Jill Grunenwald




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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—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 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.


“Every new runner worries that she will finish last in her first race. Jill Grunenwald has actually done it and is here to report that last place isn’t nearly as bad as it seems (unless they’ve already boxed up the bananas). Read Jill’s fun and feisty memoir for the inspiration, for the laughs, and for the truth about what it’s like at the back of the pack. She may not be fast (yet), but she’s a blast, and she’ll motivate you to run, too.” —Jennifer Graham, author of Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner

“What does a serious runner look like? Someone who follows a training plan, runs regardless of weather, travels to races, keeps track of her times, and would never call herself a jogger. Jill Grunenwald looks—and runs—like a serious runner.” —Rachel Toor, author of Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running

“Running with a Police Escort is a manifesto for every out-of-shape middle school girl who came in last running the mile and decided from that point forward that she was just not meant to be a runner. In this hilarious and relatable tale of the journey from couch potato to half marathon, Jill Grunenwald will inspire you to lace up your running shoes, step out of your comfort zone and laugh your way all the way to the finish line.” —Jill Angie, author of Running With Curves and Not Your Average Half Marathon

“Running with a Police Escort is for anyone who has ever struggled with any challenge, physical or mental. Her stories of racing at the back of the pack are relatable to any runner, but even if you’ve never considered running at all, you’ll want to read this book. Jill’s love of Cleveland and her hilarious asides will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens in the next race.” —Stephani Itibrout, PBS Digital Innovator and Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon Ambassador

“Jill Grunenwald is fantastic at conveying the heart of an authentic runner. She humorously voices the lessons, fears, joys, race-day blunders, and head games every runner can appreciate. Running with a Police Escort is a relatable reminder of how the passion and influence of the run can take root and shape life, allowing one to reach beyond their wildest expectations.” —Jackie Dikos, columnist for Runner’s World and author of the forthcoming Finish Line Fueling

“No matter the challenge, readers witness her walking and finishing last with dignity. Readers can count on Grunenwald to be honest about herself and others, and sprinkled in the chapters are fun references to writers such as Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King (she is a librarian, after all). This autobiography will appeal to and inspire those struggling to get healthy.” - Publisher's Weekly

"Whether she’s writing about setting goals, finding the best sports bra (“Strap. That. Shit. Down”), or getting out of a running slump, self-proclaimed slow runner Grunenwald’s chatty, confessional style will entertain readers and perhaps even inspire them to lace up, too…Readers will find that the author’s unique perspective “from the back of the pack” challenges preconceived notions as it encourages stepping outside of one’s comfort zones.” - Booklist