closing the course behind her. Thus the title of her eventual podcast and this book: Running with a Police Escort.

Jill reminded me of my younger sister, another "slow runner" who took
Carla Johnson-Hicks
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Dec 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Running with a Police Escort chronicles Cleveland librarian Jill Grunenwald's journey from being the girl who used to hate physical education classes to becoming a dedicated runner. She regularly finishes races right at the back of the pack - hence running with a police escort as organizers are closing the course behind her - but as she points out it's not about being fast or slow but about taking small steps to achieve your goals. I really enjoyed the author's candor and wit. Parts of the book ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a fun memoir of a young woman's experience of discovering running after a lifetime of hating it, and completing a number of races sometimes unapologeticly crossing the finish line last. However as she had put on a t-shirt "it's not last place it's running with a police escort." The author has a lively, friendly comedic writing style, which makes this a quick, fun read.
A moderate to large amount of strong language throughout.
Popsugar 2017: a book that's published in 2017
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Like many running books, this one had a promising start. Our heroine decides she must lose weight for the sake of her health and decides that she will take up running. Despite the difficulties of running while overweight, she soldiers on and is successful both at building up to longer distances - including even a half marathon - and also at losing the weight. Grunenwald is likable and a skilled writer. However, this book fell into the traps of so many running books. First, there is only so much ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Much like a long and arduous race, I slogged through this book and finished it. However, unlike completing a marathon, I couldn’t tell you what I’ve gained from completing this book. It’s one of those books that could have stayed a blog and spared us. It’s repetitive (“I was really stressed out about a race, but then I ran this race, finished it, and got some bling!” Repeat xs 20). The author’s writing style is obnoxious, AM.I.RIGHT?! I had an inkling the author was a privileged white girl for m ...more
Melody Riggs
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I know the author and received an ARC of this book. That being said, even if I didn't know the author, I would still give this book five stars! This is a fantastic running memoir that offers a unique perspective-- the perspective of a runner at the back of the pack (or as Jill puts it, the runners who get a police escort to the finish line). And it's that unique perspective that makes this a five star book for me. Jill has a fantastic voice, a terrific sense of humor, and above ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book, but I only made it about 70 pages in before abandoning. I'm interested in the author's story, but she tells it here with a bit too much detail for me. If I knew her I'd probably chug through, but it bogged me down. It reads like my posts on my running blog, which have far too much detail for anyone but me to care about. Maybe if the book had a better editor I'd be willing to finish it.
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘’ Life is a series of moments and decisions and in that moment, I decided that finishing last trumped all other scenarios, including not even starting. So I came in last place. So what?’

I found Jill’s determination and grit to be exceedingly admirable. It encourages someone like me to give running a try. Even if I don’t run fast, that’s no big deal, so Long as I complete the race. Something that can be said of most things in life, not just running.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really connected with this book. I am just getting into the Cleveland running scene and choosing my first 5K races to join. as a slow runner, this was both inspiring and humbling.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I've been saving this and only reading it on the Saturdays I do my second job, and it's an amazing read. I'm not normally a fan of memoirs, but this hooked me.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, running
An inspiring story about overcoming obstacles and never giving up. Unfortunately it gets a bit repetitive towards the end..
Melanie Johnson
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book and found it very inspirational, especially if you are just getting into running or are a slow(er) runner. Jill talks about the struggles that all of us runners have faced and the mental toughness it takes to complete races. When she talks about running her first half-marathon, I actually teared up a little. I remember how BIG crossing that 13.1 finish line was in my life and all of the hard runs leading up to that day. Thanks to Edelweiss for the Advanced Copy.
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy from NetGally in exchange for an honest review.

When I requested this book, I thought it was more of a body positive book along the lines of Jes Baker's Things Nobody Tells Fat Girls. It is a body positive book, but not in the same way. I totally didn't expect to read this book as fast as I did or enjoy it as much as I did. While this book isn't what I thought it was at first, it's still so worth the reading! It is such a fun read and I feel like Jill is an old friend that
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Grunenwald has written an inspiring memoir about running and her journey to become a runner. It was an easy read, with her friendly, chatty style peppered with geeky references and the occasional swear word (so, basically, she talks like me!).

It was really great to see a book about running from somebody who is slow (like me), and has trouble with motivation to exercise (ditto). I'm really happy to see this.

And this book also motivated me to sign up for a 5K. So thumbs up for that!

Review copy c
Adam Sockel
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've rarely felt more motivated to go out for a long run or just get off my couch then I did while reading this book. Whether you consider yourself a true distance runner or you've never voluntarily jogged once in your life I beg you to read this book. It's beyond inspiring and will make you want to be more active in your own life. This book is the literary equivalent to putting "Eye of the Tiger" on in your headphones. You can't help yourself but get up and get moving.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Let me start out by saying I'm not a runner . . . and this book is about running. Mostly. I'm also old enough (easily) to be Jill Grunenwald's mother, so while we're both living here in the Greater Cleveland area, we are definitely coming at life from very different perspectives in that regard, too.

But here's the thing. You don't need to be a runner or a millennial (did I get that right? 30-somethings?) or even a fellow Clevelander to be enchanted and thoroughly entertained by Jill's story.

Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
There only three races I want to hear about from any given runner: first, best, and worst. But this book is apparently adapted from a series of blog posts, and is best described as a collection of about twenty race summaries strung together in mostly-chronological order. So… my bad for not reading the reviews first, I guess.

I also dislike excessive pop culture references in books, especially when they’re being used as stand-ins for personality. I get it, girl. You like Doctor Who. So do I, but I
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Humorous and touching, this is the story of a back of the pack sister: the ones who don't get bananas at the end of races, who sometimes don't have a well defined course to finish, and who spend twice as much time on the course as most runners. Despite some editing issues, I enjoyed hearing how Ms. Grunenwald went from an avid running hater (hello mirror!) to one who despised rest day. I think even speedier runners can relate to some of the training and race day whoas as I felt myself nodding al ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book. I really did. The slow runner in last place is running with a police escort is a very clever conceit. I'm a slow runner (though more in the 14-15 minute mile pace) and I've played Batala for a lot of races and been inspired by the slowest runners, so going in I really thought I'd like this book. But sadly, it's basically a long reason why blogs don't usually make good books. I bet her blog is good, and her podcast certainly has some potential. But the book desperately ...more
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publishers for this review copy, given in exchange for an honest review.

Running With a Police Escort is the true life memoirs of Cleveland librarian Jill Grunenwald. After being shamed by her sister, Jill decided to lose weight and to also do something which she didn’t even do at school – running. Surprisingly she realised she liked it that much that she decided to run her first 5k at the Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo. After this, the bug had bitten her and she contin
This book is being released tomorrow and when I started it I was 100% prepared to tell everyone to rush out and buy it, however, now that I'm finished I'm more likely to tell you to borrow it from a friend or the library. Jill Grunenwald is a 300 pound librarian that takes up running races. Many times she finds herself in the back of the packing (hence the title). I really appreciated her stories about middle and high school and her aversion to physical education classes. I enjoy her sense of hu ...more
Carianne Carleo-Evangelist
While this book would benefit from a stronger edit, she's a wonderful storyteller. As a new and slow runner myself, it's always nice to see stories of people going through the same struggles I have over the last year. I too found Biggest Loser an impetus for my weight loss, although running came much later for me. I found it interesting that she went from running to run /walking later, but it worked for her and kept her interested in running. I'm impressed at her endurance after the injury in he ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Jill Grunenwald's attitude. Finishing at the back of a race isn't losing. It's running with a police escort.

A fun and often funny tale of how a 311-pound librarian metamorphosed into a runner, completing numerous races, including more than one half-marathon. Her stories will resonate with even non-runners, as I can attest. They will especially resonate with those of us who do not accumulate a lot of winner's medals, but still engage in various pursuits for the love of the activity itself
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I liked the premise of this book and the candor of the writer - runners who take longer than average often aren’t seen as runners and I think it’s so important that the message is heard loud and clear. If you run, you’re a runner.

However the actual writing really did nothing for me, to the point that I couldn’t actually finish the book. I so badly wanted to like it. I’m a ‘back of the pack’ runner myself and can identify with many of her stories but I found them repetitive (really a series of ra
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I purchased this book, I was really excited to sit down and start reading. I figured this was going to be one of those books I enjoy so much that I couldn't put it down. Unfortunately, I did go days at a time without picking it up. Although this book was funny and inspiring, I found it hard to follow at times. I also found that it seemed the same event was talked about in different chapters. I'd sit there reading and think "why am I being told this story again?" Now with that being said, I ...more
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-some-of-it
As a pretty new runner myself, I was really excited to start this book, but three chapters in, all I can say is that the author's writing seems to match pace with her running. I'm suffering, a bit, at how long it takes her to get to the finish of a race, and her point. Sigh. I'm not giving up yet, but seriously considering it.

I tried to slog through chapter four, and I just can't. Calling it quits. I'd recommend the book 'Confessions of an Unlikely Runner' as a faster paced alternative (though C
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As someone who has recently discovered her love of running but recognizes that she will never be at the front of the pack, I found this book really hit home. I struggle with enjoying running but not being good at it and therefore having difficulty considering myself a real runner. I appreciated the authors recognition that even the slow struggling runner is still a runner and a slow pace doesn't necessarily mean you are not trying hard enough or are less deserving.
I highly recommend this book to
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved reading this. Wendy, a local runner and Facebook friend recommended that I read this, but I am not sure she knew just how much I related to Jill. Not only is Jill a person who is generally found running at the end of the pack in any race, right in front of the police as they reopen the streets to regular traffic, but she is a local, (Hudson and Cleveland) struggles with weight, and is a Librarian! What could be more like me?

As I followed her determination, her triumphs, and her failures,
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jill makes runners of all ability and ambition feel right at home. She shows that runners come in all shapes and sizes, and that finishing last doesn't mean losing; it just means utilizing the course for longer. The stories are fun, the anecdotes amusing. The one thing that gives me pause is the constant use of hyperbole. That said, Jill is very open and honest about the trials of any beginning runner, especially those who take longer to finish. (Some race organizers could learn a thing or two f ...more
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